CQD and RMIG

The telegraphic call of CQ (pronounced sécu) had been used to alert all stations along a line. Rather as the beloved shipping forecast begins with ‘Attention all shipping’, CQ was the equivalent of ‘Hey listen up guys!’ There was no agreed emergency signal but in 1904 the Marconi Company instructed their operators that D (for distress) should be added, thus making CQD a telegraphic signal that help was required. At the same time the distress signal SOS was also being used interchangeably with CQD.

The two signals represented as Morse code might suggest that SOS was marginally quicker to send but in the hands of a skilled telegraphist the difference was minimal. One such skilled person was Jack Phillips, chief telegraphist on RMS Titanic. On the night of 15 April 1912, he initially sent CQD. Harold Bride, the junior radio operator, suggested using SOS. With a kind of gallows humour, and perhaps realising by this point that the unsinkable Titanic was going to do just that, he commented that it might be their only chance to use the ‘new’ signal. Phillips then began to alternate the two distress calls.

Phillips – and Bride who stayed in the radio room alongside him – was very much the hero of the hour, remaining at his post until Captain Smith issued the order to all crew to ‘save yourselves’ – an indication that all was lost. At the inquest, another radio operator who had picked up the signals commented that Phillips’ transmissions never wavered in their consistency or accuracy.

‘Jack’s last message was picked up by the Virginia of the Allen Line at 2.17am, and the Titanic foundered at 2.20am. ‘

http://www.godalmingmuseum.org.uk/index.php?page=jack-phillips-and-the-titanic

Because of telegraph messages, news of the ship’s fate reached newspapers in UK by the following day although there was clearly confusion in interpreting them.

But what has all this to so with the School? Well, this is the +RMIG bit of the heading. The Royal Masonic Institute for Girls had been established in 1788 to come to the aid of those in distress and the terrible loss of lives on the Titanic was certainly a time of great distress. Four girls who became pupils of the School did so because their fathers went down with the ship. Florence and Eleanor Hill, twin daughters of Henry Parkinson Hill (and known in School as the Titanic Twins) and Ethel and Brenda Parsons, daughters of Edward Parsons, all become pupils. Florence & Eleanor Hill and Ethel Parsons were at the School contemporaneously. Brenda Parsons, the youngest, two years old in 1912, would not have been old enough to be a pupil until 1918.

These fuzzy images are Florence Hill and Ethel Parsons as captured from a whole school portrait taken in 1913 (below).

Ethel and Brenda Parsons were the daughters of marine storekeeper Edward Parsons.

17 April 1912 – Western Daily Mercury

No doubt his family would have been extremely proud when he was appointed to the White Star line’s most luxurious and prestigious ship, little imagining the fate that awaited him. After all, the Titanic was unsinkable.

The Parsons family had been living in Liverpool and four of the children had been born there. They moved to Southampton sometime before 1910 and Brenda, the youngest child, was born there. As the wife of a member of ship’s crew, Mrs Parsons would always have been aware of the dangers of the sea but – the Titanic was unsinkable. What could possibly go wrong?

One of Edward’s grandchildren later commented that the family had a letter from the White Star line indicating that Eddie (as he was known) was last seen on the deck giving biscuits to children and comforting them. His body was never recovered or identified. His wages of £6 per month as Chief Storekeeper would have ceased with his death, leaving Mrs Parsons with five children to support on no income. She benefited from a Titanic relief fund but Edward’s Masonic connections meant that they too stepped in to offer support.

Ethel Parsons probably came to the School almost immediately after the disaster and left in 1920, accepted by Southampton Education Committee as a pupil teacher. Later she won a place at Hartley College, Southampton to read for an Arts degree but decided instead to train as an elementary teacher. She returned to the School in 1924 as a Lower School mistress, described as a temporary post, and she either left when she married in 1925 or slightly before. Thereafter, the School loses sight of her and it is left to public records to note that she probably died in 1994 in Surrey.

Her youngest sister, Brenda, little more than a baby when her father died, would not have become a pupil much before 1918 as eight was the usual admission age. It seems highly likely, however, that Mrs Parsons would have received financial aid before Brenda became a pupil as this was ‘part of the package’. She left school on 15th December 1927, undertook commercial training and by 1928 had a post in an insurance office. In 1929 she married George Holloway, a Congregationalist minister. In 1958, she married for a second time and became Mrs Tiller and she died on 22nd December 2008 in Eastbourne, not quite making it to her centenary but coming very close.

One of the Titanic Twins did make it to her centenary but let’s not jump ahead. They were the daughters of Henry Parkinson Hill and Florence Hill nee Baxter who married in 1903. Sadly by 1908 the marriage had failed and Henry had left the family home. The girls remembered little of their father as they were only 3 when he departed. Whether he went off to sea at that time or later is unclear but he was a 3rd Class Steward on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. His body too has never been recovered or identified. As he had been a Freemason, his daughters were eligible for support and they were elected to the School.

Eleanor’s time at the School is less well-recorded than her sister. She left school in 1921 and went to help her mother who ran an electric massage establishment. By 1923 she was nursing at the Treloar Cripple [sic] House in Alton but by 1927 was helping her aunt to run a boarding house so it seems her ‘career path’ was less clear cut than Florence’s. The school magazine records Eleanor’s death as being on 27th July 1976 ‘after a long illness’ and also notes that she was for a time assistant to the catering officer at the School.

Her sister Florence was clearly a bright cookie and was entered early for Local Examinations (equiv. of O and A levels then). Having passed them, according to her own recollections, the School didn’t know quite what to do with her as she was too young to leave. So she took them again the following year.

And the year after that!

She declared that in her final years at the School she was bored out of her mind because there was nothing academically for her to work towards. She did not have the qualifications for university having no Latin, a requirement at the time. In 1922 she became a student teacher with Peterborough Education Committee and went to Peterborough Training College the following year. In 1926, she won a place at Bedford College for Women and emerged with a B Sc. upon which she returned to the School to teach mathematics. The following limerick was written by an unknown pupil about Florence.

When the School moved to Rickmansworth in 1934, Florence moved with it and became Housemistress in one of the boarding houses (Connaught) before leaving in 1937 to marry the brother of one of her colleagues. In 1954, she came back to the School to teach until retirement in 1965. In 1994, she married for a second time, at the age of 89! She told friends that falling in love at 89 is just the same as falling in love at 29 – you feel all bubbly inside.

In 1999, she paid another visit to the School during which she entertained a group of Year 7 students with tales from the past of the School. They couldn’t quite comprehend a world where uniform was worn at all time except for pyjamas; where, having been in lessons all day, you spent the evening doing homework because there was little else to do. A world without television [today it would be smart phones]? Impossible!

After retirement, Florence lived in Lincoln and then Leicester. But a sedentary lifestyle it was not. Her nephew by marriage wrote of her:

You won’t be surprised to hear that at the age of 100 she organised her own birthday party, which was a truly joyful occasion, and one attended by numbers of her old pupils.

After the war, she had visited Germany a number of times and learned to speak German. She had been on one of these visits shortly before her death on 3rd November 2007 at the grand age of 102. Her death was sudden but peaceful in hospital where she was being treated for a broken collar bone, an injury that in a child is as nothing but in a 102 year old is a coup de grâce.

