The release of a new film featuring Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens is set to catapult Mendham artist Sir Alfred Munnings back into the spotlight. Munnings, whose character is at the heart of the film Summer in February, was the most prominent equestrian artist of his day, with his works collected by all quarters of the aristocracy, up to and including the Royal family.

Visitors to the Essex area can experience the life and works of this famous artist for themselves by visiting his Castle House studio in Dedham. Guests at either milsoms; or Maison Talbooth hotel are ideally located to visit this historic site, which is on the doorstep of both hotels. Now converted into a museum, Castle House features the largest collection of Munnings’ works, while the original structure and furniture has been lovingly restored to match the original character of the house. The museum stands in spacious grounds, set within 40 acres of beautiful countryside.

Munnings had always wanted to leave his work and estate to be left to the nation and following his death in 1959, his second wife, Lady Violet Munnings, set up the Castle House Trust, which took possession of the studio, surrounding grounds and all of the original paintings held by Lady Munnings. Since its initial setup, the Trust has purchased a large number of pictures to ensure the collection represents Munnings’ lifetime work.

Born in 1878, Munnings enjoyed success as a poster designer while serving an apprenticeship at Page Brothers, lithographers of Norwich, before having his painting ‘Stranded’ hung by the Royal Academy. He went on to have a total of 230 pictures displayed in the Royal Academy during his lifetime, as well as being elected President of the arts institute in 1944, the same year he received a knighthood.

And now the release of Summer in February on the big screen promises to put one of the country’s most talented artists back into the limelight. Although the film focuses largely on the little-known love triangle involving Munnings, his first wife Florence and her affair with Captain Gilbert Evans, Munnings’ abilities with a brush are sure to come to the fore once again as the public are reminded of his masterpieces.

Maison Talbooth is a luxurious boutique country house hotel in Dedham and provides the perfect setting to visit the Castle House museum as you immerse yourself in the story of Sir Alfred Munnings. Or why not try the stylish milsoms Hotel, which is also located in Dedham? Both hotels are set in fabulous locations and offer packages to suit all needs.
Or if you’re just visiting for the day, enjoy lunch at either the stunning riverside restaurant Le Talbooth or the brasserie bar and restaurant at milsoms and visit Castle House to experience Munnings for yourself.

For more information on either hotel, call Milsoms on 01206 322795 or email [email protected]

+Sue Bunting

Wed 19 Jun 2013, Milsom Hotels