Van Gogh in
158 Twickenham Road
The building still exists but is not open to the public. It is marked by a blue commemorative plaque.
Van Gogh in
During the time that he worked at Stokes’s boys school in Isleworth, Vincent got to know Thomas Slade-Jones (1829–1883) Like Stokes, Jones ran a boarding school on the Twickenham Road; he was also a minister. He offered Vincent a job at his school, Holme Court, a few buildings down the road from the school. Vincent began teaching there, and later, he also taught Sunday school and preached at Jones’s church in Turnham Green. He was thus able to fulfil his ambition of doing religious work.
Vincent had a room on the second floor of Holme Court, above the dormitory at the back of the building where all of the boys slept. He decorated his room with photographic portraits of his family and prints of works by artists including Paul Delaroche (1797–1856), Albert Anker (1831–1910) and Ary Scheffer (1795–1858), adding handwritten biblical passages along the edges. Vincent’s days were filled. In the mornings, he woke up the boys and gave them Bible lessons along with other subjects. On afternoons he did errands for Jones, went into the city, where he taught a few boys or instructed and/or looked after Jones’s children. In the evenings, before bedtime, Vincent told the boys stories, after a tiring day, they would sometimes fall asleep before he could finish. At the end of his own long days at work, Vincent took time to write to his family or organise his thoughts in his sermon book. He was doing more and more work in the Turnham Green church and Jones soon hired a new assistant teacher to take over his job.
This arrangement suited Vincent and he wrote enthusiastically about his new lifestyle. Yet with this work for Jones, though, he was not earning enough to build a decent future, and, during a stay in the Netherlands, he decided to change directions. He did not return to Isleworth but went to work in a bookstore in Dordrecht. For a few years, Vincent remained in touch with Jones for a few years.
Kristine Groenhart en Willem-Jan Verlinden