Lucy Kemp-Welch at Russell-Côtes Art Gallery

A major art exhibition In Her Own Voice: The Art of Lucy Kemp-Welch has opened at the Russell-Côtes Art Gallery & Museum on the East Cliff coast path at Bournemouth.

It is open all summer until Sunday 1 October before being shown at the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket. Lucy Kemp-Welch is famous for her equine paintings and especially her illustrations for Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.

Her first experience of horses was in Bournemouth where she was born in 1869. At the instigation of her mother, Lucy spent one day a week at a vet’s infirmary at Christchurch where she was able to study the anatomy of horses.

In 1890, when Lucy was attending Boscombe’s Drummond Road School of Art, her A drink by the way painting was accepted for the Bournemouth Industrial and Loan Exhibition at the Grand Hotel. The following year she won a place at the Herkomer School of Art in Bushey, Hertfordshire.

She became famous in 1895 when her Gypsy Horse Drovers was included in the Royal Academy of Art summer exhibition. That year she and her sister Edith spent the summer in the New Forest sketching horses and ponies.

The following year Lucy painted Foam Horses which we are told was ‘inspired by the sea off Parkstone Beach, Poole’. Does this mean Branksome, Flag Head Chine or possibly Sandbanks? This was some years before racehorses were stabled at Sandbanks and the ‘Foam’ horses are thought to be army horses being exercised in the sea. The painting, now in the current exhibition, was another to be included in the RA Summer Exhibition.

In the 1900 RA Summer Exhibition she exhibited Horses bathing in the Sea, now in National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, which she had definitely begun with a sketch on Sandbanks beach. Purbeck and Old Harry Rocks can be seen in the background. She never used photography but always relied on pencil sketches made on site to complete the oil painting. This one was completed at Bushey where by this time she had made her permanent home.

Although living in Bushey she often returned to her home town where in 1924 she exhibited by invitation in the Bournemouth Arts Club exhibition. The following year she became its Vice-President. At the club’s 1930 exhibition (at Poole Hill College; now Poole Hill Brewery) she showed Mixed Company of a Race Meeting painted in 1905.

The Russell-Côtes show, the first significant retrospective, is curated by art historian David Boyd Haycock and coincides with the publication of his new biography of the artist: Lucy Kemp-Welch 1869-1968 (ACC Art Books, £45).

Souvenirs available include tea towels and cards (Foam Horses post card 65p.)

Open Tuesday to Sunday; admission £8.50, student £4.10.

The Morning, 1902 (right) greets you at the gallery entrance.
A visitor reading one of the information panels describing the artist’s huge output.
The Russell-Côtes Art Gallery is on the coast path east of Bournemouth Pier
Horses Bathing in the Sea, 1900 (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Purchased, 1900 © Estate of Lucy Kemp-Welch)
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Aubrey Beardsley: 125th anniversary of death

Self portrait

Artist Aubrey Beardsley died today 16 March a hundred and twenty-five years ago in Menton on the Côte d’Azure.

His last prolific period had been in Bournemouth where he first lived at the bottom of Sea Road enjoying a view over Boscombe Pier.

Later he moved to a house in Exeter Road a short distance from Bournemouth Pier. There is memorial on the site opposite the BH3 centre.

At Boscombe the coast path runs down steps at the end of the East Cliff where Beardsley suffered a haemorrhage near the top. On his tortured journey back to the hotel he drank some spa water at the entrance to Boscombe Gardens.

The coast path then runs up Sea Road for a few yards to turn right in front of The Point which replaces the Pier Hotel.

Today a small procession will make its way from the Menton Cathedral to Beardsley’s grave high above the town and with a sea view as he enjoyed from Boscombe’s elevated Pier Hotel.

Aubrey Beardsley enjoyed first floor view from Pier Hotel (right)
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‘Astonishing scenery’ says Sir David speaking at Old Harry Rocks

Sir David Attenborough at Old Harry Rocks on the Dorset
coast path with the Bournemouth coast behind

‘In my long lifetime, I have travelled to almost every corner of our planet,’ says Sir David Attenborough during the first episode of BBC1’s Wild Isles.

‘I can assure you that in the British Isles, as well as astonishing scenery there are extraordinary animal dramas and wildlife spectacles to match anything I have seen on my global travels.’

He is speaking at Old Harry Rocks with the Bournemouth coast in the background.

David Attenborough is fronting a five-part Sunday evening series which aims to highlight challenges affecting nature within the British Isles and alert us to the species which are in danger of vanishing.

Matthew Arnold, Benjamin Disraeli, Henry James, John Betjeman and Bill Bryson have all praised the coast around Poole Bay.

The 19th-century traveller and art critic Julia Cartwright wrote: ‘When I came out on the cliff and saw the wide sweep of the blue bay, the glorious calm deep sapphire seas stretching far away under the most cloudless of skies, it was Nice over again. For a minute it seemed like a dream and there were indeed Mediterranean waters below.’

