Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame &
"The Wind in the Willows."
Kenneth Grahame born in 1859 and famous author of “The Wind in the Willows”, was raised by his grand parents at “The Mount” Cookham Dean from the age of five. The Mount a beautiful rambling house with a 300-year-old oak in the garden marking the edge of the former Windsor Forest. Nearby are Quarry Woods and meadows sweeping down to the river Thames. Two years later they moved to Cranbourne on the edge of Windsor Great Park, and then to Scotland.

Grahame returned to Cookham Dean with his family in 1907. The house, “ low and rambling, thatched and meadow bordered, was an idyll of elms and buttercups and old red brick”. His son, Mouse was more than half blind, but delighted in the stories of Mole, Water Rat and Badger told by his father. His father in turn was delighted when his six year old corrected his errors and omissions. Eventually tired of his long daily commute up the Bank in London, and the loads of incomers with their Toad-like talk of motor cars and steam launches, left Cookham Dean and retired to Blewbury.

Mouse was a very sad child; he suffered bullying at Rugby School and also he left Eton as well after a very short time, and completed his education under a tutor at home. He died tragically, aged twenty, when he left his Oxford College one evening and walked under a train.

Kenneth Grahame died in 1932.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Seymour Memorial Plaque.

The Seymour Memorial Plaque.

This plaque was errected on the south wall of Holy Trinity Church in memory of a man who not only served his Queen and King and country well. In retirement for nineteen years was a faithful member of this congregation.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Seymour Coat of Arms.

Seymour Coat of Arms.
For many years his Admirals Flag hung over his pew in Holy Trinity church, until the ravages of time took its toll. The only marker left now is his memorial plaque on the church south wall.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

HMS Centurion.

"HMS Centurion."
Seymour's Flagship on China Station.
Very little of his service history is available on young Seymour after he was promoted to full Lieutenant 1860, until six years later on his promotion to that of Commander, and that he was wounded in the African Coast campaign in 1870. In 1873 he was promoted to Captain, he was engaged in the Egyptian War in 1881, then again very little is heard of his tour of duties until he became Aide – de – Camp to Queen Victoria from 1887 and 1889.
On the 14th of July 1889 he was promoted to Rear Admiral. Again nothing is heard of him until his promotion to Vice-Admiral in November 1895. In December 1897 he was given command of the China Station, where his flagship was HMS Centurion. Life there was very peaceful until the Boxer Rebellion and Seymour led the Naval Brigade in the relief of Peking.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The China Station Part One.

After Capture, Taku, North Fort, China.
When young Seymour joined his uncle’s flagship HMS Calcutta, he was still a Midshipman in 1855. It is interesting to know that Royal Navy Warship guns were muzzle loading until 1889 when the first breach loading guns were introduced along with the building of the first Dreadnought class of battleship.

Ahead of this had come the gradual change from sail to steam power with what seems to be no planned idea of ship design, hence there were quite a few costly changes along the way as change in propulsion was constantly re-designed.

Calcutta was however a pure sail. He was promoted to Sub Lieutenant on the 4th of May 1859 at the age of nineteen, and that of a full Lieutenant on the 11th of February the following year. He took part in the capture of
Canton (December 1857). In HMS Chesapeake, Lt. Seymour took part in the attack on the Taku forts in September 1860.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

HMS Valorous side paddle Frigate.

Wooden side paddle Frigate:
HMS Valorous 1851-1891.
This is most likely the first Royal Navy warship that young Edward Hobart Seymour served on after leaving the Eastmans Naval Acadamy, Southsea, and being promoted to Midshipman. His commanding officer would have been Captain Claude Henry Buckle. HMS Valorous was one of the last class of wooden warships to be built. She was built at the Pembroke Dockyard in 1851, and went to the breakers yard in 1891. She had 16 guns, and fitted time and place of the information available.

Midshipman Seymour served for two years on this frigate and saw action in the Black Sea during the Crimean War.

Ships Data:

HMS Valorous was a 16 gun steam powered paddle wheel frigate of the Royal Navy built at Pembroke Dockyard and launched on 30 April 1851.In 1852 she was in the Mediterranean, then in 1854 she was assigned to the Baltic Sea and in 1855 she operated in the Black Sea during the Crimean War.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Early Education of Edward Hobart Seymour.

