Saturday, 17 March 2018

Royal Academy artists petition for H.G. Hine’s family

There is a letter on eBay that is currently for sale $500, you can purchase it here.

Dated June 1913, on headed paper from the private members club, The Athenaeum, Pall Mall, the letter is addressed to the Prime Minister., Herbert Henry Asquith.

Petition to the Prime Minister
from eBay here
“We desire to bring to your notice the claims for a Civil List Pension of the three unmarried daughters of the late Henry George Hine – Vice President of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour.

Mr H. G. Hine was held in very high esteem both as an artist and a man by the leading members of his profession.  He was one of the first contributors to “Punch” and drew for other publications.  Later in his life he took on any?? High position as an exponent of the essentially British Art of Water-Colour painting.  His refined and thorough work – reflecting his loveable & gentle character-revealed to his fellow countryman the beauties of the South Downs, the charms of his native County of Sussex.  His pictures are always sought after for International Exhibitions.  Where they are certainly valuable additions to the British Section.  He died at an advanced age, working till within a few days of his death.  He had a large family & died poor.

This appeal to aid his three unmarried daughters is to enable them to rest from the work which up to the present they have bravely continued

The ages of these ladies are seventy, sixty-six and sixty-four."

A number of signatures, of which the following names can be deciphered (or copied from the write-up on the sale):
"Edward J. Poynter 
Ernest Waterlow
Walter William Ouless
Frank Dicksee
Hubert von Herkomer
William Blake Richmond KCB RA
Briton Riviere
George Clausen

John Seymour Lucas"

Petition to the Prime Minister
from eBay

Looking at the Hine family tree, I think the 3 sisters that the petition is requesting a Civil List pension for are:
Alice Hine (1843-?)
Elizabeth M Hine (1846-1922)
Marian Hine (1848-1937) - who was living in Haslemere in Greenbushes (1901) and Silverbirches (1911).

Friday, 16 March 2018

Black Magic and White by Mrs Godfrey Blount

This poem printed in The Vineyard, April 1913 reminds me of Ethel (Mrs Godfrey Blount) & Maude's presentation to the General Meeting of the the Peasant Arts Fellowship in 1912 (Caxton Hall, 28th February), which is recorded in their Peasant Arts Guild Paper “To give a little girl the use of her hands is to bring a disinherited princess back into her kingdom” (‘Our experience of the Influence of Handicraft upon the Workers’, Peasant Arts Guild Paper, No. 10 , Ethel Blount and Maude E. King).  

from Blount, Ethel, The Story of the Homespun Web

When time was young a princess fell
     (A heart most rare,
     A soul most fair!)
Beneath a fiendish wizard's spell.

His Hell-broth won, the poison wrought;
     Afar from man
     The princess ran
De-humanised, a thing distraught.

From out the kindly human ranks
    She ran, accurst,   
    For blood a-thirst,
With tawny stripes upon her flanks,

Then came at night in dreadful quest
   To roam and roam
   Around her home
Where once with Love she took her rest.

She saw her husband's spear and dart;
   The eyes of ire
   Glared forth the fire
That fed upon the tiger-heart!

She saw her children's dolls and ships;
   Without a sound
   She snuffed around
And licked those dreadful, dreadful lips;

Then saw her pretty weaving gear
   Of flax and loom;
   In puzzled gloom
The tiger-heart began to fear

from Blount, Ethel, The Story of the Homespun Web

There lay her little spinning-wheel,
   The band unbound,
   The reel unwound;
The tiger-heart began to feel.

There lay her dainty little pirn,
   The thread undone,
   The wool unspun;
The woman-heart began to burn;

The cruel heart, the eyes of steel
   Began to yearn,
   Began to turn
At sight of flax and fleece and wheel.

The yellow stripes and eyes of gloom
   Began to fade,
   Passed into shade;
The princess stood beside her loom.

The loom and spindle, flax and fleece,
   The living art,
   Called back her heart
And filled her soul with vital peace.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Greville MacDonald, Wildwood and Electoral Rolls

Greville MacDonald moved to Haslemere upon retirement and lived in Wildwood, a house on Weydown Road, which still bears this name today.  However, having looked at the electoral register for Greville MacDonald, it's interesting to see that before moving to Haslemere, Greville was living in a house also called Wildwood, on North End, Hampstead, London.

