Julian Trevelyan and Hurtenham

Map of Hurtenham

Trinity College has lent a number of items to an exhibition on the artist and Trinity alumnus, Julian Trevelyan (1910–1988) at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. Julian was the son of Robert Trevelyan and Elizabeth des Amorie van der Hoeven.

As a young child, Julian created a complex imaginary town which he named Hurtenham, located on the River Tees. It was conceived as an industrial town with railways, factories and a diamond cutting works. His detailed map, dated 17th November 1917, shows a complex network of houses (in red) and public buildings (in black) including theatres, schools and hospitals as well as parks and open spaces. Julian invented names for the buildings, streets and districts, often using as his inspiration poets, writers and political figures. Thus we find Lenin Road and Napoleon Bonaparte Street, as well as names based on more personal associations: one of the main roads, for example, was named after Julius Röntgen, a German-Dutch composer and his maternal uncle .

Julian also wrote a guide to the town

as well as to the town’s museums (JOT 52/2).

He created newspapers and an illustrated quarterly magazine. A selection of covers is displayed below:


Though this was an entirely imaginary town – his newpapers and magazines documented the fictional struggles of the mayor and alderman  – it was also, at times, influenced by actual contemporaneous events.

Letters in the Trevelyan archive, currently being catalogued, reveal that his family and friends shared in and encouraged his venture. A letter from his father dated 6th April 1921 thanks him for sending two copies of the Hurtenham News (see here and here). He remarks “I am very pleased to see how well it is keeping up to the standard of the first number … evidently Hurtenham is fortunate in having a very able and ingenious editor for its chief paper”.

RCT 1520(1) – extract

In another letter his father commented on current affairs: “I see that there is going to be a by-election at Darlington in a few weeks. If a Labour Candidate stands, I hope you will use your influence with the Mayor of Hurtenham, and get him to go and speak for the Labour Candidate …” (RCT1528)

Hurtenham was a constantly evolving and developing creation which Julian worked on for at least seven years. His archive, as well as that of the wider Trevelyan family, can be consulted at Trinity College Library.

Julian Trevelyan: The Artist and his World is showing at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester until Sunday 10th February 2019.