Sidney Endacott, the remarkable young Englishman, who carved the woodwork in the Castle was born in Devon, England. Sidney was one of seven sons born to John and Mary Endacott, coming by his talent naturally. His father, John, was also artistically gifted. When John was a boy, his Uncle, also named John, recognized his nephew’s artistic abilities and encouraged him to become a builder and architect. In turn, John encouraged his sons’ talents and they grew up sketching and carving wood.
Sidney had severe health problems, having suffered two serious falls from which he never fully recovered. However, he was able to develop his artistic skills as a result, seeing an avenue by which he could produce an income and have a career.
In 1893, Sidney’s brother, William Endacott married Catherine Herning of Lawrence, Kansas. Another brother, Frank, traveled to Lawrence with William and they both worked in the Herman Horse Collar Factory. Sidney, eager to find a new market for his artwork, soon followed his brothers to Lawrence when he was just twenty. He didn’t find the art market he was seeking, but fortunately for posterity, General Roberts heard about his carving talent while the Castle was being built. The general met with Sidney and took him down to the planing mill, McFarland Sash and Door Factory, where the woodwork for the home was being milled in several different kinds of wood including, oak, pine, cherry, and walnut. Sidney had a red and a blue pencil with him and sketched several designs of cherubs, grapes, fruit and angels with trumpets.
It is said that the general was so impressed by Sidney’s talent he gave him free reign, telling him to carve to suit himself. Sidney spent three months carving the five mantle pieces, staircases, newel posts, and china buffet for the home. After completing his Castle assignment, Sidney returned to England.
Life in the Endacott home must have been robust with all of those boys, six surviving childhood. Sidney’s widow offered this account in a letter about life around the kitchen table. “There used to be some fine old arguments around the meal table [in Ashburton]. Sometimes John joined his sons, Sid, Norman and Arthur (the three brothers who did not go to America to live)—all talking at once, and none of them with very soft voices. Another thing that intrigued me was, one of them would make a sketch of something interesting on [the] white tablecloth while we were having breakfast. Each one in turn would see an improvement that could be made, from his point of view. In the end there would be sketches all over the tablecloth.”
Sidney married Bertha Lillie “Lily” Hayden in 1903. He and Lily had one child, Bernard, in 1910. His ill health continued to plague him. In a notation he made beside a sketch for his father in 1910, he says, “I find it impossible to undertake anything larger, so I amuse myself by doing little sketches like this.”
During WWI he wanted to contribute to the war effort. So he did a series of sketches of military lorry parts and assemblies which were assembled into a how-to manual for the soldier mechanics on the front. These greatly enhanced the speed of repairs and ordering process for replacement parts.
Sidney supported the family with his artwork. He sold his paintings through Worth’s Gallery in Exeter, England. As his health deteriorated, he became concerned about the family’s livelihood. He decided to teach Lily to paint. She was an apt student and became quite accomplished. Sidney died in 1918 and Lily continued to support the family with her paintings through Worth’s Gallery. Following in his parents’ footsteps, Bernard became an expert stained glass painter, repairing many of the bombed churches throughout Europe.