The death of Florence did not quite bring an end to the Titanic association. All girls were presented with a Bible on their departure from the school and in 2013, the School was contacted by an antiquarian book seller in Ireland to say he had found Eleanor’s Bible amongst a box of other books and would we like it returned? We would and it was! So a century after she was first in the School, something belonging to her was returned to it. 104 years after the Titanic disaster we can bring their stories to an end.

Constantinopolitans

Three former pupils from the nineteenth century were born in what was then Constantinople, Turkey. Their families were part of the British settlement in Constantinople, itself the result of a long and complex power struggle – the nightmare of O and A level history students studying European history. Trying to remember all the various, and frequently-changing, alliances was hard-going, especially for exam-fevered brains. For our trio a la Turque, it was simply where they were born, where their families were, where their fathers worked and, in one case, where she lived for much of her married life. The political machinations went on around them without their having an active part in it.

Before we look at the three as individuals, let us consider their place of birth. Constantinople has had many names. Its first name was Byzantium. 600 years later it became the capital of the East Roman Empire and was called Constantinople after Constantine. Just to add variety, it was also called Nova Roma and Konstantinoupolis and Konstantiniyye and Roma Constantinopolitana by different peoples but during the same period. Oh and there was also Basileuousa (Queen of Cities) and Megalopolis (the Great City), Miklagarðr, Rūmiyyat al-Kubra (Great City of the Romans), Takht-e Rum (Throne of the Romans), Tsargrad (Russian) and, in colloquial speech, simply Polis. It’s a wonder the name Constantinople stuck at all. Especially since its five syllables have caused spelling problems for countless generations. There are a legion of little rhymes designed (supposedly) to help spell it. Here are three of them:

And having grappled with the complexity of things designed to make something seem simple (!), came the news that actually it was to be known as Istanbul anyway. But the Turks had almost always called the city by that name which is a slightly distorted form of the Greek word meaning ‘to the city.’ (information from http://ecevityazilari.org/items/show/144 , https://adrianharringtonbooks.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/masonic-lodges-in-constantinople-not-istanbul/ and Wikipedia.)

The British community mostly lived in Pera or Galata within the city so it seems very likely that our ‘Turkish Delights’ (sorry – couldn’t resist) would have too. As they were born in 1861, 1880 and 1890 respectively, they would not have been childhood playmates but two of the fathers joined the same Masonic Lodge on the same day and are listed together in the records suggesting that possibly they may have known each other. In a small ex-pat community though, all the families would probably have known the others. Their lifestyle was probably largely European in their own homes but there may have been concessions elsewhere. Some nineteenth century photographs of Constantinople show a marked absence of women in the streets. Whether that reflects the culture or is just coincidence is impossible to say.

Nineteenth century photograph of Istanbul

https://monovisions.com/constantinople-turkey-in-19th-century-historic-bw-photos/

Pascal Sébah photograph

https://www.costumecocktail.com/2016/12/21/englishwomen-in-constantinople-19th-century/

The above image is by Pascal Sébah, a photographer in Constantinople. Labelled ‘English women in Constantinople’, it is unclear whether this was normal dress for European women at the time or if these two were dressing in Turkish style. Other contemporaneous art seems to suggest that these are staged images and that ‘at home’ they dressed as other C19th women but your guess is as good as mine.

Sébah had a studio in Grande Rue de Pera, now called İstiklal Avenue and this area would surely have been known to the British community.

Formerly Grande Rue de Pera

G Da, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57402340

This modern image of the street shows buildings that would have been there at the time even if the modern shop fronts have changed.

This little ‘postcard view’ shows places that would have been there, if not familiar, to the girls in their time in Constantinople. All of them are now firmly on the tourist trail.

But let us turn to the three girls and their families. Leila Pulman b 1861 was given a name that comes from Arabic or Persian and may have reflected her birth (or may not …) as it can mean ‘one born during the night’. Her parents, Henry Pulman and Mary Jane (Polly) Pulman nee Butler, had 3 other children. One of Leila’s brothers, Henry, later married Frances Gardner, also a former pupil of the School. Leila’s father was Clerk of Works in the Civil Service. Employed by an architect, the clerk of works must ensure quality of materials and workmanship and be absolutely impartial in decisions and judgments. Often today called a site or quality inspector, they had to be tough and were probably not very much liked by either side!

Mr Pulman was actually in Tehran when he died in 1869. The petition for Leila to become a pupil indicated that the family’s income was a £30pa life insurance policy. It is interesting to see in his probate that the deceased is given of one London address but his widow of another, possibly inferring that her husband’s death had forced her to move.

Leila’s association with Constantinople was certainly not over after the death of her father. In 1887, she married Arthur Baker, her cousin. Shortly afterwards, the couple were in Constantinople where all the children were subsequently born. Leila spent 47 years of life in Constantinople.

She joined the school on 20th January 1870 and left in 1877 as Head Girl. She retained her connection with the School throughout her life and presented the font to the Chapel when the School opened on its new site. Although based in Constantinople, Leila paid visits to UK such as one in 1922 with one of her daughters when she travelled on the Empress of India.

Image from http://www.oldtokyo.com/r-m-s-empress-of-india-c-1910/

By 1932, she had returned to UK permanently and in the 1950s, she was living at 7 The Circus, Bath and paid a visit to the School on Prize Day 1953 at the grand age of 92!

She died in 1960 not quite having reached her centenary but coming very close.

Constance Webb was born in Constantinople in about 1891. She is recorded in 1901 at the School aged 10 and the following census gives her age as 20 but no record of her birth has been found. Her parents are probably James Raymond and Annie Maria Webb as he is the only Webb who appears in Constantinople Masonic lodge records. He was a clerk, born 1859. James and Annie were married in Constantinople in 1884.

But the next record found is a consular record giving the death of James Webb c 1890, so possibly even before his daughter was born. Annie Maria, nee Dunderdale, b 1865 in London, possibly died in Croydon in 1894 and there is a record for a Constance Webb being admitted to a London School as an infant in 1896. Where her parent’s name would be is the name of a guardian which suggests that Constance arrived at the School as an orphan and might explain why information is hard to trace. School records indicate her presence on school roll in 1905, wining a prize for cookery in 1906 and leaving in June 1907 to take up a post as nursery governess to Mrs Falwasser’s children. By 1911, however, she is listed as a nurse (domestic) and in 1912 as a governess in Ongar. She is a member of OMGA in 1914 living in Gillingham, Kent and visited the School on ex pupils’ day in that year. Thereafter she disappears from certain trace although there is a possibility that she is the Constance Webb b 24 Nov 1891 Housekeeper at Prices Farm in Sevenoaks (1939 register). In 1973, a Constance Webb died and her birthdate was given as 29 November 1890. As birthdates are notoriously variable when using public records, this could be the same person but whether it is the one born in Constantinople is impossible to tell.

