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Bingham Gallery, Cirencester

PUBLISHED: 09:22 19 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:54 20 February 2013

Paintings by Joh Beecham on show in Cirencester's Bingham Gallery include 'The Wrecking of Lord Chandos' Coach'

Paintings by Joh Beecham on show in Cirencester's Bingham Gallery include 'The Wrecking of Lord Chandos' Coach'

For an artistic impression of Cirencester's past, you can do no better than visit The Bingham Gallery in Dyer Street - a fascinating collection of art that owes its origins to the town's greatest philanthropist.

THE MOOD on the streets of Cirencester is ugly. And it's about to get worse.


The mob of townsfolk is in no mood for compromise. After all, in this time of mistrust and violence, you need to be sure of exactly who your friends are. It's a pity Lord Chandos didn't think of that when he ventured in, as the King's representative, to call on locals to fight for the royal cause.


Did he recruit many loyal volunteers? Did he thump. In fact, as the mob turned nasty, he had unceremoniously to turn on his heels and flee back to Sudeley Castle, from whence he came, his grand coach half ripped to shreds. August 1652 was the month when the good people of Cirencester - with their Puritan leanings - made it clear that they were for the Parliamentarians and not the King.


If you missed the scene the first time, then don't despair. This early vignette from the Civil War was recreated by the 19th century Cirencester artist John Beecham. In a glorious painting, now hanging on the walls of Dyer House, you can see the fearful aristocrat barely escaping with his life, as the crowd spills the first blood of the Civil War. In the background is the King's


Head Hotel; dominating the scene is the familiar beauty of the parish church.


It forms part of a collection of artwork - including other paintings of the town by Beecham - which are displayed in the Bingham Gallery. Opening times are limited, but the opportunity to see them is well worth seizing. For one thing, Beecham's works are vivid portrayals of a town he loved, at crucial moments in its history - such as the canvas showing the doomed but calm Bishop Hooper on his way from Oxford to Gloucester to meet his fate: he was burned alive at the stake outside the cathedral gates for the crime of being an unrepentant heretic.


While the historical accuracy of these scenes is questionable - certainly the 16th and 17th century subjects would have been surprised by some of the Victorian details included - their sheer charm is undeniable. Everything about them exemplifies a highly personal and affectionate view of this Cotswold market town. And that's not just a reference to Beecham's artistic eye.


For Cirencester wouldn't have this treasure trove - or the building that houses it - were it not for another man who loved the town with equally fierce pride and an equally personal vision: Daniel George Bingham. It was he who, with unprecedented generosity, built and endowed Dyer House in Dyer Street, originally as a library for the town, as well as the Bingham Hall in King Street, which opened in 1908 to provide a venue for dances, entertainment and meetings of local clubs and societies.


Born in 1830 in Black Jack Street, Bingham was from a long-standing and well-respected Cirencester family. He went to the local grammar school before taking up a job with the Great Western Railway Company. Gaining valuable experience, he moved on to the Dutch-Rhenish Railways with spectacular success. When he joined the company, it was impoverished and failing; within a few years, he'd turned around its prospects and, in so doing, laid the foundation of his own great fortune. Although Bingham continued to live in Utrecht, he never lost his affection for his home town - he and his wife, who came from Kelmscott, would spend part of each year in England.


Now, of course, the town's library is run by Gloucestershire County Council and located in The Waterloo. But Daniel Bingham's dream lives on. The Bingham Gallery, where Beecham's works and others are housed, is the former Reading Room of the old library. Its refurbishment coincided with the 100-year opening of the original library. Next year will be the centenary of the Bingham Hall. The gallery also houses the magnificent Cirencester Millennium Embroidery, created by local embroiderers and representing the history of Cirencester over the last 2,000 years, from the coming of the Romans to 20th century scenes of cars and planes.


The embroidery is not only the latest artwork to depict the town; it's also one of the most beautiful. You can't help but feel both Mr Bingham and Mr Beecham would approve.





