Cynthia Stockley's Norfolk Home "Rainbow End"
comments & photography
by Ian Valentine
Ian Valentine while researching a novel based on the factual exploits of his great great uncle, African explorer Reginald Robertson, found himself doing side-research on Cynthia Stockley who not only shared the African connection, but, as Ian noted in a preface for Reginald's Nigerian travel journal:'After his return to England, Reginald succumbed to multiple-sclerosis & moved from Alexandra Park in London to Norfolk, a county which he held as a great retreat, his father being the manufacturer of Robertson's mineral water in St. Stephen's Street, Norwich, about 1900. Reg & Dittie [his wife Edith] lived with Twinks [his cousin] soon after he had bought a house called Rainbow End in Sheringham in 1926. The previous owner was the author, Cynthia Stockley, whose prolific novels centred in Africa included The Claw, Ponjola & Three Farms, having "the big room" built on to Rainbow End for her writing. As an article in The African World, May 19th, 1923, implicitly has it: "Her latest produce gives for us again a taste for even finer stories to come from the apparently bottomless well of thrilling & fascinating experiences, flowing through the fountain-pen, & put on record four our enjoyment where Cynthia Stockley lives in her English home on the rainbow end of the Norfolk Coast."'
I asked Ian if he could elaborate a bit on Rainbow End as the last home of Cynthia Stockley, & he very kindly sent along photographs & a letter about the manse. - J. A. S.
My great grandparents, Beatrice & Harry "Twinks" Robertson, bought Rainbow End, St. Austin's Grove, Sheringham, Norfolk, from Cynthia Stockley in 1926. Sadly, the house has now been renamed. I met the people who are currently living in Rainbow End when I visited the house to take these photographs. It was great for me to see the house that my relations once lived in & we swapped information that we had about Stockley.
When my great grandparents lived at Rainbow End they were under the understanding that the large flint building built on to the main house (clearly seen in one of the photographs) was built purely as a room for Stockley to write in. However, the current residents are convinced that the room at the top of the house was used for writing, as the annex room has a sprung dance floor (indeed, my mother recalls parties & dances held in the room). Thinking about this, it makes sense that Stockley might have chosen to have her writing room upstairs as this would have afforded good views, Stockley putting in an additional window in the roof.
The house itself was built by an acclaimed architect named John Sydney Brocklesby, a member of the Arts & Crafts movement, & his houses are detailed in a book by Christopher Spencer called Elbow Room.
I also enclose photographs of the memorial to Stockley & her son in Sheringham Cemetery. It was a tall column, now broken in half. At the base is written, Praise for the soul of Pat 1905-1923 & for his mother Cynthia.I would like to incorporate Cynthia Stockley into the book that I'm writing about Reginald Robertson, Harry "Twinks" Robertson's cousin. Reginald & his wife Edith (known as "Dittie") lived at Rainbow End when he returned from Nigeria having succumbed to multiple sclerosis. I have transcribed Reg's journal & want to use this as the basis for the novel Rainbow End, incorporating how he coped with the disease as the second part of the book.
Very best wishes,
Copyright © 2001 by Ian Valentine.
Queries about Ian's work in progress, Rainbow End, a novel of the
Empire & exploration of Africa -- based on his great-great uncle's journal of
travels among the natives of Nigeria, plus his last heroic struggle
with multiple sclerosis -- can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also the illustrated, annotated
Cynthia Stockley Bibliography
as well as the illustrated essay
About Cynthia Stockley
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