Bartholomew Fair Watercolour by Charles Green R.I. (1840 – 1898)

Whilst researching for volume two of the George Wombwell biography, I discovered a November 1949 article in the popular newsapaper The Sphere concerning Charles Green’s depiction of Bartholomew Fair in central London. It referred to its place in a collection under the aegis of The National Gallery of British Sports and Pastimes, which had been founded by Walter Hutchinson (1887 – 1950) during 1949. It consisted of over 3600 paintings, prints and other works, which belonged to Hutchinson and adorned his house in London: Hutchinson House. Formerly known as Derby House, Stratford Place, the house was originally built for Edward Stratford, the Second Earl of Aldborough in 1776 – 1777. The current occupants are the Orient Club which have maintained residence since 1962.

There is a catalogue of items from the collection.

National Gallery of British Sports & Pastimes (LONDON) – The First 600 Selected Pictures. National Gallery of British Sports and Pastimes … List of sports and pastimes, etc. (London, c.1950)

Following Hutchinson’s death, and the breakup of the Sports and Pastimes Gallery, all works were offered up for auction. The current whereabouts of Green’s painting is not known and there is no record of its existence in the Courtauld’s Witt Archives (as of summer 2017). The Sphere article is quite sparce, but describes a busy scene, full of incidents after the manner of Frith. The entertainments include Wombwell’s Menageire (rear left), swings, roundabouts and all the fun of the fair. In the background is the entrance to Bartholomew’s Hospital. It is probably the most representative of all views of Bartholomew Fair, although it must have been painted after 1855, the closing date of the fair.

Green was a well known illustrator for the works of Charles Dickens and other examples of his work can be found in collections such as those of the Victoria and Albert museum in central London.

This painting was excluded from the biography due to insumountable, multiple copyright issues, and is published here for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study, reference, criticism or review or news reporting, of not more than one item (article or page) from any one issue of a newspaper of periodical. Copyright issues should not be allowed to interfere with the discovery of hitherto unknown artworks from being researched and presented for public display.

Any information concering the current location of the watercolour would be gratefully received.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biogrpahy

I received a reply to my campaign to get the Dictionary upated, in view of the recently released biography (Vols I and II). It is reproduced here. At last,I feel we are getting the nation to change their view on George Wombwell’s life. Of course, I have no way of knowing when and ‘if’ the Dictionary will be updated. You can be assured that I will continue the campaign if they do not take into account the contents of the premier biography of George Wombwell, celebrated Menagerist.

 

 

End of Days: Last Performance Soon by Ringling’s and Barnham’s Circus

Pointed out to me by Terence Ruffle, I think this is well written and quite sad. Possibly not for the animals, but who really knows what they are thinking? The ‘ Greatest Show on Earth’ comes to an end in May 2017. Quite tearful. TJ would be quite angry and George Wombwell the World’s Greatest Showman, George Wombwell would be very sad, and probably wondering how he could capitalise on Barnham’s demise!

A 14-year-old girl named Zazel was the first to be shot out of a cannon, in 1877 London.

On the subject of old ‘trains’, I often wonder if there are any of the caravans that Bostock and Wombwell travelled in, languishing somewhere in a farm outbuilding in the UK? It would make a really good project to refurbish one of them, provide young people with skills training, etc. If anyone knows of one please let us know. Where to look? Farm barns, fields, zoos (Whipsnade, etc.), railyards…

The information age has surely killed live perfomances. Young people will never know what it was like to see tigers and lions,etc.

Mrs Wombwell: A Rare Photograph

Ann Wombwell, hand tinted photograph, private collection, circa 1880

OK, so you have all seen the photograph of Mrs Wombwell (Morgan) from the Bostock programmes and elsewhere, but have you ever seen it like this before:Published by kind permission of the owners.

Here’s also a comparison from the recently added B&W programme.

I am promised a better quality copy in the future. It’s nice to know that these photographs still exist.

 

Address of Mrs Wombwell

By kind permission of Ordance Survey circa 1869

© London School of Economics & Political Science

When Mrs Wombwell retired from running her former partner’s menagerie she retired to live with her daughter and her husband, Edmond Bramston, in an area of London known as All Souls or St, John’s Wood. She lived at 26 Belsize Avenue as shown in the Ordnance Survey map from circa 1869. Prior to this, she mainly travelled with the menagerie number 1, but has been known to have an address elsewhere in North London, probably Stoke Newington. The Belsize Road address at that time was quite a wealthy neighbourhood, being RED: Middle class – Well-to-do on the Booth Poverty map dated 1898-99 as shown below.

Help Required: Photographs from Selby, Yorkshire

E H Bostock probably with Dixie the elephant around 1932

Prince LawdTanno (Spell) known to have been travelling with a menagerie and circus around 1905. Probably a lion tamer modelled on Montarno the African Lion King. Known to have travelled with Chipperfield’s French Menagerie during the early twentieth century.

