SIR EDWARD ELGAR

28 May, 2020

How many members are aware that Elgar lived in Fulham and that there is a London County Council ‘blue plaque’ on his former home?

Sir Edward Elgar, one of England’s greatest composers, was born at Broadheath near Worcester in 1857. His father was a piano-tuner who also ran a music shop and was organist at St. George’s Roman Catholic Church. Elgar succeeded him as organist between 1885-89.

Growing up in a musical family, Elgar won praise as a child for piano improvisations but had no formal musical training apart from violin lessons he received from a local teacher. Later he played in the orchestra at the festivals of the Three Choirs. He left school at 15 and for a while was apprenticed to a solicitor’s office but soon decided to devote his life to composing, and thereafter worked as a teacher and freelance musician.

A turning point came in 1886 when Caroline Roberts, the daughter of the late Major-General Sir Henry Gee Roberts, became one of his piano pupils in Malvern. She became his wife in 1889. They decided to set up home in London and took as their residence 51 Avonmore Road in Fulham, a backwater off the North End Road near Olympia, where their only child, Carice, was born. Here in 1890 he wrote his popular ‘Froissart’ Overture for the Worcester Festival. However, in 1891 the couple decided to leave London, where his works had not had much success. They lived in Malvern, then moved to Hereford in 1904.

His wife’s belief in his genius was a great spur to Elgar and he spent most of his time composing. By 1899 with the publication of the ‘Enigma Variations’, one of his most popular works, he was being recognised by the public as a major composer. The following year he produced what is considered his masterpiece ‘The Dream of Gerontius’, the setting of part of a poem by Cardinal Newman. Elgar drew inspiration from the culture and landscape of England, working in all the major forms of music except opera.

There now followed a period of great musical activity, his finest works were composed over a time span that lasted two decades. The most well known of the period include the Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901-07) the first being known as ‘Land of Hope and Glory’; the overture ‘Cockaigne’ (1901); Introduction and Allegro (1905); the Symphonic Study – ‘Falstaff’ (1913); the Violin Concerto (1910) the first performance of which was given by the great violinist Fritz Kreisler; the 1st and 2nd Symphonies (1908 and 1911). His other famous work, the Cello Concerto (1919), immortalised in the public mind by the performances given by the late Jacqueline du Pré, was written as a reflection on the terrible catastrophe of the First World War. Elgar said it described ‘a man’s attitude to life’. The death of Elgar’s wife the following year had such a profound effect on him that no further major work ever again flowed from his pen.

Elgar’s climb to public recognition was slow but once he was seen as one of England’s greatest composers the honours flowed in. A Knighthood in 1904; Order of Merit 1911; appointed Master of the King’s Musick 1924; KCVO 1928, Baronetcy 1931, GCVO 1933, as well as numerous honorary Doctorates and Degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London, Yale and many others. Edward Elgar died at Worcester on 23 February, 1934, aged 76, and was buried in his wife’s grave at St. Wulstan’s Church, Little Malvern.

This article first appeared in the Fulham Society newsletter no 77 in July 2007 and we are grateful for permission to use it

This is just one of the 450 Personalities of Fulham and Hammersmith that are briefly summarised in our publication of the same name by Keith Whitehouse.


MORE READING ONLINE AND AN UNUSUAL GUIDED WALK

21 May, 2020

We all know that the National Archive is mine of information and will usually have an answer to your question.  More difficult is the desire to browse and see what else is there.  When my son worked there years ago he pointed me to their blog; in particular one by Andrew Janes about the King’s (Private) Road.  I have rediscovered this and whilst only short it is one of several by this author usually with a map theme. There is one about V bombs and women with interesting jobs.  So one evening when the TV is too grim explore the TNA Blog.

Maya has let me know about this website called TreeTalk There is no history involved and it is a little out of date with venues and frustratingly lists all the (closed) pubs.  You put in your postcode, or a start and destination, and it will give you a route to find a variety of specimen trees.  We are lucky that previous generations have planted interesting and varied trees in public spaces.  Most street trees are not listed but we are lucky also to be in a borough that values and replaces them.  Take a walk and tell us about the history you found!

 


BOMBING OF ST PAULS

20 May, 2020

Like many of you we have been exploring the outer reaches of i-player and the TV schedule for interesting programmes.  We have been watching Dan Snow’s series on BBC2 (still on i-player) about archaeology of WWII which has now come to an end.  Tomorrow night at 1930 (7:30pm) it is replaced by War Walks which covers the bombing of St Pauls Cathedral.  We will certainly be watching that.

Hope you are all getting by with the lockdown.  The slight relaxing of the rules is welcome.  Take care.


MORE NOT GOING OUT!

29 April, 2020

Something for everyone, hope this provides some ideas.

More Personal Memories of the Borough

Last week I received a generous offer to our Members of a free pdf copy of a privately published Family History.  It centres on the Lally family living in Carthew Road & St Peter’s Grove Hammersmith from 1914 until 1944. Brackenbury and West Kensington Central Schools, churches and youth organisations all feature.  Some of our members helped provide background material. The depression and wartime spirit have a message for our current situation. It provides a narrative of the times that is both fascinating and instructive let me have your email address if you would like a copy.  The author has a few hardback copies at £30.

Whilst on the subject of personal histories you may have missed two books in our publications:

Ladybirds on the Wall

Ladybirds on the Wall

Memoirs of a London Childhood by Dorothy L Ash born at Anselm Road in 1899 covers her first 33 years living in Fulham.

