HENRIETTA MARIA PEEL
Henrietta Maria Peel
was born, probably in Windhill, on
She attended the
In Windhill, as the dutiful daughter, she managed Crag Cottage, her father’s impressive new house in Briggate.
From the Memorial we learn that Henrietta was a well-educated, refined and cultivated lady who had a large circle of friends with whom she corresponded regularly and exchanged visits.
It is safe to assume that most of the company she kept came from the pampered classes – mainly the wives and daughters of her father’s wealthy manufacturing associates. Amongst these ladies of leisure she was regarded as an agreeable and esteemed companion. As a friend she was valued for her compassion and steadfastness.
In her personal life, Henrietta was evangelical and pious, apparently devoted to the Church. In all probability she undertook charitable works – a letter she wrote to a local charity, enclosing a sovereign, was greeted with rapturous applause when it was read out to the assembled worthies.
In 1846 she started a Diary, this being a daily record of the weather, her activities and of the friends she visited, entertained and exchanged correspondence with. The first entry, written on 4 January, is unusual in that it reported a newsworthy event: she was watching canal barges loaded with wool, lime and coal gliding past her window at Crag Cottage when she saw a body – probably that of local resident Peter Cowling, who drowned after falling in the Canal – being borne along the towpath from the Three-Rise Locks at Crag End to the nearby Kings Arms Inn. After registering her shock at the sight, Henrietta remarks tersely, “Another victim of intemperance”.
The Memorial was almost certainly written by her great friend, the local schoolteacher, Martha E Clough. It is essentially a compilation of selected entries from the Diary and a narrative of Henrietta’s last hours, together with the recollections, sprinkled with homilies, of her friends. Perhaps wishing to preserve the privacy of Henrietta’s friends, the author attempted to disguise their identities by using only the first and last letters of their names.
A previous borrower of Bradford Library’s copy has pencilled in a few of the names. Perhaps he or she had an intimate knowledge of Henrietta’s companions. Or perhaps not.
I have tried, with limited success, to decode the rest of the names and my efforts can be accessed here, in an annotated pdf file.
The present transcription was made from one of two copies owned by Bradford City Library. The only other copy in existence is thought to be in the British Library. The text has been faithfully followed, including printing errors, though the page layout has had to be disregarded. This version, which includes photographs of the original plates, can be accessed here.
After his daughter’s
death in 1863, William Peel commissioned a memorial window and plaque for
Click on the window sections below to see enlarged versions. Use your back button to return to this page.
The descriptions given below are best read from the bottom up.
The three-light window depicts, from left to right, Faith, Hope and Charity.
The upper part of the
window, which can only be properly viewed from the gallery, depicts scenes from
the gospels of John, Matthew and Mark – chapters that are concerned with
resurrection and eternal life. These are surmounted by three images of animals:
on the left is a swan with
her brood – this echo of an engraving on the title page of the 1611 King James
Bible may be intended to symbolize sacrifice and resurrection; on the right is a lamb holding
a banner – a visual representation of Jesus, the Lamb of God; at the apex of the
window, a hovering dove shown with a golden halo probably represents the Holy
on the left is a swan with her brood – this echo of an engraving on the title page of the 1611 King James Bible may be intended to symbolize sacrifice and resurrection;
on the right is a lamb holding a banner – a visual representation of Jesus, the Lamb of God;
at the apex of the window, a hovering dove shown with a golden halo probably represents the Holy Spirit.
Above each Virtue, partly obscured by the gallery, are three square panels with floral designs. This was a departure from the original drawings that appear in A Memorial of Henrietta Peel. In these sketches, the Astronomy Room at Crag Cottage appears above William's name; above Rebecca's name can be seen the family vault where she was already interred; and above Henrietta M's name is the new window itself. Click here for a drawing of the new window in situ above the church pews, with the memorial plaque to the left.
At the foot of the window, the three Virtues are seen in the typical iconography of cross, anchor and heart (represented as mother and children). The names of William, Rebecca and Henrietta M Peel are inscribed under Faith, Hope and Charity, reading from left to right.