Picture by Rupert Fox from a design by Michael William Alabaster


The Alabaster Chronicle 

The Journal of the Alabaster Society 




22nd February 2011

I awoke this morning to the awful news of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. My thoughts went at once to our members who live in that city and for those of you with family living there. I was able to “speak” to Geoffrey Mansfield in Christchurch on Facebook and was relieved to know that he was shaken but ok. Similarly, I was in touch with Maureen Alabaster by email. She said “we are ok but Christchurch is broken. The Cathedral with the plaque to (Charles Alabaster) is open to the elements…….65 recorded deaths……...however Christchurch people are resilient and strong and we will come through” I am certain that I speak for us all when I say that our thoughts and prayers are with you.
To return to the editorial I had intended to write, Facebook is a great medium for keeping in touch when used wisely, used by many young people as well as “oldies” like myself and Geoff! There is now an Alabaster Family History group on Facebook with a membership of over 50, many of whom have not shown previous interest in their Alabaster history. This may be one way of continuing such interest. If you use Facebook at all, do join us. It is a private group so cannot be read by anybody who is not a member, so you will have to wait until I agree to your request for membership, but I will do my best to be speedy!
Most of our members assure me that they still prefer the hard, paper copies of the Chronicle, such as this. We do have some excess stock of back-copies so the committee has decided to offer these, up to number 30, to any members who would like to complete their set, rather than dispose of them in any other way. Let me know what you would like ASAP and I will allocate them as fairly as I can. Collection can be made at the Gathering if you are there but otherwise I will post them to you with the next item that I send. Any contributions towards postage would be appreciated.
Please do keep your letters and emails with family news and updates coming in to me, especially the births, marriages and deaths. One benefit for me of revising my editorial, as I have done today, is that it has meant that I have been able to include the birth of my latest great nephew, Nathanael, just 3 days ago………..and talking about marriages, with the Royal Marriage taking place on 29th April this year (glad to see they had the decency to avoid the previous weekend when we are Gathering!) I would like to highlight Alabaster Weddings in the next Chronicle. If you have any photographs of past Alabaster Weddings do please let me have a copy, either by post or email, so that I can use some of them next time. Please include names and dates.
Lastly to that weekend in April that William and Kate so wisely avoided…... please do read pages 3 and 4 carefully and if you have booked to come, send me the information that I have requested on the enclosed form. Whether this is your first such event or you have been to each one since the first, 21 years ago in April, I can assure you of a warm welcome and look forward to seeing you all.   Laraine.
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Births : Marriages : Deaths

Lucy Alice Alabaster, born 16 January 2011, daughter of Andy and Lizzie Alabaster,
Granddaughter of the late Colin and great niece to Tricia Dyer.
Jesse Thompson born 24 January 2011, Granddaughter of Colin Frederick Alabaster.
Nathanael Lynlie James Oram, born 19 February 2011, Grandson of Michael Oram,
2 x gt grandson of Adeline Bertha Alabaster.
Casper Roland Tuen Veldhuis, born 29 September 2010, Grandson of Oriole Veldhuis,
4 x gt grandson of Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster.
Sidney Arthur Alabaster died 26 December 2010, aged 93 years.
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Ninth Alabaster Gathering, 23rd April 2011 

