Monday, 31 December 2012

G.W. Rhodes and Joseph King, 30 December 1930

The houses that now stand on the old Foundry Meadow in Kings Road had their plans submitted at the end of 1930.  This land, effectively in the middle of Peasant Arts buildings, must certainly have been owned by Joseph King who owned the surrounding land.  The bulk of the Haslemere Peasant Industries activities had closed down in 1927 after the death of Maude Egerton King, but weaving continued in the Dye House, called the Weaving House in 1933 by Joseph King when he communicated the disbanding of the Peasant Arts Society.  So sometime, perhaps after 1927, Joseph King decided to sell the Foundry Meadow land.

Original envelope holding the house plan by G.W.Rhodes
to my house on Kings Road, Haslemere
in the old Foundry Meadow

Six houses, including mine, were built on the old meadow.  Given his seemingly considerable wealth, it does not seem likely that King was motivated by money to sell the land, perhaps the funds were needed by the dwindling Peasant Arts movement, or maybe King was consciously supporting the architect G.W.Rhodes who designed the houses that were built?

extract of the original plan for my house
on Kings Road, Haslemere
by G.W. Rhodes

G.W.Rhodes designed many houses in Haslemere.  That he designed six houses on Kings Road is not widely recognised as his other houses are on more highly regarded streets, and due to the proximity of the railway line, PVC windows have now been favoured over the traditional leaded windows, which gives the houses a different appearance.

When I revisited our original house plans a few days ago, the first time since I started looking into the Peasant Arts movement, I was struck by the mention of "J. King".  The small map drawn on the plans shows the triangle of Foundry Meadow, bounded by Kings Road at the bottom, and Foundry Lane going from the left hand corner to the top right.  The meadow contains the words "Block Plan", and then next to that, the house with "P. House" written inside, standing for "Proposed House" is my house.  Next to which is the old Dye House, drawn on the map, and then next to that, a building at an angle which must be the now demolished (and replaced by St George's Flats) St George's Hall, also the site of the Country Church.  From the boundary of the "Proposed House" is written "J. King Eq." presumably denoting Joseph King's ownership of the land from that boundary.

Small map on the G.W.Rhodes plan of our house,
Kings Road, Haslemere

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Shadow and Substance by James A. Campbell

The Vineyard (December 1910, p.223) printed this article, consisting of a poem and (10 pages of) writing, tagged as "a paper read before a gathering of friends".  Given the links that I have researched between James Archibald Campbell and Godfrey Blount, and Greville MacDonald, it is highly likely that they were among the "friends" who heard James A. Campbell read this.

"Far in the Fields is the Baby born,
Who comes to the world on Christmas morn,
In golden straw of the cattle shed:
For his Father's house is the House of Bread.
He breathes the breath of the toiling beast,
He shares the life of the last and least.
Four great archangels his Advent greet.
Kneeling two at His head and two at His feet:
Like gleaming jasper, the radiant one,
St. Michael, gladdener, King of the Sun;
Like heavenly sapphire, azure, fair,
St. Gabriel, comforter, King of the Air;
Like the emerald hope of new worlds to be,
St. Raphael, healer, King of the Sea;
Like a russet furrow of untold worth,
St. Uriel, harvester, King of the Earth.

Can He be born, where no little one
Touches earth, or water, or air, or sun?
Can He be born, where the fraud-fed soul
Seeks moral roads to life's glacial pole?
Can He be born, where poor city slaves
Pass through iron teeth into nameless graves?

There is a way, to the bird unknown,
From the cloudy pit to the Rainbow Throne.

Through this lovely world, Thou hast made a way,
By field and garden, by hearth and home,
Where the simple and loving can never stray,
Where the ravenous wolf shall never come.
They have closed it with ashes, and blight, and pain,
They have closed it with greed, and the curse of Cain -
Saviour, open it wide again!"

Monday, 24 December 2012

Wise Men and Simple Men by Ethel Blount

Noel by Arthur Hughes,
The Vineyard, December 1910

The Wise Men and the Simple Men
Were bound to run a race:
The Simple Men were first to come 
Within the holy place.

The Wise Men three full valiantly
Pushed on the farther way,
And found, though late, the Manger Bed
In which their Saviour lay.

By this we see Simplicity
Will reach its goal full fast;
And Science too, by harder way,
Will find its own at last.

(from The Vineyard, December 1910, p.262; from the section 'For the Children')

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Lost Star by Maude Egerton King

From The Vineyard December 1910 (p.182).

Noel by Arthur Hughes
from The Vineyard, December 1910

"I was a shepherd, one of the three
Who first had news of the joy to be,
When all the silent night was riven
With glory out of the inmost heaven.

I too beheld the angelic choir
Leap forth like flames of altar fire:
I saw the vision, heard the song,
And vowed I'd follow the star along.

But homeward first I turned me back
To fill with meat and clothes my sack;
And when again I sought the star
It and my fellows both were afar.

I met another following late-
An old man, lagging 'neath the weight
Of learning won from every age,
And heavy wealth - half king, half sage.

