Clarence in Bordighera - women...

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

I spoke about Clarence's circle of friends in my paper Clarence Bicknell – in Private. (https://www.clarencebicknell.com/images/downloads_news/clarence_bicknell_in_private.pdf) which I delivered in the Museo Bicknell, Bordighera on Saturday 20th July 2019. I mention them again here because a researcher asked me today about alice Campbell and I am happy to oblige.

Clarence’s life in Bordighera and at Casterino was full of women, right from the start. Clarence fell with enthusiasm into the thrall and into the social circle of not only Mrs Fanshawe (with whom he lodged) but also of her daughter Rosa Fanshawe Walker, who like her mother had been widowed in the previous few years. Rosa was an essential part of Clarence’s life in Bordighera; hardly a day goes by in Clarence’s first two years in Bordighera without Rosa being mentioned.

Louise Jopling, who stayed at the Villa Ruffini, was a painter, the first woman to be admitted to the Royal Society of British Artists, and a supporter of women’s suffrage. She was interested in botany and walking in the countryside, so she and Clarence were naturally drawn to each other.

Margaret Berry, née Serecold, was the wife of Clarence’s nephew Edward Berry. Clarence loved spending time with her and she was a great support to him in various ways. She brought with her a fund of humour, warmth, generosity and a sense of family; and she loved her new uncle dearly.

Nora and Linda Bicknell, daughters of Clarence’s brother Percy, began showing up at the Villa Rosa on a regular basis. Nora evidently thought highly of Bordighera, and made her home and her living there for several years, working as a clerk in Edward Berry’s bank, and she had her own business as a photographer and maker of greeting cards and calendars, often donating the profits from her sales to charity. She and Clarence later travelled together.

Esperanto caused Clarence to spend more and more time in the company of Rosa Junck. Born in 1850 in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic), Mrs Junck, née Bilek or Bilekova, had arrived in Bordighera in 1890.

Clarence had been hunting high and low for the perfect botanical pin with which to skewer his specimens when he first met Ellen Willmott, probably in 1901 at La Mortola, the home of Sir Thomas Hanbury whose impressive gardens cascaded down a cliff just outside Ventimiglia.

Mystery surrounds the Scottish lady whom Clarence first met in 1883 and saw again in 1897. Hard as we try, we cannot identify her, but it is possible that she is the Alice Campbell, whose relationship with Clarence is still much whispered about in Bordighera. But we have researched the story intensively and you can read the results at alice_campbell.pdf

Unlike the story of Alice Campbell, no mystery surrounds Baroness Helene von Taube, thanks to a lengthy and loving correspondence. Clarence met the amateur botanist Helene von Taube in late 1908 or early 1909, when she came to Bordighera from Weimar seeking warmth and sunshine for her ailing husband, Baron Otto von Taube.

 

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