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Discover the fascinating people and places of Tunbridge Wells.Take a journey back in time to the 19th and early 20th century. See what the town was like in the days of the horse and carriage and what the people did who lived there. See the vintage postcards and photographs.Read the articles about the different trades and professions and the people who worked in them.Learn about the historic buildings and the town's colourful history.

This month I feature a postcard by Edwards & Son of Worthing showing a view of a Tunbridge Wells Friendly Society gathering in Worthing in the early 1900's. As the banner says in the photograph "Sickness is Err Present -Death Comes to All". Friendly Societies, of which there were many, during the years before the NHS, took care of workers who had become ill or passed away, used funds raised by the contributions of workers for the collective good. My grandfather Francis Reginald Gilbert held a position in Tunbridge Wells with the Foresters, one of the local friendly societies, before emigrating to Canada with his family in1923. All of the local Friendly Societies used to meet at the Friendly Society Hall on Camden Road, a building which still exists and which is distinguished by a pair of elephant heads at the entrance to the building.


ANNOUNCEMENT

The articles on this site are replaced by new ones on the first of the month, so come back and visit this site often. Feel free to copy any text and images of interest to you.Due to the quantity and size of the images in this website users will find that some of them are slow to appear. Please be patient, as they are worth waiting for.Those without high speed internet service will no doubt have to wait longer than others. To move from one page of the website to the next simply click on the page number in the bar at the top of the page-not the "Go To" instruction at the bottom of the page.

Also note that if you attempt to print any pages from this website before the page has fully loaded, some images may not be printed and the layout of the page may be distorted, as the text and images are repositioned during loading. For the best copy wait for the page to fully load.

There is no provision for contacting me from this website. If you wish to contact me I would suggest contacting the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library or the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society who will forward your inquiry to me. Their contact details can be found on their websites.

ABOUT ME


I am a researcher and writer of articles about the history of Tunbridge Wells and was a member of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society (TWFHS) until its recent demise. I had been a regular contributer to the TWFHS Guestbook and Journal. I assist others with their genealogical inquiries on various websites such as Rootschat and the Kent & Sussex History Forum. I have had many articles published in various society journals, Newsletters and Magazines in England and Canada. I am decended from three generation of Gilberts who lived in Tunbridge Wells since 1881.

Shown here is a photograph of me taken in July 2015 proudly displaying my T-shirt. I was trained and worked as a Civil Engineer and in the late 1980's changed careers and became the owner of two corporations engaged in General Contracting and the supply of building materials. Upon my retirement in 1998 I devoted my spare time to research,writing and gardening. I lived in southern Ontario from 1950 to 1981 but moved to Thunder Bay,Ontario (about 950 miles north of Toronto) to work as a Supervising Engineer in NorthWestern Ontario. My father Douglas Edward Gilbert (1916-2009) came to live with me in 1983. He had been born in Tunbridge Wells but came to Canada with his parents/siblings in the early 1920's. All but one my relatives (mostly second cousins, none of which have the surname of Gilbert) live in England and some still live in Tunbridge Wells. The only Gilberts from my family line in Canada are me (born in Canada 1950). My dads sister Mabel Joan Gilbert, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1921 died October 2017 in Barrie, Ontario. Her only child Garry Williamson is living in Barrie with his wife and two adopted sons. Since I never got married I am the last of the family with the surname of Gilbert in Canada and England and I am the self appointed genealogist of my family line. Although my greatgrandfather of Tunbridge Wells had three sons and four daughters I am the only surviving descendent with the surname of Gilbert. A complete family tree of my family going back five generations can be found on the Ancestry UK website.

I established this website in 2011. Every month I replace all of the articles with new ones so please come back and visit again. If there are any articles you wish to keep for your records feel free to copy them. There is no archive of older articles on this site but the Tunbridge Wells Library and the Museum retain copies of my articles for their local history files,so please contact them to see them. I am in regular contact with the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society (Chris Jones) who takes an interest in my work and may have some of my articles in his files. Occasionally I republish older articles that have been updated with new information.














On October 9,2014 I was presented with a Civic Society Community Contribution Award in recognition of the contribution that this website has made to the town, especially in the field of history and family history. In the summer of 2015 I had the pleasure of visiting Tunbridge Wells and seeing first hand all of the places I had written about and those which will be featured in future articles. Shown above (left)is a photo taken during this trip at Hever Castle by Alan Harrison in July 2015 in which I am wearing my "I Love Royal Tunbridge Wells" T-Shirt, a slogan which accurately expresses my great interest in the town and its history. Shown with me is my good friend and neighbour Mrs Susan Prince of Thunder Bay,Ontario, who organized the trip,and the lady in dark blue on the right is my second cousin Mrs Christine Harrison of Tunbridge Wells. Christine's grandfather Robert Herbert Gilbert is my grandfathers eldest brother.Christine and her husband were kind enough to drive us around Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. It was a memorable holiday, and one that will be reported on in various articles of this website. Also shown above right is a photograph of me that appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier in August 2015 from an article written about my visit to the town.This photograph was taken by the Courier photographer at the Victorian B&B, 22 Lansdowne Road, where I stayed during my visit. A reception was also held on June 30,2015  to commemorate my visit  and my work in writing about the history of the town by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society in the garden at the home of John Cunningham,who is a member of the Civic Society.John, Chris Jones and some 30 others came out for the reception and afterwards Susan Prince and I had a lovely meal and evening with John and Chris and their wives at John's home.

