Tuesday, 24 September 2013

In memory of Dorothea, Monica and Penelope

Monica and Dorothea lived at Sandybrook Hall, an elegant 19th century mansion close to the market town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. They were the two beautiful daughters of Mr and Mrs Peveril Turnbull. Monica, at the age of 22 was already recognised by the critics as an outstanding poet. On the morning of 4th March 1901 a fire caused by the upsetting of a heavy oil lamp set fire to Dorothea's dress. Monica rushed to save her, and was burned to death. Dorothea also died from her injuries six weeks later.
This beautiful window is by Christopher Whall a Pre-Raphaelite stained glass artist/designer and a leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is a jewel in stained glass, showing Arts and Crafts at its most ethereal. The window depicts the three virgin martyrs: St. Barbara, St Cecilia and St Dorothy, but St. Barbara and St. Dorothy are actual portraits of Monica and Dorothea - the window was given to St. Oswald church in Ashbourne by the parents in memory of their daughters.
St. Cecilia is seen falling asleep to the sounds of celestial music - a symbol of death.
St. Dorothy whose symbol is flowers, represents Dorothea the younger sister whose dress caught fire.
St. Barbara carrying the sword of her martyrdom in her right hand - represents Monica, the poet, who rushed to save her sister.
Dorothea
Monica
The whole interior of the church is worthy of a visit, no corner is without interest: carved kings and queens, bell ropes, Green Men, a lush chancel roof and a reredos with scenes from Dovedale - but my next treasure lies in the Cockayne Chapel in the east aisle of the north transept.
Penelope Boothby,  daughter of Sir Brooke Boothby, aged 4 by Joshua Reynolds
The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby by Henry Fuseli
Penelope was the only child of Sir Brooke Boothby and Dame Susannah Boothby. She was born in 1785 and died when she was almost six years old. It is thought that she had a viral infection in her brain (possibly encephalitis), she was treated by Boothby's great friend, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Grandfather of Charles Darwin. Boothby's life went into decline after his daughter's death. The sad event permanently affected him and he subsequently published a book of poetry - Sorrows Sacred to the Memory of Penelope. After her funeral, his wife returned to her parent's home in Hampshire. She then settled in Dover and her death was recorded under her maiden name.
Sir Brooke Boothby by Joseph Wright of Derby
The tomb that Boothby commissioned from Thomas Banks, RA is exquisite. It is described as being so life like that the child could be sleeping. Sculptured out of Carrara marble and showing the inscription "She was in form and intellect most exquisite. The unfortunate parents ventured their all on this frail bark. And the wreck was total."
Penelope

57 comments:

  1. Gosh, two terribly tragic tales but their memories live on beautifully.
    Rosemary ... I have been replying to your comments on my blog but not sure if you are getting them - can you confirm. M x

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    1. Dear Marina - sometimes looking behind beautiful memorial objects can lead to tragic but interesting stories of those featured, as in these two cases.
      I have not been receiving your comments - I did quite a long time ago but not recently. Do not worry about it, the blogosphere is full of mysteries too.

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  2. Beautiful pieces of art but what terrible stories behind them.

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    1. All three of the girls have been commemorated in beautiful pieces of art work.

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  3. All your post are amazing, Rosemary. Art everywhere, beautiful stories. In this case Dorothea and Monica's faces have shock me. I always wonder, how an artist can get that kind of expresions. Wonderful post as always

    Marina

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    1. I've shared you post in
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=572518789450402&set=a.562443067124641.1073741828.558940977474850&type=1&theater

      I've love it!

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    2. Thank you Marina - I am pleased that you found the post interesting. My photos are not that good, but it is possible to see what lovely looking girls Dorothea and Monica were.

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  4. Such sad stories beautifully commemorated in glass and marble. If these prominent families didn't have the finances to commission them we would not have such treasures to marvel at and appreciate these sad lives cut short.. I can't help thinking about my great grandfather whose burial place I was looking for at Babworth Church last week. No sign of a grave or memorial headstone and a family probably too poor or too far away to arrange one. At least I do know now that he's buried there and have a memorial card with a beautiful poem to remind me that he was loved by his family and will continue to be remembered.

