THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDWIN SKINNER
Written By; Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada
Date: March 2,2016
Edwin Skinner was a working class gentleman from humble beginnings. His father William Skinner and two of his older brothers were carpenters but Edwin persued other interests. Born in Maidstone, Kent in 1874 , he was one of eleven children born to William and Rose Skinner. The family found its way to Lewisham, London by 1881 where Edwin attended school. By 1891 he had left the family home and moved to Tunbridge Wells where he worked as a groom and stable boy for Walter Hemsley ,a blacksmith who lived at 99 Garden Cottages in the St John Parish.
In 1895 Edwin married Rosina Emily Pennegar (1875-1932) in Tunbridge Wells. “Rosa”, as she was known as, was one of two children, born to William and Edith Emily Pennegar. Edwin and Rosa had four children between 1896 and 1910 while living in Tunbridge Wells, and from at least 1901 until 1913 Edwin worked as a fishmonger.
In 1913 Edwin was enticed by Canadian Immigration posters and advertisments to emmigrate with his family to Canada. On June 12 of that year he and his wife and his four children boarded the CORINTHIAN of the Allan Line at Liverpool and disembarked at Quebec, Canada. From there they took the train to Brantford, Ontario, a town in the Southwestern part of the province, where the family remained for the remainder of their lives. The travel records for Edwin noted that his occupation was farming , no doubt to take advantage of cheap travel rates for farmers, but when the family arrived in Brantford Edwin had changed his mind and took up a different occupation. Edwin’s wife Rosina died in Brantford in 1932 and was survived by her husband and children. Edwin died in Brantford in 1944. A review of Canadian records show that most members of Edwin’s family remained in Brantford but some also moved to British Columbia. Wanda Bellenie, who is the great grand-daughter of Edwin and Rosina and other decendents still lives in Canada and it is from her that the family photographs in this article originate.
This article reports on the life and career of Edwin Skinner and his family in England and in Canada.
THE FAMILY IN ENGLAND
Edwin Skinner was born 1874 in Maidstone,Kent(photo opposite). He was one of eleven children born to William Skinner (1831-1889) and Rose Ann Skinner,nee Stanbridge (1836-1883).
The 1881 census, taken at 2 Herchell Road in Lewisham, London (photo opposite) gave William Skinner as a carpenter, born 1831 in Tudley, Kent. Living with him was his wife Rose Ann, born 1836 in Ticehurst,Kent and their children George, age 15; Albert,age 7; Edwin,age 6 and Risa,age 23. All of the children were born in Maidstone. Also in the home were a niece and nephew and a grandson. William and his sons George and Albert and also his nephew Mark Davis were all working as carpenters. EDWIN SKINNER at this time was attending school. Edwin however did not take up his father’s carpenter trade and decided to or ended up taking his life in a different direction. By the time of the 1891 census he left the family home and moved to Tunbridge Wells.
The 1891 census, taken at 99 Garden Cottages in the St John Parish of Tunbridge Wells, gave Edwin Skinner as a groom and stable boy living and working for Walter Hemsley, a blacksmith. Edwin had little in the way of education and was rudimentary at best. His experience as a groom and stable boy and exposure to blacksmithing probably stood him in good stead for his later life in farming, for all farming in the 19th and early 20th century relied heaving on horses.
In the 1st qtr of 1895 Edwin married Rosina (Rosa) Emily Pennegar in Tunbridge Wells at St John’s Church (photo opposite). Rosina had been born April 15,1875 at Capel, Kent. She was one of two known children born to William Pennegar and Edith Emily Pennegar,nee Batchelor (1851-1896).Rosa’s mother had been born in Pembury, Kent and had married William Pennegar in 1871. Rosa’s father had been born around 1843 in Ticehurst,Sussex.Sometime between 1875 and 1880 William Pennegar disappears from the historical record and it is presumed that he died around 1875. By the end of 1880 Edith Emily Pennegar found a new partner by the name of Samuel Thrift. The 1881 census recorded Emily and her two children Rosa and William Thomas Pennegar living with Samuel Thirst at Lilly Arch, Capel,Kent. Samuel was working as an agricultural labourer and had been born in 1847 at Brenchley,Kent. Edith and Samuel had a daughter Ellen Thrift who was born 1880.
Shown opposite is a studio photograph of Rose Pennegar taken soon after her marriage to Edwin Skinner . This photograph was taken in the studio of William Atkinson at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne during the couples honeymoon.
Edwin Skinner and Rosa had four children, all born in Tunbridge Wells namely (1) Mabel (1895-1964) (2) Edwin born 1898 (3) William (1901-1975) (4) Rosa (1910-1935). Details about the children are given in the last section of this article. As you will read later the entire family emigrated to Canada in 1913.
The 1901 census, taken at 18 Stanley Road,Tunbridge Wells, gave Edwin skinner as a fishmonger worker. With him was his wife Rosa and his children Mabel,age 5 and Edwin,age 3. Edwin worked for William Sawyer who ran a fishmongers shop at 117 Camden Road, not far from where Edwin lived and walked to work every day. William Sawyer was still at this address when the 1913 Kelly directory was published. An early 20th century postcard view of Camden Road is shown opposite. At that time Camden Road was lined with shops in a thriving commercial district.
The trades of Fishmongers and Poulters have existed as seperate occupations for centuries and initially business proprieters operated shops specializing in either selling seafood or in selling pountry but as time passed it was not uncommon to find shops advertising themselves as both fishmongers and poulterers. Such was the case with four families in the town ,the Tolson's,Wheeler's,Knee's and the Hook's, who were interrelated either by marriage or by the formation of business alliances.
Like butcher shops,fishmonger and poulterer shops were initially of the "open front" type where there were no windows/doors/walls seperating the front of the shop from the sidewalk during opening hours.If you were a fishmonger your selection of fish and other seafood was put on ice and displayed in trays or boxes on counters as there was no refrigeration.The seafood products would be delivered to the shop or the shop owner would go to the wholesale market and buy what he wanted.At the back of the shop the owner and or his assistants would prepare the products for sale.The tools of the trade consisted of pliers to remove bones,fish scaler to remove scales,fillet knife to cut the flesh from the bone,strong knives for opening oysters and other shelfish,protective gloves and a curved knife for gutting and removing roe.On a daily basis the shop owner would obtain blocks of ice which he would handle with tongs and break down into ice chips/shavings with an ice pick.
The floors of these early shops were normally covered with sawdust but when refrigeration was available the sawdust was dispensed with and the front of the shops closed in so customers had to enter the shop through a door or purchase what they wanted through a serving window,The men and sometimes women would be found wearing rubber or white aprons to protect their clothes as the handling and selling of these products was a messy business.
The 1911 census, taken at 9 St Stephen Cottages, Stanley Road in Tunbridge Wells gave Edwin Skinner working as an assistant fishmonger. With him was his wife Rosa; his daughter Mabel, who was working as a “general servant grocer”; Edwin, who was attending school; William,age 9 and Rosa age 1. The census recorded that they were living in premises of four rooms; that they had been married 16 years and had just the four children. Shown above is a modern photograph of some typical homes on Stanley Road.