The Seymour family consisted of eight children, three girls and five boys. Records do not show the exact age that young Edward went to Radley Hall, but going by history of children starting school it was most likely to have been six years old. Radley was a very strict Church of England school, with daily services in the school Chapel. At the age of twelve he left Radley and entered into the Royal Navy at Portsmouth as a Cadet. In 1854-55 the record shows him on a paddle-wheel frigate with the rank of Midshipman.

Friday, May 22, 2009

St. Mary's Church, Kinwarton

St. Mary's Church, Kinwarton.

This is the little church where the Revd. Richard Seymour was vicar and Sir Edward and his four brothers and three sisters grew up. The church was well maintained by the various members of the Seymour family, which included the instalation of a stained glass window.

The Reverend Richard Seymour

Revd. Richard Seymour.
The Reverend Richard Seymour, Sir Edward's father also came from a naval family. His father was Rear Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, also his brother Sir Michael Seymour became heir to the title and also to the rank of Admiral.
It was not unusual in those days that in a wealthy family at least one son would become a serving member of the Church of England, and so he became Vicar of Great Alne and Kinwarton in Warwickshire from 1834 - 1876.
This of course is where young Edward Hobart Seymour was born.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Seymour Saga

Admiral of the Fleet
Rt Hon Sir Edward Hobart Seymour.
This is the story of of not only a famous man in British Naval History, but of a man and his sister that chose to make the Parish of Cookham his home in his retirement years. Here below is a thumbnail sketch of his life.
Admiral of the Fleet
The Right Honourable Sir Edward Hobart SeymourG.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., LL.D

Personal Details:

Date of Birth, 30 April 1840.

Place of Birth, Kinwarton, Warwickshire.

Father's Name, Rev. Richard Seymour.

Mother's Name, Frances (nee) Smith.

Date of Marriage, Bachelor.

Place of Marriage, N/A.

Date Retired, 30 April 1910.

Date of Death, 02 March 1929.

Place of Burial, Cookham, Berkshire.

Rank History:

Naval Cadet, 30 April 1852.

Sub-Lieutenant, 04 May 1859.
Lieutenant, 11 February 1860.
Commander, 05 March 1866.
Captain, 13 February 1873.
Rear-Admiral, 14 July 1889.
Vice-Admiral, 09 November 1895.
Admiral, 24 May 1901.

Admiral of the Fleet, 20 February 1905.
With grateful thanks to the information supplied from Royal Navy Records and the HMS Hood Association.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A True Village Craftsman

A Tom Emmett Work of Art.
Here in School Lane can be seen a very good example of the skill and craftsmanship of the village blacksmith Tom Emmett. From a pencil sketch and diamentions required Tom would layout the pattern of the gate with chalk on the wood floor of the forge. Remember that this man did not have an oxy-acetylene cutting equipment. To cut his iron stock, he would heat it to white hot and then cut it with a hammer and chizel. To weld iron, he would heat the two pieces to be joined to white heat and then beat them together. Some joints he would punch holes in and then rivet together using his own hand made rivets. Then some joints were finished off with a hand made iron clasp wrapped around the joint.

His main hand tools were a selection of hammers, chizels and punches. Several tongs with different shaped claws and a good forge fire. Shaping was carried out by using various parts of the anvil.

Just take a good look at the intricate scroll work at the top of this Tom Emmett gate. All hand fashioned in the village by this wizard of the hammer and anvil. Oh yes! he made the hinges and gate fasteners as well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Village Blacksmith.

The Village Blacksmith.
There have been many artists in Cookham through out the years, each famous, in his own sphere of work. The artist I am going to talk about now was known not for his skill with a brush and paints, but with a hammer, fire, and wrought iron.

Many a cottage and large house in the village had fire grates fashioned by one Tom Emmett, the village Blacksmith. Not only was a skilled blacksmith, he was a very good Farrier as well. Tom knew every farm horse by name; also he knew the size of shoes for each horse as well, and always had a set ready to be fitted, so as not to keep the horses off work for too long.

From morning to night, the sound of his hammer on the anvil in the forge, could be heard ringing out through out the village. We boys felt very privileged to pump the bellows of the forge. His soft country burr would say “ Don’t pump the bellows too hard boy, you don’t want to blow me fire out!” Just by watching, one got to learn a great deal from this man at work.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Walker's friend "Old North."

John William North.
John William North, was a long time painting companion of Frederick Walker.

It is no wonder that his hard experience gave him an ancient and Socratic air even in these early days, and we find Fred Walker, although nearly two years his senior, frequently referring to his friend in his letters home as " Old North !” These are some of the things that Walker said about his friend.

