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When Gumley was Gumbley!


Recently, I came across an old hand coloured print from an engraving that dates back to the reign of King George III. It shows Gumley Hall and St Helen’s Church in a rural setting together with livestock and a farmer in the foreground. Originally published by Harrison & Co. in ‘Picturesque views of the principal seats of the nobility & gentry in England & Wales’, it measures 121 millimetres in height and 195 millimetres in width.


A copy held in the British Museum describes the item as; ‘View of country house and surrounding grounds, a figure in the foreground with stick in hand, cattle grazing at right, the spire of a church seen over trees to the left of the hall; illustration to ‘The New Print Magazine’ kept with accompanying sheet of text 1788, the plate re-published in 1796 - Etching & engraving’. The print was made by John Walker.



I was fascinated by the spelling of the village name and remembered that, in those far off days, often the spelling of places varied and obviously Gumley was no exception. In this particular picture, when it came to printing the word ‘Leicestershire’, the ’s’ was replaced by an ‘f’ and the heading shown here is worded as follows; ‘Gumbley Hall, in Leiceftershire, the seat of Jofeph Cradock, Efq’. Strangely enough, the word ‘seat’ was actually spelt using the letter ’s’ and I can only assume it simply wouldn’t have been appropriate to use the alternative, as the caption would have read ‘feat of Jofeph Cradock Efq’!



The actual date this print was produced is in rather small type, but reads;

‘Published May 28th 1796 by H. D. Symonds No20 & Allen & West No15 Paternoster Row and T. Wonder No30 Bucklesbury, London.’



The scene from has changed very little with the exception of the hall, that met its ‘Waterloo’ in the 1960s. Here, a newspaper cutting shows Gumley Hall just before its demise but on a more positive note, it’s good to see that the stable block, which was adjacent to the hall, managed to survive and remains in a prominent position at the top of the village.            



Glyn Hatfield

 Issue 399
February 2018

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