William Chalkley 1842-1922
William Chalkley was a self taught taxidermist, who opened his first premises at 11 Sussex Street, Winchester from c1875. In 1880 he moved to The Square and the firm remained there until long after his death.
Almost opposite his taxidermy shop was the City Museum and, in 1903, he became honorary curator and spent considerable time working on the natural history specimens.He had, over a period of years, amassed and prepared a large collection of Hampshire birds.
After coming to an agreement with Alderman Jacob the collection was bought for the newly formed Winchester College Museum.
At the time it was noted that "Chalkley would probably have to alter some of the cases in order to classify them better". This collection was noted as a special collection in the Museums Journal of 1905, with 153 specimens of Hampshire birds. A catalogue ("List of Hampshire Birds 1863-1900") produced at the time enthused "For the wonderful beauty of this collection, the school have to thank the life-long devotion and poetic imagination of Mr. W Chalkley
The 'grotesque' scenes (below right) were good advertisements for the taxidermist as they demonstrated the skill of the taxidermist in the preparation of small and delicate animals.
Chalkley, William Kelsall, J E, Rev; Munn, Philip W: 1905: The Birds of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight: Witherby and Co.
…and Mr. Chalkley, the Winchester naturalist received one [Hoopoe] from Fair Oak, near Estleigh , on April 19th, 1890.'
Mr. Chalkley has recorded a very fine specimen [Kite] from Lower Lanham, near Alresford, in January, 1890.' 'Mr. Chalkley, the well-known naturalist of Winchester , informed Mr. Sutton Davies in 1891 that he knew of a specimen [White-Eyed Duck] obtained at Ovington not long before.'
Transcript of interview - 1969: Chalkley, Edward - Hampshire Record Office
'...uncle, who was a taxidermist amongst other things, started the business in The Square. He did a lot of stuffing, birds and all that for them [Winchester Museum]. Uncle had a collection of Hants birds and he [Alderman Jacob came] to an agreement with my uncle that he would buy them for the [Winchester] College and they're now in the College Museum….'
(There are about 60 cases of William Chalkley's work still in the College Collection: 1996)
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos, prepared in 1899
A Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes
Accession no HMCMS:WM1994.309
A Canary, Serinus canoriol,
Turtle Dove, Streptopelia turtur, prepared in 1902
The 'Baby Rabbits playing cards' are actually Brown Rats!