Friday 8 January 2016

From Sutton to Shorelands: The early school life of Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe

Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to stumble upon an excellent copy of Tunnicliffe’s lovely 1952 volume Shorelands Summer Diary in a charity shop in Chester. This is a wonderfully illustrated diary of the early Summers he and his wife spent at their house at Malltraeth on Anglesey after moving there in 1947. As a result of this I thought I’d have a look and see what I could find concerning Tunnicliffe here at Cheshire Archives and Local Studies. We stock a number of Tunnicliffe illustrated and authored works (including Shorelands Summer Diary) in the Local Studies collection (which can be accessed from the Searchroom in the same way as other material), as well as several sales catalogues, biographies and relevant articles. I also learnt that our colleagues in Macclesfield Library house an excellent Tunnicliffe collection containing over 130 items in their Local Studies department.

Reading that Tunnicliffe went to school at St James’ school in Sutton (a mile south of Macclesfield) and then went on to Macclesfield School of Art before eventually obtaining a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, I thought I would investigate whether the Archives held any relevant school records. Thankfully we did.

The St James’ National School log book (SL 137/1/2) covers the period 1894 – 1927. As always with such logs there is a strange mixture of fascinating and very mundane (although in itself also very interesting) material included. This is no exception. If you want to see an inventory of school crockery in July 1914 (46 ‘sound’ green mugs, 7 ‘unsound’), or the details of the suppliers of garden manure to the school (Mr Bullock, believe it or not) then this is definitely the document to request. More importantly for our purposes we can also see that the 5 year old C F Tunnicliffe started school at the start of the new term on Aug 7th 1906. 

I then found the Macclesfield School of Art admission register (SL 262/3/3) which includes both an overall index and annual entries for Tunnicliffe from 1915/16 to 1920/21.

Of even more interest were the School of Art minutes (SL262/1/2) which contained several specific references including one resolving that Tunnicliffe was elected as an Associate of the School after already receiving a Local Scholarship of £20 p.a. from earlier the same year.

The artistic journey that would lead nearly three decades later to Shorelands, where he was to remain for a further 32 years until his death in 1979 was well under way.


Many Cheshire parish registers are housed here at the Record Office in Chester, but by no means all of them. After exhausting all possible local parishes that we do store, I made contact with St James' Church, Sutton Lane Ends who were very kindly able to undertake a search for me and locate the Baptism record. Please note that there is a charge for this service which is dictated to the Parish by the Church of England.

St. James’ Church were also able to provide some photos of a very youthful looking, yet instantly recognisable, fifteen year old Charles Tunnicliffe in the church choir (apologies for the quality – as these are behind glass it is a challenge to get an excellent image).

I shall continue to keep an eye out for anything else Tunnicliffe related we might have here at the Archives.

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