The society was formed on Thursday, 8th March 1934 at a meeting of around 40 people who assembled in Winton House in Petersfield High Street. As can be seen from the cutting below, a number of the great and good were present, including the well-known artists of their day Gunning King R.A. (who presided over the meeting) and the well know local artist, Flora Twort R.A. as well as Graham Hoggarth R.A. (the headmaster of Churcher’s College), Edward Barnsley, the furniture maker, Roger Powell, a bookbinder, Graily Hewitt the calligrapher and Mary Ward, who was to become the key to keeping the Society going during the second World War.
The meeting’s minutes were recorded by hand in a minute book by Gunning King and are a work of art in their own right (no lined paper here!).
The aim of the society was to promote the Arts and Crafts in the Petersfield area and to ensure cooperation between professional and amateur artists. This ambition was intended to emulate a number of existing societies in the surrounding area including Alton and Winchester. The main vehicle for the promotion of the society was to be an exhibition held in the autumn. Lady Margaret Nicholson was asked to be the first President of the society, with Gunning King as her Vice President. The running of the society fell to the secretary, FR Langley, a bank manager and talented amateur artist. He was clearly a talented administrator as well, because in very short order, the Society held its first exhibition that September at the Boy’s School in Peter’s Road.
The following year, 1935, saw the exhibition repeated at the Boy’s School as the Petersfield Town Hall was not available and by 1936, the society had 200 members and £25 in funds. At the AGM on the 6th September 1935, the original constitution, which had been adapted from the Alton Arts Society, was amended to better reflect the ongoing success of PACS.
The pace of activity was extraordinary in these early years, with monthly exhibitions being held at 6 Dragon Street, whilst the committee met at Churcher’s College.
However, world events began to overtake ordinary life in Britain and in July 1939, the society reverted to an annual exhibition whilst donating 5 guineas to the Artist Refugee Fund as Europe battened down for war. A “Drawing Circle” continued to meet whilst one or two listening groups met for Mr Eric Newton’s wireless talks (a famous art critic in the 1930’s and 40’s, subsequently the art critic for The Times). The AGM was not held that year and war loomed on the horizon.
As World War II began in earnest, in 1940 the society held a 4-day exhibition in the Town Hall opened by Otway McCanell FRSA RBA from the Farnham School of Art (later Principal). After this the society continued to meet, albeit much more infrequently and membership was down to 128 people but the Honorary Secretary, Mary Ward, was determined to keep things going. No exhibitions could be held and by 1944, the society had only £10 in funds. But life carried on despite the privations of war as the minutes from the 1943 AGM demonstrate. Note the illustrious nature of the organisation, Lords and Knights abounded!
By the end of the War in 1945, the society had 163 members but trouble was around the corner because in 1946 six committee members resigned. After a stormy meeting at which Miss Flora Twort, one of the original founders actually seconded a motion to wind the society up, the motion was defeated and six new committee members were found to fill the gaps. By the end of the decade, PACS had a brand-new logo designed by Edward Grainger and had held an Arts week complete with exhibition and Orchestral Concert.
In 1950, a major innovation came about. The society leased a Club Room for £86 per year at the rear of the Square Brewery in the town centre and the annual exhibition was held for the first time in our own premises. The following year saw the Festival of Britain and with it a successful Junior exhibition. By 1953, the Coronation year, the society’s administration had become too much for the secretary role alone and further positions were added to the committee, comprising an Exhibition member and a Programme member. By 1956, the Spring Exhibition had moved to November to avoid clashing with the one held in Portsmouth. It was to be moved again in 1961, back to June but with a children’s section, followed by a Craft’s Exhibition for both members and non-members.
But times move on and by 1965 the issue of subscriptions came to the fore and they were doubled to 10 shillings for non-exhibiting members and a princely £1 for exhibitors. Considering the steady progress of inflation since that time, todays subscriptions seem to be a bargain!
The 1970’s saw yet another change when the Licensee of the Square Brewery asked PACS to find alternative premises and so, after 37 years, once again the 1970 Exhibition was held at the Junior School. By 1974, our exhibition had grown so large that we switched to using what is now our current location of the Festival Hall.
