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!


Nottingham Goose Fair 1929

Recent addition to the collection is this 1929 programme for the annual Nottingham Goose Fair, still taking place in the centre of the city. It includes the layout of the fair and it strikes me that B&W are still the biggest attaction, with their pitch taking up a considerable section of the square. This was one of the last fairs that B&W attended before their demise in the early thirties.

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.

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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

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.

 

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.