Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A little bit of Manchester in Eltham Palace

Now I do miss Eltham, it was where I grew up and it is a place I was very happy.

But at the age of 19 I went north following a girlfriend who had started a course at Manchester Polytechnic, which on reflection was not the best way for me to choose a degree course especially as she left for London just three months later.

The Sentry, 2007
I stayed and the city has been my home ever since and I do think of it as home, but like all ex pats I never forgotten Eltham and in particular Well Hall.

All of which made the discovery that one of the City’s war memorials was replicated in miniature and sits on a table in the study of Eltham Palace a source for thought.

I came across it recently while working on the new book.*

The original was commissioned by S & J Watts to commemorate those who worked for the company and died in the Great War.

The memorial was erected  in 1922 in the main entrance of the company’s building on Portland Street.

The Sentry is a bronze sculpture, which stands in an arched niche just inside the building and faces a marble plaque commemorating the dead.

It depicts the sentry standing on duty, and was commissioned from the British sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger who also designed the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, London.

Eltham Palace, 1961
And to my surprise and pleasure there is a small version of the figure in the study of Eltham Palace, where it was displayed by Stephen Courtauld, who like Mr Jagger was a member of the Artists' Rifles.

So there you have it a little bit of Manchester in the heart of Eltham.

But I can’t close without a reference to the building which holds the orginal statue.

This  is the  large, Victorian Grade II listed building known as Watts Warehouse.

It opened in 1856 as a textile warehouse for the wholesale drapery business of S & J Watts, and was the largest single-occupancy textile warehouse in Manchester.

Today the building is part of the Britannia Hotels chain.

Watts Warehouse, 1973
One source has referred to its ornate style as being typical of
the extravagant confidence of many Mancunian warehouses of this period, but the Watts Warehouse is notable for its peculiarly eclectic design. Designed in the form of a Venetian palazzo, the building has five storeys, each decorated in a different style – Italian Renaissance, Elizabethan, French Renaissance and Flemish – and roof pavilions featuring large Gothic wheel windows.

The interior was similarly lavish in its decoration, with a sweeping iron cantilever staircase, balconied stairwell, and mahogany counters for displaying merchandise.”*

And that makes it a sort of palace.

Location, Manchester and Eltham in London

Pictures; the Sentry, Cnbrb, 2007 Wikipedia Commons, Eltham Palace, from Eltham Palace Ministry of Works Guide Book, 1961and the Watts Warehouse, 1973, m56859 , courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/A%20new%20book%20on%20Manchester%20and%20the%20Great%20War

** Watts Warehouse, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Warehouse

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