1910-1920: Polperro: Lamorna: the War years and illness.
Frank and Jessica arrived in Polperro in 1910 and took up residence at Osprey Cottage overlooking the harbour. During the 2 years that they lived in the village their first two children were born, Aileen and Nancy. Frank continued to paint and exhibit his work at the Royal Academy in London and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.
Image: The family house at Menwinnion
With the two children growing up and Jessica's parents living in Penzance perhaps it was the attraction and benefits of being close to them that made Frank and Jessica decide, with the help of Jessica's parents, to return to the Newlyn area in 1912 and purchase 10 acres of land at the top of the Lamorna Valley on which to build a house and create a garden. The house cost £1,000 and was named Menwinnion (meaning "white stone" in Cornish) and became the family home for the next 24 years.
The years before the Great War were a happy time of Frank and the family. Friends such as Alfred Munnings and his first wife, Florence, "Lamorna" Birch, Laura Knight and her husband Harold and Stanhope Forbes spent many hours at Menwinnion. However, the coming of the War brought great change to the artists' colony and 1915 was a good and bad year for Frank and Jessica. The good news was the birth of the twins, Tony and Gabriel towards the end of the year. (See Photo).
However, earlier Frank then aged 42 had volunteered for active service in the War. Upon completing his initial training in Romford, Frank joined the 2nd Sportsman's Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers; this Battalion recruited men from ages 35 to 45 with no previous army experience. While serving, he contracted spotted fever and was admitted to hospital in London. Upon recovery, Jessica travelled up to London to take him back to Menwinnion to convalesce. This illness resulted in his complete disablement for a long period combining with bouts of depression. In the years 1916-1920 he obviously found it difficult to start painting again with records showing that he hardly produced any paintings in those 4 years.
However, the future was going to turn brighter into the 1920s.View the gallery