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Hurst Spit to Lymington Strategy

Hurst Castle with Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes behind

The public consultation has opened on how part of Hampshire’s coastline can be managed as climate change becomes more evident.

The Hurst Spit to Lymington Strategy display seen at consultation events reveals alarming change over the coming century if we ignore the threat.

By 2040 there will be another significant rise in sea level.

There are various proposals with an understanding that the Lymington waterfront will have to be defended.

Hurst Castle, although in urgent need of repair on its seaward side, stands on land which appears firm. However, the spit which has been drifting north over many years is vulnerable to breach at its western end.

Meanwhile the saltmarsh is shrinking.

The line of the Milford-on-Sea to Lymington coast path will probably change and the scenic views certainly will.

The final consultation day on initial high level options is at Lymington’s Masonic Hall on Thursday 6 October 10am-4pm.

The exhibition boards can be seen online but the in person exhibition has the addition of an interactive map.

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Barton-on-Sea’s Indian Memorial: The 2022 July anniversary

Princess Sophia in her nursing uniform

The annual gathering for a ceremony at Barton-on-Sea’s Indian Memorial is on Sunday 10 July at 2pm.

This will be 105th anniversary of the dedication in 1917.

During the First World War the clifftop Barton Court Hotel was turned into a depot for injured Indian troops to convalesce. The row of shop is all that remains of the hotel.

The memorial is on the road junction opposite.

Depot nursing staff included Queen Victoria’s goddaughter Princess Sophia Duleep Singh who at the time was best known for her active support for the Suffragette movement.

Sepoy Khudadad Khan was patient at Barton when it was announced that he was to be the first Indian recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Princess Sophia depicted on a 2018 postage stamp

Obelisk and shops at Barton-on-Sea

Barton Court before the memorial was erected. The frontage which has become shops is to the right.
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Shelley 200: Poet’s heart at Boscombe

Boscombe Manor in Shelley Park with theatre (left)

This month sees the two hundredth anniversary of Percy B Shelley’s death off the coast of Italy.

It is difficult to say when the exact anniversary is. Shelley died in a storm late on the night of Monday 8 July but his body was not discovered on Viareggio beach until Wednesday 17 July. News reached London on his 30th birthday Sunday 4 August.

The body had been buried in quicklime on the beach with the spot marked with a gnarled pine root. Cremation on Viareggio beach did not take place until Thursday 15 August when incense was added to the flames to reduce any smell along with salt and red wine.

Afterwards the ashes were placed in the British Consul’s wine cellar for several months until burial near to John Keats in Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners on 23 January 1823. Shelley was much taken with the location where he had buried his son William and mentions it in his Adonais. An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, written in 1821.

An anniversary ceremony is being held there at 9.30am on 8 July.

But not all the remains of PB Shelley are in Rome. Shelley’s heart was snatched from the flames on the beach to eventually be placed at Boscombe Manor before its very final resting place in the churchyard of St Peter’s Church in nearby Bournemouth. The town, like Viareggio and Rome’s cemetery, is known for its pines.

Waiting at their Casa Magni house in Lerici for Shelley to arrive on the night of his drowning in July 1822 and days after was Mary Shelley and their two year old son Percy.

Thirty years later Percy was living in Boscombe Manor with his wife Jane who was devoted to the memory of her father-in-law PB Shelley.

The house had been bought in 1851 as final home for the poet’s widow Mary Shelley but the writer died just just two months before a planned move from her Chester Square home in London.

Percy and Jane, who were present at the death, brought Mary’s body back to Bournemouth for burial in St Peter’s churchyard since she had in about 1844 relinquished the booked plot next to her husband in Rome. Her belongings were moved to Boscombe Manor (now Shelley Park) where Percy and Jane were living. There they discovered the heart wrapped in silk inside a copy of Adonais.

The dusty object was placed in an urn and kept in alcove called the Sanctum with a red lamp always burning. In the same room were Mary’s numerous documents which now form the Shelley Collection at Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

Also at Boscombe were locks of hair cut from Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary’s mother, and Shelley.

Visitors included Edward Trelawny who had arranged Shelley’s cremation and taken what he claimed to be the heart from the dying flames. At Boscombe he enjoyed plays in Sir Percy’s theatre attached to the house.

The heart remained in the Sanctum until its burial with the body of Shelley’s son Sir Percy in the family tomb in December 1889.

Poet Shelley never knew Boscombe or Bournemouth in life but he may have been aware of the area as an early girlfriend, Harriet Grove, told Percy that Bournemouth had ‘a pretty sea view’. In 1810 she visited with the town’s ‘founder’ Lewis Tregonwell to see the site of his planned house, now the Royal Exeter Hotel.

Between Boscombe Chine and coming level with Browning Avenue, the coast path is on former Shelley land as it passes above Honeycombe Chine, through Boscombe Cliff Gardens given by Lady Shelley, and past Shelley Park where the manor house survives as a medical centre.

The Coach House at 21 Percy Road is the former stables.

In the 19th century Boscombe Manor (or Shelley Park) was set among pines, heather and extensive sand dunes.

