Not built to last

Marine Parade: Dorset House in the centre of the picture

“This is known as Bedford House. It was built by the Duke of Bedford and he only built this smallish house because he didn’t think Brighton’s popularity would really last.

After the war it was bought by Doyley John(?), the artist, and afterwards by Terence Rattigan, a well-known playwright.

During the great storm of 1987, the whole of the side of the house came away and for a very long time it was shored up so that one couldn’t come down Bedford Street at all.”

Comments about this page

  • Do you have any information about the artist, Doyley John? Thank you

    By Cecily Marchesi (08/06/2005)
  • D’Oyly John (maybe with a hyphen) 1906 – 1993, according to Stewart Gallery (with hyphen) and Bonhams.

    By R. Robson (22/08/2005)
  • Cecil Rochfort D’oyly-John lived in Rottingdean in the latter part of his life. He is buried in St Margaret’s churchyard. I have several of his oil paintings – there were several in the Queen Mother’s private collection.

    By Paul Smith (26/07/2006)
  • We have just bought a couple of D’Oyly John paintings and I am now looking for any literature about the artist – do you have any suggestions of books containing pictures and information linked to him?

    By Tracy Egan (31/07/2007)
  • As the owners of Bedford House, my wife and I checked with the Duke of Bedford to see whether the house had any connection with his family. We were told quite categorically that this was not the case.

    By Roger Hancock (01/10/2007)
  • My late partner used to go to parties (before my time with him) and Doyley John was a regular visitor with a sortee of girls. I understand he was the illegitimate son of Augustus John and his favourite model. I can’t verify this and it might be boasting on his part or hearsay. However I do believe he was a painter but not very successful. That’s all I can remember.

    By Sylvia Molver (07/10/2007)
  • Somewhere along the line I have picked up the info that D’Oyly-John was a nick name attributed to him by his friends and colleagues from his various haunts on the Riviera; his paintings being nearly always in oil. Maybe hearsay but sounds feasable, can’t remember where I got that info. I am always darting about art sights on the ‘net’. I have a 21×17 signed oil on canvas titled ‘The Kiosk’ (St Tropez) that I purchased from the sadly now closed ‘Emporium’  flea market at Newhaven for the princely sum of £3.00; now valued @ £500-700. So if you’re a car boot or market addict keep your eyes peeled.

    By Chris Novis (28/11/2007)
  • We have an original Doyle John oil, white stone bridge over small river, in small Mediteranean town with tile roofs and may be of Bruges, Belgium. Purchased in Johnannesburg, South Africa in 1949. Would love to know more about him. It’s one of our favourite paintings.

    By Sharon Kappel (29/11/2007)
  • He was actually married to my aunt, and as a child I saw him quite often when they lived in London. There is a son called Christopher, but I have lost touch with him. I seem to think he was working in film production, and he would be about 60 years old now.

    By Carol Walton (07/08/2008)
  • Would love to know more about ‘The Kiosk (St Tropez)’

    By Michael Thomas (29/09/2008)
  • sell Doyley John paintings.They are based in Eastbourne. The web page has info on the painter. I bought one of his paintings for a pound at an auction.

    By Jane Clark (19/11/2008)
  • I remember visiting Doyly John’s house in Rottingdean in about 1968, it was a new house and really rather lovely. You could hardly walk anywhere in the house without bumping into hundreds of canvases all freshly painted and ready for sale. His fortune was made by selling prints of his work to Boots chemist who sold them in their library department. He boasted that he had not visited any of the locations that he painted; however his wife Joan disputed this, as he took sketches of all the places they visited.

    By David Green (10/12/2008)
  • I recently uncovered a print by Doyly John under a painting. Would like to know of any value.

    By Del Kenealy (06/03/2009)
  • I have four prints by D’Oyly John – entitled ‘Valbonne’ and ‘Cap Ferrat’ plus two others. I purchased two at an antiques fair and two from the owner of a cafe in Newmarket, Suffolk which was closing down, and who had them hanging on the cafe wall. I would also like to know if they have any value and does anyone know if I can obtain a print of the ‘St Tropez’ paintings?

    By Pauline Hunter (04/08/2009)
  • In reply to Pauline Hunter, The prints of Doyly John’s work seem to fetch only £10 or so, however as these prints were commisioned by large retail outlets, the quality was very high and only Mr John’s finest and most detailed paintings were copied. Perhaps bear in mind that for many years Doyly John’s work was not appreciated by many and an average price for any of his work was no more than £20-30.

    By David Green (31/08/2009)
  • Thank you David for the information. I am not surprised the prints aren’t worth too much but I wouldn’t part with them as I love the vibrancy and colours. Does anyone else know where I could obtain any of the ‘St Tropez’ prints please?

