Monday, 2 November 2015

Raymond Sheppard and wooden buildings

Windmills in Norfolk (Raymond Sheppard)
On our journey, outlined in the previous three blog posts, we wondered whether it would possible to identify the building drawn below

"Old wooden building in the woods"
Stop for a moment and look at it and say what you think it might be. Firstly it is in woods, secondly there are people walking by and on a path that's well-trodden, with a sign on the ground. The building itself appears like a tiled barn on the left and has a tower. The tower appears shingled, or possibly lead-lined. and there are only two 'windows' visible due to the wisteria or ivy growth. The tower looks to be hexagonal and the connecting part has a doorway.

What sort of building would have a tower/turret with window slots? And where could it be? I decided to firstly look at Google Maps for woods in the same area as the round churches, and there was Waveney Forest at St. Olaves. I was drawn to the space in the woods that had a track leading to it and imagine my surprise when I see that it's a round tower of some sort.

On our holiday we walked into the woods on a public way and found a residence called "The Round House". The viewpoint and location were so similar, as the picture above, that we felt it could be a new building on that site, matching the contours but built in brick. (For privacy reasons I am not published a photo I took). I also found this on the Norfolk heritage site, as I trawled the Internet. If anyone knows any more I'd be grateful to hear from them. Please email me here - You'll need to type the address in your email:
Lastly on our walk to this spot we passed a very interesting windmill.

River Waveney and St. Olave's Mill

St. Olave's Mill

St. Olave's Mill

St. Olave's Mill
The River Waveney is part of the Norfolk Broads and the mill sits alongside. Interestingly Christine Sheppard shared some of her father's sketches of 'draining mills' in the Norfolk area and it appears this is one.

Drainage Mill

Draining Mill at Herringfleet

Draining Mill at Herringfleet

Draining Mill on the marshes
The BBC tells me that these are "smock mills" introduced by the Dutch and contrary to opinion did not grind flour but were for drainage of the rivers.

That's the end of our Norfolk Broads Round Tower Church Adventure.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Raymond Sheppard and Round Tower Churches - Burgh Castle Church

Norfolk has 123 standing round tower churches (most in the South east of the county), Suffolk 38, Essex 6, Cambridge 2, Sussex 3, and Berkshire 2. Kent, Surrey and Orkney have one each which have either disappeared or are in a ruinous state. So "it is clear that the greatest concentration of round-towered churches is in the south east Norfolk" and the north east corner of Suffolk (Ashwin, 2005). Heywood, the author of the chapter on round-towered churches, goes on to explain "this convergence towards the valleys of the Rivers Yare and Waveney simply reflects a greater population of the area during the early Middle Ages (p.60). If you want to know more consult the many sources on the Internet (or books - love a library!) mentioned below.

Burgh Castle Church by Raymond Sheppard

Christine  Sheppard, in kindly sharing the paintings and drawings that her father did of round tower churches, presented me with a mystery, and she should know me better than to think I'd not give it a go!

Taken from as near as I could (my wife holds the reproduction we took with us)

I'm falling in love with flint!

St Peter and St Paul Burgh Castle was not difficult to find. As two drawings were in this area it seemed likely the mystery "East Anglian" church - as it had been labelled - was here nearby. The tower here is 50 feet and inside the church appears flat walled and the thickness of the church's walls are an apparent sign that the church was here before the tower. The nearby Roman fort is likely to have been plundered for stone to build the church. This tower is battlemented and dressed with flint as are others.

In taking the photo to emulate Sheppard's angle you'll notice that the two gravestones are now, if they weren't then, propped up and several other stones nearer the porch have now gone. If you look closely you'll see that a gravestone (see below) has now had a substantial tree grow up in front of it to block Sheppard's view if he were drawing this today!

Trees grow where they will!

Lastly we will look at a mysterious wooden building and a mill in the next episode of our journey in Norfolk and Suffolk!

  1. Heywood, Stephen, Round-Towered Churches, pp.29-30 in Ashwin, Trevor and Alan Davison (eds.)(2005), An historical atlas of Norfolk. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. Ltd.  [ISBN: 1860773494])
  2. Goode, W. J 1994, Round tower churches of South East England  Round Tower Church Society  [ISBN: 0952305801

Monday, 19 October 2015

Raymond Sheppard and Round Tower Churches - Herringfleet St. Margaret's

Herringfleet Church
Norman's attempt to copy Sheppard!

The second church I want to focus on in our tour of the Norfolk-Suffolk border is Herringfleet St Margaret's. It was hard to find as no signposts wanted to help us and our satnav was confused at this point. But determination paid off.

