Spencer Gallery wall

The Gallery

The Stanley Spencer Gallery is dedicated to the life experience and imaginative world of one of Britain’s most talented artists. Its regular programme of summer and winter exhibitions promotes inspiration and enjoyment through expertly curated encounters with high quality art.

The Stanley Spencer Gallery is led and run by a community of volunteers who are passionate about the art they care for, the artist who created it and the environment that inspired him throughout his life. Through their freely given talents, entrepreneurship, professionalism and collaborations the Gallery remains creative, independent and self-funded sixty years after its foundation.

The Gallery is a Fully Accredited Museum under the scheme administered by Arts Council England.

The Collection

The Stanley Spencer Gallery’s permanent collection has developed since its foundation in 1962. It continues to grow thanks to generous gifts and bequests, as well as through occasional and carefully selected purchases. In addition, the Gallery welcomes and retains on long-term loan other works by Spencer. Works from the Gallery’s collection are available for loan to exhibitions held in other institutions in the UK and abroad.

The Collection

The Artist

Stanley Spencer (1891–1959) stands as one of the most distinctive and original British artists of the 20th century. Born in Cookham, Spencer’s artistic journey was deeply intertwined with the landscapes and everyday life of his hometown. Renowned for his unique blend of realism and spirituality, Spencer’s work often depicted the ordinary with extraordinary insight, infused with a profound sense of mysticism and personal symbolism.

Stanley self portrait 1913
Self Portrait (1914)

The Artist

The Building

The Wesleyan Chapel in Cookham High Street was built in 1846. A simple structure of brick and slate, it could accommodate a congregation of up to 107. Stanley Spencer attended the chapel with his mother whose brother had been a local preacher there. 

Street view photograph of the Stanley Spencer Gallery against a blue sky.

The Building

The Charity

The Charity

The Sir Stanley Spencer Memorial Trust has as its principal objective the foundation, maintenance, improvement and support of an art gallery to be situated in the village of Cookham or elsewhere in England and Wales. This Gallery is to be known as ‘The Stanley Spencer Memorial Gallery’, be open to all members of the public without distinction and used to display paintings and other works of art by the late Sir Stanley Spencer RA, as well as other artists from time to time. 

The Trust is controlled by its governing document (dated 26 May 1961) and subsequent amendments, and constitutes an unincorporated charity (Charity number: 307989).

Spencer self portrait 1959
Self Portrait (1959)

The Trustees

Women exchanging tulips over a hedge. Oil on canvas.
Neighbours (1936)

The Trustees

Dr Scot McKendrick FSA
Scot McKendrick has served as a Trustee since 2004 and Chair of Trustees since 2017. He was invited to join the trustees on account of his extensive professional experience in the cultural and heritage sectors.
Until late 2023 Scot was Head of Western Heritage Collections at the British Library. He joined the Library in 1986 after reading Greats at Oxford and undertaking postgraduate research at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
For many years Scot was an Expert Adviser to the UK Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, member of the Executive Board of the Consortium of European Research Libraries and Trustee of Britten-Pears Arts. He has led several research projects with international partners and been a member of various research and editorial boards. From 2006 to 2016 he was a Trustee of the Sir Winston Churchill Archive Trust.

Scot is the author of numerous publications on manuscripts and medieval art. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and membre étranger associé of the Académie Royale d’Archéologie de Belgique.

Flora Astor FGA
Former Gemmologist and Diamond Grader, Flora Astor worked for Phillips Auctioneers and Graff before setting up her own gem and jewellery business in 2005. Since 2016 she has been working as a creative consultant in the Art, Fashion, Interiors and Gardening industries. She is a Fellow of the Gemmological Association.
Flora currently lives in Paris with her diplomat husband and their family. Flora has been overseeing the renovation of the garden at the British Residence introducing a sustainability and biodiversity programme, including working with the Government Art Collection to make the link between art and climate through exhibitions and events.
Flora’s father was a trustee for 50 years and her grandfather one of the three founding trustees.
Amanda Bradley Petitgas
Amanda Bradley Petitgas is an art historian who specialises in Stanley Spencer. Whilst working as a paintings and sculpture curator at the National Trust, she curated Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War at Somerset House and Pallant House, which exhibited Spencer’s works from Sandham Memorial Chapel. She now chairs the Stanley Spencer Gallery Exhibitions Committee, and curates many of the exhibitions at the Gallery, including Patron Saints: Collecting Stanley Spencer (2018). She has been a Trustee since 2016.

Since graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art (MA, 2002) she has worked at the University of Cambridge, the National Gallery and for the National Trust. She has published on sixteenth-century Venice, Rubens, the history of collecting and Modern British art. She is a co-founder and Chair of the Athena Art Foundation, a public education charity which promotes the understanding of pre-modern art. 
Peter Brown MVO

Peter Brown joined the management team at the Stanley Spencer Gallery in 2010 as Security Manager after retiring from the Metropolitan Police. Over time he took on responsibility for managing the building and its equipment and in 2017 was invited to become a Trustee. Peter continues to be responsible for the building and its security and additionally, assists the Exhibition Committee with the hanging process of new exhibitions. 

Andrew de Mille BBS MBA MCIOF (Ret'd)
Andy de Mille first became a Trustee in 2009, with responsibility for loans for exhibitions.  The following year he curated the Summer Exhibition, “Stanley and the First Mrs Spencer”.  He was then Chair of the Management Committee from 2011 until 2016, when he stepped down from all Gallery involvement to devote time to family (arrival of first grandchildren), painting and other interests.  He returned to the Gallery as a Trustee in 2019, with responsibility for loans and lender relationships.

Andy was educated at Fettes, in Edinburgh, Trinity College Dublin (business studies), and Cranfield School of Management (MBA).  In his 40-year career in fundraising development consultancy he worked with over 200 charitable organisations including many small museums.  In all cases he was concerned with strategic planning, management, development, and governance, creating fitness to receive substantial funding.

He is a very strong advocate of training to achieve high standards of professionalism, even in a voluntarily staffed and managed organisation, believing that the passion and commitment of knowledgeable volunteers can deliver the best visitor experience in a small museum.
Chris Brown

Chris Brown has a career in the hospitality industry as Managing Director of restaurant companies and 20 years consulting on visitor attractions’ commercial operations throughout the UK.  He is a non-executive director of the Holkham Estate in Norfolk.  A Cookham resident for more than 25 years, Chris is particularly keen to foster links with the local community who play such a valuable role as Custodians, Friends and Management Committee – all on a voluntary basis.