The above watercolour, painted by Warwick Goble in 1910 and entitled “Old Cottages at Sulgrave” shows the group of terraced houses formerly known as “Spring Gardens” in Manor Road on the opposite side of the road from the Star Inn. Only the left hand end of the terrace remains, the greater part of the building having been demolished in the early 1930s. The painting was discovered at a Bloomsbury art gallery last year (2009), acquired at auction and restored to the village.
The discovery was made when I received the following email:
I saw your interesting web site and thought ‘Sulgrave folk’ might be interested to know of an old painting of cottages at Sulgrave which is being auctioned (lot 143) at Bloomsbury on Sept 3
R W Smith
I viewed the painting via the link to the gallery provided by Bill Smith and was astonished to see that it was of the cottage in which my mother was born and where she lived until it was demolished. I emailed back as follows:
My name is Colin Wootton and I look after the Sulgrave Village Website. I’m 71 years old and have lived in the village pretty well all of my life. Both my parents’ families have been established in the village for several hundreds of years.
My mother was born in the cottage shown in the picture (known as “Spring Gardens”) and lived there with her 11 brothers and sisters until the early thirties, when it was pulled down (a small part remains).
If you go to the village website and click on “Sulgrave – 130 years in photographs” the cottage is on the right in the sepia toned introductory picture. I can’t thank you enough for drawing my attention to this picture by Warwick Goble. I would very much like to purchase it……
Bill replied as follows:
I am delighted to have re-connected the painting with its past – and I very much hope that you will be able to acquire it and take it ‘home’. Perhaps some old relatives of yours may even be present in the picture!
Whilst the figures in the picture are probably from Warwick Goble’s imagination rather than “sitters” at the time, it is conceivable that some of them may represent my relatives. Could this be “Granny Branson” bringing the milk home with one of my mother’s elder sisters?
Here is a picture of Spring Gardens taken in the late 1920s or early 1930s, with my Uncle Cyril Branson astride his motor-cycle in the foreground (Granny Branson is indeed present in this picture, in the doorway).
…and here is a recent photograph of what remains of the original Spring Gardens terrace. The gate in the wall on the right of the photo leads up to the houses which are currently known as Spring Gardens.
Having never bought a picture at auction before I attended the sale after a thorough briefing by Bill Smith and, following a brisk round of bidding, acquired the picture at a little more than my “reserve” price! It now hangs in my hallway.
So, who was Warwick Goble?
“Warwick Goble isn’t exactly a household name. He was born in 1862. He was raised in London, went to The City of London School and attended the Westminster School School of Art. He worked for a printer that did chromolithography and contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette and the Westminster Gazette, illustrated papers of the day. His watercolors were the perfect vehicle for the new illustrated books of the early 20th century. He was exhibiting at the Royal Academy as early as 1893, so this appears to have been his focus.”
This extract is from a fascinating website containing a biography of Warwick Goble and many examples of his pictures.
If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of the picture between 1910 and 2009 I would love to hear about it. Just email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m truly indebted to Bill Smith for drawing my attention to the sale of the picture which I now have the pleasure of viewing many times each day.
Villagers are cordially invited to pay a visit and view the painting at first hand.