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We often receive requests from members or others outside Newcastle for information relating to local history, and this page provides a round-up of those still outstanding.

Eighteenth-century musicians in Newcastle

Dr Roz Southey of Newcastle University has been researching music-making in the 18th century north-east for many years and has had books published on the subject by Ashgate and Tyne Bridge Publishing. However, she says, "I am still finding new things all the time!   I'm convinced that there may be still odd pieces of music or information on music-making in diaries and so on, mainly in old houses or local collections, and I'm always on the lookout for such material." If you have such treasures, please e-mail her

Dr Southey is our lecturer at our March meeting, on 27th March.

Dissolution of the Monasteries in Newcastle

One of our new members, Jon Gower Davies, has asked whether any other members have an interest in the effect of the Dissolution of the monasteries in and on Newcastle - in addition of course to the work done by Barbara Harbottle at Blackfriars. Anyone interested should contact Jon by e-mail.

Dr John Gibson

The latest one comes from Dr Celina Fox, a London Antiquary, who is asking for information about the Newcastle stained glass painter John Gibson (1793/4-1854).

He appears in the Oxford DNB and Celina has read several ms travel journals
He kept on his travels in Russia and Germany in the 1840s, as well as a printed copy of the catalogue of the sale by Mr Brough at the Academy of Arts on Blackett Street, Newcastle on 8-9 May 1855 of his extensive picture collection. Unfortunately, that catalogue is not marked up with prices etc. Short virtually identical obituaries appeared in the Newcastle Journal and Newcastle Guardian on 2  December 1854. He was clearly a gentleman of some substance and prominence in Newcastle as he lived at 1 Leazes Terrace, was elected a town councillor  for North St Andrews and served as sheriff just before his death.

However, there do not appear to be any records relating to him in the Tyne & Wear or Northumberland Record Offices. If anyone has come across a reference to him or his collection, proudly displayed in Leazes Terrace, please e-mail Celina.

Thomas Bewick and Randall Davies

Professor Judi Loach of Cardiff University is researching the later use of Thomas Bewick's woodblocks. She is asking whether anyone knows if "the woodblocks printed by Emerson Charnley junr. In 1862, used by Randall Davies in 1912 and 1923 to illustrate his nonsense verse, were printed from the Charnley blocks (which had by then been acquired by William Dodds) or was R Davies merely printing from what was published by Dodds in 1862 in his reprint of Emerson Charnley's 1858 Specimens of wood engraving?”

The request has already been passed to a leading light of the Bewick Society - who could not help though he did provide a lot of other fascinating material. If anyone knows the answer, please e-mail Professor Loach

Thomas Slack Portrait

The National Trust has asked whether any of our members know the whereabouts of a portrait of Thomas Slack, 1723-1784, printer and founder of the 'Newcastle Chronicle'. He was the subject of a lecture reported in Archaeologia Aeliana 3rd Series, vol 17 (1920), given by James Hodgson the younger. The report is illustrated by a reproduction of the portrait, which was by an unknown artist. Since James Hodgson was based in Devon, it's a long shot that anyone will know about the portrait, but if you do, please e-mail Lloyd Langley

Local music historian

Gwen Marchant Polwarth lived in Gosforth in the 1960s  and 1970s, during which time she published books on North-East traditional music, having researched in the Society’s archives, contacted members of local singing dynasties and presumably created her own collection. Our Pipes Representative, Kim Bibby-Wilson, is in the process of writing the section of the Bicentenary Volume which deals with the Society's involvement with collecting and promoting traditional music, and would like to know more about her. In addition, Peter Wood, singer and musicologist, wishes to examine her papers relating to local music in connection with his own researches. 

It’s known Mrs Polwarth had a daughter, Mary, with whom she jointly compiled at least one of her books. Perhaps members recall her, as she must have had dealings with one or more of them while consulting the Society's collections or seeking permission to reproduce items. Any information about the family’s current whereabouts would be gratefully received; please e-mail Kim Bibby-Wilson.

Northumberland's lost monument


Nicholas Stone the Elder (c.1587 – 1647) was the leading sculptor in Britain in the second quarter of the seventeenth century. From his workshop in London, Stone sent out monuments all over England. Most of them are listed in a note book and account book, which were edited by Walter Lewis Spiers and published by the Walpole Society as its seventh volume in 1918-19.

Spiers was able to identify most of the work which Stone mentions, particularly the church monuments, and more have been identified since by other scholars. There are, however, a few memorials which have not been traced, including a monument in Northumberland, the only one in the county which Stone mentions. It is described as ‘letell monement for Mr Chansfelld [which was] sent in to Northomberland’ from Stone’s workshop c.1620 and for which he was paid the modest sum of £22.

Dr Adam White F.S.A., author of the Biographical Dictionary of London Tomb Sculptors, (Walpole Society, vol.61, 1999) is now trying to trace this for his research on Stone. Anyone who has information should contact Dr White.

In the future, don’t forget your past