  • The Bingham Gallery displays a range of the Bingham Library Trust's art collection, together with the town council's Millennium Embroidery. Anyone interested in visiting the gallery should contact Cirencester Town Council (as agents for the Bingham Library Trust) on 01285 655646.

    THE MOOD on the streets of Cirencester is ugly. And it's about to get worse.


    The mob of townsfolk is in no mood for compromise. After all, in this time of mistrust and violence, you need to be sure of exactly who your friends are. It's a pity Lord Chandos didn't think of that when he ventured in, as the King's representative, to call on locals to fight for the royal cause.


    Did he recruit many loyal volunteers? Did he thump. In fact, as the mob turned nasty, he had unceremoniously to turn on his heels and flee back to Sudeley Castle, from whence he came, his grand coach half ripped to shreds. August 1652 was the month when the good people of Cirencester - with their Puritan leanings - made it clear that they were for the Parliamentarians and not the King.


    If you missed the scene the first time, then don't despair. This early vignette from the Civil War was recreated by the 19th century Cirencester artist John Beecham. In a glorious painting, now hanging on the walls of Dyer House, you can see the fearful aristocrat barely escaping with his life, as the crowd spills the first blood of the Civil War. In the background is the King's


    Head Hotel; dominating the scene is the familiar beauty of the parish church.


    It forms part of a collection of artwork - including other paintings of the town by Beecham - which are displayed in the Bingham Gallery. Opening times are limited, but the opportunity to see them is well worth seizing. For one thing, Beecham's works are vivid portrayals of a town he loved, at crucial moments in its history - such as the canvas showing the doomed but calm Bishop Hooper on his way from Oxford to Gloucester to meet his fate: he was burned alive at the stake outside the cathedral gates for the crime of being an unrepentant heretic.


    While the historical accuracy of these scenes is questionable - certainly the 16th and 17th century subjects would have been surprised by some of the Victorian details included - their sheer charm is undeniable. Everything about them exemplifies a highly personal and affectionate view of this Cotswold market town. And that's not just a reference to Beecham's artistic eye.


    For Cirencester wouldn't have this treasure trove - or the building that houses it - were it not for another man who loved the town with equally fierce pride and an equally personal vision: Daniel George Bingham. It was he who, with unprecedented generosity, built and endowed Dyer House in Dyer Street, originally as a library for the town, as well as the Bingham Hall in King Street, which opened in 1908 to provide a venue for dances, entertainment and meetings of local clubs and societies.


    Born in 1830 in Black Jack Street, Bingham was from a long-standing and well-respected Cirencester family. He went to the local grammar school before taking up a job with the Great Western Railway Company. Gaining valuable experience, he moved on to the Dutch-Rhenish Railways with spectacular success. When he joined the company, it was impoverished and failing; within a few years, he'd turned around its prospects and, in so doing, laid the foundation of his own great fortune. Although Bingham continued to live in Utrecht, he never lost his affection for his home town - he and his wife, who came from Kelmscott, would spend part of each year in England.


    Now, of course, the town's library is run by Gloucestershire County Council and located in The Waterloo. But Daniel Bingham's dream lives on. The Bingham Gallery, where Beecham's works and others are housed, is the former Reading Room of the old library. Its refurbishment coincided with the 100-year opening of the original library. Next year will be the centenary of the Bingham Hall. The gallery also houses the magnificent Cirencester Millennium Embroidery, created by local embroiderers and representing the history of Cirencester over the last 2,000 years, from the coming of the Romans to 20th century scenes of cars and planes.


    The embroidery is not only the latest artwork to depict the town; it's also one of the most beautiful. You can't help but feel both Mr Bingham and Mr Beecham would approve.





    • The Bingham Gallery displays a range of the Bingham Library Trust's art collection, together with the town council's Millennium Embroidery. Anyone interested in visiting the gallery should contact Cirencester Town Council (as agents for the Bingham Library Trust) on 01285 655646.



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