I hope you enjoy reading about my family and the articles I have written about the history of Tunbridge Wells.

NEW PROJECT-YOUR ASSISTANT APPRECIATED

Work is underway to set up a new website devoted to the photographic career of Harold H. Camburn, a Tunbridge Wells photographer and printer/publisher of thousands of postcard views of Kent,Sussex, Surrey and a few other counties to a lesser degree.

One aspect of this project is the creation of an illustrated catalogue of Camburn's postcards. The backs of his postcards typically show his name or in the absence of his name show his well known Wells Series logo of a bucket and rope suspended from a well, such as in the example below.













Here is where you come in!!!!    If you would like to contribute to this project please provide a list of any Camburn cards you have giving the card number (if any) as well as the compete caption, both of which are shown on the front of his postcards. Of course, if you are able to do so, please send a scan of the front of the postcard so that the image can be included along with the card number and caption in the catalogue. Please send all submissions by email to me at edwardgilbert@shaw.ca

In the future I will post the status of this project and make an announcement when and where the illustrated catalogue and the rest of the website content can be found on the internet.


ARTICLE UPDATE


In January 2018 I posted an article entitled "Clifford Walter Revell-Photographic Material Dealer" and since that time the image shown opposite has been found,the seller of which dates it to circa 1920's. Mr Revell was in business at 76  High Street since about 1911 up to the time of his death in 1956.

He had served in WW1 and while away his wife ran the business. When he returned to Tunbridge Wells after the war he carried on his business, a very successful one by all accounts and sold Kodak film, cameras and other photographic equipment and supplies.

The advertisement took the form of a business postcard and has at the top  "Mr Blunt" who appears to have been a customer and scribbled on the face of the card appears to be a sales receipt for photo developing totalling 2.2 (shillings?).

 

 

ARTICLE UPDATE

Some months ago I posted an article about Comical Postcards of Tunbridge Wells. Since that time two new ones have been found showing comical images of women in Tunbridge Wells wearing fancy hats and costumes. Shown opposite is the first one showing a Tunbridge Wells beauty waiting for you. Could the hat have been any bigger? , and would an opportunity to meet this lady really be an incentive to visit the town?  Nice muff with a cat on it though keeping her hands warm.

19th and early 20th century photographs of women certainly demonstrate the interest women had in fantastic hats, decorated with flowers, feathers, butterflies and just about anything imaginable. These hats definitely made a fashion statement and no doubt the more affluent the lady the more outlandish the hat she wore. There were many milliners shops in Tunbridge Wells which were well patronized but women often took the train to London to do their shopping where they no doubt found a much larger selection of fashions on offer.

Below is the front and back of the second one. On the back of this one is a comment by the sender about the wearing of trousers and Tunbridge Wells fashions. An interesting commentary on ladies fashions of the times.















RICHARD ROBERTS THE VETERINARY SURGEON

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: March 30,2018

 
OVERVIEW 

Richard Roberts (1848-1913) was born in Northamptonshire, the son of Ann Roberts and Jonathon Roberts (who in 1851 was a farrier and later a  veterinary surgeon).

Richard decided to follow his father as a veterinary Surgeon and graduated from university in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1875 and became a member and later a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

At the time of the 1851 census Richard was living with his parents and two siblings at Gretton, Northamptonshire where his father Jonathon was a farrier. At the time of the 1871 census Richard was living with his parents at Kettering, Northamptonshire where both Richard and his father were veterinary surgeons.

In 1876 Richard married Alice, who was born 1847 at Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire and with her went on to have six children between 1877 and 1884, all of whom were born in Kendal, Westmoreland.

At the time of the 1881 census Richard and his wife; four children, and four servants were living in Kendal, Westmoreland where Richard was a veterinary surgeon and member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Before the end of the 1880’s Richard and his wife and six of his children took up residence in Tunbridge Wells, living at the time of the 1891 census at Little Grove House in Cumberland Gardens, Mount Sion. The family was still living there in 1899.

The British Veterinary Journal of 1890 listed Richard Rogers as “M.R.C.V.S., and Inspector of the Tunbridge Wells District for the R.S.P.C.A” (Royal Society for the protection and care of animals).

An 1896 advertisment for John Brown’s Dairy gave six reasons for buying his milk, one of which was that it had been given the blessing of Richard Roberts, veterinary surgeon, Tunbridge Wells who was a sanitation inspector.

