Joseph Chapman (junior)

Joseph Chapman (junior) the only son of Joseph and Mary Chapman was born on 29th August 1818, at Bridge Street in Frome, and baptised at St.John's Church on 21st November the same year. He was the youngest in the family having seven older sisters. His eldest sister, Mary Ann was married to Robert Davis in 1835; Ann, to Henry Taylor in 1829; Maria to George Penny in 1835; Lucy to John Wilkins in 1831, and Matilda married James Brown, a carpenter, in about 1840. His remaining sister, Sabina, married John Hawkins on Good Friday, 25 March 1842, the same day as Joseph married Jane Gregory, their marriages being recorded consecutively in the Zion Chapel register.

Joseph Chapman (younger)

The census for Beaminster shows that Joseph and, his wife to be, Jane Gregory had been visiting John Wilkins and his wife, Joseph's sister Lucy, on the 7th June 1841. The family business had moved from Bridge Street to North Parade soon after Joseph was born, and later to Waterloo Place. By the time that Joseph jun. took over control of the business he described himself as an "architect and monumental sculptor". A Trade Directory for 1839 shows the business at "Behind Town, Frome". Behind Town was an area that later became Christchurch Street. The address given on Joseph's marriage certificate, and in the Zion registers in 1842 is Portway. Portway may well have been used as a new name for Behind Town as by 1861 the family were living at the "Corn Stores, Behind Town" with Joseph employing six men.

Joseph was an active member of the Zion Chapel, in Whittox Lane, where he served as Deacon, and acted as a Bible Class teacher (Harvey 1918). Joseph's marriage to Jane Gregory may well have been a significant factor in his connection with the temperance movement, and even his membership of the Zion Chapel.

Jane Chapman (nee Gregory)

A letter from Lucy Wilkins to Jane Gegory in 1842, tells of "signing the pledge" suggesting that the Chapman family were not all teetotal at that time. In an account of the temperance movement in Frome, and quoted by Thomas Hudson (1887), Joseph said that his wife had signed the original pledge book, and "maintained an uncompromising attitude towards strong drink, from a period of at least 12 months anterior to the formation of any Society". He then says that they had both been members of the committee of the "Band of Hope and Abstinence Union" for more than 46 years. The first temperance organization in Frome started on the 1st July 1836, and when a new committee was formed in August 1939 Joseph became secretary.

The Temperance Movement was a strong influence throughout his life. He attended the World Temperance Convention in London in August 1846, and surnames of American delegates to that conference appear in names of his daughters Emily Beecher Chapman (born in 1848), and Fanny Bonham Vale Chapman (born in 1849). Joseph visited the United States in about 1860, and the text of a lecture that he gave describing his impressions of America still survives.

Transfer of the business to the "Portway Marble Works" took place in November 1866 when Joseph Chapman purchased, and was admitted to the tenancy of Glebe land, at Coal Ash. He was granted the tenancy for the lives of himself, aged 48 and described as a Sculptor and Architect, and of his son Ernest Bradley Himes aged 15. Joseph rented further land in 1867, and designed and built what was to be his Gothic style house between 1868 and 1869.

Portway Marble Works

Joseph Chapman, described as a sculptor and architect, was purchased the freehold of the tenancy in March 1889. In addition to designing and building his house at the Portway, he was responsible for the design of the neo-Byzantine printing works of Butler and Tanner, that was built between 1866 and 1876. At about this time he carved the Boyle Cross, which was unveiled in the Market Place in Frome in 1871. The cross could still be seen until being damaged by vandals in 1998. A plaque on an adjacent wall tells the history of the cross, and that it was carved by Joseph Chapman.

Joseph was responsible for the design of the Temperance Hall in Catherine Street (Goodall 1985) which was built in 1874 & 1875, but demolished in 1964. he was also responsible for designs for improvements to the Zion Chapel in 1888 (Harvey 1918), and produced drawings for the British School built in Frome in 1878.

With the passing of the Local Government Act in 1894 Joseph described himself as a "marble worker" and was elected to the first Frome Urban District Council. Among other activities he was associated with The Mechanics Institute in Frome being the Honorary Secretary in 1866.

Joseph was the dominant figure in the family. His son, Ernest, although working in the family business was not paid a wage, or salary but was given an allowance. His second son, Albert, gained more independence became an engineer and went to South Africa in 1876. He later returned to Britain and lived at Buxton in Derbyshire.

Both Joseph and his son Ernest both died in 1900. The business would appear to have been in a poor state and as Ernest's sons were not prepared, or equipped to run the business, any direct Chapman interest in the Portway Marble Works came to an end. It may have been due to the financial state of the business that No.23 Portway, which had been the home of Ernest, was sold to Benjamin Jordan, Henry & Arthur Barnes. Benjamin Jordan continued to run a business in the yard until some time later when W.H.Morgan & Son ran a stone mason's business on the site. The draft of a will which Joseph made some time after 1884 would have left the business and stock in trade to Ernest, although he would have had to pay interest upon the value of the business to his mother, and a rent of 10 a year for the house in which he lived.

However, Ernest died on 24th May 1900, and Joseph made a new will only thirteen days before his own death on the 17th September. In this new will he made provision for his wife to stay at Portway and, following the sale of personal and real estate the resulting money was to be divided among his five remaining children. The will suggests that Joseph had borrowed money from his two unmarried daughters, and that money was owed to the bank. While the earlier will made provision for the children of married sons, or daughters who had died there is no mention of Ernest's family in the later will. Provision for this family presumably having been made on the death of their father.

Following the death of Jane Chapman on 7th January 1901, her daughter Fanny Bonham Vale Chapman bought the family home from the executors of her father's will and remained living in the house until her death in September 1937, when it was purchased by "Aunt Stella", Agnes Estella May Chapman, the last of the Chapman family to live at No.44 Portway, Frome.

Comments by Gunnis (1953) in his "Directory of British Sculptors" on the work of Joseph junior are rather less enthusiastic than those about his father. "His son Joseph Chapman the Younger, also a statuary, utterly destroyed in 1863 the house known as "King Ina's Palace" at South Petherton, Somerset. Built by Sir Giles Daubeny in the reign of Henry VI, it was a magnificent and untouched example of a fifteenth-century manor-house till Mr. Chapman got possession of it and, having pulled most of the house down, rebuilt it in Cockney Gothic."


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Page last revised 20th July 1999.

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