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Goldsmiths satire on a Victory Dinner- 1924 and the League of Nations

Christmas postcard designed by Goldsmiths Art School student Eric Fraser celebrating the purpose of the League of Nations in circa 1924. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London Archives.

When Goldsmiths’ College decided to host a Victory Dinner in 1924 as an act of remembrance for the Great War of 1914-18, those who had lived through it embraced the occasion with gentle satire.

The Victory Menu for 15th November, four days after Armistice Day, was designed to mock the forms and documents that had been turning education in the post war period into a bureaucracy.

It became ‘Circular 1311’, and ‘Form 99 Pen T.’

Victory Menu for dinner at Goldsmiths 15th November 1921. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London Archives.

There was choice of the main dish: ‘Pensioned Dover Soles, Fried- according to Form 60, Act 1918,’ or ‘Super Saddle of Annuation Mutton with Board of Education Jelly.’

For a side order, the following was on offer and something of a limited choice: ‘Dished – Whitehall Potatoes and Caulage Flower with Raymont sauce.’

The reference to ‘Raymont’ was the name of the second Warden of the college Professor Tommy Raymont.

For dessert, another choice on the menu:

‘Tart of Apples, From the Tree of Knowledge with cream that Nestlés bonny babies

Fruits of the Warden’s Victory

Gorgonzola with Odour of Sanctity

Coffee, Black, White or Red-Tape’

The menu is tailed off with ‘Dainty Drinks and Glorious Gargles as served to the law officers of the Treasury. Each teacher’s pink form should be filled with the above before Superannuation.’

It is the signatures on the other side of the menu that makes this event rather resonant and poignant.

The autographs are by ‘lost to history’ figures in the story of Goldsmiths: F H Cecil Brock, Harry E. J. Curzon, Frederick Marriott, Arthur H R Huggett, Edwin S F Ridout, Joseph Kay, and Graham T. White.

Is it possible that this is a group of Goldsmiths’ College staff tutors who were sitting on the same table and one of them decided their menu card should be signed by their companions?

So who were these people dining in a somewhat ironic celebration of post Great War bureaucracy?

F H Cecil Brock was the Vice-Principal for men in the ‘Training Department’- the largest body within the college teaching teachers to teach. He left to take up the principalship of Crewe College in December 1929, having been a Goldsmiths’ Vice-Principal for nine years.

Harry Edward James Curzon was head of Mathematics from September 1906 to his tragic death from suicide in 1935. He gave nearly thirty years of his life to the College, gained a PhD while lecturing in New Cross in 1920 and was one of the country’s leading educational text book authors on Maths.

At the time of this dinner he was on a salary of £600 a year and, on the basis of his multiple degrees, a BA and MA from the University of Cambridge, a BSc, MA and DSc from the University of London, he was probably the most academically qualified of all the lecturers at Goldsmiths College during this time.

£600 a year in 1924 is the equivalent of £34,500 in 2019.

Frederick Marriott was the oldest of the group at the age of 64 and only a year away from retirement having been the headmaster of the Art School since 1891.

In his time at New Cross he bridged the Victorian age, the Edwardian epoch, Art Nouveau, the First World War, and the beginning of Art Deco.

Like all of the Art lecturers throughout most of the 20th century, his salary was substantially less than his Training Department colleagues.

And for some bizarre reason of hierarchy, the Art School tutors also had to sit in the College refectory on benches that were lower than those of the other members of staff.

Perhaps on the occasion of the Victory Dinner, his seniority and the fact he was a year away from his own superannuation, meant he may have been permitted to dine ‘at the same level.’

He was one of two people at the table who had been working in the New Cross Building when it was the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute. He had devoted 34 years of his working life to teaching art at Goldsmiths.

Arthur Henry Richard Huggett joined Goldsmiths in the summer of 1906 having just gained his BSc degree from King’s College, University of London. He was appointed lecturer in Nature Study and Drawing and had been trained as a teacher at the famous St Mark’s College in Chelsea.

Two more autographs were supplied by another couple of  ‘old timers.’

Graham T.White had been teaching engineering as far back as 1893 in the days of the Goldsmiths’ Institute. He was made head of the Mechanical, Electrical and Constructional Engineering Department in 1919.

Joseph Kay, a lecturer in Teaching and specialising in Manual Instruction and Mathematics, joined at the beginning of the University of London, Goldsmiths’ College reincarnation in September 1905.

Mr Kay would remember looking around the old Royal Naval School chapel that had been utilised as the College’s largest lecture hall when he arrived in September 1905 to prepare for the first term of teaching:

The Tower of this building housed a staircase, out of bounds in my time. On the plaster ceiling at its head were the naval boys’ inscriptions of earlier Naval students, one of whom I remember, was Lord Charles Beresford.

