BEDFORD ARCHITECTURAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL & LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY
BEDFORD LOCAL BOOK REVIEW
BOOK REVIEW by Bob Ricketts
HENRY JOHN SYLVESTER
AND HIS DAUGHTER THERESA SYLVESTER STANNARD.
By Richard Morgan
Published by Bedfordshire Local History Association 2018.
ISBN 978-1-905269-24-2. 48 pages. Available from the BLHA website at: http://www.bedfordshire-lha.org.uk/publications/stannard-book.
Price £5 plus £3 postage & packing.
Bedfordshire Local History Association are to be congratulated on sponsoring the publication of this fascinating booklet celebrating
the lives and works of Bedfordshire artists Henry John Sylvester Stannard and his daughter Theresa. This is the first time BLHA has
published a booklet; hopefully the first of a series!
The author, Richard Morgan, will be known to many members as a regular contributor to the BLHA’s on-line journal History in Bedfordshire, most recently on the life of former mayor Dr. George Witt (1804-69). Richard has also edited two diaries of the Brooks family of Flitwick. Sylvester Stannard is the most notable and probably most able of the Stannard family of artists, which was active in the county from 1860 to 1961, but Theresa was also a capable artists. Their only biography is over 30 tears old and Richard’s booklet substantially updates what is known about them and provides important new information.
The nine chapters start with an account of the origins of the Stannard family and Sylvester’s childhood at Eversholt, education at Bedford Modern School and first marriage.
Chapter Two begins with his marriage to Annie Sylvester Clark in 1894 and their life at The Bungalow, Flitwick. His first picture was accepted at the Royal Academy in 1897 and thereafter exhibited nearly every year until 1920. Sylvester also played an active role in village life, organisig musical and artist events, acting as Vice-President of the Flitwick Cottage Garden and Allotment Club and the Cricket Club.
Chaper Three deals with Sylvester’s divorce (on the grounds of his wife’s frequent adultery with Bedfordian, Roy Wellsley, a photographer). Sylvester moved from Flitwick to Spenser Road, Bedford, between 1915 and 1917. He re-married in 1917, moving with his new wife (nee Violet Kate Page) to Buckden. By 1924 they had sepated and Sylvester was living with Theresa in Spenser Road.
Chapter Four briefly describes Theresa Stannard’s unsuccessful marriage to John Arnold Dyer.
Chapter Five recalls Sylvester’s second divorce (in 1933, this time on the grounds of his adultery), fourth marriage (1933), new career as an expert witness.
Chapter Six focuses on Theresa’s final years at Risely, the selection of a painting by her by Queen Mary as her Christmas Card in 1938, and return to Spencer Road, Bedford, after the Second World War, and her death in 1947, aged only 48.
Chapter Seven tells of Sylvester’s last years, dying in Bedford in 1951, aged 80. Chapter Eight describes some of Sylvester’s interests – shooting, Freemasonry, and politics.
The final chapter provides a brief commentary on his art. The book includes three delightful colour plates: a watercolour of Great Brickhill by Sylvester Stannard; a watercolour by Theresa Stannard of a garden with an arch; a watercolour of Wayting Hill and Sharpenhoe from Pulloxhill by Sylvester Stannard. Richard’s well-researched volume provides fascinating insights into Sylvester’s and Theresa’s lives and, at only £5 represents excellent value for money.