Walberswick Scroll appears on TV – ‘Penelope Keith’s Coastal Villages’

What a wonderful start to the New Year! It was absolutely delightful to see John Doman Turner’s ‘Walberswick Scroll’ make an appearance on ‘Penelope Keith’s Coastal Villages‘ on More 4.


The film crew recorded the footage in Walberswick during the annual village fete in 2017. Featured in the broadcast is John English of the Walberswick Local History Group, who took over from artist Richard Scott as ‘protecter’ of the scroll. Over the past couple of years he has had the pleasure of showing the scroll to visitors of the Walberswick Heritage Hut a couple of times a year. Keep an eye out on their website for future showings.




Want to know more about the Walberswick Scroll?
Artist and former ‘protector’ of the scroll Richard Scott writes…

“This remarkable work is one man’s view of Walberswick in the summer of 1931 but with some small additions in 1932, painted in watercolour on a roll of paper 123 feet long. The artist was John Doman Turner (1871-1938) who depicted every house in the village street and the riverside area in some detail, starting at the gamekeeper’s cottage a mile to the west of the church. He then followed the route of the old narrow-gauge Southwold Railway, which closed in 1929, as far as the then-surviving Walberswick station building before moving across to the top of the main street. Here he continued his pictorial trail down its north side, around the Green and down to the river. Here he became engrossed with the riverside buildings, the steam ferry (dramatically scuttled in 1942) and the cluster of artists’ studios along the river bank at the time. Then he made his way back to the top of the village, recording houses on the south side of the main street. The side turnings – Palmer’s Lane, Leverett’s Lane and Millfield Road – seem to be an afterthought, appearing as small pencil sketches inset at the top of the paper.

In the 1950s the scroll, wrapped around a wooden spindle, was kept in a cupboard in the Gannon Room which was, in all except name, the village hall of this period. The precious document could then be unrolled for inspection on trestle tables without prior arrangement, and was lucky to survive the great flood of January 31, 1953. The Gannon Room stood approximately on the footprint of the present village hall, with it’s long axis running north-south. It’s architectural style owed something to the “tin tabernacle” tradition – except that it was made of wood. In 1953 it was not protected by the more recent flood defence bank, completed in the early 1960s, but it certainly got its feet wet in the flood as the water reached The Anchor sign. Luckily the scroll was safely stored in its cupboard.”

“Several years later it was mounted in a wooden case which had housed a pub football game of the kind which was popular between the wars. The spindles were just right for the scroll and the installation was meticulously carried out.”

“Most appropriately this particular football game had served its time in the Walberswick Men’s Club, in the building on the Green which much later became the Heritage Hut.”


What makes the Walberswick Scroll so special?

“Quite simply, Turner just loved Walberswick, and portrayed everything he saw in searching detail. This even extended to recording carefully the many signs and advertisements he encountered during his progress around the village, and the very comprehensive tariff of charges for the steam ferry – rich sources of material for historians trying to construct a detailed record of life in the village in 1931.


Read more from Richard Scott in September 2017’s edition of the Walberswick Local History Group’s newsletter.

The episode of More 4’s “Penelope Keith’s Coastal Villages” featuring John Doman Turner’s Walberswick Scroll is available for the next 30 days and you can watch it again here – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/penelope-keiths-coastal-villages/on-demand/66623-003 (the segment starts at 38mins 30secs in).

Birth certificate

We are excited to announce that today would have been British painter John Doman Turner’s official birthday. In fact he would have been 146 today, had he still been alive!

Through our research we were able to track down and obtain a copy of Doman Turner’s birth certificate through the General Register Office, which has been incredibly valuable towards our research.

Birth Certificate

A section taken from John Doman Turner’s birth certificate.

The certificate states that the former Camden Town Group artist was born on the 25th October 1871. His mother was Sarah Ann Turner (formally Staff) and his father was Edmund Turner. At the time of the birth, they all lived together with John’s older brother Edmund at 4 Harbour Road, Cold Harbour Lane, Brixton in London.

A screengrab from Google Streetview of John Doman Turner's first address 4 Harbour Road, Cold Harbour Lane, Brixton, London.

