At the Museum of Wimbledon we have a large and varied Art Collection. Our works range from the 18th century to the present day and are a mix of prints, watercolours, oil paintings, sketches and drawings, and a couple of 3D items, an Arts & Crafts brooch and a terracotta facemask.
The artists are also from mixed backgrounds, from a Victorian era school child to professional artists, those that exhibited at the Royal Academy, amateur local artists, Suffragists, a First World War Belgian refugee and a disabled artist, Charles Fowler (1909 – 1997) who painted with his mouth.
Together these artists and artworks allow us a glimpse into both a Wimbledon that has passed and the Wimbledon of the present day. We come across lost mansions and their immaculate gardens, the wildness of Wimbledon Common, country lanes and rural scenes, and streets and buildings that are familiar to us today. We can chart the changes over the centuries to well known landmarks such as St Mary’s Church and see what has become of some of the grand houses that once dotted this rural landscape.
The Art Collection allows us to get to know some of the people for whom Wimbledon was home, from Thomas Cromwell, the right-hand man of King Henry VIII, to William Wilberforce the anti-slave trade campaigner and the author Raymond Briggs.
The Art Collection at our Museum is an enjoyable way to delve into the past of Wimbledon and to try and imagine what was once there as we walk through the Wimbledon of today.
Hugh Arnold (1872–1915) artist, stained glass designer and author
Born in Wimbledon, Hugh Arnold was the son of a solicitor and artist, Charles Arnold, and a nephew of the architect Sir Thomas Graham Jackson of ‘Eagle House’. Like his uncle he was a stalwart member of The Art Workers’ Guild. The family lived first in Thornton Hill and then at Stamford House, West Side, Wimbledon Common. His first studio was nearby at 10 West Place, in the loft at the Hermitage Livery and Bait Stables belonging to Mr Dormer. Hugh Arnold was educated at the Slade School of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts from 1889–1903. His book Stained Glass of the Middle Ages in England and France, first published in 1913, is still important.
‘On Wimbledon Common’ March 1904 by Hugh Arnold
‘Washer Woman’s Corner by Hugh Arnold
While an officer in the 8th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers Hugh Arnold was killed fighting at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles on 10 August 1915. He had joined up in 1914. His grave is in the Helles Memorial Cemetery, Gallipoli, at Çanakkale, Turkey.
Hugh Arnold designed stained glass for James Powell & Sons as well as doing freelance work. His stained glass windows are found in churches and chapels around Britain. Local examples can be seen in St John’s Church (1914) made in memory of his father Charles, one of the first trustees of the church, and in Christchurch (1908).
The Museum possesses a number of his paintings: some fine watercolours donated in 1917 by his widow Mary (née Walker) also an artist and craftswoman, and an oil painting of Canon Haygarth donated by his daughters in 1925.
Minna Twentyman (1862–1938)
Minna Twentyman was born in 1862 in Cape Town, South Africa, daughter of Lawrence Burrell Twentyman and Esther Maria Twentyman. She did not marry, and lived with her also unmarried younger sister Evelyn at 11 Hillside, Wimbledon from 1910 until 1936. Both had private means. Evelyn was described in the 1911 Census as ‘collector for hospital’. In 1929 the sisters were joined by their brother Percy, Secretary to the Welsh Colliery (Board?), who died three years later. Minna died in Wimbledon in 1938.
Minna Twentyman’s watercolour paintings include four in the Museum collection, three of Wimbledon and one of ‘Old Putney Bridge’ (1886). She won the John Evelyn Club Prize at the Arts and Crafts exhibition for the ‘Crooked Billet’ and donated it to the Museum in 1920.
‘Hardwick & Adjoining Cottages, Wimbledon Common’ 1897 by Minna Twentyman
Her father Lawrence Twentyman was a member of the Local Board who, in 1882, found that the water in the well on Southside used by all the nearby inhabitants was unfit to drink. He had the well closed and filled in.