Waggon containig two lions and possibly a seated trainer or keeper, also at Selby circa 1930. Not a typical B&W waggon, so it is also probably a Sanger outfit.

The following photographs have been sent to us for dating and for any other information. I have added my comments underneath each photograph, but would welcome further information via the comments section at the bottom of the post or via email: shaun.everett1@gmail.com

Thank you for your interest in this project about the local history of Selby in Yorkshire. My thanks to Mr Chilvers for providing the original photographs.

Rare view of B&W booth at Selby during 1931. This must have been one of the last times it visited the town or anywhere else, given it disbanded the following year. Shows the poor condition of the booth front.

At Selby, showing a group of Dancing Bears on the left of the picture performing for the local population. Unknown group and date. Information would be welcome.

 

Bostock and Wombwell Photographs

I recently asked if ‘This is the Enigmatic Mrs Wombwell?

  Well I have another clue to her identity which appeared on the front of a B&W Menagerie Programme from the late 18th century (exact date unknown). It also contained the Bostocks (E.H. and Mrs Bostock) and an early impression of George Wombwell. There’s no reasons to believe these are not the right photographs as they are printed on the B&W programme. I have to say my impresion of Mrs Wombwell (Ann Wombwell/Ann Morgan) is that she appears quite fierce, a bit like her lions I suppose. Is there any chance this Mrs Wombwell is the same person as in the last blog entry? Only you can decide that outcome.

The last picture is from inside the programme. Other inside images are available on request.

 

Could This Be The Enigmatic Mrs Wombwell?

A carte de visite is now part of the archives. It shows a Victorian lady in mourning dress. Across the back is pencilled ‘Mrs Wombwell’. Could this be the enigmatic ‘Mrs Wombwell’ of Menagerie fame? The carte was made either in Newcastle or London by the studios of W & D Downey a popular photographer to the Royal family and others.

Image of Mrs Wombwell

Back view of Carte

There’s no guarentee of this being George’s partner, but the locations are consistent with Mrs Wombwell travelling to Newcastle or being photographed in London. The eminence of Downey might also suggest the wife of Sir George Orby Wombwell, 4th Baronet, although he married Lady Julia Sarah Alice Child-Villiers who would not have been known as plain Mrs! Incidentally, Villiers is also one of my names too and other relatives existed in Maldon, Essex during the twentieth century with the same family name.

*Downey was an active studio from the mid century to the end of the nineteenth century.

I’ll keep an open mind on its authenticity.

Accident at Holywell

Following an enquiry from a reader, I have gathered the stories as reported in newspapers together to outline the happenings on this dreadful night where four people, three of them children, were killed in a freak accident. As usual each newspaper report contradicts the others, but generally the whole story is presented here. There are also some fascinating facts that came out of the inquest such as carriges dimensions, etc. for those interested in such matters. Details can be provided on application.

The Story as per three newspaper reports:

Under the title Accident To Wombwell’s Menagerie – Four Lives Lost, it reports that when crowded with people in a field at Maes-y-dre, Holywell, Flintshire, a gale blew up and four caravans containing the animals were thrown onto the people burying them beneath it. About 20  people were pinned to the ground, some by the arm and some by the leg. Four people were killed – Mr B McBane 36, a keeper and who leaves a widow and three youths, belonging to the town; Edward Jones, 11 David Oxford, 13 and John Hughes, 14. An inquest returned a verdict Accidental Death. – Daily News, 1859

This story is corroborated by the Derby Mercury in 1859, except it adds that the keeper had stepped out of the lions’ cage and down some steps to describe the animals when the accident happened. The keeper is here named as Benjamin McBane, and the others as David Jones the son of a confectioner, John Hughes of Holloway near Holywell and David Oxford. It was rumoured that some of the beasts had escaped, but this was not the case. The coroner was Mr Peter Parry and the inquest was held at the King’s head Inn. Mr Wadsworth, travelling with Mrs Wombwell (George died in 1850), said the same safety precautions had been adopted as on other occasions and it had never happened before.

The North Wales Chronicle reported around the same time in 1859 that Edward Jones, David Jones, John Hughes and Benjamin McBane were all killed in the accident. It continues with a police witness at the inquest. One John Morris was on duty and explained Wombwell’s men had secured the caravans inside but not outside with props. They were secure he said.

Mr Robert Wadsworth, 27 years with Wombwell’s, was the manager that set up the show.

The canvas being tied to the carriages had pulled four carriages down in the high winds.

On the following Monday, two of the dead were buried (the keeper and David Jones) being interred in the new cemetary. They had been preceded by the band of the show, playing appropriate airs. We might estimate, the report continues, the number of spectators at from 400 to 500 persons.

NB: The difference between a keeper and a tamer is the latter did tricks with the beasts in the cages and keepers generally looked after the animals, feeding them, etc.