Neglected

As you will know, the whole point of this website and the 2016 exhibition we put together is to try to help restore some recognition for the achievements of Margaret Agnes Rope.
Not only is she barely recognised in her own land, but hardly even in the county where she lived and worked.

The sad fact is that Margaret is almost forgotten in her home-town of Shrewsbury (the Shropshire county town where her greatest work is present) as well as neglected in art-history in general.
This is very difficult to explain this neglect when you consider the quality and the geographical range of her work. Is it because women artists are still undervalued (see Neglected Women Artists)?

Many people do not believe us when we tell them quite how much historians have marginalised her. But, if you want the facts of how absent from history she has become, here they are:

* Who Was Who 1929-40 lists Ellen Mary Rope (Marga’s sculptor aunt) – but not Marga.
*  Who Was Who (going back to 1897) mentions over 90,000 people – but not Marga
* The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography omits her
*  The Dictionary of Women Artists (ed: Delia Gaze) does have entries for stained-glass artists – but not Marga
*  The Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900 (Ed: Petteys, 1985) does not mention Marga
* The Dictionary of British Artists 1880–1940 by Johnson & Greutzner (publ 1976). lists 41,000 artists – including other stained-glass artists – but not Marga! (see pic below)!

Excerpt from The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940

* Most art, heritage or history books that give Margaret more than a mention are long out of date – with one honourable exception
* Mapping The (..Art..) Profession 1851-1951 has no mention of her in its Stained Glass references
* The ‘Stained Glass of The Midlands’ edition of the respected HistoryWM Magazine failed to mention her, even in passing
* An article in The Shropshire Magazine by John Hobbs (1953) – ‘Artists from Shropshire‘ – mentions thirty-eight (very) obscure sculptors & painters – but not Marga.
* Only one British museum has any of her works (see Judith & Holofernes).  American museums do have her work, but rarely show it.

* The Gazeteer of Shropshire by Mike Raven mentions Neville Cardus the cricket writer in its list of Famous Shrewsbury People – but not Margaret Rope.  In fact she is not mentioned in the whole book.
* Shropshire by Bob Burrows mentions the rather obscure Bishop Reginald Heber, but not Marga.
* Shropshire by John Shipley has a list of famous Salopians … no mention of Marga
* Churches Of Shropshire by John Leonard … no mention
* Shropshire by Brian Bailey … no mention
* Shropshire (King’s England series by Arthur Mee, 1939) … no mention

* The official Shropshire History Archives website, DarwinCounty, does not mention her at all
* Shrewsbury Civic Society’s ‘Famous Folk’ webpage does not mention her (though it does list Shrewsbury Biscuits !)
* The town Civic Society’s ‘Souvenir Guide’ mentions Margaret only in passing, with just a phrase…
* The official Shrewsbury Tourism website’s list of the town’s Famous Folk mentions footballer Joe Hart – but not Margaret.
* A very good, small booklet-guide to her Shrewsbury Cathedral windows, Letting in the Light of Christ by Roger Hall came out in 2008.  It was a privately-produced limited run – and sadly is out of print now.
* The official Shrewsbury Visitor Information Shop sold the Margaret Rope Of Shrewsbury photo-book during 2017/18, but won’t stock it now – though it is available in shops elsewhere.

However… things are slowly starting to change

* A British museum is at last displaying a work by Marga. Shrewsbury Museum now has her Judith & Holofernes panel at its entrance.
* There have only been two exhibitions (excluding exhibtions mounted by the Arts & Crafts Society in the early 1900s) in which her work has been featured, but at least they are recent – both in the last forty years.
* With support from the Rope Family Charitable Trust, a custom-created archive has been established in Suffolk. It holds many of the existing documents relating to Margaret and her siblings, including the archive which was in store at Birmingham Museum until 2018.
* The Margaret Rope Appreciation Society was established in 2018 to find lost windows, help to restore neglected ones, and to urge small archives which hold documents & artefacts of Marga’s to recognise their significance.
*  A major new book ‘Arts and Crafts Stained Glass’ by the art-historian Peter Cormack was published in 2015 – and gives Marga honourable mentions.
* Margaret Rope Of Shrewsbury a photo-book guide to many of her windows, was published in May 2016.
* Shrewsbury RC Cathedral contains Margaret’s greatest works – but, until September 2016, its gift shop had just three postcards of her windows for sale. However, all has changed since then, and a wide range of wonderful new cards of her works there (photographed by Victoria Keens) is now available.
* The new restaurant/cafe at Shrewsbury RC Cathedral now holds on its walls some beautifully designed (by Nat Stevenson) explanation-panels about Marga’s life & work.
* In 2018, in a joint project between Shrewsbury Civic Society, the Margaret Rope Appreciation Group and Shrewsbury College, a blue plaque was mounted on one of the homes that she lived in in Shrewsbury.
* The national Stained Glass Museum now has Margaret Rope Of Shrewsbury, a photo-book guide to many of her windows, on sale as part of its permanent stock.

* A small publication referring to a series by Marga is still currently available: ‘A Celebration of the Martyrs, in Stained-Glass: Featuring the Windows in the Martyrs’ Shrine Created by Miss Margaret Rope’, which is a small booklet/guide published by Tyburn Convent (2007) about the windows in their chapel.

* …and… fortunately, thanks to an enthusiast, a Wikipedia entry outlining her life and main works has at last been compiled, as of Spring 2015

2 thoughts on “Neglected

  1. Margaret Agnes Rope’s windows in Wales can be found on the Stained Glass in Wales catalogue:
    http://stainedglass.llgc.org.uk/person/532.

    Two of her windows are also included in my recent book ‘Stained Glass from Welsh Churches’ as well as a large detail of her sister’s (Margaret Edith Aldrich) window in Esclusham, near Wrexham (not yet on the website).
    So I have done my best to ensure that she is not forgotten in Wales.

    Martin

    Like

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