He actually earned £25 a year more than Dr. Curzon in 1924, perhaps because he assisted the Vice-Principal for men in organising subjects and leading the teaching of theory and practice and what was described as ‘men’s manual work.’

Plumbing class at Goldsmiths’ College 1926-27. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London Archives.

Graham T. White headed an engineering department that started optimistically each year with an enrolment of about 850 students; some of whom studied plumbing. By Christmas drop-outs usually reduced the figure by three hundred.

Mr White specialised in running evening instruction in Mathematics and Physics up to University of London B.Sc standard during Institute days and afterwards.

In 1931 he would take his department away from the College main building in New Cross to become part of the new South-East London Technical Institute half a mile down the road in Lewisham.

Mr J. Kay would retire at the end of August 1931 and A.H.R. Huggett in 1930. Lecturer in History, Edwin Stanley Forsyth Ridout was ‘a new boy’- starting in September 1921. Before taking up his lectureship he had gained degrees in Dublin, Cambridge, London and Lille in France. After 29 years at Goldsmiths, he took retirement in the summer of 1950.

The first college history, The Forge, published in 1955, observed that ‘…the accession of Dr. Ridout to the staff in 1921 greatly helped in levelling up the teams and in establishing the college in University sports during the 1920’s.’

The spirit of the Victory Dinner was not to gloat and glorify the victorious vanquishing of Germany.

At Goldsmiths’ College there was enthusiasm for the first international experiment in creating a global policing body with the purpose of ending all wars.

In the inter-war years between 1918 and 1939, the League of Nations based in Geneva would try to do just that, though historians and people experiencing the agonies of the Second World War argue that it failed to achieve this laudable aim.

Opening of the first session of the League of Nations in 1920. Image: National Library of Norway Public Domain.

And the staff and students at Goldsmiths were so committed to the values of ‘Peace and goodwill towards all men’ and ‘Within the four seas all men are brothers’ that during the 1920s and 1930s the College’s League of Nations Union would enthusiastically organise talks and lectures exploring the tensions surrounding conflict resolution or the lack of it all over the world.

During the session 1934-35, the College’s League of Nations Union played an active part in College life, in spite of a small actual membership of 40.

In that year the Society secured ‘first class speakers’ for its meetings including Dr. Gooch and Dr. Nikolas Hans Ex-Minister of Education for the Kerensky and Bolshevik Governments.

The League of Nations Christmas card for 1924 shown at the top of this article was designed by Goldsmiths School of Art student Eric Fraser who would go on to become one of the country’s leading illustrators of his time.

Perhaps it was exchanged by the men eating their ‘gorgonzola with the odour of sanctity’ in November of that year?

Frederick Marriott, as head of Art, may well have been the person distributing it.

He may well have been sipping his ‘red-tape’ coffee with pride and enthusiasm for his young scholarship winning student whose impressive artwork exhorted the global defence of liberty and depicted children of all races as being the worthy recipients of such freedom and privilege.

For many decades henceforth Eric Fraser would define and characterise much of the design and symbolic representation of sound programmes in the BBC’s Radio Times magazine.

In the years ahead the League of Nations would be a forum for hope rather than an effective resort to justice; where reality would defeat idealism time after time.

In the summer of 1938 students at Goldsmiths’ College concerned about international affairs would have been horrified by the invasion of Abyssinia by Fascist Italy, the invasion of Manchuria and China by a militarised Japan.

Their studies would be pursued against the backdrop of the escalating civil war in Spain, the absorption of Austria into a Greater Germany and increasing tension that would later on that year produce the ambiguity of the Munich agreement.

The independence and security of Czechoslovakia would be violated for the false hope of avoiding war with Germany.

A student signed only by the initials I.M.R. wrote this ‘call to participate in the League of Nations Union’ in the summer edition of the student magazine Smiths:

Of the three types of person at present inhabiting Goldsmiths’ College, the Communist is noisy, the Pacifist has too little to say, and the Person of no particular opinion seems to offer the only hope of progress. People of the latter sort are so buffeted and bewildered that at the moment they dare not attempt to think for themselves. Yet they can be “mind shakers, moulders of a new world,” since having so far held aloof from any set political belief, they are capable of critical, unbiased judgment.
Yet I would say to them, “Beware of waiting too long.”

Much would be achieved if we could only persuade people to think international before it is too late. The League of Nations, which was formed in this hope, has failed through the lack of faith and goodwill of its members. But that is no reason for deserting it. Rather by joining the Union we should show our desire for better understanding, and help to remedy the League’s weaknesses. It seems a pity that from this College only four students should be sufficiently enthusiastic to attend the exchanging ideas with students from the British colonies and from the United States. Here, at any rate is one chance of showing interest in the world as a whole, and of broadening knowledge.