    By Pauline Hunter (02/10/2009)
  • Sadly, Chris d’Oyly John (son of the artist) died yesterday in Eastbourne. He worked for BBC Television for many years and then moved to ITV, where he worked on THE BILL. He will be sadly missed.

    By J Sheridan (22/10/2009)
  • I have owned an original painting by D’Oyly John since 1980, when I bought it from his agent for £100. It has brought much pleasure. I remember his prints and those of the South African artist V.Trechikoff (green faced oriental portraits) being sold by Boots the Chemist in the 1960s. The prints were very popular and I occasionally see them on the walls in old TV programmes. Plenty of info online.

    By Alex Carson (03/11/2009)
  • I am saddened to read that Chris passed away. I have been collecting his father’s prints for many years now. I haven’t the budget to afford the real thing. I was lucky enough to purchase my one and only small original oil on canvas which I look at every morning when I rise. Fishermen off of Antibes at twilight time. It is full of atmosphere. It would be nice to be able to obtain a book of his collection.

    By Richard Downes (14/11/2009)
  • My late uncle was part-owner of an art gallery in Rottingdean in the 1970’s and through him our family now has about 8 original Doyly Johns. We all love the vibrant colours and are always looking out at auction for any others.

    By Alison Aitken (11/12/2009)
  • I have an original by him, it’s titled “St.Tropez”. I live in NY and was looking to sell the painting.

    By Montgomery F Mercado (11/02/2010)
  • I have a print which was bought by my Grandparents in the 1950s in Sunderland. It now hangs on my office wall in Dublin. It may not be worth anything but it means a lot to me. They bought it because it reminded my gran of Cornwall. It is really obviously Spanish, but she thought it looked like a place they had been, so my mum told me. I keep it in the original frame made of early plastic; may not be the prettiest housing but is original.

    By MG (05/07/2010)
  • I have two paintings from the med, here’s a website dedicated to Doyly John

    By Chris (31/08/2010)
  • I am going to an auction tomorrow where there is a superb Doyly John of fishing boats at St Tropez; its estimate is very low. I am in Melbourne and will now look out for more as it is a well painted and vibrant piece.

    By Rob (01/09/2010)
  • In response to Pauline Hunters enquiry regarding prints of St. Tropez my mother has one which she would be interested in selling, it is in fine condition in a very nice frame regards Chris Symes (07860-890851).

    By Chris Symes (02/10/2010)
  • Also in response to Pauline Hunter’s enquiry regarding prints of St. Tropez: I have a print of ‘The Kiosk – St Tropez’ which I am willing to sell. It has been kept in great condition since its purchase over 30 years ago. If you or anyone else is interested please email me at   Thank you

    By Jack Mayle (30/11/2010)
  • I remember as a young girl of about 8- 9 years old going to the King Edward Hotel in Durban, South Africa with my father to visit his hotel room.  The walls were covered in oil paint, he seemed to use them as a palette.  We looked at his paintings, my father had a long conversation with  him, then shook his hand.  At the end of our vacation on the way back to Johannesburg, we stopped at his beautiful, wood-like home in “The Valley of a Thousand Hills”.  My father bought a painting from him, it was an Italian scene.  It is being passed down in our family as a treasure. So bright and colorful.

    By Cecily Marchesi (15/02/2016)
  • My father knew him in London circa 1948 as they had both been in the army. We have three paintings from that period that he painted for my father to hang in his London flat. They were passed on to me years later and were the foundation of a collection of eleven originals that I have of work from the fifties and early sixties. His later studio work in the seventies and eighties when he painted from photos and memory were not of the same standard as the earlier body of work that he produced when he lived in France and painted in the field. The book ‘Living in the Sun’ was mainly composed of his later work in that respect.

    By Nick de Carteret (11/12/2016)
  • I was at school at Felsted in Essex with D’Oyly John’s son Christopher and knew him. I was sad to read that he had died.

    By Thomas Mann (08/06/2018)
  • I have a vague childhood memory of summer evenings strolling along the prom near the Norfolk Hotel, where there used to be an open air art show. I am sure my mother pointed out D’oyley John paintings hanging there, they were certainly oil paintings.

    By Geoffrey Mead (10/06/2018)
  • All very interesting lovely comments!

    We have two paintings (bought at Auction in Johannesburg South Africa around 1985 that are not named (well not that I can see). They are oil on board and I would like to know how to identify if these are prints or originals? The paint is thick and layered so they are not “photographic”. Please could someone advise?

    Did he ever paint any South African scenes? Wildlife?

    Take care everyone.

    By Yvette Barclay (29/04/2021)

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