Since settlement began in Canada the Government was most interested in having the country settled, preferably by people with a European background. The countries connection to England is well known and many of the early settlers in the country came from England. When one studies Canadian history, such as census and immigration records, it is noteworthy to find that so many people living in Canada in the early 1900’s either came from England or they were decended from parents and grandparents from England. Anyone who has studied “Home Children” will know that from 1860 to 1948 some 100,000 children were sent to Canada from England from children’s homes such as those run by Barnardo’s in Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere. Many of them found their way on to farms in Canada and although many of them had good lives, many did not and were treated badly. Apart from these children the Canadian Government had an ambitious plan of enticing people from England end elsewhere to take up residence in the country and posters like the ones shown here, where cheap passage; the offer of free or inexpensive land and the great advantages and beautiful surroundings of the country, did much to populate a large and sparcely populated land. The country had millions of acres of good farmland. Edwin Skinner, like so many others, was enticed to leave England and move to Canada and in 1913 the Skinner family did just that.
Passenger records show that on June 12,1913 Edwin and his wife Rosa and their children Mabel, Edwin,William and Rosa embarked on the Allan Steamship Line’s vessel ‘Corinthian’ , under the command of Captain R.G. Bamber. The vessel left London with a full load of passengers and arrived at Quebec, Quebec, Canada. Edwin and his family sailed third class. Their son Edward, born in 1903 was not among the passenger list as he had died in infancy.
THE SKINNER FAMILY IN CANADA
At the end of June 1913 the Allan Steamship Line vessel ‘Corinthian’ docked at Quebec, Canada and among the passengers, were Edwin Skinner; his wife Rosa, and their children Mabel, Edwin,William and Rosa. On the passenger list Edwin Skinner gave his occupation as farmer and not fishmonger, which he was when he lived and worked in Tunbridge Wells. He probably gave his occupation as farmer to qualify for free or cheap farmland on offer by the Canadian Government for Canada was in greater need of farmers than it was fishmongers.
Canadian immigration records noted that the CORINTHIAN docked in Quebec on June 25,1913, indicating that the voyage had taken 13 days. Edwin stated in the records that he had been a stable hand in England (no mention of being a fishmonger) and that he was hoping to be a factory hand, although this may by a transcription error and perhaps should have read “farm hand”, although this is speculation. If in fact he intended to work in a factory then something changed his mind about farming between the time he left England and arrived in Canada. What is known however is that he did not make farming his lifetime career in Canada, as by 1921 he was working in a wood shop. Another piece of information from the immigration record is that he stated he intended to reside in Brantford and there is a reference to a Mrs Thomson at 121 Elgin Street, Brantford, which may refer to where he intended to live or Mrs Thompson was in some way known to or related to the Skinner family and her name was given as a contact.
Sailing from Glasgow London and Liverpool, the ships of the Allan Line probably carried more immigrants to Canada than any other line. Between 1852, when it was founded, and 1909 when it was taken over by the Canadian Pacific, the familiar red, white and black funnels of the Allan Line ferried these charges to Canada.
The Corinthian(shown opposite) had been built by Workman, Clark & Co Ltd of Belfast and was launched March 19,1909. It made frequent voyages across the Atlantic throughout its years of service. The vessel was 6,227 tons with a length of 430 feet and had accommodation for 50 1st class; 150 2nd class and 400 3rd class passengers. In 1908 she was rebuilt to 7,333 tons with accommodation for 280-2nd and 900-3rd class passengers. The ship came to a sad end when it was wrecked in the Bay of Fundy December 14,1918 but fortunately there was no loss of life. The Corinthian will be remembered perhaps for its role in the Titanic disaster of 1912. After midday the Marconi chart indicated that the Corinthian (Captain Tannock) was available. The Titanic could subsequently have picked up a message that the Corinthian originally received from the Corsican – that there was ice in 42° 15’ N. and 49° 48 W, running to 41° 25W’ N., 50° 20’ W.This message was sent the next day from Corinthian to Mount Temple. It defined the box in which the Titanic would strike her berg. Unfortunately these warnings of ice bergs ahead were not heeded and the Titanic hit an iceburg and sank with great loss of life. The passenger lists of the Titanic recorded that some residents of Tunbridge Wells had sailed on the Titanic but were saved when they escaped in the lifeboats.
Upon the arrival of the Skinner family at Quebec they made their way to the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station and travelled by train to Brantford, Ontario. Shown opposite left is a postcard view of the CPR train station in Quebec City dated 1916. Shown right is a CPR passenger train on its way westward from Quebec circa 1915.
Brantford, Ontario is a town located in southwestern Ontario in the County of Brant, through which the Grand River flows.The Grand River played a significant role in the settlement patterns throughout the County of Brant. The rich agricultural lands in the watershed attracted settlers from the United States and Europe. The initial focus on farming and related industries led to the growth of hamlets, villages, and towns throughout the County. In terms of agriculture the area around Brantford is known for its production of fruit and vegetable but livestock was also raised. Shown opposite is a postcard view of the market in Brantford.
The 1921 census, taken at 156 Elgin Street, Brantford, Ontario gave Edwin Skinner as working in a wood shop. The record is poorly written and appear to say “spring maker” but more likely should have been cabinet maker. Living with him was his wife Rosa and his son William, age 19, a tinsmith. It is known from the military records for Edwins son that the family was living at 156 Elgin Street at the time of Edwin juniors enlistment in April 1915 and as noted above from passenger records it was the intention of the Skinner family to take up their initial residency at this same address.
A 1940 voters list for Branford gave the listing “Edwin Skinner,retired, Elgin Street, Brantford”.
Death records show that Rosina Emily Skinner died January 21,1932 in Brantford, Ontario and was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery(photo opposite) in Brantford on January 23rd. At the time of her death she was living at 240 Clarence Street, a home she had lived at for the past three years. The informant of her death was her husband Edwin Skinner of the same address.Her husband Edwin died in Brantford on February 11,1944 and was buried in the same cemetery.
THE CHILDREN OF EDWIN SKINNER
 MABEL SKINNER……..Mabel was born Mary 23,1895 in Tunbridge Wells and was the eldest daughter. At age 18, in 1913 she emigrated to Canada with her parents and three siblings and initially took up residence with her family in Brantford, Ontario. She had been married twice.
She first married Casper Rusian in Brantford on August 24,1918 and later Harry David Edward Coppin (1880-1955). Mabel died in Surrey ,British Columbia on February 29,1964 and was buried March 5,1964.. Harry died in British Columbia in 1955 and was buried at the Mount View Cemetery in Vancouver B.C. After his death Mabel married Ernest Edward Bigwood who was listed as the informant on his wifes death. There were two Coppin sons born to Mabel and Harry, namely Raymond Charles Coppin (1831-2009) and Harold Coppin (1921-2006) both of whom died in British Columbia.