Tooley's Farm, Hampstead Heath,
also known as Wildwood
old postcard
This property was on what was previously called Wyldes Farm, which was divided in 1903 into 3 farms, one of which was called "Tooley's or Wildwood" (Hampstead Heath net).  The property seems to suit Greville's literary tastes.  It has a blue plaque to the artist John Linnell and to William Blake.  MacDonald greatly admired Blake and wrote various articles on him such as "William Blake: His Critics" (vol. 2, p558), "William Blake: His Masters" (vol. 2, p626) and "William Blake: The Practical Idealist" (vol.5, p98) in The Vineyard.  The City of London writes here that: "Wyldes soon became the destination of eminent people. In the earlier part of the 19th Century several well-known artists of the day either stayed at or visited Wyldes, including: 

  • John Linnell
  • William Henry Hunt
  • William Collins (whose son Wilkie, the novelist, used to play in the garden when a child)
  • George Romney
  • John Constable
  • William Blake"
from Wyldes Farm, Hampstead

It appears that Greville must have had some happy association with the name 'Wildwood' and transferred it from Hampstead to Haslemere.  

Looking at Greville's other addresses on the electoral roll:

Hollywood House, Kingstonhill

  • From 1889 Greville is registered at 47 (or sometimes 49) Queen Anne Street, Marylebone.  
  • In 1892 Greville moved to nearby 85 Harley Street.  
  • In 1910 Greville is still registered at 85 Harley Street, but is noted as living at Holmwood, Kingstonhill  This house might be what is now called Holmwood House, and was previously owned by Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones, as reported in The Daily Mail here.
  • Between 1906-1914 Greville is registered as a qualifying property St George's Cottage, Haslemere
  • In 1915 Greville is recorded at Wildwood, North End, Hampstead
  • In 1920 and 1921 MacDonald is registered at 17 Duke Street, the Peasant Arts Society HQ, but is noted as "abode, Wildwood, Haslemere".

Saturday, 10 March 2018

From Stockbroker to Peasant: the Kings and the Sings

It is reported that Joseph King's grandfather founded the Liverpool Stock Exchange, The Provincial Stock Exchange (Thomas, William Arthur, Routledge, 2012) explains "Sing, White and Company was formed in 1825 by Joseph King, one of the first brokers in Liverpool, and Chairman of the Stock Exchange from 1840-44.  In 1877 the business was continued by his nephew Alexander Millington Synge, and since then a member of the family has held a connection with the firm."  Sing, White and Company merged with Tilney, Parr and Rae in 1966.

Liverpool Stock Exchange building,
situated in the East Wing, on the right
from The Liverpool Picture Book
Thomas explains that "The leading movers in the establishment of the Association were probably the nine sharebrokers given in the 1835 Liverpool Directory.  Richard Dawson entered the stockbroking profession in 1827 having been a "gunpowder agent" and one time agent to Norwich Union Fire and Life office.  Thomas Barber, Thomas Harris and Thomas Read became brokers in 1834, John Fletcher in 1835, as also did Jonathon Flounders who gave up his previous profession of being a "Gentleman".  Joseph King described as an accountant in 1825 took to share dealing around 1827, as did William O'Kill, also an accountant.  Thomas Coglan was certainly active in share dealing in 1827 and was also the proprietor of the Floating Bath in the Mersey.  In addition to the twenty-one at the first meeting, ten new members joined in April, and a further fifteen during the remaining months of 1836.  ...At subsequent meetings held at the Mersey Coffee House and "Mr King's office" the admission fee was fixed at 10 gns" 

It seems strange that King did not include his name in the company Sing, White and Company, if he formed the company himself.  However looking at the family tree it would appear that the 'Sing' is Joshua Sing, who was King's brother-in-law.   According to The family of Synge or Sing online here Joshua was a Justice of the Peace.  Alexander Millington Synge who continued the business was Joshua's second son.  Alexander's second child was Mary Florentia Synge, she is marked "Of Haslemere" in The family Synge or Sing and therefore I feel confident in identifying her as Flora Synge.  It was Flora's weaving that was used to unveil the Blue Plaque at Green Bushes Weaving House a few years ago, see here for more details.   And so in two generations the stockbroker became a peasant, in what the movement would have called the third group of the future peasantry "These are the men and women whom a surfeit a civilisation has left healthily dissatisfied, and who will be peasants by choice, not by birth" (The Vineyard, New Series, Christmas 1918).