The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing ‘Richard Rogers F.R.C.V.S., veterinary surgeon and veterinary inspector under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act for the borough and petty sessional division, Little Grove House, Cumberland Gardens”.

At the time of the 1901 census Richard and his wife and three children were living at 8 York Road, Tunbridge Wells. Richard was a veterinary surgeon and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (F.R.C.V.S).

At the time of the 1911 census Richard was living at 8 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells with his wife Alice;two of his children; two servants and one of his granddaughters. Richard at the time was F.R.C.V.S. and a veterinary surgeon. His son Charles Rogers, born 1879 at Kendal Westmoreland was living with his parents and was a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and became the “son” in his father’s business “ R. Roberts & Son, veterinary surgeons”.

The 1913 directory gave the listing “ Richard Roberts F.R.C.V.S (firm R. Roberts & son) veterinary inspector to the Board of Agriculture, the Borough of Tunbridge Wells and the Councils of Kent and East Sussex, 8 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells”. Directories of Wadhurst, Sussex of 1899 and 1913 also list Richard as a veterinary surgeon and chemist there and that he was an “inspector for Frant District to East Sussex County Council “.

Richard Roberts passed away May 5,1913 at 8 Church Road. The executor of his 10,127 pound estate was his son Charles Roberts M.R.C.V.S. Richard was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery May 8,1913. He was survived by his wife Alice who died in Tunbridge Wells, while a resident of 14 Lime Hill Road, April 21,1934. The executors of her estate were her sons John and Richard Roberts who were both dental surgeons. One of them Richard, born 1881, left Tunbridge Wells and by 1913 was working as a dentist (L.D.S) in Sevenoaks and his brother John ,born 1884,also left Tunbridge Wells to persue his dentistry career elsewhere sometime after 1901 but before 1911.  One of Richard’s daughters May,born 1880,  married the Rev. William Routley of Devon.

Richard’s son Charles remained in the Tunbridge Wells the rest of his live and for a time he continued his father’s business under the name of R. Roberts’ and son (ref; 1914 Kelly ). Charles probate records gave him of Moyallen Bounds, Oak Way, Southborough,Tunbridge Wells, when he died Novemgber 29,1965 at the Clarence Nursing Home, Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his estate were Norman Craig, company director and his solicitor. Charles was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery December3rd.

This article reports on Richard Roberts’ life and career with some information provided about his children. Also presented is some brief information and images of his residences in Tunbridge Wells.

THE ROBERTS FAMILY- THE YEARLY YEARS

I begin my account with the patriarch of the family Jonathan Roberts who was born 1808 in Morton, Lincolnshire. He married Ann, born 1811 at Threekingham, Lincolnshire and had at least three children. Johathan came from an agricultural background.

At the time of the 1851 census, taken at Gretton, Northamptonshire Jonathan was a farrier. With him was his wife Ann ; his daughter Eliza, born 1840 in London; Richard, who’s birth was registered at Uppingham, Rutland in the 4th qtr of 1848, but who’s place of birth is most often given in census records as Gretton, Rutland. Also there was Johathan’s son William, born 1851 in Gretton and his mother in law Elizabeth Dobney, age 78, born 1773 in Wolcot, Lincolnshire. The family was still living in Northamptsonshire at the time of the 1861 census.

The 1871 census, taken at Kettering, Northamptonshire gave Jonathan as a veterinary surgeon. With him was his wife Ann and his son Richard. Both Jonathan and Richard were veterinary surgeons.

Richard graduated from university in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1875 and became a member and later a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. His date of graduation was given in the Registry of Veterinary Surgeons of 1890 as April 15,1875 N. Edinburgh.

In 1876 Richard married Alice, who was born 1847 at Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire and with her went on to have six children between 1877 and 1884, all of whom were born in Kendal, Westmoreland. The children were (1) William Owen, born 1877 (2) Charles, born 1878 (3) Alice May, born 1880 (4) Richard, born 1881 (5) Annie, born 1883 (6) John, born 1884.

The Veterinarian of 1880 listed Richard Roberts as a contributor to the Benevolent and Mutual Defence Society.

The 1881 census, taken at 32 Lowther Street, Kendal, Westmoreland, gave Richard as a veterinary surgeon and member of the Royal College of Surgeons (M.R.C.V.S).

At the time of the 1881 census Richard and his wife; four children, and four servants were living in Kendal, Westmoreland where Richard was a veterinary surgeon and member of the Royal College of Surgeons. Also there were 4 domestic servants.

The British Veterinary Journal of 1885 reported on a meeting at the Lancashire Veterinary Medical Association held February 13,1885 at the Grosvenor Hotel in Manchester and among those present was Richard Roberts.

Around the end of the 1880’s Richard and his wife and six of his children moved to Tunbridge Wells.

