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NEWS > Archive > One of Prior's Field's First Pupils Returns

One of Prior's Field's First Pupils Returns

One of Prior's Field's First Pupils Returns
18 May 2018
Elna Marshall Hall
Elna Marshall Hall
In the summer of 2017, we were intrigued to receive a phone call from 92-year-old Mrs Tona Badcock who had a painting of one of Prior’s Field’s first pupils in her dining room and asked if we wanted to see it. Elna Marshall Hall (pictured), we learned, was a family friend who later became godmother to Mrs Badcock’s daughter, Wendy.

Prior’s Field’s Alumnae Officer, Polly Murray went to the house in Thursley, Surrey to meet Mrs Badcock and her other daughter, Jill. Tona had insisted that she should be there to see Polly’s reaction to the painting to see if it would be genuinely wanted, appreciated and looked after at Prior’s Field. The portrait depicts a striking girl of fifteen, with a large bow in her hair, wearing the school uniform of Prior’s Field. It was a beautiful painting that we couldn’t say no to and we were absolutely delighted to take it back with us.

Jill had found some additional memorabilia relating to Elna’s life, that she wanted the school archive to have to accompany the painting. We welcomed the collection including photos of Elna as a baby, illustrated magazines, personal documents and a certificate from the British Red Cross to show that she had become a nurse in her early adult life.

Having researched the artist, we discovered that the oil sketch had been painted by Beatrice Alcock in 1912. Beatrice studied at the Manchester School of Art and in 1883 she won the Silver Medal and Queen’s Prize for Ornamental Design. The painting has been kept in wonderful condition, but the frame was fragile. We sought help from painting conservator, Sally Marriott - based at Watts Gallery, who came to assess the picture. Sally used ultraviolet rays to examine the paint surface in order to make recommendations for its conservation (pictured). The painting was taken away to be cleaned and glazed and the frame was repaired ready for display in school.

We are all in agreement that this important painting should have pride of place in Prior’s Field. It will be hung in Oak Hall and will be looked after and preserved with a plaque explaining who Elna was and her connection with the school. This was a brilliant turn of fate, especially as Elna was given to us just months after our Archivist started at the school and we are truly grateful for this gift.

The painting will continue to benefit the whole school and so far we have used a replica for Open Day, Art classes and Preview Day.

We would like to thank Tona, Jill and family for giving us this wonderful painting.

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