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Broadway Now

Map of Broadway

Photo 1: Main Road through Broadway Village

Photo 2: View Left side of Broadway 
from Farnham House

Photo 3: View Left side of Broadway 
from Farnham House

Photo 4: View Looking Towards 
Farnham House

Photo 5: Farnham House, Broadway

Russell House Today 

Photo 6: Picton House, Broadway 
(now an Art Gallery)

Photo 7: Attractive House in Broadway

Beautiful Broadway

Photo 8: Upper End of Main Road

Photo 9: Lygon Arms Hotel

Photo 10: A Broadway Country Walk

Broadway Tower

Broadway, The Cotswolds, England 
jpg: Jeff Jarrett
jpg: Jeff Jarrett

Broadway, located 80 miles northwest from London central, was once part of the Worcester to London coaching route. The trip by coach took approximately 16 hours, and from about 1600 onward,  Broadway became a critical stop for changing horses before the long accent just out of town. At its height during that period, the village had 33 public houses and was a relatively prosperous little community serving one industry.

With the advent of the railway and an opening of a line nearby in Evesham by 1860, the purpose of Broadway as a resting spot for travelers became unnecessary and the community fell back into a sleepy obscurity.

Fish Inn 
c. late 1800s

Though the country and world of commerce had essentially forgotten it, by the 1880's a small band of American artists headed by Francis Davis Millet, rediscovered this quaint reflection of long ago country village.

What is there to do in Broadway? Well, even today the honest answer is,  according to Walter Wentz [3] (who happens to be another expatriate American in love with the place) "not much." It was this exact proposition that struck Frank Millet just fine. 

Henry James said: "Broadway and much of the land about it are in short the perfection of the old English rural tradition." The village's' "broad way" (actually called High Street) lined with red chestnut trees, reflects the varied architectural history from grand Georgian buildings to ones of humbler though quaint beginnings that even reaches back, in places, to the Romans. There was Abbots Grange (pretty much abandoned and deteriorating when Millet arrived) dating to the 14th century, the oldest domestic building in the village and one of the oldest in the country. There are Tudor Houses dating from 1660's and along with parts of the Lygon Arms Hotel and St. Eadburgha’s Church which has been a place of worship for almost 1000 years. 

For this band of creative artists, the people were friendly, the rent was  inexpensive, the Cotswolds countryside offered countless lush day-walks from nowhere to nowhere and nothing but gorgeous scenery of a "very old English village, lying among its meadows and hedges, in the very heart of the country, in a hollow of the green hills  . . . .[to see the artists'] affection for the wide, long, grass-bordered vista of brownish gray cottages, thatched, latticed, mottled, mended, ivied, immemorial [through their work]." (Henry James) Finding something to do and things to entertain themselves in a place with "not much" seemed just about perfect - if not downright heaven -- a recluse from the hectic pace of London in which to relax, paint, take walks, read books, write stories, play croquet in the afternoon, and create their own music after dark. 

To Frank Millet, the more the merrier, and come they did. Besides Frank, his wife, their young children and his sister, there was Frank's good friend Edwin Austin Abbey whom he had known for a long time. Abbey brought along John Singer Sargent. They invited their fellow illustrators from Harper's Magazine: Edwin Blashfield, Alfred Parsons who shared his home with the Millet's in London and partnered with a studio with Abbey; and  Frederick Barnard who brought his wife and children and set up residence in a house nearby. There were writers such as Edmund Gosse with wife and children, along with Henry James all taking up rooms and when those filled up they just spilled over into the near empty Lygon Arms hotel just across the green or in other houses as Frederick had done. As time went on only more people came with everything revolving around Frank Millet's home.

The mood was festive, teaming with intelligent, highly talented, gifted people and children playing, running under foot, laughing - can you imagine?

Abbey wrote: "We have music until the house won't stand it. Sargent is going elaborately through Wager's trilogy, recitatives and all: there are moments when it doesn't seem as if it could be meant for music, but I dare say it is. I've been painting a head. Sargent does it better than I do and quicker, but then he's younger . . . . Miss Gertrude Giswold sings to us like an angle . . . . We really do have a gay summer, pretending to work and sometimes working (for there are numberless places with easels in them to hide away in -- if you really do want to work -- until four and then tennis until dinner time, and after dinner, dancing and music and various cheering games in the studio, but mostly dancing."[4]

Edmund Gosse wrote: "Nothing we do scandalizes the villagers. Fred Barnard, with an enormous stage slouch hat over his shoulders, chases one of the Americans down the village street, the man chased screaming all the time and trying to escape up lamp-posts and down wells. Not a villager smiled . . . . Whatever we do or say or wear or sing they only say 'Them Americans is out again'."[5]

Such would be the setting for Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. 