Ladybirds on the Wall by Barbara Denny describes a life lived in West Kensington (North End)  from 1920-1940.

As well as personal, indeed social, history both books give an insight into life in West London at those times and have a nice style of prose, the second being written by a well known local reporter.

Jigsaw Therapy and History

These innovative interactive jigsaws have been put together by our local Archivist Kath Shawcross. Quite good fun and of course a reminder that all have significant histories. Challenge the grandkids or neighbours (electronically) to complete in a faster time than you and also to find out their history.

Fulham Bridge

Fulham Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge
Fulham Bridge
Fulham Palace

We have only a few Hammersmith Bridge books left but plenty of Fulham Bridge see Publications.

 

Video History

For something more national and on a grander scale here is a brief video of Julian Humphrys’ Top Ten Castles.

Finally BBC4 tomorrow Thursday 7:30pm Museums in Quarantine does a virtual tour of the British Museum.


THIS WEEK’S READING SUGGESTIONS

23 April, 2020

Here are some more books to consider if we are in this lockdown for the long run.  If not they’ll make great Christmas presents!

29 Angel 9780244803810.  A book by Barbara Tinsley and her father I devoured rapidly it faithfully portrays a 1930’s world that is rapidly slipping from our community memory.  In a charming if earthy style it is the story of young Stanley growing up in a Victorian terrace in Angel Walk Hammersmith.  The area was later truncated by the A4 fly-over.  It is a piece of powerful social history but also contains a story of a secret garden enjoyed by father and daughter.  There is a detective story to be solved.  Whose garden was it and why was it left neglected for decades?
A must read for anyone living in the area or students of social history and the very different lives of our grandparents and greatgrandparents era.
A snippet is online here.  It can be bought from Blackwells or Lulu.

Some more gems:

Fulham Past by Barbara Denny 9780948667435 lots of detail and photos
London’s Lost Rivers by Paul Talling 9781847945976 this includes several of our own.
How to Read London by Chris Rogers 9781782404521

More local books this time from Caroline MacMillan who will be familiar to the many who have taken her guided walks.  www.westlondonwalks.co.uk The vibrant modern photographs are interspersed with historical notes anchoring them to the past.  As well as the history of the area, each book contains two guided walks.

Wild about Fulham  9780993319310
Wild about Hammersmith  and Brook Green 9780957044777
Wild about Shepherd’s Bush and Askew Road  9780993319327

Again for those seeking fiction anchored in our area then try:

London by Edward Rutherford of Sarum fame 9780099551379
Capital Crimes Edited by Martin Edwards 9780712357494
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz 9781784757236 opens on the Fulham Road!


CATCHING UP ON READING

19 April, 2020

Lockdown is a restriction but on the other hand it has opened up hours of time for all those things you meant to do.  Well the DIY list is going down but there are other activities too.  Here are some suggestions for old books or new books to read with a London bias.

Given the time available Hilary Mantel’s trilogy could be worth exploring:
Wolf Hall – 9780007230204
Bring up the Bodies – 9780008381684
The Mirror and the Light – 9780008366704

Peter Ackroyd has loads of books on London try:
London Under – 9780701169916

I am currently re-reading Claire Tomalin’s:
Samuel Peyps – The Unequalled Self – 9780140282344

For a less fact based read try:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – 9780755322800
The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor – 9780008119096

Enjoy – John H


WEST LONDON NURSERY GARDENS

14 April, 2020

Having taken the advice offered in the latest Newsletter to consider our publications I selected at random West London Nursery Gardens.  I must be frank up front I have little interest in gardening and tended to render what I touched brown!  This is especially true now we only have a balcony and my limited skills of mowing, digging and harvesting apples are no longer required!

I got stuck into this 163 pages plus illustrations volume and was pleasently surprised.  The names of flowers leapt out to prompt my memories of my Northern Grandfather banging on about his successes on the allotment.  In fact the book is as much a social history as a botanical one.  The histories start in the 1660s through to the start of the 20th century.  Information gleaned from rate books, directories, private papers and gardening magazines and catalogues has been used to set out not only the bare facts but a little about the owners of each enterprise.

These men, and sometimes their widows, created a new line of business initially centred on London and botanical trophies of the age of discovery.  A fashion for ornate gardens and unusual plants amongst the landed gentry fed the businesses.  This grew eventually to the classless hobby of many but by then nurseries were more widespread and the land in London was more valuable for housing.

These were often men of humble origin from all over the country gardeners to the rich who grasped an opportunity.  The work and fresh air clearly had its rewards as several lived into their 80’s and 90’s.  The opposite is also true – at least 2 careers were ruined by falls from horseback. In the 19th century more

West London Nursery Gardens

middleclass businessmen tried their hand in this world of plants often driven by an interst in botany or exploring for species to cultivate.

Families are also featured heavily with sons following fathers into the business or associated areas.  Many had 2 or more wives and very many children with many dying young.  Whilst I know my grandparents were from large families the levels of child mortality and deaths in childbirth have slipped beyond living memory.

It also relates much about the geography of our streets today as land was given up for building the pockets of land often recognisable.

This book is definitely worth a read; gardener or not!

John H

II – Post Script

Anyone thinking about reading this book or just curious will find this map from the excellent National Library of Scotland’s website very helpful.  Although later than most of the activity it does show many of the remaining nurseries surviving as development crept westwards.

It also shows the scattering of large houses amongst the market gardens that may feature in Keith’s talk post lockdown!