Annie WALKE

1877—1965

Born at Banstead, Surrey in 1877, Annie was the second daughter of Paul Bradshaw Fearon and his wife Edith Jane, nee Duffield, and the older sister of Hilda FEARON, born the following year. [The incorrect date of 1888 is sometimes found for Annie, but this was probably her baptismal date when she and the other children were baptised all together at a later date.* See Misc] Her father was a wine merchant in the West End of London and the family today would be described as well-to-do, the family's four girls and their brother being looked after by five residential servants. 

Annie and Hilda were not only close in age but appeared to have had a close relationship throughout their lives. Annie's early education was at the Cheltenham Ladies College, where her artistic leanings were first discovered. She went on to study art at the Chelsea and London Schools of Art.  During these years she studied under Sir William Nicholson (1872-1940), Augustus JOHN (1878-1961) and Sir William Orpen (1878-1931). Meantime Hilda attended the Slade, and the two travelled to Dresden for further studies. Annie's interest at that stage was music and the pianoforte, while Hilda pursued art training.

Annie is said to have decided to follow Hilda to St Ives (c1902-4) in order to continue her training as an artist. Hilda is first recorded in St Ives during August 1900, initially living at 'The Cabin' and studying under Algernon and Gertrude Talmage. Annie met her future husband, the Rev Bernard Walke (1874-1941), who was then a curate in St Ives. In 1904 'Ber' Walke (as he was known), a popular and evangelical high churchman, whose father before him had also been an Anglican priest in West Cornwall, moved on to a curacy in Polruan. Before their marriage, and perhaps about the same time as her sister Hilda left St Ives to move to London, Annie also moved to Polruan and established a studio in a sail loft overlooking the harbour.

The couple married in London in 1911, she approximately 34, and he at the age of 37, during his curacy at Polruan by Fowey. Two years later he became Vicar of St Hilary, near Marazion, immortalised in his autobiography, Twenty Years at St Hilary (1935), one of the books often referred to when researching artists in Cornwall. Walke invited Annie and a number of friends to decorate parts of the church interior, and these included Ernest PROCTER, Dod PROCTER, Roger Fry and Pog YGLESIAS among others. They had no children.

The two had many friends amongst the artists both in London and West Cornwall, and were introduced especially to the Lamorna crowd by Alfred James MUNNINGS. Laura KNIGHT described them, 'They were both long and thin, and Ber always wore dandy silk socks - he was not in the least like a parson to look at. A man with ideals that he lived up to-he was big - hearted enough to understand anyone and had it in him to enjoy vulgar fun as much as any. After we became intimate we often went to stay with the Walkes at St Hilary, as simple as any monastery in its furnishings.' Christopher Garrett, who has extensively researched the pair for a set of articles for the centennial of the time when the Walkes were resident in Polruan, has provided this material to the CAI, for research and study purposes. It includes a bibliography of her paintings, and writings, and family details of friendships with literary figures such as Walter de la Mare, and George Bernard Shaw.

The Walkes moved from St Hilary on retirement to The Battery, Mevagissey, and Ber died 25 June, 1941.  She lived on alone at Battery House until shortly before she died.  She rarely painted after 1950 but wrote poetry that was published in 1963. She died in 1965 age 88, and is buried in St Erth Churchyard, near St Hilary and Lelant, where Bernard was also buried 25 years earlier.