Garment: Male gloves
Materials: Paper and Thread
Inspiration: General George Goring and Peter Van Zeller; experiences of war across time, in relation to two of the male inhabitants of Danny House held apart by approximately 400 years; The English Civil War - WWII
The embroidery on my paper gauntlets shows: the veins of General Goring’s left hand and a drawing of Peter Van Zeller’s prosthetic hand.
The symbolism on George Goring’s glove was chosen to represent his direct relationship with the King (Charles I) in the form of a: Lion - symbol of deathless courage and fearlessness. In heraldry, the lion symbolizes, bravery, strength and royalty; Tudor rose with a crown atop - symbolic originally directly of royalty, by the early 17th century the Tudor rose had become a more generally popular motif for embroidery; golden bird and white flower - both found in the stained glass in Danny’s Great Hall. Otherwise reproduced are decorative details taken from pieces from the time (shown in the catalogue of the V&A, vam.ac.uk). Highly decorative gloves were once given as gifts by English kings to favoured courtiers or foreign diplomats else received by them as New Years gifts or in honour of a royal visit.
The gauntlet inspired by George Goring is red and gold - symbolic of blood and royalty; it turns out these were also originally the colours of the Somerset Light Infantry's uniform. The Somerset Light Infantry was originally established by James II, the son of Charles I (and Henrietta Maria), for whom General George Goring was fighting (both Charles I and Henrietta are pictured in portraits on the walls at Danny). It's also the regiment in which Peter fought, on the ground at Normandy. The symbolism on Peter’s glove therefore includes: this unit’s badge; a Union Flag; a Fordson Tractor and a sheaf of wheat, reflective of Peter’s later career in agriculture; a Whirlwind plane, of the sort Peter flew, during his time in the RAF; a Bren gun because Peter was a Bren gunner with his gunner partner Chalky, Chalky didn't survive the war.
The leading Royalist General in the English Civil War (1642-46) General George Goring (1608-1657) was made commander of all the cavalry of King Charles I, half way through the conflict. He was said to have possessed great courage and skill on the battlefield, but in the annals of history, reports of his otherwise flamboyant lifestyle have often overshadowed his professional achievements. Whilst his father-in-law (the Earl of Cork) is reported to have congratulated him on his adoption of "honorable military employment", he also apparently felt the need to warn him to give up the gaming that was, not least, taking its toll on his fortune; of which the Danny estate would be due to be a part when his father (George Goring) died. George Goring's life was in fact to prove endlessly eventful. After first gaining parliaments’ trust he would go on to: declare himself loyal to the King alone; join his father on a journey to the Hague (to the ends of certain political machinations involving the Queen - Charles’ Roman Catholic French wife Henrietta Maria); be briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London; be exchanged for a Scottish peer held by the Royalists; break through the lines of Cromwell’s troops; see his men defeated by Fairfax and the New model army; suffer ever increasing ill health (made worse by the ongoing extent of his drinking); flee to Europe; be commissioned head of all the English forces in the Spanish Army of Flanders; be awarded a commission in the army of Phillip IV of Spain; participate in the 1652 siege of Barcelona; serve as an informal contact (from Madrid) for Charles II. By some commentators he has been portrayed as in fact a negligent general, interested only in his own ends (not least in his search for pleasure), but all seem agreed as to the extent of his full throttle approach to battle and indeed life. George died after his wife; they had no children. His father survived him long enough to enjoy the restoration and was then made Earl of Norwich. General Goring's great grandfather (the first George Goring in this line of three) had purchased Danny lodge (as it then was) in 1582 and reconstructed the building turning it into the impressive mansion it became. He was a member of the court of Elizabeth I but died heavily in her debt; having spent in a similarly lavish way as would his grandson. Though the second George Goring was then granted leave by the Queen to repay her in instalments soon enough the Danny estate needed to be broken up into separate lots with the house itself sold to cloth merchant and Weald of Kent ironmaster, Peter Courthope in 1653.
To read my conversations with Peter, a resident of Danny House, Hurstpierpoint, & about the residency that inspired this piece please click here:
Photography by Ray Sullivan