The Caldecott Gallery within Whitchurch Heritage Centre houses a fine collection of artworks and memorabilia relating to Randolph Caldecott.
Randolph was born in Bridge Street, Chester on 22nd March 1846. His parents were John Caldecott, a Chester businessman and his first wife Mary.
From early childhood Randolph drew and modelled and when he was only 15 he had his first drawing published. This was the following sketch of a fire at the Queen Railway Hotel in Chester, it appeared in the Illustrated London News along with an account of the event.
On leaving school at fifteen Randolph became a bank clerk. His first job was at the Whitchurch and Ellesmere Bank and he took lodgings at Wirswall, a village near the town. In his spare time and when he was out visiting clients Randolph was often seen walking and riding around the countryside.
Many of his later illustrations incorporate buildings and scenery from the Whitchurch area. His love of riding led him to take up hunting and many of his drawings and sketches show humorous hunting scenes.
An annual award named the ‘Caldecott Medal’ has been presented every year since 1938. It is named after Randolph Caldecott and is presented to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. It must have been published in English in the United States during the preceding year, the illustrations have to be original work and the artist a U.S. citizen.