Sir Richard Glyn and Zoffany
Sir Richard Glyn, the first of the Glyns of Ewell baronets, was a wealthy London merchant who was made a baronet by George II in 1759 after a year as Lord Mayor. He was sufficiently important to have his picture painted by Zoffany, a leading artist of the period. I am reminded of Zoffany by the news that there is to be an exhibition at the Royal Academy from 10 March to 10 June 2012, entitled Johann Zoffany RA: Society Observed.
Zoffany was born Joannes Zauffaly near Frankfurt in 1733. He trained as a painter and then went to Rome in 1750. During seven years there working and studying he remade himself as the Italianate Zoffani and returned to Germany, where he was appointed court painter to the Elector of Trier. He stayed for only three years in which time he married an innkeeper’s daughter, and then moved to London as Johann Zoffany. Being German-speaking he was able to find favour with the Germanic court of George III; but Zoffany’s career was really launched by the patronage of actor and impresario David Garrick. Joshua Reynolds, the first president of the Royal Academy, did not approve of the meticulous attention to detail in Zoffany’s pictures, but plenty of people, including Queen Charlotte, did like it, and he was in great demand. It was the king who nominated Zoffany to the Royal Academy. His hopes of being allowed to accompany Captain Cook on his voyage to the South Pacific were dashed, so he found adventure by going to India and making himself popular with the small European community in Calcutta, where he lived for several years recording their lives before returning to London. He died in 1810.
Zoffany was industrious: when he first arrived in London he acquired a teenage mistress. In Calcutta he sired several children with an Indian mistress.
One of his well-to-do sitters soon after he came to London was Sir Richard Glyn, whom he portrayed full length in all his finery. Among his many public offices, Sir Richard was President of the Bridewell Royal Hospital, which in 1867 was transferred Witley in Surrey as King Edward’s School. The Zoffany painting of Sir Richard can be seen at the school.
An excellent garden of fruit
Anthony Ashley Cooper, first Earl of Shaftesbury, is usually remembered as a Whig politician in the parliaments of Charles II. But he was also a keen gardener, and in a surviving notebook (PRO: 30/24/5/Part 293) he set out some thoughts on horticulture for his estate in Dorset. And there, buried among notes on fruit trees made in 1675, is this: ‘Att Worcester Parke, Sir Rich. Mason’s by Nonsuch in Surrey an excellent garden of fruit planted out of France by Sir Robert Long’.
Richard Mason had been at Worcester House for two years, succeeding his father-in-law Robert Long, who occupied the building 1663–73. His orchards may have been a replanting rather than a new venture, for an earlier plan of the house in 1610, to be found in David Rymill’s book on Worcester Park and Cuddington, shows a sunken garden with ‘the Vper walke sett with frute Trees’.
The lost flavours of the orchard are hinted at by Shaftesbury’s notebook, which names ‘more than 60 sorts of apple, 50 plums, 23 peaches, 7 nectarines, 25 cherries, 30 pears and nine grapes’ (J.H. Bettey, ‘Lord Shaftesbury’s estate and gardening notebook, 1675’, Somerset & Dorset Notes & Queries 33 (1991–5) pp295–8). Mind you, he does also recommend a recipe for claret made by mixing a gallon of elderberries in with a hogshead of perry. One hopes that Sir Robert had better taste.
Mary Wallis and Sir George Glyn
The story of Mary Wallis, the servant girl who started work at the age of nine and saved enough of her meagre wages to have a small wooden chapel built in West Street, Ewell, is well known. Less well known is Sir George’s part in the story, after he had acquired the lease, and the following extracts from correspondence he had with the Bishop of Winchester may be of interest.
Sir George to the Bishop, 10 July, 1845:
I shall feel much obliged if your Lordship will grant me a Licence for the performance of Divine Worship in a building situated in West Street, Ewell, latterly known as Union Chapel – it is fitted with Pews, Reading Desk and Pulpit and has a small Vestry Room attached. It is capable of seating about 120 persons and I purpose having, God permitting, a weekly service in the Evening and a third service on the Sunday for the labourers on the Railroad.
If the Church be rebuilt as intended it will also be the most convenient place for the congregation to assemble during that period. It may interest your Lordship to know that the above Chapel was opened as a Dissenting Place of worship about the year 1827 and the first Preacher therein was the late Rowland Hill, who took his text from Psalm XCVII; II, ‘light is sown etc’.
The Bishop to Sir George, 18 July, 1845:
Before I issue a licence for the performance of Divine Service in what was lately Union Chapel, I should be glad to know what is your tenure of the building. It would be very undesirable, if used for the service of our church, that it should ever be employed again for the purposes of dissent, and yet nothing is more likely, unless you have purchased the fee simple, or have secured it by a long lease. It would be very appropriate for a service for the Railroad Labourers; but I think it deserves reconsideration whether it is desirable to use it for a weekly service until the taking down of the church makes it impossible for you to have the service there. The exigency of the case would then be your sufficient excuse, and you would avoid giving offence to any.
The ‘late Rowland Hill’ referred to by Sir George would have been the popular preacher, 1744–1833, after whom Rowland Hill, the famous instigator of penny postage, is said to have been christened.
The tenure of the chapel arranged by Sir George was such that after use by the established Church it became a carpenter’s shop. However, in 1908 it was bought by two members of the Congregational Church and was later acquired by that church, renovated and opened as the Mary Wallis Hall in 1930. A Congregational Church had been built in the High Street, Ewell, in 1865. A new larger church built in London Road opened in 1938. (It is now the United Reformed Church). It had a room dedicated to Mary Wallis and the little chapel was demolished.