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    1. Of course you are right Linda - a window like this by a top Arts and Crafts designer would have cost a fortune, and the marble tomb by Banks, a Royal Academician, would also have been extremely expensive.
      I am pleased that your trip to Babworth Church was successful, and that you have a lovely memorial card to remind you of your great grandfather.

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  5. I always enjoy reading your posts Rosemary. What sad stories these are, the stained glass windows are beautiful and that tomb is beautiful with all its details but so sad too.

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    1. Thank you Paula for your kind comment. I remember this window and the tomb from when I was a school girl and living in the area. They both made a big impression on me.

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  6. Another beautiful post, Rosemary. The Pre-Raphaelite window is exquisite, and so poignant that the faces of Monica and Dorothea are used for the saints. The marble tomb of Penelope is quite wonderful too, and I imagine many people are drawn to come and visit both these beautiful memorials. I love seeing these special pieces.

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    1. St Oswald Church is full of treasurers - I focused on the ones that have always had a lasting appeal for me. Christopher Whall's windows are always exquisite and very recognisable.

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  7. What a tragic story, but a beautiful memorial to the sister's. I must try and visit Ashbourne again soon and when I do I'll certainly look at this church. x

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    1. I do hope that you can visit St. Oswald church - it is very easy to park - there is a small lane runs beside the church and you can then wander through some alms houses along a path to the church.

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  8. Dear Rosemary, So many sad stories and so many beautiful faces and so beautifully told by you...in photographs and in worlds. ox, Gina

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    1. Two families during different periods of time, with equally tragic stories, but both have left beautiful monuments to their girls.

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  9. Sad story indeed. Love the stained glass of the women :)

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    1. The stain glass is wonderful and the colours Christopher Whall has used are very appropriate for young girls - glad you enjoyed seeing it.

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  10. The carving on the marble tomb is wonderful. Such detail!

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    1. It is really beautiful Jessica - I particularly admire the way her feet lie on the padded cushion and her dress gently drapes over her ankles.

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  11. Concussive,shocking story! I found it so interesting Rosemary...and your photos captured my eyes.This Carrara marble is exquisite, carved in the shape of the girl...So sad too! I can imagine your impression as a little girl...

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    1. When I returned to my childhood haunts last week, revisiting the church to see the window and tomb was something I wanted to do. Both were just as moving and lovely as I remembered them.

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  12. What a said story, about the girls who dead in the fire.
    The glass windows are verry beautiful.
    I love the white marble tombe, verry nice details.
    Again a interesting story.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Thank you Inge - both the window and the marble tomb are very beautiful, both sad and poignant pieces of memorial work.

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  13. Such tragic stories and so much sorrow, but great pieces of art came out from all the suffering . xx

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    1. It is easy to imagine how a bereaved parent would want to mark their child's life in this way, but by choosing to have them designed by a top stained glass designer and sculptor, they are now works of art within the church.

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  14. What a tragic story that has been remembered in those beautiful windows. I read the other day that a new book has come about all the Pre-Raphaelite work that can be found in Dorset. I will have to look out for it.
    Sarah X

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    1. That sounds really interesting Sarah, I hope that you have luck tracking it down. If you have a book then often you can refer to it when visiting for example a church, and discover something that you would probably have missed otherwise.

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  15. Hello Rosemary, That is a beautiful church, and very touching stories behind those monuments. I recently visited some schools where many of the features such as gates, reading rooms, gardens, etc. were memorials for students who had died young. At first I thought the effect might be off-putting, but then it seemed to me that they added a rich continuity to the history of those places.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - I have noticed that many schools now remember pupils that have died young through, as you mention, gates, books, and even prizes for a subject that they were good at. You are right I don't think that it is a bad idea, in fact it perhaps fosters a greater understanding in young people that life is not always straightforward and easy.
      My granddaughter, who lived in Norway until this summer, had a pupil in her class who died unexpectedly whilst playing football, and every year they now hold a charity function to raise money for the village that he came from in Africa. It has actually helped the students come to terms with his death.

