Hamlet Watling

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Hamlet Watling (b. Kelsale, Suffolk, 1818, d. Ipswich, 2 April 1908) was a Suffolk-born antiquary whose professional career was as a schoolmaster.

He devoted much of his life to recording church and other antiquities in his native county. His work of recording and illustration was prolific, and although mostly unpublished it contains many unique records. A large amount is held in public and private collections. He conducted excavations, contributed to learned societies, and wrote lengthy weekly columns in the regional press over forty years, c1868-1908.

Family and teaching career

Hamlet was born in 1818 at Kelsale near Saxmundham, Suffolk, the son of Henry Watling, Master of the Endowed School there from 1818 to 1858, and his wife Phyllis (Newson). Four sons followed their father's profession: Walter and Llewellyn were assistant masters as Banbury (Oxon) and Edwin (who married a descendant of the actor 'Gentleman' Smith) was writing master at Cheltenham 1852-1869. Hamlet began teaching at Aldeburgh, Woodbridge, Cavendish and Ipswich during the 1830s, at Wangford near Southwold c1840-49, and at Dunwich until 1855. His final position was as Master of Earl Stonham Endowed School, 1855-1888. He retired to Ipswich and continued work on his collections until his death in 1908.

The illustrations

Watling's best paintings (of screen panels, wall-paintings, glass windows, etc) are very impressive, but the great bulk of his surviving work consists of sketches, tracings, and...
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