Thomas Willement

May 11, 2009

Thomas Willement was the leading exponent of heraldic stained glass working in Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. He researched medieval methods of stained glass making, reviving techniques which had gone out of use during the eighteenth century, and worked closely with Pugin on principles of Gothic revival architecture and decoration.

Willement’s work and stylistic and philosophical affiliations accorded closely with the tastes of Sewell and Singleton, so it was natural that they should seek him out to commission new work. Singleton had already admired Willement’s work at Monro’s school at Harrow Weald which he visited on March 23rd. In addition, Sir George Bowyer had given heraldic stained glass to the parish church of Radley village in 1840. This was installed by Willement, who may have been responsible for the glass itself. However, the works for Sewell and Bowyer are not recorded in Willement’s daybooks. Singleton and Sewell bought considerable quantities of old and new stained glass much of it was installed in the new chapel and in other buildings around the new college, but a significant amount was surplus to requirement and went into storage. Consequently, Willement’s work for Radley College has never been satisfactorily identified: the most likely candidates are a sequence of six heraldic and one figurative light installed in the east wall of the building which became the Schoolroom.

Stained glass in the Schoolroom

Stained glass in the Schoolroom


There is an entry for Willement in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

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Portrait photograph of William Heathcote

Portrait photograph of William Heathcote

Warden of Radley College, 1851-2

William Beadon Heathcote was born on 12th December, 1812. He was the son of Ven Gilbert Heathcote, Archdeacon of Gloucester, and his wife Anne Beadon, daughter of Rev. Edwards Beadon. Gilbert Heathcote held the living of Hursley, Hampshire until his death in 1829. When he died his cousin, Sir William Heathcote, 5th Bt., offered the living to his former college tutor, John Keble. Keble refused it at that time, but accepted in 1836, and continued in the parish for the remainder of his life, and “it was from the relative obscurity of the country parish, an obscurity admittedly somewhat ‘cultivated’, that Keble achieved his fame both as poet and as protagonist in the ecclesiastical events of the day.” (ODNB). William Beadon Heathcote was closely connected with Keble and influenced by the latter’s views on pastoral care.

Heathcote was a family friend of the Sewells, was educated at Winchester College, and had been a Fellow and Tutor of New College, Oxford, since 1832. He became Sub-Warden of New College in 1840 and Bursar in 1845. He was consulted over the founding of Radley College on several occasions by both Singleton and Sewell, and the depth of regard for him is demonstrated by the actions of Charles Marriott, Radley College Prior Fellow, who approached Heathcote during the crisis of 1851, during which the Fellows rebelled against the Statutes and Singleton’s authority, as the best candidate to replace Singleton as Warden. Heathcote initially declined, but after Singleton had actually resigned, he was appointed Warden by election of the Fellows on 8th October, 1851.

Since Heathcote intended to marry, the Statute prohibiting a married Warden was suspended on his behalf, although he did not eventually marry until August 1852. He was described by Elizabeth Sewell as “a most honourable, single-minded man” and by William Sewell as “earnest, religious-minded and able.” The boys at the school also approved of him: “we like Mr Heathcote because he allows us to climb and have mustard.” Only four out of the seventeen Fellows appointed under Singleton survived the turmoils of 1850 and 1851: Monk, Haskoll, Savory and JH Wanklyn, so Heathcote had to recruit a virtually new staff, appointing seven new Fellows and one Prior Fellow during his two years in office.

Heathcote carried through several reforms: he divided the school into Upper and Lower schools (crucial since the boys ranged in age from 8 or younger to 18); he fitted up a separate dormitory for the younger boys and appointed a junior matron; he also heated the dormitory with hot pipes “which would ultimately save much expense and remove the danger of fires.” He also gave the Prefects specific duties, the Senior Prefect being Prefect of Hall and Bounds and the others of School, Dormitory, Chapel (2), Games, Gardens and Library. He revived rowing and started river bathing, appointing a man called Hounslow as swimming instructor: Hounslow continued this function at Radley until his death in 1887. Heathcote also introduced an Easter vacation in 1852, from 14th until 28th April.

However, Heathcote was not fully informed of the serious financial situation the school was under when he took office, nor that there was still no formal lease on the property. During the course of 1851-2, attempts were made to sort out the confusion, and particularly to pay back Singleton’s loans to the school, which finally amounted to £4,875. A complete impasse was reached, both Singleton and the bank proving unwilling to negotiate. Heathcote announced at a College meeting on 13th November, 1852, that he must resign at Christmas. The meeting decided that, as there was no possible chance of getting anyone else to be Warden, that William Sewell must take control of the entire College.

