The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex

Peter is one of our Vice Presidents, Committee Member and a very active in our Society also a Committee Member and Vice President of the London Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

I have known Peter for over ten years as a gentle unassuming man through our common interest in Ballet & Opera, however it is only over the last two years that I gradually learnt of his extensive knowledge on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and the D'Oyly Cartes. He is in fact one of the leading authorities on the D'Oyly Carte Family and the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Earlier this year to my amazement did I learn of his extensive collection of G & S memorabilia, some very

1167-206 Peter Parker

personal to his own family also that of the D'Oyly Cartes. Like me he is a retired electrical engineer, in his professional experiences there are some fascinating stories waiting to be told.

It was from this background that I had the idea to devote a section of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex's Website to Peter's story. When I presented my thoughts to him I was delighted he agreed to let me proceed. Since then I have been to his home twice to photograph some of the fascinating objects in his possession.

I propose to present a series of short pieces to be shown on the website for a short time. As each new piece appears I propose to move its predecessor to the site's archive section to build up a biography of Peter and his collection. What follows is the first instalment of a series to show this material to a wider audience.

Edwin Cowley July 2013

How the paths of the Parker and D'Oyly Carte families came together

Peter's paternal Grandfather was a pupil to a solicitor who practised in the City of London under the name Freeman & Son. (Later of Hanover Square) he died young when his son Stanley Parker was aged about four, and his grandmother was then employed as housekeeper/nanny to Mr Freeman's children. Mr Freeman's firm happened to be the bursar to the Woodard Corporation, the foundation that ran and still do run Lancing, Hurstpierpoint and Ardingly schools (see Mr Freeman saw to it that Stanley was sent to Ardingly as a boarder.

His Grandfather had the most beautiful copper plate handwriting, he was told by Mr Freeman's Son; examples of which he was shown (This was on the occasion of Stanley Parker's funeral in 1960). Peter thinks his Grandfather had a brother as he possess two silver cups for highest batting averages playing cricket engraved one with the name Frederick Parker and the other Charles Parker dated 1890 and 1889. He believes Fred Parker was his Grandfather as he has a notebook written in shorthand of his bearing an address and date 1877; these could be his birth date and place. On leaving Ardingly, in May 1909, straight from school, Stanley was employed by the Savoy Hotel as a junior clerk or office boy in the Billing Office; no doubt Mr Freeman had some hand in that. Peter was later to be the second generation of Parkers to attend Ardingly.

From that job, on the death of Helen D'Oyly Carte in 1913, he was picked by Rupert to understudy Mr George A Richardson who managed the theatre from November 1911 to February 1915 (endnote 1).

1167-123 Stanley & Dorothy Parker dressed as a Chef and a Lyons Nippy for a fancy dress ball

In 1913 (endnote 2) Peter's father became Rupert and later Bridget D'Oyly Carte's private secretary, secretary of both the Savoy Theatre Ltd. and of the Opera Company, part of the reason for this engagement was to deal with the "books of accounting" as Richardson was getting old and needed help. He was also Treasurer (endnote 3)  and times included managing the Savoy theatre, Peter remembers being told that he used to catch a tube train home to somewhere near Ravenscourt Park tube station, have a meal with my mother and then return in evening dress to manage the theatre.

1167-094 Stanley Parker dressed for a fancy dress party as Bunthorne.

Several of these posts were held concurrently and like Pooh Bar in the Mikado as a consequence of conflicts between his different roles, Peter relates that sometimes, his Father acting in one role had to write to himself in one of his other roles.

Stanley Parker was born in 1894 and Dorothy Baldrey born 1888, Peter believes met as members of a tennis club in North London whilst teenagers. They married in 1922. Dorothy was the youngest of 9 children born to Mr and Mrs Baldrey. Mr Baldrey had a Haberdashery shop in Kentish Town Road North London and Dorothy was at one time cashier in the shop. However, as was the custom in those days, she never worked after getting married except to help her husband.

Peter's association with the D'Oyly Carte family commenced in childhood, one weekend his father took him to Richard D'Oyly Carte's Office, whilst they were there Richard D'Oyly Carte turned up and on seeing them there he simply commented to his father to carry on showing Peter around, such was the trust and respect the two men had for each other.

This pocket watch belonged to Richard D'Oyly Carte; on his death in 1901, it passed to Rupert D'Oyly Carte and on his death to Bridget D'Oyly Carte. Bridget gave it to Stanley Parker after Rupert, her father, died in 1948.

The watch was manufactured by J. M. Dent & Co. who were the makers of the Big Ben clock. It is in a gold case and is also a repeater in that it chimes the hours and quarters. It is Hall Marked 1853 and

1167-086-088 Richard D'Oily Carte's Pocket Watch

1167-089        The office staff of the Savoy Hotel taken in 1910.

bears the initials RDC engraved on the back. It became part of Peter's collection on his father's death in 1960.

In this picture, of the staff of the Savoy Hotel, Stanley Parker is in middle row second from the right. Front row, 3rd from the right is G.A.Richardson who was Rupert D'Oyly Carte's secretary, from whom Stanley Parker took over in 1913.

Stanley Parker died in 1960 still in harness having worked continuously for the Cartes for 51 years.

1167-126 (left to right) Peter's mother, Peter aged about 5, his father, Jeanette Grenfell. (J.Jennings' grandaughter) and J Jennings.

In the picture to the left we have Peter with his parents and J Jennings with his Granddaughter Jeanette Grenfell who still lives in Worthing. Peter's Father is wearing his Ardingly blazer, which Peter still has and wears occasionally.

J Jennings was a well-known Fleet Street journalist and the two families took holidays together. The rolled gold pocket watch on below belonged to J Jennings.

1167-195      J Jennings Watch.


1  See}.

2 This date is that given in 'The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Gilbert and Sullivan Operas; A record of Productions, 1875-1961', ROLLINS, Cyril and WITTS, R John (compilers), Published by Michael Joseph, London , 1962. Stanley Parker did the proof reading for them and did not alter this date.

3 "Souvenir of Rupert D'Oyly Carte's 1924 Season, Princes Theatre, London. With photographs." [2012.795], Sasha, D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. See for the following text:-

"Enclosed is a list of artists appearing with the company, under conductors Geoffrey Toye and Harry Norris. General manager Richard Collet. Business manager F. C. Pool. Press representative J. Jennings. Treasurer S. H. Parker. Stage director J. M. Gordon. Stage manager Frederick Hobbs. Assistant stage manager Harry Arnold."

Part 1 - Peter’s Parents

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Peter Parker

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Peter Parker
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