When Paul Nash and his wife Margaret first arrived to stay in Dymchurch, they were not welcomed by everyone.
The young and talented artist and designer Claud Lovat Fraser liked to holiday in Dymchurch. He feared that the arrival of a “celebrity” painter and his entourage would spoil the peaceful solitude of the little village.
The Frasers actively avoided the Nash’s, until by chance they met whilst walking on the seawall. The actress Athene Syler was strolling with the Nash’s and introduced the Frasers to them, despite Lovat’s attempts to avoid them (not easy to do on the narrow seawall.) The Frasers were completely enchanted, Paul Nash had a charming manner and the two couples became firm friends.
Fraser, like Nash, had come to Dymchurch to recover from the traumas of the 1914-18 war. Both had experienced terrible things and needed time to recuperate and to get their artistic lives back on track.
Lovat Fraser’ health had suffered badly, he had been exposed to inhaling gas in the trenches and like Nash, he was frail he also had a weak heart.
Sadly and unexpectedly, in June 1921 at Dymchurch, Fraser, who was a very gifted and promising artist, was taken seriously ill, with an intestinal blockage . He died shortly after surgery at the Bevan Nursing Home in Sandgate.
His death was a great blow to Nash, who had become great friends with the young artist. Nash, himself had a serious relapse in his health shortly afterwards. The doctor diagnosed it as “War Strain”. This was in part due to one day finding his father in a state of unconsciousness on the floor of the family home. Nash, in turn, collapsed and was said to have spent a week in a comatose state. Happily for the artist he recovered and began work on a series of artworks based on Dymchurch seawall. These pictures were to become some of the most iconic images of 20th century British art.