In at Number 11: George Wombwell Biography – The Real Wombwells (Vol III)

Posted on November 22, 2019 by admin

At last the project is complete! The third and final part has just been published. It went straight into the Top 100 Best Sellers of Circus Books at No. 11!

In addition, the covers of all three volumes have been updated to the one above. Look out for the distinctive red covers and the subtitles ( volumes I to III, Events at Warwick, The Greatest Showman and The Real Wombwells)

In paperback:

Kindle ebook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/George-Wombwell-1777-1850-Wombwells-ebook/dp/B081QKS46H/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3UY6MCZVGPSIN&keywords=shaun+villiers+everett&qid=1574437347&sprefix=shaun+vill%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-2

This volume also contains many previously unpublished images from the Wombwell Collection and a menagerie events calendar between 1800 and the late 19th century. It is a major addition to the genealogical map of menageries families in the UK and beyond.

Post Free

George Wombwell’s NEW Royal Appointment

After 172 years, George Wombwell’s visit to Windsor Castle is to be celebrated at a family event day at the Castle! Queen Victoria’s Circus will be a true family affair, with circus acts and stuffed elephants and even a lion tamer!

Date: Saturday, 14th September 2019

reproduced by kind permission of the copyright owner, 2019

A storyteller wil relive, on the very spot, the menagerie’s visit during 1847. Lots of events and children can also join the circus for a day! I trust you know somebody that might want to attend, especially if they have never been to Windsor Castle. It’s all included in the standard price tickets.

A programme is being produced which includes the above image. I have permission to reproduce it here. It is a very rare image of the day at Windsor Castle in 1847. I’ve only ever seen one in many years of searching for it.

I think George Wombwell would appreciate the involvement of children as it was his wish to let everyone see the beasts of the wild, no matter how poor they were at the time. There are many instances of newspaper reports of George allowing whole school classes in to see the menagerie for free.

The website is here

New PostCards received

The following two cards are displayed for the first time and concern Tom Thumb, a well known entertainer from late Victorian society.

The NFA has a page on the American Tom Thumb: Charles Sherwood Stratton. These cards show what one card claims as ‘The English Midget’ and the other as ‘ The Turkish Tom Thumb’

The former card shows Harold Pyott, aged 32 and just 23 inches high. The latter card shows Pasha Hayati Hassid, born 1852 at 30 inches. he was introduced into the English entertainment industry by Lloyd Forsyth, according to the card (verso). requires further research.

Both persons appear top me as rather sad.

Bostock’s Smallest Horse in the World?

Bostock and Wombwell’s claimed at several times in their history, to possess the smallest horse in the world. Indeed, several competitors made the same claims to draw crowds to their booths.

Where Bostock succeeded was in not quite telling the truth. In this card they show the ‘smallest horse in the world’, but closer examination of the photo-printed card, reveals it is a composite of two photographs. Doctoring photographs for financial gain, is not a new phenomenon and showmen were ‘at it’ here in 1911 (used card, franked Jul 24 11). I doubt anyway, that a horse and a dog would stand still in that position long enough to have their portraits taken!

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.

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.

Bostock Arena: Where was this building?

UPDATE: The whereabouts of this building has now been solved. It was part of the Franco-British Exhibition at White City in London during 1908. It’s architecture fits with the rest of the site, which went on to hold the Olympic Games and is on the same location  where the former BBC Centre still stands. A diary belonging to Kate Frye describes a visit to the Zoo back in 1914. By this date the site had become the Anglo-American Exhibition, which was cut short due to the outbreak of war.

Then John and I by tube to the White City and there we strolled about. I was dead tired and had the rat horribly until we had some dinner when I revived a bit but felt anything but lively and walked about in rather a dead fashion. We did not try many side shows and they were failures. Bostocks Zoo – heaps of performing lions but all very sad. We missed most of it as we went there last but we saw the poor dears fed. We also saw some wonderful racing on a miniature motor track, but John was seized with a panic fear so we came out.  Saturday July 11th 1914

There is every reason to believe that Frank Bostock was responsible for its existence during 1914 as he had returned from America and had exhibited his menagerie under the billing ‘Bostock’s Arena’ as in his Coney Island site in New York.

End

A new addition to the collection gives us a problem as to its location. It is not the Arena in New York’s Coney Island. Nor is it the Arena at Earl’s Court in London. A clue to its whereabouts is in the writing from the sender of the original card:

‘Dear Win this is part of the YMCA It is a big place’,  plus a franked impression marked PADDINGTON.

The other places considered are Glasgow and Sheffield, but it does not have the same architecture of either sites. It is certainly a permanent structure though.

I can see it possibly being in London, but there is no record I have found on its location. It had a full uniformed staff as well. Any information is appreciated including the possible architect, etc.

Bostock: Picakard’s Scrapbooks

Taken from the Stories page of these scrapbooks about Glasgow entertainments, it contains a wealth of information about E H Bostock and the Glasgow Zoo up to around 1910 -1911. It makes some interesting reading and I thank the University of Glasgow for bringing it to our attention.

The Britannia Music Hall had already been open for half a century on Glasgow’s Trongate by the time A. E. Pickard took it over. Under his management, the Britannia reopened in July 1906, now called “the Britannia Theatre of Varieties and Grand Panopticon” and incorporating a museum, freak-show and zoo. Presenting four shows daily, at 2pm, 4pm, 7pm and 9pm, the Panopticon was a prime music hall venue, at a time when that form was thriving. The scrapbooks give valuable insights into the music hall business in Scotland, as Pickard kept an eye on the competition and documented his own publicity. Acts booked for the Panopticon included singers, dancers and comics, while the Museum, in addition to its permanent displays and topical waxworks, featured novelty acts of a more bizarre nature.

Use the search facility to see the relevant pages on Bostock.

Pickard

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.

 

Posters: Auctioned Posters come to light

Do you know anything about these posters that were auctioned?

The first appears to show animals coming in two by two as in Noah’s Ark. Did Bostock ever put on a show about the Ark?

The second appears to be a large hall somewhere. The tickets across the front are seperate and not printed on the posters. Both show 28th October and the town of Wigan, but cannot find a reference to B&W being at Wigan.

Any comments are gratefully received.

Thanks to the reader that drew our attention to them.