The last weekend in April is almost upon us and the preparations for the Ninth Alabaster Gathering are well under way. There are just a few points to be clarified for those of you who will be joining us in Hadleigh for this event, mainly outlined in the letter you will find enclosed with this Chronicle. Please reply to it directly to me ASAP!
An approximate outline of the weekend is as follows:
Friday 22nd April
If you are arriving in Hadleigh on the Friday, then you may care to join with other Alabaster family members for a meal at The George, Hadleigh. This is organised on an informal basis with individual groups phoning and booking a table direct to the pub on 01473 822151 This certainly worked well in 2005 and 2008. The publicans are still the same and remember us well! They are expecting us to book for any time from 6.30pm onwards - Steve, Mandy, Lily, Florence and I will probably book to eat about 7.00pm.
I must admit that prior to this, I hope some of us will be able to meet and set up the Guild Room ready for the next morning, but we will not be able to finalise those arrangements until the week before....
Saturday 23rd April
I am excited to know that so many of you have booked for this day.
Arrival at the Guild Room of the Guildhall is between 9.30 and 10 for tea or coffee and a chance to meet up, chat and study the displays with the main meeting starting at 10.30am. We will be listening to talks by Tony Springall and John Stammers Alabaster followed by a buffet lunch. Then I hope you will enjoy the opportunity to see what Alabaster related items, photographs or artefacts others have brought with them and that, if possible, you will have brought something to share yourself.
At 3.30pm will have the choice of joining various tours: Hadleigh Church with Hilary Griffin, The Deanery Tower with Roger Kennell, or the Guildhall itself with Jan Byrne. Alternatively you may decide that you just want to stroll around the environs of Hadleigh.
Back to the Guild Room at 4.45pm for a tea and biscuits and drawing the raffle. Please feel free to bring along something towards the prizes for the raffle if you have something appropriate.
This will complete the main Alabaster Gathering.
Evening Dinner is in the Dining Room of the Guildhall, 7.00 for 7.30pm but we have booked it from 6pm onwards so that those not staying overnight will be able to move there directly from the Guild Room if they wish. The caterers need to know the menu choice for each person/table in advance so that is one of the pieces of information I would like you to let me know— see enclosed letter. The table plan will need to be worked out in advance too, so make sure you let me know if you are very particular about which Alabaster you want to be with (other than those in your own party, which I will assume)! After dinner we will be able to enjoy listening to Brian Alabaster tell us work producing life-size portraits cast in bronze.
There is no car parking available at the Guildhall itself but the car park to Babergh Council Offices by the bridge in Bridge Street is free for public parking on a Saturday or main car park in Magdalen Road in the centre of town is £1.50 for the full day. (Postscript: this is for the long-term parking area. The main area is free and unrestricted each evening, on Sundays, and after 12.00 noon on Saturdays. On Saturday mornings you can have two hours free of charge, but you must take a ticket from the machine and display it in your windscreen. If you do this you can arrive at 10.00 am and park free of charge for the rest of Saturday. This information is correct for 2011 but bear in mind that car parking fees can change: the change, if any, usually takes place annually at the beginning of April).
Sunday 24 April
This is Easter Sunday so it seems most opportune to join together for the morning service in St Mary’s Hadleigh, the church where our forebears worshipped. Before the service we will be taking a short circular walk around Hadleigh looking specifically at places historically connected with the Alabaster family for those who would like to do so. After the service we will be having Sunday lunch at The George, once owned by the Alabasters.
If you have booked to be with us then you should have found a letter enclosed with this Chronicle which needs to be completed and returned to me ASAP, by post if you have the balance of your payment outstanding or it could be by email or telephone if you are just notifying me of your choice of menu for the evening meal and your intentions for Sunday. 
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 "The Artist`s Painting-Room"

On 4th December 2006, I received an email from Gregory Humeniuk on behalf of the Art Gallery of Ontario who were trying to contact the Alabaster Society about a painting by Mary Alabaster.

“I am writing with a query about Mary Ann Alabaster (1805-1880).
"The Art Gallery of Ontario has been offered a painting by Mary Alabaster (see information below), and we are trying to determine its ownership history and gain as much of an understanding of her artistic career as possible. We have recently discovered that she was the matriarch of homesteaders in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Her son Percy left Addlestone in the summer of 1882 settled near Brandon, Manitoba, later that summer. According to the donors of the painting on offer to us, the painting was purchased at an auction house in Toronto in the mid-twentieth century, but this has not been confirmed.

 "Are you able to share information on Mary Alabaster’s artistic career? In particular, do you know what happened to her artwork? For example, did it cross the Atlantic with her son? Was it sold? Does any of her artwork remain with her descendants?

Gregory Humeniuk,
Curatorial Assistant, Office of the Director, Collections and Research, Art Gallery of Ontario.”

As often happens when I recognise that I am not the authority on a specific aspect of Alabaster history, I act as the facilitator, passing on the enquiry to the member who has the most knowledge, in this case Myrna Pacquette and Oriole Veldhuis, both descendants of Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster and her son, Percy Criddle.

Here Oriole takes up the story:

[Myrna and I] gathered the information we had about [Mary Ann’s] life and sent it to Mr. Humeniuk, Curatorial Assistant.

