Joan Everard David (née Storey) (1920-2000)

Joan Everard David (née Storey)

Written by Maggie Sale and Rob David

Occupations: Art Lover and Botanist

Born in Bowdon, Manchester on 10 January 1920, the only child of Robert Storey [1889-1947] and Alice Grace Williams [1890-1983].  Her father was the third child of Henry Storey [1858-1921] and Mary Louisa Ford [1861-1942].  He was co-founder in 1919 of the Storey Foundry Co. Ltd. in Heaton Norris with his elder brother John Everard Storey [1888-1971].  The Storey family had been involved with foundry work for several generations.  Her great great grandfather Isaac Storey [c1811-1879] was joint partner with James Donaldson of a brass foundry business [Storey and Donaldson] in Manchester, which was founded in 1837, and this passed to her grandfather Henry Storey.   In 1910 Isaac Storey and Sons Ltd. became a constituent company of United Brassfounders and Engineers Ltd until its dissolution in 1916. Her mother was the daughter of the Rev George Nathaniel Williams [1862 - 1944], Baptist minister at Woodchester (Gloucestershire), Shrewsbury, Chorlton-cum-Hardy and Wellington (Shropshire), and Eliza Smith.  

Educated at Ackworth School, The Mount School, York, and University of Manchester, she gained her BSc in Botany in 1941.  As an undergraduate she was awarded the Dalton Natural History prize in 1940, and she was secretary to the university branch of the International Student Service.  In 1942 she was awarded her MSc by Manchester University for her thesis entitled The Periodicity of Phytoplankton with Special Reference to Asterionella in Lake Windermere.  Her research was carried out at the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) laboratories at Wray Castle.  From 1942-1944 she was a ‘wartime research worker’ for the FBA at Wray Castle, studying algae and night-time migrations of eels.  In April 1944 she married Werner David [1920-2010], a refugee from Germany. He was a scientist and later a site manager for Shell UK. From 1944-45 she worked as an Administrative Officer for UNRRA in London, and from 1945-46 at the Technical and Scientific Register of the Ministry of Labour in London.  

As a young woman and in the latter part of the Second World War she came on holiday to Smith’s Strands Hotel at Nether Wasdale.  Later during the 1950s she brought her family there.  She subsequently wrote two privately published booklets about the hotel and the Smith family, hoteliers from an earlier era: Strands Inn and Posting House: A History of Thomas and Hannah Smith and their Descendants 1827-1985, and Strands Hotel: A History of John and Hannah Smith and their Descendants 1900-1985.  

Moving to Chester (1947), Joan and Werner (Vernon) had two children Robert [1949] and Margaret [1952].  When the children were older she worked part time for the Nature Conservancy (1961-63) surveying Phytoplankton in Cheshire meres and published JH Belcher and JE Storey, ‘The Phytoplankton of Rostherne and Mere meres, Cheshire’, The Naturalist, 1968 (905).  She also undertook voluntary work for St Oswald’s Church and the YWCA both in Chester and at the Deva hospital near Chester.  Between 1964 and 1971 Joan worked at the University of Bristol Appointments Board.  She remained on the board of her father’s foundry until it closed in the early 1970s.   Joan and Werner were divorced in 1968.  

Returning to the Lake District in 1971 she lived successively in Clappersgate, Ambleside, Troutbeck, Kendal and Windermere.  She continued with her botanical interests as a voluntary worker for the FBA, by that time at Ferry House, Far Sawrey, studying the flora around Tarn Hows and Brotherswater.  However by this time her interests were less in science than in aesthetics.  During the 1970s she began to purchase work by a number of local artists including Edith Charnley [b 1862], Bernard Eyre Walker [1887- 1927], Claude Harrison [1922-2009] and Maggie Berkowitz [1927-2018].  She also collected the work of local ceramicists such as Ben Holgate and Christine Hawkes amongst others.  She took pride in the interior decoration of her various houses and apartments and enjoyed sharing her collection with fellow enthusiasts.  

During the 1970s and 1980s she also immersed herself in the wider cultural life of Cumbria enjoying music, drama and local history events alongside art.  She attended many courses at Higham Hall and in particular some of those led by Dr Bill Rollinson [1937-2000].

In 1983 she was introduced by Mary Burkett [1924-2013], the director of Abbot Hall Art Gallery, to artist Percy Kelly [1918-1993], and became his friend, supporter and correspondent until his death.  In 1984 in order to help Kelly’s financial situation after his divorce, she organised a selling exhibition of his work at Cringlemire, Troutbeck, which introduced a new generation of collectors to his art.  Between 1984 and 1993 she built up a sizeable collection of Percy Kelly’s paintings, illustrated letters and prints.  Soon after the opening of Castlegate Gallery in Cockermouth in 1987 she became a friend of the gallerist Chris Wadsworth and helped to ensure that Kelly’s art works were brought to that gallery after his death.  She did much to promote Kelly including participating in a film of his life and art made by Border Television.  

Joan David died in Westmorland General Hospital, Kendal on 22 January, 2000.  She was interred in a new woodland burial site at Carlisle cemetery and a memorial service was held at Jesus Church, Troutbeck.

After her death Chris Wadsworth wrote The Painted Letters of Percy Kelly about the correspondence between Kelly and Joan David, and this book was published to coincide with the 2004 exhibition of these illustrated letters at Castlegate Gallery.  Some of her collection of Percy Kelly paintings and letters has subsequently been donated to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, and many of the letters have been deposited at Cumbria Archive Centre (Whitehaven). The correspondence between Percy Kelly and Norman Nicholson which she had acquired has been deposited by her children in her memory at the John Rylands Library, Manchester University. 

(Sources: Ambleside Oral History Group interview, Freshwater Forum (Vol 14, 2000) The Painted Letters of Percy Kelly (2004) by C. Wadsworth, personal papers).