Fortunately for our story, the 3rd pupil born in Constantinople is much easier to trace despite her frequent overseas travel. Ethel Sylvia Mountain was born in Turkey on 30 May 1880. Her father was Alfred William Mountain, an engineer whose place of work was the Imperial Ottoman Mint. This is in Topkapi Palace and, rather gruesomely,

‘To the right, just after the ticket office, is a white marble fountain that executioners used to wash their blades after doing their duty. ‘ https://www.theguideistanbul.com/topkapi-palace/]

Treasury formerly Imperial Ottoman Mint

By Alexxx1979 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33266404

Like Messrs Pulman and Webb, Alfred Mountain was a member of the Oriental Lodge. He was only 57 when he died in Halki (Heybeliada), on 16 June 1888. Halki is an island in the Sea of Marmara not far from Constantinople. During the summer months it is a resort, so it is possible that Ethel’s father died on vacation. His probate places the family at 10 Rue Merdiban, Pera, Constantinople. As a result of his death, Ethel became a pupil at the School and is there in the 1891 census. She left in July 1896 and went to Canada with her sister. The 1901 Canadian census has her recorded living with her sister in Toronto.

Ethel’s mother was Marena Amelia Mountain, 1840-1911, as listed on one of Ethel’s many travel documents. Ethel cris-crossed the Atlantic a number of times: 1909, 1911, 1914, 1916, 1923 … Note that some of these dates were during the war which must have indicated that she was intrepid, especially since one of the ships she travelled on in 1914 was torpedoed and sunk the following year.

She trained as a nurse and her name appears in Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914-1918 in 1916 where her address was 2 Clarendon Crescent, Toronto and her next of kin given as Mrs Jephcott, her sister. It hardly comes as a surprise then to find that Massonica (original Old Girls’ magazine) records her in 1917 as nursing in France at the Canadians General Hospital.

Thereafter a fleeting reference indicates her being in, or perhaps passing through, USA in 1930 before the final reference in Masonica 1976 to her death, presumably in Canada – frustratingly, a whole chunk of her life unaccounted for in public records!

And on that note, perhaps it is time to say Hoşçakal which hopefully means ‘goodbye’ in Turkish and not something very insulting because Türkçe bilmiyorum (I don’t speak Turkish).

I wonder if our girls did?

I’ll drink to that!

Emma Susannah Blyth, born eight years into the new queen’s reign – Victoria, that is – was a pupil at the School between 1853 and 1860. This was because her father, James Blyth, died in 1852 at the age of 48. He had been a greengrocer and cheesemonger and in 1851, the last census in which he appears, his residence was Nutford Place, Marylebone. Although this street still exists, it has all been redeveloped and none of the mid-nineteenth century housing stock is evident. Born in Norfolk, James married Caroline Gilbey in 1839 and they took up residence in Chelmsford where Emma was baptised in what was then St Mary the Virgin and is now (from 1914) Chelmsford Cathedral.

https://www.chelmsfordcathedral.org.uk/

Take note of the mother’s maiden name as that is going to become important.

At some point between 1847 (when the youngest child was born) and 1851, the Blyth family moved from Essex to Marylebone and for the next half century or so Emma Blyth claimed the capital as her home. Although Nutford Place was their residence in 1851, by 1853 James’ widow was given as residing at 27 Upper Southwick St, Hyde Park as a lodging housekeeper. Now there are lodging houses and there are lodging houses. This one was the superior kind inhabited by well-to-do gentlemen with society connections, as witness this record from the National Archives at Kew:

https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D44882

However, when Emma left school on 22nd March 1860, she was returned to her mother who was then at 36 Norfolk St, Strand so there appears to be a little instability in the Blyth residences during this period. Norfolk St was in an area once in the possession of the Howard family, the Dukes of Norfolk, and the streets were laid out after Arundel House was demolished in 1678. The image shows the junction between Howard St and Norfolk St so the family might be moving quite frequently but the houses were very grand.

https://www.revolvy.com/page/Norfolk-Street,-Strand

Less than a year later, in the 1861 census, Caroline and her children are found in Great Titchfield Street. The return places them in ‘House in Yard’ but remember the Gilbey name? Caroline Blyth nee Gilbey’s brothers founded the company W & A Gilbey which created Gilbey’s Gin.

https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/p/12251/gilbeys-gin-70cl

 

‘On the east side of the street, running back alongside All Saints’ Church, wine stores were erected in 1860–1 for the wine importers and distillers W. & A. Gilbey, whose business was expanding … Described as ‘cellars above ground’, these consisted of at least two floors of vaults for barrels, connected by a ramp, taking up three sides of a glass-roofed courtyard …’ https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter23_great_titchfield_street.pdf

So the ‘house in the yard’ was a part of the Gilbey premises. ‘Relations were drawn in to run the new branches, so that it expanded as an interlinked family business from the start’ http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/industrial-history/drinks-trade/page1.htm

Emma’s brother James Blyth joined the firm. ‘James Blyth and Alfred Gilbey toured French and other Continental vineyards, buying and shipping direct to England for bottling at the Pantheon… ‘ (ibid)

http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/industrial-history/drinks-trade/page1.htm

James was ‘a recognised authority on wine culture and wine commerce’ and was created a Baronet of Chelmsford in 1895. In 1907, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Blyth of Blythwood and of Stanstead Mountfichet in the County of Essex.

https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp84117/james-blyth-1st-baron-blyth

Given the success of W & A Gilbey and the interconnection of the Blyth and Gilbey families, it hardly comes as a surprise to find that Emma never had any occupation recorded for her but she is found in various census returns at posh houses: 1871 and 1891, she was residing in Great Marlborough St, Westminster and in 1881 at Elsenham Hall in Essex. This was the home of Uncle Walter Gilbey (the W of W & A Gilbey)

Image from http://www.elsenham-history.co.uk/misc/miscdocs/Sir%20Walter%20Gilbey.%20Bart.%20.pdf and map from https://www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk/elsenham/elsenhamhistory.html

‘While Walter Gilbey lived at the hall, the Prince of Wales was a frequent visitor and on December 11th 1889, he also brought with him Sir Randolph Churchill and several other dignitaries.’ https://www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk/elsenham/elsenhamhistory.html

So no doubt during the time that Emma was there, she too moved in exalted circles. Elsenham Hall is now divided into flats but the exterior still looks much as it did.

https://www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk/elsenham/elsenhamimages.html

Where Emma was in 1901 is a mystery as she is not found in any of the census returns. Clearly she was somewhere as she reappears in 1911 at Dormston, 41 The Avenue, Beckenham. This is given as a ten roomed property which Emma occupied with two servants, a cook and a housemaid. Also there at the time the census was taken were her nephew, Oscar Blyth Taylor, a decorative artist, and a visitor Claude Gothard, a stockbroker. The Avenue today is what an avenue was originally – a roadway with trees on either side. The houses are mostly large modern-built properties. There does not appear to be anything from early C20th so possibly the land was acquired, original properties demolished and newer houses built but all of a substantial size.

Emma died on 27 Oct 1927, her estate being valued at £3.5k [equivalent of £11,500 today) – not bad for someone who never apparently earned a living! Given that, on her father’s death, the family met the criterion of indigence, if Emma’s estate derives from family, it post-dates 1853. As the Gilbeys were clearly family-oriented, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that Emma’s income stemmed from them or their property. Like many other members of her family, Emma is buried in Bishops Stortford Old Cemetery, recorded on the headstone for her brother James.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35717685/james-blyth#view-photo=16771703

The little girl born on 24 February 1845 who lost her father when she was seven years old – as did so many of the pupils – ended her days living in comfort and all because her uncles, at a loose end after returning from the Crimean war in 1856, started a wine merchant’s business which branched out.

