Fargues & Co Lithographers, 1890
Dimensions: 20cm x 26cm
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Hotelier Frederick Gordon bought Bentley Priory in 1882 and concentrated his efforts on developing the Mansion House and surrounding gardens into an exclusive hotel. In order to improve transport links to his hotel, in 1890 Gordon raised funds to extend the railway line from Harrow to Stanmore in collaboration with local resident Charles Edward Keyser, founder and chairman of the Colne Valley Water Company.
The Railway Opening invitation is slightly smaller than A4 size and is flat, printed in a landscape orientation. It is made from thick card which has been broken across the middle, left to right, and is now in two parts. The top left corner is missing. The card is now a yellow brown colour but is likely to have originally been off-white.
There is text printed in a handwritten style which extends down from the top to the middle of the invitation. There is a space for the addition of an invitee’s name, in this case “Mr E Woodman”, which has been handwritten in ink. In the top left is a dark blue engraving labelled ‘the new station at Stanmore’. On the lower left is a black decorative motif showing swirling, curling lines with indications of flowers and leaves. In the centre of the motif are two small winged cherubs, one sitting facing the viewer and the other holding part of the motif. Below the pattern are the printer’s details, ‘Fargues & Co Lithographers (shortened to Lithrs), 19 Warwick Street, W’. On the right, below the text, extending more than half way across the invitation is a dark blue engraving of the Mansion House and the surrounding land, labelled ‘view near station’.
The engraving of the railway in the top left shows a single storey building with a small stout spire, framed by foliage on the left hand side. There is a covered platform extending from the right of the building. The engraving of Bentley Priory shows the rear of the Mansion House with dense trees to the left. In front of the house is a lawn with a lake. Sweeping across to the right, the lawn extends and in the distance the spires of both the old and new St Johns Church at Stanmore are visible on the horizon.
The text reads: ‘Mr Frederick Gordon (Chairman of the Harrow and Stanmore Railway) requests the honour of the company of Mr E Woodman and lady [which has been crossed out] at Bentley Priory on Thursday December the 18th 1890 between the hours of 12 and 4 to celebrate the opening of the new railway from Harrow to Stanmore. Music in the hall and large drawing room. Luncheon in the covered tennis court. An early answer will oblige, addressed to Bentley Priory, Stanmore, Middlesex’. In an 1888 review of the hotel in ‘The Country Gentlemen’ there was disappointment that there was no salad or hot food for lunch. It would have been available, however, with prior notice, and if the kitchens had not been so far away from the luncheon room!
The hotel was not successful, and eventually closed – with Bentley Priory becoming the Gordon family home.