Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Affectionately , but secretly called " Monkey " by  pupils  when  he was  a master at Sydney's Church of England  Grammar School on the North Shore     from  1929 to 1947,   Edward  Monckton, member of  the Australian Watercolour Institute,  ran  a large and enthusiastic art club  at the school. The  above collection  of  his distinctive   cartoon  like drawings  was  published late  in life  in Great Britain .

Our copy of  Monckton's unusual   drawings,  found in the  Crackerbox Palace , Cairns ,  contains  a  foreword by  artist  John  Roy  Eldershaw,  president of  the Australian  Watercolour Institute from 1949-1952  , who regarded  Monckton as  a  very talented artist  and   said  that  the  pages of puckish humour  would  provide  amusement .

Eldershaw  had studied at  the Julian Ashton and  J. S. Watkins Schools  , Sydney ; Central School  of Arts and Crafts , London ,1928-30 ;  Paris. He was commissioned to paint an Australian landscape  for the Australian Governor-General , the  Duke of  Gloucester ,  and for  20 years resided  in Tasmania, living in a  renovated old  mill in Richmond,   and  toured Australia by caravan .

Born in 1892, James Frederick Edward  Monckton ,   son of Reverend  James  Frederick Monckton  and  Alice Australia  Harper, went under  the name , Edward. A brother was a solicitor and three sisters  became teachers .   During WWl   he gained the rank  of captain  serving in the Northhamptonshire  Regiment , mainly  in France .  He graduated M.A. ( Classics)  Caius College , Cambridge University . After the  war  he   went   teaching    near London , travelled  to New Zealand  where he taught at  Wellesley College ,Wellington ,  then crossed  the Tasman  to  teach  in  Sydney and  establish  the  art  club  for   pupils, an interest in  music also  encouraged .  
A son, Francis,  serving in the Royal Australian Air Force ,  was  killed  during  WWll in 1942. On  retirement in 1947 , Monckton  and his wife made a  trip back to  England  and on their return  they  settled   at Nabiac  , New South Wales .

After   the death of his wife , Monckton moved back to Sydney and eventually into the War Veterans' Home  at  Narrabeen , where he died  shortly before his   93rd birthday  on November 22 , l985.
At the Memorial Service held in the School Chapel , the eulogy  mainly  consisted  of  recollections  of   incidents  from  the life  of  a lovable  and humorous man , delivered  by  one of  his  former Form 1  pupils , John Sutton.
Next year,  the school's journal , The Torch Bearer,  carried a  special  tribute feature  on Monckton   by  Pat. H. Eldershaw  , himself a longtime Shore  teacher  (1924-1965) ,  possibly  related  to   the artist   John  Eldershaw who penned  the foreword to  Monckton's book . A  coach of  cricket, rugby and  tennis teams , Pat  Eldershaw  was  Master- in- Charge  of  English  and  debates  , eloquent , a poet and raconteur, a Mr Chips like  figure who was the founding Housemaster  of  Barry House ,  assisted   by   his  wife , influencing many  boys  over  the  years . 

In praising  Monckton , he  dismissed  the  feeling  by some  colleagues  who had  initially  regarded  him as  an  amusing eccentric  with unusual teaching methods . Monckton, he explained, was  so much of an individual , so assured in his values, so uninfluenced by pointless  conventions , so perpetually youthful  in his enthusiasms , that no one could  resist his  charm . His outspoken naturalness  in conversation  and  his keen sense of  the ridiculous made him a grand companion . "Best of all, his  fun was  never  hurtful   or vulgar."

His  enthusiasm for  all civilised   values  influenced the tone of the school .  He had  fitted comfortably into the Australian setting  without ever losing his English qualities .  
In  the late  l990s , Monckton  was  the subject of the  inaugural Legends of  Shore  dinner at which  it was said he  had  become an   endearing  and  eccentric  master  when he presided  over Form  1.  Following a toast  to  Monckton, two of his  daughters, Jean Taylor  and  Pat Ellis , reminded  guests that  their  father rode to  school by bicycle and when it was wet  tied  newspapers  round  his legs  to keep  them dry . A  framed  tribute to  Monckton's life  at  the school  was  presented by the Mitre Club  , a feature of subsequent  Legend  luncheons .

The  Monckton  book obtained by  this blog  had once  belonged  to  the late   Rolfe Gelling , who   in  1947  revived the  Cairns Art Society  as president  after the  war  years .  Handwritten  notes in the  book , which might  have been inserted  by Monckton himself ,  give  his name and Nabiac address, state he was a  member of   the R.A.S. (Royal Art Society) , Australian Watercolour Institute  and  the Cotswold Club , England . In addition , copies  could be  obtained   for  $1  by post ("plenty of  copies available "). Another note says  John Eldershaw  "Taught art to Duchess of Gloucester ".

Monckton was in his 80s when the  book was published in 1974  by Arthur H. Stockwell Ltd , of Ilfracombe, Devon, a  firm that specialises in  helping  authors  self   publish ,  which  revealed   the  "eccentric "  and humorous  side of the man  in  cartoons...a  glutinous cat   explodes  but is put  together again by  a doctor who specialises in resurrecting  felines  ; a  garrulous wife is named  Lady Chatterbug ; an old man  being pushed about in a  billy cart -like  wheelchair  by  his "de facto " , jeered at  by  delinquents,  gets  revenge  by  chasing the  boys  in  a hovercraft , his de facto  laughing  at the fleeing lads,  with a slow moving  tortoise passenger  enjoying  the  exhilarating fast ride  ; a cat jammed at the top of a  hollow  tree  is freed  with TNT and goes into orbit  around the Moon  on which flutters the American flag ; a  bully gets a thumping ; a series  includes  a pub  scene  with  an  advert for  Australian  wines  and  the  central figure  appears to have a drunken dream  in which  he is  run over by  his ride on lawn mower , his  mop of  hair greatly reduced ; watching the Beatles on TV , a woman forgets  she is  cooking tea  and the chook  is burnt to  blazes; a woman  and her  dog, Bingo,  are bitten by the  deadly  Yarramalung  Beetle  - fido  dies , she  turns   black .