John Doman Turner lived in this property (left side) at 4 Harbour Road with his family.

Map showing Harbour Road at the time John Doman Turner lived in the property with his family.

An old map showing the location of John Doman Turner’s first residence.

Over the years, Doman Turner’s birth date has been confused as census information from the early 1900’s suggested that the artist was originally born in 1873. It should also be noted that no existing publication, exhibition or website has been able to identify this specific birth date. So we will hopefully be able to ensure moving forwards that this information is corrected.

For more information about John Doman Turner and our research see http://www.johndomanturner.com/2016/02/14/father-and-son-start-journey-to-discover-the-untold-story-of-john-doman-turner/

Walberswick Scroll to feature on Channel 4’s ‘Hidden Coastal Villages’

We are delighted to inform you that former Camden Town Group member and British artist John Doman Turner’s ‘Walberswick Scroll’ is set to feature on a future episode of Channel 4’s ‘Penelope Keith’s Hidden Coastal Villages’.

Penelope Keith and her film crew recently took a visit down to the Suffolk village during their annual village fete to record footage for their programme, due to be broadcast in late 2017/early 2018. A follow-up to the  original series ‘Hidden Villages’ –  in which she criss-crosses the country, seeking out special places.

Of course we will keep you posted when we get the transmission date! For more information on John Doman Turner’s ‘Walberswick Scroll’ see links below –



ITV News report

We are delighted to be featured on the following ITV News report from this weekend’s showing of the Walberswick Scroll, filmed by ITV’s Kate Proud.



The Walberswick Scroll

You can hear Richard Scott (Art historian), Esther Freud (author of ‘The Sea House’),  my father and I all talking about John Doman Turner.


Richard Scott, art historian and member of the Walberswick Local History Group


Esther Freud, author of ‘The Sea House’


Father and son James & Stephen Robertson viewing the Walberswick Scroll


Watch the video here – http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2017-05-16/an-artists-scroll-depicting-every-building-in-the-suffolk-village-of-walberswick-gets-rare-public-outing/

If you know any information on John Doman Turner, get in touch with us at enquiries@johndomanturner.com

You can order your copy of Esther Freud’s book ‘The Sea House’ from Amazon.co.uk
Visit the Walberswick Local History Group to find out about the next scroll viewing.

An evening of talks on ‘forgotten’ Camden Town Group artist John Doman Turner – 13th May 2017

Poster promoting an evening of talks on the 'forgotten' Camden Town Group artist John Doman Turner and the Walberswick Scroll.

We are excited to announce that the Walberswick Local History Group have invited us to talk about our research and findings on the ‘forgotten’ Camden Town Group artist, John Doman Turner (1871 – 1938).

We will be joined by Esther Freud, author of ‘The Sea House‘. Her book tells the story of Max Meyer an artist who walks around a village, drawing and painting almost every house he can see, his art becomes a ‘paper witness to the lives of the village’s inhabitants’, guided in his work by letters from a ‘great artist’ Cuthbert Henry. These characters were inspired by the written correspondence between Spencer Gore and John Doman Turner. The work inspired by Turner’s own panoramic view of the village known as the Walberswick Scroll.

The group meets four times a year for lectures on a wide range of historical topics with a local bias. This event takes place in the Walberswick Village Hall from 7.30pm – 10.00pm on Saturday 13th May 2017.

There will also be a unique opportunity to view the Walberswick Scroll during the day at The Heritage Hut. There will be three showings 10am, 11am and 12noon. Free to all.

For more information visit:


Rare outing for gigantic artwork

Walberswick Scroll

From left to right, James W Robertson, Stephen Robertson, Richard Scott and John English.

Our recent return to see John Doman Turner’s wonderful Walberswick Scroll as part of the Local History Group’s 25th Anniversary exhibition has made the headlines. Read the full story at the East Anglian Daily Times.

My father and I had a wonderful time, I even had the pleasure of turning the scroll and telling guests more about the life and times of former Camden Town Group painter John Doman Turner.


If you would like to see this wonderful artwork, the next showing will take place in Walberswick on August 6th 2016, visit the Walberswick website for more information.