Image: By Martin Grandjean – Strictly based on a flag kept by the League of Nations Archives (United Nations Geneva)., CC BY-SA 4.0

For all of the disillusioning disappointments of international affairs during the 1920s and 30s, the League of Nations did at least provide an experience of what was lacking in a worldwide body set up to prevent conflict.

After the horrors of the Second World War, The United Nations was established in 1945 to learn and benefit from the League’s failures.

A key difference would be direct participation, support and involvement of the United States.

And it could be argued that the words of the student ‘I.M.R.’ in 1938 to aim to be among the ‘mind shakers’ and ‘moulders of a new world’ have endured and persisted as an abiding spirit of humanitarian aspiration at Goldsmiths’ College.

That’s So Goldsmiths– a forthcoming history of the university is being researched and written by Professor Tim Crook.

Frederick Marriott- the first headmaster of Goldsmiths’ Art School from 1891 to 1925

Rue Gubernatis, Nice, Etching by Frederick Marriott. Image: Goldsmiths Art Collection.

It is not widely known that the teaching of Art at Goldsmiths predates the beginning of the life of the College as part of the University of London in 1905.

‘Studio’ Magazine profiled the Goldsmiths’ College Art School in 1918 and described Marriott as ‘the well-known painter, gesso-worker, and engraver.

The Art School started with the creation of the Goldsmiths Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute in 1891, and its first head teacher was an artist friend of the famous writer Arnold Bennett.

Like Bennett, Frederick Marriott was born in the potteries in Stoke on Trent in 1860.

His father was an engine fitter.

He became a respected painter and etcher of landscapes, architectural subjects and portraits.

He lived most of his life, like many other Goldsmiths’ artists and teachers, in Chelsea.

His address for nearly 40 years was 6A Netherton Grove, Chelsea, a quiet road bordering St Stephen’s hospital, entered and exited only by the Fulham Road,  and a stone’s throw from the working class slum terraces of Slaidburn Street and the World’s End.

Venice by Night, a colour etching by Frederick Marriott. Image: Barewall Studio.

The first history of Goldsmiths published in 1955, ‘The Forge,’ said that when he retired in 1925, he was regarded as ‘the well-loved Head of the School of Art since its inception in 1891 and had established its excellent reputation as a Fine Art School.’

Official Goldsmiths’ College portrait of Frederick Marriott painted by Harold Speed in 1925. Image: Goldsmiths, University of London Archives.

Brochure for the Goldsmiths’ Institute School of Art, Session 1903-4. Frederick Marriott was the only full-time member of staff. Classes were offered during the day and evening.

His portrait was painted by the artist Harold Speed, who had been in charge of portrait painting at the College since 1908.

For many years it hung in ‘the conference room’, but has since been relegated to storage for the College art collection.

The Delegacy (University of London management committee running Goldsmiths) ‘placed on record their high appreciation of his eminent services at New Cross for thirty-four years.’

The second Goldsmiths’ history written by Anthony Firth and published in 1991 was more critical:

‘Marriott was a lively figure and a close friend of Arnold Bennett. But he, and his successor as Headmaster, W. Amor Fenn (1925-9) had worked at New Cross from 1891. It seems clear that the work of the School under their direction did not change much in its early years as part of Goldsmiths’.

Marriott and Amor Fenn were both engravers, and students seem to have been encouraged to specialise in that area of work.’

River Landscape, Frederick Marriott (1860–1941) Image: Central Library, Bromley

Firth complains that the school had not moved very far in the direction of ‘higher education in art’ which had been the hope of the Delegacy and new funding body, the London County Council in 1906.

Graham Sutherland joined as a student in 1921 and in 1963 he recalled:

While the teaching at the school was probably sound and was certainly practical, it was totally out of touch with the great European movements, then in full flower and moving to a climax. If Old Masters’ names were heard I do not remember much serious attempt being made to implant any real understanding of the significance of their work.

A life class at the Goldsmiths’ Company Institute in the late Victorian and early Edwardian age. The artist Graham Sutherland thought the Art School was old-fashioned by the time he enrolled in 1921.

Still less were we really taught to apply their example to our own work. I do not remember hearing a word about the Impressionists and on the subject of the Modern Movement there was a profound silence.

New blood and ideas would be introduced when Clive Gardiner started teaching there from 1918. He would be appointed Headmaster in 1929.

By 1918 Frederick Marriott is now Headmaster of the Goldsmiths’ College School of Art. The advertisement in ‘Studio’ Magazine shows that the young Clive Gardiner has joined the team of visitor tutors teaching Drapery Study, Drawing and painting from the Antique and Still Life Painting. Image: Goldsmiths Archives.

