Mad Martins

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John's Song



Beautiful boy, 
beautiful man,
asleep in a cradle,
a cradle of time.

Beautiful baby,
beautiful being,
held in a painting,
held in a frame.

Beautiful bird,
beautiful spirit,
caught on the hills,
wings of the light.

Beautiful island,
beautiful desert,
feasting on wonder,
wonderful fear.

Beautiful John,
beautiful Martin,
inventor of dreams,
beautiful dreams.

(Words: Keith Armstrong / Tune: 'Felton Lonnen’ - Trad. arr. Ann Sessoms)

© 2017 Whippet Records

Copyright Control MCPS/PRS


Recording Credits

Keith Armstrong - Recitation
Ann Sessoms - Northumbrian Pipes


Haydon Bridge Spa

Haydon Bridge School [pencil sketch], T. Sopwith.


Additional Text

John Martin (1789-1854) was born on July 19th 1789, in a one-roomed farm cottage at East Land Ends, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, thirteenth and youngest child of Fenwick and Isabella. Although the family was living in poverty, John became the first Martin to attend school. The progressive Haydon Bridge Grammar school provided him with free schooling, and his parents with a cheap form of childcare. He showed an early talent for drawing, utilising the schoolroom walls, the doors of the villagers, and the sandbanks of the River Tyne. An apprenticeship as a heraldic painter with a High Friar Street coach builder in Newcastle was his first taste of work before he headed for London, marrying there at the age of nineteen, before having a picture accepted at the Royal Academy and later becoming "Historical Landscape Painter to the Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold”, as well as a noted book illustrator. Like his elder brother William, John was an ‘all-rounder’, devising sewage schemes for London and the Thames and proposals for railway systems, a lighthouse, a floating harbour, and an 'Elastic Iron Ship'. He is most famous, however, as a New Romantic painter and mezzotint engraver, celebrated for his epic and melodramatic scenes of cataclysmic Biblical events crowded with tiny figures placed in vast architectural settings.

He paid Jonathan's legal expenses after the Minster fire and took Jonathan's son Richard into his family. He lived at Lindsey House in Chelsea where William died after spending the last few months of his life there.

John Martin died on the Isle of Man on February 17th 1854.