East Anglian Daily Times publish our story on former member of Camden Town Group

East Anglian Daily Times - Double page spread
Tom Porter from the East Anglian Daily Times has published our story on British painter John Doman Turner. Read the article in full here – http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/the_other_turner_father_and_son_s_quest_to_boost_artist_s_acclaim_1_4486825.

If you have any stories about John Doman Turner, please do get in touch! Our email is enquiries@johndomanturner.com or feel free to fill out this simple questionnaire https://johndomanturner.typeform.com/to/E3Z1xv

Trinity Fair Scroll, Southwold

Transcript from East Anglian Daily Times discussing John Doman Turner’s scroll of the Trinity Fair published on Monday June 4 1934.

Southwold Trinity Fair – Walberswick Artist’s Panaoramic Record

If the hundreds of visitors to this year’s Trinity Fair at Southwold found little that differed from the showman’s attractions of recent years, many of them have, at least had the opportunity to view a remarkable panoramic record of last year’s fair. A record which already bears the signatures of some hundreds who have admired it. A really outstanding record, it has actually been in the making almost continuously since last year’s Trinity Fair. It is the work of Mr. J. Doman Turner, a London man, who has a Summer residence at Southwold Harbour. Mr Turner learned drawing when on the Stock Exchange, and took evening classes at the New English Art Club. In recent years he has found scope for his youthful hobby when in residence at the artists’ colony of Walberswick. The hundreds of sketches he made of Walberswick were transferred to his panorama, which today is 25 yards long by 2 feet wide, and is actually a record in colours of the whole village.

The success of his  unique effort tempted the artist to put the Trinity Fair on record. The three days it was at Southwold did not give him anything like sufficient time to complete his rough sketches, so he scoured the countryside, finding the various exhibits that were at Southwold.  This work is 22 yards in depth and, like that of Walberswick, 3 feet wide. Already on the margins left for signatures, several hundreds notably of showmen and their families, have been appended. Tracings from the original display bills and Press cuttings of the 1933 fair help to make the record even more complete. Besides the steam-horses, dodge-em engines, caravans etc. every stall – some even with their personalities – are depicted.


Source: Video footage taken during our trip to view John Doman Turner’s Trinity Fair scroll, currently displayed at The Swan Hotel, Southwold in 2012.

Visiting John Doman Turner’s scrolls at Walberswick and Southwold

March 11th, 2012 was one of those unusually ‘perfect’ days.  As we looked from our window, we were overwhelmed by the gorgeous blue sky and the sun rising from the East. It seemed to be hovering over our destination – the Suffolk coast.

Stephen, my son, and I were making the journey to Walberswick, an unusual small village shrouded by a mysterious aura. Like many Suffolk villages, Walberswick appears to have just turned up in the 21st century. It pervades the calmness of an earlier time. Those who have visited the area will understand.

After a 90 minute drive, we parked up outside Walberswick Village Hall.

Walberswick, Suffolk

A view of Walberswick Village, Suffolk

Walberswick Scroll

The viewing of the Walberswick Scroll, a 123ft (37.5 meter) watercolour study of every house in the village painted in 1931/32 by John Doman Turner (former member of the Camden Town Group), had been arranged a couple of weeks or so earlier.

We had contacted the website administrator at  the Walberswick Village – Official Website, who kindly put us in touch with Richard Scott – artist, writer, and of course scroll operator and commentator. The scroll is only shown a few times a year, and on this particular day the scroll was unveiled three times between 9.30 and 12.30. We were lucky to have a viewing.

Walberswick Scroll

The ‘Walberswick Scroll’ being unveiled at the Village Hall

Walberswick Scroll

The mechanics behind the ‘Walberswick Scroll’. The scroll sits inside a mahogany case which had once been a pub football game.

Walberswick Scroll

James W Robertson looking at the ‘Walberswick Scroll’

Richard had the scroll ready for those who had turned up to view, probably about ten of us. As we got to one side of the device Richard worked his magic with the rollers.

The scroll on rollers is ideal, somewhat quirky and old fashioned which really seem to fit with the character of the times it was all painted. It has a table type top which the paper rests on as it is rolled around for view, and switches from one roller to the other. It would be impossible to exhibit it any other way and could not be unfurled as the paper is delicate and so it would be a difficult task.