Marriott received his early training in the school of Art, Coalbrookdale, and at the age of 14 went to work as a pottery painter in a factory.

In 1879 he gained a National Scholarship to the Royal College of Art in Kensington where he studied for three years.

He then worked as a designer and illustrator to Wood and Sons potteries company.

Later he became Chief Designer with the publisher Eyre and Spottiswood working there for four and a half years.

He practised repoussé work, wood carving, enamelling and modelling, and produced some fine panels in modelled gesso with mother-of-pearl inlay.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy (R.A.), Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (R.E.), in the provinces and at the Paris Salon.

Bruges, Belgium colour etching by Frederick Marriott. Image: Barewell Studio.

He was in every way a striking character: five feet tall, handlebar moustache, a regular wearer of a Norfolk jacket, and charming sense of humour.

Jolyon Drury, in his book Revelation to Revolution: The Legacy of Samuel Palmer, The Revival and Evolution of Pastoral Printmaking by Paul Drury and the Goldsmiths School in the 20th Century offers a delightful account of Marriott’s introduction of Paul Drury to Graham Sutherland in 1921:

Frederick Marriott was showing Graham Sutherland and his rather ‘starchy’ father (‘a tall gentleman of evident distinction’) round the art school one day in September 1921, when they came upon Paul Drury in the smaller studio painting an ‘old salt’, a bargee, from a drawing from life. “This is the room” remarked Marriott to Sutherland Snr. “where students can get on with composition and have a nodding acquaintance with Mr. Yorrick [in the corner was a skeleton in its little sentry box]…he seldom answers but he always smiles.” “This is Drury’s little boy” Marriott continued, “known him since he was a baby. Did Drury send his son to the Slade? Or to the Academy Schools? No, he sent him here.”

Frank Clayton Bennett by Frederick Marriott (1860–1941) Image: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

His work in public collections includes a commission of a small painting in the Royal Collection, called Normandy House circa 1923. It is a night scene with a gabled farmhouse, towers to the right and two figures at the door. This was commissioned for The Library in Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.

He was Design Master at Blackheath School of Art,  and head of art teaching at the Onslow College of Science and Technology, 183 King’s Road, Chelsea.

He served as Headmaster of the Art School at the Goldsmith’s Technical and Recreative Institute from 1891 to 1904 and then continued in the same role with the Art School when it became part of University of London, Goldsmiths’ College until 1925.

He made continental tours working on town scenes with the emphasis on architecture, and also visited and painted in Australia about 1910 when he was given leave by Goldsmiths’ College to visit relatives.

Although having been very much lost to history for many years, and not being particularly referenced in terms of art historical prominence, there are signs that his work and contributions to culture are gaining capital in auctions and the interest of scholarship.

Frederick Marriott census return for 1911. He was living at 6A Netherton Grove, Chelsea and describes himself as an ‘Art Master.’ By this time he was Headmaster of the Art School at University of London, Goldsmiths’ College. The London County Council had taken over the funding of the School from the Goldsmiths’ Company of the City of London in 1905-6. The Census Return has been filled in by him in his distinctive handwriting.

In particular, Keele University Library has a considerable number of valuable and informative papers in their Arnold Bennett collection originated and authored by Frederick Marriott.

Cover for Arnold Bennett Society Newsletter for April 2018 Vol 6 No. 2. Click through for image origin.

Its most interesting archive treasure is a charcoal portrait of Arnold Bennett by his friend Frederick Marriott in 1907 which was recently used to illustrate the front cover of an edition of the Arnold Bennett Society

6A Netherton Grove in Chelsea in 2018- Frederick Marriott’s home throughout his time when Headmaster of Goldsmiths’ College Art School and where he and his wife entertained Arnold Bennett during the early part of the 20th Century. Image: Google Street View.

Journal/Newsletter.

The Arnold Bennett collection of archives at Keele University holds some important papers written by Marriott in respect of his relationship with Arnold Bennett.

They include the manuscript  ‘Adventures with Arnold Bennett’ and a 68 page memoir titled ‘My Association with Arnold Bennett.’

For the period between 1911 and 1929 there are eight letters and 18 postcards from Arnold Bennett and Marguerite Bennett) to Mr and Mrs Frederick Marriott and others.

There is also a delightful archive document of poetic tribute: ‘Rhyming couplets on Arnold Bennett’ written by Frederick Marriott.

John Shapcott, ‘Literary scholar & editor – Arnold Bennett, regional novels, silent films, Melvyn Bragg. Honorary Research Fellow, Keele University,’ is currently carrying out research on the friendship and association between Arnold Bennett and Frederick Marriott.

That’s So Goldsmiths– a forthcoming history of the university is being researched and written by Professor Tim Crook.