Wisdom was frozen in his breath,
It turned my heart as cold as death:
It crowned with cares my simple head
And turned my flying feet to lead.

The Bright Midnight by Arthur Hughes
from The Vineyard, December 1910

Thro' all the hours I went with him
Our guiding stars looked far and dim,
Till, dull and faithless as a stone,
I bade him keep his path along.

The little wineshop, bright and loud,
Cried welcome as I wandered by.
I warmed my cold heart 'mid its crowd
And lost my pilot in the sky.

Once, thro' a window foul as sin
The Saviour-Star looked searching in;
I cried, "One moment's pleasure yet!"
And when I left my star had set.

And now, alas! in every street
Great praising, feasts crowds I meet;
They praise the Child, the simple Herds,
And e'en the King of the cold, wise word;

They tell me that my simple friends
Came first, there where the long road ends
In the World's Desire-ere one of all
Those wise crowned heads majestical!

They praise the Peace for which I pray,
And yet they cannot point the way-
O for some star in me or them
To guide me to my Bethlehem!"

The Vineyard,
December 1910

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Carol Pictures & Nativity, Haslemere 1913. Part 2

The Times continues to report on the Carol Pictures and Nativity evening on Thursday 18th December 1913.  A number of the carols they reference are no longer common, with "The Furry Carol" seeming to be quite rare.  Although I have found "The Furry Carol" along with "The Carol of the Cherry Tree", "Lullay, Lullay" and various "Wassail's" on a compilation of British Christmas music from before the 1700s.

It is interesting that the singing was not accompanied by stringed instruments, given the relationship between the Dolmetsches and the Peasant Arts movement.  I wonder if they did raise enough money to buy an organ for the Hall of St. George?

Haslemere Peasant Industries Christmas Card
designed by Godfrey Blount
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

"Amongst the Carols in last night’s programme were “As I sat on a sunny bank,” “There came three Kings,” “The Golden Carol,” “Bethlehem,” “Lullay, Lullay,” “The Carol of the Cherry Tree,” “In the bleak midwinter,” “The Furry Carol,” and the “Wassail.”  One set of pictures illustrated different episodes in the career of St. Nicholas and the curious metamorphosis of the French “petit Saint Nicholasl” or the Russian “Nikolai” into the “Santa Claus” of Germany, and the English “Father Christmas.” Very beautifully told, too, in picture and in words, is Mr. Blount’s version of the old French folktale of Madelon, the shepherd girl, and the origin of the first Christmas, or “snow” roses.  The choir brings evident enthusiasm to its task, and has some of the most characteristic examples of our traditional Christmas tunes to deal with; but the singing of the carols can hardly be said to have as yet quite reached the level of exceptional excellence to be found in the Pictures themselves.  

Haslemere Peasant Industries Christmas Card
designed by Godfrey Blount
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

Whoever has had experience in training the raw material of South-country ears and voices can appreciate the difficulty of any attempt at a couple of hours’ unaccompanied part-singing.  Mrs. Blount is therefore probably wise in making no such demand upon her singers.  But the effectiveness of the musical part of these Christmas Pictures might be greatly enhanced and the original harmonization of the melodies be more strictly adhered to with an accompaniment of one or two stringed instruments, in place of the American organ, or the obvious anachronism of a pianoforte. 

The proceeds of this year’s performances will be divided between the spinning and weaving school and a fund for providing the Hall of St. George with an organ."

Haslemere Peasant Industries Christmas Card
designed by Godfrey Blount
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

Monday, 10 December 2012

Carol Pictures & Nativity, Haslemere 1913, Part 1

The Times reported on Thurs 18 December, 1913 (p.6) about the Carol Pictures and Nativity Legend Scenes performed in the Hall of St George on Kings Road.

Haslemere Peasant Industries Christmas Card,
designed by Godfrey Blount
Reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

"Carol Pictures

Village Players at Haslemere (from a correspondent)

The first of four nightly performances of the annual series of Carol Pictures and Nativity Legend Scenes, given each December at Haslemere, took place last evening.  Since the idea of these Christmas Pictures was first inaugurated some six years ago by Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Blount, the founders of the Haslemere Peasants’ Industries, the scheme of the programmes has developed considerably, but the simplicity which constitutes the charm and the value of these village plays is happily still most carefully preserved; and the atmosphere of the whole performance continues to be delightfully spontaneous and unsophisticated.  The performers are chiefly drawn from the children of Haslemere, and the adult workers in the local hand-spinning and weaving schools, where the textiles and stuffs used for the costumes are also for the most part obtained.  All theatrical artifice is avoided.  The blending of the colours in the Pictures leaves a general impression of the deep blues and purples and sombre greens and browns beloved by Mr. W.B. Yeats.

This year the Pictures are being produced in the little Hall of St. George, adjoining the “Country Church” in Foundry Meadow.  No scenery is employed, the only background for the whole series of scenes being a thick arras curtain, of a rich blue shade.  In the grouping and seating of the figures many of the quaint, realistic anomalies of medieval art have been resorted to and revived in modern guise.  For instance, in the pictures illustrated by the Carols “Children, come hither” and “Come to the Manger,” the children, led by the Nativity angel, are in ordinary everyday 20th century clothes, and carry cheap little modern playthings; and although this feature may be quite an unconscious one in Mr. Blount’s designs, it certainly helps his figures, and especially his children, to fall into perfectly natural poses.  When the story of each legend is not related by a prolocutor the connecting elucidatory Carols are sung by a small choir of women’s voices..."

