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Ethel Fanny Everett

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Church Road, Home Page, People, Village Folk | 0 comments

Above is Mullion Cottage at the top of Church Road as you might not have seen it before. Mullion used to be two cottages with a shop in the middle. The shop at the time of this photograph was Hicks’ Butchers, and the Hicks family lived in the cottage on the right of the picture.

The cottage on the left was lived in by Ethel Fanny Everett and her brother. And Ethel was an artist.

May Hicks painted by Ethel Everett, IllustratorTo the left is a painting of May Hicks that was done by Ethel. According to the obituary below, Ethel and her brother moved to Chrishall during the war and she obviously delighted in living in the country. She would call the Hicks children in to see her ‘visitors’ which were the wild mice that ran along the back of her armchair!

Ethel was born in London and educated at the Mary Datchelor School, a grammar school for girls in Camberwell, before entering the Royal Academy Schools. She was a portrait painter of children and illustrator of children’s books from 1900 to 1939. So it seems she may have moved to Chrishall when she retired.

Ethel’s work is easy to find online and she must have been a well-known and prolific illustrator in her day. In 1911 The Daily Chronicle, a London newspaper, produced copies of A Christmas Carol as hardback books and Ethel provided the illustrations. The adverts for the book in the newspaper carried Ethel’s name as well as the author, Charles Dickens! She also did illustrations for Charles Kingsley’s Water Babies, and Enid Blyton’s ‘Gold and Silver’.

London Underground

As well as illustrating many childrens books and painting portraits, Ethel produced posters for London Underground, one of which was ‘Escape to quietude’ in 1914. We are grateful to London Transport Museum for allowing us to publish this image.

© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection

Exhibitions and Portraits

As I said previously, Ethel was also a childrens’ portrait painter. There is a particularly lovely portrait of ‘Lilian Violet’ from 1891 on Artnet:

Ethel also staged her own exhibitions. In the Eastbourne Gazette of July 1935 it is reported that “Miss Ethel Everett has converted the Saffron Rooms into a delightful picture gallery with grouped plants and palms in the centre, and the walls hung with an exhibition of her work which all art lovers must see this week”. You can see what the Saffron Rooms look like on the outside here:


When Ethel died on 30th August 1951 at St James’ Hospital, Saffron Walden, Angela Jeans from Arkesden wrote the following obituary for her:

Ethel Everett – artist, writer and poet – whose beautiful character made itself felt with every living thing with which she came into contact, has passed from a world in which she seemed never entirely to belong. The familiar figure – tall and elegant – moving through the streets of Walden with such slow dignity, as she leant on her brother’s arm, has become a memory, as also her young face and strangely vital eyes.

How many people, I wonder – beyond her intimate friends – knew the extent of her achievements? Upon four occasions her pictures were hung “on the line” in the Royal Academy. The first to be exhibited was one depicting the famous Dickensian character “Tiny Tim”.

Among her best known portraits – also exhibited in the Royal Academy – was one of Mr Garfield Weston and his family (the famous biscuit manufacturer and millionaire). She wrote and illustrated the book entitled, “Old-Fashioned Girls”*. She illustrated “The Water Babies”, and an early work of Enid Blyton’s, “Gold and Silver” and many others. She held several private shows of her pictures in London, and became a member of the Saffron Walden Art Society after moving to Chrishall during the war. It was at one of this Society’s exhibitions that her work was last seen.

(*note: she illustrated this book but did not write it).

Ethel’s deeply religious soul found further outlet in composing hymns, and I have chosen the following verse from one that she sent me as reflecting much of the essence of her life:-

I have no wish apart from Thee
No longer, no desire;
O let Thy Spirit dwell in me,
And all my life inspire.

From the tiny window of her cottage in Chrishall, she used to watch the swallows in the Autumn, getting ready to leave, “skimming around with their pointed wings.” And now the time has come again when they are preparing to depart, but she who loved them and saw them as “notes of music” as they rested on the telegraph wires, has herself gone on before; but – unlike the swallows – she will not return.

Ethel Everett gravestoneYou can visit Ethel Everett’s grave as she is buried at Chrishall Church, her grave is marked with a tall elegant stone cross.

And if you want to search for more of her work online, simply search for Ethel Everett, Illustrator, and many of her lovely pictures will come up.



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