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George Heath


The Moorland Poet

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George Heath would be totally forgotten today were it not for the efforts of the three men who did so much to keep the poet’s name alive. Rev. James Badnall, H.W. Foster and Francis Redfern were responsible for the two Memorial Editions of Heath’s work as well as the monument over the poet’s grave in Horton churchyard. Any information I come across regarding these three will be added to this page.





I am indebted to Alan Bednall for the above photograph of Rev. James Badnall. Alan has a website about the Badnall/Bednall families, which includes a page devoted to Rev. James Badnall.


The memorial plaque on St. Luke’s Church, where Rev. James Badnall was vicar for 33 years.



(1848 - 1929)


      “My dear old friend and fellow-toiler came up for just an hour. He is still as earnest and persevering as ever. He and I started together in the life struggle. We cannot be said to have fought shoulder to shoulder, for our paths have lain apart, and he, I believe, has, through my ill-health and one thing and another, gained upon me. But we have always been one in heart, and still we are agreed our motto must be steadily onward.”

The subject of this undated entry in George Heath's diary (written a few months before he died) is Herbert Wilson Foster, who was born at Endon on 18th January 1848. According to The Old Road To Endon (ed. Robert Speake, publ. Department of Adult Education, Keele University, 1974):

"He attended the Hanley School of Art and was awarded a Bronze Medal in 1865, and in 1866 he won the Silver Medal of the Science and Art Department. This was followed in 1872 by the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Painters, an award which placed him in high esteem as an artist."

In 1890, Foster moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme and in 1891 he gained a National Scholarship at South Kensington. He worked for Mintons in Stoke-on-Trent as an artist (working at one point on the tile panels of the Victoria and Albert Museum) and continued his studies in Paris and Belgium. He eventually settled in Nottingham, taking up a position at the School of Art. Which explains why a painting of Endon's May Queen (which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1893) now hangs in the office of the Mayor of Rushcliffe, West Bridgford, Nottingham. Alan Bednall sent me the picture below of part of this painting.


His pupils at Nottingham included Dame Laura Knight and her husband Harold Knight, and Mrs. M. Quillick, O.B.E., designer of the Queen's coinage. In The Old Road To Endon there are these two monochrome reproductions of Foster's paintings of local pub scenes.


Two Minton plaques designed by H. W. Foster:

Picture Picture

I also found the following information on the Nottinghamshire County Council site:

“Herbert Wilson Foster was born in 1848. He was a student at the Nottingham School of Art and took up a post as a teacher there from 1893. He also worked for a time at the Minton factory as a porcelain decorator, painting contemporary personalities, including the Royal Family, as well as animals and birds. His paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy and in Europe.

When he died at his home in West Bridgford in 1929, the Principal of the Nottingham School of Art, Mr J Else, was quoted in the obituary which appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post: 'Mr Foster was one of the most distinguished life masters in the country. He was certainly the best man we have ever had in that time. He was a brilliant student, and an exhibitor at the Royal Academy'.

Nottinghamshire Archives holds a collection of diaries, letters and pictures of Herbert Wilson Foster.”


"Figure Study of a Miner" (1900) by Herbert Wilson Foster




(1823 - 1895)


Francis Redfern was born in Uttoxeter in 1823, the son of John and Anne Redfern. In 1850 he married Ellen Johnson. He worked as a cooper and wrote a history of Uttoxeter which was first published in 1865. In 1870 he compiled and edited the first Memorial Edition of George Heath’s poetry. In 1875 his own slim volume of verse, Dove Valley Rhymes was published. The second Memorial Edition appeared in 1880 and in 1886 the second edition of his History and Antiquities of the Town and Neighbourhood of Uttoxeter, with Notices of Adjoining Places was published by Allbut & Daniel of Hanley and Simpkin, Marshall and Co. of London. He died in 1895 and is buried in St. Mary the Virgin’s churchyard in Uttoxeter.

History and Antiquities of the Town and Neighbourhood of Uttoxeter, with Notices of Adjoining Places and Dove Valley Rhymes are both available at the Internet Archive. 

If you want to find out more about Francis Redfern I would direct you to the Uttoxeter Heritage Centre which was formerly Redfern’s house.




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