A case of identity
If you walk through old St. Mary’s churchyard you may notice opposite the Bridges’ vaults a simple well-cut gravestone which records the deaths in 1762 of Penelope Hallifax, aged 20, wife of Thomas Hallifax Esq., and of her month-old son Thomas.
I have long wondered whether there could be any connection with the then vicar, James Hallifax, though his only son turned out to be called Charles. There was also a Hallifax who became a partner of Richard Glyn in the newly formed bank in 1753 of Vere, Glyn and Hallifax in the city. Apart from the Revd. James’s fourth wife, there are no other Hallifaxes in the graveyard.
Recently, light has fallen on this mystery. The Revd. James Hallifax and Thomas Hallifax were first cousins. Richard Glyn was patron of the living of St. Mary’s Ewell. They were all connected with the City of London: Richard Glyn and Thomas Hallifax both became Lord Mayors (as had Richard Glyn’s uncle-in-law Sir William Lewen, whose imposing memorial is in the chancel of St. Mary’s church); and in 1757 James Hallifax was the Lord Mayor’s chaplain.
Both Richard Glyn and Thomas Hallifax married heiresses. Penelope was the daughter of Richard Thomson of Lincoln’s Inn. Thomas was 41 years old at the time of their marriage which ended with her death nine months later.
Thomas’s career has a Dick Whittington flavour about it. He was born in Barnsley, the third son of a clockmaker, and apprenticed to a grocer, though he did not finish the term. Instead, he came to London where he eventually became a goldsmith and was elected Lord Mayor in 1776. He lived in Enfield and for his second wife, he married another heiress belonging to the Savile family, in whose vault in Enfield he was buried ‘with great pomp’ in 1789.
There is an interesting entry in the parish records for 1765 where the vicar, James Halifax, records the burial of his stillborn daughter on June 15, and then makes a note that when his third wife Ellen died a month later, the baby was ‘taken out of the ground and placed in the coffin with her mother to be carried to Chastleton and buried there’. (At the time of her marriage to James Hallifax she was described as the widow of Thomas Fothergill of Chastleton).
James Hallifax’s fourth wife Frances was however buried in Ewell churchyard after her death in 1795, and there is a memorial tablet in the present church by the sculptor, Thomas Banks RA. This is interesting because James had become rector of Whitchurch in Shropshire in 1777, and died there in 1787.
It is also worth noting that the custom of keeping the north side of the church for the graves of the hoi polloi does not seems to have been observed in Ewell. The Bridges vaults and the Calverley vaults are all on what would have been the north side, as well as the grave of Penelope Hallifax. The present path crosses the former nave of the old church, and would have originally led to the south door.
Two mystery cats from Worcester Park
An article by Tony Howe, Surrey County Council archaeological officer, in Surrey Archaeological Society’s Bulletin no. 357 seeks information about two heraldic statues acquired about 15 years ago from the Hogsmill Tavern in Worcester Park Road. Both are of big cats, perhaps leopards, sitting upright on their hind legs and each holding a vertical rod, which appears to be the lower end of a flagstaff. The beasts are 1.2 metres tall and made of oolitic limestone. Green stains on their forearms suggest that they may have carried pendants of copper or brass. They have some similarity with the beasts appearing at the tops of the towers in John Speed’s picture of Nonsuch Palace, although Martin Biddle believes that these were made of wood and has confirmed that no trace of any comparable stone animals was found during the 1959 Nonsuch excavation. Yet any stone statues at Nonsuch may well have been removed intact for use elsewhere
If the statues are not from Nonsuch perhaps they have come from another Tudor palace, such as Richmond, Oatlands or even Hampton Court, or are they of more recent date, possibly just Victorian grave monuments? Any information, especially from frequenters of the Hogsmill Tavern 15 years ago, would be welcome by Tony Howe at County Hall in Kingston.
