Our History

The Fabian Cartoon

The original “Fabian Cartoon” for the stained glass window called “The Fabians at the Forge” or the “Fabian Window”, was commissioned by George Bernard Shaw in 1910, but it is the design and work of Caroline Townsend.  The “Fabian Cartoon” was given to Wimbledon Labour Halls Limited by Jean Howson in March 1954 in memory of Emily Townsend and her daughter Caroline Townshend.  The historian, researcher and writer, Elizabeth Crawford, has advised that Fabian Cartoon was almost certainly made at the Glass House, Lettice Street, Fulham, where she had a studio from c 1910 until the 1920s.  The “Fabian Window” was created to celebrate the founding of the Fabian Society and shows fellow Society members George Bernard Shaw assisting Sydney Webb to hammer the world into shape, and Edward Pease, Secretary of the Fabian Society blowing the bellows.  The others depicted in the Cartoon are Fabians, including we understand at the far right Caroline Townsend herself.  The “Fabian Window” is now on display at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Women in art – the Shaw Library

Finally, the “Fabian Cartoon” has an inscription written by Mr Tom Braddock (Labour MP for Mitcham from 1945 to 1950), which reads:

“This cartoon executed for a window for Bernard Shaw by Caroline Townsend and now at Beatrice Webb House was presented by Jean Howson in memory of Emily and Caroline Townsend, both good friends of Wimbledon Labour Hall”.

The Windows

In 1931, Emily Townshend, a former suffragette who lived in Wimbledon and a shareholder of this Society, together with her daughter Caroline, presented the stained glass windows to William Morris House.  The windows, produced at the William Morris Works, had been given earlier to her husband by William Morris and were designed by Burne-Jones.

The George Bernard Shaw Photograph


In 1930, George Bernard Shaw sent a signed photograph of himself to be hung in William Morris House with the inscription:

William Morris and I preached the Gospel of Labour together on many occasions.  Many respectable persons thought we deserved hanging.  I am proud to hang in a hall dedicated to him.

 

The William Morris Photograph


Photograph of William Morris taken by Sir Emery Walker and donated by him to the House in 1931, after the Society made an approach to May Morris in 1930 (a picture of the letter is below).  The mintes of our Society’s Management Committee recorded:

“The Secretary reported a gift from Sir Emery Walker of a handsome photograph of William Morris. It was agreed that a cordial letter of thanks be sent.”

21 January 1931

 

Here are two notes below from May Morris, which states:

“One of Sir Emery Walker’s fine big photographs would be what I suggest.  I shall be seeing Sir Emery shortly, and could ask him what the photograph would cost.  I wish I could help but all available money has to go to my scheme here for a memorial hall here at Kelmscott.  Yours sincerely,  May Morris”

After May Morris’s enquiry, her reply was then:

“Sir Emery Walker kindly says that he will have one of his fine photographs enlarged for you.  I have asked him to choose a favourite one, and when it is ready, you could no doubt call at Clifford’s Inn for it. Rgds M. M.” [Clifford’s Inn Hall was the location of some work produced by the Members of the Art Worker’s Guild]