The Edgar Wood Society Open House – Meet the Curator event was a successful evening on two fronts, Nick and Richard brought along their latest research material. Also on show was the first painting owned by the society and kindly donated by Joan Allen living in Seattle. A sociable and convivial meeting was enjoyed by all attending.
The box gutters of the Edgar Wood Centre have been cleared of leaves for the fourth and final time, this November. Once again this has caused water ingress into the main hall.
However, as a result of the Edgar Wood Society tree appeal and their members generosity, this should now be a problem of the past. Below is a photo of the hall in early November and the same view today – the trees gone!
The self sown Sycamore trees that have been causing a problem for more than several years are at last being felled. Overhanging branches and falling leaves have continually blocked the boxed valley gutters with resulting water ingress. The use of ropes, agility and being young help. Local tree surgeons Birtle are doing a good job.
A painting by Edgar Wood comes home after 108 years. Joan now living in Seattle, bought the painting in Washington State in 1970 when she was a student. Now down sizing, Joan wanted to find a good home for the artwork and doing a search on Edgar Wood came across our web site, got in touch and the rest is history. The painting is of Nozzano Castello, Lucca and to have a closer look at where Edgar Wood travelled check out the link https:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZBhxcTxpN0
Our thanks to Joan for generously donating the picture to the Edgar Wood Society.
There was a good turn out for the Edgar Wood Society talk by Alec Hamilton on Arts and Crafts Churches. He certainly had the full attention of the audience as we learned about the criteria of what makes an Arts and Crafts Church. The photographs were superb, as was his talk both scholarly and lightened with amusing comments. Alec kindly distributed handouts, listing the churches featured in his talk. We are grateful to Alec for traveling all the way from Gloucestershire to give his talk and look forward to maintaining contact and reading his book in due course.
The Edgar Wood Society AGM was well attended, meeting in the lecture room for the first time. At the conclusion of the business session, Richard Fletcher gave an introduction to the Northern Art Workers Guild exhibition, which he and Nick Baker have curated. It was a good opportunity to meet members socially and view the impressive archive assembled to date.
Volunteers Maureen and Alan close the gates at the end of the final day of Golden Cluster Month at the Arts and Crafts Church (Long Street Methodist Church and School). Over 300 visitors came from throughout the local area and the wider region. One couple travelled from Maghull, having picked up a leaflet at Ellesmere Boat Museum. Comments in the visitors’ book read, “Inspirational” “Wonderful building, an eye opener” “Peaceful”. The list could go on.
Heritage Open Days got off to a busy start on Friday 11th September with over 45 visitors to the Arts & Crafts Church and Edgar Wood Centre, just one of the four Middleton Golden Cluster buildings open. Mr. and Mrs. Wild walked from Norden (most of the way) to visit the buildings! Nick Baker, Edgar Wood Society archivist, showed visitors around the new exhibition while the Middleton Family History Group explained how to explore the lives of our forebears.
On Saturday, Mayor Surinder Biant and Mayoress Cecile Biant were the first to arrive. They spent a good 45 minutes with Christine Grime before setting off to visit a further four buildings. Then came Merlin the Magician who performed throughout the day to coincide with the ‘land train’ running from the town centre arrived. ‘Train’ turned into ‘trail’ as Christine Grime took a group of visitors around the Middleton Arts & Crafts buildings, designed by Edgar Wood. One visitor came from Liverpool; each year he picks a different location to visit. Then on one land train, Edgar Wood himself arrived, albeit in the form actor Colin Meredith.
A special treat was to meet Lynden Easterbrook, the great granddaughter of Middleton artist and metalworker, James Smithies, who is featured in the exhibition alongside Edgar Wood and Frederick Jackson. Lynden lives in the Inverness area of northern Scotland and travelled 400 miles to be in Middleton for the day, bringing with her various items that belonged to James Smithies, including an Arts & Crafts copper jug made by him.
Meanwhile at the top of the hill…
Walking up through Jubilee Park to St. Leonard’s Square, visitors Middleton Archaeological Society completing their three week excavation of Church House/Grape’s Inn where the rear walls, cellar, cobbled passage and a possible blacksmith’s forge have been unearthed. Norman Redhead, County Archaeologist, visited the site with the dig leader Robert Huddart and agreed there was a lot of interesting archaeology. Finds were displayed in Middleton Parish Church adjacent.
Visitors were then treated to guided tours of Middleton Parish Church, the oldest building and finest interior of any church in the county. It is jam-packed full of historic art and craft work from medieval to modern times, including many Arts & Crafts workers, such as James Smithies, Edgar Wood, Christopher Whall and, in the 1960s, the designer George Pace. Over the past few weeks and over this weekend, a large number of people have visited St. Leonard’s and, this year, Rochdale Art Society mounted a special exhibition in honour of their late president, Colin Gilbert, who was a champion of the arts, a local historian and member of the church.
Then down the other side…
Visitors went to see the wonderful sixteenth century Queen Elizabeth I Grammar School. The history of the school was shown on several display boards and around the building. Finds from the Langley Hall archaeological dig were exhibited and two cabinets showed various artefacts relating to Middleton. Visitors had fun locating the initials of the young Edgar Wood inscribed in three places. He was one of the school’s last scholars.
Some visitors also went to see the Middleton Tapestry at Jubilee Library in the park and then popped over the road to visit the ancient timber framed Ye Olde Boar’s Head P.H. opposite.
We had a great turnout in all places. In the Arts & Crafts Church it was 45 on Friday, 60 on Saturday and 36 on Sunday afternoon, and there were plenty of complimentary remarks. People can still visit on Tuesday or Friday afternoons during September for ‘A Grand Day Out’ before we wind down – details are here.
Barry Noble the Quality Assurance Assessor for ‘Visit England’, made his unannounced inspection visit this afternoon. Maureen, a guide for the afternoon, at the Arts and Crafts Church impressed Barry with her knowledge and friendliness. He was complimentary about the visitor experience and made a few helpful suggestions as to how we could improve.
We can continue to display our ‘Visit England’ accreditation symbol.
The first day of the Golden Cluster openings is only 24 hours away and the final touches are being made. We hope to see many visitors new and old throughout the month and also on the Heritage Open Days.
Nick Baker, the curator has done a great job putting together the exhibition titled: ‘Middleton’s Arts and Crafts Trinity’
An excellent evening was had by all who visited the Georgian Moravian Settlement and this was followed by a walk around an extension to the settlement designed by Edgar Wood and Henry Sellers, in the 2nd decade of the 20th century.
The first part of the tour was led by Jean Bailo, a Manchester tour guide and the walk around Broadway by our very own Nick Baker. Nick explained that Wood and Sellers were at the fore front of the Garden City movement and early town planners.
Thirty members of the Clitheroe U3A Architectual Buildings Group visited the Arts and Crafts Church today followed by a walk around a selection of the Edgar Wood houses. In the image Christine is pointing out something skyward. It is more likely to be a slipped roof stone than a passing bird!
Twenty members of the Saddleworth Civic Trust spent Saturday doing the full tour, lead by Geoff Wellens at the Parish Church and by Christine Grime at the Arts and Crafts Church. This was followed by a conducted tour of the Edgar Wood trail. Christine led – the rest followed! In the fore ground are Christine and Charles Baumann (Sec.of the SCT)
Maureen is hard at work cleaning, in preparation for tomorrow’s soiree by local micro brewery, Wilson Potter. She will enjoy a pint after all the effort!