By the 1980’s the membership was 136 members and in 1981, an Open-Air Exhibition was introduced to supplement the traditional one. In 1982 following the election of Dr Reginald Bowesman as President of the Society, Mr John Heape was elected as the Chairman. The main exhibition continued to go from strength to strength with sales for the 1982 event reaching a record £2822. Of even more significance however, was the adoption of Herne Farm Leisure Centre as our new venue for lectures and demonstrations on 13th April 1983. Membership continued to increase and by 1986 had reached 253. And that was not the only improvement because the 1987 exhibition in the newly refurbished Festival Hall raised a record £8000!
The 1990’s saw the Club Room lost to the development of Rams Walk, the 60th anniversary of the society in 1994 and the establishment of the PACS Potters group.
And so, into the 21st Century with a membership still holding up at around 260, the 60th anniversary commemorated by a competition with the presentation of Caroline Acworth’s winning bronze bust of Major John Bowen to the Petersfield Physic Garden.
In 2007 the committee decided to replace the existing logo with the current modern monogram, designed by Paul Martin, a local graphic designer whose studio was formerly located on Dragon Street. PACS started its own website to place it firmly in the modern era.
The Society’s 75th anniversary was marked in 2009, by a Commemorative Exhibition, held most appropriately in the Flora Twort Gallery by kind invitation of the Petersfield Museum Trust.
By 2011, the website was getting 800 – 1000 “hits” a month and the newsletter started to be sent out by email to cut down on printing costs.
2013 saw the cessation of the Outdoor exhibitions but improvements to the administration and procedures of the main exhibition in the Festival Hall. Meanwhile, the PACS Potters celebrated their 21st anniversary with a demonstration by Carolyn Genders.
And so, the Society continues to flourish even in the more difficult circumstances of 2020. This summary has been very brief and glosses over the many and varied achievements of both the society and its individual members. .
Below are some of the historical figures of PACS
Flora Caroline Twort (24 June 1893 – 1985)
Flora was born on 24 June 1893 in Yeovil, Somerset to Albert Samuel Twort and Jane Rapley.
Flora began painting at the age of four, and was educated at the South Hampstead High School, London School of Art, the Regent Street Polytechnic and the Slade School of Art. By the end of World War I she had moved to Petersfield, where she ran a second-hand bookshop at Numbers 1 and 2 The Square. In 1934 she joined the Society of Women Artists and was instrumental in the inception of PACS.
Her studio was above her bookshop until 1948, when she gave up the shop and moved to a studio in the nearby Church Path. As a talented and increasingly well recognised artist, her work was exhibited in the Royal Academy and other London galleries, and she continued to paint until she was 81.
Flora was mainly a watercolourist, typically painting local scenes of Petersfield which are filled with people and animals, with such subjects as The Square on Market Day, or the fair on Petersfield Heath. She also produced drawings in pencil, crayon, charcoal and pastel, including some fine portraits.
On her death in 1985 she bequeathed her studio cottage and pictures to Hampshire County Council. A selection of her pictures is now displayed in her old studios, which have become the Flora Twort Gallery.
Thomas Jeeves Horder, 1st Baron Horder, GCVO (7 January 1871 – 13 August 1955)
President of the Society for many years until his death in 1955, Thomas Jeeves Horder, 1st Baron Horder, GCVO was born on 7 January 1871, the son of a draper Albert Horder, in Shaftesbury, Dorset. He was educated privately, and at the University of London and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. Horder began his career at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and, when still quite young, successfully made a difficult diagnosis on King Edward VII which made his reputation. His patients included every British monarch from Edward VII to Elizabeth II (except Edward VIII). They also included two prime ministers, Ramsay MacDonald and Bonar Law, and labour leader Hugh Gaitskell. He held the positions of Deputy Lieutenant County of Hampshire; Extra Physician to the Queen (formerly Extra Physician to King George VI); and Consulting Physician to St Bartholomew’s Hospital (1912–1936). Knighted in 1918, he was created a Baronet in 1923. He was raised to the peerage as Baron Horder, of Ashford in the County of Southampton on 23 January 1933. His association with PACS came about when he moved to Steep, near Petersfield where he lived for many years until his death on 13 August 1955.