 EDWIN SKINNER………Edwin’s birth was registered 1898 in Tunbridge Wells and was the eldest son. He and his three siblings and parents emigrated to Canada in 1913 and settled in Brantford,Ontario. Military records show that Edwin enlisted for service in WW 1 on April 16,1915 (A6917). His attestation paper recorded that he had been born in Tunbridge Wells on October 8,1896 and gave his mother as his next of kin who was residing at 156 Elgin Street in Brantford, Ontario.His occupation was given as “machinist”. He served in the war as a private with the Canadian Infantry and survived the war.
On February 24,1920 in Brantford, Ontario, he married Daisy Elenor Austin (1901-1956) and with her had 5 children, all born in Brantford. Daisy had been born in Sittingbourne,Kent and in 1911 was living with her parents and siblings in Gillingham,Kent. The marriage record gave Edwin as a cabinet maker. Witnesses to the marriage were his siblings William and Rosa. Daisy and Edwin died in Brantford.
 WILLIAM SKINNER ………….William was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1901 and was the youngest of two sons. In 1913 he emigrated to Canada with his parents and three siblings and settled in Brantford, Ontario. At the time of the 1921 census, William was single and working as a tinsmith. He was living with his parents at 156 Elgin Street in Bradford. His father Edwin was working in a wood shop.
William married Charlotte Ethel Proctor (1906-1995) on December 31,1926 in Brantford,Ontario, Canada, and died in Harrow, Ontario, in 1975. Charlotte had been born June 9,1906 in Manchester, Lancashire and died in Kitchener, Ontario. She was buried at Colchester Memorial Cemetery in Colchester, Essex, as was William.
Shown above is a photograph of William Skinner,provided by Wanda Bellenie of Canada, who is the great grand-daughter of Edwin and Rose Skinner (formerly Rosina Pennegar). This portrait was taken around 1904 at the studio of Henry Jenkins, a photographer who operated from the Alpha Studio at 40 Grosvenor Road in Tunbridge Wells. Henry Jenkins was the father or the Worthing photographer Mrs Annie Gardiner, wife of Walter Gardiner. Shown opposite is the back of the CDV and also a photograph of Jenkins Alpha Studio. Details about the Jenkins family and their photographic careers can be found in my article entitled ‘ Jenkins-a Family of Photographers’ dated February 28,2012.
 ROSA SKINNER……….Risa was born 1910 in Tunbridge Wells and was the youngest of the four children. She emigrated to Canada with her parents the three siblings in 1913 and settled in Brantford, Ontario. She was not living with her parents and siblings in Brantford at the time of the 1921 census.
She married David Proctor June 2,1928 in Bradford, Ontario.She died in Brantford July 19,1935.
THE ARTIST GEORGE WINSTON HOOPER
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario,Canada
Date: February 29,2016
George Winston Hooper (1910-1994) was born at Gorakhpar, Uttar Pradesh, India in 1910, one of two children born to Alfred Paul Hooper (1873-1954) and Sarah Maud Kunning (1875-1925). George’s father was an accountant and worked for the Bengal North Western Railway. From an early age in India his artistic talent was stimulated by the bright colours of his surroundings, something which later translated into the brightly coloured images he produced in his artwork. His father had been born in England but went to India in the 1890’s and it was while living and working in India that Alfred married his wife Sarah in 1908.
In 1922 George was sent to England by his parents to attending a boarding school and lived with ,and was raised by, his grandfather Thomas Rowland Hooper (1845-1937).a well-known architect, who resided in Redhill, Surrey with his wife and children..
George’s niece Mirian Mabel Hooper (1872-1953) also became an accomplished artist having studied at the Croydon School of Art and who obtained an Art Class Teacher’s Certificate. Her brother Vincent married a Reigate artist, and so art and music became important elements in lives of the Hooper clan. George himself was musically inclined and took a great interest in music.
George went on to study at the Slade School of Fine Art 1930-1 and then moved to the Royal Academy Schools. He won the Turner Gold Medal and the Rome Prize to study at the British School in Rome. During WW II he was invited to join the Pilgrim Trust’s Recording Britain Project and during his work with them he travelled about England producing sketches and watercolours. While on one of these trips, in 1942 ,he visited Tunbridge Wells and produced five watercolours of buildings in the town, which are featured in this article, including the one above which he made of John Wards historically significant building on Calverley Crescent.
George’s work became better appreciated after his death in 1994 and since then has appeared at many one man exhibitions. He was a prolific artist and many examples of his work can be found at the V&A and in the best galleries in England. His work comes up for auction frequently and commands good prices.
This article reports on the life and career of George Winston Hooper and features the artistic work he produced while in Tunbridge Wells.
HIS LIFE AND CAREER
George Winston Hooper (1910-1994) was born at Gorakhpar, Uttar Pradesh, India September 10,1910, one of two children born to Alfred Paul Hooper (1873-1954) and Sarah Maud Kunning (1875-1925).
Alfred Paul Hooper had been born September 29,1873 at Redhill,Surrey, one of five children born to the architect Thomas Rowland Hooper (1845-1937). Alfred lived at Reigate with his parents and siblings at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census. Alfred became an accountant and near the end of the 19th century he left England and took a position in India as an auditor with the Bengal North Western Railway. While with the railway he travelled extensively, including trips back to England, to Canada and the USA.
On April 20, 1908 Paul married Sarah Maud Kunning (1875-1925) at Gorakhour, Bengal, India, and resided there. A photograph of the Gorakhpur railway station is shown opposite. Gorakhpur is a city in the eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, near the border with Nepal. It is the administrative headquarters of Gorakhpur District and Gorakhpur Division. Gorakhpur is famous as a religious centre. The city was home to Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Sikh saints and is named after the medieval saint Gorakshanath of Nath Sampraday/sect. Gorakhnath Temple is still the seat of the Nath sect. It is also the Birth place of the great saint Paramhansa Yogananda. The city is also home to many historic Buddhist sites,Imambara-a 18th century dargah and the Gita Press, a publisher of Hindu religious texts.In the 20th century, Gorakhpur was a focal point in the Indian independence movement. Today, the city is also a business centre, hosting the headquarters of the North Eastern Railways, previously known as Bengal Nagpur Railways, and an industrial area, GIDA (Gorakhpur Development Authority) 15 km from the old town.
Sarah Maud Kunning had been born in India in 1875 and died of tuberculosis in India December 20,1925 and was buried at the Trans-Goumti Cemetery,Lucknow, India (photo opposite) .She was the daughter of George Kunning who was deceased at the time of her marriage. George was an assistant surgeon, and his wife Ann died of heart failure at age 74 on February 26,1927 at Gorakhpur, India.George had passed away in India in 1888. Sarah Maud Kunning was one of ten children in the family.
