Laying the Foundation Stone 26th July 1879.
Cannon Francis Morse (1818-86), Vicar of St Mary's in Nottingham (1864-1884), Chairman of the School Board and a founder of the Nottingham High School for Girls, brought the proceedings to a close that day with a few well chosen words. Rev. Morse and his wife, Clarissa Catharine nee Gedge, to whom he was married in 1849 and with whom he had nine (possibly eleven) children, were visitors at Whitehall at this time and were long-standing friends of Mr and Mrs George Moore. Reverend Morse and his family resided at St Mary's vicarage pictured above (centre), situated opposite the Nottingham Castle Gatehouse entrance and the first residential property to be built in 1809 on The Park Estate, the Castle's former deerpark.
Transcript of Press Report for Saturday August 2nd 1879
The ceremony of laying the foundation of the hall at Mealsgate which is intended to perpetuate the memory of the late Mr George Moore was performed on Saturday by Mrs Moore. After a showery morning the rain stopped, and the considerable number of people who assembled on this occasion had fortunately fine weather, otherwise the pleasing nature of the ceremony would have been to a great extent destroyed. Mrs Moore drove from Whitehall, and at the site of the proposed building was received by the Rev. W. M. Gunson. There were also present Mr W. Fletcher M.P., Canon and Mrs Morse, Nottingham; Miss Bayley, Mr S. Hough, London; Mr S. P. Foster, Killhow; Mr Thomas Moore, Mr and Mrs Banks (sister of the late George Moore), Mr Potter and Mr Penn, Mealsgate; the members of the committee, and a large number of people who live in the neighbourhood. Punctually at half-past two the proceedings were commenced by the singing of a hymn, after which the Rev. W. M. Gunson, in a special prayer, asked for the divine blessing on the undertaking.
The Rev. W. M. Gunson then said that before proceeding to the ceremony of the day he should like to explain briefly the objects and intentions of the founders of the George Moore Memorial. The first object was to commemorate Mr George Moore. His friends had put up a monument in AllHallows Church and the public admiration of London and the two counties had raised one at the Cathedral at Carlisle. Then there was a scholarship scheme , which was a more permanent memorial than even the marble, and by means of which any specially bright lad or lass in a country village school could get the best education in the land, and rise to such eminence as their ability and character might qualify them to adorn. It was meant that this memorial hall should come midway between the other two - that it should be of a more public and general character than the former, which was private and domestic, and at the same time more limited and local than the county memorial. George Moore was a man worthy of it. Born in this neighbourhood and having gone to London he achieved six notable things. In the first place he established a great mercantile house; in the second he became a wise and kind employer of labour, a true “captain of industry”, as Carlyle called it; thirdly, he won the esteem and respect and admiration of his fellow men; in the fourth place he he had civic honours and seats in Parliament offered him - obtruded upon him, he might say; in the fifth place he raised himself to social equality with the highest and noblest in the land; and last and least he made a great fortune. He (Mr Gunson) had no great respect for simple money making , but neither did he despise it. Money, like fire and water, was a good servant but a bad master. It was a useful instrument , neither good not bad in itself, but its moral character depended on the use to which it was put. In making money Mr Moore was one of many, but in the use to which he put it he was unique and alone. His money was employed in every possible way in doing good. He would be known in history as the first man who relieved hungry Paris after the dreadful siege of 1871. In London he built a church and schools in a poor and neglected district. He was one of the founders of the great school at Pinner for sons and daughters of commercial travellers, a class to which he himself belonged, and in which he won his spurs. He helped hospitals and homes for incurables, and city missions.; he visited in person the poor and outcasts of the great city; he omitted no means of alleviating suffering and ignorance and misfortune and misery. Coming nearer home to his own county they found he was the most liberal friend the Cumberland Infirmary ever had; that he was one of the founders of the Convalescent Institution at Silloth; that in this immediate neighbourhood he had given an impulse to education by competitive examinations that was imply incalculable; that he had helped to build schools at Bolton Low Houses and All Hallows; that there was not a primary school within ten miles that had not benefitted by his influence in some way or other ; that he had founded a circulating library which had ended in establishing fixed libraries in most or all the villages that belonged to the circuit; that he introduced Scripture readers to make known the word of God to the poor in their own houses; and, that if he could not say with irreverence that “he went about doing good” , he could yet express his firm conviction that for many of the latter years of Mr Moore’s life he consciously and deliberately tried to do all the good in his power. In promoting all these objects he gave not merely money but what was of much more value to him, namely, his personal care and services. He was a noble Christian man, a genuine Cumbrian Worthy, and an illustration of Burn’s adage that
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp ,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.
