Henry Gummery was baptised on 4 February 1832 at St Clements Church, Worcester, Worcestershire, England, the son of Ezekiel Gummery, a glover by occupation, and his wife Eliza Evans. He was to be their only child. At the time of Henry's birth the family was living at Cripplegate in St Clements parish, which today would be the area near where Tybridge Street joins the roundabout. Their address is variously given as Cripplegate, Turkey, or St Clements Street.
This section of an 1841 map of Worcester shows the area of St Clements parish where the Gummerys lived. St Clements Street was often called Turkey and, from the late 19th century, Tybridge Street, as it is known today. Cripplegate was the area around the western end of St Clements Street towards where it joined the other streets. Turkey / Cripplegate / St Clements Street seem to be used interchangeably in the records.
From about 1841 Ezekiel Gummery was publican at The Cock in St Clements Street and records show the family living there until Ezekiel's retirement in the late 1860s when they moved to 95 Henwick Road (the road on the left of the map running north).
Worcester Government School of Design
At the time of the 1851 census, 19 year old Henry Gummery is described as an artist, and again in the 1861 census aged 29.
Henry attended the Worcester Government School of Design when it was established in 1851. The Worcester School was one of twenty similar institutions established in manufacturing centres in Britain between 1837-1851. These Government Schools, run by the Board of Trade and a committee of local subscribers, were set up to improve the quality of product design through a system of education that provided training in design for industry. Somerset House in London (which moved to Marlborough House in 1852) was the first of this type of school to be established, opening in 1837, and others soon followed. The schools ran courses in elementary drawing, shading from the flat, shading from casts, chiaroscuro painting, colouring, figure drawing from the flat, figure drawing from the round, painting the figure, geometrical drawing, perspective, modelling and design.
Each year a selection of the students work was made by the School Master to be sent to the Department of Practical Art at Marlborough House for inspection and exhibition, and six medals were awarded. In 1852 a medal was awarded to Class 4 - Henry Gummery, for a drawing of the figure in outline from the flat. He also received a prize from the Worcester School for "Class of Painting from Examples in Colour". The best painting was executed by Benjamin Williams; the second best by Edward Davis, but each had already received a prize in a higher class, so the prize of a copy of "Sir Joshua Reynold's Works" by Beechy was given by the committee to Henry Gummery.
It is likely that around this time Henry worked for one of the porcelain factories as an artist. In 1852 two Irishmen, Richard William Binns (1819-1900) and William Henry Kerr (1823-1879) took over the fire-ravaged Chamberlain & Co. porcelain works in Servern Street and introduced modern machinery, materials (Parian and white bone china), glazes, and working methods. Binns also brought new methods of training staff. His apprentices were paid 3/- per week and enrolled at the Worcester Government School of Design where they studied anatomy, botany, still life and the Grammar of Ornament. Both Binns and Kerr were on the committee of the Worcester School. Through their input this company evolved into the highly successful Royal Worcester.
Henry Gummery, an artist aged 35 years of St John's, Worcester married Mary Ann Woolvin on 18 December 1867 at All Saints church in Evesham, Worcestershire. Mary Ann Woolvin was born in 1839 in Evesham, the daughter of James Woolvin a tailor and his wife Mary Knight. After their marriage Henry and Mary Ann lived with Henry's parents at 95 Henwick Road in Worcester. Their first child, Louisa Margaret Gummery was born on 24 October 1869 at 95 Henwick Road, as was their second child, a son, Albert Harry Gummery on 21 July 1871.
In the 1871 census Henry's occupation is given as artist and drawing master, so it appears that he taught drawing to supplement his income. By the time of the 1881 census the family lived at The Firs in Stoke Prior and Henry is described as an "artist - landscape oil". Possibly he was painting landscapes of the local area as The Firs is very near to Piper's Hill Common, a well known beauty spot. In the 1891 census the family was again living at 95 Henwick Road, St John's, Worcester and Henry's occupation is described as drawing master. The box on the census form entitled "Neither employer nor employed" was ticked, indicating that Henry was self-employed and was most likely working from home.
Paintings by Henry Gummery
This framed still life was signed and dated "H. Gummery 1862" and below it is a close up of his signature.
Between 1862 and 1879 Henry Gummery exhibited four paintings at Suffolk Street Galleries in London. The Suffolk Street Galleries were the galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists, established in 1823 by a small group of artists who wanted to break away from the Royal Academy. They wanted an alternative to the Royal Academy for the exhibition of paintings and built a gallery at 6 1/2 Suffolk Street.
In 1892 Henry, together with his son, Albert, set up business in Burrish Street, Droitwich as Gummery & Son, Photographers. By 1896 they had moved to High Street, and by 1898 were located in Friar Street. These latter two addresses were in the central business district of Droitwich so it seems probable that Gummery & Son had premises - a studio and developing rooms - on the main shopping street and lived on the two floors above. Henry Gummery retired from the photography business sometime before 1901, probably when Albert took on his wife's nephew, Freddie Blackham, to work with him. By 1901 Henry had returned to Worcester and was living at No.9 Townsend Street, St Georges, Worcester and was again working as an artist and drawing master, most likely from home, taking in paying students on a daily basis to teach them to draw and paint.
Henry had inherited two cottages near School Walk (indicated by the upper red spot on the map below), when his father, Ezekiel Gummery, died on 9 February 1887. According to Ezekiel's will the property was to be sold when the youngest child reached 21 years of age and the money invested. The properties were auctioned on the 9 October 1895 and sold to John Moses Jones of The Lamp Tavern, Tybridge Street. The lower red spot on the map below indicates the location of the Cock public house where the family lived for many years..
Around 1900 Henry is said to have worked at one of the porcelain factories in Worcester painting landscapes on bone china.
The Worcester Vocal Union aka The Vocal Onions
Aside from painting it seemed that Henry enjoyed singing and socialising. He was a member of the Worcester Vocal Union, a male singing society founded by Edward J Sparks. In winter they would give concerts, and in summer would visit country pubs where they sang, both for their own enjoyment and the enjoyment of the locals. Before singing they would eat a supper of bread, cheese, onions and beer - causing them to become known as the Vocal Onions. After the evenings entertainment they would sing their way home along the country lanes.
Henry Gummery died on 15 August 1912 at the General Infirmary in Worcester aged 81 of "urethral stricture and extravasation of urine" and was buried in Martley churchyard on the 17th. His occupation was given as "Landscape painter of Martley". His widow, Mary Ann, lived with her son and daughter-in-law until her death from "old age" on 17 December 1916 at the Union Infirmary in Martley aged 77. She was buried alongside Henry on the 23rd.
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