I hope readers will bear with me for a little self-indulgent reminiscence. Last year Sara and I went to Budleigh Salterton, in Devon, on holiday. In the early fifties, my grandmother had a rented house there for several years. Opposite the house, and facing the sea, was an unexceptional stone wall, about four feet high. Unexceptional, except that it was the wall which appears in John Everett Millais’s famous pre-Raphaelite painting “The Boyhood of Raleigh”. He used his sons as models, plus an old sailor he hired for the purpose.
I visited grandmother in Budleigh around Easter 1952, with my parents, my brother Trevor and my sister Eunice. (Sadly, Trevor was to die in a road accident later in the year — very nearly sixty years ago).
My father was very taken with the Millais connection, and he decided to try to reproduce the scenario in a photograph — perhaps without huge success. But anyway, here is the picture. Brother Trevor is on the left, father on the right, and I’m the kid in the middle.
Maybe that was what got me interested in the Pre-Raphaelites. I’m planning to go down to Oxfordshire shortly to look again at Edward Burne-Jones’ wonderful sequence of paintings “The Legend of Briar Rose” at Buscot Park, a rather fine National Trust property, with other paintings by Rossetti, Watts and Millais.