"Old North is very nice, quiet, and considerate in small things, which is to me very refreshing."
" I and taking care of myself, especially changing my boots, etc. North would make me if I didn't of my own accord."
In the letters, too, North is always the arbiter and the critic, whose favourable judgment is the greatest solace to Walker's doubts."February, 1870 - Done a splendid day's work on the big picture. North said, 'Well, I suppose you've made £100 to-day.' He was looking at the picture along time. I feel much more hopeful, I need not say."
" This morning had a long consultation with North over the picture, and it is already much better."
"North here is doing capital work , he is most sincere over it. I hope he'll get into our Society this time; if his health is spared I believe he'll do important things."

They spent many happy hours together on different painting expeditions, and so it was when on such a trip to Scotland that Frederick should die of Tuberculosis, or Consumption, as it was known in those days. He had been suffering with it for quite some time, it being inherent in the family, from which his younger brother had also succumbed.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

From the Cornhill Magazine.

"Philip at Prayer."
Philip at Prayer is one of the many works that Frederick Walker made for William Makepeace Thackeray and the "Cornhill Magazine". It started out with Frederick copying Thackeray's sketches, but Frederick was not satisfied with the arrangement, and persuaded Thackeray that he should do his own interpretation of the subjects. Which Thackeray agreed to, as he could see Frederick's wide ranging talent.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Frederick Waker Plaques.

The Walker Plaque
in Holy Trinity Church
The second picture is of a photograph taken in the later part of April 2009, and is standing the test of time very well. It is a shame that the sandstone headstones are ravaged by the weather over time. This is the case in most churchyards today. Only the ones belonging to weathy Victorian families and that have used granite are surviving.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

East Flint in Cookham High Street.

East Flint the Walker Home.
The Frederick Walker home of East Flint still stands today next to what is known as Barnside Motors. In the picture one can see part of the barn which was part of Oveys Farm. The farm ceased operating as such on the death of my Grandfather in 1915 and was sold, with my Grandmother moving to Wisteria Cottage at the top of the High Street. The barn and outbuildings on the west side of the property were bought and turned into a garage by a Mr. Remmington, who also lived in East Flint. The house just to the west of East Flint was in the 1920-30's a small tobacconist and barber shop run by a Mr. Loveridge and his daughter Annie. Mr. Loveridge, like many characters in the village had a nick-name. in his case it was that of "Tiddlywink."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Walker Family Grave Site

The Walker Family Graves.
The two pictures above show the Walker family graves. The top photgraph was taken in April 2009, while the bottom woodcut print was done either in the late eighteen hundreds or the turn of nineteenth century. Note the woodcut was not mirrored as it is seen in reverse. There is an error with some records as to which grave Frederick is buried. My finding so far, points that Frederick is buried with his Mother plus one more, while his brother John who predeceased him is buried in the smaller grave. Only Parish and Church records will solve that mystery once and for all. I also find no reference to his Father, other than he was a jewelery designer in Marlebone, London. More on Frederick will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walker Exhibition

I am sorry if you have missed the Walker Exhibition in the Parish Centre, hopefully I will be able to show what you have missed here, plus one or two items more.

"Captain Jinks" by Fred Walker

"Captain Jinks" by Fred Walker.

Here is yet another Walker woodcut print, which appeared in the magazine “Punch” in August 1869. Depicting Captain Jinks and the steam launch “Selfish.” In later years it also reminds one of the Arthur Ransome’s book “Swallows and Amazons” and the trouble the children had with a group of boaters they called “The Hullabaloo’s.”

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Walker Woodcut Print

Cookham "The Street."

Frederick Walkers talents were quite numerous. As mentioned earlier he did drawings on wood for carvers to make their printing blocks for various periodicals and newspapers of the day. One such weekly paper that was available in Cookham was called “Chatterbox”, which could be bought for the princely sum of one half penny per week. The work that is shown above here is sometimes referred to as “The Street.” As it portrays Cookham Village High Street, at other times as “The Goose Girl.” Either driving the geese home to Oveys Farm, or to “The Moor” or to Odney Common.

One has also to remember that the artist had to draw all their pictures in mirror image, so that when the block is printed on to the paper it would be seen the right way round. What is so easy for people to do perform today was a very long and involved process in the middle 1800’s.
Frederick Walker woodcut prints were very much sought after. To use a Stanley Spencer term, they were his "Pot Boilers." At least he always had plenty of work.