The theatre added by the Shelleys, and now restored and reopened with a cafe, had a drop scene depicting Casa Magni in Lerici.

The Bournemouth Coast Path’s winter route (used when Mudeford Ferry is not running) passes round the back of Christchurch Priory. Immediately inside the entrance on the right is the Shelley Memorial of white marble depicting Mary Shelley holding the poet’s drowned body as if just washed ashore. The work is by Henry Weekes.

This seems a long way from Boscombe but in 1854 Boscombe was in Christchurch parish.

Sir Percy Shelley, son of the poet
PB Shelley (right) with a scallop shell and John Keats depicted in Keats Shelley bicentenary poster

Map of the Shelley family’s Boscombe estate in 1872. Honeycombe Chine can be seen (left).
Shelley memorial in Christchurch Priory (Picture: Tim Willasey-Wilsey The Victorian Web)
The Shelley tomb in St Peter’s Bournemouth churchyard holds Shelley’s heart along with his wife Mary Shelley, son Percy and daughter-in-law Jane. Also interred are Mary’s mother Mary Wollstonecraft and her husband William Godwin.
Casa Magni at Lerici
Shelley’s cremation on Viareggio beach
Lerici this summer
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Highcliffe Castle to Chewton Bunny

Highcliffe Castle from Christchurch Coastal Path

Wednesday was the hottest day this week but the coast at Highcliffe remained pleasant and uncrowded.

Highcliffe Castle is open to the public Sunday to Thursday. The castle’s tea room with outdoor seating is open daily 10am to 4pm.

Coast path at Highcliffe Castle
Isle of Wight from the path at Highcliffe Castle. This is the vista enjoyed from the mansion for over 150 years.
Path east from Castle is near the bottom of the cliff before returning to the clifftop above Chewton Bunny.
Christchurch Bay looking west from Highcliffe during the afternoon
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Mr Justice Maxell centenary

Cover of the first edition.

An important feature of Branksome Chine was the sea-view Branksome Tower Hotel on the eastern bank.

It was built in 1858 as a private house and became a hotel in 1892.

The many famous guests included the prolific author Edgar Wallace who set part of his novel Mr Justice Maxell there. It has never been out of print since its publication a century ago.

Wallace made this ‘solid mansion’ in Westminster Road again a residence. The other location used is Tangier which he also knew well.

In the thriller his main character Timothy Anderson keeps watch in the Branksome Towers garden on the east side of the chine where the author places is a disused well.

The clock which strikes midnight and one o’clock from ‘a distant church’ must belong to St Ambrose, at the top of the chine, in West Cliff Road.

The ‘Parade Drug Store’ is probably Westbourne’s dispensing chemists Taylor’s at 103 Poole Road. It was established in 1893 and had its own distinctive lamp post with a red light outside. Since 2010 the chemist’s, now called Vantage Pharmacy, has been at number 95.

A lodging ‘Vermont House’ is in Western Avenue. The concert featured probably takes place at the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth.

The Banksome Tower Hotel, later known as Branksome Towers and demolished in 1973, was advertised as ‘the only Bournemouth hotel with grounds extending to the seashore’ and ‘on its own cliffs in 9 acres of magnificent grounds’. (The hotel was of course not in Bournemouth but within the Borough of Poole which embraced Branksome and Branksome Dene Chines.)

Mr Justice Maxell was republished as Take-a-Chance Anderson but is again available under the original title.

The hotel also featured in the author’s Vote For Tony Newton story published in a magazine in 1923 which was a preview of his The Brigand novel in 1927.

Today’s cover.
Branksome Tower Hotel terrace
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Canford Cliffs flowers

Today was surprisingly misty with spots of rain this morning. But the new growth by the Canford Cliffs path was bright.

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Savoy rebranded as The Nici

The Savoy, now The Nici, seen from the coast path

The Savoy Hotel on Bournemouth’s West Cliff has been refurbished and rebranded as The Nici.

Past guests at the old Savoy include the American monk, mystic and author Thomas Merton (1915-1968) who got to know the clifftop well.

As a teenage schoolboy about to leave his English school for Cambridge he spent the two month 1932 summer holiday at ‘a big, dreary hotel in Bournemouth, standing on top of a cliff and facing the sea with a battery of white iron balconies, painted silver’.

His companions were his maternal grandparents and brother John Paul. His father painter Owen Merton had died the previous year.

Two years before his death Thomas Merton wrote: ‘I suppose I am the same person as the eighteen-year-old riding back alone into Bournemouth on a bus out of the New Forest, where I had camped a couple of days and nights.’

His influential autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, published in 1948, remains in print having sold over a million copies and appearing in fifteen languages.

The Nici is behind West Cliff Green and close to the Highcliff Hotel which can also claim famous guests who enjoyed the sea view.

The Savoy with its new name is maybe no longer dreary but fortunately some familiar architectural features have been retained.

The familiar balcony ironwork is repainted.
The coast path in front of The Nici.
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