Nottinghamshire History: Richard Parkes Bonington

The town near where I live Arnold has one or two famous sons and daughters like most places of any size or history. Romantic landscape painter, Richard Parkes Bonington is just such a figure from Arnold in Nottinghamshire.

I’ve recently been witness to an informative talk also by a local Redhill resident which included a description of how he had been refurbishing a statue of the artist for the past twelve months which will go on public display. Richard Parkes Bonington is commonly described as coming from Arnold although I have heard a claim of late that this theory is somewhat spurious due to his time spent abroad. Having always been of the opinion that he was an Arnold man and in respect of the talk, I decided to do a little research about this assertion


The artist and his former Arnold home

Bonington was born in Arnold in 1802, his first home was at 79 High Street in Arnold. The fine old manor house has long been the premises for the Labour (Social) Club in Arnold. His mother opened a school in the town just after he was born whilst his father was the Governor of Nottingham Gaol. Bonington’s father nurtured his son’s talent whilst he was growing up in Arnold, resulting in his work being exhibited in the city of Liverpool at the tender age of just eleven years. After this time, his parents opened a lace factory but as a result of great industrial unrest of the time decided to emigrate to France in 1817 when the young artist was fourteen years old, firstly to Calais, before they moved to Paris the year after.

File:Richard Parkes Bonington Venice Grand Canal.jpg

Venice Grand Canal, Sunset – Richard Parkes Bonington

The young Bonington spent parts of 1823 touring Belgium, much of 1824 in Dunkirk and several months of his short life in London in 1825. He further travelled extensively in Italy and made several extended stays to London before later returning to the Capital where he died and is interred.

To summarise, Bonington was born in Arnold of parents who lived in the town. His first home was in Arnold and he spent fourteen of the twenty-five years of his life being brought up in Arnold. He is also known to have been a skilled artist, with at least one exhibition, at a very young age (though not yet formally trained) whilst in Arnold. In addition to hailing from the town, he has not been in any other part of the world for nearly the length of time that he spent in the Nottinghamshire town.

I’d have to offer the humble opinion that it’s a perfectly reasonable claim that Arnold can call Richard Parkes Bonington one of its own. The artist is additionally, rightly celebrated with a local school and a theatre named after him.

4 thoughts on “Nottinghamshire History: Richard Parkes Bonington”

  1. Hi, Stuart did you catch the other lecture about RPB at the ALHG, which was given by Hazel Bromiley (She is a local artist who is also a founding member of the Arnold Art Society) Unfortunately, I missed that one, but wondered if you found it useful? I think her talk was more than a year ago. Incidentally, the bust of Richard PB at the Bonington Theatre was sculptured by local man Philip Hanford. He also worked on the refurbishing of the theatre royal, Nottingham in 1978, in particular the ‘cherubs’. For the opening of the Bonington Theatre and Leisure Centre in 1982, the local council wanted to commission a bust of Richard Parkes Bonington. They asked my mother, Josie Chapman if she could recommend a local sculptor, as she was also a founding member of the Arnold Art Society and at that time serving on the Gedling Borough Arts Association. She knew Philip Hanford was a talented local sculptor and put his name forward. The strange thing is the date on his sculptor is after the date the theatre opened and when he completed the bust!

  2. Hi Phil, nice information, thanks. I did’t see that lecture as I wasn’t involved with ALHG at that time. I only hooked up with things earlier this year during the winter. It’s nice to see the man commemorated in such a way and I think that is only right.

    Do you have a presence on the web yourself, Phil? I had good intentions to write more local history stuff this year but sadly, I haven’t found the time to do it nearly as much as I would have liked thus far. I am hopeful for the future though.


  3. Hi again Stuart. I do not have a website or blog and would appreciate a chat sometime on how to set up such things, although like yourself I don’t seem to find time! I like what you have done with your site. Very interesting collection of info.

  4. Hi Phil, thanks for the kind words. Would be glad to have a chat, no problem. A good place to start delving is the (free) host of this blog site, (not It’s quite easy to get started.


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