Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, Bt. (1889-1982)
In many respects, Benton End was a world unto itself during the Second World War and remained open to students continuously from September 1936 through to October 1946 extending the standard seventh-month term during this period...
At Benton End, artists could work independently and free from the traditional hierarchical structures that dominated the London art schools. Morris and Lett aimed to create an environment characterised by the respectful exchange of ideas and pure freedom of expression when creating art. Their guidance for young students at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing (EASPD) was thoughtful and encouraging, rather than purely instructive and rigorously disciplined. This enabled many young artists to flourish and find their individual style through explorative means, while simultaneously establishing close relationships and lifelong friendships facilitated by the famous Benton End meals and parties.
In many respects, Benton End was a world unto itself during the Second World War and remained open to students continuously from September 1936 through to October 1946 extending the standard seventh-month term during this period. As a result of Morris’s attentive gardening, students and guests enjoyed two home-cooked meals a day, prepared by Lett. Glyn Morgan (1926–2015), who first came to the EASPD during the summer of 1944, recalled how he had never experienced cooking like it. Growing up in Wales, the types of vegetables and spices produced by Morris at Benton End were foreign to most people in Britain at that time. Courgettes from seeds collected in France, red and yellow peppers grown from samples taken while travelling through Spain, and garlic bulbs that hung in strings from the roof of Lett’s kitchen were all ingredients incorporated into the meals at Benton End. Morris had replaced many of his flowers with vegetables during the War and it was the kitchen garden, seen here, that provided such culinary exoticism for the students. At a time when the country was experiencing a great deal of austerity as a result of the war effort, Benton End was a haven where parties, frivolity, intellectual exchange and freshly prepared home cooking were regular occurrences. For many, it was a place of sanctuary and hope during times of great personal and national struggle. On all accounts, Morris and Lett managed to provide a sense of unique optimism and daring creativity that attracted artists and writers from far and wide.