Aldbourne in Art

In May 2020 Art UK set up Curations, an on-line tool that allows anyone to curate their own group of artworks. This provided me with a great opportunity to gather art inspired by our village, the people and the surrounding landscape.

Click on the image ‘Cottages at Aldbourne’ by Ambrose McEvoy to see my Curations gallery

‘Cottages at Aldbourne’ by Ambrose McEvoy (1878-1927) Birmingham Museums Trust an Art UK Founder Partner

My gallery is a work in progress, because together with the obvious works, where Aldbourne features in the title or description, I have gathered several that have a connection with the village in some other way.

For example, ‘Silver and Grey’ by Ambrose McEvoy – his portrait of Gwen, his sister-in-law and wife of playwright Charles McEvoy (1915). So painted five years after ‘The Village Wedding’ took to the stage at the Malt House, Aldbourne.

Other notables are H.J.P ‘Jimmy’ Bomford of Laines, who presented artworks that helped establish Swindon’s renowned collection of modern British art, including ‘Composition’ by Jankel Adler, who lived in Castle Street. More about Mr Bomford will follow, with links to Swindon Museum & Art Gallery and Art on Tour 2020.

Also in the collection are Thomas and Ruth Lowinsky who arrived at the Old Rectory, Aldbourne in 1945. The curated works include a painting presented to the National Gallery in remembrance of their son, Lt. T.M.F.E. Lowinsky, killed at Anzio in 1944.

There’s always the chance that other village connections will surface!

My plan is to branch out towards other on-line collections and projects; such as ‘Water Colour World’ and ‘Creative Wiltshire’ – so more soon!

Yellow Flags with a Royal Connection?

By the pond, Aldbourne – May 2020

Look out in May for yellow iris around the pond in Aldbourne. They make a real splash of colour, together with the pink blossom of the horse-chestnut trees. This year at about the time they first appeared, I spotted a fascinating article by Karen Andrews (aka ‘Botany Karen’) setting out some other common names for this flower; including ‘Yellow Flags’. You can read Karen’s full article here. Karen connects to a 14th century tile in the Louvre, which reminded me of six tiles of a similar age found in Aldbourne and now in the British Museum. I’m not sure when these tiles were found, but it may have been sometime in the 19th century. There’s a mention of ‘medieval tiles’ as part of Mr Walter Lawrence’s collection, proudly displayed at the Crown to visiting members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in 1894. Possibly the first instance of a ‘pop-up’ Museum in the village. The six tiles found at the Court House were acquired by the British Museum in 1947, are just a tiny part of the huge collection belonging to the 9th Duke of Rutland (1886-1940). We’ll probably never know if Mr Lawrence discovered his tiles at the Court House, or if the newspaper article refers to other discoveries; or (if they were the Court House tiles) how they found their way to the Duke of Rutland. Dating tiles is a mystery to me. At least one of the six in London is listed as ‘made in Clarendon’; how do they know that? Mind you, I’ve seen an article that speaks of tiles from the mosaic at Littlecote House having been made at Minety, which is fascinating, but that’ll be another article for another day!

Devizes Gazette Cutting July 1894 in the library at Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

Returning to the Yellow Iris, or Fleur-de-Lys, there was an interesting display during 2018 at the Aldbourne Heritage Centre, researched by Warwick Hood and reproduced in part here with his very kind permission.


The four decorated floor tiles shown here are the best examples from six medieval tiles that were found in the garden of Court House. The six date from between about 1280 and 1412 and are now held by the British Museum.The tiles form part of the Rutland Collection, assembled by the 9th Duke of Rutland (1886-1940) and originally kept at his family seat, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.  The collection was sold to the British Museum in 1947 by his son, the 10th Duke.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Two of the six tiles date from before 1300, evidence that a substantial house or hall existed on the site at that time.  The pattern of one of the other tiles, dating from the 14th century, resembles a fleur-de-lys.  This was a prominent feature of the coat of arms of the Dukes of Lancaster in the 14th century, as can be seen in the tunics of Henry of Grosmont and John O’Gaunt, both pictured below

The Hall, the oldest part of the present house, has a fine fireplace into which have been carved a rose and a fleur-de-lys.  Both the Rose of Lancaster and the fleur-de-lys are closely linked with John of Gaunt. The presence of these carved symbols has therefore been cited as evidence for the link between John O’Gaunt and Court House.

The puzzle is that the fireplace dates from 100-200 years after John’s death in 1399! Maybe the symbols were added later to celebrate the earlier link with John?  Or perhaps they mark a later connection with the Crown, which held Aldbourne Manor for much of the Tudor and Stuart period up to 1627?  All of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs used the fleur-de-lys and the rose – by then the Union Rose combining the roses of Lancaster and York – as important symbols.

