Marking the centenary of world renowned collector and scientist
His home South Lodge caught world attention 10 years ago when the world’s finance ministers descended to sort out the ‘crash’ of 2008, yet the former owner, Frederick DuCane Godman, is virtually unknown today outside specialist areas. In his day, though, he corresponded with scientific greats such as Darwin, collected the finest Islamic pottery in the world and sponsored major expeditions to discover lost civilisations. Today he lies in Cowfold cemetery under a simple decorative cross. However, his legacy in research and collecting lives on as last year The British Museum opened a major permanent exhibition on Islamic culture, The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World which features his pottery. In the hall of the Natural History Museum there is a bronze plaque recording his generosity and a medal is awarded in his name each year for new ornithological work. It is fitting that in the Year of Culture, Horsham Museum & Art Gallery is holding a small temporary exhibition on him and his collections, a prelude to a larger exhibition in 2020.
With the help of the British Museum we will be showcasing specially taken photographs of some of his outstanding Islamic pottery. These will be complementing images from an unbound copy of his privately printed book on Islamic tiles that will adorn the room. They will feature alongside paintings of the family who lived at South Lodge, the home he had built in the 1880s, and where, throughout his life, he displayed his growing collection of ceramics.
The Museum is delighted to announce that a world authority on Islamic pottery, Dr Venetia Porter, of The British Museum will be speaking at The Capitol on 2 April at 2pm – 3.30pm on The Godman Collection at the British Museum, as part of the Museum’s Year of Culture events. Tickets for this special event are priced at £5 and are available from the Capitol box office on http://www.thecapitolhorsham.com/ or 01403 750220.
Frederick was a man who was much respected in Victorian and Edwardian society gaining fellowships and recognition for his work from leading scientific and cultural societies. He was a Trustee of the British Museum, a Member of the Royal Institute, awarded an honorary degree by Oxford University, President of the Royal Entomological Society, Vice-President and Fellow of the Zoological Society, on the board and Fellow of the Royal Geographic and Geological Societies, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Secretary and later President of the British Ornithological Union, Honorary member of the American Ornithological Union and a Fellow of the Linnean Society.
He was a founding member of the British Ornithological Union and an avid collector of specimens as well as the art of the illustrator. On display will be prints from the John Gould bird books; he owned the original watercolours from the publications, which were dispersed around the world in 1994 following the death of his unmarried daughters who played a notable role, as Frederick did, in local society.
One of Fredrick’s finest achievements was the publication of the monumental multi-volume Biologia Centrali-Americana, 63 volumes of detailed research on the natural history and archaeology of Central America. Without his financial support and ambition it would not have been completed or even published. He dedicated the work to his second wife Alice with whom he set out on his original expeditions to the region. There he collected some examples of pre-Columbian pottery as well as entomology and ornithology.