People at St Luke’s: Edward and Reginald Motley

This single small photograph of Ireland at St Luke’s has huge significance, given the close (and in some cases lifelong) associations of the composer with the people captured in it. This is the tenth in a series of short blogs uncovering the personalities behind the faces.

St Luke's choir whole

MotleysThe two lads with identical hairstyles, one standing, one seated at the front, are Edward and Reginald Motley. It’s possible to identify them through census records and by judging their ages from the photograph. In the picture the older boy, Edward, is 12, his younger brother Reginald 10. Edward stands next to Ireland’s favourite chorister, Charlie Markes. The two Motleys lived in Fulham, at 69 Rostrevor Road, not that far from John Ireland in Gunter Grove.

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Creux ès Faies

When Ireland lived on Guernsey in 1940, his home on l’Erée Bay sat below one of the island’s most important burial mounds, Creux ès Faies.

This megalithic passage tomb and its surrounding fields have long been reputed for their fairy associations. Indeed, the site itself has always carried a ‘fairy’ name. Local folklore believed it to be the entrance to the fairy kingdom on Guernsey, from which sprites might emerge to dance on John Ireland’s other favoured spot, ‘Le Catioroc’. Soon after the composer was evacuated from the island in 1940 (exactly 100 years after the tomb had been excavated), it became part of a lookout on the west coast. Now it has resumed its former secretive peacefulness, hidden under a grassy mound.

 

On this day: 1 May 1920

On this day in 1920 some of Ireland’s pieces were included in a programme of music for organ by living English composers, among them Bridge, Elgar and Howells. The soloist was William Ellis (1868–1947), formerly assistant organist at Durham Cathedral and now the organist at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle.

Great Uncle John Burley Waring

Ireland’s great uncle on his mother’s side was the architect John Burley Waring – brother to his grandmother Annie Elizabeth Waring.

Waring (1823–75) was, like most of his siblings, born in Lyme Regis. In 1840, having already studied the art of water colour, he became apprenticed to a London architect, Henry Edward Kendall. As with a number of members of the family J.B.Waring’s health was delicate, therefore he spent the winter of 1843–4 in Italy, and again travelled to southern Europe in 1847, after which he published a fine volume of drawings, Architectural Art in Italy and Spain (1850). The success of this work led to a spell in Burgos and further published drawings.

Waring was superintendent of the works of ornamental art and sculpture in the 1857 Manchester Exhibition and of much of the International Exhibition at Kensington in 1862, following which he published the lavish three-volume Masterpieces of Industrial Art and Sculpture.

Like Ireland’s grandfather John Nicholson and the composer’s Aunt Fanny, Waring was an admirer of Swedenborg. However, he was also drawn to publishing his own personal, somewhat mystical statements, wrote poetry and played the violin. The V&A owns one of his drawings of boxers. Waring lived in London for a short time in 1853, as described in his own words in A Record of Thoughts on religious, political, social, and personal subjects, from 1843 to 1873:

It is getting far into the night; the wind sweeps stormily round the nooks and chimney-stacks of these old creaking houses, yet not strongly enough to drown the sound of busy life in the great streets. I hear the dull pattering of feet, and the more distant rumble of the wheels. In this great, throbbing city what feasting, dancing, acting, singing, go on around me: a whole beating mass of human souls.

One of nine distinguished siblings, among whom were medics and majors, John Burley Waring died in Hastings in 1875.