from Rupert Mallin
I grew up in Clare and remember undertaking a project about Borley Rectory aged fourteen. I loved being frightened by the place - via Harry's books - but could even then understand rational understanding versus magic!
As the black sheep of my family, I went to Clare Sec Mod, rather than grammar school. Hated the school but somehow got on with pupils and teachers - circa 1967-70. Eventually got myself educated! While 'art & education' is my work, 'history' is my bedrock.
I lived near A.L. Morton's chapel house on Poslingford Corner. Our address was The Royal Oak, Snow Hill, Clare. My dad bought half an old 'malt' pub - that is, they brewed there on site. I know this because, as a child, we opened up a bricked in room there full of old hops and equipment!
Leslie Morton had a brother in Pentlow who used to farm with shire horses leading the plough, probably into the 1970s. My dad Tom was a picture restorer and artist, and then became a writer. He took us kids to Joe Farley's in Pentlow, I remember - and there would be novelist Nigel Balchin and artist Michael Ayrton and others...
Morton's farm was famous! Brother Morton was probably more famous because of his 'The People's History of England." However, his 'history' ends abruptly in 1920. With my one O Level I worked as a cub reporter on the then Haverhill Echo, circa 1970, and interviewed Leslie who was still singing the praises of the Soviet Bloc and his visits there! Strangely, he side stepped Hungary 1956, though, in essence, he was a liberal-Stalinist!! In 1988 I moved here and with my then partner opened a bookshop - and Leslie wrote me a lovely letter celebrating our venture - the last letter he ever wrote...
Nigel Balchin retired to Glemsford. His house had been a pub, 'The Greyhound.' I know this because I helped my father Tom put up such a greyhound sign in his front garden! I was only a boy but there were gatherings at Joe Farley's farm cottage, where Balchin, Ayrton and others visited. Would it have been 'The Larks,' Pentlow? We were also friends with the Bell family who converted their Cavendish riverside house into a restaurant and the Hendersons, who were teachers...
A little further afield I met Edmund Blunden (first world war poet) and still keep in touch with his youngest daughter in Spain.
I presently live in Lowestoft and bumped into local historian Ivan Bunn and told him he must visit your site. He has written extensively about the Lowestoft 'Witches' with an American academic.
My 'historical' regret is that I didn't complete an MPhil on 'independent publishers in Chartist Norwich' in the late 1980s. Yet my artistic work is increasingly bringing me to 'history.' Though the artistic production is always a little cider pressed of historical intention, the research has always been the best part. Most recently I've worked on a project at Dragon Hall in Norwich and a garage worker on the lowly King Street presented me with 200 pages of research about the street!
My next large project is in the offing: to enhance and develop The Burston Strike School, near Diss, as an exciting museum. We've half the funding - fingers crossed! I'll be working with young photographer Adam Shawyer, Sheringham. He worked on the Magnum Agency archives for five years. Adam knew nothing of the "history" yet, but as real life stories unfold, from all angles, his enthusiasm is now absolute.
In my view, history shouldn't just be brought back onto school curriculums, it should be the school curriculum!
All best wishes, Rupert Mallin