Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Netherwood Updates

I've been meaning for a while to add any additional research and information here for the benefit of those who may have purchased the Netherwood book - still just about available I believe.

I recently wrote a letter to Julian Bream, who I idolized as a young man attempting to play the classical guitar and I saw him give recitals many times in London, especially at the Wigmore Hall.  I wasn't really expecting a reply, so I was very chuffed to receive a hand-written letter in beautiful copperplate last week.  My enquiry was principally about the online interview with 'Johnny' Symons, wife of the proprietor of Netherwood, wherein she says;

'A couple called Caplan frequently brought down a boy named Julian Bream who would play the guitar for the guests. After his recital we would pass the hat around and the money collected would pay for his next lesson. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.'

The book on Bream's early years by Stuart Button contains no mention of this and I was unable to contact the author.  I thought I'd go to the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Julian Bream's concert debut was in Cheltenham on 17 February 1947 at the age of 13, so the visits would have to have taken place during the following  couple of years, before the house was sold.  According to his written recollection he visited Netherwood in 1948 in the company of 'commercial artist' David Caplan who drove him down from London.  Interestingly, he says that he only played one recital there and that the 'small fee' he received was 'not for the next lesson...but the next meal!'  The intriguing possibility that his audience might have included Aleister Crowley can therefore be dismissed as he had died at the guest house the previous December.

The Hastings & St Leonards Observer is now available online and fully searchable for much of the period of Netherwood's existence.  As I had to spend many hours trawling through the microfilm version I intend to subscribe, hoping that I didn't miss some vital news story (looking through the headlines it doesn't look as if I did, but I will certainly check).

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