Their first object was to keep green the memory of such a man. They wanted to hold him up for example and imitation, and although a large heart as well as a large fortune was necessary for performing such works as he performed, they wanted to cultivate the large heart and encourage their neighbours to imitate him so far as their fortunes would allow. Their second object was to do some good to their neighbours. It would be absurd to erect a statue to him, or any other useless memorial, and accordingly they had selected a form of memorial which they were sure would have had his entire approval. They wanted to benefit their neighbours, and especially the hard-handed sons of toil. With this view they first of all proposed to care for their creature comforts. In this hall a man would be able to get a cheap and good cup of coffee or cocoa or other harmless refreshment. He had no hostility to the publicans in that neighbourhood, - in their legitimate trade he wished them all prosperity , - but he did hope that their excellent cocoa and coffee would be successful rivals to the publicans’ excellent gin and beer. (CHEERS AND LAUGHTER) In the next place they proposed to have a room for amusements, such as chess, backgammon and other innocent games of skill and chance. Thirdly,they would have a reading room which would be supplied with the daily and weekly newspapers and other ephemeral publications, and attached to it would be a valuable and useful library of books. In this particular they conceived that they were imitating the character of George Moore’s own acts of beneficence , namely, in putting into the hands of their poorer neighbours the means of self-education and self-elevation. (CHEERS) In the fourth place, in the hall proper they would provide a room for concerts, lectures and other entertainments of the kind. They hoped also that it might serve for club meetings, parish meetings, and similar assemblages, and also for meetings of local associations connected with the great societies, such as the Bible Society. They hoped also it might be used for religious services, those of the Church of England among others, but not for those exclusively, for in commemorating a man of such broad and catholic views as George Moore any narrow limits woul;d be out of place, and any stickling for excessive orthodoxy absurd. These were their main objects, and he felt justified in saying that the highest ambition of the founders and builders of this hall would be not only satisfied but highly gratified if in future generations it was found that the real George Moore Memorial was not so musch in the material building and its fittings as in the increased welfare and improved moral tone of those for whose use it was intended, and to whose service it would, when completed, be dedicated. (CHEERS)
Mrs Moore then, at the request of Mr Gunson, approached and performed in a very graceful manner the ceremony of the day, and declared the foundation stone to be duly laid. Under the stone were deposited copies of local newspapers, along with a number of coins of the realm. At the invitation of Mr Gunson, Mr Fletcher addressed the assemblage. He said that when he came here today he did not expect to have to address them. He came amongst them as a spectator, but having been asked by Mr Gunson - or rather by the Committee, - he would make a few remarks, but would be very brief. Ever since the project of this hall had been started he had been very much intereted in it. As an employer in this neighbourhood to a great extent,he was very glad to have the opportunity of helping to provide something to help them and to benefit them. Great credit was due to the late Mr Moore for the interest he always took in the welfare of the people of that place. A great deal had been said about the evil of intemperance and no doubt intemperance was agreat evil, - and the best way to lay the axe to the root of the evil was to place within the reach of the people such means as that hall would supply t couneract the influence of he public house. He thought hat the erectin of that hall ould always keep green in their memories the kindness of him whose name it bears, and they could have nothing more pleasing than the presence of Mrs Moore here today to perform the kind act she had done in laying the foundation stone. He would only say further that he wished every success to the George Moore Memorial Hall. (APPLAUSE)
Mr Martin, on being called, read the following address-
On behalf of the Committee it is perhaps desirable that something should be said with reference to the nature and origins of the present uindertaking, and also as regards the purposes it is ultimately intended to serve and the benefits likely to be derived from it by the working classes of the neighbourhood. The lamented and sudden death of the late George Moore - one of Cumberland’s noblest worthies - was, as might have been expected, most keenly felt in this district, and a strong feeling was prevalent that some memorial should be erected in or near his native place. Not that his name was thought likely to be forgotten by succeeding generations, but rather that his memory might be cherished and kept green, as it were, and his manly, energetic, and generous character kept before our eyes as worthy of imitation. In response to that feeling a public meeting was held at the beginning of this year, when it was unanimously resolved “That steps be taken to raise an In Memoriam Hall, to be called the George