▪Tracking Marga’s studios

The main aim of this project is of course to re-establish Margaret Rope’s reputation in the art-wold – and in her home-town.
But, in order to carry out that work, we have had necessarily to research, and locate, ‘missing’ artworks of hers, and – to facilitate that – have had also to track back through the years to investigate her life-story.
Much of her life is a mystery, as she and her Shrewsbury family left so few records behind them.
So – it’s a terrific day when even the least detail is discovered…

And today is such a day.
One of the researchers on this project, Jane Morgan, was puzzled by a story that claimed that, during her early twenties, Marga had taken a studio in Shrewsbury town.
This was at a time when she was still studying at Birmingham Art School – but also putting forward her student pieces, which were in a range of materials (not just glass) for competitions and for exhibitions.

Yet… older relatives of hers say she actually worked from home at this time – at ‘The Priory’ house, near Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury, where the family resided. Did she have a studio both at home and in town?

Evidence!

Jane decided on to embark on a thorough trawl of Shropshire Archives.

This what she told us: “In Archives I looked at both the Kelly’s Trade Directories and the Wilding’s Directories for Shrewsbury. No mention of Marga in 1905, 1909 or 1913 in Kelly’s Directories. There are no other relevant directories.
However, Wilding’s Directory for 1906 includes, at No 19 Talbot Chambers, this entry – ‘ROPE MA Artist’!  See photo (below) of the relevant page.
The premises is ‘void’ in both 1903 and 1910.”

Talbot Chambers, Wildings directory 1906
Well!
This might only look a tiny scrap of a detail to most family historians, but when evidence is so slim on the ground, as in our case, this information is a real nugget of gold…

Talbot Chambers

And where is Talbot Chambers?

Coincidentally, it is right next to the present Shrewsbury Museum.  It is a large building, now known as Talbot House – and has a pair of splendid carved dogs’ heads over the entrance.

Talbot House doorway, with dogs-heads
Talbot House doorway, with dogs-heads

Another odd coincidence is that Talbot is the family name of the Earls of Shrewsbury, the people who funded Shrewsbury Cathedral, where some of Marga’s greatest work is now.
Did the Earls own this property?  Did they lease a room (or rooms) in it to Marga for a lower rent than usual, bearing in mind her connection?

With every answer, there is always another question…  If you know answers, we’d love to hear from ou.  Just email us

++
Reasearch by Jane Morgan, with direction from Judith Hall – thanks to both!

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