home > history > Alfred Gatley
Works | Links
200th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Gatley was
celebrated on Friday 15th January 2016. A ceremony
was held at his birthplace at Spring House in Kerridge,
when a Blue
Plaque was unveiled to his memory.
Alfred Gatley was born at Spring Cottage (today
known as Spring House), Kerridge, on 15th January
1816. His father owned and worked two stone quarries in Kerridge
Hill. Alfred showed very early promise as a sculptor and took
this up professionally. He spent much of his career in Rome,
Italy, carving in marble. He died on 28th June
1863 at age 47, in Rome, where he is buried. There are many
examples of his works in Bollington and the Cheshire and Manchester/Salford
area as well as more widely. While the whereabouts of many of
those pieces in private ownership were known in the 1960s I suspect
that the passage of time will have resulted in some of them being
widely distributed and beyond normal search.
The late Dr John Coope used examples
of Gatley's work in the displays for the very first of his Bollington
Festivals, in September 1964, and in preparation he and Harry
Cole did a lot of research into Gatley with a view to writing
a biography. Unfortunately the book never materialised but all
Dr John's papers and pictures were most generously donated
by his widow, the late Dr Jean Coope, to Bollington Civic Society
and they provide the basis of this page.
The 200th anniversary of Alfred Gatley's birth was celebrated
by the unveiling of a Blue Plaque on his birth place, Spring
House in Kerridge.
This is a very incomplete list of Alfred Gatley's works, the
first part compiled by Dr John Coope and Harry Cole for the 1964
Bollington Festival. The details given are the subject, date
of execution, last known location.
- Bust in marble of Captain the Hon. Augustus H Vernon* of
Sudbury Hall, 1851, presently exhibited at Sudberry (sic) Hall,
Derbyshire (National Trust property NT).
- Echo, 1850 1853, Gawsworth
Macclesfield, Cheshire. Gatley sculpted at least three versions
of Echo on request from clients. One of these is at Gawsworth,
another is thought to be in Ireland, and the present whereabouts
of the third is not known. Picture right.
- George Swindells, by 1847, Town Hall, Bollington,
Cheshire. Picture below right.
- Elizabeth Swindells, by 1847, Town Hall, Bollington,
Cheshire. Picture below right.
- Tam O'Shanter, by 1839, Rev Sumner of Pott Shrigley but present
- Homer, not known, present whereabouts unknown.
- Paris, not known, present whereabouts unknown.
- Euripides, not known, present whereabouts unknown.
- Jubilee Memorial, 1846, Macclesfield Sunday School in Roe
- Rt Rev Dr Sumner Archbishop of Canterbury, 1848,
present whereabouts unknown.
- Pharaoh and his Hosts, 1862,
present whereabouts unknown.
- The Triumph of Britannia, unknown, Gawsworth
- Bust of Milton, 1833, Gawsworth
- Revenge of Achilles, not known, present whereabouts
to Elizabeth Clayton (of
the Kerridge mining family headed by William Clayton),
1851, in Norbury church. My thanks to Tom Swailes for finding
- Thomas Legh Memorial, 1844, Disley church,
- Craigentinny Marbles comprising The
Overthrow of Pharoah in the Red Sea and The
Song of Moses and Miriam, unknown date but
not mounted until 1867, Craigentinny Crescent, Edinburgh. Pictures
The following list is taken from a list of exhibitors at the
Royal Academy in 1854. The whereabouts of all except one of these
- Bust of a gentleman, 1841.
- Bust of Richard Willis Esq., 1842
- Marble bust of Hebe, 1843.
- Bust of Miss E. Rylance, 1843.
- Bust of a gentleman, 1843.
- Cupid, marble bust, 1844, for Martin Swindells
- Psyche, marble bust, 1844, for Martin Swindells
- Marble bust of Thomas Legh, Lyme Hall, Cheshire, 1844.
- Unfinished marble bust of Mrs. Legh, 1845.
- The Hours Leading out the Horses of the Sun, model
in bas-relief, 1846.
- Bust in marble of General Espartero, Duke of Vittoria and Morella,
Ex-Regent of Spain, 1846.
- Marble bust of J H Smith Barry, Marbury Hall, Cheshire, 1847.
- Marble bust of Mrs Smith Barry, 1847.
