Self Portrait Woodcut
Firstly, the old vicarage was sold in 1908 to William Newzam. In 1910 it was bought as a summer retreat by the artist William Nicholson who renamed it ‘The Grange.’ He had previously stayed in the village at North End House to produce a portrait of Rudyard Kipling.
Neighbouring ‘Hillside’ was rented by the theatre producer Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree for his family each summer. When Steyning Beard sold it in 1910 they decamped to Nicholson’s home at The Grange. However, they rather took advantage by installing many friends and relations plus their servants! It was during this time that Felicity Beerbohm Tree built up a great friendship with the Nicholson’s son, Ben Nicholson, who was of a similar age.
A photograph, taken by Ben at Rottingdean of Felicity in 1911 shows her in the Yellow Jersey which was the subject of this 1912 portrait.
The Yellow Jersey
Felicity Tree Aged 17
painted by William Nicolson
Courtesy of Daniel Katz Gallery, London
Once Nicholson got his home back, life was more peaceful and his wife Mabel got Sir Edwin Lutyens to design a studio in the garden for him. A circular north facing window provided ideal light for the artist. The studio can still be seen behind The Whiteway Centre which was built on part of the garden.
However, the house was still inundated with society visitors so when he was commissioned to paint the portrait of the Viceroy of India in 1914, Nicholson sold The Grange to lawyer Sir George Lewis and travelled to India. This was not his final stay in Rottingdean as after the Great War he was to return to rent North End House from 1920 -1923.