The church's tower is 47 feet high and as you can see from my photos below, is circular to the parapet and has no battlements or stair turret. Apparently the way the flint is laid in the tower helps date the church tower to the late Saxon period.  I read that the bells in the tower are dated 1611 and 1837. The unusual aspect - found in a few Norfolk/Suffolk churches - is that the roof and chancel are thatched and unfortunately I arrived on a day when some blue plastic was placed in the thatch!

Herringfleet Church form the west
Taken to show some the gravestones Sheppard included

...and again a major stone featured in Sheppard's illustration

For the third part of our journey we visit two mystery drawings and hopefully solve them!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Raymond Sheppard and Round Tower Churches - Haddiscoe

Haddiscoe Church from Beccles Road [65+ years ago!]

Close but impossible to replicate!

I am lucky to be able to visit other libraries (we Librarians love comparing notes!) and a couple of years ago I visited the Norwich Cathedral Library and just by chance saw a note which said four one day tours were being organised by Jack Sterry, around the "Round tower churches in Mid Norfolk, North Norfolk and Suffolk". It was the first time I heard the expression 'round tower churches'. I remember that Raymond Sheppard had drawn a few in the area and filed that away to do further research.

Haddiscoe Church from Loddon Road
Haddiscoe Church from Loddon Road

In August this year my wife and I took a holiday in Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads. On our way there we decided to do some exploring. Christine Sheppard, (Raymond Sheppard's daughter) had kindly shared some of her father's church paintings and having never heard of round tower churches, let alone seen one, I was very curious and thankfully so was my ever patient wife!

We travelled through Essex, Suffolk and across the border into Norfolk, and found the first Haddiscoe, St. Mary  The tower is 52 feet tall and appears to be a Norman tower done in a Saxon manner. The three 'string courses' are very rare in round towers and the stone apparently comes from Caen in France thus adding to the reason it's thought to be Norman. We arrived on a very hot day and walked around the graveyard and found it 'unkempt'. But we soon realised that this was in order to encourage wildlife.

Haddiscoe Church (south side porch)
Now I'm not a fanatic but I wanted to replicate Raymond Sheppard's positions when he drew and painted the churches he visited, but there's a problem. We think he drew these pictures in the early 1950s and that's <gulp> 60 years ago! Nature loves to take over places and man tries to subdue it. The two pictures above show my problem, but even allowing for movable topography I think Sheppard took some artistic license. Anyway, here goes....

The first drawing above is impossible to replicate today due to a lot of undergrowth, and I suspect the road that Sheppard used is too busy to try and the view is obscured. The second one shown above is a bit easier - but still not quite right.

Haddiscoe Church from the East
The nearest I could get to the east!

The last picture Christine Sheppard kindly shared was a pencil drawing of a window which I think I have captured here

Haddiscoe Church window sketch
Window with a visitor who didn't want to leave!

Outside Haddiscoe Church - window on left

In our next enthralling episode....Herringfleet

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Raymond Sheppard and Silent Hunter

The Silent Hunter dustjacket

Raymond Sheppard's artwork in "The Silent Hunter" is very robust and well-executed. The first edition, published in 1939 (when Sheppard was only 26 years of age but drawing prolifically - especially for Blackie and Son) had a nice dustjacket (see above).  I love the 'cameo' effect of incomplete borders in this artwork which emphasise the big aspect of the subjects, take for example the frontispiece of a lynx sitting on a mountain rock. A drawing of a more proud animal in its natural element would be hard to find, but Sheppard convinces through his talent with line, shading and composition.

In the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Vol 1 (by R. Reginald (Author), Douglas Menville (Editor), Mary A. Burgess (Editor. Borgo Press, 2010) we find a notation for Philip Briggs who wrote Escape from Gravity and The Silent Planet science-fiction novels. This 'male' author also wrote several adventure books (listed at the bottom of this article).

Interestingly the entry states his name is the pseudonym of Phylllis Briggs (not to be confused with the lady -1908-2008- who inspired Tenko the TV series!). I don't know where they got this information but assuming it's correct, Phyllis wrote The Silent Hunter which Raymond Sheppard illustrated.