Haslemere Peasant Industries Christmas Card,
designed by Godfrey Blount,
Reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Godfrey Blount on Freedom of Expression in 1891

On December 29th, 1891 The Pall Mall Gazette published a letter from Godfrey Blount, under the heading ‘Culture and the Salvation Army’.  He would have been 32 years old at the time.  He was commenting on the Salvation Army riots that had occurred earlier in the year in Eastbourne, otherwise known as the ‘Eastbourne riots’.   

Godfrey Blount
(with peasant tapestry & wood carving)
picture courtesy of the Dartford Warbler

The riots were discussed in the House of Commons on 24th July 1891 “I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the serious disturbances in Eastbourne on Sunday last caused by the Salvationists there acting in defiance of the local Act, which prohibits processions with bands on Sundays; whether he is aware that a considerable number of persons are reported to have been sent from London for the express purpose of assisting them in their determined and wilful violation of the law aforesaid; whether he is aware that nine Salvationists have since Sunday been committed for trial on a charge of "unlawful assembly and conspiracy to infringe the local Act;" whether he has been informed that further serious disturbances are expected on Sunday next, owing to the indignation of the inhabitants of all classes at the serious injury caused to the town, and its interests as a seaside resort, by this unseemly disregard of law; and whether he will so far assist the Local 

from Marching to Music, 
Riot Film Group docudrama, 2011
based on the Eastborne riots

Authorities in maintaining the peace of the town of Eastbourne, comprising over 34,000 inhabitants, as to allow a certain number of detectives from the Metropolitan Police Force to be sent there, with a view to identifying certain prominent parties expected from London—prizefighters and others—in order the more readily to indict them on a charge of "conspiracy to break the law;" and, finally, will he advise generally as to the best course to be pursued by the Mayor and the Magistrates generally in maintaining law and order, whether by the swearing in of special constables or otherwise?”  (Hansard)

On the 2nd December 1891, the Old Bailey found a number of Salvationists to be “guilty of unlawful assembly in a public street”, they were defended by Mr. H. H. Asquith, later to become Prime Minister.  The judge, Mr. Justice Hawkins, refused to accept the verdict, stating that walking carrying musical instruments could in no way be considered unlawful. December 4th saw a proclamation posted in Eastbourne signed by the mayor and town clerk in another attempt to quell the Army's activities. It was withdrawn when local Methodists announced that they too would contest the contents of the proclamation to the bitter end (wikipedia).

Culture and the Salvation Army

To the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette

Sir – Have you space for a few words on the subject of Culture and the Salvation Army?  While we are still waiting to see the conclusion of the Eastbourne incident in the history of the Salvation Army, and without attempting to discuss the legal or dogmatic aspects of the Army’s methods, will you allow me to criticise the verdict in which even its defenders acquiesce, that those methods are vulgar and out of taste?  

Invariable as this complaint is, I look in vain for any accompanying definition of “good taste” by which we might in this particular condemn or at any rate attempt to improve them.  I have myself no dogmatic proclivities in the matter of religion, but – as an artist, to whom the visible must be the unfailing index of the invisible, who has no surer guide than his impressions, purified as far as possible from prejudice – I protest against this popular supposition that it is vulgar to give any but the most restrained expression to our emotions.  

It may be that the British Philistine has very little power of emotion left to give expression to, or that his emotions are such that he prefers they should remain unadvertised; but, however consistent his own course of action may be, we cannot accept his view of the case as necessarily the final one.  For an action is in good taste, not as it fulfils certain preconceived laws, but in proportion as it is a genuine expression of a genuine feeling, that this expression may seem unusual, extravagant, even uncouth, is no necessary proof of its vulgarity, but only of the degree of its force.  That we call it vulgar is no necessary proof of its being so, unless we can prove its its insincere as well.  If we cannot do this, we only prove ourselves incapable of sympathy with a strong wave of feeling violently affecting a vast number of our fellow-creatures, and show ourselves deficient in artistic culture in not recognizing that this movement is producing phenomena analogous to what great art has always loved to reproduce in works which we pretend to appreciate.  

“The poor require culture as much as the rich,” says Matthew Arnold, meaning thereby that neither possess it.  But now the poor are taking this matter into their own hands, and in affairs religious as well as economic are showing themselves independent o the teaching and conventions of those who are socially above them.  Success to the Salvation Army!  They have many souls to save.  To take us out of ourselves, to teach us that we do possess emotions, and can, nay, may, express them even in our own way, is anoble mission, and, as it seems to me, a first lesson in all art and culture that none of us can afford to despise.

Faithfully yours
Godfrey Blount"

Godfrey Blount
from a magic lantern slide
courtesy of the Dartford Warbler

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