Warwick Hood

The yellow flags by the pond, and the fleur-de-lys have also made their way into the exquisite ‘Awborne Gospels’. a current illuminated manuscript project by Jenny Greaves, inspired by the beautiful works of Medieval scribes and artists.  The manuscript initially set out to present John Wycliffe’s fourteenth century translation of the Four Gospels into English – this unauthorised translation enabled Aldbourne’s Medieval residents to hear, for the first time, the Bible in their own language. The challenge of these “Awborne Gospels” is to illustrate each page with something to do with our village. As Jenny’s project progresses, the breadth and depth of our village’s history and culture are proving to be near infinite.

Copyright Jenny Greaves

With thanks to Karen, Warwick and Jenny

‘Jimmy’ Bomford, Laines, Aldbourne

(Original photo 1944: W Dennis Moss, Cirencester – with thanks to John Brown)

H.J.P. ‘Jimmy’ Bomford (centre) in the Aldbourne Home Guard.

Bomford latterly served in the Royal Flying Corps during WW1 – medal card:

His appreciation of contemporary art, and his wish to share it with the public, is well documented in this piece by Barry Leighton for the Swindon Advertiser in 2013

Touring the Swindon Collection (with the Bomford Gift), 60 Years On

Exhibition ends 9th November 2019.  Admission FREE. Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Bath Road, Swindon, SN1 4BA. Open Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 16:30. Free lunchtime talk 20th September 2019, 12:30 – 13:00

In 1959, the Swindon Collection of Modern British art began a tour of 16 towns and cities of the United Kingdom.  From Falmouth to Sunderland, Southend-on-Sea to Bolton, thousands of museum visitors were introduced to paintings by Paul Nash, LS Lowry, Gwen John and Graham Sutherland. This exhibition celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of this tour, which introduced the people of Britain to Swindon’s remarkable art and established the reputation of the ‘Swindon Collection’.

The original foreword to the tour in 1959 (by Harold Joliffe, Librarian and Curator) paid tribute to the contribution by Mr H.J.P. ‘Jimmy’ Bomford, of Aldbourne who generously gave a number of works to the Swindon Collection in 1946.  These include paintings by Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, L.S. Lowry and Paul Nash.  “Composition” by Jankel Adler forms part of the exhibition. Adler, a protégé of Jimmy Bomford, lived in Castle Street, Aldbourne until his death in 1949.

This exhibition brings together the 44 works of art sent on tour in 1959 and presents them alongside some of the most important acquisitions made by Swindon Museum & Art Gallery in the decades since. The exhibition explores the history of the collection and the ambitions and challenges of touring so many pictures to so many places.

Aldbourne Village Gallery. The story so far – long may it last!

I started a Flickr Gallery in 2008. It now has just over 4,000 photos in it. Flickr has been acquired by something called Smug Mug, and I’ve decided not to add any more photos since there seems to be a risk that the Gallery might disappear; free accounts being a bit vulnerable to that, it would seem.

So here’s a link – enjoy!

Many aspects of village life are represented; particularly Carnival and the Beating of the Bounds. If there are any photos or albums you’d like to chat about, please drop me a line,

Jo Hutchings – August 2019

A Maiden’s Blush: the first book of Roses

Eureka moment in the Rare Books Room at the British Library!  This post from the Gardens Trust popped into my in-box this morning; just as I was thinking about Ida Gandy and Miss Todd. No real connection with Aldbourne (as far as I can see) but such beautiful drawings that I just had to share! A very accomplished artist.

Also, in Heart of a Village (1975) Ida Gandy did mention that two plants were named after Emily Sophia Todd; one a variety of the Wood-cowwheat (Melampyrum sylvaticum), another a wild rose, Rosa Toddie.

An opportunity for more research, perhaps!

The Gardens Trust

detail of Rosa centifolia, the Bishop Rose

The British Library Rare Books room is not usually the place where people get over-excited, but occasionally there are Eureka moments. Sometimes they’re the result of long patient reference checking when you realise your original hypothesis is true, or ploughing through vast tomes for a good quote to prove a point or grab a reader’s attention and   sometimes they are simply serendipity. Today’s post is one such.

Rosa pendulina, or the Rose without thorns

Following a discussiion in one of the clkasses I teach, I had an idea for a worthy post on how and why women became widely involved in botany in the late 18thc and thought I’d call up a selection of books and magazines by women from the period to see if I could find anything interesting to write about.  They included a couple by an artist…

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Kate Tryon – Aldbourne & Upper Upham

Finally found time to think about Kate Tryon.  We spotted her painting of Aldbourne ages ago on a visit to the Richard Jefferies Museum at Coate Water and it’s taken this long to add her to the blog!  In the intervening time, the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery have conserved the Tryon collection, and by chance used the Aldbourne painting to illustrate a  fab open access conservation session on their website in October 2016.  I must go back to see if the painting is back on display again at Coate.

You can find out more about Kate Tryon in this article by Barry Leighton (Swindon Advertiser)

Kate Tryon SMandAG