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Sue Chapman, Press Photography and more

Sue Chapman and camera I gave a talk on press photography to the Eynsham Society just before lockdown for the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020. It was well received so I decided to enlarge on it and say a bit more about my life and family. I am grateful to Joan Stonham / Eynsham Online for encouraging me to share it with you.


My father’s mother was a Sanderson and the youngest of sixteen children. She was brought up in the beautiful grounds of the family preparatory school. She must have been a feisty child - she was expelled from Wycombe Abbey School and remembers pushing Galsworthy into the swimming pool because ‘he was so pompous’. Joseph Conrad often stayed with the family - my father as a baby sat on his knee. He dedicated The Mirror Of The Sea to her mother. “To Katherine Sanderson whose warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended to the friend of her son cheered the first dark days of my parting with the sea.”

At eighteen she was swept off her feet by my grandfather who was twice her age and took her to Bangkok where he was growing teak. Sadly on her way back to England to have my father she got a telegram to say that her husband had died of rabies. So my father grew up alone with a rather eccentric mother. My mum was an only child too. Her grandfather worked on the first cable to the USA under the Atlantic and lived in a fine house in Hampstead. Her parents lived in rooms, first in Harley Street, where her uncle was a surgeon, and then the Inns of Court. My grandfather wrote for the London Evening News. He was their bridge, chess and cricket correspondent. ‘Read H.A.H. Carson on the latest test’ was plastered on the side of the newspaper vans.

Gallery

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the familywith my parents at the CBE investiture - My mother was the first woman GP in Witney and my father the haematologist who discovered Factor Eight. In fact, he got a CBE for his work and became a Fellow of the Royal Society and All SoulsHalcyone - a beautiful 30-ton ketch, bought for our holidays on the south coast on the premise it would be cheaper than hotels

Family Life

My Granny was an intrepid sailor and took her boat single-handedly through the rivers and canals from Le Havre to Marseille. My parents met as medical students whilst sailing and vowed to have a large family.

I was born in 1937. Although I was the oldest of four brothers I never acted the older sister. Robert’s personality made him the leader. My mother was the first woman GP in Witney and my father the haematologist who discovered Factor Eight. In fact, he got a CBE for his work and became a Fellow of the Royal Society and All Souls.

So I came of a very academic family. We had a series of nannies to look after us at Downhill Farm, Hailey. At eight I went to Oxford High School as a weekly boarder. Because I was the youngest there I became a pet and the girls used to vie to plait my hair - I expect a welcome change from life at home. I do remember though being on the verge of tears over Easter with homesickness after an outbreak of scarlet fever meant I had to stay in quarantine and couldn’t come home for the holiday.

When I became a daygirl, living out in the sticks became a real trial. Either dad took me to work with him so I was invariably late (I used to wait for the end of assembly in an ante room with Miriam Margolyes), or I had to walk the mile down to Witney to catch the bus into Oxford. Highlights of school life were choir, making and playing my bamboo pipes at festivals, netball, hockey and friends... and retrospectively the kudos of being made up as a page for Romeo and Juliet by Maggie Smith.

I loved my beamed attic room with my little Victorian desk, my chaise longue, granny's pictures and my old books, all of which we have in our sitting room now. My parents were quite something to live up to. They were devoted to each other. Mum immersed herself in good works in the community and always changed every evening for dinner. Afterwards Dad would listen to classical music on his hi-fi, which also became a passion of mine. I struck another bond with him through our love of samurai swords after he inherited a fine example and would accompany him to London auctions. He became quite an authority on them and was the driving force behind an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. I helped with the photographs.

Surprisingly, my parents also ran a dairy farm on the side with 20 or so Jersey cows, and they bought beautiful Halcyone, a 30-ton ketch for our holidays on the south coast on the premise it would be cheaper than hotels!

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