Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 32

ANTIQUES ANTIQUES & COLLECTABLES with Philip Hoare F.T.V.I An interesting assignment During my long career as a Valuer of Art and Antiques I have had some extraordinary assignments; Sigmund Freud’s Antiques Collection; Louis Mayer’s shop in Drury Lane, a veritable time warp; Hampton Road, a shrine to a lost hero. One of my most recent instructions and most interesting was when I received a call from the Reverend Eric Maple, the Chaplain at the Parkhurst site of the Isle of Wight Prison, who asked me to value the Chaplaincy Communion Set. I duly arrived on a beautiful sunny morning (one of the few we have had this year) and after passing through a series of high security checks I reached an inner chamber where I met Eric and we proceeded to the chapel passing through the most beautiful garden which was immaculate and quite beautiful. This year it was runner-up in the competition for best prison garden, and is totally maintained by the prisoners. As we walked Eric explained the history of Parkhurst to me which I found quite fascinating. In the 18th/early 19th Centuries juvenile offenders, some as young as 5 or 6 were sentenced to transportation to the colonies latterly Australia, however, the law stated that they could not be sent until they reached 15 years, so they were kept in rotting prison hulks on the Thames estuary and in the Solent. Not surprisingly, there was a very high death rate amongst these children brought on by the miserable conditions in which they were kept. In 1838 it was decided that in order to resolve this problem, Parkhurst, on the Isle of Wight would become the Prison for young offenders prior to their transportation. The deep water anchorage was ideal as when the boys reached the age of 15 they could be loaded on to the ship at Cowes. During their time at Parkhurst the boys were taught trades and taught to read and write. A number of them went on to become successful in business and politics, one of them even became a State Governor for Queensland. In fact many eminent Australian families are decended from Parkhurst boys. In 1845 Her Majesty the Queen visited the prison and personally pardoned two of the boys. In 1863 Parkhurst became a Women’s prison until 1869 when it changed to being a prison for more serious male offenders. During the World Wars prison officers and prisoners were exempt from war Antiques - find out what they're really worth VALUATIONS • COMMISSION SALES • RESEARCH 32 service unless they volunteered for service which many did and made the ultimate sacrifice. In fact a convict named William Mariner received the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery for his actions on May 22 1915 at the battle of Festubert, near Cambrai. He was killed in action on July 1 1916. Mariner enlisted in October 1914 and joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. His medal was sold at auction by Dix, Noonan & Webb on November 23 2006 for a breathtaking £120,000. Undoubtedly, the fact that he was the only convict ever to receive such a prestigious award led directly to the extraordinary price realised. Whilst with the Rev. Maple I saw the impressive war memorial which is a centrepiece of the garden. It was built by the prisoners in 2008 and dedicated in the same year. It commemorates both wardens and prisoners who lost their lives in both World Wars. This is now the one focus of remembrance because both groups were volunteers. It was very inspiring to meet the Rev Eric Maple and to learn so much about Parkhurst which is after all an important part of our Island history. PHILIP HOARE 71 Union Street, Ryde, IW. PO33 2LN TEL: 01983 612872 MOBILE: 07773 877242 EMAIL: