Julian Cory-Wright first came to Brancaster at the age of 3 for a long summer holiday, as his mother Felicity had been captivated by Brancaster as a child herself. By 1925 the family had settled at The Cottage in London Street.
Julian spent his youthful holidays playing golf and sailing, having been taught both by his mother. On one occasion at the age of 9 Julian was dramatically rescued in Brancaster Harbour from being swept out to sea by Richard Everitt (father of Brian Everitt). Julian had his own sloop-rigged dingy “Tam O’Shanter.
In 1936 he acquired “Sanderling his 12 foot National N 107 built by H. Banham of Cambridge. Julian’s tall lean figure was a familiar one to visitors and local people at Brancaster Staithe, and he became Hon. Auditor of the newly formed Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club. He sailed Sanderling in regattas around North Norfolk. He enjoyed the challenge of sailing out to sea and the Cory-Wright Cup was given to Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club in 1937 as a reflection of his enthusiasm.
Julian was a skilled draftsman and watercolourist. He painted and sketched everywhere he went. He painted numerous pictures of Brancaster, the harbour and boats which were his favourite subjects. His lino cuts which will be on view in Norwich Cathedral 4th – 21st November include: Brancaster Waves, Sea Creatures, Shrimp in Net, Curled Feather, Brown Scallop and Black Scallop were all inspired by Julian’s love of the sea shore at Brancaster and the originals he used as portfolios for his sketches. Thornham Harbour in three tones of mauves, Burnham Overy Boat House, Brancaster Harbour and Scolt Head from Brancaster are simple prints using one layer of lino and print in black on white.
His Brancaster watercolours include: Low Tide Brancaster painted in 1937, Burnham Overy Staithe - Whitsun 1937, Wreck of the Lion, used by the colliers to unload and beached on the Brancaster Marshes: Valley Farm Lane, Deepdale Aug 1943, St. Mary’s Brancaster Staithe (pulled down 1950’s) Double spread from one of his Sketch books of the Welk Houses at Brancaster Staithe.
A letter from Julian describes how in February 1944 he sat down to paint on Scolt Head and his trip back home before the tide had gone down enough skating across the sandy marshes. He completed his only oil painting when he got back. Photo: Julian on the hard at Brancaster Staithe August 1939, Julian was a member of the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, as was his younger brother Michael and they were both called up when war broke out on 3rd September 1939, Julian was 23, Michael aged 18.
He married Susan Elwes 1st June 1940 and after a brief honeymoon of 2 days at Valley Farm, lent by Bill & Gabby Adams, Julian returned to his unit training in the Royal Artillery. His artillery training took him to remote parts of Britain: Northumberland, the Yorkshire Moors, Salisbury Plain and the Brecon Beacons, but still found time to paint and sketch the wild landscapes around him as well as military scenes of vehicles and army manoeuvres which will also be on view at Norwich Cathedral in November.
In 1942, The Hoe at Brancaster Staithe became home for Julian and Susan. The Hoe had been placed on a list of houses to be requisitioned as a look-out whilst there was fear of an invasion. It was here at The Hoe that his two younger children were born. On Julian’s visits home to Brancaster there was little time for sailing, although his subscription to Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club was kept up – the wartime rate being 5/- a year for members of the Club on Active Service. But on his visits home, however limited, he found time to paint.
On 11th June 1944 Julian with 177/181 Field Regiment was embarking at Tilbury Docks for Normandy. Julian painted and sketched all day “his favourite subjects” – ships. He also captured the men embarking, vehicles being loaded and observation balloons in the Thames Estuary. They took their place in the long convoy on 13th June. On the afternoon of the following day the French coast was sighted and Julian was one of the first to disembark, before a storm prevented others from doing so. He wrote “We arrived in France safe and sound. The voyage itself was peaceful and calm and no sign of the enemy. I might have been sailing in Sanderling, straight into the beach, at low tide, off the Golf Course, it was so simple.”
The storm raged until the 21st June and some of the regiment’s equipment was lost overboard. Replacement equipment, however, arrived in time for the opening barrages on 26th June for the battle “Epsom” part of the Scottish Corridor round Caen. It was within the first few hours of this battle that Julian, a Forward Observation Officer, was sadly to lose his life.
Late in 1944 Julian’s tin trunk with his personal possessions was returned from France containing among other things the books of sketches Julian made on the start of that historic voyage to Normandy. The equipment he sketched being loaded on board at Tilbury may never have made the coast of France but his sketch-books got there and back and contain records of historical importance. This event is supported by the Royal Artillery Association.
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