Heathcote became a Prebendary and Precentor of Salisbury Cathedral and Vicar of Sturminster Marsall, then Rector of Compton Bassett, from 1855 until his death in 1862. He married Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Rev George Deane, on 3rd August, 1852. They had two children: Cecil Hamilton, born 1856, who died unmarried in 1896, and Agnes Mary, who became a nun.

Heathcote was involved in the reform of liturgical music also advocated and practised by Singleton and Edwin Monk. His published works included settings of Gregorian chant/’tones’, published in 1844, 1845 and 1849: The Canticles in the Prayer-Book, with the Gregorian Tones adapted to them: as also the 114th and 115th Psalms, and the Creed of St. Athanasius. [With a preface signed: W. B. H.] Oxford, J. H. Parker, 1844; The Psalter with the Gregorian tones adapted to the several Psalms, etc. [With a preface signed: W. B. H] Oxford, J. H. Parker, 1845. Harmonised G.T. for “the Psalter” etc, edited by W.B.H. Oxford, 1849; and studies on doctrine: Documentary illustrations of the principles to be kept in view in the interpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Oxford, 1841, and The laws of our knowledge of doctrinal truth. A sermon [on John, Gospel of, vii. 17.] Oxford, 1850. In 1846 he published Prayers for Children; with a morning and evening hymn. Oxford, 1846, which included the Trinitarian hymn “O Father, who didst all things make”

O Father, who didst all things make
That Heav’n and earth might do Thy will,

Bless us this night for Jesus’ sake

And for Thy work preserve us still.

O Son, who didst redeem mankind,

And set the captive sinner free,

Keep us this night with peaceful mind,

That we may safe abide in Thee.

O Holy Ghost, who by Thy power

The church elect dost sanctify,

Seal us this night, and hour by hour

Our hearts and members purify.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

The God Whom Heav’n and earth adore,

From men and from the angel host

Be praise and glory evermore.

At Radley College, he is commemorated in the Heathcote Prize, a Scholarship for Classics, later for Classics and Mathematics, founded in his honour in 1863.

Portrait photograph of William Haskoll

Portrait photograph of William Haskoll

b. 1792, d. 1865. Fellow of Radley College, 1847-1864. Served as Sub-Warden of Radley, 1847-8, Bursar 1852-1864

William Sewell had known William Haskoll for some time before the founding of Radley, as a close friend of the Sewell family. There is no record of where Haskoll was educated; he did not have a university degree, nor any known links to schools or colleges although a passing comment in Singleton’s diary for 17th August, 1847, indicates that he had acted as a private tutor: the first boy admitted to the school, George Melhuish, had been a pupil of his. He had served in the Royal Navy, and was always referred to as ‘Captain’ Haskoll. He took up his post at Radley at the age of 55. He was appointed to teach Latin and French.

Samuel Reynolds, the second boy to enter the school, described him as:

A fine old English sailor. Probably the Founder, having put Mr Singleton at the head of affairs, thought it prudent to ballast him with some English common sense. Captain Haskoll had seen service in China and elsewhere, but we could seldom get him to talk about it as much as we could have wished. I well remember his room on the top storey of the House, hung round with pictures of the several stages of the fight between the Shannon and the Chesapeake … We enjoyed our French lessons well enough, for Captain Haskoll’s yoke was not heavy … It was by my own gross fault that I learned no French.

Reynolds also describes a beating administered by Haskoll on Clutterbuck:

The old gentleman’s breath was short and his arm got weary, and he was thoroughly exhausted and unable to go on. “See,” he said, “what you bring me to with your misbehaviour,” adding, when he had rested a little, “but I haven’t done yet,” and suiting the action to the word with the best vigour he could command.

William Haskoll seems to have been a genial member of the staff. He began taking singing lessons to equip himself to take part in the choral services, and he made it his duty to beat the gong for rising at 6.30am each morning. He wore his medal for service in China during the inauguration ceremony for the new college.

The post of Sub-Warden was initially Haskoll’s, but in 1848 Joseph Mason Cox was appointed to the post. Cox left Radley in 1850, possibly to take up a post at the recently founded Bradfield College, of which he became Second Master. Haskoll resumed the role for a few months but in 1851, on the appointment of Heathcote as Warden, Haskoll was asked to resign as Sub-Warden in favour of Rev. William Smith, it being considered more desirable that the postholder be in Holy Orders and should take more part in school work.1 At the same time Monsieur de Brion, ‘a very gentlemanly man of high character, from Oxford’ was appointed to teach French. At some point between 1851 and 1855, Haskoll was appointed Bursar, with sundry small administrative duties attached to the post, but in 1855, William Sewell appointed his brother, Robert Burleigh Sewell, Bursar. Haskoll’s role continued to be vague: by the time that William Sewell was forced to resign as Warden in 1861, the school was virtually bankrupt and Sewell despised or detested by most of his staff but Haskoll remained loyal and was described by Sewell as “dear old Haskoll, ignorance of our troubles is indeed bliss to him.” In 1863 he still held the nominal post of Senior Bursar, despite the complete re-ordering of the school’s finances and staff structure.

