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Family donates portraits to town museum

Mrs Mrs Pat Day (centre in red) with other descendants of the Ridge family
Mrs Mrs Pat Day (centre in red) with other descendants of the Ridge family

Four portraits of a well-known and respected Newark family which have been passed down through several generations have been gifted to the Town Hall museum.

They have been given by Mrs Pat Day, nee Ridge, and her brother Mr Michel Ridge.

The earliest portraits are of John Ridge (1767-1829) who is their three times great grandfather.

Mrs Day and 12 other descendants of Mr Ridge visited Newark Town Hall on Friday to see the paintings in their new home - the Old Robing Room in the Town Hall.

The party included Mr John Oldham of Newark whose mother Hilda was the great great grand-daughter of John Ridge, and his family. Other descendants came from The Wirral, Lyme Regis and Orpington.

John had two wives - firstly Arabella, nee Crafts, (1773-1802). After she died he married again to Mary, nee Hilton (1774-1849). It is believed that it is Mary in the portrait because her clothing can be dated to the 1820's.

John was employed as a printer by William Allin - one of the first famous ones to set up a business in Newark.

He married William's niece - Arabella - and the company then changed its name to Allin and Ridge.

The Ridge family were important to the history of Newark for many years. John, who went into partnership with his brother Samuel, printed several of Lord Byron's works including his first book of poems - Fugitive Pieces. It was published in 1806 in the printing shop on the corner of the Market Place, now the home to G. H. Porter Provisions.

The other two portraits show John's son Charles Ridge, who was the Mayor of Newark in 1839, and his wife Jane Shackels.

Mrs Day said her brother had visited Newark Town Hall some time ago and seen the pictures of Mayors over the years.

"They did not go back as far as Charles and so we decided to donate the portraits to Newark," she said.

Mrs Day said she had not known much about her Ridge ancestry other than they had been a well known and respected family of Newark so had embarked on a quest to find out more.

She said she had discovered that Charles Ridge had lived in Hull for a time but returned to Newark after his father's death and took his place in the family printing business.
In 1831 he was elected an Overseer of the Poor and in the same year became an Auditor of the Highways Accounts.

He was elected as a Conservative to Newark Town Council in 1838 and became Mayor the following year.

He died at the age of 48 and is buried in St George's Chapel in Newark Parish Church which also has memorial slabs to his parents.

Mrs Day said she was pleased the portraits have now been conserved, framed and are available for visitors to the museum to see.

"We thought it fitting that they should be appreciated because of their attachment to the town and the part that John and Charles played in history." she said.

Museum curator Mrs Patty Temple said she was delighted that they now have four more wonderful portraits in their collection including the only oil painting of a mayoress.


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