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  16. Sad but fascinating stories of parental love and loss, this interesting post has made me want to find out more, particularly about the Boothby family.

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    1. Dear Nilly - if you do find anything of interest, do share. I do know that there is a Sir Brooke Boothby who lives at Fonmon Castle in Glamorgan, Wales. With a name like that he must be related somehow I would have thought.

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  17. What an interesting and beautiful post today. These photos are breathtaking.

    xo

    Jo

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    1. Dear Jo - I am pleased that you enjoyed the post - thank you

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  18. Dear Rosemary,

    Two beautiful tales, and both the windows and the sculpture are exquisite. And I am so glad that you included another portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby. I used to think that I would like my portrait done by Holbein or Van Dyke, but now I'm leaning to Wright.

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    1. When Wright painted portraits there was a strong element of realism and character revelation within them. You get a definite sense of the person who is in the portrait when you look at them. For example the paintings I showed last year of Sir Richard Arkwright and the one of Erasmus Darwin portray the man within.
      http://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/joseph-wright-of-derby-1734-1797.html

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    2. My own favorite is the double portrait of Peter and Hannah Burdett.

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    3. It is an interesting portrait and tends to provoke discussion when viewed.
      Peter looks so much younger than Hannah, and she appears to be inappropriately dressed for their outdoor situation. Peter looks an extremely confident young man with his telescope used for his cartography.
      Have you noticed that there is a fence between them? which is thought to be of significance.

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  19. Such tragic stories of young people. These are beautiful commemorations of their brief lives...

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    1. So often great artworks are the result of memorials as in both of these two tragic cases.

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  20. I simply love those two pieces of artwork of commemoration but such sad tales they tell us. The windows are stunning and the sculptured marble so shiny. Beautiful.
    Patricia x

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    1. Dear Patricia - I have held these two pieces of church art work in my mind for years, so it was lovely to return many many years later and see that they were just as I remembered them - I still admire them, but probably even more so.

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  21. Such a sad story, but great art! Happy Wednesday, Rosemary!

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    1. The window and the marble tomb are both very beautiful - thank you for your comment and visit Satu.

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  22. What beautiful memorials to the girls. The colours in the window are wonderful and the detail on the tomb is remarkable. But it's still possible feel the sadness that lies under all that beauty - even all these years later. Thank you for sharing their stories, Rosemary.

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    1. Both were particularly tragic stores for their respective families. Sir Brooke Boothby was never the same again, and his marriage failed. However, the parents of Monica and Dorothea channelled their grief into opening a home for waif and stray girls, and by 1931, 70 girls had passed happily through the home.

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  23. Like the stained glass, this is the best. But then I saw the painting, they are also excellent. I don't know anymore. Good visit.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Thank you Filip - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the lovely glass.

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  24. Hi Rosemary, Lovely post and the glass is stunning! Interesting there is a sad story behind such beauty. I love how your posts are so informative with nice images. I still need to go to Buscot House that you recommended.

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    1. Dear Jo May - thank you for your kind comment, and pleased that you enjoyed the post. Do go to Buscot - there is still time before the season ends. We visited Kelmscott yesterday, so I will be showing it very soon.

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  25. How sad that it took three tragedies to create such glorious art, Rosemary, and yet what a wonderful way to commemorate their young lives.

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    1. I admired the stained glass window and the marble tomb when I was still a school girl - returning to see them again after such a long period, I was surprised that they were still as I remembered them. So often when you return to see something you are disappointed.

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  26. Beautiful ! Wish I was there ... Greetings, Rosemary !

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    1. Thank you Dani - I am pleased that you found it beautiful.

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  27. I really enjoyed this beautiful piece you have given us.
    Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

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    1. Thank you too - I appreciate your kind comment.

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