 

 

 

1971 advertisement https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com

Gin and tonic?

Don’t mind if I do!

Down Under Up Top

A goodly number of our former pupils have wended their way to the Antipodes for new lives. Going from the UK to Australia or New Zealand is a well-established global passage. Indeed, the vast majority of websites concentrate on the emigration routes from UK. But this post is actually looking at the reverse trend, so to speak. At least eight of our former pupils between 1857 and 1905 were born in Australia and made their way to UK as very young children.

Today’s transoceanic travel is comparatively a piece of cake. Nineteenth century sailing to and from Australia was gambling with one’s life a lot of the time. To those of us used to rolling up at an airport and boarding a flight; sitting back and relaxing, even if for a goodly time, being fed regularly, using on board conveniences; then landing, through customs and out to perhaps a holiday or a new life, or to visit relatives not seen for a few years, it is quite eye-popping discovering what travel was like for some of our earlier pupils.

For a start off, “In calm weather a sailing ship might take as long as four months, while a well-run clipper ship with favourable winds could make the journey in a little over half this time.” https://museumsvictoria.com.au/longform/journeys-to-australia/ Compared with that, almost 24 hours cooped up in cattle-class is a doddle! The sailing equivalent of cattle-class – steerage – was below the water line but the Southern ocean storms they might encounter were not their only problems. “Hygiene was poor at the best of times and worse in bad weather” (ibid) so in stormy weather, the order ‘batten down the hatches’ went out. And this meant that the steerage passengers were locked in without ventilation or light for the duration of the storm. Candles or oil lanterns were forbidden because of the danger of fire:

“… cramped conditions with timber, straw mattresses, hemp (rope) and tar caulking, meant a fire could spread with terrifying speed” (ibid)

Fire at sea is the mariner’s worst nightmare and, as few could swim and there were nowhere near enough lifeboats, a shipwreck left little chance of rescue. The conditions in steerage during a storm, with many people crammed together, no toilet facilities and the inevitable seasickness, must have been horrifying and doesn’t bear thinking about it. So perhaps we won’t. Think about it, I mean. Oh no – too late, the image is there …

Vinegar and chloride of lime were used to wash the decks of the ships, as fresh water was reserved for drinking and cooking. The vinegar helped prevent the spread of disease, although the understanding of why was not yet there, and, if nothing else, it made the ship smell better. Relatively.

On better managed ships, the areas below deck were thoroughly cleaned every few days by sailors and the women in steerage. Most ships provided only basic toilet and bathing facilities.

‘Sea bathing in the Tropics’, sketch from Edward Snell’s diary on the Bolton, London to Melbourne, 1849 (ibid)

The illustration indicates all too clearly the lack of privacy and may not have been available to ladies at all! Bathing was not normally a regular occurrence as the connection between personal hygiene and disease was little understood at the time. Most made do with a clean-up with a damp cloth under a blanket.

Straw bedding attracted fleas and cockroaches so people laid out their bedding in fine weather to air it. During storms, though, the bedding could get – and stay – soaking wet and this added to the problems with outbreaks of influenza and pneumonia.

Facilities for washing clothes were very restricted so many passengers wore the same clothes throughout the voyage. This, added to the stink emanating from the bilges below steerage, and given the increase in heat in the tropics, probably meant that the ship’s imminent arrival in port was announced by the wind rather than by any sightings from land!

The first steam ships made the journey to Australia in 1852 but these early steamers also had sails as their engines were inefficient and there were no coal depots mid-ocean for re-fuelling and actually few coaling ports en route.

The introduction of more efficient compound steam engines and iron, rather than wooden, hulls, enabled a voyage to be completed entirely under steam power. This was from the 1860s onwards but it was not until the 1880s that they became the transport of choice for emigrants. Because these ships did not have to rely on wind power and could travel at a constant speed, and the motive power could also provide electric lighting, refrigeration and ventilation, they could provide more comfort for passengers.

Grand saloons were able to be provided for first class passengers, and small cabins instead of sleeping berths were provided in steerage class.’ (ibid)

 

Married couples’ accommodation in steerage, by unknown artist, taken from the Illustrated London News, 13 April 1844

So accommodation such as above began to give way to smaller cabins for significantly fewer people! A diary of a journey made in 1874, read across the grain, shows how accommodation had improved.

the hatching had broken open in the second class cabin and they … all had to get to work baling … water out of the saloon (Diary of Ally Heathcote, England to Melbourne, Victoria, Onboard ‘SS Northumberland’, 1874) https://museumsvictoria.com.au/longform/journeys-to-australia/ [my emphasis]

The routes between Australia and London (with the Suez Canal option only available after 1869)

London to Perth is just a smidgen over 9000 miles with Sydney another 1500 miles further on. So that’s 10.5 thousand miles for things to go wrong. Great storms, gigantic icebergs, danger of shipwreck were some external factors but death from dysentery or typhus from the insanitary conditions and mediocre medical treatment at best added to the dangers.

“Deaths at sea were tragically common. As many as one in five children, and one in 60 adults died on the voyage to Australia” (ibid)

Conditions improved as the ships got larger. The Orient, launched in 1879, was the largest steamship built for the Australia route. It offered comforts unheard of for the period, including a promenade deck, refrigeration, and later, electric lighting.

Painting by Charles Dickinson Gregory of the sailing ship Orient on the sea, (1927)

Amongst other things was an ice-making plant. Horses were stabled on the rear deck and pigs, sheep and cows were in cages. These were not intended for a new life in another country because they were converted into pork, lamb and beef for diners in first-class!

‘The first-class saloon was fitted out with ornate brass furniture and elaborate wooden carvings, whilst the music saloon boasted a grand piano and an organ amidst profusely growing ferns and dracaenas.’ (ibid)

The SS Great Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ship, carried thousands on the Australia-London route from 1852, being converted to sail in 1881.

In 1884, she was retired to the Falkland Islands and used as a warehouse and coal hulk before being scuttled in 1937. But as those who have visited Bristol will know, this was not her end. In 1970, Sir Jack Arnold Hayward, OBE paid for the vessel to be raised, towed back to the United Kingdom, and returned to the Bristol dry dock where she had been built. And where she can be visited to gain an idea of what life on board might have been.

 

Sir Jack Hayward from his obituary, Daily Telegraph 13 Jan 2015

 

Image from a cabin in SS Great Britain from https://teatimeinwonderland.co.uk/2016/11/09/bristol-brunels-ss-great-britain/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And none of this takes into account something that hasn’t changed – even today. The decision to leave one country for a new life far away brings the emotional issue of having to say goodbye to home and loved ones.

‘… people were very conscious of the fact that they would probably never see their friends and relatives again.’ (https://museumsvictoria.com.au/longform/journeys-to-australia/)

All in all, it was not a voyage undertaken lightly. Nonetheless, eight of our pupils did undertake it, some more than once.

