Secret history inside Spalding museum

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A regular column from Spalding Gentlemen’s Society’s Patricia Buck.

Greetings once again from the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum and Library collections.

Have you ever been on Broad Street, near our museum, and wondered just who that is looking back at you?

You’d be forgiven for thinking perhaps it’s the face of the founder of the society. No! In fact, when the building was under discussion in between 1907 and 1910, some 200 years after the society came into existence, it was noted that there was no memorial to the founder, Maurice Johnson at all, “not even a Tablet in the Parish Church where he was buried”.

Nonetheless this is not Maurice looking down at you – it is the face of local gentleman, Mr Edward Gentle (1823-1910).

Mr Gentle contributed a magnificent sum of £650 towards the museum, for which building Johnson himself had originally dreamed, designed and left sketches.

In 1909 – on the occasion of his 86th birthday and a year before he died – the Lincolnshire, Boston and Spalding Free Press described Mr Gentle in a tribute to him as “a marvel for his age”!

He was born and did his apprenticeship as a printer in Spalding before travelling abroad for several years. He returned to set up his own print business in 1845 but gave that up in 1853 in favour of being a “traveller for Messrs Stephenson & Co., the great type founders.”

His hobbies were painting, photography and the cultivation of roses.

• Our next Museum and Library Open Sunday will be in October. However, if you would like to arrange a research visit or guided tour then do contact us. Individuals and parties welcome by arrangement. Please email or telephone 01775 724658.