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George Arthur Biddell (1824-1901)


Born at Hill House, Playford on 28 January 1824, second son of Arthur Biddell [1] (1783-1860, the uncle who raised George Airy) and Jane Ransome [3,1] (1788-1855). A Quaker family. George Arthur Biddell was, therefore, grandson of Robert Ransome Senior (1753-1830) [3,2] and cousin to George Airy (1801-1892). See also [5,1].

Arthur and Jane's ten children were:-

George's History

Upland_Gate_1.png "Upland Gate" boundary wall.

Upland_Gate_2.png Entrance to "Upland Gate".

Upland_Gate_3.png Entrance to "Upland Gate".

Mentioned in JBAA

Vol. 3, no. 1, p. 53

The following candidates were proposed October 26, 1892, and were elected November 30, 1892:-

Bishops Hill, Ipswich.

Proposer--George Calver, F.R.A.S. Seconded--Arthur Cottam, F.R.A.S.

Vol. 6, no. 9, p. 415


Mr. J. A. Biddell then exhibited and explained the working of an improved stand for portable telescopes, pointing out especially the practicability and easy manipulation of the stand.

Vol. 6, no. 9, p. 422-3

Papers communicated to the Association.

An Improved Stand for Portable Telescopes.
By G. A. BIDDELL, M.Inst.C.E.

The chief feature consists in introducing a tubular cantilever beam of wood, pivoted at one end, about five feet from the ground, on two wooden uprights, which are bolted to the iron brackets of the rotating table of an ordinary tripod.

By means of an elevating screw and hand wheel the beam is readily moved through an arc of 70 degrees.

The upper side of the beam carries two Y's to receive the body of the telescope, which thus lies passive and steady, free from bending strains.

The eye end of the telescope is brought as near as practicable to the pivots of the beam, giving the smallest possible range for the observer's head, under great variations of altitude, and always ensures a comfortable seated position.

The direct motions, both for altitude and azimuth, are handily under perfect control when the observer is firmly seated, as by means of the two extended handles, the feet, and seat, a kind of rigid triangulation is obtained, and the object under observation easily kept in the field.

A smaller sliding tube is fitted to the eye end of the hollow beam, and the two together form a good finder, specially convenient when a dark solar cap is attached for fielding the sun.

This small tube also gives an excellent and steady support to a screening card to receive an enlarged image of the sun. A black cloth thrown over the head of the observer keeps the extraneous light or a thin wooden or card box, with a side door, can readily be arranged and placed upon the projecting tube.

The telescope is instantly placed upon or removed from the stand, beam readily detached from the screw, and, when turned over, hangs vertically, and the whole stand forms a compact body, which has merely to have a water- proof canvas bag or inverted sack dropped over it to form a perfect protection against all weathers.

June 1896.

Vol. 10, no. 9, p. 366


Partial Solar Eclipse, 1900, May 28.

I beg to inform you that the partial solar eclipse of yesterday was observed by me at Playford, a village about 4 miles N.E of Ipswich, through a 3-in. telescope.

The weather was fairly good, but with many light broken clouds driven by a slight W.N.W. wind.

The commencement took place at 2.42 G.T.

The finish at 4.56 G.T.

Both these observations were made when the sun was clear of clouds.

In the middle of the eclipse I could not detect the disk of the moon beyond the sun.

I think the light was generally admitted, during the greatest observations, by all the company near me, to have been something not quite usual, but of a peculiar, reduced, shaded glare, of a yellowish tint.

There was no Venus visible, probably too many thin clouds about.

I may mention, however, that I saw her quite distinctly here this evening at 7 o'clock with naked-eye in bright sunlight.


"Upland Gate", Bishop's Hill,
29th May 1900.

Holy Trinity Church, Back Hamlet, Ipswich

Originally built in 1836, and thus possibly the only Hanoverian church in Suffolk, a hall was added in the grounds in 1891 and the church building extended in 1895. Both church and hall are grade II listed [6,3] & [6,4]. Biddell seems to have been a major donor to the works [8,1] & [8,2]. He was Warden of the church for 46 years [1]. His name is commemorated three times in the fabric of the buildings:-

  1. a memorial tablet on the internal south wall of the church,
  2. an information tablet on the external west wall of the church, and
  3. a dedication tablet on the external west wall of the church hall.

Item ii is made of cast iron and it is possible that it was manufactured at Ransomes Orwell Works.

HTC_1.png Holy Trinity Church.

HTC_2.png Memorial tablet on the internal south wall of the church.

HTC_3.png Information tablet on the external west wall of the church.

HTC_4.png Dedication tablet on the external west wall of the church hall.



Obituary in Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, vol. 146, pp. 279-280, 1901 www.icevirtuallibrary.com/doi/abs/10.1680/imotp.1901.18551.


Suffolk Record Office item HE402/1/1914/1, Residence known as "Upland Gate", Bishop's Hill, Ipswich built by George Arthur Biddell. [....] Photographs and map of "Upland House". For sale by direction of the surviving Trustees of the Will of George Arthur Biddell, deceased. Annotated (from the Fenn Wright Estate Agency collection).


Graces Guide:

1, George Arthur Biddell www.gracesguide.co.uk/George_Arthur_Biddell.

2, Ransome and Son www.gracesguide.co.uk/Ransome_and_Son.

3, 1862 London Exhibition www.gracesguide.co.uk/1862_London_Exhibition:_Catalogue:_Class_V.:_G._A._Biddell.


"The Reminiscences of George Biddell", The Engineer, 19 May 1944, page 385.


Biddell family:

1, Pedigree archive.org/stream/visitationofengl03howa#page/98/mode/2up.

2, William Biddell en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Biddell.

3, Herman Biddell www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/heritage/the-suffolk-horse.


Ipswich Council listed buildings:

1, "Upland Gate" House ppc.ipswich.gov.uk/listeddetails.asp?iLBID=00/00002/LB.

2, "Upland Gate" boundary wall ppc.ipswich.gov.uk/listeddetails.asp?iLBID=00/00003/LB.

3, Holy Trinity Church ppc.ipswich.gov.uk/listeddetails.asp?iLBID=77/00130/LB.

4, Church Hall ppc.ipswich.gov.uk/listeddetails.asp?iLBID=77/00179/LB.

5, Thomas Chambers Hine (1813-89) en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Chambers_Hine.

6, Robert Evans (1832-1911) en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Evans_JP.


St. Mary's Church Playford, Suffolk gravestonephotos.com/public/cemeterynamelist.php?cemetery=1468.


Holy Trinity Church, Ipswich:

1, Church website www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/holytrinityipswich.htm.

2, Ipswich Historic Lettering website www.ipswich-lettering.co.uk/holytrinity.html.

Bill Barton, FRAS