'Miss Flora Synge at her spinning wheel at Kings Road, Haslemere in 1917' 
from  Janaway, John,  Surrey: A Photographic Record 1850-1920, Countryside Books, 1984

Alexander lived in Dawstone, Windermere.  This was a notable Arts and Crafts house designed by Dan Gibson in 1903. It features in The Arts and Crafts Houses of the Lake District (Hyde, Matthew and Whittaker, Esme, Frances Lincoln, 2014) "built high above the town of Windermere on the outskirts of Heathwaite, is typical of the arts and Crafts houses occupying elevated sites.  The distance of the site from Lake Windermere, in comparison to the properties which line the lake's banks, would have been compensated for by the views that were afforded from this position.  As the writer Lawrence Weaver observed in the magazine Country Life, it is 'perched on the hill like an eyrie from which the vision sweeps round a complete panorama from Helvellyn to Morecombe Bay'.  The owner of Dawstone, the Liverpool stock and share broker Alexander Millington Sing, had purchased the site, known as Undermillbeck Common, from G.H.Pattinson." The house is now called Gillthwaite Rigg, a part of which is now a B&B.  Interestingly there is a photograph that purports to be a "ventilation grille incorporating the initials of the house owner at Dawstone", see below, although I am puzzled by the sequence ASM and not AMS if this is the case.  Joseph King, Alexander's cousin, also liked to put his initials on his buildings, and perhaps this was a family trait.

from The Arts and Crafts Houses of the Lake District,(Hyde, Matthew and Whittaker, Esme, Frances Lincoln, 2014)

Dawstone ground floor plan from
Built from Below: British Architecture and the Vernacular,
(Guillery, Peter, Routledge, 2011)

Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Independent Labour Party, Harold Monro & Arthur Romney Green

There were numerous lectures at the Independent Labour Party, Haslemere on Kings Road, held in Arthur Romney Green's workshop and showroom.  In addition to the Ramsay MacDonald and Joe St  Loe Strachey, chaired by the Lord Bishop of Dorking written in a previous post here, there is a record of Harold Monro giving a lecture.

Monro (1879-1932), see Wikipedia here, was a poet and proprietor of the Poetry Bookshop, an influential shop that sold and published poetry in Bloomsbury, London.

Harold Monro and the Poetry Workshop (Grant, Joy, University of California Press, 1967)

In Harold Monro and the Poetry Workshop (Grant, Joy, University of California Press, 1967), online here, Grant writes:

"Through James Guthrie, Monro came into contact with the community of weavers, embroiderers and other craftsmen who inhabited Haslemere at that time, and were trying to conduct their lives on the principles of Ruskin and Morris.  He was especially friendly with Romney Green, the designer and carpenter, who made superb tables and chairs out of ponderous baulks of oak, and who later supplied the furniture for the Poetry Bookshop.  ‘This rugged, fiery, somewhat intractable yet generous creature’, Arundel del Re writes, ‘loathed all forms of aestheticism and literary cant.’  He believed, with Whitman, that art was for the regeneration of man.

"There were thus kindred souls of progressive outlook near at hand, and we hear of Monro going to Haslemere to lecture to the Independent Labour Party there.  

"…The interior (of the Poetry Bookshop) fulfilled the promise of the outside.  Monro called in Romney Green to provide bookshelves, tables and settles in his characteristic style – massive but finely proportioned furniture hewn from great baulks of oak.  It added to the homeliness of the  shop and with its flavour of rus in urbe suggested the character of the proprietor."