Walberswick Scroll

Richard Scott telling us stories of John Doman Turner

Walberswick Scroll

John Doman Turner’s artwork bringing communities of people together, trying to spot areas in the village that they recognise

The showing went well with Richard who was only too pleased to answer a number of questions we put forward, along with others who viewed. Never was a visit to a village hall so enjoyable and if you enjoy art you must go along on one of those rare days.

Walberswick Scroll

A section of the ‘Walberswick Scroll’

The scroll is a unique master piece where John Doman Turner took days drawing each shed, cottage, building, garden and more in the village. The artist showed real attention to detail, even a notice board by the ferry shows the prices for passengers. It is so amusing it certainly brings a smile, unlike many a painted record. Brilliant in the extreme is almost a title for it and what really amounts to a National Treaure is humbly hidden away.

Walberswick Scroll

Attention to detail, John Doman Turner even includes the small print.

The Walberswick scroll rivals any piece of art for what it has encapsulated, it is as interesting as any other piece of art, and simply rolls on where other art works finish at the frame edge.

I have seen many exhibitions but this is a new way in looking and appreciating and is as pleasing to your senses as you are likely to see anywhere, and that includes national museums. No it is not on the same level as a Rembrandt for the perfectness, but Turner did not spend weeks on one section, and as it is a water colour you only get the one chance, for right or wrong, unlike oils which can be worked over time and time again until perfection has been reached. It can not be spoken of too highly. A gem of clarity on how things were, and with all of his work apart from the scrolls that is a part of his unique talent, and yet unlike the work of Laurence Stephen Lowry which I believe it competes with in many respects, being buildings and local people his work is difficult to come across. The main reason is that Lowry had much of his publicity working for him by his dealers who had him signing prints on Saturday mornings at a fiver a time. So Lowry has a slight head start and it was the prints which helped get him noticed. I wonder if the same can be done for Turner? Things will change I am certain and it is reasonable to contemplate that Turner got his ideas from the Bayeux Tapestry as he was an obvious history boffin which is clearly seen in the drawn and written records in many of his works and sketchbooks that I have seen.


Example of work by British artist Laurence Stephen Lowry

Bayeux Tapestry

Example from the Bayeux Tapestry, which may have influenced Turner’s work on the ‘Walberswick Scroll’

Turner seemed to not be wishing for great acclaim in an expensive gallery, but more as a type of homage to the village of Walberswick and some of its residents at the time. What a wonderful present he left for them and those who are lucky enough to see the pleasure he must have got from seeing this work through to the end. A lesser artist would have given up a short way into it, but he was certainly not a man of straw, and once he started there must have been no holding him back.

If you take the vagaries of the weather into account, it must have been some effort in continuing at times, so if there are patches of weakness here and there, then that can be well understood and forgiven. At the end of all that work the scroll could not have been held up and glanced at in order to view. So that was an unusual situation for anyone who put such a lot of work into a painting to contend with at that time I don’t suppose he knew how it was to be shown, but naturally he would have known all those problems long before he finished.

We show a few sections of the scroll of Walberswick, but I assure you there is nothing like the real thing, and a picture paints a thousand words, so all I can do is strongly urge you to take yourselves along, but remember to check first for dates on the Walberswick Village – Official Website before you go.

Trinity Fair Scroll

Soon we were ready to leave and after saying our goodbyes to Richard and the other visitors to the village hall, we were off once again, heading for the Swan Hotel, Southwold where we could view the scroll of the annual Trinity Fair.

When we arrived at our destination we bought a drink each taking in the local scene at the same time. Close by were people sitting down for a meal. When we had finished I asked a young waitress if it would be ok if we could see the scroll. She was very welcoming and asked us to follow her across the dining area and to a long room at the back used for receptions. The room was very bright and around three long walls attached the scroll of Trinity Fair.


Trinity Fair

The ‘Trinity Fair’ by John Doman Turner

Trinity Fair

James W Robertson looking at the ‘Trinity Fair’ scroll at the Swan Hotel

John Doman Turner made a panoramic record of the Trinity Fair in 1933.  It took him two years and involved following the showmen to nearby towns and villages as well as sketching on the spot in Southwold.