RICHARD ROBERTS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS

The British Veterinary Journal of 1890 listed Richard Rogers as “M.R.C.V.S., and Inspector of the Tunbridge Wells District for the R.S.P.C.A” (Royal Society for the protection and care of animals).It also reported on a case of animal cruelty in which Richard Rogers was called as the first witness for the defence.

The 1891 census, taken at Little Grove House, Cumberland Gardens, Tunbridge Wells listed Richard Roberts as a veterinary surgeon. With him was his wife Alice and his children William,Charles,Alice May, Richard, Annie and John. The older children were attending school. Also there were two domestic servants and Richard’s great niece Frances Holland, age 14, born in Lincolnshire. The family were still living at this home in 1899.

The book ‘ The Animal’s Defender and Zoophilist’ of January 1,1894 listed Richard Roberts ,Esq., F.R.C.V.S., Tunbridge Wells.

An 1896 advertisment for John Brown’s Dairy , in Peltons 1896 guide, gave six reasons for buying his milk, one of which was that it had been given the blessing of Richard Roberts, veterinary surgeon, Tunbridge Wells who was a sanitation inspector.

The 1899 Kelly directory gave “ Richard Rogers F.R.C.V.S. veterinary surgeon and veterinary inspector under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act for the borough and petty sessional division, Little Grove House, Mount Sion.

Directories for Wadhurst, Susses for 1899 gave Richard Roberts as F.R.C.V.S. veterinary surgeon and chemist, and that of 1913 gave Richard Roberts F.R.C.V.S. veterinary surgeon and sanitary inspector for Frant District to East Sussex County Council. A 1909 listing gave the same information as for 1913.

The 1901 census, taken at 8 York Road, gave Richard as a veterinary surgeon and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (F.R.C.V.S). With him was his wife and his children Alice, Charles, Alice May and Richard and two servants.

A 1903 directory gave the listing Richard Roberts, F.R.C.V.S 8 Church Road Tunbridge Wells.

The 1911 census, taken at 8 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells listed the house as having 14 rooms. Living there was Richard Roberts, a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and a veterinary surgeon, and his wife Alice and children Charles, also a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a  veterinary surgeon, and Annie. Also there was Richard’s granddaughter Margaret Wallis, born 1911 in Tunbridge Wells, and two domestic servants. Richards son Charles was the “son” in his father’s business “ R. Roberts & Son, veterinary surgeons”.

The 1913 directory gave the listing “ Richard Roberts F.R.C.V.S (firm R. Roberts & son) veterinary inspector to the Board of Agriculture, the Borough of Tunbridge Wells and the Councils of Kent and East Sussex, 8 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

Richard Roberts passed away May 5,1913 at 8 Church Road. The executor of his 10,127 pound estate was his son Charles Roberts M.R.C.V.S. Richard was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery May 8,1913. He was survived by his wife Alice who died in Tunbridge Wells, while a resident of 14 Lime Hill Road, April 21,1934. The executors of her estate were her sons John and Richard Roberts who were both dental surgeons. One of them Richard, born 1881, left Tunbridge Wells and by 1913 was working as a dentist (L.D.S) in Sevenoaks and his brother John ,born 1884,also left Tunbridge Wells to persue his dentistry career elsewhere sometime after 1901 but before 1911.  One of Richard’s daughters May,born 1880,  married the Rev. William Routley of Devon.

The Courier of May 16,1913 gave an obituary for Richard, a condensed version of which is given below. Regarding his funeral the newspaper reported that the first part of the well- attended service was held at the Vale Royal Wesleyan Church (image opposite) with a clear demonstation of public sympathy and regard. At the service selections of organ music were given by Mr. D. Hogarth and officiating ministers were the Rev. C. Feneleuy and Rev. W. Routley Bailey, a son in law of the deceased. The principal mourners were Mrs Robert (widow), Dr. Roberts, Mrs Wallis, the Rev. and Mrs Routley Bailey, of Rochdale, Mr C. Roberts, Mr J. Roberts,Miss Holland and many others. See the article for the full list of those who attended the service and those who layed wreaths including “ the little dog who’s life he saved”. The funeral was conducted by Mr. E. Pink (E. Oliver).

