Artist, naturalist and first vice President of Camberley Natural History Society
1. Changes to Camberley since George Lodge's day.
2. Death announcement from Camberley News.
1. Many changes since George Lodge came to Camberley.
George Lodge moved to Camberley in 1920, almost one hundred years ago, into the property in Upper Park Road that he named Hawk House. He had a studio built alongside where he worked on his paintings and practiced his taxidermy. This house and all those around, stood in large gardens that still held native populations of wildlife.
Camberley was being promoted as a pleasant place to live as it was surrounded by countryside and the pine woodland produced a healthy scented air that was thought to be good for the health.
Many of the large houses were built in the wooded areas and many trees still survive from those times, occasional remnants of the woodland flora survive with them and we regularly find native bluebells while moschatel, also known as Town Hall Clock, has been recorded in Knightsbridge Road.
It was not long before farmland was quickly disappearing under more and denser housing and the grazing land of the Blackwater valley would lose its breeding lapwings, turtle doves, yellowhammers etc.
The river was polluted with industrialisation when the gasworks, sewerage works and factories were built encroaching onto the floodplain.
Even the open heath was seen as an ideal place for more housing and in the 1960s the Old Dean Estate destroyed the population of smooth snakes that once lived there.
Today this internationally rare habitat is being protected to prevent such unfortunate destruction from happening again.
Road building has cut swathes through the borough, isolating some species into unviable populations, amphibians, reptiles, badgers, hedgehogs and many other smaller species can no longer cope with this urbanisation and the obsession of tidying every “greenspace” and building within large gardens, leaves little habitat for us to enjoy contact with wildlife as George Lodge did when he arrived here all those years ago.
We now realise that people are happier living in pleasant environments and like to see wildlife around them and much is being done to protect and enhance what we have left.
2. Death of Bird Artist February 12th 1954 Camberley News
Mr George E Lodge, who lived with his niece, Miss Brenda Lodge, at Hawk House, Upper Park Road, Camberley, died in Frimley Hospital, on Friday. He was a bachelor. A sister, who lives at Fleet, is 89. When the weather was good, Mr Lodge’s garden was his studio, and birds would flock round his feet. At the age of 14 he became an apprentice woodcarver and spent most of his time carving birds. Then, following his career as an artist, he specialized in animal and bird studies. He illustrated Dr David Bannerman’s book. “The Birds of the British Isles,” published last November. Nine years ago Mr Lodge published his memoirs.
Cremation was at Woking on Wednesday.
The following appreciation is from the pen of Maxwell Knight:
The death last week of Mr George E Lodge, who was in his ninety-fourth year, will be lamented by all who knew him personally, and by many more who knew him only through his paintings, writes one who knew him well.
For well over half a century he could justly be acclaimed as one of the world’s leading bird artists; and at the peak of his powers there was no one equal to him on the depicting of game birds and birds of prey- the latter, perhaps being his personnel favourites.
In his painting he excelled where many of his contemporaries failed in that he could paint a picture of a bird and its habitat which would satisfy the most exacting requirements from a purely illustrative point of view; yet he could also contrive a “picture” in the truest sense of the word – one which even those with no claim to being ornithologists would be glad to hang on their walls.
George Lodge was a man of indomitable spirit; for when his sight began to fail and his health was by no means good, his mind remained as active as ever. In spite of his age and handicap he kept at his painting, in some measure, right up to the end.
It is not only as a first class bird artist that we should recall Mr Lodge, for he was the most kindly man – always ready to help and advise aspiring young artists, or to give assistance to novice naturalists from out of his seemingly limitless fund of experience in all things pertaining to wild life.
He will always be remembered as a great painter of birds, but at the same time he will remain in the minds of those privileged to know him personally as an English gentleman of fine and generous character.