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Unveiling the plaque - a beautiful sunny day

Rosemary Temple is a past chair of Denham Parish Council who lived in Blacksmith’s Cottage on Village Road. Rosemary was personally instrumental in securing the plaque on the wall of The White Cottage marking the occupancy of the cottage by the artist Sir William Nicholson and the birth there of Ben Nicholson. Here, in Rosemary’s own words, are her memories of bringing the project to fruition and photo images of the unveiling and dedication of the plaque.

We were disappointed when the owners of the cottage refused permission for the plaque in 1994, but they were very private people, who did not like the idea of attracting attention to their home.

However, when I discovered that the cottage had been sold, I tried again and was so pleased when the new owners proved more enthusiastic. By this time, I was no longer on the Parish Council and knowing that the council were very busy with their statutory duties, I took it on as a project, although the Council were kept fully informed at all stages and were always helpful and supportive, particularly Paul Graham, the then Parish Clerk.

I wrote to everybody I could think of who might be interested and in almost all cases received a contribution, often accompanied by sweet notes of encouragement. Just as I had nearly gathered sufficient money together, my husband became very ill and subsequently died. Although he had been sick for some years, it was a terrible shock and it took me some time to be able to start again with the plaque. By this time, the stonemason I had chosen had significantly raised his prices, so I had to find somebody else.

Donations were received from both Parish and District Councils and the rest of the money was raised from private individuals throughout the parish. Martin Cook of Lane End, was chosen to design, make and install the plaque, which was carved from Delabole slate. This choice was to reflect the strong connection of Ben Nicholson to Cornwall and by happy coincidence also echoed family links between Robin and Meryl Chhabra, the owners of the White Cottage, to Delabole.

Martin Cook proved to be a treasure and the responses from the Nicholsons, all very artistic, really liked the result.

I wanted the Nicholsons to be involved if possible and finally managed to make contact by approaching the Tate Gallery, who gave me an email address for Ben Nicholson's agent. It was lovely that so many of them were able to come to the dedication. It made the day.

I must emphasise that the original idea was from Hope and Andrew Shaw, who were an intellectually very lively couple. Hope was a Parish Councillor, later Chairman. Sadly, they were both in failing health when I took on the project and neither of them was able to attend the unveiling of the plaque.

Several descendants of the Nicholsons, including Rachel Nicholson, daughter of Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, were able to attend the unveiling of the plaque on 10th May 2010. The actual ceremony was carried out by Elizabeth Banks, the youngest daughter of Sir William Nicholson. It was a beautiful sunny day and everyone present then proceeded to the Parish Office for refreshments and interesting conversations.

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