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A First for Farnham Town Council

Four men standing in a row smiling.

The Council Chamber at the Town Hall was packed with visitors during Farnham’s Heritage Open Days with a significant exhibition of the work of Pauline Baynes.  Known to millions as the illustrator who gave visual life to the characters and settings of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”,  C.S. Lewis’s “Narnia”,  and Richard Adams’ “Watership Down”, Farnham was privileged to display a large collection of her work, generously provided by her relative Alberto Ceccatelli who brought the collection over from Italy for this special occasion.  

The exhibition ran from 7-12 September and was crowded with visitors.  This was the first time the collection, bringing together Pauline Baynes’ wide ranging work, had been seen in this country and it created a great deal of interest.  At the launch the Mayor of Farnham commented that the amazing illustrations created by Pauline Baynes in over 200 books were known worldwide but her connection to Farnham was virtually unknown. It was an amazing honour that Alberto Ceccatelli had kindly brought his collection to share.

On Saturday 9 September local historian and lecturer Roy Waight gave an absorbing talk on Pauline Baynes, together with her predecessor Randolph Caldecott whose work in the nineteenth century was a major influence on children’s book illustration.  The event was so popular, attracting over 90 people, that there was not enough room for everyone in the Council Chamber so the talk was also broadcast to the Tindle Room on the ground floor.  

For Alberto Ceccatelli the exhibition was the perfect opportunity to share his research and love of the work of Pauline Baynes with the people of Farnham.  He said: “After 40 years of personal and artistic research this was finally the right recognition for Pauline Baynes’s talent.  The Town Hall was the perfect setting and he thanked the Mayor and Town Council for hosting.  He also thanked Iain Lynch, the Town Clerk and his colleagues for their perfect organisation and hard work to make it a success, and Cathy Cook and Barbara Carpenter for translating, encouraging and promoting the exhibition to the local community.

Gillian Ward, one of the HODS organising committee said “It was a great privilege to meet Alberto. His enthusiasm and passion for Pauline Baynes was infectious and it was a very special addition to the Farnham Heritage Open Days this year.   

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