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The History of Abbey Road Studios – Part 5

Joseph Hornsby Wright

Joseph Hornsby Wright, Esq. was born January 7, 1817 in the County of Kent, the first born of nine children to Elizabeth (nee Bacon) and Augustus Wright (a clerk in the Royal Arsenal). He is an alumni of the Merchants Taylor’s School (a private day school for boys ages 11-18), but by the age of 15, Joseph had signed an Article of Clerkship with Alexander Mitchell, Esq. of Westminster on May 18, 1832 for a period of 5 years. In 1840, his mother would pass away and the 1841 census shows Joseph, age 24, still living with his father and several siblings.

Ten years later, the 1851 Electoral Register shows Joseph Hornsby Wright residing at 2 Abbey Road (it wouldn’t officially become 3 Abbey Road until 1872). When he married Ann Oakes, the only daughter of the late Ann and the late Major Lawrence Oakes of the 89th regiment, on August 11, 1853, Joseph had already set up household. While living there over the next five years, they would have three children: Robert Augustus Arthur (1855), Arthur Hornsby (1856) and Edith Ann (1858). According to the 1861 census, there were six servants living in a house with the five family members – a housemaid, two under-housemaids, a nurse, a cook and a footman.

Joseph Hornsby Wright was more than a lawyer during his time living on Abbey Road. By 1871, with only his 12 year old daughter still lived at home and he had retired… “No profession – deriving income from land and government securities” according to that year’s census. That same year, he began writing books: Confessions of an Almsgiver (1871), Investigation in some of its Features (1872), Thoughts and Experiences of a Charity Organisationist (1878), Beggars and Imposters (1883) and Charity Organizations (1883). As one can tell by the titles of his books, Wright was a true believer in charitable giving, spending 15 years as an Honorary Secretary to the St. Marylebone Charity Organization Committee and he even joined an Emergency Committee to discuss the crisis in Ireland between landlords and tenants. Some of the organizations Joseph and Ann would donate to were: The Church of England Scripture Reader’s Association, North London College Hospital, London Society for Teaching the Blind, and The New Metropolitan Convalescent Asylum.

Unfortunately, the Wright’s second son, Arthur Hornsby, died of phthosis (tuberculosis) on December 14, 1872. He passed away 60 miles from home at 20 Holland Road in the sea town of Hove, Sussex County.  It’s not known if he was a student at Hove or for his consumption diagnosis.

10 years later in 1882, things would get shaken up a bit more at 3 Abbey Road in a very strange turn of events that would shocked London and make headlines for months to come.

1881 London Census – 3 Abbey Road

On Monday, December 11, 1882, two men attempted to deliver a package addressed to a Mrs. Green at 3 Abbey Road, St. John’s Wood. At that time, the Wright family had a 56 year old cook/domestic servant by the name of Mary Green living and working in the house. For reasons unknown, the two men were unsuccessful in delivering the box and returned it back to the shipping warehouse. The package was a wooden starch box that measured about 24” x 18” x 18”. The carrier, Carter, Paterson & Co. made an effort to return the box to the sender, but that proved to also be unsuccessful, so they returned it to the carrier’s central office in London where it remained for the next 5 weeks. That is until a really foul odor started emanating from the package.

On January 17, 1883, the manager ordered the box to be open. Inside were found the remains of a young girl. The coroner determined that the emaciated and seriously decomposed body was that of a 13-14 year old girl. The girl, though well taken care of was emaciated and had traces of morphine in her system. The coroner and doctors who examined her were unable to determine whether she had starved to death, been killed by ingesting morphine or a combination of both. The body resembled that of two missing teenage girls from West Ham that had vanished separately a year and 2 years earlier. Both of their parents were called in to examine the body, but both said it was not their daughter.

During an inquiry on February 13, 1883, into the cause of death of the little girl in the box, Mary Green, the Wright’s servant, was questioned and said, “I am an unmarried woman, and live at 3, Abbey-road, St. John’s-wood. I have lived there four years. I have heard of a box being found with a body in it, but I know nothing of it. I have never had a child, and know no one of my name in Abbey-road who has had one. I know no circumstances that would cause anyone to send the child to me.”

A year later in 1884, the body of another fair skinned, young girl of about 10 also with auburn hair was discovered this time wrapped and tied in towels in the garden of a house in Paddington. This young girl too had been starved for several days before her death and both their bodies had been tied up. None of the cases were ever solved.

Joseph Hornsby Wright died at 3 Abbey Road in 1885. His widow Ann and his daughter Edith Ann continued to live in the house until about 1889 when they moved to 20 Phillmore Gardens where Ann would live out her years until her death in 1892. Joseph and Ann’s son Arthur Hornsby Wright had died in 1872 at the age of 16. Their oldest son Robert Augustus Arthur Todd had left home to study law around 1879.

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The History of Abbey Road Studios: Part 4

Richard Cook, R.A. and 2 Abbey Road

The first recorded owner after Martha Chapman is the artist Richard Cook, R.A..  Richard Cook was born December 10, 1784 in London to Jonathan and Phillis Cook. In 1800, he entered the Royal Academy of art and in 1808 started showing his work. Richard became an Associate member of the Academy in 1817 and received his full honors of Royal Academian (R.A.) on February 9, 1822. Six months later, he married Sarah Elizabeth Waddilove and set out on a long honeymoon “on the continent”.

Richard Cook | Artist | Royal Academy of ArtsSarah Waddilove came from a well to do family. Her father John, who died in 1801, was a lawyer. Her and her four brothers inherited £40,000 each after John’s death. Upon her mother’s death in 1821, one year before Sarah married Richard, Sarah inherited another handsome sum from the dower of her mother. It’s been concluded that after Richard Cook married into a wealthy family, he no longer had any interest or need to paint. He never produced another painting for the Academy which angered some of the other members and had them publicly questioning Richard’s position as a member and judge. Some even said he was elected a member because he gave expensive dinner parties!

According to the book Abbey Road by Southall, Vince and Rouse, Richard Cook purchased the future Abbey Road Studios in 1833. He is listed in the 1833 London Blue Book as living at 2 Abbey Road (the house would be changed to 3 Abbey Road in 1872). In the 1841 and 1851 censuses, Robert and Sarah lived at Abbey Road with three servants: a footman, housemaid and cook.

There are sources that say Richard loved to throw large extravagant parties for all his art friends. But one story involves one of his brother-in-laws and the law. According to an item that appeared in The Times of London, Richard Cook was dining with his brother-in-law, Alfred Waddilove, at Richard’s home at 2 Abbey Road on Sunday, March 31, 1839. Alfred was the youngest of 8 siblings. They may have been celebrating Alfred’s impending Master’s Degree in law from Trinity University that he would receive on May 2nd, or possibly they were celebrating his upcoming nuptials to Mary Elizabeth Codd in August, but whatever the two men might have been drinking to that night, it spill out into the street.

The article says that thirty minutes after leaving the Cook residence on a “powerful horse” moving at 10 mph, Alfred’s horse came into contact with a gig. The two wheeled horse cart, moving at the rate of 2 mph, was being driven by William Partridge and his wife Hannah, both 38 years of age. Unfortunately, the collision caused the gig to tip over, spilling the Partridges onto the sidewalk. Alfred Waddilove not only got thrown from him horse, but the horse fell on Hannah Partridge causing her to be bedridden for the foreseeable future.

When the constable showed up, he quickly determined that Alfred Waddilove was intoxicated. Probably because when someone offered Mrs. Partridge a glass of water, Alfred exclaimed, “Don’t give her water, give her gin!” Alfred was taken to the police station and fined for drunkenness. Richard Cook, when questioned by officials, said Mr. Waddilove was sober when he left his house. The judge sided with the Partridges, but determined that the two parties should settle the matter amongst themselves. Alfred Waddilove paid them £10 to settle the matter.

There is no mention of Sarah Elizabeth Cook after she married Richard. Her brothers on the other hand turn up quite often in court cases involving various real estate deals that are in default. When reading about their antics, you really get the impression of spoiled rich boys running amuck with no sense of responsibility. Richard would be mentioned occasionally in the London newspapers when there was news of new art installations, shows, etc. at the Academy.

And Richard was listed in the 1850 London Directory as still living at 2 Abbey Road. We know that Richard and Sarah remained at 2 Abbey Road up until at least 1851 according to that year’s census.

Sarah passed away on November 23, 1855 while they were residing at No. 11 Great Cumberland-Place, Hyde Park according to the newspapers. And Richard would pass away at the same location on March 11, 1857.

 

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