Final midsummer’s day before world convulsed

Do you know who painted this watercolour of Bedhampton church?
Do you know who painted this watercolour of Bedhampton church?

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The date is June 24. It’s midsummer’s day at Bedhampton. Captured in a delicate watercolour, the church and quiet street are bathed in sunshine, except where the shadow of the ancient yew tree falls across the grass and the graveyard wall.

The trees at the west end of the church are in full leaf: roses are in bloom by the porch.

Three little girls walk side by side past the steps leading up to the church path. Their straw hats, pinafores, black shoes and black woollen stockings evoke a bygone era: one that, a little over a year later, would vanish forever. For this scene was painted a century ago. It is 1913: ‘The Year Before’.

Although dated June 24, 1913, the artist’s name is unknown. Bedhampton rector David Proud said: ‘It’s a delightful little painting – and if anyone has any clue as to who the artist was, we’d love to know.’

One hundred years on from its creation, this original watercolour may be viewed in St Thomas’s Church, Bedhampton, on the day of the Bedhampton Summer Show – to be held on Bidbury Mead from 2pm-5pm, this Saturday.

Showgoers are invited to stop at the church to view the painting, where cards featuring the scene will also be available to buy.

Do you know who this artist was?

If so, St Thomas’s Church would love to know via office@bedhamptonparish.org.uk