Anne Shelton OBE – The World War 2 Forces Favourite

One of the commenters on our article about Glyn Davies was Kelly Richards, who remembered Glyn from her childhood. Here she talks about growing up in Dulwich and life with her aunt, Anne Shelton.

Anne SheltonMy name is Kelly Richards, and I am very proud to say that I am the niece of one of the most talented singers that Britain has ever produced, as claimed by many, Anne Shelton. She had the voice, and face of an Angel, and was the most genuine, caring person anyone could ever have hoped to meet……and she came from Dulwich!

Anne lived at 142 Court Lane for over 50 years. From a very early age when she lived in another part of Dulwich, she always said “One day I will own a house in Court Lane” and this she most certainly did. Anne bought 142 as a home for her and her family in 1940 shortly after her career with Bert Ambrose, the great band leader took off, and she was well on her way to stardom. She paid £5000 for the house.

I was very close to my aunt, in fact I was born at 142 Court Lane many years ago in my grandmother’s bedroom. Anne had two sisters and a brother, my mother Eileen was her elder sister. We were a very close family, and 142, or Glendower as it was called was the family home. Most of my childhood was spent with my aunt’s as my parents were in business locally and worked long hours, so Glendower was my second home. My parents home was 167 Court Lane, the family always remained close to each other.

My childhood with Anne was magical. Glendower had an enchanted garden, with tennis court, and vegetable patch that was lovingly tendered by my uncle David Reid, Anne’s husband. I remember the summers so well, playing tennis, riding my bike around the garden and being allowed to go boating in Dulwich Park, under the watchful eye of either Anne, or her younger sister, my aunt Jo.

Another memory that I have are my trips to Dulwich Village with my aunts. We were regular visitors to the tea rooms, and to Bartlett’s the greengrocers, where Anne and Jo seemed to spend so long choosing the fruit and veg for the family, and it was there that I first experienced the most delightful fruit Lychee. Anne was very much a celebrity in those days (late fifties early sixties) and was always recognised, and often asked for her autograph. She always had time for her fans, and spent several minutes talking to them, and of course always obliged by signing her autograph on whatever was given to her to do so. At the time I knew she was famous, but never really realised how famous she was, as to me she was always my aunty Patty, as her real name was Pat Sibley, and Anne Shelton was her stage name.

The best time was in November when Anne always took me to Green’s the stationery shop in the Village that happened to sell Fireworks. We were mostly served by Brian, Mr Green’s son, and he was always so tolerant while I took ages to chose the fireworks for our annual Firework Party, which was held at the end of the tennis court at Glendower. We had a bonfire, and a Guy, that Anne and I made several days before, and left in the shed to often scare the gardener Ozzy. Unlike today, the Fireworks were let off on November 5th, and that night only.

Kelly and Anne in gardenGlendower backed onto Dulwich Park (of course it still does) and I remember as a child that a bell was rung by hand by the park keeper to signal the fact that the park gates would soon be closing. This was to alert anyone still in the park, especially drivers to leave before they were locked in. I am sure this procedure has long gone.

Anne stayed at Glendower until February 1994, when she decided to move down to East Sussex to be close to me, as she felt she could no longer cope living in such a large house with just my mother, it became too much for them. Sadly her new life did not last long as she died of a massive heart attack on July 31st that year.

I have recently written and published her biography “With a Smile and a Song” This is something she asked me to do after her death, and I have done so as a tribute to a remarkable lady who’s career spanned over 60 years.

I am pleased to say that after receiving 1282 votes Anne’s old house in Dulwich has been awarded a Southwark Blue Plaque. Anne, I know would have been delighted at this, as she once said “If I leave Dulwich I will die”. I never believed this for one minute but, she was right.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Anne Shelton’s biography please send a cheque for £12.99 made payable to Kelly Richards to P.O.Box 160, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 4YF.

Take part in our prize draw. Leave a relevant comment on any article on this site before 31st May and you could win a signed copy of Anne Shelton’s biography, “With a Smile and a Song”, courtesy of Kelly Richards.


About this article

Angie Macdonald

About Angie Macdonald

Founding Member, Writer and Former Co-Editor. Angie is a health blogger, web editor and freelance writer. She is passionate about women's health and wellbeing and loves good films, good books and a good cup of tea. She blogs at Write Health and is editor of The South East London Film Clubs Network.

