We are grateful to Jeremy Palmer of Effingham Local History Group http://www.effinghamparishcouncil.gov.uk/local-history/ for the following text. Jeremy has been investigating Gwen Farrar as part of his research into the Bohemian scene which developed in Effingham from the 1920s onwards.

Gwen Farrar leased a property called ‘Grove Paddock’ in Effingham, from the businessman and Ballet Russes supporter, Anthony Diamantidi, between June 1934 and May 1938. Grove Paddock is adjacent to what was then Diamantidi’s residence, Grove House. There are several likely possibilities why Gwen chose to rent in Effingham. Her friend and fellow revue artist, Teddie Gerard, had been living in a cottage at Effingham Common since 1923. She may also have been familiar with the Ballet Russes dancers who stayed at Grove House for weekends and the kind of holiday break described by Irina Baronova in her autobiography Irina: Ballet, Life and Love.

Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney, nd [1920s], (permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London, under license <strong><a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/" target="_blank">http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/</a></strong>)

Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney, nd [1920s], (permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London, under license)

Gwen and Norah were also familiar with Sir Nicholas and Lady Waterhouse, whose country residence was at Norwood Farm, Effingham Common, also purchased from Diamantidi around 1930. They had collaborated with Lady Audrey Waterhouse in establishing the Chelsea Art Gallery to promote unknown artists (mentioned in Pall Mall Gazette, Women’s Pictorial, early February 1921). The Waterhouses were keen supporters of the Arts, most notably benefiting the writer and artist Wyndham Lewis with their patronage and financial support (see Paul O’Keefe, Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis, p 266-7).

The Effingham Local History Group (ELHG) possesses a 1971 oral history recording from Lena Bridger, whose parents owned a shop in the village, recounting members of the Ballet Russes visiting the shop, and Gwen and Norah who would “dress up and walk up the village and all sorts of peculiar things”. It’s possible this was in 1935 when Gwen and Norah reunited to record four new songs, two of which were compilations of old favourites (See ELHG Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar – Windyridge CD CDR54).

Gwen’s lease ended in 1938, possibly as a consequence of her increasing involvement around this time with Dolly Wilde, the niece of Oscar Wilde. However Gwen and Norah returned to Effingham in later years (Blaney in interview), paying a visit to the very ill Teddie Gerard, sometime before her death at the end of August 1942.

Allegedly, Gwen and Norah also had a property called ‘The Chequers’, at West End, Esher, mentioned here http://www.afcwestend.co.uk/scanvnhist2.pdf. Unfortunately, no firm evidence to support this has yet been uncovered.

Gwen (Gwendolen) Farrar appears in the Effingham electoral registers (available online via Ancestry) at Grove Paddock in Effingham from 1935 to 1937. Occupants registered the previous autumn to be included in the electoral register for the following year’s elections. No electoral registers were produced during the war years. The original electoral registers are held at Surrey History Centre:

1935:

Name: Gwendolen Farrar
Gender: Female
Year: 1935
Country: England
County: Surrey
Parliamentary Division/Constituency: Reigate
Place of Abode: Grove Paddock, Guildford Road
Reference Number: CC802/52/7

1936:

Name: Gwendolen Farrar
Gender: Female
Year: 1936
Country: England
County: Surrey
Parliamentary Division/Constituency: Reigate
Place of Abode: Grove Paddock, Guildford Road
Reference Number: CC802/53/7

1937:

Name: Gwendolen Farrar
Gender: Female
Year: 1937
Country: England
County: Surrey
Parliamentary Division/Constituency: Reigate
Place of Abode: Grove Paddock, Guildford Road
Reference Number: CC802/54/7

Read about the lives of Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney here

Read about Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney in the First World War here

Sources:

Winifride Elwes and Richard Elwes, Gervase Elwes: The Story of His Life, Grayson and Grayson, 1935

Deeds of Grove Paddock (in private ownership)

Electoral registers for Effingham, held at Surrey History Centre (SHC ref CC802/52/7, -53/7, and -/54/7)

Oral history recording of Lena Bridger, 1971, held by ELHG
Norah Blaney and Gwen Farrar – Windyridge CD CDR54

Jeremy Palmer, ‘Gwen Farrar in Effingham’, ELHG Bulletin, No.8, Mar 2016, p.11-14