Evelina Druce (1861 –1943) artist and suffragist
Evelina Druce, born Evelina Hopgood in Clapham, South London in 1862, was involved with various women’s political groups and the campaign for women’s suffrage. The Museum’s records show that she was an active member of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage North Wimbledon Branch, a non-militant campaigning group, supported by her husband George and daughter Madeline (the artist Madeline Druce/Pothecary). Evelina Druce was also a member of the Women’s Local Government Association for Wimbledon and after the First World War joined the Women’s Citizens Association for the Parliamentary Borough of Wimbledon founded in 1918.
George Claridge Druce, her husband, a director and manager of a distilling company by 1901, was one of the founding members of the Museum and a well-known authority on medieval bestiaries and churches, as well as being a significant photographer.
‘Peek’s Lake, October 1908’ by Evelina Druce
There are a number of Evelina Druce’s paintings in the Museum Collections, some donated personally and some after her death. While in Wimbledon the Druces lived at ‘Ravenscarr’, 22 The Downs. There are several items belonging to the family in the Collections including their wartime ration cards.
Mary Caroline McKenny Hughes (1862–1916)
Mrs McKenny Hughes, an extraordinary young woman, was a talented geologist, artist and writer. Born Mary Caroline Weston she grew up in a small village in Westmorland. As her mother died young, she was brought up by her nanny and her father Canon Weston, a learned man. She spoke French and German and had wide interests including music, literature, archaeology, natural history and geography.
As a girl she met the geologist Thomas McKenny Hughes, later Professor of Geology at Cambridge and Director of the Sedgwick Museum. They married when she was just 23 and he 52 after Cambridge had finally allowed its fellows to marry in 1882. She went on Sedgwick Club field trips and travels around the world, her presence making it possible for female undergraduates to go on field trips for the first time. Women students were not allowed to go into the field with young men without a chaperone. Dr Gertrude Elles (1872–1960), a famous geologist and pioneering female academic from Wimbledon, was one of these students.
‘Eagle House Wimbledon’ 1902 by Caroline McKenny Hughes
Carrie McKenny Hughes recorded geology, local people and places in delightful sketch books and vivid diaries and wrote several academic papers. She was fundamental in changing the study of Geology in Cambridge and helping promote the access of women to the profession.
While in Wimbledon Mary Caroline (Carrie) McKenny Hughes painted this watercolour of the garden of ‘Eagle House’, the home of Sir Thomas Graham Jackson (1835–1924), nicknamed ‘Oxford Jackson’ because of his work for Oxford University. Sir Thomas Jackson was the architect of the new Sedgwick Museum built in 1904 in Cambridge when the Museum’s Director was Professor Thomas McKenny Hughes. They became good friends during the long development and building of the museum.
Aloïs de Laet (1869–1949) artist, musician, anarchist and Belgian Refugee in Wimbledon 1914 –1918
Aloïs De Laet was born in what was then a very rural Antwerp in Belgium. Though he was a successful self-taught landscape artist, his main passion was music. To earn extra money he played the piano in his mother’s bar at Falconrui. De Laet was both an artist and an anarchist. As a member of the anarchist group ‘The Chapel’ he exhibited his work with fellow young up-and-coming artists in Antwerp.
At the outbreak of the First World War he fled with other Belgians to England, settling in Wimbledon. Here he and his wife lived with other Flemish painters and artists in a house at 18 Craven Gardens near Haydons Road. The house became a meeting place for refugee Flemish artists in London, a ‘Flemisch Club’. While in London De Laet was a regular contributor to the weekly magazine for Belgian refugees, Die Stem uit Belgie. Though De Laet wanted to remain in London after 1918, they returned to Antwerp because his wife was keen to return home.
A path between silver birches by Aloïs de Laet
There is no title written on this pastel, one of three we have in our Collections drawn while Aloïs de Laet was a Belgian refugee living in Wimbledon.