He retired from the school in 1864, having been presented with a testimonial by the boys in October. He died in London on 10th March, 1865, aged 73: “He had passed through the whole of Radley’s fevered history, benign, upright, and beaming to the last, beloved by all, a true man… On his breast as he lay in his coffin was placed ‘a bouquet of artificial flowers which he never during life could be induced to give any account or explanation of.’ …[Warden] Wood, who knew what he had given up to work at Radley till he could work no more, says: ‘I have never in my life known a finer or more Christian character.'” (AK Boyd, History of Radley College, 1947)

The funeral service was held at St Peter’s, Clerkenwell, and he was buried in Highgate Cemetery. Some carved panelling was put up in the Old Chapel with funds raised to commemorate him, but this was undoubtedly lost in 1895 when the chapel was replaced by the present building. Radley College has no existing memorial to its first Sub-Warden and Bursar, and the longest-serving of the earliest Fellows.


1: William Smith left Radley in 1852. He was then appointed Principal of the Diocesan Training College, Fishponds, Bristol, from 1853 until 1871. He was Vicar of Newlkand and Redbrook, Gloucester, 1871-88

John Pollen

May 1, 2009

John Pollen (1820-1902), became a fellow of Merton College in 1842. He spent 1843 travelling in the Near East with his brother. On his return he was ordained and appointed curate of St Peter-le-Bailey in Oxford. There he executed his first large scale decoration of a church, painting the ceiling in 1844. St Peter-le-Bailey was demolished in 1872.

Pollen traveled extensively in France, Italy and Germany in 1847, where he studied the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna. His later architectural decorative work shows the influence of this trip, culminating in his condemnation of the prevailing influence of Pugin’s Gothic style on Victorian church architecture.

Pollen was a friend of John Henry Newman, and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1852, forfeiting his fellowship at Merton College.

His later career as an artist including membership of the Hogarth Club, the focal point of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, and commissions in Oxford which included the decoration of the Oxford Union debating chamber and the carvings of the façade of the Natural History Museum. He also acquired antique furniture and other decorative objects for clients, although his connection with William Sewell in this matter is unclear.

His watercolour sketches are considered to show greater talent than his large-scale works.


There is an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and in Wikipedia.

Mrs Burky

April 27, 2009

Mrs Burky had held a post at Stackallan which combined the roles of housekeeper and matron. She was appointed there in 1843 and had attended the ceremony in which Singleton was installed as warden. Her background is obscure, even her first name is unknown, and the only clue to her birthplace is the rumour recorded in Abingdon in 1847 that a Catholic Irishwoman from Wexford had arrived to work for the new college at Radley. There is no evidence that she was Catholic, but her presence certainly caused consternation in the neighbourhood and fuelled speculation and distrust about the religious affiliation of the new school. That these rumours were widespread is shown by the incident when a group of Irish labourers arrived at Radley seeking someone who could conduct Mass.

As housekeeper and matron she must have been widowed, but there is no record of her daughter’s presence as her helper at Stackallan, which may indicate the age of the unnamed daughter when they arrived at Radley in 1847. Mrs Burky demonstrated great loyalty to Singleton, in particular, by this move and his references to her are always complimentary, expressing her great joy at her new home and work. Singleton is also very considerate of her comfort, more so than of his own.

She is described in the reminiscences of Samuel Reynolds, the second boy to enter Radley College:

Last, but not least – as those who knew her will acknowledge – I must put down the name of the housekeeper, Mrs Burky, a stout, comely, good-natured, open-handed, open-hearted Irishwoman. Her little room on the ground-floor of the House was at all times open to the boys, and there she was always to be found, with her pleasant face, her genial manner, and her unfailing readiness to do a kind turn for any of us. It was one of her duties to send helpings to the boys at dinner, and I still retain a lively and grateful recollection of the liberality with which she did her work. We had pudding twice a week, and during good Mrs Burky’s reign we had it in most abundant measure. She was not very long in office – I think about eighteen months, – and she left Radley to the general regret of all of us.1

Mrs Burky’s generous helpings of pudding may have contributed to the rift which developed between herself and Singleton. He was deeply concerned about the effect of over-eating on the boys, imposing a dietary regime which left the earliest boys at the school perpetually hungry. There was an increasing sense of grievance about this which culminated in an incident in Hall on February 8th 1848 in which one of the younger boys, Gilbert Elliot, rang the bell to order more butter, apparently because some boys had been given a larger allocation than others. This Oliver Twist-inspired act brought punishment on the two Elliot brothers and on Samuel Reynolds as the oldest boy in the school. Mrs Burky, when interviewed over the incident, was deeply angry.

