MC:P309 Papers of John Churms, Lay Clerk 1874-94
John Churms was originally appointed as a supernumerary alto Lay Clerk at Magdalen College on 24 March 1874 at the age of 29, and soon became a Lay Clerk. He had previously been a Lay Vicar of Lincoln Cathedral (PR/2/5 p. 172). In January 1894, the then Organist, John Varley Roberts, had expressed his concerns on Churms’s ‘inadequacy’ (PR/2/11, p. 193), and he was asked to retire in Michaelmas that year, after which he was given a pension of £40 a year. Family tradition had it that Churms was also attached to Magdalen College School in an unknown capacity.
These papers were given to the archives by Churms’s great-granddaughter in June 2008 as Accession No. 08/192. The most important part of the collection is a group of letters to Churms from Sir John Stainer (Organist 1860–72; Heather Professor of Music 1889–1901; Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College 1892) from the 1890s. Stainer evidently used Churms’s skills as a music copyist to help prepare music examples as handouts at his professorial lectures.
Catalogued in June 2008.
MC:P309/C1 – LETTERS TO JOHN CHURMS FROM SIR JOHN STAINER
This correspondence is evidently only a portion of a more extensive one, now lost, because there are some letters which lack envelopes, some envelopes which contained letters now lost, and only a few cases where both letter and envelope survive.
MC:P309/C1/1 8 Sep 1893
Card, envelope missing, from Stainer (address not given) to Churms concerning notices in the Oxford Gazette, presumably concerning one of Stainer’s professorial lectures.
MC:P309/C1/2 20 Dec 1893
Letter, envelope missing, from Stainer (address South Parks Road) to Churms, concerning copying out some orchestral parts.
MC:P309/C1/3 7 Jan 1894
Envelope which once contained a letter from Stainer, addressed to Churms at Magdalen College (altered to 86 James Street, Cowley Road).
MC:P309/C1/4 19 Jan 1894
Letter, envelope missing, from Stainer (address South Parks Road) to Churms, concerning corrections to a musical handout in a forthcoming lecture, and discussing music examples to be performed during it.
MC:P309/C1/5 28 Jun 1894
Letter, envelope missing, from Stainer (address South Parks Road) to Churms, on preparing illustrations for lectures on Messiah, a mass by Tye, and on ‘Solfaing’.
MC:P309/C1/6 4 Sep 1894
Envelope which once contained a letter from Stainer, addressed to Churms at 86 James Street, Cowley Road.
MC:P309/C1/7 15 Sep 1896
Letter, envelope missing, from Stainer (no address given) to Churms arranging some unspecified copying.
MC:P309/C1/8 24 Nov 1896
Card, envelope missing, from Stainer (no address given) to Churms, thanking him for a letter on unspecified business.
MC:P309/C1/9 23 Jun 1897
Letter, envelope missing, from Stainer to Churms, asking him to help with ‘some troublesome work’ (presumably copying out some musical examples).
MC:P309/C1/10 17 Dec 1897
Card with envelope from Stainer (no address given, but envelope postmarked Oxford ) to Churms (address 60 Bartlemas Road, Cowley St. John, Oxford), asking him to copy out 2 ‘secular songs’ to be lithographed for Stainer’s next lecture.
MC:P309/C1/11 1 Nov 1898
Envelope which once contained a letter from Stainer, addressed to Churms at 60 Bartlemas Road, Cowley St. John, Oxford.
MC:P309/C1/12 2 Nov 1899
Letter with envelope from Stainer (address, the Athenaeum) to Churms (address, Magdalen College) on delivering music copies to his house.
MC:P309/C1/13 26 Nov 1899
Letter, envelope missing, from Stainer (address South Parks Road) to Churms on copying out a Service by Daniel Purcell.
MC:P309/MS1 – MUSIC MANUSCRIPT
Manuscript book of psalm chants inscribed on the front cover “Magdalen College Chants for Male Voices”. The chants are by several composers from several centuries, the most recent being by John Varley Roberts. It is possible that the book is written out by Churms, who was evidently in demand as a copyist (see above).
MC:P309/P1 – CARTOON OF JOHN STAINER
MC:P309/P1/1 29 Aug 1891
Cartoon of Sir John Stainer by ‘Spy’ (Sir Leslie Ward), published in Vanity Fair, 29 August 1891. At the bottom is a short dedicatory inscription from Stainer to Churms.
MC:P309/X1 – MUSIC BILL, 1906
MC:P309/X1/1 May 1906
Music Bill for Chapel services for the week beginning 20 May 1906. This is the only known music list to survive between 1857 and 1916.
MC:P309/X2 – EPHEMERA ON HOLMAN HUNT’S PAINTING OF MAY MORNING
William Holman Hunt’s painting, May Morning on Magdalen Tower, was painted in 1889–90, when Churms was still a Lay Clerk at the College, hence Churms’s interest in it. The family used to own an engraving of the painting.
MC:P309/X2/1 c. 1890
Key to the portraits in Holman Hunt’s May Morning on Magdalen Tower. Churms was not among those identified. This document is in very poor condition.
MC:P309/X2/2 c. 1890
Explanatory pamphlet to accompany an exhibition of Holman Hunt’s painting of May Morning in the Gainsborough Gallery in Old Bond Street.