BENJAMIN GODFREY WINDUS ( 1790 - 1867 )
TOTTENHAM GREEN - COLLECTOR OF ARTS & FINE ANTIQUITIES
Benjamin Godfrey Windus was born in Bishopsgate, London on 15th January 1790 the son of Edward William and Mary Windus. The Windus family were well known as makers of high class carriages and harness makers and were prominent members of The Worshipful Company of Coach Makers which was one of the Livery companies of the City of London. The Company received its royal charter from Charles II in 1677. Under this charter no one could lawfully carry out the trade of coachmaker or coach harness maker within 20 miles of London without being a member of the Company.
|The Winduses were particularly successful and highly respected in their business, being the company engaged in to keep the Lord Mayor of Londons coach in good repair and to maintain its appearance with fresh crimson velvet for public display. The family provided four Winduses as Master of the Worshipful Guild of Coachmakers from 1794 to 1826, when Benjamin had that honour.||
BENJAMIN WINDUS -LIVERY COMPANY MEDALLION
|Benjamin Winduss inheritance was not solely derived from his familys coach-building business, however. His mothers father, Benjamin Godfrey, had built up a fortune making and selling Godfreys Cordial, a mixture of opium, treacle and spices which was marketed all over the country. Benjamin Windus was later to sell his grandfathers cordial business and thus he made his fortune from the proceeds of both cordials and carriages and from his directorship of Globe Insurance.|
|In September 1814
Benjamin married his first wife Mary Row, the daughter of William Row of Page Green
Tottenham, at All Hallows Church in Tottenham. They were to have two children
William Edward Windus (B c1828) and Mary Windus (B c 1830 Tottenham). It is not known if
his wife Mary died in childbirth but she died in January 1830 aged 36 years and there is a
memorial dedicated to her in Holy Trinity Church. In 1831 Benjamin Windus married his
second wife Margaret Armiger, the first cousin of his late wife, at St Botolphs
Church in Bishopsgate at a ceremony conducted by the Revd George Hodgson
Thompson the Minister of Holy Trinity Church,
Tottenham. Margaret Windus died in Tottenham in 1842.
From his father, the owner of the coachbuilding company in Bishopsgate, Benjamin Windus inherited in 1832 a unique and elegant cottage residence, or as John Ruskin was later to call it, a cheerful little villa in Tottenham. One of his first actions on moving in was to add a library to the side of the house where he shelved his books and displayed his growing collection of pictures. In 1835 Benjamin Windus commissioned a watercolour from John Scarlett Davis to celebrate the delights of his picture room which displayed many of his collection of fine watercolours
|A collection of
paintings and books is the focus of this interior composition. Paintings in large gold
frames occupy the walls on three sides of this long room. Appearing to be landscapes, the
paintings are evenly spaced and reach the height of the door mouldings. Two paintings rest
on red upholstered chairs placed alongside the right wall. The two children pictured are
believed to be William and Mary Windus.
Benjamin Windus was well known as a leading art collector of his time, with a large and important collection of Turner watercolours and David Wilkie drawings amongst his collection. He was also a supporter of the Pre-Raphaelites and had many paintings by Millais, Holman Hunt and Rossettis tutor Ford Maddox Brown.
THE HOUSE OF B.G WINDUS WAS ONCE SITUATED ON THE APEX SEPERATING PHILIP LANE AND CLYDE ROAD
THIS EXTRACT FROM AN 1864 MAP ALSO SHOWS HOLY TRINITY CHURCH ON TOTTENHAM GREEN
uncle, Thomas Windus, (1778-1854) was also a renowned collector of art and a particularly
active partner in the family coachbuilding business. Thomas Windus lived nearby at Gothic
Hall in Stamford Hill where he accommodated his museum of antiquities in a new wing which
may well have been the inspiration for Benjamins library.
|A regular visor to
the home of Benjamin in Windus was the artist John Ruskin who would immerse himself in the
Windus collection. However by far the most prominent of visitors to the house on Tottenham
Green was J.M.W Turner and Benjamin Windus was an avid collector of his works. His
collection in 1840 contained over 200 of Turners works with some 40 of the
picturesque views in England and Wales.
Windus was a man of his time and knew the art market well. He had a dealers instinct and knew when to buy and when to sell.
Benjamin Windus was very generous in allowing visitors to see his library and his art collection. Entry was by ticket only and always on Tuesday.
WORKS BY J.M.W TURNER (1775-1851)
It is known that Benjamin Windus was one of the chief collectors of Turners work and that he commissioned many paintings by him and he was believed to have the largest and finest collection of his works. Here are just two examples that have some tenuous but unproven Tottenham connections that could possibly have influenced Turner.
This picture was painted in 1824 and is of
BRIGHTHELMSTONE in Sussex which is now called Brighton. It depicts the old chain
pier and shows the Prince Regents pavilion in the centre.
This painting by Turner in 1808 shows the Martello
Towers on the south coast close to Bexhill in Sussex. The Martello Towers
were a defence against attack by Napoleon and had been constructed by William Hobson of
Tottenham. At a much later date than this picture, William Hobson was a visitor to the
house of Benjamin Windus at Tottenham Green.
Benjamin Windus died on the 8th July 1867. His death is registered in the Tottenham district but he was buried at the Church of St Peter, Rodmell near Lewes in Sussex. There is a plaque to commemorate his death displayed at Holy Trinity Church in Tottenham
ST PETER RODMELL LEWES - EAST SUSSEX
Pictured above is the Church of St Peter, Rodmell which is
the final resting place of Benjamin Godfrey Windus.
the Rev Pierre de Putron, was the vicar at St Peterís Rodmell
The collection of works of arts and antiquities of B.G Windus were auctioned in London after his death. When looking at the extensive list of items that were made available for auction it is hard to imagine just how much they would be worth today.
Article prepared by Alan Swain - July 2015
Background Image- Lord Mayor of London's Coach- At one time maintained by Windus & Co, Bishopsgate