Of Mr Roberts (photo opposite) the following information was given in the newspaper. The Veterinary Record, in the course of an obituary tribute to Mr Richard Roberts F.R.C.V.S., of Tunbridge Wells, who’s death occurred last week, says: Mr Roberts graduated from the New Veterinary College Edinburgh in 1875, and started practice in Kendal. From there he moved to Liverpool, and later settled in Tunbridge Wells, where he made a very extensive practice. His professional skill and his pleasant manner gave him a firm grip of his clients, who soon became his friends. Between him and his veterinary neighbours there was no trace of any feeling save that of good comradeship. He had during his career many pupils and assistants, and these men see a practitioner more intimately than anyone else. Mr Robert’s pupils all speak in the highest terms of his kindness of heart and his constant attempts to help and guide them. He did good without stint, and his left hand knew not what his right did. Although a very busy practitioner, Mr Roberts kept up to the times, and was always interested in his profession scientifically, socially and politically. In 1893 he took the Fellowship, and in 1910 became a member of the Council. This year he was a Vice-President of the R.C.V.S.. He was a Member of the National Veterinary Association, and a regular attendant at their annual meetings. At the Brighton meeting he was President. He was a member of one or two local societies, and whenever he went to instill some of his energy and good nature into his colleagues. Perhaps one of his greatest claims to professional recognition is the impetus he gave to the use of anesthetics in veterinary practice. So far back as the time when he was at Kendal he used chloroform, and was, we think, the first to use and recommend its administration standing. Mr Roberts looked forward to the meeting of the International Veterinary Congress in 1914, and was one of the few able and willing to give donation of 100 pounds. Richard Roberts will not soon be forgotten by his profession, and the widest sympathy with his family will come from all his friends. Mr Charles Roberts, his son, will continue the practice”.

Another article in the Courier gave the photograph of Richard shown above and duplicated much of the information given above from the Veterinary Society obituary but a few comments of interest are worth noting. “ Mr Roberts passed away at his residence in Church Road on Monday…He was a valued and much-respected resident of the town for many years standing. He was a prominent veterinary surgeon and Weslayan worker and a loss to Tunbridge Wells. Had Mr Roberts lived until the end of this month he would have lived in Tunbridge Wells for exactly a quarter of a century. He had been ailing since the beginning of last December, but repeatedly he had recovered to a large extent and was able to perform his duties. Mr Roberts was outdoors on Sunday but was taken suddenly ill at 10p.m. with angina pectoris and passed away in the early hours of the following morning. Mr Roberts had a distinguished career as a veterinary surgeon, and held some important positions. His skill and advice were in constant request in both counties of Kent and Sussex and for many years past he has been assisted in the business by his sons. Mr Roberts, for years acted as veterinary surgeon at the Tunbridge Wells Agricultual Show, and he was a member of the Council of the Agricultural Society, under who’s auspices that important annual event is held. He was Past President of the Tunbridge Wells Farmers Club, and was widely known and esteemed among farmers in the district. Mr Roberts did not take a prominent part in public life, being a very inobtrusive disposition. He always shunned publicity, but his quiet enthusiasm for Wesleyanism led him to fill some offices in connection with the Tunbridge Wells Circuit. He frequently presided at public meetings on behalf of various religious enterprises of the denomination, which has now lost a generous supporter, who’s place will be difficult , if not impossible, to fill”.

Richard’s son Charles remained in the Tunbridge Wells the rest of his live and for a time he continued his father’s business under the name of R. Roberts’ and son (ref; 1914 Kelly ). Charles probate records gave him of Moyallen Bounds, Oak Way, Southborough,Tunbridge Wells, when he died Novemgber 29,1965 at the Clarence Nursing Home, Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his estate were Norman Craig, company director and his solicitor. Charles was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery December 3rd.

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS RESIDENCES OF RICHARD ROBERTS

[1] LITTLE GROVE HOUSE AND THE FORGE

When Richard and his family came to Tunbridge Wells by the end of the 1880’s they settled in Mount Sion at Little Grove House in Cumberland Gardens. He is found at Little Grove House at the time of the 1891 census and in a 1899 directory but by the time of the 1901 census he left this house and moved to 8 York Road.

The book ‘ A History of Mount Sion’(2003) by Roger Farthing provides an account about the history of Little Grove House. Shown above from this book is a map of 1808 showing the location of the house in Cumberland Gardens which in 1836 was known as Little Grove Walk. Roger states “ The house behind Walmer House and half way along Cumberland Gardens was-and still is-called Little Grove House. Whether the house clearly marked on the 1808 map is the same building as the present Little Grove House is another matter. In my opinion the present one was part of the Bedford Terrace development and so the old one was pulled down.” The original Little Grove House was a lodging house and was in two parts. In 1860 Little Grove House as home to a short lived venture called the Industrial Girl’s School and “in the 1880’s and 90’s it housed a veterinary practice under the veterinary surgeons Barton, Hollinham and Roberts” (Richard Roberts).

With respect to Richard Roberts, Roger Farthing provides some information on page 176 about a veterinary stables used by him. Shown opposite left is an advertisement dated 1875 which makes reference to the proposed sale of a Protestant Dissenting Chapel with “A Four-Stall Stable, harness room,capital coach house and other erections”. Shown opposite right is a photograph of Little Mount Sion by David Johnson in 1934. Of the stables Roger states that in addition to the chapel “ There were extensive premises in an undistinguished building,called ‘The Forge’, which stood until recently on the site of the old cottage and garden shown on the Tithe map between the Chapel and the Twitten leading from Sion Crescent into Frog Lane. This was presumably the garden and cottage adjoining, By 1875 the cottage and garden had disappeared and in their place was the ‘Forge’ building of recent memory, comprising the four-stall stable, harness room etc. There is a plan and elevation of this building in the Planning Records. The index shows ‘1870 Stephens, Stables…’ On the Johnson photo of Little Mount Sion Roger states that “where the little hooded car sticking its nose in there were four horse stalls with a harness room and corn bin at the bhack ; where ‘E. Powell’ is written over the doorway was the coach-house”.

