by her niece Kelly Richards. 227 pages.
Anne Shelton was a well-known Dulwich resident, living in some style in Court Lane for over 50 years until she moved in 1994.
Born Patricia Sibley and educated at the Sacred Heart Convent in Forest Hill, she shot to fame as a singer after auditioning with the Ambrose Orchestra in 1940. The wartime "Forces' Favourite" (Vera Lynn was the "Forces' sweetheart"), Anne Shelton became hugely popular with the forces and civilian population alike, with a wonderful voice, youthful appearance, blond hair, blue eyes and large bust. It was Anne who recorded the first English version of Lili Marlene; and she sang with Bing Crosby and Glenn Miller, only by chance not joining Glenn Miller on his fatal last flight.
Her successful career continued after the war, with tours of the United States and a number one hit in 1956 Lay down your arms (and surrender to mine), which caused controversy with the authorities in Suez-torn Britain. In the 1980s and early 1990s she was increasingly associated with wartime reunions and revivals, including the organisation of shows for disabled ex-servicemen and women for the Not Forgotten Association, for which she was awarded the OBE in 1990. She died in July 1994, a few days after entertaining at a Not Forgotten Association concert at Buckingham Palace.
As well as documenting Anne Shelton's career, Kelly Richards records the private life of an essentially private person with a close-knit family, who were also her professional and personal support team. Their deaths in the early 1990s led to her move from Dulwich. The book includes a complete list of the songs that Anne Shelton recorded, running to over 25 pages, and many photographs.
Kelly Richards will be signing and selling copies of "With a smile and a Song" at 142 Court Lane from 2-5pm on Sunday 3rd June 2007, when the garden of Anne Shelton's former Dulwich home is open under the National Garden Scheme. The book is also available from www.anne-shelton.co.uk, at £10.99+£2.00
By Michael Goodman
The book traces the history of the church from its consecration in 1868 until the present day. St Stephen's, which is a listed building was built by Charles Barry jnr. in the fashionable Victorian Gothic style and contains a highly decorated interior. In the chancel is a fresco of the martyrdom of St Stephen by Sir Edward Poynter PRA. The church was one of the local subjects painted by Camille Pissarro when he was living in Penge during the Franco-Prussian war.
Considerable interesting detail is given by the author, a member of the congregation and a retired circuit judge, of the life of the church during World War II when it suffered bomb blast on several occasions and then was severely damaged by a VI 'flying bomb' in 1944. The congregation was forced to meet elsewhere and there were fears that the church might have to be demolished as the walls were starting to lean outwards. An ingenious solution was proposed; to hold the walls together with the use of steel bars (which still remain). Restoration included the installation of new stained glass to replace that destroyed, although almost miraculously, the great east window had survived. Insufficient funds prevented a full restoration of the highly decorated interior which had to wait until the centenary in 1968 when much of the original design was reintroduced.
The book gives a fascinating picture of the ups and downs of a suburban parish church; the challenges of a changing social fabric and liturgy are met with the devotion of its congregation and priests.
The Story of St Stephens by Michael Goodman is available at price £7 from local bookshops from 14 June. Books may be ordered from the church by post and will be delivered free of charge to addresses in Dulwich. All proceeds will go to church funds.