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Why Peasant? Part 2 - the future 3 groups of peasantry

The editorial of The Vineyard (New Series, Christmas 1918) continues in it's explanation of why the movement used the word "Peasant" by explaining about their vision of the future 3 groups of peasantry:

"This future peasantry will mainly consist of three groups.  there will be the land labourers, survivors of centuries of neglect or brutal legislation; and those other survivors - or some of them - from the War.  To the first we owe amends for immemorial abuse and neglect, and a share in the earth where they grew our bread under conditions we now shamefully acknowledge.  To the second we owe gratitude for immeasurable heroism: and since they took into their sacred flesh the wounds that kept us and our country whole, a foothold in it is surely none too high a reward.  - Let us hope that the politician and patriotic landowner are getting ready for the steadily increasing land-hungry crowds of them.  - Many of the settlers, being Cockney born, or with a city bent from early days, will not enter fully into their country inheritance; but their children, born in the country, should inherit to the full.  But this they certainly will not unless we see to it that they are born into right rich country conditions and not into one of the schemes newly devised for "brightening rural life," where the "Cheapest Cottage Competition," the Cinema and Extension Lecture, as compensation for dung-hill duties, loom so large.  The country-born, in right conditions, will not play by proxy, asking for tram or motor to carry him to football or cricket-field or music-hall, where the tired factory hand gapes at the professional whom he pays to express his emotions for him.  Traditional country life, being rooted in the vital earth and therefore capable of indefinite growth and enrichment on its own lines, will, as ever, blossom in seasonal festivals and inspire its own arts and games.

"The sun bonnet"
from Old West Surrey
Gertrude Jekyll, Longmans, Green and Co.,
To these two groups will be gradually added another; at first in individuals and families, and later, when the pioneers have tackled the first difficulties, in increasing numbers.  These are the men and women whom a surfeit a civilisation has left healthily dissatisfied, and who will be peasants by choice, not by birth.  Certain of the them have money, some are poorer since the war, and all will probably become much poorer still: but by no means is it money or its lack that is going to determine the choice in most cases.  Here and there pilgrims from the City of destruction have long ago found salvation in the rigours and joys of land life.  With others, the war-time handling of broom and spade has been a bit magical, convincing them that the slavish grind in city office and over-furnished house which the upkeep of snobbery used to demand was sheer waste of life.  For them, if it is permissible to misquote Shakespeare in a good cause,

"Life has suffered a war-change
Into something rich and strange."

one of the best firsts of poverty being the discovery of the richness and the strangeness of daily life when quit of this silly tyranny and with its face toward adventure.  If as parents they will no longer wear themselves out to send boys to Harrow and girls to Roedean, but are content that farm and carpenter's workshop and smithy should widen earlier scholarship, who that knows the Scottish peasantry will fear lest this preclude the better sort of culture?

In this coming country revival, the Vineyard and the Peasant Arts Guild are ready to play a real if unpretentious part.  They will advocate and teach useful and beautiful handicrafts: but to affect the atmosphere in which revival and reform are brought about is still more nearly their concern: to show why the best traditional peasant life is vitally desirable, and why certain thriving social enterprises manifesting themselves in model barracks which radiate through neat public gardens from the vast co-operative factory in their midst (while admittedly less evil than what went immediately before) are not desirable, and are quite incompatible with the building of Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land.

Ticino spinner,
early 1900s postcard, online here
...Beautiful things" that is, good art and craftsmanship, "cannot be had for the asking or learning, but are the natural outcome of healthy conditions and innocent feelings...The love of money is the root of all evil.  It made machines and it made the modern manufacturing city.  If you are one of their victims, struggling for freedom, do not rest your hope on any possible turn of fortune's wheel which might lift you into the seat and circumstance of your masters.  That would make you only ten times more the servants of Mammon.  Aim, instead, at something equally remote from the minds of both master and servant, employers and employed.  Place what faith you can summon in a new motive for your labour, however distant its realisation may seem to be, in the resurrection of the life you have lost, the birthright of the imagination you have bartered away.  Resist the temptations of novelty, luxury, and competition.  Make for simplicity and peace, for kindness and enthusiasm, and for those good things which are summed up in the real business and the real delights of country life."