[2] 8 YORK ROAD

In 1899 Richard was living at Little Grove House in Mount Sion but by the time of the 1901 census he and his family had taken up residence at 8 York Road. Many of the homes on York Road had been the work of local stonemason Jabez Scholes.

The former Congregational Church was built by Jabez Scholes on the north west corner of Mount Pleasant Road and York Road in 1845-1848. In 1866 the grand Tuscan temple portico was added to the church. The Lecture Hall was annexed to the York Road side at the same time. Jabez also started to build he terrace of 5 houses, the first buildings  in the intended road leading from the Tunbridge Wells Common to Mount Pleasant-now Nos 6-14 York Road. Shown opposite is a photograph of York Road by James Richards looking west with a partial view of the Congregational Church on the right.

[3] 8 CHURCH STREET 

Church street began under the name of Jordan Lane, after Jordan the Tunbridge Ware maker. With the construction of the Trinity Church (consecrated in 1829) it became known as Church Road.

As can be seen in the images in this section just west of Trinity Church on the north side was a row of lodging houses known as Dorset Place, Dorset Villa and Dorset House which when built had balconies with railings. Later in the history of these buildings the balconies and railings were removed. Shown above is a view of the church and the aforementioned lodging houses 1840.

In my article ‘ History of the Norfolk Hotel’ dated August 9,2012 I reported that the Norfolk Hotel was at 14 Church Road and had previously been known as Dorset House . It along with Dorset Villa (No. 8) and Dorset Place (10-12) were torn down in the 1960’s  to make way for The Telephone House which was built in 1965. Telephone House (photo below right) was in turn demolished February 2003 to make way for a new building called Hanover Place, which it found on the site today.










Shown below is the front and back of a photograph of 8 York Road, wrongly identified as Dorset Lodge 8 York Road. In fact, as confirmed by Chris Jones of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, it is actually a photograph of Richard Roberts home Dorset Villa at 8 Church Road. Note the interesting “drive through” to the rear of the home on the right hand side of the ground level floor that passed under the homes floors above. In the 1911 census, when the Rogers family lived at 8 Church Road, it was described as a home of 14 rooms. Richard Roberts died at the home in 1913.

 




 

 

QUEEN ANNE’S VISITS TO TUNBRIDGE WELLS

 

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: April 5,2018

INTRODUCTION 

Anne (1665 – 1714) was the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland between 8 March 1702 and 1 May 1707. Before becoming Queen she often visited Tunbridge Wells with members of her family and at times alone during the summer season particularly during the 1690’s.

Bishop Compton officiated at the wedding of Anne and George of Denmark on July 28,1683 in the Chapel Royal.Though it was an arranged marriage, they were faithful and devoted partners. Within months of the marriage, Anne was pregnant, but the baby was stillborn in May. Anne recovered at the spa town of Tunbridge Wells, and over the next two years, gave birth to two daughters in quick succession: Mary and Anne Sophia. On July 24,1689, Anne gave birth to a son, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, who, though ill, survived infancy and in 1698 the Duke of Gloucester and Anne were in Tunbridge Wells. During that visit the Duke fell on some uneven paving in the Pantiles while playing. Anne donated 100 pounds to fix the paving but on a return visit to the town in 1699 she found the work had not been undertaken. As a result she left the town never to return again.

In this article I provide some background information on the reign of Queen Anne followed by a concentration on her visits to Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is a painting of Princess Anne dated 1683.

THE QUEEN-AN OVERVIEW   

The following information is from the Wikipedia website. An image of Queen Anne is shown opposite.

Anne (6 February 1665 – 1 August 1714) was the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland between 8 March 1702 and 1 May 1707. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death.

Anne was born in the reign of her uncle Charles II, who had no legitimate children. Her father, James, was thus heir presumptive to the throne. His suspected Roman Catholicism was unpopular in England, and on Charles's instructions Anne and her elder sister, Mary, were raised as Anglicans. Three years after he succeeded Charles, James was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Anne's sister and Dutch Protestant brother-in-law and cousin William III of Orange became joint monarchs. Although the sisters had been close, disagreements over Anne's finances, status and choice of acquaintances arose shortly after Mary's accession and they became estranged. William and Mary had no children. After Mary's death in 1694, William reigned alone until his own death in 1702, when Anne succeeded him.