Lady Margaret Nicholson
Lady Margaret Nicholson, the last of the Nicholson ‘Gin’ family to live at Bereleigh, East Meon and was by all accounts, a strong woman, very active in local affairs and the driving force behind the East Meon Village Institute and Library.
William Gunning King (1859 – 1940)
William Gunning King was a genre painter, born in South Kensington on 2nd September 1859. He studied art at South Kensington and the Royal Academy Schools where he received a silver medal for his drawing. He also exhibited at the leading London Galleries from 1878, chiefly at the R.A., R.P., R.B.A., and also in the provinces. His The principal works of William Gunning King include “Sussex Cottages”, “June Roses” (pictured below), “A Reverie” and “Follow Me”. Gunning King was a congenial man who spent his final years in the West Sussex village of South Harting where he painted up until his death at the age of 81.
Edward Barnsley (1900-1987)
Edward Barnsley was one of the most important British furniture makers of the 20th Century having been born into a family of furniture makers. His father Sidney, uncle Ernest and their friend Ernest Gimson had been inspired by William Morris and embraced his radical ideas. In 1910, having spent his early years in the Cotswolds, Edward went to Bedales School, near Petersfield where he was encouraged to learn practical skills and to value craftwork. In 1920 Edward went back to Hampshire to train in Geoffrey Lupton’s workshop in Froxfield. Edward gradually developed his own lighter style. He combined his father’s influence with the elegant curves and fine inlay lines seen in the work of English furniture makers of the 18th century. As well as using the oak and walnut favoured by the Arts and Crafts pioneers. he used exotic timbers such as rosewood and blackbean. In 1945 Edward was awarded the CBE for services to design. Outside the workshop Edward was a visiting lecturer at Loughborough College and he was a key figure in the formation of the Crafts Council and of course, the creation of PACS.
Roger Powell OBE (17 May 1896 – 16 October 1990)
Roger Powell was a bookbinder, born in London, but educated at Bedales School, of which his father was co-founder. He served as a signals officer in the Royal Flying Corps in World War I and then became a poultry farmer. In 1930 he began training as a bookbinder at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. After he completed the course, he opened his own bindery, then became a partner with Sandy Cockerell in the major bindery of Cockerell & Son in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. He also taught part-time at the Central School until 1943, when he moved to the Royal College of Art. Powell left Cockerell & Son in 1947 and again set up his own bindery in Froxfield, Hampshire. Here he did some of his most notable work, including the rebinding of the Book of Kells in 1953, the Lichfield Gospels in 1962, and work on many other important historical manuscripts.
William Graily Hewitt (1864–1952)
Graily Hewitt was a British novelist and calligrapher, second only to Edward Johnston in importance to the revival of calligraphy in the country at the turn of the twentieth century. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He later attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts and quickly became a teacher there, and at the Camberwell School of Art. Hewitt remained at the Central School until the 1930s.
Hewitt was central to the revival of gilding in calligraphy, and his prolific output on type design also appeared between 1915 and 1943. His contributions to Writing, illuminating and Lettering and his guide Lettering for Students & Craftsmen (1930) are considered particularly crucial to the revival of gilding. He is attributed with the revival of gilding with gesso and gold leaf on vellum. Elements of Hewitt’s work are included in a variety of manuscript books. He was one of the initiators of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators, in 1921.
Hewitt sought to link calligraphy and type design, arguing that type should represent creations of pen. The Treyford Type, employed for The Pen and Type Design, was a design of Hewitt’s. He also created a series of initials for St. John Hornby’s Ashendene Press, during the long period 1902 to 1935. He continued calligraphy up to his death on 22 December 1952 aged 88. His work is kept in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection.
Arthur Henry Graham Hoggarth (1882-1964)
An artist and educator, Hoggarth was born at Kendal, Cumbria and read Modern History at Keble College, Oxford. He exhibited widely, including at the Royal Academy, London and at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; he also contributed to Punch magazine. He was headmaster of Churcher’s College, Petersfield, Hampshire.