John Singer Sargent

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

Today, the village has changed little since the colony of artists were there. The people are still remarkably friendly, but it's no longer the quaint secrete held by  artists in hiding. That secrete is very much out, no thanks (in part) to Henry James for splashing it across the pages of Harper's Magazine to all of America and the rest of the world; and Frank Millet for dragging anyone out of London he could drag. The accommodations, you will find, are no longer "inexpensive." The bohemian days, I'm afraid, are gone but the charm and beauty remains no less. The village now has a selection of gift shops and antique stores hidden within the existing architecture. Bill Grant, an admirer of the place and writer, tells me that "Broadway today is a bit of a contradiction, albeit a very pleasant one. There is a number of upmarket galleries but I wouldn't exactly call it arty. It has a hunt and a typical village pub next to the church but you can also buy cashmere in the High Street where it is not unusual to see both Ferraris and tractors."

Just outside the village, at the top of the long, steep escarpment is the Broadway Tower, from which there is commanding view of the countryside.

The JSS Gallery's own Wendy and Gordon Hawksley just recently visited Broadway and captured a number of pictures for us.

From: Wendy & Gordon Hawksley
<g  w @ whawksley. fsnet. co. uk> 
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2003 

We can honestly say that the Cotswolds and, in particular the North Cotswolds, is our favourite place in this country. Broadway and Chipping Campden have a wonderful feel about them due, in no small way, to the famous yellow / honey coloured Cotswold stone buildings and walls which are often covered in lichen. It even looks good when its raining! The Cotswolds generally exude a safe and unhurried feel with little / no graffiti or litter to spoil them. These places very much represent quietly prosperous Middle England.

Broadway is crammed with some of the country's best art galleries, which can be all too tempting at times! (We should add though that the prices are usually well out of our league!). Haynes Fine Art is at Picton House (shown in photo 6). We understand that Haynes spent around £250,000 on renovating Picton House a few years ago and must say that they appear to have done a wonderful job. Another gallery of interest is the John Noot Galleries which are actually located in three places in Broadway, the smallest of which is probably the one at the famous Lygon Arms hotel on the High Street. The Lygon is probably one of the best country house hotels in England. It is a beautiful building which has a top restaurant with a instrels gallery, a small but lovely garden (with croquet lawn) and, for those who want to arrive in style, a helipad! If, like ours, your purse strings don't quite stretch that far [the smallest room starts at £119 per night with a bathroom adjacent -- suites starting at £329 per night], you will get there by car and park in their car park at the back of the building, look longingly around the hotel grounds, then go and have a meal at Oliver's which is a brasserie attached to the hotel (pre booking is usually vital at the weekends). We were very tempted by one or two paintings at the Priory Gallery at Forge House on the High Street. It has a small but rather good collection of Modern British works. However, currently, our favourite gallery is the Broadway Modern which is nearly opposite Farnham House on the left side of the High Street. It has a fantastic collection of modern art, sculpture, furniture etc and the prices are usually reasonably accessible. We should add that we don't recommend that you visit on any public holidays as there are far too many tourists which tends to spoil the feel of it all. 

- With our best wishes,

Wendy & Gordon


Special thanks to Wendy & Gordon Hawksley, of Sheffield England, wonderful friends of the JSS Gallery, for taking pictures of Broadway specifically for the JSS Gallery.

2) Henry James, "Our Artist in Europe";  Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume LXXIX, Page 50-66; June to November 1889 -- also featured on the net at Cornell Making of America 

3) Walter Wentz, "An American in Broadway";, no date, ( /monthly-diary.htm#americantop)

4) E.V. Lucas, "E.A. Abbey"; Scribners (NY) and Methuen (London), 1921, p. 152

5) Stanley Olson, John Singer Sargent; His Portrait, St. Martin's Press, NY, 1986, pp. 125-126

Also referenced

The Hon. Evan Charteris, K.C. "John Sargent", Benjamin Blom, Inc. Publishers,  New York, 1972, P. 72



 Farnham House
c. 1880's?

Russell House
c. 1887

Abbots Grange

Village Bakers
circa 1920's

Alfred William Parsons (1847-1920) 
British Painter and illustrator

The Village Green, Broadway

The Old House "The Priory"

Back of the Priory, Broadway



By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2003 all rights reserved
Created 4/11/2003

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