Elizabeth Minnie Lumley b 1857; Florence Hopkins, 1868; May Vockins 1884; Florence Webb 1886; Amy Margaret d’Arcy Sugden, 1894; Marjorie Gimblette, 1899 and Annie & Ethel Hewer in 1903 & 1905 respectively were all born in Australia and became pupils in London.

Just to offer some balance, Emma Amelia Humphreys (1829) and Margaret Humphries (1836), both former pupils, went to Australia before any of the above were born. Emma and Margaret, despite the different spellings, do appear to be sisters! They would definitely have travelled by sailing ship because their emigration occurred before steam ships were in use. The individual stories of these travellers must await another day.

All aboard who’s going aboard, please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South of the river

The final two of the first pupils had the furthest to travel when they left home for Somers Town (via Pall Mall where they were foregathering). Mary Ann Woolveridge and Ann Kane both came from south of the Thames. And this at a time when bridges were few and far between.

Mary Ann’s home was given in the Morning Post as Melliore Street, Maize – a somewhat less accurate rendition of Melior St, Maze but, either way, in Southwark.

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=18&lat=51.5027&lon=-0.0845&layers=163&right=BingHyb

Daughter of William and Mary Woolveridge, Mary Ann was baptised in 1787, not in Southwark at all, but in Bethnal Green, which record confirms her birthdate.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P72/MTW/009

Quite why she was baptised considerably after her birthdate and in a place some distance away from her home address is a mystery we may never solve. Of interest is that single word ‘Pauper’, which tells its own story.

There were nine children born to her parents of whom five were born and had died before Mary Ann put in an appearance. Mary’s parents were unfortunate to lose so many children and of the remaining four, two others did not make it to the nineteenth century which was, metaphorically speaking, only just around the corner when they arrived in the world. Mrs Woolveridge’s father had the interesting forename Reason which may hint at a non-conformist background and two of Mary Ann’s brothers also carried the name but neither for any great length of time.

William, a carpenter, died in 1797 and was buried in St Matthew, Bethnal Green. Clearly this church featured heavily in the lives of the Woolveridges but Mary Woolveridge nee Palmer was born in Southwark so perhaps, somehow, they managed to keep ties with both areas. Whatever the truth, Mary Ann was clearly living in Melior St in 1789.

After Mary Ann joined the School, we hear nothing further until April 1794 when the Committee received a letter from Mrs Woolveridge requesting that her daughter be allowed to leave school six months earlier than expected. This was to assist her mother in running a school. The Committee’s response was starchy:

…no child should be permitted to be taken out of the school by her parents until the expiration of her time … unless such Parent shall pay for her Board, Cloathing &c from the time of her being admitted until the time of her being taken out.

Girls were there for the full whack or not at all. Whilst this might seem a little harsh for modern taste, it should be remembered that the board, clothing and education were provided at absolutely no cost to the family and the Committee was anxious not to be taken advantage of. We must assume that Mary Ann stayed for the remaining time and then went home. The Book of Governors in 1818 simply states that she was returned to her parents without specifying whether that was in April or October 1794. Sadly, that is the last we hear of Mary Ann as no further trace of her has yet been found. There is a possible marriage in 1823 but she would have been 44 years old so that may be straw-clutching time.

We can find far more about Melior St itself than we can about one of its inhabitants. It was named for Melior May Weston, a local 18th century property owner, who died in 1782.

https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/PORTRAIT-OF-MELIOR-MARY-WESTON/95C393425D0D72B9

Rocque’s map of 1746 shows the beginning of development in the area and, interestingly given Mary Ann’s grandfather’s forename (Reason), has a building labelled Meeting House (although there are no other documents relating to it)  which ‘suggests that there was a Quaker Meeting House in the site at this time’ (planbuild.southwark.gov.uk/documents/ 4 Sep 2013) .

Maze Manor, after which the area took its name, had been in the Weston family since about 1623.

‘The site of the manor is marked by Weston Street, Weston Place, Melior Street, Great Maze Pond and Maze Pond (VCH Surrey iv, p 141–151). The manor … was inherited by John Webbe, a distant relative, who took on the Weston name (www.jwhistory.org.uk/sutton.html). Melior Street, John Street, and Webb Street (now under the railway) all date to this period.’ Ibid.

At the time that Mary Ann was in residence, there were some houses there ‘small terraced houses, without individual gardens … The remainder of the site is open ground at this time, probably in use as a communal garden or yard, possibly with small-scale industrial activities taking place.’ Ibid

Horwood 1792-9

A hundred years later, and well beyond the remit of this article, the area is much developed and what was open land has been built on and garden walls put up.

1894 map

Even further beyond remit, there was war damage inflicted on Melior St: ‘five of the 18th century buildings facing onto Melior Street suffered serious damage’

John Webbe-Weston, who inherited the land from Melior Weston, erected a marble tablet to her memory in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford where she is buried. Mary Ann Woolveridge has no memorial tablet that we know of so this post, and some history of Melior St in Southwark, must suffice instead.

Ann Kane, the other Southwark girl, was also baptised significantly later than her birth. She was baptised in St Giles in the Fields in October 1788 (possibly in preparation for her admission as a candidate) but was born in November 1780.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P82/GIS/A/02

The Morning Post gives her address as No 2 Lant St, Borough whilst the Rough Minute Book tells us that her application for a place was supported by Mr Peter Reilly. Her time at the school was uneventful but there seems to have been some difficulty in finding her a position as she approached the end of her time at school. Despite her mother, Susannah, declaring that she was not in a positon to take her daughter back, she was nevertheless instructed to come and take her away. The fact that it was her mother the Committee were dealing with implies that the father (Thomas) had since died although, like his daughter, there are scant records to be found. Even his lodge record (Fortitude) gives only his name and no occupation or address as with other lodge members. Did somebody mention conspiracy? At the last moment a position for Ann was found and in January 1796 she was apprenticed to Samuel Higgins of Red Lyon St, Clerkenwell, a pocket book maker. This was probably what today we call wallets. It is likely that Ann would have been employed in a domestic capacity. It wasn’t all plain sailing however as, in June 1797, Mrs Higgins appeared before the Committee complaining that Ann had absconded four times. After closer questioning, it was revealed that each of these followed a few days after a visit from her mother who, it was felt, was giving her daughter ‘imprudent advice’ – what a wealth of possibilities that phrase brings! The Committee took it upon themselves to tell Mrs Kane that her behaviour was not in the best interest of her daughter who, they pointed out, was well-placed in this situation ‘much better than might be expected from one of her Child’s weak intellects’.

What happened next is a cliffhanger with no following chapter because there is no further information of any kind. Let us hope that the Ann Kane found in the Australia Convict Ship Muster Rolls 1790-1849 as arriving there in 1806 on the Tellicherry, convicted as a vagrant and transported for 7 years, is not our [wo]man. Rather, instead, that the Ann Kane who married in 1811 in St Marylebone (she would have been 31 years old) might be her. Mind you, she married a Mr Smith so if she was hard to find before, she is impossible afterwards!

This is not the Tellicherry but her sister ship William Pitt which arrived the same year.

https://www.jenwilletts.com/convict_ship_william_pitt_1806.htm

Lant St, on the other hand, is much easier to research and brings the ghost of Charles Dickens back to the School’s history. (It is remarkable how often he features in the school’s history!)

