Maj. Kenneth Anns, MC FRIBA, FRSEAMC


THE CHERTSEY MUSEUM is proud to present the first retrospective exhibition of the art of Kenneth Anns, 1891 – 1962 Walter Sickert’s unknown Student, the life and art of Kenneth Anns MC FRIBA.

FRIBA is Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

FRSEAMC is Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce.

Kenneth Anns purchased The Cedars in 1958 and lived there with his wife Margaret and their two daughters. Kenneth died in 1962 and Margaret, his wife, sold the Cedars to the Olive Matthews Trust in 1972 And the Trust then joined with the local Museum to relocate at the Cedars.

Graham Laycock talks to Caroline Anns about her late father Kenneth Anns MC FRIBA amazing life 1891-1962 and the first retrospective exhibition of his paintings and drawings entitled From The Somme To The Cedars at Chertsey Museum from the 11th February to 14th May.

Kenneth purchased The Cedars in 1958 and lived in it with his family and it subsequently became the home of the museum. He was a Captain in WW1 and a Major in WW2 and between the wars was an interior designer and later qualified as an architect and designed some of the first high rise buildings in London and painted throughout his life. Audio is used with permission.

Hear Caroline talking with Sarah Gorrell on BBC Surrey Radio about her father and the exhibition. Audio is used with permission.

wwwK Anns army medal redord 89
Army Medal Record

Kenneth Anns was born on 24th March 1891, in North Clapham, London. He was educated at Whitgift School Croydon and as a child had a remarkable talent for drawing. Before the 1st World War he was accepted into Walter Sickert’s Studio in Camden Town, London. At the outbreak of the war he enlisted into the Surrey Yeomanry, Queen Mary’s Regiment and served on the Western Front.

In May 1915, he obtained a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in 7th Battalion, East Surreys and was subsequently promoted to Captain, acting Major and Adjt., up until the end of 1917 he saw active service both as a dispatch rider and in the trenches. His courage in the field was rewarded with a Military Cross, he also collected the D.S.O Somme and Victory medals.

London Gazetter 26.9.1916 Temp. 2nd Lt Kenneth Anns, E Surr. R. For conspicuous gallantry during operations. With two men he reconnoitred close up to enemy’s lines, and brought back valuable information. He has continually volunteered for dangerous patrols.

In 1917, he was involved in the Battle of Cambria, famous for the first use of tanks in war. On 12th December (or before), as a result the foot soldiers  were subsequently captured or killed being surrounded by Germans. Kenneth Anns and 7 other men were captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp at Karlsruhe just across the border in Germany.

Whilst there, Kenneth Anns drew maps and created fake papers to assist in escape attempts. After the Armistice in 1918, he was repatriated and managed to smuggle home a small painting of the camp by wrapping it around his leg.

Further Biography

Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce.
Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce.

2nd Lt., Hugh Pattison Willcox was also in the same regiment as Kenneth, they must have talked many a time about what would happen to them both. Hugh must have asked Kenneth to take care of his wife, Cicely, if anything happened to him. Kenneth was captured on the 19th December and taken prisoner. On the 30th December, just 11 days later, Hugh was reported missing presumed dead. Kenneth would not have known about this until the war was over.

On the 28th February 1921 Kenneth married Cicely Mary Willcox (born 1886 and previously married to Hugh Pattisson Willcox a Banker)  at St Matthew’s Church, Hammersmith, London. They had one son, Michael.

In 1920 Kenneth worked as a designer for Waring and Gillows. He travelled to India in 1920 to work on designs for the crown jewels for an Indian Maharaja. He worked as an interior decorator and was responsible for the decor of the Park Lane Hotel, the metal work on the Berkeley Hotel and Frascati’s as well as the interiors of innumerable private homes. He worked closely with the Brett Family business in Norfolk to obtain antique furniture.  In 1935 he qualified as an architect and in due course joined the noted firm of Calcot and Hamp.

With the outbreak of the Second World War Kenneth Anns once again enlisted, but too old for active service joined the Royal Engineers and was posted to Elgin in Scotland and promoted to the rank of Major. Among other duties, he formed a battle school to train troops. The battalion was later moved to Preston in Lancashire, and when the war ended he continued to live there for some time before moving back to London.

After Cicely died, Kenneth married Margaret Spon in 1945 having two daughters, Susie Jennifer born 1946 and Caroline Evance, in 1947.

Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects

In 1951, he became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects with an office at, 1 Lincoln Inn Fields. He built the ‘William Hill’ building on Blackfriars Bridge Rd amongst other modern high rise office buildings. Also producing designs for the Elephant and Castle.

He was a keen philatelist, and built up a considerable collection of New South Wales stamps. He had paintings hung at the Royal Academy and the R.B. A Exhibitions. At the Lewisham Society of Arts he gave delightful lectures on period Furniture and the history of Architecture. The lectures are on this website. He was also a keen and active Conservative.

He loved Georgian architecture and designed modern Georgian house for clients. One of his better-known clients was the band leader, Nat Temple. He then purchased The Cedars in Chertsey and returned to life drawing classes at St Martins School of Art. He painted all his life and continued to do so up until a few months before he died of lung cancer in 1961/2 (date to be confirmed). Among his lifelong friends were Randal Bell, Harold Good and Cecil Pell.

He was much influenced in his art by Whistler and Frank Brangwyn, his style of art was closely allied to that of Munnings and like Munnings he often placed himself in his paintings. He died on 20th February, 1962 at The Cedars, Chertsey.

Please look at my other websites to show the different quivers to my bow.