Engraved cover of "The Silent Hunter"
This comes from the frontispiece

Frontispiece (for p.170)
"She sat for a long time with a far-away look in her eyes"
The lynx sits proud on a rock

p25: Nearer he came, his eyes now slowly closing as he felt the waves of heat
The lynx cowers towards a log fire

p35: The hare fell like a stone
The lynx catches a hare in snow

p61: Babel broke out
The lynx leaps at chickens on a shelf

p87: Then began a wild flurry
The lynx captures a goose

p109: The cat was much nearer
A boy astride a branch cowers
as a lynx approaches from a higher branch
p.119 A fine haddock
The lynx approaches a net under which is a fish

p.149 The man staggered back
Two men fight in the guard's van -
the lynx is in a cage

p.161 She leaped out in one superb arc
A boy frees a caged lynx
p.175 A great wolfish brute had led his pack
A pack of hounds follow a wolf-like dog in the snow

p.181 He called up his ruffians, never far away
A wolf howls in a snowy landscape

p.189 A warning whine woke in her throat
One lynx cowers while another approaches

p.201 “Get back in there and stay there!”
A woman with a scarf raises a hand
with a rock in it to a lynx that begins to exit a cave

p.209 The fight surged down the hill
Various dogs fight each other; 
in the background men with guns attack dogs

p.219 Out stumbled the single kitten
The lynx carries a rabbit to a kitten

Phyllis Midwood Briggs, (1904-1981) was an author of children’s fiction from the 1930s to 1960s. The dustjacket for the only book of Briggs' I own states: "The author who knows [Sweden] its wildlife, and its people very well indeed". Beyond this I can't find anything about Phyllis Briggs. She died in Clacton-on-Sea on 11 June 1981 (mentioned in the London Gazette) and from the fact she is in the Gazette at all means she either had no living immediate relatives and / or she left behind some wealth, I guess. I think the story she is best remembered for is "Son of Black Beauty" but I love this particular book. 


Brer Rabbit Stories. Retold by Phyllis Briggs from the original stories by Joel Chandler Harris, Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1952]

The Cat of Pine Ridge Illustrated by C. Gifford Ambler.
London : Hutchinson's Books for Young People, [1944]

Horses and ponies of the world picture-stamp book Illustrated by Nat Long.
Paulton ; London : Purnell, [1966]

The Keeper of the Lake.
London ; Redhill : Lutterworth Press, 1945.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Retold by Phyllis Briggs.
London : Thames Publishing Co., [1954]

More Brer Rabbit Stories. Based on the original stories by Joel Chandler Harris,. Retold by Phyllis Briggs. Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1953]

More Stories of Pickles the Pony Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1959]

Ocean Redhead.
London : Lutterworth Press, 1949.

Pickles the Pony Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1959]

The Secret Garden Illustrated by J. E. McConnell.
London : Thames Publishing Co., [1951]

The Silent Hunter Illustrated by Raymond Sheppard.
London ; Glasgow : Blackie & Son, 1939.

Son of Black Beauty.
London : Thames Publishing Co., [1952]

Tales of Brer Rabbit. Told by Phyllis Briggs from the original stories by Joel Chandler Harris, Illustrated by E. H. Davie.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1955]

Wolf of the North. [A tale.]
London : A. & C. Black, 1937.

As Philip Briggs:

Coast Waters.
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1949.

Escape from Gravity
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1955.

Man of Antarctica. The story of Captain Scott.
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1959.

North with the Pintail.
Philip Briggs
London ; Redhill : Lutterworth Press, 1943.

Orchid Island.
Philip Briggs
London ; Redhill : Lutterworth Press, 1947.

The Silent Planet
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1957.

Three Rovers.
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, [1958]

The Turning Point.
Philip Briggs
London : Pickering & Inglis, 1953.

Under the Ensign.
Philip Briggs
London ; Edinburgh : Oliphants, 1957.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Raymond Sheppard - Lilliput and Warneford VC

Lilliput March 1957, p.24
Warneford's plane is caught in the exploding Zeppelin's wake

Raymond Sheppard illustrated the story of "Warneford VC" written by John Prebble, in Lilliput March 1957. The story of the flying ace who destroyed a Zeppelin and changed attitudes to this gigantic bombing machine is told in exciting prose.

"There was less than seven hours of darkness on the night of Sunday, June 6 1915, and the moon was in its last quarter. North-west Europe was experiencing a hot summer and the peak temperature in England that noon had been 90 degrees [32.2  degrees Celsius]"

Reginald Warneford portrait 3.jpg
"Reginald Warneford portrait 3". 
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Count von Zeppelin built his first airship in 1894 and this format of travel became very popular before the war as a passenger transport. But the German forces saw the military potential and so began 'total war' in which civilians became causalities for the first time. By 1916 defences in Britain against this aerial attack got better through the tracking of radio signals, the use of searchlights and sending attack aircraft after them. They were extremely sensitive to explosions as they were filled with hydrogen. "Zeppelin raids were called off in 1917, by which time 77 out of the 115 German Zeppelins had been shot down or totally disabled. Raids by heavier than air bombers continued, however. By the end of the war over 1500 British citizens had been killed in air raids." ----

Lilliput March 1957 cover
Raids on mainland Britain took place, after the approval of the Kaiser on 7 January 1915, After many start/stop decisions, his fear being his relations in Buckingham Palace, the first attacks on the UK went ahead on the nights of  19 and 20 January 1915. The original target was Humberside but due to strong winds the Germans decided to drop their bombs on Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, and King's Lynn. London was bombed for the first time on 31 May 1915.

