offical Bruton Town website - photo by Trudie Mattock
21 April 2018 19°C

Monthly Archives: September 2017

From Russia with love

From Russia with love

An extraordinary story is coming to Bruton Museum in October. It’s a tale that sounds more like fiction than fact, but it’s all true: a Russian girl is sent to seduce and spy on English embassy employee in Moscow during the Second World War. They fall in love. He is sent back to England; using forged papers, she manages to catch up with him before his ship sails. Reunited, the pair persuade Stalin to allow them to marry and they escape on one of a convoy of ships, all of which were sunk except theirs. She is the first Russian war bride to reach Britain. It is 1942.

On the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, a new book is being launched that tells the true story of how Nora Korzhenko and John Murray met in Stalinist Russia. In the lead up to WWII, John had been working in Riga, the owner of a cigarette factory, while also helping the Latvian government to buy munitions from Britain. By the time war broke out, he was working in Helsinki for the British Legation, then sent to Stockholm followed by Oslo. On his return to Riga, John discovered that he was being sent to the Embassy in Moscow, although his departure was delayed by the Soviet secret police who tried to recruit him. Eventually he joined the staff of Sir Stafford Cripps in Moscow, which is where Nora was ordered by the NKVD, precursor of the KGB, to meet and seduce the young John Murray.

Nora’s story before she met John was one of turmoil – her father was a Russian general employed by the NKVD. When Molotov took control, Gen Korzhenko was discredited and Nora’s life changed from a cushioned one, to a life where she foraged for food and somewhere to sleep. She was pressured into working for the NKVD, became adept at linking up with foreign officials, and so it was that Nora, codename Swallow, met Murray.

How the pair eventually fell in love, how Nora followed John through Russia on forged papers to the northern port of Archangel, how she persuaded Stalin to allow them to marry, is the stuff of fairy stories. They married and lived in London, where Nora published her tale I Spied for Stalin, enjoyed her celebrity as an adviser on Hollywood film Anna Karenina, meeting stars Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson, yet never gave up on her Russian background.


Nora with Vivien Leigh on the set of Anna Karenina

Thirty years later, John Murray, too, wrote the story in A Spy Called Swallow, and now their sons have added to the tale of love and espionage under Stalin’s gaze with a new prologue and epilogue. Join Peter and Leeroy from 6pm on Wednesday, 25 October, for vodka, music and a taste of authentic traditional Russian food to celebrate the lives of two extraordinary people at Bruton Museum, High Street, Bruton, Somerset. Copies of their book Nora & John: The Russian Love Story, published by GB Publishing will be available at a reduced price on the night, or from Amazon and Waterstone’s.

Can you help us run Bruton’s website?

Can you help us run Bruton’s website?

We’re looking to volunteers to assist us with adding news and articles, keeping the diary up to date, and making sure the information on here is correct. The site is run by a small team and we could really do with some more hands! If you could spare an hour or two a month it… Continue Reading

Singer-songwriter visits Cary

Singer-songwriter visits Cary

Singer-songwriter, musician & actress Charlie Dore, best known for her 1979 US hit “Pilot of the Airwaves”, visits Castle Cary next month. She will be joined on stage by Julian Littman (Steeleye Span, Dexy’s Midnight Runners) who has performed with Charlie throughout her career including Glastonbury and Cropredy festivals. Expect an evening of eclectic, contemporary… Continue Reading

Crocodile rocks up at the museum

Crocodile rocks up at the museum

A huge, life-sized crocodile has taken up residence in Bruton’s Museum. It’s the work of sculptor Dorcas Casey who is backed by MUSE: Makers in Museums with funding from the Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, all part of Somerset Art Weeks. Dorcas spent time over the summer digging about in the Museum’s… Continue Reading

Music, food and dancing for Man on Bench

Music, food and dancing for Man on Bench

Come join the Fundraiser for Man on Bench on the 30th September at Mill on the Brue, featuring a live band, Great Big Feet, and two course Somerset autumnal feast using local suppliers. So put your glad rags on and come dance the autumnal blues away! The menu has been put together in consultation with Matt… Continue Reading

Help save Man on Bench for Bruton

Help save Man on Bench for Bruton

What would you think if you had the opportunity to buy a piece of sculpture for £10…. a unique piece of art, for the price of two cinema tickets? Contribute to keeping Man on Bench in Bruton Whether you are a local or someone who may one day be a visitor to our town, you… Continue Reading

Travel photographer Max Milligan on show in Frome

Acclaimed Scottish landscape photographer Max Milligan will be exhibiting some of his latest work  at Settlers Stores new boutique in Frome as part of Somerset Art Weeks  Prospect Festival 2017. On the walls of Settlers Stores, travel photographer Max Milligan will be  displaying dramatic photographs from Congo, Ghana and Scotland. A fine art photographer, Max has  published six books, and his work has been exhibited around the world.  “Company Founder Zara d‘Abo“  Continue Reading

Can you spare Bruton Mini Day Care a few hours?

We would like a few more volunteers to help out or even cook a healthy/hearty meal every 4 to 6 weeks for about 15-18 people. Nothing fancy!!  All expenses reimbursed.   Our members are elderly folk and really look forward to their Monday get together.    If you feel you can help us out could you please contact  Patricia Whittock on 01749 812035 or 07754 150419 or e-mail patriciawhittock@gmail.com  Continue Reading

Somerset Wildlife Trust’s steam train bake-off

Somerset Wildlife Trust’s special fundraiser returns for a second year and is proud to present the ‘Steam Tea Wildlife Special’  steam train ride on Thursday 26th October.  This year it returns with a special VIP guest – Val Stones from TV’s ‘Great British Bake Off’. Winning the hearts of millions, and much loved for her cheeky comments,… Continue Reading

Field Trip Festival Review

Field Trip Festival Review

The Field Trip Festival organisers asked us to come down and write a review of the festival which took place on August Bank Holiday weekend, if any residents of the town were wondering what the light show in the night sky was, it was Field Trip! Getting into the festival was very smooth & efficient,… Continue Reading

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