Our house in Abbots Langley, "The Knoll" was once the home of the artist Rex Whistler
This house, originally named 'Rose Cottage' when built in 1904, had been renamed the Knoll by the time the Whistler Family moved here in 1915, having decided to leave their house in Eltham, following the death of Rex's older brother.
Note that there is no connection between this family and the American-born painter James McNeill Whistler, famous for the portrait in the Musee d'Orsay, Paris: 'Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1', - more commonly referred to as 'Whistler's Mother'
Around 10 years old when they arrived, Rex lived here (when not away at boarding school or college) until the family moved again in 1923.
Rex is particularly famous for his clever 'Trompe l'Oeuil' murals which can be seen in a number of houses and stately homes around the country - the murals for Sir Philip Sassoon at Port Lympne - (the tented room), at Mottisfont for Mrs Gilbert Russell, The dining room of the Tate Gallery ( now Tate Britain ) and at Plas Newydd for the Marquess of Anglesey.
His younger brother and biographer, Sir Laurence Whistler is equally famous for his work in glass.
Laurence's biography of Rex Whistler, 'The Laughter and the Urn' was published in 1985. As well as chronicling in great detail the life of Rex Whistler, up to his untimely death in Normandy as a tank commander in 1944, the book opens a window onto the privileged classes between the wars, detailing Rex's association with the Oliviers, the Sitwells and Cecil Beaton, amongst others.
Here is the text of an article I wrote about this link with Rex Whistler for the Abbots Langley Local History Society Journal. More information about Abbots Langley history can be found at the Abbots Langley Local History Society website.
As the result of recent research by friend and neighbour Trevor Baker we now know the names of the children in the old photograph above!