Spencer, Stanley (1891-1959) & Charlton, Daphne (1909-1991)

Stanley Spencer wished in effect to have two wives simultaneously, and it is clear that his second wife-to-be, Patricia Preece, collaborated in this idea. She also envisaged a ménage à trois between herself, Spencer and his former wife Hilda (née Carline), which would relieve Patricia of marital duties. Hilda had the sense to refuse. There followed a difficult period for Spencer: he had been divorced by his first wife, but for various reasons was not co-habiting with his second wife, whom he had married four days after his divorce in 1937. Patricia remained with her lifelong friend, Dorothy Hepworth (no relation of the sculptor, Barbara Hepworth). In 1939, after a short period living on his own in London, Spencer began an affair with the artist Daphne Charlton. Although 18 years younger than Spencer, she provided warmth and nurturing to which he responded. Their affair was to last until 1941, although they remained in touch for the rest of his life. She was to feature in a remarkable series of paintings and drawings by Spencer inspired by their affair. In June 1939, Spencer went to stay with Daphne and George Charlton at 40 New End Square, their home in Hampstead. George spent most of his professional life as a teacher of painting and drawing at the Slade. George was said to have proposed to many of his female pupils, but it was Daphne who accepted. They were married in 1929, when George was 30 and she 19. George Charlton and Stanley Spencer had known each other for some years and as George remarked to me, they ‘got on very well straight away’. Daphne stated emphatically to me that Stanley and George continued to remain friends throughout subsequent events.

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