This is part of a heritage trail around Belper, taking in some of the key historic areas, and talking about some of the people involved in the development of the town. You can find a map of the trail, and information on where to find interpretation boards containing more details on the town and its history at www.derwentvalleymills.org/belper.
Frank E Beresford was born in Derby, but adopted by Belper, receiving his first art lessons from Miss Harrison in the town at the age of eleven. In 1900, aged 18 and already holding the Art Master’s Certificate, he moved from his Belper home at Field House, his parents’ drapery shop on the corner of Field Lane and Bridge Street, to London to study at the St John’s Wood School of Art and later the Royal Academy, until 1906. Belper people followed his progress with great interest, particularly when he undertook a painting tour around the world thanks to a British Institution Scholarship.
His links to the town were strong. He married at Christ Church in June 1910.
Most famous of all Frank Beresford’s works is The Princes’ Vigil, showing the lying-in state of George V after his death in 1936. Working behind a little balcony in Westminster Hall, with a paint box and canvas on his knee, he captured the twenty-minute scene in the early hours of January 28, 1936, when the King’s four sons stood in silent vigil around their father. Details such as the beefeaters were added later, in Beresford’s own studio. The King’s widow, Queen Mary, was so impressed with the painting she bought it for the new King, Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor) for his birthday on June 23 that year.
This area of Bridge Street (the main A6 road) hosted, in the latter part of the 19th century, a series of large-scale street dressings, for the town’s Wakes festivals in July and for national celebrations, such as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Bridge Street was the principal Street in Belper at the time. Other large dressings were also installed at the Market Place, on High Street and in Long Row.