She left the school before the end of Singleton’s term as Warden. There is no indication what happened to her, or her daughter, after they left Radley.


1: Quoted in TD Raikes, Fifty years of Radley, Oxford 1897

William Telford

April 18, 2009

William Telford (1809-1885) was an Irish organ builder, who established the firm of Telford and Sons.

Singleton consulted him extensively on the College’s organ, eventually commissioning a large 47-stop instrument.

The firm built a number of organs, ranging in size from that for Radley to small church barrel organs.

Major commissions included Trinity College, Dublin (1838), Killala Cathdral, County Mayo (1838), the church of St Malachy, Belfast (1847), and St Eugene’s Cathedral, Londonderry (1872). Most of the major work was done in Ireland, but the firm was well-known in England and abroad, including two organs for churches in New Zealand.

Telford was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Dublin Society in 1847 for his work, and in 1851 he judged musical instruments at the Great Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace.


This article was drawn from the entry in Grove Music Online

James Edwards Sewell

March 11, 2009

James Edwards Sewell was born in 1810 as the younger brother of William and Henry Sewell, the sixth son of a large family.

He attended Winchester College as a scholar, then New College, Oxford, where he would remain for the remainder of his life. He became a fellow in 1829, took his BA in 1832, and was ordained in 1834. He held every major office in the college, and in 1860 became the Warden, recieving his DD in the same year.

James Edwards Sewell was frequently consulted by his brother William over the founding of Radley College. The most significant later link was the charitable foundation based on the servitors. These were boys who received a ‘sound religious education’ in exchange for domestic duties about the school, such as serving at tables, and most particularly, acting as choristers in chapel, and then to proceed through the Classical curriculum until they qualified as Fellows, although there is no record that any ever reached that goal. William Sewell encouraged them to go on to New College, Oxford, as undergraduates or probably still as servitors, fulfilling much the same domestic functions in exchange for an education at the university. This continued as a historic link until the 1900s, possibly only fading away following James Edwards’ death.

James Edwards donated his personal collection of his brother William’s works to Radley College.


There is an entry on Sewell in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Radley village and park was the property of Abingdon Abbey from before the Norman Conquest until the Dissolution of the Abbey in 1544. The manor of Radley then came into the possession of the crown until it was bought in 1569 by George Stonhouse, one of the Clerks of the Green Cloth of Elizabeth I. Radley remained the residence of the Stonhouse family until the eighteenth century.

Sir John Stonhouse, 3rd Baronet of Radley, began the construction of a new, grand house in Radley Park, built and designed by the Oxford masons William Townsend and Bartholomew Peisley, in 1721. The work was finally completed in 1727, at a cost of over £1200. This is the house which is now known as the Mansion. Between 1770 and 1773, Capability Brown was employed to draw up landscape designs for Radley Park.

When Sir John Stonhouse died he was succeeded in turn by each of his three unmarried sons, then in 1792 by a niece, Penelope, Lady Rivers, and finally in 1794 by his daughter Anne’s younger son, Rear-Admiral George Bowyer.

Bowyer was a career naval officer, who had first gone to sea at the age of eleven, in 1751. After a long and highly-regarded service, he was promoted to Rear-Admiral in February 1793. He took up a command in the Channel Fleet that July, aboard HMS Prince, and in January 1794 transferred his flag to HMS Barfleur. Barfleur fought heavily at the Third Battle of Ushant, the first major naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars, and on the “Glorious First of June“, Bowyer was seriously injured, and lost a leg.

Unable to serve again, he was awarded a pension of £1,000 per year for his wound, and awarded a gold medal for the victory; in August, he was created the Baronet of Radley. By seniority, he was promoted to Vice-Admiral in July 1794, then Admiral in February 1799. That April, he succeeded his elder brother as the fifth Baronet of Denham Court, merging his baronetcy with the family title, and died on 9th December 1800. The Union Flag is flown each 1st June at Radley in his memory.

