Sidmouth portrait mystery deepens

THE mystery of the missing portraits, once housed at Sidmouth s Kennaway House, deepens as this week a former caretaker remembers seeing them there in the early 1970s.

THE mystery of the missing portraits, once housed at Sidmouth's Kennaway House, deepens as this week a former caretaker remembers seeing them there in the early 1970s.

After reading of last week's appeal by the Herald for information about the whereabouts of three portraits commissioned in 1906 by Richard Henry Wood of himself, his late wife Elizabeth Hatton Wood and the then rector at Sidmouth Parish Church, the Reverend Henry George John Clements, a former caretaker at the Regency building off Coburg Road remembers seeing them when she took classes there.

Marlene Lewis of Chambers Close, said: "They were definitely on the wall in 1972. I used to do keep fit in Room One [now the Hatton Wood room] and I used to think how strange they were.

"The lady was all prim and proper. They were quite big paintings and I used to think the man on the wall looked scary. There was a rumour they were done after he had died."


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Mrs Lewis became caretaker at the house from 1979 until 1992 and says the three portraits had disappeared.

She also questioned where the deeds to the house; once home to Sidmouth's first MP, Sir John Kennaway, had gone, having seen them hanging on the wall before refurbishment took place last year.

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Of the deeds, Dr Michael James, chairman of Kennaway House, said: "It is a copy of the Church House Trust deed and is stored safely and will go back on the wall."

It was in poor condition, he added.

Of the portraits, he said: "There is no record of the Trust selling them. We have the minutes from 1906 and there is a record of them selling houses and the putting green [given by Wood], so they wouldn't have sold the pictures."

He thinks someone may have taken them from Church House more than 30 years ago and said: "People treated it very casually then."

Verger Val�ry Dunn said: "The church would love to have the portrait of the Reverend Clements or anything, even a copy to put up somewhere."

* If you can cast light on where the missing portraits are, please call reporters on 01392 888 502.

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