30 Comments

  1. Jeremy Prescott 25 Apr 2008

    Garden opening Sunday 8th June at Anne Shelton’s former home, 142 Court Lane, 2-6pm

    I was delighted to see this article by Kelly Richards, Anne Shelton’s niece. We now live in Anne Shelton’s former home and are opening the garden this year for National Garden Scheme charities and St Christopher’s Hospice, on Sunday 8th June – when the roses are at their best! Teas and plants will be available, and I have asked Kelly to come and sell her book on Anne Shelton.

    Jeremy Prescott

  2. Jim Woolley 28 Apr 2008

    It is so nice to see lovely things written about Anne Shelton, her career and time as a resident in Dulwich. No surprise there though, for she was a lovely person. The award of the Blue Plaque to be sited at her former home in Court Lane is well deserved, and I’m sure she would have been delighted.
    JIM WOOLLEY (a long time admirer since 1940 of The Forces Favourite of WW11)

  3. vivien copeland 6 May 2008

    It was lovely to read the article on Ann Shelton. I never met her but friends of my parents lived next door and used to run The Grove Tavern pub(another name now I believe) I used to live in Dulwich and went to Dulwich Hamlet School a school chum of mines mother ran Bartley the florists and I used to love to visit and smell the wonderful flowers. Another favourite place was the little tuck shop further up the village where we spent our pennies after school. I was a very quaint and sleepy little place and the park attracted many visitors including the Queen Mum to see the flowers. A very strange thing about all this is that I now live in Sussex and became friends with Kelly Richards and realise that we well could have crossed paths back in the old days, very wierd indeed.

  4. John Temple 11 May 2008

    I have been an Anne Shelton fan for many years and was delighted to learn that a Southward ‘Blue Plaque’ is to be erected at her former home in Court Lane, Dulwich. It would be really nice if a ceremony, commemorating the event was to be held, as I’m sure many of Anne’s admirers would love to attend. Please advise.

  5. Jeremy Prescott 13 May 2008

    There will indeed be a ceremony when the plaque goes up, but the timing of this is yet to be decided – but I hope its in the next two or three months.

  6. Jim Woolley 13 May 2008

    I hope I won’t be considered an intruder, not being a Dulwich resident, but I would like to relate an occasion back in 1961 which was Anne’s 21st year in show business. She gave a celebration party for all her friends and fans at The Cafe Royal in Regent Street, West London, and I was fortunate enough and honoured to have been one of them. We all had a wonderful time, and the high spot was when Anne, accompanied by her pianist Jonnie Franz gave an impromptu concert, singing not only songs she had recorded, but others by request from those present. She carried on for at least one and a half hours, much to the delight of all us guests. What a trouper she was, and of course a really lovely lady.
    Before finishing, I must mention that my young daughter Anne was with me and it happened to be her ninth birthday, and Anne made everybody sing Happy Birthday to her. Also that was my first meeting with Kelly, Anne’s niece, who had been paired up with my daughter by Anne’s Mum. It was all so friendly and natural and I am delighted to say that in more recent years and right up to date I am frequently in touch with Kelly who has done and is still doing a great job by keeping her Aunties memory alive by writing her biography, and issuing Cds. etc. Long may it last.

    JIM WOOLLEY (now resident in St.Leonards-on-Sea)

  7. Yang-May Ooi 13 May 2008

    Hi Jim – you are most welcome to enjoy Dulwich OnView, as is anyone, wherever you may be based. While the subject matter of this magazine is aimed at celebrating people and culture in the Dulwich area, we are delighted to have readers and participants from all over the UK – and maybe even all over the world!

    Yang-May Ooi, Co-editor, Dulwich OnView

  8. Thanks Jeremy. Perhaps we can be informed via ‘Dulwich OnView’ when the Blue Plaque ceremony is to be held?

  9. terry 14 Apr 2009

    i just want to say that ann shelton was a great lady and a great singer, i met ann many times and the best thing she did for me when she had finished her concert in eastbourne a few weeks befor she died, she signed my cd and the small poster i had for the concert,she kissed this poster and left her lipstick mark on this and i still have it now, and it still looks just as fresh as the day she did that, bright red lips….such a joy to meet and a joy to listen to, missed very much…….

  10. Kelly Richards 11 May 2009

    Hi Terry, Kelly here Anne Shelton’s niece. Just read your message about the concert in Eastbourne when Anne kissed your poster. You may be interested to know that on 31st July 09 I am staging a tribute show to Anne at The Winter GArden Theatre Eastbourne to mark the 15th year to the day of her death. The show will feature the New Squadronaires Orchestra with full supporting cast…….if you (or in fact anyone reading) would like further details you can e-mail me on kelly@privettcottage.wanadoo.co.uk or visit Anne’s website http://www.anne-shelton.co.uk.