His titles, and the land, were inherited by his eldest son George, the sixth Baronet (b. 1783); however, the family fortunes went into sharp decline over the following years, with money spent on speculative ventures such as the attempted quarrying of a coal mine on the estate at Bayworth with an accompanying canal to convey the coal to the Thames in 1812/13. By 1815 the family had sold the majority of the paintings and furniture from the house, and in 1819 Sir George Bowyer leased the property to Benjamin Kent of Abingdon, to house a Nonconformist School which Kent had founded earlier.

Radley Hall School” failed in 1844, however, and after being briefly rented in 1845 the house had been empty until Sewell and Singleton visted it in 1847.

In 1847 Sir George Bowyer was living in Italy, although he still retained an interest in the estate and the parish, for example bestowing stained glass windows by Willement on the parish church of St James in 1840. The negotiations with Singleton and Sewell were conducted on his behalf by his sons George – the “Mr. Sewell” with whom they negotiated – and William, later to become the 7th and 8th baronets respectively. Both the Bowyer brothers were practising lawyers based in London.

The elder brother, George Bowyer, succeeded his father as the 7th Baronet in 1860. He was an eminent writer on jurisprudence, and became MP for Dundalk, Ireland, in 1852. He was a passionate supporter of Irish Home Rule. The most significant aspect of his life was his conversion in 1850 to Catholicism. He became the most eminent supporter and leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England. The controversy surrounding this, and the implied connection with the Oxford Movement-inspired founders of Radley College, led to much local suspicion of the new school, and opposition to it from the Rectors of Radley and Abingdon. Sewell and Singleton were very keen to distance themselves from any such connection. Sir George Bowyer died in his law chambers in the Temple, London, in 1883. His funeral service took place at the Catholic church he had founded in Great Ormond St.; the estates and titles were inherited by his brother William. There has long been a tradition that he was buried secretly and without rites at the parish church of St James, Radley.


Admiral Sir George Bowyer (1740-1800) has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; his grandson has entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the Catholic Encyclopaedia. Much of the remaining material for this article is taken from The history of Radley by Patrick Drysdale et al, Radley History Club, 2002.

Henry Sewell

March 4, 2009

Henry Sewell was born on 7 September 1807, the younger brother of William Sewell, and was educated at Hyde Abbey School, near Winchester, before qualifying as a solicitor and joining the family firm in 1826.

His brother William relied upon him for legal advice during the foundation of Radley, but this advice was often ignored – Henry was deeply concerned in June 1847 that the lease on the Radley Hall estate was still not signed despite Sewell and Singleton storming ahead with the inauguration of the school.

He became a member of the Canterbury Association, which planned to form an Anglican colony in New Zealand, and was apppointed their deputy chairman in 1851. In 1853, the Association was wound up, and he travelled to New Zealand to oversee the disposal of their assets. He would live in New Zealand for seventeen of the next twenty-three years (1853-56, 1859-66, and 1870-76), and became a prominent figure in early colonial politics, becoming the first premier in 1856. He later became treasurer (and effectively deputy premier), then headed the land registry and served several terms as attorney-general, before retiring to the United Kingdom in the late 1870s. His journals from this period provide one of the fullest accounts of persons and places in early Canterbury and the beginnings of self-government in New Zealand.


This article was adapted from the entry on Sewell in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; there is also a Wikipedia entry.

Edwin Monk

March 4, 2009

Portrait photograph of Edwin Monk

Portrait photograph of Edwin Monk

Edwin George Monk was born at Frome, Somerset, in 1819. After studying in London, he became Precentor at St Columba’s College in 1844. In 1847 he moved to Oxford, where he helped to found the University Motet and Madrigal Society. He graduated BMus in 1848 and was awarded a doctorate in 1856.

In 1848 he rejoined Singleton to become the first Fellow of St Peter’s College, again as Precentor. By the time he left in 1858, he had firmly established the Radley choral tradition and overseen the installation of Singleton’s organ. On his departure from Radley, he became Precentor at York Minister, where he would oversee the rebuilding of both organs.

His most significant work was with Anglican psalms, several of his compositions still being in regular use. In addition, he wrote a number of choral concert works, some forty hymn tunes, and five anthems, as well as the librettos for three oratorios. In addition to his musical career, he was an amateur astronomer (becoming a Fellow of the Royal Astronmical Society in 1871) and a Biblical scholar.

He returned to Radley for the final sixteen years of his life, living in a house in the village near to the Bowyers’ Arms. His wife, who died in 1883, was buried in Radley churchyard, and on his death in 1900 he was interred beside her. There is no formal memorial to him in Radley College, but the organ in St James’s Church, Radley, was installed in his memory.


This article was adapted from the obituary in The Radleian Magazine, April 7th 1900, and from the entry on Monk in Oxford Music Online.