For sale, a mid Victorian desktop aneroid barometer with open dial to Carpenter & Westley with engraved dedication to the reverse for The Reverend H Walford.
Enclosed within a brass graduated case and brass bezel, this example has a five inch silvered dial with an open central section revealing an exquisite barometer movement and aneroid capsule. The beautifully detailed scale measures 26 to 31 inches of barometric pressure graduated to tenths of an inch and the outer circumference provides standard weather indications of the period. Around the base of the open section is engraved to “Carpenter & Westley, 24 Regent Street, London”. The barometer is completed with a brass hanging loop to the top and has the slightly less common feature of a pair of brass feet to the back, allowing it also to be used as a desk or table top barometer.
The reverse of the barometer is additionally engraved to The Reverend H Walford.
The Reverend Henry Walford was educated at Rugby School where he was taught by the famous historian and public school reformer Thomas Arnold whilst at Sixth Form there. He went on to graduate with an MA from Wadham College Oxford, was ordained in 1849 and was latterly offered the position of Vice Principal at St Edmunds Hall, Oxford under Dr John Barrow.
With some humour, a college publication writes that:
“Walford had been at Rugby under Arnold and encouraged the belief that he was the ‘Slogger’ in Tom Brown’s Schooldays”.
From Oxford, Walford moved on to the Headship of Lancing College in West Sussex where he maintained the position until 1861, and following this short two year appointment went on to Haileybury College to replace a Reverend Charles Walford at short notice. Little information is available as to why Walford would take a lesser position but the similarity in name to his predecessor may allow us to form some clue for this unusual career move. Nevertheless, he remained an assistant master at Haileybury until 1883.
Walford moved into Hailey House in 1863 and accounts from the period suggest that the building was by that time rather run down. Today, the building has been recently refurbished and is considered one of its most historic buildings. Moreover, its badge contains the emblem of the Walford Family in memory of its first housemaster.
Contemporary sources compiled in 1909 within the publication, Haileybury College, Past & Present provides some interesting insight into Walford’s character:
Mr Walford was often fond of saying that he came at a few hours notice to take temporary work and stayed for twenty years. I suppose it was through boyish vagueness of knowledge of his real age that legends grew up about the “old man” even while he was among us. He was a fine scholar of the old school to whom I, like many others, owe a great deal. He impressed us greatly by being able to take an “Ajax” or “Electra” lesson without the book.”
“If he was in the mood he could talk well of the many interesting people he had met, but he had also an, “infinite capacity for silence,” and then he was rather difficult to entertain. One rather dreaded a “breakfast” as a small boy, or a dinner as a prefect. In “Forty Years On” a shrewd observer wrote:
Mr Walford’s appearance and manner were of a kind to readily ingratiate a small boy. Paley’s impression of him was of a fatherly man of generous proportions, with a countenance brimful of good humour crowned by a massive brow, that so far from suggesting any wonder ‘that one small head could carry all he knew’ rather raised a doubt as to whether there were enough learning in the world to fill approximately the mighty cranium that lay behind. It was darkly hinted to Paley that the canings inflicted by this beaming Jove-like presence were of an indelible type.”
Walford retired from his position in 1883 and was offered the Rectory of Ewelme near Wallingford in Oxfordshire. A related article of the period states:
“The Rectory of Ewelme, vacant by the death of the Rev. Greville Phillimore, has been offered by Mr. Gladstone to, and has been accepted by, the Rev. Henry Walford, M.A., Wadham College, Oxford. Mr. Walford has been for 21 years one of the assistant masters at Haileybury College. He was previously Vice-Principal and tutor of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, and was a Select Preacher in 1865-6. He has executed several translations for the Oxford Library of the Fathers (in 1847), and latterly assisted in the editing of the same. The rectory of Ewelme, which was till recently attached to the Regius Professorship of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford, valued at 550/. with a residence.”
Walford eventually retired to Malvern owing to his increasing deafness and finally died there on Christmas Day 1893.
The firm of Carpenter & Westley has its origins with Philip Carpenter of Birmingham who began trading in 1808 as an optician. Little is known of his training but his talent by this time for producing lenses is firmly evidenced by the 1817 commission from Sir David Brewster to build his iconic kaleidoscope. Although the widespread popularity of this device lead to Carpenter having to agree to relinquish sole manufacture of this device, by 1821 he had also devised his “Improved Phantasmagoria Magic Lantern” which proved equally popular.
His meteoric success allowed Carpenter to take up premises in London’s Regent Street in 1826 and he began to specialise in the production of microscopes. The instrument had gained widespread popularity and from 1827, his shop contained an exhibition named, “The Microcosm: A Grand Display of the Wonders of Nature” intended to entice the general public into the purchase of microscopes. His physical advertising was also combined with pamphlets which outlined his developments in microscopy which are still eagerly referenced by collectors to this day however, Carpenter’s fame was cut short in 1833 by his early death.
With a hugely successful business remaining, Carpenter’s sister Mary took over the firm alongside her husband William Westley who had previously worked for Carpenter as his apprectice and foreman and it was finally renamed to Carpenter & Westley in 1835. It is suggested that the company increasingly moved towards retailing scientific instruments rather than their manufacture by the 1850’s so it is likely that this barometer was actually produced by the equally famous Negretti & Zambra. The Carpenter & Westley business finally closed in 1914 at the beginning of The Great War.