Whilst browsing the old Skegness newspapers, we found an article that surprised us. It suggested that the Jolly Fisherman, mascot of Skegness and painted in 1908 by John Hassall may have had a wife. The article published a picture of a woman in a bonnet, a trailing scarf and an apron, doing the famous ‘Jolly Prance’ along the sands.
The reader is told that the image was on a pane of glass, part of a glass window, which was uncovered during refurbishments in 1994 at the County Hotel on North Parade, Skegness. The article reveals that another pane of glass depicting the Jolly Fisherman was found alongside. Councillor Harold Fainlight and local historian, Winston Kime, when questioned about the possibility of Jolly having a wife, declared they knew nothing about it.
It’s Mrs Jolly!
The Jolly Fisherman may have had a wife.
A glass window found behind panelling during refurbishment work at the County Hotel, Skegness, depicts a woman dancing along the sand in the same manner as the Jolly Fisherman. Found alongside it was another glass window depicting the Jolly Fisherman.
“I did not know that Jolly had a wife,” said a surprised former councillor, Mr Harold Fainlight when told of the discovery.
However, Mr Fainlight, who raised the funds for the Jolly Fisherman Statue in Compass Gardens, did know that there was a picture of the Jolly Fisherman holding the hand of a small boy on the front cover of one of the Skegness guides in the 1960s.
And he also knew that three pictures were submitted by printer Mr Arthur Gunn on behalf of John Hassall, one showing a woman in a bonnet.
“Jolly may have had a family” said Mr Fainlight.
When shown a photograph of the woman on the sand, local historian, Winston Kime said: “I have never seen anything like that.”
The Jolly Fisherman was born when the Great Northern Railway commissioned artist John Hassall to produce a poster advertising three shilling excursions from King’s Cross to Skegness in 1908, said Mr Kime.
Source: Skegness Standard 25th March 1994
So does the image of Mrs Jolly still exist?
Don’t worry – we were on the trail…
Update 30th July 2007
On the hot trail of Jolly’s ‘Wife’, we set off on our expedition to the County Hotel in Skegness, where we waited to meet the Manager. He was very busy, we’d caught him in the height of the summer season. We casually glanced around the reception area and caught sight of – yes, the Jolly Fisherman set on the pane of glass! He was positioned in the window to the dining room.
The Manager was very kind and gave us permission to take these photos.
And there beside him, was Jolly’s ‘WIFE’
(The image below is copyright of Skegness Magazine.)
Each pane is around 2×2 feet, beautifully preserved, hopefully for eternity!
Thanks to the County Hotel, Skegness for their kind co-operation in assisting us in our research.
Update 12th December 2007
We have found the transcript of a speech, made by John Hassall at the reception dinner held for him on his first visit to Skegness, in which he declares that he sketched a “companion” for the Jolly Fisherman: