Two Library catalogues and the Godman annotated album of botanical watercolours

Item author: Frederick DuCane Godman
Item date: c.1870 and c1900-1918
Grant Value: £2,000
Item cost: £5,400
Item date acquired: 2021
Item institution: Horsham Museum
Town/City: Horsham
County: West Sussex

Jeremy Knight, Curator, writes: Some seven miles from Horsham lies South Lodge, now a hotel, but originally the home of Frederick DuCane Godman, who designed the family home, using his wealth from brewing interests. Being independently wealthy, his life was spent on philanthropy, research and collecting. Today his collection of Persian pottery enhances the British Museum, whilst his natural history collections, particularly in the field of ornithology, can be found in the Natural History Museum, his orchid collection at Kew.  Prior to the acquisition of the Godman Library Catalogues and Album, Horsham Museum held nothing on him. This changed as Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum and Art Gallery set out to make better known locally and nationally this important scientist and collector. Working with members of the Godman family, British Museum, Natural History Museum, the Museum will create a collection and exhibition along with a research project using the privately held archives, that will see its fruition in 2023 and beyond. 

The current owner of the residual library (sales had occurred in 1990s and early 2,000) sold off parts of the library in 2019 at Christie’s and dealer Nigel Burwood. This included three items not listed on his ABE entry, but through correspondence, the dealer told the Curator about. That is a Frederick Du Cane Godman & Osbert Salvin Library catalogue, a Catalogue of the Library at South Lodge and an album of 43 botanical illustrations. 

Fortunately the Museum received grants from the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries, the Friends of Horsham Museum and a private donor, whilst Nigel Burwood graciously reduced the price enabling the Museum to acquire these three important items. The Museum is the right home for the catalogues and the album as the library building still exists at the heart of South Lodge, though denuded of books, and the album shows just how the library was used whilst also being a great work of scientific art. These important items will help future researchers explore the mind of one of this country’s greatest collectors/explorers.

Frederick is not known as a bibliophile, yet his numerous publications show a real interest in the book crafts and this can be explored further with the library catalogues. The Ornithologist Osbert Salvin & Godman Library catalogue contains manuscript entries, cut and paste printed slips, a working tool to a jointly shared research library.  We think on Salvin’s death the catalogue entered South Lodge Library where it remained until sold. The South Lodge Library Catalogue is a grander affair, neatly bound and in manuscript, it lists number, title, author, date of publication, with space for additions made after around 1900. 

Godman was interested in illustrations; both as works of art and works of science; he collected outstanding examples such as the Gould watercolours of birds. The album the Museum has just acquired reveals another interest, botanical illustration, an area that the Museum already has a strong interest in and holds a collection of contemporary examples complemented perfectly by this album.

Item Provenance
Bought from Burwood Books