Winnie the Pooh's Streatham Connection
It was 25 years ago, on the 10th March 1992, that Streatham's link with Winnie the Pooh went up in flames.
St. Andrew's Church stood in Guildersfield Road, south Streatham, and was a Grade II listed building of architectural and historic importance.
It was designed by Ernest George, a local resident, who was president of the Royal Institute of British Architects between 1908 and 1910.
The church was errected in 1886 in memory of the Revd. Stenton Eardley, the first incumbent of Immanuel Church, Streatham Common, of which this was the first "daughter church".
It was in 1904 that Ernest Shepard, the artist whose drawings imortalised Winnie the Pooh, was married in St. Andrew's Church to his first wife, Florence Eleanor Chaplin.
Shepard was born in St John's Wood, London, in 1879. Having a natural flair for drawing he attended Heatherleys School of Fine Art in Chelsea for a year after which he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools where he met Florence.
As Florence's family were living at Deal in Kent at the time of her marriage, Connie, her sister, the wife of Dr H W P Youngs, offered her their house at 2 St. Helen's Road, Norbury, for the wedding reception.
So it was that the couple made their way to St. Andrew's Church to take their wedding vows; the service being conducted by Ernest's Uncle, the Revd James William Shepard.
Following their marriage the couple moved to Shamley Green, near Guildford, where they set up home together.
In 1924 Shepard illustrated A A Milne's book of poem's called When We Were Very Young. Milne originally had reservations about Shepard's work but was so pleased at the results for the book that when he wrote Winnie The Pooh, which was published in 1926, he insisted that Shepard illustrate it and so bagan a long and fruitful working relationship between author and illustrator.
Milne was so concious of the contribution Shepard made to the succeeess of his Winnie the Pooh books that he arranged for him to receive a share of his royalties.
In 1931, Shepard further enhanced his reputation as a book illustrator when he produced work for a new edition of The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Graham which attracted wide-spread aclaim.
The site of St. Andrew's church is now occupied by Graveney Villas, a small terrace of housing.
JOHN W BROWN
21 February 2017