No more Chewie

Peter Mayhew died today. For anyone unfamiliar with the name, there can’t be many people unfamiliar with the character he made famous: Chewbacca in the Star Wars films. From everything I’ve read and heard today, Peter was a lovely man, adored by just about everyone he met and befriended.

There were many, many tributes on Twitter all day. This one from Mark Hamill:

He was the gentlest of giants-A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete

And Harrison Ford said:

We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.

Meanwhile, in my office and seeing as it was a Friday, I was busy researching other dead people. One stood out because of his profession. Andrew Boyer Marchant was a ‘modeller in pottery’ and came from Norney. While the A3 now splits them apart, Norney is not that far from Compton. And Compton was where the best potters were employed in the beginning of the 20th century.

Mary Seaton started what was to become the Potters’ Art Guild, around the beginning of the 20th century. Modellers, potters, carvers and sculptors were put to work making various beautiful objects for sale. Among them was Andrew.

When Mary’s husband, the artist Frederick Watts died in 1904, the memorial designed for him by his wife was made by three of the workers.

Memorial to Watts

The recumbent figure in the centre was made by a chap called Thomas Wren while the two panels either side (3D versions of a couple of Watts’ paintings) were sculpted by Russell Davey. The inscription beneath Watts was made by Andrew.

It’s quite amazing to be able to see something so beautiful made by one of the people I have researched. Sadly, of all the people who worked at the pottery during the war of the ones who served, only Andrew failed to return. I wonder what wonders he may have created had he survived.

Andrew’s initials in the corner of his work

Andrew was born in 1888, the son of a farm labourer from Thursley. His father, William, managed to step up to the position of Estate Nurseryman by 1901 at one of the ‘big houses’ in tiny Norney. At some stage, Andrew learned his potting trade and, I guess, his parents let him pursue it. It wasn’t that far to Compton so I imagine it was an obvious place for him to go.

In 1913, Andrew married Mabel Annie Brickett (her father was a famous cricketer but I haven’t found him) and they settled down in Eashing, less than three miles from Compton.

Something else that Mary Seaton set up was a Rifle Club. It was in existence from 1908 to 1915 and Andrew was a member (as was Mabel). Little did he know that this early shooting training would come in quite so handy. In 1914 when he went off to France as part of the Queen’s Own, West Surrey Regiment.

Serjeant Andrew Boyer Marchant was killed in action on December 30, 1917.

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