Monday, 28 September 2015

The Chaplain's Entertainments-the Reverend Edward Geoffrey O'Donoghue

On Saturday 26 September I was fortunate to catch Bethlem Museum of the Mind's talk by Curator Victoria Northwood. Victoria presented an introduction to both the ministry of the Bethlem chaplain from 1892-1930 but also the 742 glass lantern slides he collected to illustrate the history of the hospital and chronicle even its demolition after staff and patients had moved to the Beckenham site now also home to the Museum of the Mind.
I have the advantage of being related to a former chaplain at Springfield the Surrey County Asylum and contemporary asylum chaplain to O'Donoghue. Whilst researching Springfield records at the London Metropolitan Archives some years ago I noticed that the Bethlem Chaplaincy was slightly more remote than the other London asylum chaplains,I suspect because of Bethlem's history and relationship with benefactors that the hospital was different to the county asylums and whereas chaplains at Colney Hatch and Springfield and Hanwell were actively raising concerns to both Houses of Parliament about qualification and training of Attendants and nurses that O'Donoghue's ministry took a differen course. Nevertheless I noticed that when O'Donoghue was away that services were taken by the Springfield chaplain who stayed in the local parish close to the Hospital.
Edward Geoffrey O'Donoghue was born in Sennen Cornwall, the most westerly parish in mainland England. Little is known of his parents but he was awarded a BA at Oxford and at the time of the 1881 census was living at Glasshouse Street Westminster and was curate at Saint James church in Piccadilly. His first wife Mary Louise was 4 years older than he and was to give birth to their son Cyril Geoffrey and daughter Violet. Mary Louisa died age 56 in the winter of 1907.
 By 1901 the family had moved to 102 Elgin Crescent Kensington where son and daughter aged 17 and 16 are employed as a mercantile clerk and typist respectively. In 1911 we found that following bereavement that Reverend O'Donoghue  married Emma Laud his second wife in 1908 and this leads to his 1911-1935 residence at 5 Quintin Avenue Morden Park Surrey. He dies there in 1935 only 5 years after ending his chaplaincy at Bethlem.
His history of the Bethlem Hospital was completed in 1913 and published in 1914. He spent some time at both the British Library and Public Record Office and Victoria used the posed photograph's of both to illustrate her talk. I can recall very clearly researching in both and the Public Record Office lantern slide brought back memories of the basement!Lantern Slide collection LSC-053,1 shows O'Donoghue holding the visitation manuscript document in a basement strong room. All of the images are available online at The Bethlem Archive Catalogue.
O'Donoghue invented a supposed Book of benefactors to illustrate their role Lantern Slide Collection LSC-047,1 in the hospital by tracing references in various documents and then creating his own supposed page!
Victoria illustrated both fires in 1907 and 1924 from the collection as well as demonstating his organisation of coach trips for patients from the hospital particularly to West Wickham and Keston.
The collection also contributes images to the current exhibition at the Museum with an extraordinary interest in the role of women in the first world war. O'Donoghue clearly poses for photograpphs and takes images of his own byt the 1914-1918 collection of images are undertaken professionally and the role of women images draw upon a wider variety of subjects than he would have had access to. The lantern slides themselves reveal that he obviously drew heavily on the services of professionals to prepare the glass sides he needed to illustrate his talks. The acquisition from one supplier E G Wood of Cheapside is worthy of mention as the context of the slides around the actual images reveals that a well established family owned and run business were his major providers. Woods' also provided projectors, pointers and boxes for anyone wishing to offer lantern slide presentations long before O'Donaghue took up his chaplaincy see Ernest George Wood biography.
It is worth pointing out that the collection was continued after O Donoghue's death in the summer of 1935 when probate is granted; the images at Monk's Orchard Road in 1937 Lantern Slide Collection-407,1 to 412,1 were added after O'Donoghue's death.
The Keep the Home Fires Burning exhibition continues until the end of October see Bethlem Museum of the Mind. If you visit do view the splendid gallery exhibit Around the Kitchen Table featuring a table and seats from timber felled on he site.