Beer, art and war

Sometimes I research people whose names are included on a Surrey memorial with a tenuous connection to Surrey. Quite often, it turns out wealthy parents have sent their kids to expensive boarding schools and the school has a war memorial board which winds up having their names on it.

This is very much the case with Joseph Allan Carter-Wood (1884-1915).

Joseph attended Upland House Preparatory School in Epsom. Uplands was started in January 1884 by George Frederick Burgess. It was never very big. One of the tenets of Uplands was not about over achieving but for each boy to be the best he could. The boys were generally aged from 8-14.

I haven’t been able to find out what years Joseph attended Uplands but if he went when he was 8, he’d have been there from around 1892. Joey, as he liked to be called, was the son of a wealthy family which had made its money in brewing beer.

His father, Joseph Edmund Carter-Wood, owned the Artillery Brewery in Victoria Street, London and sold it (along with 40 other properties, mostly pubs) to Watney, Combe, Reid & Co. Ltd for a very tidy sum in 1890. The sum was tidy enough to mean he could live on his own means for the rest of his life and employ a lot of servants.

Joseph Edmund married Evelyn Alice Adair in around 1883 and they had three children, Edith, Joseph junior and Helen. Edith, who preferred her middle name of Florence, became the ill-fated subject of Summer in February, a book by Jonathan Smith (made into a film in 2013).

Following her artistic brother Joey to Newlyn in Cornwall, Florence married the artist Alfred Munnings but they didn’t get on so they both took lovers. Her lover was Gilbert Evans, a good friend of Albert’s. Albert insisted that his friend look after Florence during Munnings’ frequent trips to London. Eventually, the obvious happened, and they became lovers.

The affair, however, did not last. Racked with the guilt of betraying his friend, Gilbert took up an engineering job in Nigeria, and left a heart broken Florence behind in Cornwall.

She was probably a long time sufferer from depression, something not understood (or even addressed) in Edwardian England, and the loss of her one true love was all too much. She committed suicide in 1914.

The story of Florence is terribly tragic. She’d previously attempted suicide while on her honeymoon and was clearly deeply unhappy. The small moments of ecstasy shared with Gilbert were not enough to shelter her from the ravages of the Black Dog.

Photograph of Edith Florence Carter-Wood Photographer Unknown null An initial donation of the papers of Tuke and Gotch was made to the Tate Archive by Mr Brian D. Price in 1990. Additional donations of related material were made in 1991, 1994 and 2002.

Her family were then dealt a second blow when Joseph junior was killed in France during the war. A 2nd Lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards, he was killed in France on 1 February 1915.

What a difference the Front must have made to a young man who arrived at the Forbes School of Art in Newlyn back in 1901 eager to become an artist.

Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes had opened the school in 1899, promoting it as an outside studio where artists could learn the skills required to paint landscapes, figures, both human and animal and, I assume, bowls of fruit. The school went through a few name changes, eventually being known as the Newlyn School of Painting before closing its doors for the last time in 1941. (A new Newlyn School of Art was started in 2011.)

It seems that Joseph did reasonably well at Forbes. In 1909 he exhibited a painting called Trevyder, at the Newlyn Art Gallery while living at Penzer House. His paintings were also exhibited at the Royal Academy, firstly with January in 1911 then in 1913 with a painting called The Oak Room. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find images of any of them.

As for the youngest child of Joseph Edmund and Evelyn Alice, Helen seems to have lived a long and uneventful life. In November 1914 she married Arthur Henry Macan. It appears that they had no children. She buried her parents in 1938 and 1939 and seems to have lived her entire life in Cumberland. She died in 1963, a wealthy woman. Arthur, retired land agent, lived another decade.

Given none of the Carter-Wood kids had offspring, the line started by Joseph and Evelyn died out with Helen. A short line, true, but an interesting one nonetheless.

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