Composers and their stage works 

Peter Coke

Peter Coke

British actor, sculptor and playwright. Born Southsea, Hampshire, England 3rd April, 1913. Died 30th July, 2008.

Peter Coke was a member of a branch of the distinguished Norfolk family made famous first in the 17th century by the influential Lord Chief Justice, Sir Edward Coke and in the following century by "Coke of Norfolk", the agricultural pioneer of Holkham Hall.

His early years were spent in Kenya, where his father was a coffee farmer. He later returned to England to attend the progressive Stowe School. He had six careers throughout his long life.

  1. Consular official (briefly).
  2. Actor, achieving lasting fame as Paul Temple in the radio serials by Francis Durbridge.
  3. Playwright, with many successes to his credit, including "Breath of Spring".
  4. Army officer during World War II.
  5. Antique dealer, with a shop in the King's Road, Chelsea, for many years.
  6. Shell artist extraordinaire.

Even as a young actor he had started to collect antiques. Later, in his shop, he had a number of Sailor Valentines, eight-sided arrangements of shells which 18th century sailors were said to have made on the return journey from the West Indies for their wives and girlfriends back home (though often they bought them ready made). During visits to friends in Barbados he was able to collect shells to repair examples which were damaged, and from this he progressed to making reproductions of Sailor Valentines. This led to a fascination with the amazing variety of shapes and colours in which seashells, especially from tropical waters, are found.

In 1976 he "retired" to North Norfolk where he re-established his antiques business at Sharrington Hall, near Holt. Having collected shells as a hobby for so many years, and having experimented with various ways of using them decoratively, he spent increasing amounts of his time in this activity until, in his early 80's, he was persuaded by friends to mount the first of what became a series of exhibitions of his work in London. These were a great success, with about half the pieces on display usually being sold at prices far greater than he had originally imagined. His work has been purchased by many well-known customers in the arts and entertainments world and by members of the royal family. Eventually, he turned his antiques show-room into a shell-art gallery and devoted all his time to his art.

Biographic details from Sheringham Preservation Society

Stage Plays

  1. The Isle of Umbrellas (co-written by Mabel L Tyrell)
  2. Breath of Spring (1958)
  3. Gentle Guardsmen (1961)
  4. Sleepy Mermaid (1962)
  5. Fool's Paradise (1963)
  6. In Confidence (1964)
  7. Face To Face (1965)
  8. Midsummer Mink (1965)
  9. The Man Who Wrote In Bed (1968)
  10. Taxpayers' Waltz (1970)
  11. What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1978)
  12. Autumn Manoeuvres (1983)
  13. Winter Glory (1988)