Virtually every sketch, drawing, or painting on the Craighead House kitchen walls comes with a story. My challenge is to unearth those stories and the background behind those pictures. This morning’s email from Jim Champion was a major step toward revealing why two (three if you count both cats) black animals were painted by people who may have been from India or England. In the Craighead twins’ book on their trip to Indian, they wrote about spending two weeks in February 1941 with a forester and photographer named Champion. They never gave his first name, always addressing him as Mr. Champion in the book. Among other things, they hunted a man-eating tiger and rode on elephants with him.
So, when Bill Craighead told me Jim Champion had painted the large black cats chasing rats above the fireplace and I noticed Heather Champion’s signature by the large black horse high on the wall across from the cellar door dated June 6, 1941, I guessed they were connected with Mr. Champion in some way. When I found a site title http://www.Jim-Champion.com, I emailed, hoping to find that this was the same Jim Champion or a descendant of his. It turns out that Jim and Heather are this Jim (James) Champion’s cousins and he is the grandson of F. W. “Freddie” Champion, who the twins visited in India in 1941.
Jim and Heather Champion were the children of Sir Harry Champion, then Professor of Forestry at Oxford and previously a forester in India, who evacuated them to America during WWII. After staying with the Craigheads in their cramped house, Heather was looked after by the Marshall family (cousins of the Marshall Plan Marshalls) in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Heather and Jim did get to spend some time at Craighead Station on a couple of occasions, once for two weeks with Jean and the twins.