Lilliput March 1957, p.22
Searchlights spot a Zeppelin above St. Paul's Cathedral
When the illustration above is enlarged it's interesting to see how Sheppard creates the starry sky with light from London blending into the pitch black. Where his contemporary, Frank Bellamy (my other obsession!) would stipple or add overlapping swirls, Sheppard  does an alternative. Paul Liss, who kindly provided the high resolution copy for me to share, describes the artwork as pen and ink and I'm guessing Sheppard laid a black sky down with ink and scraped away the lights in the sky. Also notice the pencilled notes on the above illustration quotes some of Prebble's story:
"The picture of a pencil-slim object, slow moving in the night - licked by searchlights"

Lilliput March 1957, p.23
A Zeppelin crosses the English Channel with a boat in the background

Lilliput March 1957, p.23
Warneford stands by his aircraft
On the night of 6-7 June 1915 Reginald Alexander John (Rex) Warneford, a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service, flying a Morane-Saulnier bi-plane, spotted a Zeppelin returning from the British mainland and fired upon it only to be driven away by return fire. The airship climbed higher and higher not realising the determined Englishman was after them. Warneford pursued for 2 hours to an altitude of 13,000 feet.  Once the inflated craft started its descent Warneford was above it and dropped six bombs from 200 feet above.

Lilliput March 1957, p.24
2 planes attack the Zeppelin

As well as blowing up the highly volatile German airship, the resultant explosion knocked Warneford's plane out  so he had to put down behind enemy lines. He attempted to repair his ship and succeeded in returning to base. Warneford gained two awards for this brave feat: the Victoria Cross and the Knight's Cross of the L├ęgion d’honneur from the French Army Commander in Chief, General Joffre.
Lilliput March 1957, p.25
The Zeppelin catches fire whilst a bi-plane pursues

Sadly Warneford didn't live long enough to revel in the glorious praise he received, as he died, ironically, carrying a passenger when transporting a plane from Buc, in Northern France for delivery at Veurne, Belgium. The tragic collapse of a wing on his second flight in this aircraft killed his passenger an American journalist, Henry Beach Newman,  and led to Warneford's own death shortly after from injuries sustained in the crash from 200 feet.

Lilliput March 1957, p.25
The Zeppelin is pursued by Warneford

The London Gazette of 11 June 1915 states (on page 5635 of Issue 29189):

Admiralty, 10th June, 1915 .
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John Warneford, Royal Naval Air Service, for the conspicuous act of bravery specified below:

For most conspicuous bravery on the 7th June, 1915, when he attacked and, single-handed, completely destroyed a Zeppelin in mid-air. This brilliant achievement was accomplished after chasing the Zeppelin from the coast of Flanders to Ghent, where he succeeded in dropping his bombs on to it from a height of only one or two hundred feet. One of these bombs caused a terrific explosion which set the Zeppelin on fire from end to end, but at the same time overturned his Aeroplane and stopped the engine. In spite of this he succeeded in landing safely in hostile country, and after 15 minutes started his engine and returned to his base without damage. 

Lilliput March 1957, p.26
The LZ 37 Zeppelin's gondola
Lilliput March 1957, p.26
Warneford's Morane-Saulnier

The Daily Mail reported in 2013 how Warneford's name was sadly omitted in a roll call of Victoria Cross heroes due to his "being born abroad" (Darjeeling, India) but the carved memorial stone in Brompton Cemetery, London was seen at his funeral by thousands of mourners and is still there.

Lilliput March 1957, p.27
The Zeppelin explodes over Ghent, Belgium

You can see Warneford's Victoria Cross at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovil, Somerset, England where from 5 June to 2 January 2016 an exhibition tells Warneford's story.

As can be seen below, Warneford's memorial in Brompton Cemetery has the famous scene carved in the face.

Brompton Cemetery, London 37.JPG
"Brompton Cemetery, London 37" by Edwardx - Own work
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I let the Fleet Air Arm Museum know about the article and got this back:
My colleague tells me that following pressure on the government department responsible for allocation of the VC memorial paving slabs, Rex Warneford is being honoured with at least one.  His former school, King Edward VI School in Stratford on Avon has one, and we think that Exmouth may have won their fight for one, too.

Many thanks to Paul Liss for his generosity in supplying copies of the original art for four of the pieces above. Explore more of Raymond Sheppard's work on Paul's website at  . All other scans are by myself,

Norman Boyd