- Religious instruction, 1848.
- Marble bust of William Hulton, Hulton Park, Lancashire, 1848.
- Marble bust of Mrs Hulton, 1848.
- Bust of a lady, 1849.
- Bust in marble of S Christie Esq. MP, 1850.
- Design for a mural tablet, 1850.
- Design for a mural tablet, 1851.
- Design for a statue, 1851.
- Model of a bust of Richard Hooker, author of Ecclesiastical
Polity, executed for the Benchers of the Inner Temple,
- Bust in marble of Captain the Hon. Augustus H Vernon*, Sudberry
(sic) Hall, 1851, presently exhibited at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire
(National Trust property NT).
[Repeated from above for completeness of this list.]
- Design for a statue, 1851.
- Bust in marble of Mrs Foster, 1851.
- Design for a mural tablet, 1851.
- Bust in marble of A J Coffin Esq. MD, founder of the Botanic
System of Medicine, 1852.
- Angel of Mercy, head in marble, 1853.
- Design for a mural monument, 1853.
* The Hon. Augustus H Vernon was a member of the Poynton Vernon
coal mining family.
Other works by Gatley are, or were in recent years, at Lyme
Hall; Salford City Art Gallery; St Mary's Church, Disley; Mottram
in Longdendale church.
The two bas relief panels known as the Craigentinny Marbles
(above right) were described at the time of installation in 1867
most remarkable pieces of sculpture executed during this century."
The original Oak Bank House in Bollington, erected in 1854,
had a very fine carved front door surround (picture right).
Dr John Coope believed that this may have been the work of Gatley.
Sadly this fine piece was lost when the house was demolished
in the 1940s.
Alfred Gatley's 200th birthday was celebrated by the unveiling
of a blue plaque (see above right) and the guests were refreshed
at the Bull's Head with coffee and a delicious cream and sponge
cake baked and supremely decorated by Paul from Belfield's Bakery
in Palmerston Street.
Alfred Gatley, 1816-1863, Sculptor
by Marcianno da Tuna, Rome 1862
Shown by the very kind permission of
the late Mr Timothy & Mrs Elizabeth Richards of Gawsworth
where the painting and other Gatley artifacts
can be seen during
Blue plaque unveiled at his birthplace
on the 200th anniversary
of his birth.
Echo - popular girl!
Gatley is known to have
carved three of these!
This copy is on view at Gawsworth Hall.
Two bas relief panels known as the Craigentinny
Alfred Gatley's grave in the English cemetery, Rome
Revenge of Achilles
George Swindells and his wife Elizabeth
Oak Bank House front door surround (this is not Alfred Gatley
standing there!). What a pity that the photograph didn't include
the whole of the door casing.
Detail from the picture above.
We are indebted to Mr & Mrs Timothy Richards of Gawsworth
Hall for their kindness in providing some of the information
on this page together with access to photograph the picture
of Gatley. Mr Richards' grandmother was a Gatley related to
Extract from KRIV report by
William Broster asserts that Alfred Gatley was born in "the
family home", Gatley's Yard - though it has to be said that
Broster is not very reliable on historical matters outside his
own experience . According to the Dictionary of National
Biography (DNB) , "while still a child [Gatley] learned
the use of a stonemason's tools from his father, who owned and
worked two quarries in the Kerridge hills." Alfred was educated
at Rainow School where, tradition says, he carved his first work,
his teacher's head, out of a turnip [35, p.74]. Here, his ability,
both artistic and general, was observed by the Rev. J. Sumner,
the vicar of Pott Shrigley, who seems to have given him some
private tuition alongside his own children .
After school he assisted in the family quarry, and here what
Broster says was his first sculpture in stone, a figure of Walter
Scott's Tam O'Shanter, was completed. This work came into the
possession of the Rev. Sumner, who loaned it in 1839 to an exhibition
organised by the Macclesfield Useful Knowledge Society in Macclesfield
Town Hall [16, 29 June 1839].
