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Thoughts, Verses and Songs, by Claribel

by Ruth Gatenby

Thoughts, Verses and Songs

Thoughts, Verses and Songs

Inscription by Claribel's husband

Inscription by Claribel's husband

Some readers will already know that items relating to Louth-born “Claribel” were recently purchased at auction by the museum.  Claribel, Mrs Charlotte Barnard, born Charlotte Alington Pye, was a well-known poet, ballad and hymn writer, composer and singer; general information about her is in the Louth Museum blog dated 2 December 2003,

Our new acquisitions are two paintings of Charlotte, a large commonplace book, and a small printed volume of her work.  We are delighted to have these in our museum collection, and you will hear more about them in the future.  At this point, I would like to focus on the small book and the route by which the four items have returned to Louth.

The book, “Thoughts, Verses and Songs”, contains poetry and prose, and was published in 1877, eight years after Claribel died.  We already have a copy of this book in the museum, but what makes the new one special is its inscription, “Muriel Vera Melosine Cary Barnard from her father Oct 31st 91”, showing that it was given by Charlotte’s husband Rev Charles Cary Barnard to his daughter Muriel.

Charles and Charlotte Barnard had no children.  In 1870, the year after Charlotte died, Charles married a young lady called Alice Rose de Selvia Solis.  Although Charles had been rector of Brocklesby in Lincolnshire, he retired to live with Alice in Kensington, London, where they had three sons and three daughters.  At the time of the inscription, 18-year-old Muriel was the only surviving daughter.  The other two daughters had died at the ages of 3 and 11.  Muriel would have been very precious to her parents.  Mrs Alice Barnard, too, died only a few weeks after Charles gave this book to Muriel; she was only 41.  Muriel must have taken on a lot of caring duties for her younger brothers.

The book is not in mint condition – clearly it has been much handled, whether by Charles, Muriel or other members of the family, indicating that it was a book which was significant to them.

The probate records show that when Charles died in 1905, he left “the household effects belonging to his first wife” to Muriel who had been living with her father in his old age.  Muriel remained unmarried; she died in 1959 and Claribel’s items eventually passed to her niece, the mother of the lady who for many years has been their custodian until they came to Louth.