Local History Society

 Memories: Bohemian Days in London

The Mount, Bishopstoke

Thomas Hargreaves at Arborfield

Thomas Hargreaves at Bishopstoke

Thomas Hargreaves - death and afterwards

Sarah Hargreaves

The Schooner 'Ianira'

In around 1889, Thomas Hargreaves was returning from a European tour by train, when he met a young artist named Julius M. Price. The two got on very well together, and Mr. Price devoted almost a full chapter to his dealings with Thomas in his book 'My Bohemian Days in London', published in 1914.

In Paris again for the "Vernissage" Amusing incident on return journey Keeping a carriage to oneself I meet Captain Hargreaves The Mount, Bishopstoke Delightful hospitality His yacht lanira A particularly pleasing souvenir I join the "Artists'" Volunteers Sir Frederick Leighton, Colonel the South London Brigade The grey-uniformed regiments Distinguished men amongst the officers of the corps My first march out Easter Review at Brighton Fun out with the girls A practical joke Easter Monday Field Day Leighton, an ideal Colonel An instance of his indefatigability.

THAT year I exhibited two pictures at the Salon, the portrait I had painted at Mentone and the large canvas which I had painted at Gorleston.

I went over to Paris for the "Vernissage," and was delighted to find I had been very well treated, and was "on the line" with both pictures; whilst, judging from the press notices, I had been "spotted" also. On my way back to London I had a somewhat curious experience, which ended in a most pleasant way.

I was leaving by an early train, and as I had had somewhat of a wild time the previous night, and had not got to bed until an advanced hour in the morning, I determined to try and keep a compartment to myself on the train, so as to be able to have a good sleep as far as Boulogne. With this idea I got to the station in good time, and having found an empty carriage proceeded to occupy all the seats by placing articles of baggage everywhere. Whilst doing so I noticed an elderly gentleman, of very distinguished presence, with a grey beard, who had apparently already secured his seat, strolling up and down the platform.

Just as the train was about to start, and I was settling myself in my corner, congratulating myself on the success of my ruse, he appeared at the door followed by a valet carrying a valise and hat box, and in the coolest manner got up into the compartment in spite of its "full" appearance. His man having placed his baggage on the rack and left, the gentleman then turned to me, and in the most affable way enquired if I should require all the corners, because if not, he wouldn't mind having one himself. Of course I had no option but to remove my things, which I did, feeling rather small at being bowled out so neatly. As he sat down he remarked with a genial laugh that he was an old traveler, and had often tried on the same plan himself. The idea seemed to tickle him, and we soon got into conversation, when I found him so sympathetic and entertaining that by the time we reached Boulogne we were almost like old friends.

My newly-found acquaintance was a Captain Hargreaves, and when we separated at our arrival at Charing Cross, he had given me his card and a cordial invitation to go and spend a few days with him at his place at Bishopstoke near Southampton; he had also promised to come and see my studio.

It is often remarkable how chance meetings such as this lead to lasting friendships, and so it was in this case.

Captain Hargreaves was quite a character in his way, and his place, "The Mount," was a charming sort of Liberty Hall, as he called it, where one received a most hearty welcome. He had been a great whip in his time, and I believe was said to be the only man who had ever driven a four-in-hand at full trot down the High Street of Southampton and into the courtyard of the "Dolphin Hotel," without having to draw rein somewhat a daring feat. When I met him, however, his heart had gone wrong, so he had had to give up such mad pranks. Fishing and yachting were then his sole amusements, and there were several miles of good trout fishing on a stream which ran through his estate. I remember that at intervals along the bank there were seats with lockers to them in which were to be found refreshments for his guests at all times a very thoughtful and hospitable notion indeed.

His yacht, The Ianira, was a very fine schooner of about 375 tons, with auxiliary speed, and perhaps one of the best of its class in those days. As Hargreaves was a captain in the Naval Reserve, all the crew were in uniform. We would drive from the house in great style in the four-in-hand down to the jetty, and be taken off to where the yacht lay in Southampton water in a steam pinnace, in quite man-o'-war fashion.

There was a large billiard-room and picture gallery built on to the house, which was full of modern pictures and statuary. One evening we were seated there smoking, when Hargreaves remarked that my large picture from the Paris Salon would look very well on the end wall, and if I didn't want the earth for it he would buy it. Needless to say it ended by its being sent down, and I went and spent a weekend to superintend the hanging.

Now comes a particularly pleasing souvenir of what was otherwise an ordinary deal. He was delighted with the effect of the picture, and after dinner that evening wrote me out a check for half as much again as he had agreed to give for it, saying that he felt it was really worth it. I imagine there are not many artists who have had a similar experience.

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