Two years earlier, in 1837, Gatley had moved to London, "aided
by a few friends" as the DNB puts it. He worked in the studio
of Edward Hodges Baily, until in 1843 he became assistant to
Musgrave L. Watson. In his early years in London Gatley studied
in the British Museum, and then became a student of the Royal
Academy, exhibiting there for the first time in 1841. Among works
Gatley sold in his London period were figures of Cupid and Psyche,
for Martin Swindells of Bollington, the memorial for the jubilee
in 1846 of the Macclesfield Sunday School in Roe Street, and
a bust of Dr. Sumner, archbishop of Canterbury and brother of
the vicar of Pott Shrigley. The bust of Sumner was exhibited
at the Royal Academy in 1848, and at the same time a cast of
it was on display in Macclesfield Town Hall. The Macclesfield
Courier commented that "the success of this rising young
artist has been almost without parallel" [16, 15 July 1848].
In spite of a growing reputation, Gatley remained in tight financial
circumstances. In 1852 he moved to Rome, where he took a studio
on the Pincian Hill. Here, he still struggled to find adequate
patronage, as his letters home show. In 1860 the Rev Sumner wrote
to Gatley, mentioning an old acquaintance with artistic ambitions;
Gatley replied "I certainly pity him if he does not pocket
10 times per annum more than I do" . Gatley's letters,
incidentally, also suggest complex (and contested) Gatley family
properties and finances in Kerridge.
Gatley exhibited his bas-relief of 'Pharaoh and his Hosts' at
the International Exhibition in London in 1862. This was to be
the occasion of Gatley's last visit to England; he died from
dysentery in Rome on 28 June 1863, and is buried in the English
cemetery there (picture above right). The rumor that he was
poisoned by jealous Italian sculptors was prevalent in Kerridge
for many years. An obituary for Gatley appeared in the Art Journal: "He
had a mind of singular independence. The style he chose admitted
of no facile compromise of the classic with the pictorial. It
descended not to seek an easily purchased popularity by softly
blended forms after the manner of the Romantics. The school to
which he belonged was stern and strict. The English public failed
to comprehend the largeness of his manner" .
Alfred Gatley's diary and letter books and desk, a portrait
of Gatley painted in Rome in 1862, a bust of Milton in Kerridge
stone (1833), a reclining figure of a young girl, 'Echo' (1850),
and a bas-relief panel 'The Triumph of Britannia', all by Gatley,
are listed in Raymond Richards' Manor of Gawsworth (1974 edition)
as being in the Gawsworth Hall collection . 'Echo' is illustrated
in Richards' book, as it is in the brochure for the first Bollington
Festival in 1964, which also contains a photograph of Gatley,
impressively wild in hair, beard and eye . Other works by
Gatley are (or were recently) at Lyme Hall; Salford City Art
Gallery; St Mary's Church, Disley; Mottram in Longdendale Church;
and Bollington Medical Centre .
William Broster, it seems to me, made a good point when he wrote
that "it is unfortunate and regrettable that nothing in
[Gatley's] native village remains to perpetuate his memory and
outstanding eminence as a sculptor of national fame in the Victorian
We have put right the last regret above on the 200th anniversary
of Gatley's birth, 15 January 2016 - see top of page. [Webmaster]
References in this section marked [nn]
16. MACCLESFIELD COURIER, microfilm, Macclesfield Public Library
27. William S. Broster, BOLLINGTON & KERRIDGE 1830-1980,
35. W. Norton Betts, BOLLINGTON THROUGH THE CENTURIES, 1934
47. DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY, 1993 ed., vol 7
48. ALFRED GATLEY'S DIARY AND LETTERBOOKS, from a transcript
formerly in the possession of Mrs Rathbone, Bollington Cross
49. Raymond Richards, MANOR OF GAWSWORTH, 1974 edition
50. ALFRED GATLEY, KERRIDGE BOY WHO BECAME A SCULPTER (sic),
Bollington Festival Brochure, 1964
51. John Earles, HISTORY OF OLD MACCLESFIELD, one of series
of articles in the Macclesfield Courier, 31 March 1917
57. Rupert Gunnis, DICTIONARY OF BRITISH SCULPTORS 1660-1851,
revised ed (nd)
58. NOTES ON THE WORKS OF ALFRED GATLEY, handwritten ms in
hands of Dr John Coope (now in Bollington Civic Society collection)
Clicking the reference description takes you
back to the text
Ridge & Ingersley Vale Historical Report, George Longden
for the KRIV Project, 2002. Document
Acknowledgements | Your