Alfred Paul Hooper and his wife had two children namely George Winston Hooper born 1910 and William Rowland Hooper (1909-1981). Both boys were born at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. When Alfred Hoopers wife passed away he married Olive Holt in the 2nd qtr of 1942 at Cuckfield,Sussex. The Surrey Electoral records show Alfred and Olive living at 31 Ridgeway Road in Reigate,Surrey. Olive had been born march 23,1895 and died in the 1st qtr of 1985. Olive was the daughter of William Hold, a religious minister, and Florence Holt.
While growing up in India George took an interest in art. In an interview with him in June 1987 Sarah Wilson recorded that “his memories of his childhood in India, particularly the bright colours and the greyness of England where he went to school had a great influence on his art”. As can be seen from examples of his work on the internet, and elsewhere, bright colours were certainly used in his paintings. George also referred in the interview to the link between music and colour in his artwork.
In 1922, at the age of 12 his parents sent him to England to attend boarding school and live with his grandfather, the well-known architect Thomas Rowland Hooper (1845-1937) who resided in Redhill, Surrey with his wife and children. A photograph of Thomas is shown opposite.
Thomas Rowland Hooper had been born July 8,1845 at Bermondsey, Surrey and was one of eleven children born to Ebenezer Hooper (1821-1885) and Emma Hooper, nee Williams (1821-1866). By 1855 his family moved to Reigate,Surrey. On September 15,1870, at the Reigate Independent Chapel, Thomas married Elizabeth Perren (1847-1897) and with her had five children between 1872 and 1881. As noted in the “overview’ his daughter Miriam Mabel Hooper went on to become an accomplished artist and art teacher.Thomas had a very successful career as an architect, and further information in this regard can be found on the internet and elsewhere. He died at Reigate on December 3,1937.
After boarding school George tried his hand as a banker but gave that up and went to the Slade School of Art 1930-1 and then moved to the Royal Academy Schools. A talented student he won the Turner Gold Medal and the Rome Scholarship Prize (1935)to study at the British School in Rome.He spent the next three years revelling in the colour, light and art of Spain and Italy.
In the 4th qtr of 1941 George married Joyce Katherine Gayford(MBE) in Surrey. Joyce had been trained at the Royal Academy of Music and later became the founder of Surrey Opera. She had been born September 3,1909 at 17 Elm Road in Reigate,Surrey and was baptised September 5,1909 at St Matthew, Redhill, Surrey and was the daughter of Ernest Frederick Gayford and Jane Wheeler Gayford. Her death was recorded in the 3rd qtr of 2001 at East Surrey. The 1911 census, taken at Lorne House at 26 Linkfield Street in Redhill showed Joyce living with her parents Ernest Frederick Gayford, a tanyard manager, and Jane Wheeler Gayford; three siblings, and two domestic servants. The family were living in premises of 8 rooms and the census recorded that Joyce’s parents had been married 10 years and had four children.It is not known by the researcher if George and his wife had any children.
Declared unfit for service during WW II he was enlisted in the Recording Britain project alongside, among others, John Piper, Michael Rothenstein and Roland Hilder. His work at this time had a lively decorative quality, influenced by the prevailing neo-romantic tradition and received critical acclaim when exhibited at the National Gallery and elsewhere. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum acquired several of his works from the period. The results of his work from the 1941-1943 Recording Britain Series produced a large body of work including five interesting paintings he did in 1942 of buildings in Tunbridge Wells. The first of them was shown in the “overview” of John Ward’s Calverley Promenade on Calverley Crescent. Shown opposite left one entitled “Mount Ephraim” and shown right is “79 Mount Ephraim”.
Shown here are two more Tunbridge Wells views namely “The Music Gallery”, in the Pantiles, and below is “Regency House”. On the internet and elsewhere can be found several examples of painting he did in the Recording Britain project of places in many parts of England.
In 1940 the Committee for the Employment of Artists in Wartime, part of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, launched a scheme to employ artists to record the home front in Britain, funded from a grant from the Pilgrim Trust. It ran until 1943 and some of the country’s finest watercolour painters were commissioned to make paintings and drawing of buildings, scenes and places which captured a sense of national identity. Their subjects were typically English; market towns and villages, churches and country estates, rural landscapes and industries, river and wild places, monuments and ruins. The scheme was known as ‘Recording the changing face of Britain’ and was established by Sir Kenneth Clark, then the director of the National Gallery. It ran alongside the official War Artist’s Scheme, which he also initiated. Over 1500 works were eventually produced by 97 artists of whom 63 were specially commissioned. Three exhibitions were held during the war at the National Gallery and pictures were then send on touring exhibitions and to galleries all around the country. After the war the whole collection was given to the V&A by the Pilgrim Trust in 1949 and was documented in a four volume catalogue published between 1946 and 1949.
In 1945 Hooper became a tutor at Brighton Art School, where he remained until 1977. Works from his Brighton period show him developing an increasingly lose style. Alongside landscape, his interest in still life and interiors develops from this time. His own collection of Staffordshire, Wedgwood and Delftware pottery is a favourite subject matter for his recurring still-lives. Shown below is a self- portrait of George which was produced in 1946 from a drawing he made while having his hair cut.
A return trip to Europe and the Mediterranean in the late 1950s, ignited Hooper’s last creative period. The work in this exhibition explodes in a riot of line, colour and movement reawakening memories of his Indian childhood. The subjects remain the same, still-lives, the garden at Loxwood, the sitting-room filled with the piano and music, but the way he depicts them seem curiously at odds with his comfortable suburban lifestyle.
Hooper attracted the soubriquet Fauve and he acknowledged the influence. His use of bold, vibrant brush strokes and high-keyed colours, his fascination with gesture, with line formed in a moment conveys immediacy, risk and energy. In Bottle with Flowers, the forms of the flowers are conjured in rapid movements against the bold outline of the window. During the 1960s, Hooper’s work is also linked to the influence of two very different but important British artists; Ceri Richards and Duncan Grant.
Hooper owned works by both men and developed a friendship with Grant. Each artist took Hooper beyond the immediate surface of paper and canvas. In the case of Grant it was not just his painting but his home at Charleston that made a deep impression on Hooper. To observe paint spilling beyond the confines of the picture plane onto furniture, walls and other objects was an inspiration to Hooper. His connection with Grant culminated in a retrospective exhibition at Charleston in 1993.
Like Ceri Richards, music was a major part of Hooper’s life. His wife Joyce had graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, Hooper was an accomplished pianist and the piano dominated the drawing room at Loxwood and is a recurring feature in his paintings. Hooper’s interest in collage in particular came from Richards as well as his series of paintings of ‘emanations’ with their connotation of music invading the space.
Hooper went on to develop an exuberant and highly charged approach to mixed media. He used a variety of collage techniques. Paper cut or torn, shiny or matt, layered or just one sheet thick, delighted him. Indeed, applying subsequent collage to an apparently finished work defied the rules of perspective, forcing the viewer to confront the space between the here and now and the world of the picture.
He worked in charcoal, watercolour, chalk, oil, pen, Lithograph, Gouache and ink and most of his work is abstract art. Prices achieved at auction for twenty works between 2008 and 2012 showed that the going rate for his work ranged from a low of $43 USD to a high of $1,200 USD.