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Why Peasant? - Part 1 - the Ideal

from The Vineyard, Christmas 1918
The phrase 'Haslemere Peasant Arts' tends to be met with puzzlement and derision, so what does the word peasant mean in this respect?  The Peasant Art movement's respect for Tolstoy and Peter Rosegger is a large part of their use of this word I think.  In the editorial titled 'Revival' for the New Series of The Vineyard in Christmas 1918, it is explained thus:

"The word peasant strikes the key note, sets the tune for the whole movement.  But there are certain people who while they irresponsibly enjoy and use the fruits of its craftsmanship, still kick against this word.  It savours of Arcadian affectation; or it suggests nothing livelier than a drab inarticulate agricultural labourer; or, as another cheerfully asserts, "We have no peasants" ; and therewith an end.

"The word as we use it is prophetic rather than descriptive of latter-day English fact.  We chose it because it creates a desirable atmosphere in which to work, and it holds up an ideal.  The peasant as we think of him, and as he is at his best in the less industrial countries and districts, in Norway, Sweden, Brittany, Tuscany, gets the inspiration of his play, his art and his festivals from the same sources as his labour and bread.  He is, in the main, a reverent and resourceful being, blest with energies which are not exhausted in his tussle with nature but still run over in singing and dancing and carving nice patterns on the potato bowl or his baby's cradle.  So was it with the English peasant in other centuries and that although certain of the conditions of his existence were very cruel.  And he made innumerable songs out of his daily life and labour - ploughing, reaping, shearing, lambing, harvesting, courting : songs of such sweetness, pathos and grandeur that a fine musician will travel England over to-day to beg an old labouring man, dying in the workhouse, to sing them to him.

This being so, it is plain that the quality of the stuff of the peasant's life is of first-rate importance.  And now - since the war has so speeded up politics and forestalled our sluggish national evolution that even those people who used to describe the gradual extermination of agriculture by industrialism as "inevitable progress" have been made to understand that a nation cannot live for long without peasantry any more than a tree without roots - it is timely to consider who will be the peasant of the future, and what will be the stuff of their life.

For many centuries, but especially since the beginning of the industrial era, all so-called progressive nations have been ill-using those on whom their life depended, the bread-growers; but none have done this so systematically as England.  Our folk must have been virile and spirited indeed to quit themselves so bravely as fighters, craftsmen, pageant-players, singers and dancers, in spite of feudalism Tudor tyranny, Game laws, Land laws, Poor laws, and Enclosure Acts.  And yet the mediaeval peasant was a freer man than his descendant who sought escape from the worst agricultural conditions in industrialism: at least his hand was the master of his tools, and his outdoor labours were a perennial spring of feeling and fancy.  "Out of the ground God made all things grow, including Art."  Out of the factory might come smoke, strikes, and ultimately higher wages: but God Himself could not make anything grow there.  There the man, the master of tools, became tool of the machine, a hard taskmaster that had no use for his heart, or his hand, except as a slave.

None the less when we consider the countryman's martyrdom in the eighteenth century, we do not wonder that when a note of hope sounded along the green lanes, only too many of them, now serfs once more, tramped away towards "freedom" among the dark satanic mills.  There, in the devitalising or exciting air of factory work and city crowd, the rustic lost his creativeness, his energy for personal play; he blurred his type and forgot his songs.  With those of his kin who stayed behind life went hardly enough.  But here and there among the older folk to-day - in their racy talk, their stoicism, their hedgerow thrifts and humours, their exquisite skill in the arts of thatching, huddle-making, hedge-binding, etc. and among the very young children, too, before the town-made schools have drilled them into uniform clerk hood - we get the gleam and grit of a once great peasantry.

And now the world's war - the fine flower and logical result of mechanical civilisation - has in four short years rushed the race nigh such ruin as the slower, surer processes of industrialism in peace time could have accomplished only one or two more generations.  we still have a population of swarming millions, indeed: but out of that incomparable rally of devoted youth and vigour, beauty and genius, who went into the war, comparatively few have lived long enough to hand on life to children.  This sudden almost irreparable loss it is, rather than the slow attrition of industrialism, that has shocked the sleepiest awake to the urgent need of national repairs, as well for the body as the soul, in the re-planting of peasantry.

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