During her reign, Anne favoured moderate Tory politicians, who were more likely to share her Anglican religious views than their opponents, the Whigs. The Whigs grew more powerful during the course of the War of the Spanish Succession, until 1710 when Anne dismissed many of them from office. Her close friendship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, turned sour as the result of political differences. The Duchess took revenge in an unflattering description of the Queen in her memoirs, which was widely accepted by historians until Anne was re-assessed in the late 20th century.

Anne was plagued by ill health throughout her life, and from her thirties, she grew increasingly lame and obese. Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without surviving issue and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. Under the Act of Settlement 1701, which excluded all Catholics, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover, whose maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, was a daughter of James VI and I.

ANNE IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS   

Shown opposite is the front of a postcard (No. 78) by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn which was posted August 1913 . The caption on the card states that Anne stayed in the house shown in Little Mount Sion but does not identify the date she stayed there.

Roger Farthing in his book ‘A History of Mount Sion’ gave the following information. The first leases were signed in November 1684 for timber framed houses which began to rise, scattered over the Mount Sion hillside and up the edge of the Common and here and there to the east, to be clad with planks or hung with tiles. There was not attempt at grandeur. The houses had to be as large as possible to accommodate visitors at the peak of the season but they were built by local men using local methods, such as farmhouses were made.  The homes built by Philip Seale in 1689 and 1694  were the origins of the row of tile-hung,weather-boarded houses shown in the Camburn postcard. The Terrace was later known as Sion Crescent and Queen Anne’s Mansion. Shown below left is plate 141 from Farthings book with caption and to the right is a painting of Little Mount Sion from an early 20th century postcard the image of which was by the artist Francis and published by Photochrom of Tunbridge Wells.









 


Shown opposite from Roger Farthings book ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’ is a painting dated c1694 showing Anne with her son the Duke of Gloucester, who was the only one of Anne’s children to survive. When Anne and her son visited Tunbridge Wells in 1698 the boy fell while playing soldiers when he tripped over some uneven ground in the Walks (Pantiles). Anne gave 100 pounds to have the area paved but when she returned to the town the following year she found her generous donation and had been put to use for paving. Becoming irate Anne vowed to never set foot in the town again, which she never did. Eventually Anne’s instructions were obeyed and pantiles were used for paving. Only a few of the original pantiles remain today.

Further information about Anne and the Walks was presented by Roger Farthing for the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society in the Occasional Paper No. 3 (2014) which in part commented on the discovery in 1606 of the so called health giving water wells by Lord North and that since that time countless numbers of people flocked to the town to partake in its recuperative powers. By 1619 , the letter writer John Chamberlain tells us  the waters of Tunbridge Wells were frequented by “ many great persons” and it put Tunbridge Wells on the map. By 1632 the place was referred to as “The Queen’s Welles”. At that time there were no buildings at the Wells and the Royal family had to camp out in tents on the Commons.

In 1670, Charles II’s brother James, at that time Duke of York, was at the Wells, with his Duchess and their two daughters, the princesses Mary and Anne, soon both to be queens in their own right. The Duchess died in 1671 and, in 1673 James took a second wife, Mary of Modena. The couple came to the Wells in 1674 and again in 1687, this time as King and Queen.

Princess Anne of Denmark, later Queen Anne, is owed a special debt for the naming of Tunbridge Wells most famous historic feature, the Pantiles. She had visited the town before 1698 or many years as the town seemed to be a favourite spot for her to spend at least part of the summer season. Peltons 1896 guide refers to Gloucester Furnace located between Bayham and Lambershurst “so named from a visit payed to it by the Duke of Gloucester, son of Queen Anne while visiting Tunbridge Wells in 1698.

It is recorded that in 1696 Anne gave a basin to the spring in the Pantiles which long afterwards retained the name of the “Queens Well”.


TUNBRIDGE WELLS CORPORATION STAMPS

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: March 26,2018

INTRODUCTION 

The first British stamp was the penny black issued by the postal authority in 1840.  When stamps first appeared for use on the mail they were somewhat a novelty, and for some expensive, and since the time that stamps were introduced they were objects worthy of stealing. Many newspaper accounts can be found about thefts of money and other items which also included the theft of stamps. One might ask why would anyone bother to steal stamps. The answer, apart from their obvious use on the mail, is that they could be taken to the post office and turned in for cash, a practice which was later abolished or at least restricted to combat theft.

Other anti-theft measures were introduced in 1865 to combat the theft of stamps from government offices, local agencies and businesses, who wanted a way to prevent employees and others from stealing their stamps. The form in which the anti-theft measures took was the introduction in 1865 of “Precancelled stamps” which had upon them printed the name of the Government Department; the name of the town or business who had purchased the stamps from the postal authority for use on the mail. These stamps were purchased from the postal authority with the name already applied and bought at a discounted price for they not only provided some security from theft but also provided a saving to the postal authority in sorting the mail and having to cancel the stamps. For this reason examples of these stamps are found without a cancellation mark. Any unauthorized person found in possession of these precancelled stamps faced having to appear in court charged with theft. Shown later in this article is an example of a Precancelled 1912 1p red stamp issued in 1912 bearing the overprint “Tunbridge Wells Corporation”.  