George passed away at Reigate, Surrey July 18,1994. His death was registered in Surrey in the 3rd qtr of that year. An obituary for him appeared in the Independent August 9,1994.
Recently an exhibition of his work was held at the Moncrieff-Bray Gallery, Egdean, Nr Petworth, West Sussex and then it traveled to 42 Bruton Place, London. The organizers of the exhibition stated “ This exhibition reassesses the work of George Hooper who was widely acclaimed in his lifetime, and whose work is in the collections of the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It brings together a vibrant group of paintings and collages from the last few decades of his life when Hooper’s oeuvre blossomed into a riot of dynamic colour and activity seemingly influenced by Fauvism. It also marks the period of his blossoming friendship with Duncan Grant, the influence of Charleston and of the artist Ceri Richards who shared his passion for music.
Some other exhibitions of his work were:
1945-7 Leicester Galleries, Leicester Square alongside Sickert, Smith, Grant and Hitchens.
1946 Commissions to create posters for Shell, Lyons & Co., Esso, British Rail and The Post Office.
1953-64 Works included in 7 exhibitions at Wildenstein’s, Bond Street. Also Mall Galleries and British Museum.
1984 & 1985 Solo shows at Odette Gilbert Gallery, Cork Street.
1988 Solo show for Sally Hunter, Motcomb Street.
1990 Solo show, Hooper Gallery, St John’s Wood.
1993 Retrospective Exhibition, Charleston, Sussex
2003 Solo show, Collyer Bristow
HIS OBITUARY (from the Indepenent dated Aug 9,1994)
George Winston Hooper, artist: born Gorakphur, India 10 September 1910; married 1941 Joyce Gayford; died Redhill, Surrey 18 July 1994.
Perhaps the fact that he was born and spent his early childhood in India might explain why George Hooper was a contradiction, an English colourist who was devoid of the restraints normally associated with his contemporaries.
His father was an auditor for the Bengal North Western Railway and his first understanding of the exotic was being conscious of the visual delights of the Bazaar and India's strong and vibrant colours. Aged 12 George was despatched with his brother to England to be educated in the care of his grandfather, an architect in Redhill. Even though his Indian education left him academically ill-equipped to cope with the demands of his English boarding school, the art master saw a talent and encouraged him, so that when he left school and worked for the Westminster Bank for two years he prevailed upon his father to let him enter the Slade School of Fine Art where, being too old for a bursary, he was only to remain a year. However, he was not too old for a bursary at the Royal Academy Schools, and there, between 1931 and 1935, his gifted draughtsmanship won him two gold medals, a travelling scholarship and the Rome Prize which gave him an extra two years abroad.
He returned to England with war clouding the horizon and his future as a painter. In Redhill he was drafted into the ARP, where he met his wife Joyce, a gifted musician who he married in 1941. The American 'Pilgrim Trust' asked him to produce work for their 'Recording Britain' scheme, where he worked alongside John Piper, William Rothenstein, and Kenneth Rowntree. He was also chosen to work for Esso and Shell Petroleum, Lyons Tea Shops, the Southern Railway (see opposite) and the Post Office. At the end of the Second World War, after a short period teaching at Watford School, he joined Brighton Art School, then under the enlightened direction of Ernest Sallis-Benney. He found teaching rewarding with ideas of his own and his students being 'bounced' off each other. My former wife Molly Parkin, who was one of his students, remembers him: 'Although rather distant he was a special and brilliant teacher who taught by example. However, often he also communicated by banging one on the head with his pencil.'
A visit to Italy in 1958 opened a window on and introduced him to a Fauvist vision which characterised his work from then on. Vibrant colours dominant since his childhood in India brought revelatory new depth to his work. Matisse, Dufy and contemporaries such as Jean Hugo and Ivon Hitchens were all added influences that brought him delight.
Living the major part of his life in 'Loxwood', Redhill, he was in many ways a loner. He made an exception for Duncan Grant, a friend whose old-fashioned courtesy and charm he very much enjoyed. He despised artistic London's pub life, preferring the countryside in England and France, English ceramics which he collected and a home always full of music and the colours of India - perhaps another Bloomsbury, but in Surrey. Independent and perhaps slightly eccentric, he once pointed out over tea that one must always cut a cake still in the tin: in this way not so much air gets at the cake and crumbs from the cutting help to keep the remaining piece fresh and young. And so in his teaching he stood out amongst many who were brilliant academics by his constant searching for new ways to look at subjects and objects, so that for student and teacher alike the idea was always fresh and young.
Although George Hooper exhibited with success at the Leicester Galleries ('Artists of Fame and Promise') in the Forties and at Wildenstein's in the Fifties and Sixties, and more recently in the Eighties in Motcomb Street with Sally Hunter and in Cork Street with Odette Gilbert, it was an entirely happy salute to a life in painting that his recent retrospective was held at Charleston, where he had often painted and visited his friend Duncan Grant. His work is in the Victoria & Albert collection, the British Museum and public galleries in Brighton, Hove, Eastbourne and Hull.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC CAREER OF HENRY CONSTANTINE JENNINGS
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Date: March 1,2016
Henry Constantine Jennings was born 1843 in Paris France, one of four known children born to Henry Constantine Jennings senior born 1791 in Liverpool, Lancashire, and Mary Jennings, born 1813 in France.
Census records for the family show that Henry senior was a physician and a practical chemist;that Henry junior was one of four children in the family, and that the family moved from France to England sometime after 1843 but before 1848 and that they initially settled in Southwark, Surrey.
By the time of the 1861 census in Camberwell, Surrey Henry junior was working as a photographic artist and living with his parents and siblings.
In 1871 he married Elizabeth Barry of Leeds at Oxford Place Chapel. She had been born 1849 at Leeds, Yorkshire and was the daughter of William Barry, a stationer.
In 1881 he moved to Hastings, Sussex and took over the photographic studio of John Wesley Thomas at 52 Robertson Street, a site which had a long history of being a photographic studio and which from 1874 to 1876 had been the studio of Tunbridge Wells born photographer Robert Bell Hutchinson. Henry remained at this location until the end of 1886, when in that year he moved to Tunbridge Wells and took over the studio of C.F. Wing, at the Grosvenor Art Gallery.
Henry did not remain long in Tunbridge Wells and examples of his work in the town are scarce. Tunbridge Wells was a very competitive market for there were a number of excellent photographers in the town, and perhaps it was for that reason that Henry left Tunbridge Wells by the time of the 1891 census, when in that year he had already established himself with a studio in Chester, Cheshire at 36 Bridge Road. By 1901 he was on the move again and census records for that year record him in the town of Penarth, in Glamorgan Wales, never to be seen again back in England.
This article reports on the family and photographic career of Henry Constantine Jennings with a particular emphasis on the brief time he operated his photographic studio in Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is one of his Tunbridge Wells studio CDV’s. Although he took photographs of people from all walks of life and of all ages he made a particular point of advertising his specialty of photographing children, something which no doubt took a great deal of patience, and a special skill.
