Amy Woodforde-Finden

Amy Woodforde-Finden was born Amelia Rowe Ward in 1860, and was descended by marriage from the Revd Heighes Woodforde, vicar of Epsom and canon at Chichester.

Amy was the youngest of nine children of American parents, Alfred and Virginia Worthington Heath Ward.  She was born in Valparaiso, Chile, where her father was the US Consul. 

Detail from only known photograph of Amy Woodforde-Finden
Detail from only known photograph of Amy Woodforde-Finden

Descent

Heighes' youngest son, Revd John Woodforde, sometime rector of North Curry in Somerset, married Rebecca Hamilton and had five children.  Their eldest son was Dr Robert Woodforde who married Sarah Wright.  Their eldest son, Dr John Woodforde of Bridgwater, also in Somerset, had four children of whom the youngest was Melliora Woodforde.  She married George Corfield Finden sometime of Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park, London.  

Their only son was Lt Col Woodford Woodforde-Finden (1846-1916), a brigadier and surgeon, who married Amy Ward.  He served with the 11 Bengal Cavalry, the 2nd Gurkhas.  He died on 27 April 1916 after which Amy and her mother moved back to London.  

Her music

Amy Woodforde-Finden is known as a prolific composer of `eastern ditties,' which effectively captured the mood and morals of the period. 

Amy displayed a skill for composition and became a student of Carl Schloesser and Amy Horrocks. Her early work was published under the name of Amy Ward.   She composed songs including O Flower of All the World, Golden Hours, The Lover in Damascus, and The Pagoda of Flowers. 

Amy is best known for her set of Indian Love Lyrics with words by Lawrence Hope, otherwise known as Adele Florence Nicolson. Of the four lyrics, Kashmiri Song proved an instant and lasting hit.The Indian Love Lyrics were originally self-published in 1902 but due to its popularity, were eventually published by Boosey & Co. 

Her songs are noted for their sentimentality, their romantic fluidity and the unique blend of British middle-class sensibility with an Asian pastiche.  In the years that followed the success of Kashmiri Song,  Amy composed On Jhelum River, The Pagoda of Flowers and Stars of the Desert.  Kashmiri Song is one of the highest selling pieces of sheet music ever published. 

In 1916, her work was featured in the film Less Than Dust.   This was the first of her compositions to be showcased in film.   In 1943, Kashmiri Song featured in the film Hers To Hold.

Memorial

Amy died on 13 March 1919.  She was buried at in the churchyard of St Thomas à Becket Parish Church, Hampsthwaite, Yorkshire.  Her association with the village came through her stepson, Eric, who was disabled and lived in Hampsthwaite in the care of the local doctor.  When he died in 1913, he was buried in the churchyard.  His father, Amy's husband, Colonel Woodforde-Finden, is also buried here.

The monument to Amy in Hampsthwaite Parish Church
The monument to Amy in Hampsthwaite Parish Church

The monument takes the form of a recumbent figure of the composer, worked in marble by the London sculptor George Wade.  The head is crowned with a laurel wreath, and at each corner are cherubs, representing the angels who 'bore her to heaven.'  Scenes from some of her songs are depicted on the sides of the monument with imagery of the Shwe Dagon Burmese pagoda from the Pagoda of Flowers

At the unveiling on 15th April 1923, the Harrogate Municipal Orchestra played a medley of her compositions. 


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(Image of monument © Ian Hadan, Hamphswaite Village website.)