Warwick Museum’s Hidden Painting of ‘Wallace the Lion’

About 18 months ago, I was contacted by one Prunella, a lady from Canada, advising me she had seen a painting of Wallace the Lion at a museum in Warwick, England.

This was her explanation at the time:

‘My mother’s maiden name was Ethel GRACE Wombwell – my 3X great grandfather John (1774 – 1845) was a son of John Wombwell and Sarah Rogers.

In reference to the lion fights…. There is a very small museum in Warwick that has a painting of a lion (either Nero or Wallace) and a poster about the fight… If this is your correct email, I will attempt to send the pictures of these that I took last year. My brother lives near Warwick and I have asked him to send me the name of the museum.’

Prunella recently replied to an email from me with the following information:

‘The place in Warwick is St John’s House Museum, CV34 4NF’.

Since it has been two years since I was first alerted to its existence, I checked out the current details, for anyone wishing to visit the museum.

The Museum is currently closed for a re-location within Warwick, but are still open to deal with shop sales and family history research enquiries.

Exciting developments are afoot to re-locate the museum in 2022 to Pageant House, Jury Street, Warwick.

However, on further research I was informed that the painting is no longer at the museum, irrespective of which building, but in their Hawkes Point storage facility.

Luckily, further detective work revealed that the painting, attributed to Rolf, is documented on splendid ArtUK website.

https://d3d00swyhr67nd.cloudfront.net/w944h944/collection/WAR/WARMS/WAR_WARMS_39-001.jpg

Unfortunately, due to copyright it is not possible to show it here. However, our intrepid Canadian contact, did the honours and produced these two fine photographs.

It is though, an accomplished portrait of a fictional lion, face on. Looks quite sweet! Not the ideal representation a a ‘killer’ lion. Maybe that is poetic justice given the 200 year old lie that Wallace…well, read my Volume One for the real story of the lion fight!


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.