‘Inglewood’ in 1879

InglewoodAbove is a map showing Bowdon in 1879, as the local landscape looked in the year when John Ireland was born. From the map, his family home ‘Inglewood’ can be seen to be a fine mansion house surrounded by other similar properties and backing on to fields. It was built for Alexander Ireland in 1869, on land bought by him from the Dunham Massey estate. Morris & Co.’s Directory & Gazetteer of Cheshire confirms who the neighbours were in 1874. Haigh Lawn was owned by George Hodgkinson. The Johnsons had the other neighbouring house, Silverlands. Bowdon Lodge was the home of John Finnie Esquire, a Scottish merchant who died in 1875. Most of the wealthy owners in this part of Cheshire were businessmen.

The house next to Inglewood, Haigh Lawn, has a fascinating history. Also built in 1869, it was loaned as a hospital during the First World War, as discussed in this interesting article on Bowdon’s heritage. Bowdon Lodge was eventually transformed into Altrincham Grammar School for Girls. When the Irelands left their Bowdon house, it was bought by John Hopkinson, another of Manchester’s successful businessmen. On the death of Hopkinson’s wife in 1910, the house was sold to John Gill, a retired manufacturing chemist.

This area has strong musical and literary associations in addition to those of Ireland and his parents. In 1900, a little after the Ireland family left Bowdon, conductor Hans Richter settled down the road at 27, The Firs. The eminent violinist Adolf Brodsky was also a resident, living in East Little Grey RabbitDowns Road for over 25 years. Arthur Ransome lived very close to the Irelands in the 1870s, in Devisdale House. In the 1920s Alison Uttley wrote the Little Grey Rabbit books while living in Downs House.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://maps.nls.uk/

http://www.johncassidy.org.uk/hopkinson.html

 

 

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Cousin John Nicholson Varty

John Nicholson Ireland had a cousin going by the same name, born just two years earlier in 1877. This other John Nicholson was the son of Ireland’s aunt Lucy, who was married to Thomas Varty of Stag Stones, Penrith. John Nicholson Varty grew up in Cumberland and, like others in his immediate family, emigrated to Canada following the death of his father in 1898. Sadly, like his brother Henry Alleyne, this John Nicholson died young, aged only 31, in 1908. He is buried in Fort Saskatchewan Cemetery, north of Edmonton, Alberta.

John Nicholson Varty

Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=93775373

 

Great Aunt Barbara

Ireland’s great aunt Barbara was the younger sister of his grandmother Annie. Born in 1818, Barbara Sarah Waring married William Morgan Benett (1813–91) in Penrith in 1843. This was a bringing together of Lyme Regis naval families. Barbara was the daughter of the (then late) Captain Henry Waring, William the son of Captain Charles Cowper Benett, who also held a position as magistrate in the town. The Benett family was a wealthy one, owners of a fine country home in Wiltshire, Pyt House (below). William himself was Master of the Supreme Court of Judicature and Master of the Court of Common Pleas.

Barbara was a keen musician, and as a young woman spent time in Tübingen with her older sister Annie and John Nicholson (Ireland’s grandfather), where she was able to attend operas.  Barbara and William Benett had 8 children, including the landscape artist Newton Bennet (1854–1914). Great Aunt Barbara died in 1894.

Dorchester Abbey by Newton Bennet

 

12 Park Place

In 1831 Ireland’s great grandfather, the Reverend Mark Nicholson, purchased a new home in Clifton, Bristol. Here he lived along with two of his sons – William and Mark – and his three daughters, Elizabeth (Iddy), Ann and Lucy. The house was one of a fine row of Georgian houses, with a small park immediately opposite. The terrace survives largely intact, with fine trees in the green space in front as seen below. When the Reverend died in 1838, the children chose not to remain in what was never a particularly happy family home. The house was sold in 1839. William and Iddy eventually emigrated to Ohio, Mark to Melbourne, while Ann and Lucy married and relocated to Liverpool and Monmouth respectively.

 

Ireland’s books: A Tale of Two Worlds

One of the books on Ireland’s shelves was A Tale of Two Worlds. A familiar name on the spine of the book was Frank Carr Nicholson, the composer’s cousin. He co-wrote this epic in 1953 with a British-Canadian friend, Georgina Sime.

It was quite a departure for Frank after his life as a scholar of German medieval literature and librarian at Edinburgh University, part of his new life in retirement in the Lake District, he having returned to the place of his Nicholson roots.

Frank wrote to Ireland in August 1953:

…when one has retired from professional life it is nice to have some congenial employment to which one can apply oneself more or less steadily. Since I came to Keswick I have certainly never found time hang heavily, and one of my main and constant occupations has been to collaborate with an old friend of mine, Miss Sime, in writing of one kind or another. We got a long-an enormously long!- novel published a couple of months ago-I wonder if you would at all care to have a look at it. Probably you have quite eschewed novels long ago ( as I too have done for many years past so far as reading the, is concerned!) but you might possibly like to sample this one in an idle moment, for there is a good deal about music in it that might conceivably entertain you. 

The book is certainly interesting, even a compelling read, focused on generations of a Viennese family, some of whom emigrate to Canada to find new lives. Music is a central theme, and the style of the writing is reminiscent of the Australian author Nevil Shute. He was extremely popular at that time, having recently published his bestselling A Town Like Alice. Perhaps the most arresting aspect of A Tale of Two Worlds is the focus on ‘family’, an increasing preoccupation of the composer, who was trying to unearth his own, elusive relatives. It’s also an oddly moving book, ending as it does with a reflection on the human frailties and incomplete stories of the people who constitute families, everyone ‘trying, trying, and none of them ever getting at the truth-at what this particular life on earth means for each of us’ (p.682).

Sources:

British Library: Letter from Frank Nicholson in John Ireland: Personal Correspondence, MS Mus. 1749/2/10

Nicholson, F. and Sime, G. (1953) A Tale of Two Worlds, Frome and London, Butler and Tanner.

Ethel Ireland at the RAM

As has already been mentioned on this blog, John was not the only family member with musical talents. His sister Ethel enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in February 1891, a couple of years before her brother entered the RCM. Her home address was registered as Mauldeth Road, Fallowfield, Manchester; her London address was in South Hampstead. Her fee guarantor was her ageing father Alexander. Ethel was principally there as a pianist, also taking second study violin, changing from singing. Other subjects included German, Italian and elocution. Her studies were short-lived, however, and registers show that she left in 1892. When her younger brother John came to London she did, however, share lodgings with him..

Ethel studied piano with Henry R. Eyers, a well-known and highly regarded teacher at that time, perhaps now best remembered for his many editions of music by such as Clementi and Raff. Eyers died in 1919, by then a man of great authority and seniority, as recalled in a brief tribute:

henry-eyers

 

With thanks to Ilse Woloszko, Library Assistant, RAM, for providing this information.

Other source: The Musical Times, Vol. 60, No. 913 (Mar. 1, 1919), p. 120