Update on John Doman Turner’s Southwold scrolls

In a recent newsletter published by the Walberswick Local History Group in February 1998, it has come to our attention that the Southwold scrolls need some support to prevent them from disappearing.

John English of the Walberswick Local History Group writes…

“The last Newsletter (no. 52) was largely devoted to the Walberswick scroll, painted by John Doman Turner in 1931. This can be viewed in all its splendour at least twice a year and showings are well advertised. In Richard Scott’s article on the artist he mentioned two other local scrolls, one painted before and the other after the Walberswick scroll and both of parts of Southwold. This short article is to bring you up-to-date with what has been happening with the Southwold scrolls since Richard wrote his article.

The answer for the first scroll, the Ferry Road scroll, is no change. As Richard reported – “The original Southwold scroll is kept in the town’s museum, but unfortunately it is too fragile for public showing, even by arrangement”. All well and good as long as you do not want to see it. Hopefully a benefactor might step forward before it finally disintegrates and pay for it to be restored.

This is sort of what happened with the third scroll, the Trinity Fair scroll. That benefactor was Adnams and a very good job they made of it too. We have them to thank for preserving this delightful piece of work. Again to quote Richard Scott – “….this one can be viewed by arrangement. It is wall mounted behind UV glass in the function room at The Swan Hotel in Southwold” ppyvery good job they made of it too. We have them to thank for preserving this delightful piece of work. Again to quote Richard Scott – “….this one can be viewed by arrangement. It is wallmounted, behind UV glass, in the function room at The Swan Hotel in Southwold”.

Well, the above was the case with the third scroll but there has been a change. As many people will know, The Swan in Southwold recently re-opened after a protracted refurbishment. Alas, the scroll is no longer in the function room as described by Richard. At first I feared that it had disappeared as staff on reception had no idea what I was talking about when I enquired. Eventually I was taken upstairs to the bedroom landings and there it was! Oh what a relief but a relief tinged with some disappointment. It transpired that during the refurbishment the scroll was divided up into segments and distributed between bedroom doors and corridors on not one but two floors. A section of historically-interesting signatures have disappeared from view altogether (they are in storage). While it is important to stress that this priceless piece of art is still there and still preserved (though no longer a scroll) there are some concerns including:

• It is no longer a scroll and is divided up between bedroom doors, corridors and floors

• It is not so easy to view as it is now in a residents-only part of the hotel

• It is in narrow corridors making viewing harder

• Some section are above radiators and could be affected by heat

• Some section are opposite windows and could be subject to light damage

WLHG committee members John English and Pat Lancaster have been in touch with Adnams who have been very helpful in discussing the situation. Our ex-Bell publican and WLHG member, Nick Attfield has inherited the Trinity Scroll as part of his area of management at Adnams. Discussions are ongoing. We know the problems but we need to identify some possible solutions. It would be a shame if the scroll now deteriorated. If you want to see it in its current position then this can be arranged. If you come across a problem then let Pat Lancaster patlancaster@btinternet.com know via the Walberswick Local History Group.”

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