Image: Seafield House, Westward Ho!, North Devon, was built as a summer residence by Brinsley de Courcey Nixon (5 May 1825-18 April 1903), whose occupation was given on the 1881 census as a banker from London.
“Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875) was a broad church priest of the Church of England, a university professor, social reformer, historian, novelist and poet. He is particularly associated with Christian socialism, the working men’s college, and forming labour cooperatives, which failed, but encouraged later working reforms. He was a friend and correspondent of Charles Darwin.
When a heated dispute lasting three years developed over human evolution, Kingsley gently satirised the debate, known as the Great Hippocampus Question, as the “Great Hippopotamus Question”.
Kingsley’s concern for social reform is illustrated in his classic, The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby (1863), a tale about a boy chimney sweep, which retained its popularity well into the 20th century. The story mentions the main protagonists in the scientific debate over human origins, rearranging his earlier satire as the “great hippopotamus test”. The book won a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1963.
Kingsley coined the term pteridomania in his 1855 book Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore.
Kingsley was a fervent Anglo-Saxonist, and was seen as a major proponent of the ideology, particularly in the 1840s. He proposed that the English people were “essentially a Teutonic race, blood-kin to the Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians”. Kingsley suggested there was a “strong Norse element in Teutonism and Anglo-Saxonism”.
Frankel, Robert (2007): “By midcentury such other eminent figures as Thomas Arnold and Charles Kingsley were also exalting the Anglo-Saxon race. An essential feature of Anglo-Saxonism was the recognition of the race’s Teutonic origins.”
Mixing mythology and Christianity, he blended Protestantism as it was practised at the time with the Old Norse religion, saying that the Church of England was “wonderfully and mysteriously fitted for the souls of a free Norse-Saxon race”. He believed the ancestors of Anglo-Saxons, Norse and Germanic peoples had physically fought beside the god Odin, and that the British monarchy was genetically descended from the god.
Kingsley has been accused of intensely antagonistic views of the Irish, whom he described in derogatory terms.
Charles Kingsley’s novel Westward Ho! led to the founding of a village by the same name (the only place name in England with an exclamation mark) and inspired the construction of the Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway. A hotel in Westward Ho! was named after and opened by him. A hotel which was opened in 1897 in Bloomsbury, London, and named after Kingsley was founded by teetotallers, who admired Kingsley for his political views and his ideas on social reform. It still exists as The Kingsley by Thistle.”