Charles Sims & Harold Speed (1872-1957)

Dear LHS,

I have been researching the artist Harold Speed (1872-1957) and recently read that he lived from 1908 until 1915 with Charles Sims and his family at Woodmancote Cottage.

Do you happen to know if there is any truth in this? It seems unlikely considering that Speed was at the time busying himself painting Royals, dignitaries and MPs!

My source for this information was a painting that may interest you. It is supposed to show Sims and Speed’s wives bathing the children at the cottage circa 1908.

If you can throw any light on this unlikely lodging arrangement or point me in a new direction regarding the cottage, I’d be very pleased to hear from you.

Yours sincerely
Steve Taylor

2 thoughts on “Charles Sims & Harold Speed (1872-1957)”

  1. Dear Steve
    I have never seen a reference to Harold Speed staying with Charles Sims in Lodsworth, but it is certainly possible. Sims lived in Woodmancote, not a cottage but one of the largest houses in the village. He also built a three-story studio across the road which has since been converted into a house. Also Sims was, of course, elected as Keeper of the Royal Academy around this time.

    I see also that Speed wrote an article about Sims: Harold Speed, ‘Charles Sims, R.A.’, The Old Water-Colour Society’s Club 1928-1929, vol.6, London 1929, pp.62-4. An extract, I believe from this, indicates that they were friends: “Soon after Sims’s death, his friend the artist Harold Speed wrote that these last paintings reflected his completely changed mood after he moved to London from Sussex in 1920: To those who knew Sims they were the most poignant expression of the anguish he was suffering … Technically these pictures are very interesting, as an attempt at abstract form and colour expression, used legitimately to express an abstract state of mind … All the clashing lines and jagged edges and violent colours that startle one in these pictures are not a mere meaningless whim, but a vivid expression of a tortured state of mind … There upon canvas was his poor tortured spirit laid bare.”

    Please can you email me a copy or link to the painting you mention.
    Thank you for your kind comments about our website.
    Ian Buckingham
    Lodsworth Heritage Society

    1. Dear Ian,
      Many thanks for your reply.
      I have a copy of the Old Water Colour Society Club article and having re-read it this evening, can confirm that Sims and Speed did share a studio at Lodsworth. Speed doesn’t give any detail as to when this arrangement began or how long it lasted. What he does convey, in this very tender article, is that these were gloriously happy times for both friends.

      The webpage that prompted me to contact you was:
      https://www.jrobertsonfineart.com/product/bath-time-at-woodmancote-cottage/91424/

      I have contacted the dealer who has this work and he has conceded that the note, which was written by an art historian friend, is misleading and might better read “which Sims shared with Harold Speed who made frequent visits.” He also adds that he recalled a suggestion that Speed had joint tenure or actually owned Woodmancote. Someone who might know for certain whether this is true is the person who holds the title deeds – I am assuming that it is privately owned now, so this might be tricky. I am waiting on further information from the dealer and will let you know if anything comes to light that may be of interest to the LHS.
      Kind regards
      Steve

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