Time passed as the process of evaluation continued and at last Mr. Humeniuk sent word that the painting had indeed been accepted into the collection. He was particularly pleased to let us know that it underwent a significant conservation treatment, and is on view at the AGO in Gallery #123 in the Visitor Guide.

The Artist's Painting Room, 1830

The Artist`s Painting Room by Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster, 1805-1880

The Gallery`s description of the painting is as follows:

Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster (English, 1805-1880).
The Artist’s Painting-Room, 1830, oil on canvas, 84.5 x 70.4 cm.
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto,
Gift of Morton Rapp in memory of Hyman M. Smith, 2008 (2008/24) © 2011 Art Gallery of Ontario.

For art historians this is a very informative painting since it shows the work of artists who influenced Mary Ann Alabaster's development as a painter. In it we see the artist from behind with paintings displayed about the room.

Mr. Humeniuk gives a more complete description of the painting and those she copied:
"According to Algernon Graves (1908), Mary Alabaster exhibited "The artist's painting room" [sic] at the British Institution (London) in 1830 (no. 379, framed dimensions 3'7" x 3'0"). Paintings are depicted on the far wall of the painting room, and two of them have been identified. In the top-left of the far wall, there is an image of Jusepe Ribera's "Jacob with the Flock of Laban" (coll. National Gallery, London, no. 244) that was exhibited at the British Institution in 1829 (no. 110). In the top-right of the far wall, there is an image of Bartolome Esteban Murillo's "Two Women at a Window," ca. 1655/1660 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, no. 1942.9.46) that was exhibited at the British Institution in 1828 (no. 2). The painting in top centre has a similar composition to a "Resurrection" by Murillo in the Academy of San Fernando (Madrid, ca. 1656-1660, 243 x 164 cm) but research-to-date has not yielded anything that relates the composition to a work Miss Alabaster could have seen in England."  

Apparently the Artist's Painting-Room was Alabaster's first publicly exhibited painting . It was purchased from the exhibition at the British Institution by the second Marquis of Stafford, later to become the first Duke of Sutherland. Research to date has not determined when or why the work left the possession of the Duke of Sutherland or his descendants, but according to the donors, the painting was acquired in Toronto by Morton Rapp's uncle in the middle twentieth century.

In the fall of 2009 my husband and I planned a weekend in Toronto and I asked Mr. Humeniuk if we would be able to view the painting. And yes, it was hanging as the key picture of a themed exhibit called His Story / Her Story.

I was pleased that he would come on a Saturday to meet us, and with the tour guide took our Manitoba Chamber Orchestra supporters to see the painting. There, in the context of the other works in the exhibition he explained why they were so pleased to have this work. I was thrilled to see my ancestor's piece playing such a valuable role in 2009. Imagine!

Mr Humeniuk presented me with an image of the painting, but warned that it was for family only and not for reproduction. Having given my promise not to betray his trust, I cannot send it along.

He thanked me again for the generous and supportive assistance of the Alabaster Society, making it possible to add the painting to the collections. He welcomes any further information about the painter and her other paintings.
Oriole Veldhuis (IIC)

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Mary Ann Alabaster Criddle (28 Oct 1805 – 28 Dec 1879)

A Short Biography by Myrna Paquette (IIC)

Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster (Mrs Harry Criddle)

Mary Ann Alabaster Criddle – a Member of the Society of Painters in Water Colours, was an award winning English, Victorian-era artist most known for her paintings in oils and water colours, and was also accomplished in drawings, illustrations and cartoons. She worked under her maiden name, Mary Ann Alabaster, prior to her marriage in 1836. Thereafter she worked under the name Mary Ann Criddle.

Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster, daughter of Charles Alabaster and Mary Dearmer, was born 28 October 1805 at Chapel House, Shoreditch, London, England, and was christened 9 Feb 1806 at St. Leonard, Shoreditch, London. She died at Addlestone on 28 December 1879. She married Henry (Harry) Criddle on 19 March 1836. He died 18 October 1857. In spite of delicate health and the early loss of her husband, she continued with her painting and teaching and brought up her son, Percy, born in 1844, along with the three sons of her brother, James Chaloner Alabaster, when he and his wife died in 1840. Percy, educated in England and Germany, was in the Import/Export business in England, and emigrated to Manitoba in 1882 where he became a well-known farmer. Mary Ann’s three nephews were well placed in diplomatic and religious/educational circles. Sir Chaloner Alabaster was with the British Embassy in China, later went to Oxford and ordained to the ministry. Henry Alabaster joined the Diplomatic Service and became an advisor to the King of Siam. Charles Alabaster attended King’s College, Lincoln College Oxford, was a Deacon and Priest in 1857 and 1858 respectively at Oxford, then because of ill health emigrated to New Zealand where he was Chaplain to the Bishop of Christchurch and, with his wife, founded a Preparatory School for Boys.

Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster inherited her talent for drawing from her father who amused himself and the children with his drawings. Her parents, however, discouraged her wishes to become an artist, seeing it as a rather useless accomplishment. She studied oil painting on her own and only several years after her father’s death in 1820 did her mother agree that she was to study oil painting under Sir John Hayter, attending his studio from 1824 to the autumn of 1826. Later in 1846 when the oils were affecting her health, she took some lessons in water colour drawing from Sarah Setchel. After going completely blind in 1852 from the effect of the oils, she spent several months recovering enough to start working again in Watercolours. Her complete sight came back gradually over the next few years.

As Mary Ann Criddle, she was advised that she had been accepted as a “Member” of the Society of Painters in Water Colours on 12 Feb 1849. The following year she was listed as an “Honorary Member”, along with the three other female members, Nancy Raynor, Maria Harrison and Eliza Sharp. The four women struggled against the Society of Water Colours` discrimination against women members and in May 1850 were relisted as “Lady Members”. As such they were still denied some of the benefits of the Society, including the profit sharing which was strictly for Male Members.

Mary Ann’s paintings and illustrations were shown at the Royal Academy and other Exhibitions throughout England and America, among them Provincial Exhibitions, Westminster Hall, the Great Exhibition of 1862, the Manchester Great Exhibition, and the 1857-1858 American Exhibition of British Art. She exhibited in the Society Exhibitions 139 works under her name, 63 in the 32 summer shows from 1849 to 1880 and 76 in the winter shows from 1862-63 to 1879-80. She exhibited 52 works between 1830 and 1848, eleven at the Royal Academy, 25 at the British Institution and 16 at Suffolk Street.

Some of her Awards
- The silver palette of the Society of Arts for a chalk drawing of Apollo
1827 - The Large silver medal for a copy in oil of Harlowe’s portrait of Sir Benjamin West
1828 - The Gold Isis medal for an original portrait of her sister
1832 - The large gold medal for an original picture “The Visit to the Astrologer”. This gold medal had not been awarded for the previous ten years.

Some of Her Paintings in Oil and Watercolours, Chalk Drawings, Illustrations & Cartoons
“The Artist’s Room” painted in 1830 and sold to the Marquis of Stafford, later the Duke of Sutherland.
“Nature and Art”, “The Dying Sailor”, “Phoebe Dawson”, and “Lavinia and Her Mother” painted in 1849, the latter sold to Baroness Angela Burdett Coutts.
“The Four Seasons” (4 paintings) sold to Baroness Angela Burdett Coutts. “
Interior of Turret Chamber” from “Quentin Durward”, “Mary Queen of Scots and her Three Maries”, “the Supper Scene in ‘Macbeth’”, “Queen Philippa interceding with her Husband for the Prisoners of Calais”, a life-size picture of “Saint Catherine” for Catherine Hall, Cambridge, “The Sisters’ School”, Large Cartoon taken from the ‘Epithalamium’ of Spenser (exhibited at Westminster Hall). Illustrations for “The Children’s Garden and What they Made of it” by the Catlow sisters in 1865 and “Babes in the Woods”.

68 lots of her works, including several hundred sketches, were auctioned at a private auction of her works on 26 May 1868 at Mr. Phillips’, 73 New Bond Street, London, England. She also did very many portrait paintings which were commissioned privately and were never exhibited, as well as several family portraits which are in the possession of her descendants.

English Female Artists;
New Associates 1848-49 (Update based on English Female Artists);
Dictionary of Women Artists (Chris Petteys);
Mary Ann Criddle original correspondence with the Royal Society of Painters in Water-colour, fellow artists and her private customers;
Other family correspondence.

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Continue to the second part of Alabaster Chronicle No 34
Continue on to the final part of Alabaster Chronicle No 34