HIS LIFE AND CAREER BEFORE 1886
Henry Constantine Jennings, who went mostly by the name of Constantine Jennings throughout his life, was born 1843 in Paris France, one of four children born to Henry Constantine Jennings born 1791 in Liverpool, Lancashire, and Mary Jennings, born 1813 in France.
Henry’s siblings were (1) Emily, born 1838 in Paris,France (2) Julia, born 1839 in Paris, France (3) Emile, born 1848 in Newington,Surrey. From these birth records it was determined that the Jennings family left France and took up residence in Surrey sometime after Henry was born in 1843 and when his younger brother Emile was born in Surrey in 1848.
The 1851 census, taken at 28 Great Union Street in Southwark,Surrey gave Henry Jennings senior as a physician. With him was his wife Mary and his children Emily, Julia, HENRY C, and Emile. HENRY C was attending school at that time.
The 1861 census, taken at 6 Colony Inn at Camberwell, Surrey gave Henry senior with his wife Mary and their children Julia M. HENRY C, and Emile. The census records that HENRY C was working as a photographic artist and so it was in Camberwell that he began his photographic career.
On April 2,1871 HENRY CONSTANTINE JENNINGS married Elizabeth Barry of Leeds. She was born 1850 at Leeds, Yorkshire and was the daughter of William Barry, a stationer. HENRY was given as a bachelor and commercial traveller of St Albans Street in Leeds. His father was given as Henry Constantine Jennings, a physician. Not long after the marriage HENRY and his wife took up residence in Norwich where he took over the studio of Burgess & Jennings.
Shown above is a black and white print of what is a colourized CDV from the studio of H.C. JENNINGS at 1 Queen Street, Norwich. The back of the CDV notes that his studio was “late Burgess & Jennings, and that he provided portrait and landscape photographs and was also a miniature painter. He also advertised “photographs enlarged to any size” and that they can be obtained colourized “in oils or watercolour”. From a directory listing of photographers in Norwich is given “JENNINGS, Burgess &…Queen Street, Norwich KN1875 and JENNINGS, Henry Constantine…..Queen Street, Norwich HN1877, KN1879, HAM1879 Last listed at 1 Queen Street, Norwich, by Cory, c1881.”
Shown opposite is another CDV by CONSTANTINE JENNINGS from his Norwich Studio. This one is of a little girl and her dog. He advertised that photographs of children was one of his specialties. A review of local directories gave a listing of “HENRY CONSTANTINE JENNINGS” as a photographer at 1 Queen Street, Norwich, for the years 1875 and 1879. It is expected that he moved to Norwich just after his marriage in 1871 and it is known that the remained in Norwick until moving to Hastings in 1881.
HIS LIFE AND CAREER IN HASTINGS
The Hastings and St Leonards Observer of July 9,1881 made mention of CONSTANTINE JENNINGS of “Norwich” operating a studio in the town of Hastings. Other examples of his photographic work in Norwich can be found on the internet.
In 1881 HENRY is found in Hastings, Sussex operating a photographic studio. The 1881 census taken at ‘The Thorne’ Baldwin Road, Hastings,Sussex gave HENRY C JENNINGS as a photographic artist. With him was his wife Elizabeth; their children Cecil E. born 1875 in Norwich, Norfolk, and Florence, born 1876 in Norwich. Also present in the home was one domestic servant.
From a review of photogaphers operating in Hastings it is known that in 1881 HENRY took over the photographic studio of of John Wesley Thomas at 52 Robertson Street, a site which had a long history of being a photographic studio and which from 1874 to 1876 had been the studio of Tunbridge Wells born photographer Robert Bell Hutchinson. The 1882 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Constantine Jennings, photographer, 51c Robertson St, Hastings,and 8 Cambridge Gardens Hastings. A directory of 1885 gave a listing for him at 51c Roberston Street only.
HENRY remained in Hastings until late 1885 or early 1886 when in that year his studio on Robertson Street was taken over by George William Bragshaw, one of two sons of William Stephen Bragshaw(1859-1921) who had established the photographic firm of W.S. Bragshaw & Sons in Hastings. Upon the sale of his studio to Bragshaw HENRY then moved to Tunbridge Wells. Shown opposite is the back of a CDV by Bragshaw on which is noted “late Constantine Jennings”. Also shown is a photograph of the photographic studio at 52 Robertson Street. A sign for the studio can be seen in the window and on the awning of the corner shop.
The Hastings Photographic website gave the following record “ Jennings (Henry) Constantine, The Memorial Studio, 51c Robertson Street, Hastings 1881-1886 also 8 Cambridge Gardens Hastings 1881 and The Memorial Studio 52 Robertson Street & Cambridge Road Hastings 1881-1886.
Shown throughout this section are samples of his photographs taken while in Hastings. May more can be found on the internet.
HENRY CONSTANTINE JENNINGS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS
An article in Bygone Kent by Keith Hetherington gives the following information about HENRY’s time in Tunbridge Wells. “ Constantine Jennings……….In 1885 Constantine Jennings moved from Hastings to take over the business of Mr. C.F. Wing at the Grosvenor Art Gallery. Mr Jennings was an assiduous student in the chief photographic studios in Paris; his specialties were child portraits. In the difficult art of photographing children Mr Jennings was acknowledged as a leader, and always excercised the kindness,tact and patience that was needed when working with children. Among his many clients were His Grace the Duke of Montrose, the Right Hon. Lord Suffield, the Right Hon. Lord and Lady Stafford, the Hon. Gerald Lascelles, and many more members of the nobility”. It is clear from the information in the preceeding section that HENRY actually arrived in Tunbridge Wells in 1886 and not 1885 as Keith reported.
My article entitled ‘The Photographic Career of C.F. Wing” dated August 29,2013 gives details about the Mr Wing and his photographic career. Charles Frederick Wing was born 1852 in London and was one of seven children born to Adolphis Henry Wing (1824-1906) and Happy Wing. Adolphis was an artist who specialized as a portrait and miniature painter but also became studio photographer and several examples of his work can be found on the internet. The Wing family moved around a lot and Adolphis had a great influence on his son and cultivated an interest in photography in him. By the end of the 1860’s Charles left the family home to persue his love of photography and began his career in London in the 1870’s . On May 30,1874 he married Mary Jane Thomas (1852-1929) at Camden, Middlesex and in 1880 he and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells.
Charles Wing appears to have confined his photographic works to that of the portrait studio as no examples of images outside of the studio were found by the researcher but there are records of him exhibiting with the Royal Photographic Society. May examples of his work in Tunbridge Wells can be found on the internet. Charles studio was referred to as “The Grosvenor Art Gallery” and was located at 31Grosvenor Road in one of the shops north of 5 ways. A postcard view of Grosvenor Road is shown opposite. Also shown is the back of one of his CDV’s . Charles also had a studio in the 1880’s at 32 St John’s Road which in the 1870’s had been the studio of James Dyster Salmon.
