Sisters stunned to discover 150 paintings in dad’s Derbyshire loft – which will now be sold for a good cause
Hugh Penfold’s rich artwork, which includes Derbyshire landscapes as well as atmospheric scenes captured on holidays in Scotland, Cornwall and Sussex, was discovered by his daughters after his death.
The paintings, including 150 found in a loft in Hugh’s bungalow at Shelton Lock, will be auctioned on May 31 to raise money for the Lilian Prime MS Center in Derby.
The charity supported Hugh after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which affects the central nervous system, just as he was retiring. It ruined the last 30 years of his life and ultimately stopped him from doing what he loved the most: painting.
Hugh’s passion came through after he passed away at the age of 96 at the end of 2020. Sisters Sheena Penfold and Anne Morris had the difficult task of cleaning their parents’ house. Hugh’s wife, Rita, had died three years previously.
Although they were keenly aware of their father’s devotion to painting, nothing could have prepared them for the sheer volume of artwork they discovered. Around 200 paintings have been unearthed, including his final pieces depicting the couple’s garden at Shelton Lock.
Sheena, a retired account manager, said: “He had to paint them for mum. There were so many paintings it was amazing. We gave family and friends the opportunity to choose one of Dad’s paintings as a keepsake and we kept plenty. But there are so many that we decided to sell a hundred to raise funds for MS. It is our father’s legacy and we would like to use it to help others.
Hugh was born in West Chiltington, Sussex, and bought his first set of oil paintings when he was 16 and worked as a draftsman in London.
He was drafted into the Royal Air Force during World War II when he had little time to paint.
After the conflict Hugh studied at Worthing College of Art before moving to Portsmouth where he worked in advertising. Sheena said: “It was there he met and fell in love with our mother, Wren boss Rita Bradshaw. She is from Darley Dale, near Matlock. They married in 1950 and moved at Shelton Lock where they lived for the rest of their lives.
Hugh worked as a graphic designer in Derby, first at Bemrose Advertising and Product Support Graphics. He was involved in a wide range of projects from producing instruction manuals for Rolls-Royce to creating technical illustrations for the original “The Times Atlas of World History”.
Sheena said: “In his spare time he picked up his brushes and headed to his easel on his veranda. He was a true artist at heart. He painted prolifically throughout his adult life, mostly in oil, occasionally exhibiting in galleries in Derbyshire. He often painted on commissions or as gifts for his family, friends and colleagues. His works were mostly landscape paintings of the places he and his mother loved to visit.
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “Hugh’s family would like his wonderful talent to be admired and appreciated by others. We are delighted to offer a collection of around 100 Hugh oil paintings at our May 31 Fine Art and Collectors Auction at Bishton Hall in Staffordshire. All proceeds will go to the Lilian Prime MS Centre, which Hugh attended for many years.
“We hope Hugh’s legacy will help the center continue its excellent work of supporting and improving the quality of life for people in Derbyshire affected by MS.”