People of Tudor House -30th July

It is said that one should always see a cemetery in, or after, rain, a time when there is real freshness in the air – but NOT in thunder or lightening!

Those who braved the elements on Sunday, 30 July, had that experience, the rain stopping when we were about half way round. We could have had a talk in our new meeting venue, the former non-Conformist chapel, but everyone wished to go on the tour and see the graves where they would hear about ‘People of Tudor House’ close to where the burials were. Geoff dedicated the walk to our late Vice President, and eminent local historian, Alan Leonard who, some years ago, had written a booklet about the Saving of Tudor House by Mr W F G Spranger. Fittingly, Mr Spranger’s grave was the last to be visited on the walk.

The walk included graves of people who had lived and/or worked at Tudor House in the second half of the 19th, early part of the 20th century. These included that of George Pope, the dyer, whose name is shown on the house in some pictures from the time. Tribute was paid to Thomas Hibberd James, whose Victorian photographs capture what Southampton, and the exterior of the house, was like in the latter part of the 19th century. Geoff also related what had come down to us about family Christmas festivities in Tudor House in the time of Josiah George Poole.

Geoff also traced the ups and downs, within Southampton Corporation, as to whether the Tudor House, restored and repaired by Mr Spranger, should be bought for the town. There were differences of opinion between those in favour, including Messrs Bance and Haysom and those against, who included Messrs Gayton and Bowyer. Happily, the Corporation bought the house in 1911 and it opened as Southampton’s first museum on 29 July 1912, 111 years ago this year.

It is always special when we have, on our walks, people with personal connections to graves we visit and, this time, they were with the Lankester and Pope families.

Towards the end of the walk, Geoff paused at the tree and plaque recently placed in the cemetery in memory of John Vetterlein, who had such an interest in the natural history and butterflies of the cemetery, who died earlier this year.

Photographs of the ‘Brolly Brigade’ on the walk, are courtesy of Bruce Larner of FoSOC, to whom our grateful thanks once again.