Witnesham: Cartoon caper proves a big draw for charitable villagers

Cartoonist Carl Giles

Cartoonist Carl Giles - Credit: Archant

It might look like there has been an almighty scrap outside a Suffolk village pub, but these locals are actually paying tribute to one of the country’s favourite cartoonists.

The original cartoon created by Giles in 1953.

The original cartoon created by Giles in 1953. - Credit: Archant

Sixty years ago today the celebrated artist Carl Giles – known simply as Giles – published a piece in the Daily Express featuring his favourite drinking establishment, The Barley Mow in Witnesham.

Villages in Witnesham recreate the 60-year-old cartoon drawn by artist Giles, who lived in the villa

Villages in Witnesham recreate the 60-year-old cartoon drawn by artist Giles, who lived in the village for many years - Credit: Archant

Giles lived in Witnesham until his death in 1995 and had worked in nearby Ipswich for many years, providing cartoons for the Express for more than four decades. The town even has a statue in tribute to his most popular character, the formidable matriarch “grandma”.

The August 1953 cartoon was inspired by the angry response from a local farmer to a news story relaying comments made by Lord Goddard, Lord Chief Justice for England.

He had decreed that “East Anglians are always awkward and obstinate” in reference to another farmer who “slammed the door in the face of a weights and measures inspector”.

A copy of the chaotic cartoon has been displayed in The Barley Mow ever since and a team of villagers, led by Steve Henley, decided months ago that they would recreate the image and collect cash from those taking part to be donated to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

Mr Henley said: “We waited until May before putting the entry sheets on the wall and told people we would expect contributions to EACH if they wanted to be in the picture. All the volunteers were happy to do this and we hope to raise £1,000. The bigger the part, the bigger the contribution.

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“On the day we had more people than we needed so our interpretation of the cartoon is simply that – an interpretation, after all we didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

“We have also included Giles himself, a picture of him that I took when the grandma statue was unveiled in Ipswich. We thought this appropriate for two reasons – firstly, this is a tribute to the great man, and secondly, we think he would have enjoyed it.”

The vicar in the new image is the real vicar living and working in Witnesham and the farmer, although a bit younger than the original, really is a local farmer.

Giles moved to Witnesham in 1947 and stayed there until his death in 1995 at the age of 78. He owned a 280-acre farm where, among other things, he kept pigs.

He wrote of The Barley Mow in 1995, in a supplement on the village published by the East Anglian Daily Times just a few weeks before his death.

He said: “I like the pub a lot and I know most of the people who go in there. I like all the people in the village and have a lot of friends here. There is nothing I can complain about or dislike in Witnesham everyone is so friendly.”