The Secretary has sent the following letter to the Editor of the Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin:
There is, in Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, a picture of a mansion at Epsom called Durdans, painted by Jacob Scmits in 1689. The mansion was built for George, Lord Berkeley, in the 1680s and the painting was probably intended to show off the new house. it was the time of the demolition of Nonsuch Palace, of which Berkeley was the Keeper, and there is no reason to doubt John Aubrey’s story that a lot of the materials from the palace went into Durdans. The interesting thing about the Scmits painting is that on what appears to be a terrace in front of Durdans, and lining a flight of steps leading up to it, there are eight heraldic beasts. The quality of the reproduction of the painting that I have seen is insufficient to enable one to say to what extent they resemble those shown in the Bulletin, but they could be similar. In 1747 Durdans was acquired by Alderman Belchier. He had Berkeley’s house pulled down but the new one he had built burned down in 1755 and was rebuilt in 1764. The present Durdans is basically the 1764 building. This is probably a complete red herring, but hopefully not without interest.
The lantern in The Light of the World
The painting The Light of the World by Holman Hunt is probably the best known of all religious paintings. In it Christ is shown carrying a lantern: it was not any old lantern, but one specially made in patinated brass by a Chelsea ironmonger to a design that incorporated the religious symbolism that was important to the Pre-Raphaelites. Its seven-sided shape relates to the recurrence of the number seven in the Book of Revelation and the varied apertures demonstrate the many aspects of truth. The lantern was in the news recently when it was acquired at auction for Manchester Art Gallery at a price of £52,100. The Gallery is a fitting home for the lantern, since it has one of the three versions of The Light of the World. It is the one that was begun as a study for the finished painting that was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1854, and would have been worked on by Holman Hunt when staying at Worcester Park Farm in 1851. The study was later worked up into the finished painting now to be seen in Manchester.
The Royal Academy painting is now at Keble College, Oxford, and in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London there is a third larger painting of The Light of the World that was finished in 1904.
Abdy, Charles, The Pre-Raphaelites in Ewell and a Missing Masterpiece. NAS Occasional Paper 24, 1994).
Loukes, Andrew, in Art Quarterly: the Magazine of the National Art Collections Fund, 2001
An incident at Epsom Races in 1824
As reported in the Windsor & Eton Express, and provided by Mr. Ron Davis of Egham-by-Runnmede Historical Society:
On Friday 4th June, after the races, a large ring was formed in a hollow for a fight between two members of the ‘PC’ (Pugilists’ Club?). The ring was enclosed by horsemen, wagons, carriages and other vehicles. There was then a change of plan. It was agreed that the fight would take place on the racecourse opposite the Derby stand. The ring broke up and everyone rushed to the new location, but the only way in for carriages and horses was at the top of the course near the ‘rubbing house’. This entrance was blocked by a large chain and maintained by constables, but there was no stopping the 500 or so carriages, horsemen etc. Many people were knocked down and trampled upon. One lady had her jaw broken. ‘A countryman’ had a badly fractured arm, while a boy was badly injured and probably did not survive. A coachman from Kew Bridge was kicked by a horse and ‘completely stove in’. He was conveyed to the Magpie at Epsom where he died. A groom from Banstead had a fractured skull, having been thrown from his horse, which was killed under him. (The paper does not say if the fight took place!).
About 9.00 pm the same evening a nobleman drove four-in-hand and in full gallop near Ewell. Many people pulled up to let him pass, but a spirited animal in a gig began to plunge, having been frightened by the noise. This resulted in a lady and gentleman being thrown out backwards. Fortunately they were only slightly bruised.
A week after the races Charles Harrison, George Whateley, John Baskin, Emanuel Allan and John Westray were charged at Bow Street with picking pockets at Epsom Races. Baskin and Allan were suspected of ‘hustling’ a Mr. Rougemont and taking his gold watch. Westray was suspected of stealing a pocket book containing two ten-pound notes and four sovereigns from Mr. Potter.