  11. Heather Thomas 9 Jul 2009

    Hi Kelly, I remember your Aunt from when I was small, my Grandma had some of her records, and as a child I used to ask who the picture of the lady was on the front of them. My Grandmas reply was, shes your Dads girl friend. My Dad, thought that Anne Shelton was wonderful. He is 76 now and still remembers me asking about her.

  12. Lynn Openshaw 11 Jul 2009

    Hello,

    I wonder if you could help me? I am a textiles student at Northbrook College and I am researching needlework during WW2. I wondered if Anne Shelton did any embroidery or other stitchcraft during the war? (I have just received a letter from Dame Vera Lynn and she certainly did, in fact she tells me that there is a photo of her doing stitching in one of the big theatres – unfortunately, I don’t know which).

    I would be extremely grateful if you could let me know if Anne did any stitching during the war. I am particularly interested in needlework as a calming activity in times of extreme stress. I have come across some wonderful stories from all walks of like and would like to include some stories from celebrities of the day – or, of course, if you know any non-celebrites from the era – their stories are just as important to me. If you think it appropriate I would be happy for you to post a reminiscence request on your website.

    Many thanks for your help.

    Lynn Openshaw

  13. Kelly Richards 13 Jul 2009

    Hi Heather…what a lovely memory you have of Anne, and your dad. She was a lovely lady. Please do give your dad my best wishes, and….if he is still likes her would he liks a photograph of her? If so please do e-mail at anne-shelton@privettcottage.wanadoo.co.uk

    all the best

    Kelly

  14. Gill Wilson 17 Sep 2009

    I just want to say how pleased I am that Radio 2 has a programme about Anne Shelton this week. I have no connection with her whatsoever but for some reason she has always been thre in my mind as a lovely lady and singer. I was born in 1948 and I am sure she had some hit records in the late 50s and 60s.

  15. duncan campbell 19 Sep 2009

    dear kelly,

    just listened to anne’s programme on bbc2 tonight. it took me back to my dad’s record collection and the parties my parents had when i was a wee boy. was crying in the car driving home remembering all those beautiful songs and wonderful memories of aunts n uncles trying to get the harmonies right of those wonderful tunes. have just bought 2 cds online as i have lost the original 78s n 45s. best wishes
    duncan campbell

  16. Lynn Openshaw 19 Sep 2009

    Dear Kelly

    Thank you so much for the information about Anne’s artistic talents – creative people do seem to be talented in more than one area.

    I am still trying to gather information for my textiles dissertaion at college. As Anne did not do embroidery I wonder if any of her fans have any memories of war time sewings, needlework, embroidery or other stitch crafts? I would love to hear their stories, especially if they were in the forces or in the ancillary services or perhaps stitched in the shelters or hospitals or on watch. Any information about war time would be very welcome. I have just come across Suzanne Griffith’s book “Stitching for Victory” which is full of interesting information but I would like to gather reminiscences for my project.

    Many thanks

    Lynn Openshaw

  17. Dear Duncan and Dear Gill
    Thank you so much for sharing your kind comments and memories of my aunt with Dulwich on View. As a woman born in Dulwich ( in fact at my aunt’s old home 142 Court Lane) I am so pleased that Dulwich on View, and lovely people like yourselves are helping to keep the lovely lady’s name alive. I am so so pleased you enjoyed the BBC2 radio programme, I have had many people contact me via the website(www.anne-shelton.co.uk) saying how lovely it was to hear Anne speaking again….I must say it brought tears to my eyes!! For those that might know we had a tribute show for her in Eastbourne on 31st July, you may like to know we raised £3000 for the Not Forgotten Association charity….If anyone wants to know more about Anne, please do visit our website…maybe of interest, or do please e-mail me!!
    All the best to you both

    Kelly

  18. L. Runcie 19 Sep 2009

    Dear Heather,

    My husband and myself also enjoyed the radio programme on Ann on Friday evening. We would have enjoyed listening to more of it!

    Warmest regards,

    L. Runcie.

  19. Sally-Anne 30 Dec 2009

    Dear Terry,
    Is your wife Iris?

    If so, please say hi to Melinda and family memers,
    And Happy New Year!

    Love

    Sally-Anne
    (Beth’s Mum)
    My folks were Betty & Ray)

    PS. Uncle Sid is still doing well.

