TRING LOCAL HISTORY MUSEUM - Key Persons


Anne Gould

Job Titles:
  • School Visits Co - Ordinator

GERALD MASSEY

Massey's best poetry leans toward the tender side of nature-often painting a succession of beautiful, even extravagant vignettes-and to romantic scenes close to home. Examples in this category are the ballad Babe Christabel, Massey's best-known long poem, in which he gently relates the birth, life and death of a young child; in The Singer, he pictures a skylark, singing softly and sweetly as it soars up into the heavens, but the ripe, drooping ears of corn below are deaf to its song; in My Love, Massey muses lovingly on his wife's perfections and imperfections, a poem that I suspect makes a candid statement of devotion for his first wife Rosina, whose imperfections gradually became legion but who he never abandoned. There's No Dearth of Kindness, which takes as its theme brotherly love, is probably Massey's best-known short poem, its first four lines often appearing in dictionaries of quotations. Following the virtual collapse of the Chartist Movement by the mid 1850s, Massey continued to write poetry-much of his poetry remaining religious in tone-together with literary articles and reviews. His earliest surviving published poetry collection, Voices of Freedom and Lyrics of Love, appeared in 1851, but it was not until his third collection, The Ballad of Babe Christabel with other Lyrical Poems, published in 1854, that he achieved a wide reputation as a poet. This volume went through five editions in a year and was reprinted in New York (as Poems and Ballads). The critic John Ruskin acknowledged Massey's talent, writing to him; "Your education was a terrible one, but mine was far worse", the one having suffered the bitterness of poverty, the other having been the pampered child of wealth. War-Waits - poems based on the Crimean War - followed in 1855, Craigcrook Castle in 1856, Robert Burns: a Centenary Song (1859); Havelock's March in 1861 and, in 1870, A Tale of Eternity, itself a poem (and his last significant effort in the genre) dealing with the supernatural, on which one critic commented that ".... Weird, grisly, eerie, eldritch horror runs through the whole current of the narrative". In 1886, in support of W. E. Gladstone's election campaign, Massey penned a short collection of political poems, which he published as "Election Lyrics." Following the success of earlier compilations, Massey collected the best of his poems into a two-volume edition, which with other material was published in 1889 as My Lyrical Life (Part 1, Part 2); a second, slightly extended edition, appeared in 1896 Massey's other published writing includes a detailed study of Shakespeare's sonnets. Following his essay on the Sonnets published in the Quarterly Review in April, 1864, Massey delved deeper in the mystery surrounding the characters that they address. Shakespeare's Sonnets Never Before Interpreted appeared in 1866 followed in 1872 by a revision, which Massey published in a limited edition of 100 copies by subscription as The Secret Drama of Shakespeare's Sonnets Unfolded: With the Characters Identified. A further revision, The Secret Drama of Shakspeare's Sonnets, which followed in 1888, exhibited an improved literary style (Massey's spelling of 'Shakspeare' appears to have been taken from Ben Johnson, among others, and is a recognised, though less used variant). Among Massey's radical friends and associates during his Chartist years were W. J. Linton, Thomas Cooper, G. J. Holyoake, Ernest Jones, J. J. Bezer, John Arnott, F. D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley. Later, when he had established his literary reputation, came Hepworth Dixon, Walter Savage Landor and George Eliot, who is widely reported to have taken Massey as her model for the character of Felix Holt in "The Radical," although there is no hard evidence to support this. Somewhat later came Robert Browning (who Massey met at the establishment of Lady Marion Alford, his patron, at Ashridge in Hertfordshire - see Massey's letter in defence of Browning) and the poetess, novelist and author of charming children's stories, Jean Ingelow, to whom, following the death of his first wife, Rosina, in 1866, it was rumoured that Massey proposed marriage (another rumour of this period linked Jean Ingelow with Robert Browning). Massey also lectured widely in the U.K., mainly, in his earlier years, on literature, poetry and pre-Raphaelite art, his fiery style proving popular and often attracting large audiences-Professor Marvin Vincent, an American theologian, described him thus: "He is a splendid lecturer. He went off like the eighty-one ton pounder. I didn't agree with his opening remarks, but it was like a shell bursting among us, and we had enough to do to look out during the rest of the lecture". In later years Massey undertook lecturing tours to North America; the first, in 1873-74, included California and Canada, the second in 1883-85 extended to Australia and New Zealand, but his third tour of the U.S.A. came to a premature close when he was called home to be with his dying daughter, Hesper, for whom he had a particular affection. By this time he was lecturing chiefly on the subjects that absorbed his later life, spiritualism, mythology and the mystical interpretation of the Scriptures; in 1887 Massey published a selection of his lectures on these topics. Massey's first wife, Rosina Jane Knowles, was a noted clairvoyant. She was born in Bolton in Lancashire and was nineteen when they married in 1850. Rosina was to influence Massey's life significantly, particularly his interest in and commitment to spiritualism. Sadly, she was to develop severe depression, possibly stemming from the loss of two of her children, a condition that was aggravated by growing dependence on alcohol. She died in 1866 at the age of thirty-four-her badly weathered white tombstone, her name barely discernable, lies near the gate of the beautiful secluded parish church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul at Little Gaddesden near Tring. Massey's second wife, Eva Byrn, who he married in 1868, was the daughter of an artist and 'Professor of Dancing'. A contemporary magazine article described Eva as accomplished and beautiful while referring to Massey as having .

John Washington

John Washington married Nathaniel Pope's daughter Anne in 1658 and they had three children. Her father, Nathaniel, gave them 700 acres of good farming land near Popes Creek as a wedding gift. Over his lifetime John acquired 10,000 acres of land including 5,000 acres of land at Little Hunting Creek which later became Mount Vernon. In 1732 John Washington's great grandson, George Washington, was born in Popes Creek Plantation - he subsequently became the first President of the United States of America.

Lawrence Washington

Job Titles:
  • Rector of Purleigh Church
Lawrence was born in 1635 after his parent's marriage. He was the second son of Lawrence and Amphyllis but nevertheless he inherited the estate of Andrew Knowling including the house in Frogmore Street, ahead of his elder brother, due to John's illegitimacy. In 1666 he migrated to Virginia to join John who had been there since 1657. When Lawrence's first wife died in Virginia he remarried and had a son and a daughter. Lawrence died in Virginia in 1677.

Sir William Gore

Grinling Gibbons. Notice Sir William's right thumb. It was broken

Sue Lipscombe

Job Titles:
  • Secretary

Sulgrave Manor

The first Lawrence Washington was a wool merchant who was the mayor of Northampton in 1532. After marrying a rich young widow, Amy Pargitter, he built Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire in 1538. The Rev. Lawrence Washington, great, great grandfather of George Washington was born in Sulgrave Manor in 1602. Sulgrave Manor is now the foremost Washington site in the U.K. and is the only building to be 50% owned by the citizens of the USA and 50% by the citizens of the UK!

Tim Amsden - Chairman

Job Titles:
  • Chairman

Washington Old Hall

William FitsPatric de Hertburn acquired the lease of Wessyngton approximately 6 miles North of Durham in 1180 where he built a large wooden hall. In the 16 th century, this was replaced by a stone farm house, Robert Washington III changed the spelling of the family name from Wessyngton to Washington and the stone farm house became known as Washington Old Hall.