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Blue plaque to commemorate on of Stamford’s prominent sons

Stamford Civic Society has received permission to erect a blue plaque in honour of a trailblazing artist and former son of the town – Nelson Ethelred Dawson.

Carol Meeds, from Stamford Civic Society, said: “This is great news and means Stamford can now officially pay tribute to one if its most influential former residents.

“Nelson Dawson was a figure of significant importance in the Arts and Crafts movement, both locally and nationally, and he was a real inspiration to many.

“We have researched the man extensively, and we have found that he was born in 7 St Mary’s Street and not 27, as many claim. He has very strong connections with Stamford and his work can still be seen in the town; the Regalia cabinet complete with the town crest is still in the Mayor’s parlour, and there are many of his artefacts in the Stamford Museum collection.”

Dawson was born in 1859 at 7 St Mary’s Street, Stamford, and went on to become an important figure in the Arts and Craft movement as a designer, enameller and metal worker.

One of eight children, Dawson attended Stamford School for two years before leaving school and studying architecture at the office of Stamford architect Joseph B Corby, at 69 Scotgate, before leaving the town to pursue a career as an artist.

According to the Stamford Mercury from July 20, 1934, in the 1880s and early 1890s Dawson ‘was more of a sea painter than anything else, was never without a boat, mixed with fishermen and sailors, picked up a knowledge of seamanship and worked up and down the East coast’. A romanticised view, perhaps, but this equates with the many marine scenes he etched and painted throughout his life.

In 1891 Dawson moved back to London and began concentrating more on metalwork. He studied his craft under the noted practitioner, Alfred Fisher, and passed on his skills to his wife Edith – working as a team they developed their own style, with Dawson doing the designing and manufacturing and his wife undertaking the enamelling.

The couple quickly received widespread acclaim and their art was exhibited widely in London and abroad. Several of their commissioned pieces are well-know – the bronze organ grille in Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, Chelsea is Dawson’s handiwork, and the couple also made the trowel and mallet used by Queen Victoria in her last public appearance when she laid the foundation stone of the V&A museum in 1899.

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