Walberswick Scroll

Title Walberswick Scroll
Artist John Doman Turner
Date c. 1931 – 1932
Medium Scroll
Dimensions 123ft
Distinguishing marks
Exhibitions WE, Ipswich, 1994
Source Walberswick Parish Council / Village Hall  http://walberswick.onesuffolk.net/


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 Sme. 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, Levere’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 “Sn 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.

Author: Richard Scott
Source: http://walberswick.onesuffolk.net/assets/WLHG/WLHG-news-letters/HISTORY-GROUP-NEWSLETTER-SEPTEMBER-2017_2.pdf

Supporting notes

Between 1931 and 1932, John Doman Turner decided to paint a picture of every house in the village of Walberswick. Starting as you enter the village, he worked his way along one side, round the Village Green, down to the ferry and back up the other side. The scroll is over 123 feet long and is an incredible record of the village as it was at the time. He paid particular attention to notices: a tortoise is lost and the list of prices for different uses of the then steam ferry is long and intriguing. We have a last peep at the station, Manor Farm and the Walberswick Pottery, together with glimpses of then contemporary village characters.

A panorama of Walberswick village (building by building, shack by shack). This ‘Dioramic Pictorial Record of a Suffolk Village’ – 123 foot long – was shown at WE, Ipswich,1994. This scroll used to be under the control of Richard Scott, who has now handed over this responsibility to John English who occasionally shows the scroll to those interested. Enquiries to the Walberswick Village Hall should be made to establish the next viewing arrangement – http://walberswick.onesuffolk.net/




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