  20. Sally-Anne 30 Dec 2009

    Dear Kelly,
    I was delighted to catch you on the TV on the Antiques Road show. My Mum and Dad were friends of Ann’s in the early days. (Germany and then London)

    I am very interested to know if you can tell me the road / address of Ann’s London flat that I was taken to in the l;ate 1950’s/ early 1960’s, when we visited Ann as a family.

    I have visited a place in London recently and it reminds me of when I visited Ann with my folks. Seeing you on teh roadshow must have reminded me.

    If you have time, and the knowledge, I would like to know the address please.

    Otherwise, I suppose the flat might have belonged to someone else.
    I don’t know if Jonny Franz was around then or not?
    Do you know what happened to him? He was a pianist and another friend of my folks.

    Anyway,

    Many thanks,

    Sally-Anne

  21. Martyn Chalwin 27 Feb 2011

    I remember meeting Anne when i was a pupil at The Rudolph Memorial School 62, Overhill Road,Dulwich SE22. i think i was about 7 or 8 at the time. My parents followed her career and even went and saw her
    a couple of times.I made enquiries about the School only last week as i saw a piece about her and the ring she wore on the Antiques road show from Dulwich Art Gallery, I was very sad to find out that the School closed and demolished in 1985 and a block of flats now are in it’s place. Well i suppose that’s progress.

    Martyn c Chalwin, Toronto Canada.

  22. David Carlile 15 Feb 2012

    it all comes back to me now …
    I only recently ‘stumbled’ upon anne’s singing on a $10 cd – The control she displaid, the nuance, gentleness yet strength, and constant self-analysis of her voice as she sings ‘ it all comes back to me now … makes this a magical and beautiful rendidtiton. To me it is one of the most Perfectly Sung songs of all time: by anyone ! – I often play it just before drifting off to sleep. this song, and ‘goodnight again’ are my two favourite songs by her, and probabaly the 2 greatest of any songs of all time. I just wish she had sung more songs in this particular manner and style.

  23. Maribeth 21 Jun 2012

    I just came upon Anne’s name in my uncle’s diary and thought I’d write. Uncle Walt was a US sailor stationed in the Pacific during WWII. He wrote that they entire ship would look forward to evenings when they could pick up Ms. Shelton singing in London.

  24. Maureen 10 Sep 2012

    I have very fond memories of Anne particularly when my first son was born in the Weir Hospital, Balham, in September 1956. At that time Anne’s “Lay Down Your Arms” was top of the charts, and was forever being played by the nurses. I ‘m sure it helped my speedy recovery. I can hear her singing that song still, and my son will be 56 on 11th September!
    I also had the pleasure of meeting Anne at a function after that, and spent the whole evening in her and Jo’s company. I asked Anne if she would autograph my invitation as my uncle (particularly fond of Anne) would give me a fiver for it. She kindly signed my invite and then gave it one of her lipstick kisses and told me I should ask him for a tenner!
    I never did part with it. What a wonderful, kind lady she was.
    Maureen

    • Shapa Begum 13 Sep 2012

      Thank you for sharing your lovely memories Maureen. I’d love to see a snap of the lipstick kiss autograph! If you’d like to share your memories as an article, we’d be delighted to publish it on Dulwich OnView. Do get in touch.

      Best wishes,
      Shapa

  25. Sylvia 13 Feb 2014

    I knew Anne Shelton as aunty Anne when i was about 6 in the 1950s. She used to stay with my aunty Gladys in Blackpool. I remember sitting on her knee lots of times and she used to cuddled me. I think she appeared at the tower ballroom Blackpool. My uncle Jo played the piano for her i think. I would love to have known more about her. I have a photograph of her and myself on the prom at blackpool.

  26. Beryl Chandler 14 Feb 2014

    How wonderful to read all these memories of Anne Shelton. We lived with my Nan in Tooting during the war and I used to listen to the radio and sing along and dance, using the top of the Morrison shelter as a stage. But, whenever Anne Shelton was singing I would sit down and just listen, lovely!

  27. I have to be honest never heard of Anne Shelton but she is my school homework so this was a great help to me thanks you are epic and wicked whoever wrote this thanks a million!

  28. Grace 7 Apr 2015

    A real shame her wish for her ring to be buried with her was ignored.

    Shame

  29. Patricia Masters (nee Beeden) 21 Aug 2016

    I lived in Lettsom St as a child and remember Anne coming to see her sister Eileen who worked in our local butchers Mr Traske. She would throw chewing gum out of the car for us to collect! She was in a apple greenish car and I remember the number plate was GUM 1 a really lovely kind person.

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