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Art and literature
K Forbes-Dunlop's memoirs were written when she was 96 but with a memory as clear as a bell. In her 'Memories' she paints a picture of Winchelsea at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Her Winchelsea past was populated with a delightful cast of larger than life local characters and famous local residents, many of whom are portrayed in these photos. The quotations are taken from her memoirs.
Mr Conrad’s Cottage
Mr Conrad's Cottage, Friars Road. “On the other side of the road, opposite the home of Ford Madox Ford and our house, was a tiny cottage in which Joseph Conrad (1857- 1924) stayed for some months. Ford Madox Ford had serialised Conrad's early novel ‘Nigger of the Narcissus’ in his magazine ‘The New Review’. A friendship resulted and Ford Madox Ford asked Conrad to come to Winchelsea to help him in writing his 'History of the Cinque Ports'. It was for Joseph Conrad that I made a rice pudding. But that is another story”.
Joseph Conrad. “Joseph Conrad was a Pole who came to England in 1878 and served in the North Sea Coasters sailing the seas of the world. On Tower Hill, London, one day in 1895, he suddenly understood ‘that l had done with the sea and that henceforth I had to be a writer’. There followed ‘The Nigger of the Narcissus’, ‘Lord Jim’ and many others; and his friendship with Ford Madox Ford, and their joint work on 'The History of the Cinque Ports'”.
Millais’ The Blind Girl
The Blind Girl. “It is indisputable that Millais was living and working in Winchelsea in 1854, but in which house was he living? The answer, indubitably, at ‘Glebe’ - my present home. In 1855, John Everett Millais painted what many people believe to have been his finest picture, 'The Blind Girl'. In the very obvious Winchelsea background the girl is sitting on the verge of the Sea Road, leading to Winchelsea from Winchelsea Beach. Behind her is a stretch of the Marsh and beyond is the sloping road leading up to the Strand Gate. The old Church is visible and the line of houses in Barrack Square”.
John Everett Millais was a frequent visitor to Winchelsea. He often stayed at the 'Glebe' or the New Inn in Winchelsea. In 1854, Millais painted ‘The Blind Girl’ set against the background of the Strand Hill, and ‘The Random Shot’ (also called ‘L'Enfant du Regiment’) against the tombs in St Thomas’ Church.
Ellen Terry in her role as Beatrix. Regarded by many as the greatest English actress of the last century, she lived in Winchelsea at 'Tower Cottage' from 1896 to 1906.
Ford Madox Ford
Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939). “Ford Madox Hueffer, later Ford Madox Ford lived in the next house, called 'The Little House'. He was a novelist, biographer, poet and courted and married Elsie Martindale, daughter of an eminent doctor who lived in my present home, 'Glebe'. We could see him sitting writing his books. Many literary friends , such as Henry James, the novelist (1843-1916), living then at 'Lamb House', Rye, visited them”.
Maud & Beatrice Beddington 1884
Beatrice and Maud Beddington. From ‘Childhood Memories of Winchelsea’ by Margaret Palmer. “Further along the road lived Miss Beddington and she was interested in historical things and had a studio at the top the house with baskets of clothes, lovely velvets etc., and we had a play occasionally at the Town Hall. I was a page and a photo still exists somewhere. The play was the ‘Battle of Bannockburn’. Also once we dressed up and paraded around the town. I was the Black Prince”.
William Makepeace Thackery
William Makepeace Thackeray. “In 1855, Thackeray (1811-1863) the great novelist who wrote ‘Vanity Fair’, joined Millais in Winchelsea and they worked together. Thackeray was busy writing ‘Denis Duval’, with the house 'Glebe' disguised as ‘The Rectory’ as its background and with its hero modelled on Millais”.
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