Not far from Lant St is St George the Martyr church which was used by the School during its residence in Southwark. This is the church at which Dickens has Little Dorrit marry. The Marshalsea debtors’ prison, which also features in Little Dorrit, was located to the north of one end of Lant Street. This was also a spectre in Dickens’ own life as his father was incarcerated there, during which time Dickens lodged in Lant St and worked at the blacking factory.

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/drawing-of-lant-street-borough

The image above is a somewhat romanticised one suggesting pretty little cottages. In fact Lant St was part of one of London’s many notorious slum areas. ‘It is located in the area known as ‘the Mint’, which in the nineteenth century was notorious for its poor, overcrowded and insanitary conditions, as well as for crime and disorder.‘ http://www.history-pieces.co.uk/Docs/Lant_Street_1851.pdf

A modern novelist describing Lant St had this to say:

“We were all more or less thieves, at Lant Street. But we were that kind of thief that rather eased the dodgy deed along, than did it…it was a very dull day with us, when no-one came to Mr Ibbs’s shop with a bag or a packet in the lining of his coat, in his hat, in his sleeve or stocking.” Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

Whilst this is fiction, it is intended as a realistic portrayal of the street in the C19th.

The skeleton of another Lant St girl from even further back in time (fourth century) was one of four skeletons sent to McMasters University in Canada for an in-depth study of DNA. Nicknamed the Lant St teenager, this study enabled the researchers to discover that she had blue eyes and blonde hair; that her heritage (through her mother) was from the eastern parts of the Roman Empire; that she spent the first ten years of her life in Africa and then arrived in what was then Londinium; she had a diet of fish, grain and vegetables and that she died aged 14.

In fact, more is known about her than we know about Ann Kane. Perhaps we only need to wait another seventeen centuries to find out!

Four streets – or maybe three

Morning Post 1789

Four addresses, all given as Soho, feature above: Brewer St, Berwick St, Moor St and Tower St. Now this last is a conundrum as there is no Tower St in Soho. There is, however, a Tower St in present day Covent Garden which is next door, as it were. It is unclear whether Tower St was once regarded as being in Soho (no historical references to support that) or if whoever recorded the information, or the clerk who copied the same for the newspaper insertion, or the typesetter of the newspaper, or whoever simply made a mistake. It is not the only possible mistake attached to these four girls as Catherine Charlotte, given the surname Baes in School records, has on her baptismal record records the name Bayce or possibly Boyce. So who made the mistake and when?

Baptismal record for Catherine Charlotte

Catherine Charlotte, daughter of Francis and Catherine, was born on 12th July 1783 and, at the time of her admission to the School, lived at 23 Tower St. The application for her place was supported by ‘Mr Ruspini jnr’, son of the Chevalier. Clearly, Francis was a Freemason but the only reference in lodge records is M F Baes, listed as a Maj of languages (whatever that means) but with an address in Castle St, Leicester Square. This is not very far from Tower St but that may not be helpful in pinning down whether this is the right person or not.

Tower St today is a highly sought after address, at least according to the estate agents. (Now there’s a surprise!) Described as ‘In the heart of central London’s uber cultural Covent Garden’, 22 Tower St is a listed building now been converted to luxury apartments.

By Philafrenzy – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50413744

 

 

 

London’s house-numbering system appears to change from street to street so whether 23 Tower St is adjacent to 22 or opposite is unknown.

When Catherine left the School, she was apprenticed to James Duff esq. of Finsbury Square although the School records do not indicate in what capacity. There is a complete absence of any further records save a possible burial record in 1847 as Catherine Bays.

 

 

Sophia Riches, daughter of Henry and Mary, was the oldest of the first pupils having been born in 1780. Her address in 1789 was given as 43 Brewer St, Golden Square.

 

Map showing close proximity of these streets

.

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp138-145#highlight-first

The layout of Golden Square (above right) in 1675 is a clear indication of the peculiarity of street numbering as it shows the back of 19 being adjacent to No. 82 and 62 adjacent to 13! Presumably those facing into Golden Square were built first, the rest being added into spaces left over. Brewer St, on the southern flank, was developed by Sir William Pulteney and was probably named for the breweries in the area. None of these houses survive today.

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp116-137

This outline is even worse for numbering, showing No 1 next to No 44! The above website indicates Nos. 40 and 42 Brewer St were paired houses ‘with plain brick fronts of early nineteenth-century character’. It describes the interior styling in some detail and then states that No. 44 is a four-storeyed house of a slightly earlier date, constructed in yellow London brick with a shopfront and accommodation above. Sadly, No 43 is not mentioned specifically. We might extrapolate a similarity but there seems to be such inconsistency that it is impossible to be sure. Lodge records for Henry Riches suggest that he may have been a coal dealer although neither lodge places him directly in Brewer St.

‘Brewer Street and its immediate vicinity was evidently a centre for noxious trades’ (ibid)

The western end of it was known as Gunpowder St as there was a saltpetre house there and the nearby Glasshouse St probably relates to a glass manufactory. You only needed a tanner’s yard and you’ve got a full house for stinks! The eastern end was originally called Knaves’ Acre and then Little Pulteney Street until 1937, when it was absorbed into Brewer Street. Whilst the word ‘knave’ today has connotations of roguish behaviour, in origin it simply meant boy or male servant and was a neutral term which ‘gradually underwent a process of “pejoration” and took on its modern meaning’ http://www.word-detective.com/2012/08/knaves-jacks. It is also used in cards and Dickens uses the term to demean Pip in Estella’s eyes in Great Expectations:

“He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!” said Estella with disdain, before our first game was out. “And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!”

Sophia does not appear to have returned to Brewer St after her time at school because she was apprenticed to Mr Whitehouse of Brownlow St although, as this was Covent Garden, she may not have been far from home.

Berwick St, our next port of call, was described in 1720 as ‘a pretty handsome strait Street, with new well built Houses, much inhabited by the French, where they have a Church’. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp219-229#h3-0007

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=571451

Berwick St is pictured on the Oasis album cover (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? It is famous for its market, the earliest reference being 1778 where the vestry committee minutes note that:

‘Ten brokers living in Berwick Street … were then summoned ‘for setting out goods in the Street‘ Whereupon the Committee … advised them to be careful not to offend in future.’ https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp219-229#h3-0007

Clearly this mildest of rebukes did not prevent the trading which continues to the present day. We’ve already had Dickens, so now let’s have Virginia Woolf, who “regularly frequented Berwick Street Market to buy ‘silk stockings (flawed slightly)’. Berwick Street featured in her writing and she described Soho as a space ‘filled with fierce light’ and ‘raw’ voices.” https://www.thisissoho.co.uk/history/

Berwick market was the place to shop for ‘exotic’ ingredients. In 1880 tomatoes first appeared in there and the first grapefruit in 1890. In the 1950s, Elizabeth David’s book introduced a post-war, monochrome Britain to Mediterranean food although actually buying the ingredients was a problem. Olive oil then was only used medicinally but Berwick market stepped up to the plate and became the place to buy all the unusual ingredients we can now find on the shelves of even relatively small supermarkets.

