Great Totham in 1821 (or thereabouts)
Not long before 1831 – and very probably in 1821 – ‘Miss Hayter’ painted a picture of Great Totham Church. We are reasonably certain that the artist was Ann Hayter (1795-1854), daughter of Charles and sister of Sir George, also both painters. The picture was rediscovered in 2013 behind a cupboard in the church vestry, where it had suffered greatly from dirt and damp. It is now in the process of being cleaned and repaired, with the aid of grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Essex Heritage Trust, and the Church Buildings Council. As well as being a charming work of art in its own right, it is a valuable record of the appearance of the church as it was before being restored and enlarged later in the later 19th century.
To celebrate the anticipated return of the painting to the church in October, there will be an afternoon of short talks in St Peter’s Church, Great Totham, on Saturday 1 November, beginning at 2.30 pm. This will look at aspects of life in Great Totham in the 1820s and 1830s, in particular the connection between the Hayter family and the Revd Thomas Foote Gower, curate and later vicar of the parish, and the part played in the history of the painting by Charles Clark, farmer, amateur printer, and doggerel poet, who was at one time its owner. Speakers will include historians James Bettley and Clive Potter, amateur printer Alan Brignull, and poet Adam Crick.