Monthly Archives: April 2016

Embroidered holes

I haven’t written much here recently, but I am stitching some bits.

A couple of pieces made at recent workshops. The first is made with polyester organza scraps trapped under sheer, and free machine stitched in a flower doodle pattern. Then shapes were cut out with a soldering iron, to allow a background fabric to show through. 

The other also has holes. Strips of hand dyed lace, embroidered and then joined with insertion stitches, and laid on a background fabric.


Great gates

The day after  walking in William Wade’s footprints around Chichester, we drove north to the town of Petworth. The small town is dominated by the huge house on the hill, now managed by the National Trust. I was interested to see the newly restored grand wrought iron gates, known as the Tijou gates.

They were originally commisioned by the then owner Lord Leconfield in the 1860s and 1870s as part of a series of “improvements” at that time.  The company who were commisioned to make the gates were named in the documents found in the House Archive: ‘Wr Iron Gates for Park Entrance for the Rt Honl. Lord Leconfield’ by Brawn and Downing, 64 Clement Street, Birmingham 

Brawn and Downing was the company of my great, great, great grandfather Joses Weaver Downing. I first posted about him three years ago when I first discovered his work as a metal worker.

It was exciting to stand beside these magnificent gates, and know my great, great, great grandfather had a hand in their design and making.

In 1867 Joses Weaver Downing, the metal worker from Birmingham, became the father-in-law of William Wade from Chichester, when William married his daughter, Catherine Matilda. How they met I have yet to discover!

More about the history of the gates and their recent restoration can be found here.

Teaching in the blood…

We have had a few days break away exploring some areas of West Sussex we hadn’t visited before. Chilly weather but some sunny intervals gave us the chance to visit some beautiful places and discover some perspectives on history…

We investigated some history on a personal level in the city of Chichester, where my great great grandfather, William Wade, was born in 1835. In the 1841 and 1851 censuses he was living in a street called Little London just off East Street, one of the main thorough fares across the city.

His father John Wade was a chairmaker, but 15 year old William is described as a Lancastrian school teacher. What is a Lancastrian school teacher? My question…

A bit of research revealed that a significant  new form of education began in the 19th Century when the Quaker Joseph Lancaster started a free London day school in 1801. It attracted the attention of George III, and its success led to the foundation of The British and Foreign School Society, which became a formative influence on the development of  free state education.

Joseph Lancaster visited Chichester on 13th September 1810 at the invitation of his friend, the local Quaker John Barton. By 1812 two Lancastrian schools were established in Chichester, one of which was on a site round the corner from Little London, where William Wade was living with his parents and siblings. How my great, great grandfather came to be a teacher in one of these schools I do not know. My guess is that he himself received an education there, and became a teacher of the younger children, through the pupil teacher method used.

However it happened, this revolutionary system which educated the children of the poor and under privileged, changed the course of my great, great, grandfather’s life. William did not follow his father and become a chairmaker; instead he followed a profession,  eventually gaining government certified teacher status. By the 1861 census he has left Chichester and is living and teaching in Birmingham, where he met his wife to be, Catherine Matilda Downing, my great, great grandmother.More about her family in another post…

William’s grandson, my grandfather Sydney, became a teacher, as did both his children, my mother and aunt. Both my sister and I are/were teachers, and one of my sons teaches Maths, the other Music. In the blood…?

Just sing…

Yesterday was the big date with G4. “Just Sing” had been selected to be the support choir for the opening night of the four tenors on their comeback tour.

100 of us filled the choir stalls of the Lighthouse in Poole, and we sang our hearts out! It was fun..