Moore Memorial Hall” which was intended to include an Undenominational Mission Hall and a Working Men’s Club and Reading Room. A scheme similar to this it was known had been well nigh matured by Mr Moore himself a short time previous to his death, and, had he lived, would undoubtedly have been carried out by him. . This fact, together with the requirements of a rapidly increasing population, led the Committee to adopt the idea of the present scheme. To enable them to carry out the project the Committee appealed to the public for subscriptions, and I am glad to say that that appeal has been so far successful as to warrant them entering into arrangements for the erection and completion of a building worth of the name; and the pleasing ceremony which, at the request of the Committee, Mrs Moore has now so graciously performed is but the sowing of seed from which it is the wish of all concerned an abundant harvest may be reaped. That an institution of this kind is and will be required in the neighbourhood there cannot, we think, be the slightest doubt; but should there be any doubt in the matter at all we need only mention the fact that the far-seeing mind of George Moore himself saw the necessity for it that they may be dispelled for ever. As regards the uses to which the building shall be put, the hall properly speaking is intended in the first place for public worship in which alone shall be taught the broad principles of Christianity in the most liberal and enlightened sense of the term. It may also be used as a place for public meetings, lectures, concerts, &c., subject, of course to the approval of the Committee. The accommodation of the working men’s club and reading room consists of a reading room, library and chess room, which is intended shall be suitably furnished with books, papers and everything likely to add to the comfort and enjoyment of those who choose to spend their leisure hours in this way. The cocoa room scheme has also engaged the attention of the Committee ,and seeing that there is ample room , and that a Keeper will be continually in the place, this department can be taken up at any time without much extra trouble or cost. The benefits likely to be derived from the whole scheme by the working men of the district will no doubt soon become apparent, and the Committee will make every effort to make the place as attractive as possible. Already the completion of the building is looked forward to with pleasure by a large number, and I have no doubt but that they will, as a body, fully appreciate and enjoy the means so kindly placed within their reach of improving their minds and enjoying themselves sociably of an evening away from the baneful influences of the public house. (CHEERS)
Canon Morse then said : By Mrs Moore’s request, and in her name, I beg very heartily to thank you for the kind feeling you have expressed towards her by your request that she should lay this stone; and I may perhaps not inappropriately perform this little office for her as I have known Mr and Mrs Moore for many years, and am now, as hundreds of all classes have often been before, a visitor at Whitehall for health’s sake. Mrs Moore desires also to thank you for connecting her dear husband’s name with this building which you are able to raise for for the mental and moral improvement and the general happiness of the working people, for such objects were always very near indeed to his heart. George Moore, indeed, I may say, and you will agree with me in saying it, needs no monument or stone or marble to commemorate his name. His life is his monument. The good which he has done is a monument which will not decay.
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.
But nevertheless it must be, and it is gratification to all who loved him, to see that thew working men, and his own immediate neighbours, who must have known him best, are erecting a building for purposes such as his whole life advanced, and connecting with it his name as an example of what an honest man of God may do by “ giving all diligence to add to his faith manly energy, and to manly energy knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness universal charity”. It is the earnest wish and prayer of Mrs Moore that all that is done in this building may tend to promote such a spirit as this among those who use it. (CHEERS)
This brought the proceedings on the site to a close. Afterwards a substantial tea qwas provided for all the workmen on the premises of Mr Thomas Moore.
The George Moore Memorial Hall is to be erected on the left of the road from Mealsgate to Leesrigg, and is about two hundred yards away from the farm house of Mr Thomas Moore, the place of Mr George Moore’s nativity. It is being built of red freestone, and will be a handsome and substantial, but by no means showy building of two storeys in height. On the ground floor is a reading room 24ft 6 in by 15 ft. ; a chess room, 15 ft. by 12 ft.; a library 15 ft. by 12 ft.; a kitchen 15 ft. by 12 ft. ; and a bedroom. At the back is a yard with outhouses of various kinds. On the first floor is the main room of the building, - the spacious lecture hall, 40 ft. 6 in. by 24 ft. 6 in. ; and two bedrooms. Above these are attic rooms. On the front of the building will be inserted a tablet bearing the inscription “The George Moore Memorial Hall, 1879”. The architect is Mr Eaglesfield, of Maryport, and the contractor for the whole of the work is Mr Lattimer, of Fletcher Town. View Plan for Memorial Hall