Margaret Burgess, who lived in Berwick St in 1789, may well have visited the market herself. Her home was given as ‘Turner, No 29 Berwick St’ so we have to assume that the family rented part of a house, from Mr Turner. Wakefield’s Merchant and Tradesman’s General Directory for London … 1794 lists a ‘John Turner, Upholder and Auctioneer’, albeit at No 12 rather than 29. There is no other Turner listed for Berwick St so one may make the assumption that this could be the same business. In Berwick St was ‘Le Quarré de Sohoe’ French Church (since demolished) in use since 1694. By 1770, this had become an auction room. Could this be the place of business of John Turner? By 1818, it was the ‘Berwick Street Theatre’, owned by Mr Daley, an auctioneer and copperplate-engraver. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols31-2/pt2/pp219-229#h3-0007

Another building that Margaret would have seen – well the outside of it anyway! – is the Blue Posts Public House, at the corner of Broadwick and Berwick streets since at least 1739.

https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/Westminster/BluePostsBerwick.shtml

After her time at school, Margaret was apprenticed to Mr Dodd of Lime St, a packer in the East India Company so did not return to Berwick St.

If the other three addresses suggested previously gentrified areas gradually sliding downhill, Moor St could well be described as already at the lower end!

‘One area where the dodgy Soho clung on was the bit known to the police as the Moor Street Triangle, bounded by Old Compton Street, Charing Cross Road, and Moor Street itself’ http://englishbuildings.blogspot.com/2008/05/moor-street-london.html

Perhaps this is an unfair description of it in 1789 but it neatly encapsulates its downward path.

 

The view from Google Earth street view shows a façade that may have been Georgian in origin but in which, at its nadir, the interiors were knocked about something cruel to accommodate their use.

‘The properties in the triangle had been unofficially converted and adapted – extra ceiling height for the lap dancing, lower ceilings for the more horizontal activities above, lean-tos in the courtyard to provide extra kitchen space for the restaurants, interconnecting corridors allowing those in the know to enter from Moor Street and exit via Old Compton.’ http://englishbuildings.blogspot.com/2008/05/moor-street-london.html

At the time the Vinets were there, it had perhaps not yet become synonymous with seediness and was probably an area with some shops and accommodation above as suggested in the image above.

Vinet Pere (the use of the French is appropriate here) was recorded in the first Minute Book (rough copy) as Jean Antoine Vinet, a master tailor now ‘in distress’ and with a sick wife.

‘Her Father appeared, 60 Years of Age brought persons known by the Committee who testified his being made a Mason before the year 1768. Having been in good circumstances but now in great distress produced a Certificate from the Grand Lodge and with great difficulty had procured 6/6d to pay for the same.’

Just a few years earlier he was recorded as paying Poor Rates and Watch Rates so perhaps the family, according to the rule of indigence by which all candidates were judged, had seen better times and sickness and increasing age were rendering life difficult. At any rate, his daughter was deemed ‘a proper object’ so the Committee accepted Vinet’s petition. Whilst Harriet was at school, her elderly father and possibly also his ‘sick wife’ both died, as Harriet, on leaving school, was returned to her aunt, Mrs Johnson, ‘who kept a house in a respectable part of Camden Town’. Thereafter there is but one uncertain reference to her, the burial of Harriett Ann Vinett, aged 45, in 1828 at St James, Piccadilly and of Little Pulteney St.

John Anthony Vinet was a tailor but in 1789 the family were living at Mr Shaw’s, Ironmongers, Moor St.

This image is actually a shop in Soignies (Belgium) but is typical of the old-fashioned ironmonger’s shop. http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/05/18/at-londons-oldest-ironmongers/ states that London’s oldest ironmongers [In Hackney Rd] opened for business in 1797 as Presland & Sons’ but, as Mr Shaw the ironmonger in Moor St is listed by the Morning Post in January 1789, it was clearly not the first ironmongers. Whatever the history, ironmongers’ shops were pretty much all like that pictured above and testament to this is the wonderful sketch by the ‘Two Ronnies’ known as Four Candles. The delicious word play based on misunderstanding items on a shopping list could not take place anywhere but an ironmongers. In the sketch, Ronnie Corbett, as the increasingly exasperated shopman, is asked for things which he duly retrieves from little boxes or drawers only to find that the customer, Ronnie Barker, is actually asking for something else. It is a classic piece of comedic wordplay.

Four candles? No … just four streets!

Glanville St as was

Sophia Kewney, another of the first pupils starting at the School in 1789, hailed from Marylebone although part of the street in which she lived was originally St. Pancras, ‘the boundary passing between the east and west sides of the street in an oblique line.’  http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol21/pt3/ [1] ‘The crossroads at the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road is an historic junction, where four parishes met.’ [2]

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side

In fact the address of 44 Glanville St, Rathbone Place is a kind of anomaly in itself as Rathbone Place was originally known as Glanville Street rather than being a separate street and perhaps it was at the point of changing in 1789 when Sophia’s address was given. Rather like a belt-and-braces approach, both names for the street were used so that there could be no doubting which street it was.

The surname Kewney is often difficult to trace through records, as the w may be written so that it blends into the n and could easily be read Kenney. In the Rough Minute Book, Sophia is described as being ‘approved a proper Object’, her parents being William and Ann. Her application was supported by H Spicer (Henry Spicer a portrait & enamel painter of Great Newport Street), someone who had been involved in the School since the beginning. There are some fleeting references in public records to a William Kewney. He appears in tax records in 1782 and 1792, both times given in Glanville St. However an electoral roll in 1774 gives him as a mason living in Noel St, Westminster. Presumably, this same William is the one who applied for financial assistance in the List of petitioners[3] where it is recorded

‘William Kewney, mason, requests assistance after severe illness has left him unable to support his family. Recommended by Lodge of Operative Masons, No. 185 [SN 613], London’

Whether these two are the same William Kewney is impossible to say but, given the rarity of the surname, it seems likely.

 

The newspaper gives that Sophia was baptised in St Pancras on 6th March 1780 having been born on 29th January of that year. However, the records actually give a baptism on 6th March 1779 at Percy Chapel, St Pancras so, like Mary Ann Ruscoe, Sophia appears to be a year older than the School thought she was! If this were a deliberate fraud (as Mary Ann Ruscoe’s was) it is one which has only been uncovered two centuries later …

Of her time at the School, we know only that she was retained as a servant at the School when she was old enough to leave. This might imply that family circumstances had deteriorated even further than in 1788 or it may simply be a case that there was a vacancy for a house servant and Sophia was available. She clearly worked hard as she earned a guinea’s gratuity after a year. So we can place her until at least 1796 and then, in 1799, there is a marriage.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: p85/mry1/393

This marriage took place at St Mary’s, Lambeth and indicates that both lived there. This is not an area previously associated with the Kewneys but possibly Sophia had moved on from being a house servant with the School to a domestic role in Lambeth. John and Sophia had five children and their only daughter later married Mr Crichton and there are Crichton descendants today who can claim Sophia as an ancestor.

But it is Rathbone Place, Glanville St that is the star of this show (post) as around the time the Kewneys were there, it was a little hotspot for artists and art suppliers.

