The Portway Marble Works.

According to Samuel Cuzner the Portway Marble Works, in Frome, was started by Joseph Chapman (sen) in 1805. An advertisement for the marble & stone works in his "Handbook to Froome Selwood" published in 1866 states that Joseph Chapman "is grateful for the patronage he has received during a period of twenty-five years". A publicity leaflet printed in 1881, states "established three-quarters of a century", and refers to Joseph (younger) as "Having been practically engaged for nearly 50 years in every department of Monumental Work, Memorial Brasses etc ...".

Portway Marble Works

Cuzner gives the following account of the Marble Works in his "Handbook to Froome Selwood" in 1866:
"The Marble and Stone Works of Mr.Joseph Chapman, of Portway, Froome, have of late years been noted for the production of choice specimens of monumental art. The business was established about sixty-one years ago, by the father of the present proprietor; but increased efforts have been made by the son, during the past twenty years, to keep pace with the improved and improving taste of the age. In the prosecution of his studies, he has visited some of the most celebrated cemeteries, not only in this country, but on the continents of Europe and America. The productions of this establishment have been sent to some of our remote counties, and also to India, the West Indies, the Cape of Good Hope, and even to New Zealand, and are at the present time being brought into competition, both as to quality and price, with the works of our metropolitan sculptors; the enterprise of our townsman not only carrying his monumental erections into the churchyards and cemeteries of London, but into those of the south-eastern counties beyond. We can only specify a few of his choicest works which have been open to inspection before removal to their final destination. Among those which have been sent to a distance, we remember a mural tablet of Purbeck marble, and banding of mosaic work in red and green marbles, fixed in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey; and still more recently, an altar monument, under a canopy or recess, after the style of those of the fourteenth century which may be occasionally seen in some of our cathedrals: this we believe, was from a design by a clergyman of the neighbourhood, connected by marriage with one of our oldest and most respected families; and the monument may now be seen in the most beautiful church of the lake district, at Ambleside, in Westmorland. Other specimens of Mr.Chapman's work may be seen in our immediate locality, but we can only mention a few of these. In Great Elm churchyard, there is an exquisite cross, in Italian marble, of large proportions, erected at the grave of the late Captain Morrish; also a mural monument, of Early English design, and of the purest Carrara marble, to the memory of some members of the Stancombe family, in the cemetery at Trowbridge; a repetition of the same, to the memory of the Pool family in Road church; in the Dissenters' cemetery of this town may also be seen an elegant memorial cross, of Italian marble, on a base of polished granite and blue pennant stone; and the "Nonconformist memorial," in Rook Lane Chapel, Froome, to the memory of those who were ejected from their livings by the "Act of Uniformity," and afterwards ministered in that chapel, may be referred to as among the local evidences as to ability in this department of art, of which our town has no need to be ashamed."

Advert for Marble Works 1866

For a time (abt 1875 until 1879) the "Portway Marble Works" ran a branch of the business at Hill Street, in Trowbridge. It ironic, that considering the Chapman family's devotion to Temperance, that the Chapman Marble Works in Trowbridge were later to become the offices of Usher's brewery.

Marble Works Hill Street,
Trowbridge

Both Joseph and his son Ernest 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, and it was sold to Benjamin Jordan and 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.


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Page last revised 20th July 1999.

© S. B. Chapman