A second anti-theft measure was the introduction in 1868 of stamps referred to by collectors as “Perfins” which like the precancelled stamps offered a saving in time and money to the postal authority in handling the mail. Britain was the first country to officially use perfins. These stamps did not have an overprint of the name of the department, or town or business, but instead had holes punched in them spelling out in abbreviations their name. Examples of this type of stamp is shown opposite.

Both forms of postage stamps were sold in sheets of 100 stamps. Private individuals could buy regular stamps (not percancelled or perfin types) at the local post office in any quantity and some came in booklets of 6 stamps.

Since postage stamps were first introduced they have been widely collected. My grandfather Francis Reginald Gilbert,who was born in Tunbridge Wells, collected British stamps before emigrating to Canada with his wife and children in 1923 and within his collection are many examples of used Precancelled and Perfin stamps of England, including the examples given in this article.

Stamps were once so highly prized that Tunbridge Ware Stamp boxes were made by most if not all of the local makers of Tunbridge Ware in which the stamps were kept. Dozens of different sizes and styles of these boxes can be found with most having on the front and image of a postage stamp. Shown above is an example of such a Tunbridge Ware stamp box .

THE PENNY RED STAMP   

Shown opposite, from my grandfather’s stamp collection, is a 1p red stamp showing the image of King George V, which stamps were first issued in 1911 upon his coronation. Along with the 1p red stamp was a 1/2p green stamp. Examples of them can be found with two types of watermarks (another form of security). In 1912 these two stamps were re-engraved with small differences in the image from the 1911 issue and came in three types of watermarks. The 1p red shown opposite is an example of the 1912 re-engraved issue and is listed in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue as numbers 341,345 and 350 depending on the stamps watermark type. What is significant about the stamp shown is the overprint on it of “ Tunbridge Wells Corporation” . It is a rare, although not particularly valuable stamp. Although both the 1/2p green and 1p red were issued with perforations around the perimeter some examples of them exist that were “unperforated” this way.

Shown below is a postcard view of the old town hall on Calverley Road from which this stamp would have been sent and to the right of it is a view of the town’s main post office and sorting station on Vale Road which would have received the envelope sent to my grandfather.










Those familiar with postage stamps will know that most of the stamps produced in 1912 were regular stamps bearing no precancel or perfin security measures and since precancels and perfin stamps were only provided to Government offices, towns and businesses, the number of them produced pales in comparison to the quantity of regular issues. What further makes them “rare” is that very few were ever saved by the person receiving them on the mail. Most were thrown away with the envelope. What makes the Tunbridge Wells precancel stamp even rarer is that Tunbridge Wells  is but one of hundreds of towns in England and so what is the chance of finding an example of a Tunbridge Wells stamp.-very little I suggest. It’s a shame my grandfather soaked the stamp off the envelope instead of keeping the entire envelope (referred to by collectors as “covers”).

A search on the internet for other examples of precancel and perfin stamps for the Tunbridge Wells Corporation or any other offices or businesses in the town did not turn up any results. This does not mean that no others exist of course and one would expect the Tunbridge Wells Corporation to have had precancel stamps produced for the ½ p green of 1912 and no doubt for stamps of other years.

Modern examples of British precancel and perfin stamps can still be found today although the introduction of metered mail has pretty much brought the practice to an end.

THE THEFT OF STAMPS

In the 19th and early 20th century postage stamps could be returned to the post office and exchanged for cash, making them a target for thieves.

The introduction of precancel and perfin stamps in 1865, for use by Governement offices, owns and businesses, helped to discourage the theft of these stamps by employees or others for they could not be exchanged for cash at the post office and if found in the possession of unauthorized individuals they identified the person as a thief, who faced charges, dismissal etc.

Many example of general mail theft can be found in newspaper archives but most of these thefts pertained to stealing cash from envelopes, postal money orders etc, but on occasion stamps were part of the thieves booty. Im most cases these thefts were undertaken by those working for the post office. An exhaustive search in these archives for stamp thefts in Tunbridge Wells was not undertaken but below are a few examples form the Kent & Sussex Courier.

The Courier of May 29,1909 reported on a theft by a Tunbridge Wells postman who took a letter containing 31 postage stamps.

The Courier of October 7,1904 reported that a Pembury postman was charged with the theft of postal orders and 6 penny stamps, the property of the H.M. Postmaster at Pembury.

The Courier of August 23,1912 reported that two boys were charged with theft of 17s in money, a half penny stamp, a French coin and other items.

The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish advertiser of May 8,1903 reported “ To check the theft of stamps payment will not be made to the public tendering them over the post office counter. Not less than 1 pound value in stamps will be taken and payment will be made by money order”. No doubt the person’s name and address was recorded when making the refund.

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