The paintings were strikingly bright & unfaded. They were created so long ago that I suspect they had been rolled up and stored away from natural light. Furthermore, due to the scroll’s  fragile nature, it had been mounted on a tougher material and  framed with non reflective glass.

Each showman who worked on the amusements and rides had signed his or her name under the paintings.

It is obvious that Doman painted this for pleasure and not to make a living.

Trinity Fair

A section of the ‘Trinity Fair’ scroll

In one section of the scroll it is signed by him and what surprised me is that it is also signed by his wife Frances Elizabeth Turner. I seem to recall the local Mayors name so it was the unveiling of it, and the wife must have come down especially. It would I always imagined due to little gems I have heard that he had a lady friend down there, the name Jane often came up, and it turned to be the name of the top section of a caravan he lived in on the beach at Walberswick. The caravan was destroyed in the 1953 floods which swept Holland and the East Coast.

Trinity Fair

The signatures of John Doman Turner and his wife Francis Elizabeth Turner featured on the ‘Trinity Fair’ scroll

The finding of all the works and scrolls we now know about has come as a large surprise to myself simply because it was written by Wendy Baron that only two works were known about only a few years ago. More drawings and water colours can be seen in the Gallery.

On our way back and heading for home Stephen and myself both agreed that it was a great day out, and for all art lovers out there we highly recommend it. Superb is not a strong enough word, and made all the better in the company of my youngest son. We might even do it once again soon as it was so enjoyable.

If you know more about the artist John Doman Turner, please do share your story with us. Our email is enquiries@johndomanturner.com

Written by James W Robertson. Photography by Stephen J Robertson. Special thanks to Richard Scott, Katherine Ungless and The Swan Hotel for making this happen.

Father and son start journey to discover the untold story of John Doman Turner

John Doman Turner (1871-1938) is a recognised member of a highly prominent group of English painters, but his life’s work and accomplishments are not as visibly recognised as other prestigious artists. As a result, a movement has been launched by father and son duo, James and Stephen Robertson in an effort to bring more attention to the talent and achievements of John Doman Turner.

Turner was a British painter and member of the Camden Town Group, a prominent and elite organisation in the early 1900’s that consisted of highly talented, upper crust painters. One of it’s members Spencer Gore taught Doman Turner to paint during the years 1908-1913. The interesting part is he only tutored Turner through letters.

Turner is known to be deaf so he sent back his paintings to Gore for him to give feedback and comments on it. He would pay five shillings per lesson for Gore’s thoughtful instruction.

“In addition to the letters, I have always kept a number of early sketches in a portfolio, by themselves, as Gore had scribbled – faintly, in pencil, all sorts of advice, & curses, with regard to their technique. If placed under the sketches in an exhibition they might be of great interest to some people” John Doman Turner writes.

His passion for painting was visible in his work which included paintings of houses, people, village fairs and even scrolls. The scrolls painted by him became the documents of village life and in total he painted 4 scrolls including the ‘Walberswick Scroll’.

His work Trinity Fair that depicts the Southwold fair in detail is kept on the walls of a room at The Swan Hotel, Southwold while the Ferry Road scroll is kept safely in the Southwold Museum.

In the early 1980s James came across a painting by this member of the Camden Town Group and went along to an exhibition at Christie’s to find more about the artist. He discovered that there wasn’t much information available about British painter John Doman Turner which triggered his curiosity and led him to go on a spree to find more about the artist.

Stephen didn’t take much interest in what his father was doing until he decided to find a gift for his father-something related to John Doman Turner. In 2012 he searched over the internet and found the only thing written about the artist was a Wikipedia page, which was written by his father himself.

From this point onwards, both father and son started a mission to explore more about the painter lost in the history of art. Both of them want to spread the word to the masses and bring forward those who know anything about the painter to contribute in creating a complete story about his life and works.

Anyone who knows more about the artist can contact them on the email enquiries@johndomanturner.com
More information on John Doman Turner can be found by logging onto http://www.johndomanturner.com

Download press release as .doc / .pdf

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