HENRY took over Charles studio on Grosvenor Road in 1886 but Charles continued in business in the town at another location until the late 1890’s when he left Tunbridge Wells all together.
Shown throughout this section is a selection of photographs by HENRY, and it is clear that he did photographs of people of all ages. His work is comparable to that of other skilled photographers then operating in the town. HENRY, like many photographers never seemed to stay in one place very long. Tunbridge Wells was well represented by photographers and perhaps HENRY found the competition a bit too much for him to stay and so by 1891 he left Tunbridge Wells and established a photographic studio in Chester, Cheshire.
HIS LIFE AND CAREER AFTER 1890
The Cheshire Observer of June 6,1891 gave the advertisement “ Photographs of the late Mr John Bennett, cabinet size, 1 shilling each, can be obtained of CONSTANTINE JENNINGS, photographer, 38 Bridge Street, Chester”. From this advertisement it is clear that HENRY had taken over the photographic studio of John Bennett at 38 Bridge Street.
Records of photopraphers in Chester gave the listing “ Constantine Jennings, 38 Bridge Street Chester from 1892 to 1894”. Two example of his photographs while working in Chester are given in this section. One of them is the front of a CDV and the other the back of a CDV in which he advertises his specialty in chidlrens portaits from his studio at 38 Bridge Street.
The Journal of the Chester Archaeological & Historic Society of Chester for 1890-1891 stated “ A photograph of the crypt in Watergate Street occupied by Messrs Quellyn Roberts and his son , presented by CONSTANTINE JENNINGS, was accepted with thanks”. The National Archives has a copy of this photograph by “HENRY CONSTANTINE JENNINGS of 38 Bridge Street Chester who copyrighted the image of the interior of the old crypt in Watergate Street dated May 2,1890”.
The 1891 census, taken at 36A Bridge Street, Chester, Cheshire gave HENRY C JENNINGS as a photographic artist employing others. With him was his wife Elizabeth; his children Cecil, age 16, who was assisting his father in the business, and Florence M. Jennings. Also present was one servant.
The 1895 directory gave the listing “ Constantine Jennings. Photographer and fancy dealer, 627 Romford Road, Essex. The 1899 directory gave the listing ‘Constantine Jennings, photographer and fancy dealer 627 Romford Road East Ham (Manor Park) Essex”.
The 1901 census, taken in the town of Penarth, Glamorgan, Wales gave HENRY C. JENNINGS, as a photographer on own means. With him was his wife Elizabeth and one boarder. Shown opposite is a postcard view of the Italian Gardens in Penarth Wales but not one by HENRY.
Several listings of photographs by JENNINGS in Penarth, Wales can be found but no examples of his photographs were available for showing here. What happened to HENRY after the 1901 census was not determined for he seems to disappear from the records and may have passed away sometime before 1911. Shown above is a view of Penarth,Wales.
THE PENSURST PLACE MASQUES OF 1909 AND 1912
Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Date: March 4,2016
In December 2015 I posted to my website a lengthy article dated October 23,2015 entitled ‘ Percy Squire Lankester-A Tunbridge Wells Photographer, in which I gave details about the man and his photographic career in the town. A brief overview about the man is given in the next section as well as a photograph of him.
In the article that follows I provide information about two Masques that were held at Penshurst Place. The first was in 1909 and the second in 1912.At both events Percy Squire Lankester served as the official photographer and produced a series of wonderful photographs, which I present below. These photographs were bound in a souvenir album, typical of those produced by Lankester for other grand events in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. Limited space in the 2015 article did not permit me to go into sufficient detail about the events or to present the photographs as fine examples of his work.
The images of the 1912 Masque came to light this month as a result of an exhibition that just opened at the Eden Valley Museum entitled "All the World's A Stage", an exhibition of costume and dressing up in the Eden Valley, and logo "EVM" on the 1912 images is that of the museum and were not part of the original photographic print by Lankester.
PERCY SQUIRE LANKESTER
Percy Squire Lankester (photo opposite)became a well-known and respected photographer and citizen of Tunbridge Wells. At an early age Percy developed an interest in photography and dedicated himself to perfecting his skills in this art and it was upon his arrival in Tunbridge Wells by 1891 that most of his photographic work was produced.
Percy Squire Lankester was born 1866 at St Martin’s, Leicester, Leicestershire, one of seven children born to surgeon Henry Lankester(1825-1902) and Rachel Crosby Squire(1830-1919). By 1891 he left the family home and moved to Tunbridge Wells where he took over the “Great Hall Studio” of H.P. Robinson, who had moved to London. A postcard view of the Great Hall on Mount Pleasant Road is shown in this section. It was while operating from this studio that he took the photographs of the Penshurst Masque of 1912.
In the 3rd qtr of 1895 Percy married Martha Edwards at Steyning,Sussex. Percy and his wife never had any children. Martha was one of several children born to nurseryman George Edwards and his wife Elizabeth.
Initially Percy ran his business as a partnership under the name of Lankester & Warren but when the partnership was dissolved April 1,1894 Percy operated his business at the Great Hall Studio(photo opposite from Peltons Guide 1883) , Mount Pleasant on his own under his name or as Lankester & Co. In the early 1900’s Harold Hawtrey Camburn began working as a photographer with Percy but left the business by 1906 and went out on his own and became a very successful and well-known photographer in Tunbridge Wells.
Percy was a very accomplished photographer and there are many examples of his studio and field photographs ,and postcards to be found. He also produced a few ‘Souvenir Albums’ of special events such as the construction of the High Street Bridge in 1906/1907 and the Pevensey Pagent in 1908, to name just two.
He exhibited his photographic works at the Exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society from 1891 to 1902 and in 1890 he won a silver in the profession class at a grand photographic exhibition put on by the Tunbridge Wells Amateur Photographic Association that was held at the mansion of Sir David Lionel Salomons, who had organized the event.
Later in his career Percy moved from his studio at the Great Hall to a studio at 38 High Street, which he referred to as the Romney Studios.Percy was quite the businessman for not only did he take photographs and produce postcards he also opened a framing shop on Grove Hill Road and had premises for a time on Grosvenor Road. He lived in various places in the town such as 1 Mountfield Gardens ,45 Upper Grosvenor Road, and 72 Warwick Park. If photography was not enough, by 1922 he manufactured a line of fancy leather goods ,referred to as “The Romney Series”, which goods he exhibited in 1922 at the British Industries Fair.
He continued his business in the town until about 1922 for in that year 38 High Street was the photographic studio of Wheeler, Fisk,Moore Ltd and later the studio was taken over by photographer Leonard Wiseman Horner, who had a second location in Hastings. Horner gave up the business just before WW II. Percy Lankester left Tunbridge Wells after selling his business and took up residence in his retirement years in Sussex. His death was registered in Brighton,Sussex in 1930 and his wife died there in 1947.
