The Last Years

When war broke out in 1914, Fred continued to go up to his London studio. He lost many friends at the Front and his letters home are full of the horrors he witnessed as zeppelin raids destroyed parts of the city of London, “Last night I was in tears. They must have been enormous bombs — and the houses pitted with the iron from the shells

Back in Rydal, Fred supplemented the rations of the local people with fish he caught in Rydal Water. By 1918 however this champion fisherman was beginning to tire as his health began to seriously deteriorate. The strain of war may have contributed to his illness, certainly Mary felt that, “His sensitive spirit battled with the mental and physical horrors of war.

Early in 1919 Fred was admitted to a London hospital for tests. He was in great pain and tired from many nights of broken sleep. From letters it seems that Fred had developed a serious bowel complaint. The treatment proved unsuccessful and he died on the 11th February 1919.

Fred with Pike, Rydal, about 1918.

From his letters to friends and family it is clear that he loved life. Limericks, riddles and bad jokes were as much a part of him as his art. Idealist, romantic, thinker and philosopher, he is probably best remembered in the words of his granddaughter:

 “A man of simple enthusiasm for life, and above all for people, he was always looking for what was best. for the natural and the inner beauty of things, and tireless in trying to interpret this to others


From notes for an the Exhibition at the Armitt Museum, Ambleside, November 2001 to February 2002. John Hodkinson, Hart Head Cottage, September, 2001.