George Edward Lodge was born in December 1860 and died in February 1954 at the age of 93. He lived in Camberley from the 1920s in a house on Upper Park Road which he named Hawk House. He was an accomplished artist , naturalist, ornithologist and taxidermist. He created images of birds, insects and animals and his taxidermy work and paintings of birds, insects and wildlife form an important legacy of his life’s work.
From an early age, he enjoyed art and natural history, spending hours observing and sketching flora and fauna. His interests extended to taxidermy and preparing bird skins for mounting, he mounted his first owl at the age of 8. He was a keen falconer throughout his life.
After studying at the Lincoln School of Art he worked as an apprentice for the leading London wood engravers, Whymper’s. Whilst in London, he became a member of The Old Hawking Club and was often seen in the city with a hawk on his fist – the ‘hustle and bustle’ of London he felt, helped accustom the bird to any distraction and made it more effective when flying in the field.
Lodge was an accomplished artist and illustrator and sketched on his many trips around Great Britain. He travelled annually to Scotland and regularly visited the salmon rivers of Norway, both places being the natural habitat of his favourite species of bird, the Hawk. During the Second World War he worked as a spy, visiting Norway to study and sketch local bird life and the Kriegsmarine (German navy) ports of Bergen, Narvik, Trondheim, Hammerfest and Kirkenes.
At the age of 60, he moved to Upper Park Road, Camberley with his sister and niece, Brenda Lodge. He set up his studio and painted, sketched and studied birds and wild life, he also created many taxidermy examples. The house was renamed Hawk House. A local reporter once visited his studio and described it as “a collector’s treasure of preserved birds – hawks, falcons and almost every variety of British birds”. The heathland around Camberley attracted a wide variety of wildlife and was of great inspiration to Lodge.
He was a Vice President of the Camberley and District Natural History Society when it was first formed in 1946 and remained a member throughout his life.
His work appears in many publications, including ‘The British Bird Book’ by F B Kirkman and D A Bannerman’s 12 volumes of the ’Birds of the British Isles’. For this publication he illustrated 389 plates depicting 426 species of bird, each painted against an appropriate background. He began the illustrations at the age of 82 and the final volume was published shortly after his death in 1954.
His obituary in the Camberley News was written by Maxwell Knight (broadcaster and local fellow naturalist) – “The death of Mr George E Lodge, who was in his ninety fourth year, will be lamented by all who knew him personally, and by many more who knew him only through his paintings….
For well over half a century he could justly be acclaimed as one of the world’s leading bird artists; and at the peak of his powers there was no- one equal to him on the depicting of game birds and birds of prey – the latter, perhaps as being his personal favourites.
George Lodge was a man of indomitable spirit; for when his sight began to fail and his health was my no means good, his mind remained as active as ever…… He will always be remembered as a great painter of birds, but at the same time he will remain in the minds of those privileged to know him personally as an English gentleman of fine and generous character“.
A small selection of Lodge’s work was given to the Camberley and District Natural History Society after his death and is now in Surrey Heath Museum’s collection. The Friends of the Museum have also funded the purchase of examples of Lodge’s paintings. His entomological collection is held at Bristol Museum and some of his art work is held by the Natural History Museum.
The George Edward Lodge Trust was set up to portray every aspect of George Edward Lodge’s life and building up a directory of both artwork and artefacts. We are most grateful to Brian Bird from The George Edward Lodge Trust for his continued and help and support of Surrey Heath Museum.
Text provided by Surrey Heath Museum.
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