The museum is very proud to hold a significant collection of works by local artist Herbert E Whydale. Born in Yorkshire in 1886, Ernest Herbert Whydale did not come to Royston until 1918, when the family moved there after his father’s retirement. By that time, however, he had studied at the Westminster College of Art and at Camberwell and had already been practising as a commercial artist for some years, producing work of a very high quality. In 1910 he had his first picture hung at the Royal Academy and continued to exhibit there almost every year until 1950, two years before his death.
Early in his career, Whydale showed great talent as an etcher; in 1914 the National Gallery of Canada acquired five of his etchings and he also contributed one to Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, which was shown at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924. In 1920 he was elected an associate member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers. Whydale also had a strong interest in theatrical costume, and the Museum’s holdings have been enriched by a substantial number of coloured etchings that he had himself collected.
For more than thirty years Whydale lived quietly in Royston rather than in London, where he could have achieved greater acclaim. He painted a variety of subjects from Still Life to Portraits and Landscapes, but he seems to have taken his greatest pleasure in painting horses. In 1929, he described his favourite recreation as ‘caravanning’ and for many years he travelled out of Royston each summer with his brother Arthur or a friend, by horse-drawn caravan.
A generous man, who loved Royston and the surrounding countryside, Whydale often gave away his work to friends. Today, this is the main reason why so much of it has survived in and around the town of Royston.
For further information about some of our Whydale collection go to