1914 - 2008

Peggy and Rosemary Somerville

Rosemary Veronica Somerville, was born at Thorne Moor, near Goole, Lincolnshire on 28 December 1914, daughter of artist and collector Charles Somerville and his wife Rose Annie née Chantree, who married in London in 1905, and was a sister to both Stuart Somerville [q.v.] and Peggy Somerville [q.v.]. Rosemary was raised in a highly creative and unconventional family with a sprawling band of siblings. Her artistic parents believed that sons should not have their future careers blighted by academic study but daughters, destined for marriage, had better have some formal education in the meantime. So private tutors were engaged for the boys, while the girls were packed off to school, ironically, none in the latter trio ever wed. Amid the cataclysm of the First World War and its aftermath the restless and fairly well-off family sought out rural hideaways from the horrors of their day, firstly at Ashford in Middlesex, then in south-west Suffolk. Rosemary, starting as a governess and mentor to the children of family friends, became a teacher, latterly at Westfield Grove School at Gosforth in Newcastle and in 1939, a governess, living at Fox House, Fox Road, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with her widowed mother Rose, but she returned to the family base in Suffolk to care for sister Peggy in the months before her sisters death in 1975. With the late Stephen Reiss (1947-2016), former Norwich art dealer and manager of the Aldeburgh Festival, and Messum's gallery in London, she then worked tirelessly to reclaim her sister's rightful reputation. There were to be books, television profiles and exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic, and with a huge gift to the Norwich Castle Museum, nobody could remember that Peggy Somerville had ever been forgotten. Rosemary moved from Middleton to The Surgery, 15 Lee Road, Aldeburgh, Suffolk and at Aldeburgh she constructed a gallery just for Peggy's pictures, before ending her days in an Aldringham nursing home on 3 May 2008, aged 92.