Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Peasant Arts beyond Kings Road/ Foundry Lane

Godfrey Blount, Arbor Vitae, 1899

Looking at the wider area of Haslemere, it's interesting to see where the main members of the Peasant Arts Guild resided after the 1901 census, and how these locations related to each other.


The Blounts moved out of Foundry Lane around 1911, to St Cross on Weydown Road where they established the St Cross School of Handicraft but continued their relationship with the Haslemere Weaving Industry on Foundry Road.  Marion Hine moved to Silverbirches, a house almost directly above her previous residence of Greenbushes, further up the hill.

Whilst the Kings were living down the road in Witley, first at Upper Birtley and then at the hugely impressive Sandhouse, in 1922 they moved to Hillfarm in Camelsdale until Maude Egerton King died in 1927.

The third key family of the movement, Greville MacDonald, only moved permanently to Haslemere from Harley Street in London, in 1919, where he bought Wildwood on Weydown Road, a neighbour of the Blount's at St Cross.  Greville had built a house for his parents in 1900 on the Grayswood Road, St George's Wood where they lived to their deaths a few years later.

An introduction is required of Greville's father, the writer George MacDonald, who is described as "one of the magic Victorian circle of Ruskin, Carlyle, Dickens, Trollope, Thackeray and Macaulay, to pick out a few only of those with whom he was on the most friendly and respected terms....his work was immensely valued and successful, his novels grossly pirated were eagerly read all over America, equal in popularity with those of Dickens and Thackeray.  In his day his literary reputation ranked with the highest throughout the English speaking world.  About the turn of the century, Dr George MacDonald often drove into the town from his new home along the Grayswood Road draped in a scarlet cloak, which revealed a white serge suit, and with a bearded face topped by a large grey felt hat he presented an ensemble which would surely please the most progresive of modern tailors."  (Rolston, Haslemere, 1956, Phillimore & Co. Limited, Chichester).

Interestingly, the famous Haslemere family, the Dolmetsch's, of the early music and recorder manufacturing local fame, family house, Jesses, is directly opposite St George's Wood.  Joseph King is reported to have persuaded Arnold Dolmetsch to move to Haslemere.

At the same time as the Haslemere Weaving Industries were being established, the Hammer Vale Pottery was also set up by Radley Young, whilst Hammer Vale was a few miles away, Radley Young lived nearby to Foundry Road, in Hillcrest on Courts Mount Road.  It is very likely that he was an acquaintance with the artistic community further down the hill.

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