The houses [in Rathbone Place] were regular three and four-storey brick terraces … Houses with 20–22ft widths generally had three-bay fronts, standard rear-stair layouts, corner fireplaces and closet wings. Some had marble chimneypieces … The street was a good private address, with a number of wealthy residents ‘ https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter31_hanway_street_and_rathbone_place.pdf

Where there are artists and architects and ‘Nearly every house in Rathbone Place had an artist as tenant at some point’ (ibid), then almost inevitably there will be art suppliers. George Jackson & Co, Samuel and Joseph Fuller, Winsor & Newton and George Rowney & Co were all in this area. The Fullers were at No. 34 from 1809 until 1862 in what came to be called Fuller’s Temple of Fancy.

A leaflet, apparently from the Lady’s Magazine, August 1823, depicted Fuller’s shop interior, and gives a good idea of the product range; the business was advertised as ‘Publishers of the greatest variety of Sporting Prints …Wholesale Manufacturers of Bristol Boards, Ivory Paper & Cards./ Engravers, Publishers, Printsellers, & Fancy Stationers.’ https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2013/03/interior.html

Left: Fuller’s Temple of Fancy Right: Jackson’s logo today from https://www.georgejackson.com/

George Jackson & Sons Ltd was established in 1780 producing decorative plaster ornament. Their premises were at No. 50 by 1817, expanded into No. 49 c.1832 and then to Nos 47–48. Behind the showrooms was a large workshop. The firm continued to operate from Rathbone Place until 1934.

 

 

 

 

Next door at No 51 was George Rowney & Co., artists’ colour manufacturers, from 1817 to 1862 and at No. 52 from 1854 to 1884. This is a company that has had almost as many names as the colours of paint they produce! It started as T & R Rowney (Thomas and Richard Rowney), then Thomas’s son took on the business with his brother in law, trading as Rowney & Forster. After 1837, another son took over and it became George Rowney & Company, later George Rowney & Co Ltd. It relocated many times, finally leaving London completely. It retained its connection with the Rowney family but eventually it ran out of Rowneys and in 1969 was sold. In its bicentenary year (1983), it became Daler-Rowney, under which name it still trades very successfully today.

http://www.daler-rowney.com/

 

 

The other art suppliers from Rathbone Place, still very much trading today, is Winsor & Newton. William Winsor, chemist and artist, and Henry Charles Newton, artist, set up business at No. 38 in 1833 in what was then ‘part of an artists’ quarter in which a number of eminent painters had studios, and other colourmen were already established’ (Wikipedia). Together they combined the knowledge of science and the creativity of art to provide

‘a regular source of reliable colours and brushes.’ http://www.winsornewton.com/uk/discover  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     38 Rathbone Place may well have been Newton’s home before it became business premises and within a short time, No 39 was also part of the business. https://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/directory-of-suppliers/w.php

To Dickens they were ‘Rathbone-place magicians … Has anyone ever seen anything like Winsor and Newton’s cups of chromes and carnations … and crimsons, loud and fierce as a war-cry, and pinks, tender and loving as a young girl?All the year round, vol.7. 1862, p.563

http://www.winsornewton.com/uk/

 

Having sourced our paints, let us go and find the artists who used them. Of the Rathbone Place ones, at least two of them had a connection with the School’s history. Humphry, Hardwick & Hone were there at the time that we know the Kewneys were living there; Burrell, Constable, Lewis and Pugin may have coincided with the Kewneys’ residence but after Sophia had started at the School; Linnell, Hawkins, Bielfield & Moore were there slightly later but still in the early part of the C19th.

Joseph Francis Burrell, was a miniaturist who exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1801 and 1807. He lived at No 7. John Constable, of course, is known to all of us. He lodged at No 50 when he was a student at the Royal Academy. Frederick Christian Lewis was an etcher, aquatint and stipple engraver, and also a landscape and portrait painter. He lived at No 5.

Left: miniature by Burrell. Centre: self-portrait Constable. Right: etching and aquatint by Lewis

Augustus Charles Pugin at No 38 was a French-born artist and draughtsman and a skilful watercolourist. He was in Rathbone Place 1804–6. Perhaps he is somewhat eclipsed in fame by his son Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. John Linnell, who lived close by at No. 35 (1817–18) was a painter and engraver. Like Constable – but just a couple of years later – he became a student at the Royal Academy where he won medals for drawing, modelling and sculpture. It is known that Nathaniel Hone, portrait and miniature painter, died at No. 30 in 1784. He was an Irish-born painter and one of the founder members of the Royal Academy.

Left: portrait of Pugin by John Nash. Centre: self=portrait by Linnell. Right: self-portrait by Hone

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, living at No. 11 in the 1830s, was the son of an artist (Thomas Hawkins) and is particularly renowned for his work on the life-size models of dinosaurs in the Crystal Palace Park in south London. However he also produced very fine natural history paintings. Henry Bielfield, painter, lived at No. 13 (1837–54) but he also lived at No 18 and No 21. Presumably not at the same time. George Belton Moore, landscape painter, lived at No. 1 Rathbone Place in 1830. Moore was a pupil of Pugin so he only had to walk down the street for that.

Left: Porcine Deer (Axis porcinus) from Knowsley Park by Hawkins. Centre: Meeting of day and light by Bielfield. Right: Fish Street Hill looking towards London Bridge, 1830 by Moore

That leaves the two who have tangential connections to the School’s history.

Ozias Humphry, who lived at No. 29 in 1777, was a miniaturist of some renown who was later appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King (1792). Lest this sound somewhat childish to modern ears, crayons was the term used for what today we call pastels. Sadly, his deteriorating sight (he eventually became blind) meant that he had to turn from miniatures to larger portraits. Amongst his work was a portrait of one Bartholomew Ruspini, the instigator of the School of which Sophia Kewney became a pupil.

 

Left: Extract from “The Royal Freemason’s School for Girls”. The Builder. 9: 722. 1851..Right: photograph of Philip Hardwick, c 1850 from The Patrick Montgomery Collection

Philip Hardwick, an architect and son of an architect was born at No. 9 in 1792. He trained as an architect under his father, Thomas Hardwick, who was in turn the son of another architect Thomas Hardwick (1725–1798). The Hardwick family name spans over 150 years in the history of British architecture. When the School desired to move to its third site (Somers Place East and St George’s Fields, Southwark were the first two), Philip Hardwick was appointed the architect.

Whilst working on Lincoln’s Inn Great Hall (1843-4), Philip Hardwick fell ill and poor health dogged the rest of his life. His son Philip Charles Hardwick assisted his father and they worked as a team. In 1851, the 3rd school site was opened, its style very much reflecting the zeitgeist for Gothic revivalist style.

The School at Clapham

So the School in Somers Place East connects to the site in Clapham via Rathbone Place, or Glanville St that was, in a very curious and unexpected way.

 

[1] Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood ed. J R Howard Roberts and Walter H Godfrey (London, 1949), p. 12. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol21/pt3/p12 [accessed 7 March 2019].

[2] ‘https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter31_hanway_street_and_rathbone_place.pdf

[3] Moderns Grand Lodge Committee of Charity, GBR 1991 HC 12/C/110