Kate Sidford (1858–1941) headmistress, artist and suffragist
‘Copse Hill Wimbledon’ August 1931 by Kate Sidford
Sarah Kate Sidford, usually referred to as Miss. K. Sidford, was born in Brighton, Sussex, where her parents ran a tobacconists business. She began her career as a governess to the Holland family at ‘Holmhurst’ where she also set up her first school in 1893. Meanwhile Miss Oratia Forman opened her school in the Lecture Hall in Lingfield Road in 1895. Both women joined forces as the co-founders of a private school at 47 Wimbledon High Street in 1897. Kate Sidford’s brother Alfred designed the building that was to become The Study School at 4 – 6 Peek Crescent by Wimbledon Common in 1905. The Study opened in its new premises in 1907. Kate Sidford taught art. Generally she gives her address as The Study, but in the electoral roles of 1905 and 1906 it is 47 High Street, Wimbledon.
Miss K. Sidford was a member of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage North Wimbledon Branch, as well as donating to the cause. She retired in 1937 and by 1939 was living at The Old House, Riddens Farm in Chailey, Plumpton Green, Sussex where she died. Miss Farman died in 1924.
Hilda Bather (1896–1932) artist, designer and suffragette
Two items in the Museum’s Collections bear the initials ‘H.N.B’ and ‘H.B’ respectively – a painting of the windmill on the Common and this First World War poster for the Wimbledon & Merton War Museum & Record. The same handwriting appears on the artwork with the initials ‘H.N. B.’ as on the Wimbledon Women’s Social and Political Union (WWSPU) letterhead and on a paper Suffragette butterfly flyer cut out from a draft geology paper. Hilda Bather very probably created all these other items.
Hilda Bather was the elder daughter of Dr Francis Bather FRS, a geologist at the Natural History Museum and this Museum’s first Chairman (1912–1934), and Stina Bergöö. After they moved to ‘Fabo’, 46 Marryat Road, Wimbledon she attended The Study and then Wimbledon High School.
Like others in her family Hilda Bather was an active member of the Suffragette movement. She died rather young in Stockholm and is buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Wimbledon with other members of her family.
Art Poster with Search Lights, First World War, by Hilda Bather
After studying at the London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts (now Wimbledon College of Arts) and the Royal College of Art, she ran a craft shop in Lyme Regis, Dorset. We owe the concept of selling model dinosaurs to her which first appeared in the Natural History Museum shop in 1926. Her aunt Karin (Bergöö) Larsson, a famous Swedish designer and artist, is acknowledged by IKEA as an inspiration behind their ‘Swedish style’.
The committee was fundraising for both the Wimbledon War Memorial Fund and the Roll of Honour, as well as actively collecting items relating to the First World War for the Museum’s Collections. The Museum has a small archive collection relating to these activities.
The poster was given by Mrs Bather, Hilda Bather’s mother, in 1934. The accession record states that the poster was designed by Hilda Bather (the poster is also initialled ‘H. B.’).
Edward Hassell (1811 – 1852)
‘The Seat of Earl Spencer, Wimbledon’ by Edward Hassall
Edward Hassell was the son of the artist John Hassell (1767 – 1825). Between them they painted over 2,000 watercolours of Surrey, an important record of the county before the arrival of the railways. The Museum has a few watercolours showing local mansions by both these artists, predominantly in the areas around Wimbledon Common and Putney Heath.
John Melchior Barralet (c. 1750–1787)
St Mary’s Church with the title barn by John Barralet
A Huguenot born in Dublin, John Barralet was a landscape painter. By 1774 he had arrived in London where he mainly worked as an art teacher. Most of his works were tinted drawings, and especially views of Surrey, Kent and London.
Charles Frederick Nightingale (1835 – 1916)
Charles Frederick Nightingale was born in London. He became a solicitor, after gaining a degree at Trinity College, Cambridge. Records show that he was living at ‘Westcombe Lodge’, Parkside in 1902 and at ‘The Lynch’, 20 Clifton Road, Wimbledon in 1911. When he died in 1916 he was living in Putney and is buried at Putney Vale cemetery.
‘In Caesar’s Camp 1865’ by Charles Frederick Nightingale
We also have a watercolour by his son Dudley Arthur, also a solicitor. The Accession register records the Clifton Road address with a painting of Caesar’s Camp in 1865 given in 1931 by Lady Roney, Wimbledon’s first lady mayor.
Caesar’s Camp is a Late Bronze Age earthwork on Wimbledon Common, and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The painting dates to a few years before the oak trees were cut down.
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