In 2015 I had the pleasure of visiting Penshurst Place during my visit to Tunbridge Wells. My friend and travelling companion (Mrs Susan Prince) and I spent the day at Penshurst Place in the company of my second cousin Christine Harrison and her husband Alan,who live in Tunbridge Wells, and who were kind enough to drive us there. It was a very pleasant trip and I can’t say enough about how impressed we all were with what we saw. The gardens were fantastic and the buildings a sight to behold. Shown on page 1 of this website is a photograph of me at Penshurst Place wearing my “I Love Tunbridge Wells” tea shirt. On the left is Mrs Susan Prince and the lady in blue is Christine Harrison. Her husband Alan took the photo. In this section I provide three views of Penshurst Place.The one above is by Percy Lankester dated 1904. The interior view is by Tunbridge Wells photographer H.G Inslipp and the colour postcard is by Photochrom of Tunbridge Wells.
Penshurst Place is an ancient place and much has been written about it and for that reason and limited space I provide below only a brief overview, which was obtained from the website of Penshurst Place. You can’t tour inside the residence, as it is still occupied by the Sidney family, who have owned it for several generations, but the grounds are open to the public and it takes several hours to see it all.
Penshurst Place has been owned by the Sidney family since 1552; after passing through the hands of two of Henry IV's sons, followed by Henry VIII who used it as a hunting lodge. Given to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII, it was then briefly in the hands of Sir Ralph Fane and was finally gifted by Henry VIII's son, Edward VI, to his loyal steward and tutor, Sir William Sidney. The current owner Philip Sidney, 2nd Viscount De L'Isle MBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, continues his family's stewardship of Penshurst Place, with his wife Isobel and their two grown up children, Philip and Sophia. Penshurst Place opened to the public in 1946, to help pay for further restoration work following wartime damage.
Penshurst Place consists of a grand main mansion with several related outbuildings, some of which were added in later years, particularly in connection with its opening as a tourist site. Today is sits on lovely landscaped grounds of some 48 acres. The Gardens at Penshurst Place are among the oldest in private ownership. With early records dating back to 1346, they are considered to be one of the most beautiful in England.
THE PENSHURST MASQUE OF 1912
At the time of these Masques Penhsurst Place was in possession of Philip, 3rd Lord De L’Isle and Dudley. He had succeeded in 1898 and having no sons, Philip’s brother Algernon , the 4th Lord De L’Islse inherited the Penshurst Place estate in 1922.
Pagents and Masques in the early 1900’s became popular.They ceased during WW II but there was a renewed interest in these historical re-enactments after the war but today gone are the heady days of casts of thousands and crowds of even larger numbers.
In 1908 Percy produced a souvenir album for the Pevensey Pagent held at the Pevensey Castle from July 20 to July,25,1908. Percy Lankester was the official photographer for this event and his work is displayed in the 32 page booklet. The event drew large crowds for newspapers reported that “some 25,000 people arrived in the village, mainly by train’ to see the pagent.
The Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle of July 28,1908 included an interesting article entitled ‘The Revival of Pagentry’ which in part reported on the role of Mr Louis Napoleon Parker (1852-1944)as an organizer of these pagents, and referred to the one at Pevensey he organized. Parker was an English dramatist, composer and translator who wrote many plays and developing a reputation for historical works. Shown opposite is an image of Mr Parker taken in 1917 that is part of the National Portrait Gallery collection. A biography about him gave in part “In 1905, Parker created his first historical pageant, at his former home town of Sherborne. At Sherborne, nine hundred participants produced seven performances so successfully that Parker was quickly besieged by requests from other towns. Over the next five years, he created large-scale pageants for Warwick, Bury St. Edmunds, Colchester, York, Dover and elsewhere. Parker's pageants, usually conducted outdoors and involving a high degree of spectacle, celebrated official English history and values.”Details about Mr Parker can be easily found on the internet. It is believed,but not confirmed, by the researcher that Mr Parker also organized the Masque at Penshurst Place in 1912. There is no mention of him in the 1909 program however.
So what exactly is a “Masque”…well it is defined as “A form of aristocratic entertainment in England in the 16th and 17th centuries, originally consisting of pantomime and dancing but later including dialogue and song, presented in elaborate productions given by amateur and professional actors.” The event at Penshurst in 1912 was styled after this form of entertainment and you can see in the photographs by Percy Squire Lankester in this section that the actors wore elaborate costumes and must have taken a great deal of work and money to put on.
The images of the 1912 event by Lankester presented in this article are those in the possession of the Eden Valley Museum on Edenbridge as indicated by their logo “EVM” on the images. This logo was not part of the original photographs by Lankester but were added by the museum. The Eden Valley Museum has two more photographs of this Masque.It was surprising to note during my research that these images were the only items found on the internet pertaining to the event and inquiries about it to the Penshurst History Society, Ian Beavis at the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery and the Eden Valley Museum turned up little in the way of information about it and what little information there was has been include in this article. Alex Paton, the curator if the Eden Valley Museum stated that they have only seen six photographs of the event which are not actually held by the museum but are in private hands and "a limited amount of information on the subject" and they are not in possession of an album or programme for the event.
It is expected that the photographs in possession of the EVM are just a small sample of the series taken by Lankester. It is also expected, because of the way he handled other events of this type, that they were displayed and bound in a souvenir album that contained in the front some information about the event followed by the photographs. In the least there would have been a "programme' prepared for the event.
OTHER IMAGES OF PENSHURST BY PERCY LANKESTER
Shown below is a series of images of Penshurst by Percy Lankester. It was initially unclear what event these photographs were taken for but Alex Paton, the curator of the Eden Valley Museum provided the answer. They were identified by the seller as "Penshurst Place Pagent by Percy Lankester,Tunbridge Wells" although I noted that two of them, with the same photographic superiority as those given above also has a caption at the bottom "Penshurst Masque", and so are obviously of the 1912 Masque. Inquiries to Alex Paton, the curator of the Eden Valley Museum resulted in confirming that the six images below without the caption are by Percy Lankester and were taken by him at the 1909 Penshurst Masque/Pagent. Alex stated "The 1909 programme provides us with the most detailed information on the event with the full script included". Alex reported that the 1909 Maque was held July 20-21, 1909."It was written by Frank Hird (a notable turn of the century writer and journalist) arranged and conducted by Alan Mackinon. The incidental music,songs, and dances were composed and arranged by Reginald F. Groves, A.R.C.,A.R.C.M. (one time Director of Music of Holy Trinity Church, Hastings). The Masque covers the history of Penshurst from the time of Stephen de Penschester around 1300 all the way up to around the 1650's and a Prologue. The Masque was in ten episodes. There is no mention of Lankester, the photographer, or any of his photographs in the Program, for it is just the text/script for the Masque". Somewhere there must be an album for the 1909 Masque like there was for all similar events the Lankester photographed which would include information about the Masque and a compete set of photographs. I wish to thank Alex Paton for the information he provided. The six images below without text at the bottom are all by Lankester and all pertain to the 1909 Masque. The other two with text are from the 1912 Masque.
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