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Friday, 13 September 2019

Talbot Hughes & Alice Ward update

You may recall back in April 2017 we brought to light the fascinating story of the extremely talented painter William Talbot Walter Hughes, who quit London society in the late 1920s and moved to Osmington where he lived until his death in 1942.

Since 2017 I have researched a great deal into the Hughes family and after trawling through the church records found the unmarked grave for Talbot in St Osmund's churchyard. As he was a famous man in his day, and as he played a huge part in shaping the village as it is today, the trustees of Osmington History thought it only right that he should have a grave marker. I installed this in October 2017 so that villagers knew where the grave was located.

As luck would have it, through our original article, I was contacted by Talbot's living relatives - his Great nieces - who have generously and lovingly paid for a beautiful headstone for Talbot and his companion Alice Ward.

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Alice Ward lived in the village until her death in the 1970s and was extremely well-known. Her ashes were buried with Talbot Hughes. On the church records it states she was his aunt, but this was probably for the churches benefit as they were companions.
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If anyone would like to visit the grave, it is located at the back of the church to the right. There is a bench and a small wooden shed nearby.

Talbot bought a large area of orchards when he moved to the village and also purchased Stone lane cottage, which was derelict. He restored the cottage and extended it putting in an artists studio at the back where he continued painting.
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The back of Stone lane cottage

A painting of Stone Lane cottage owned by Gerald Mabb shows how it looked when Talbot and Alice lived there. Gerald spent time there as a child with his Grandmother Mrs Mabb and remembers Miss Ward well. 

"Alice used to come to tea and was good friends with my grandmother; she gave her several paintings by Talbot". 


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A miniature portrait by Talbot


Talbot also had the house next door Greensleaves built on his land using an architect from London; it is quite a unique building.



Other residents of the village have reported that prior to D-Day General Eisenhower stayed in the village with Alice. Jim Legg's elder sister worked for Miss Ward and cooked a meal for the American General. At the time, Winston Churchill, King George VI, Dwight Eisenhower and General Charles De Gaulle had gathered at Pennsylvania castle on Portland to finalise the D-Day invasion plans.

Talbot's Great niece Bryony very kindly gave me incite into Talbot's life and explained through her father's memoirs why the painter left London for a life in Osmington.

" Talbot followed his father’s profession with no family opposition and became a painter of decorative pictures and portraits of great charm. But he was very delicate and suffered from continuous bad health and never really fulfilled his early promise.
In spite of his disabilities he was the merriest of men and quite a favourite uncle; he and my father were very close and devoted to each other".

Blair Hughes Stanton


Copyright Osmington History 2019


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