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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 caricature drawing dated 1815 of "Sailors drinking the Tunbridge Waters" in the Pantiles. This engraving is by the British caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827). In the late 18th and early 19th century Rowlandson and other artists perfected the caricature, mocking all elements of British Society. Sailors became a favourite subject often portraying Jack Tar with flush cheeks and a bulbous nose from imbibing in too much alcohol. In this image is depicted red-cheeked and bulbous nosed sailors perplexed by the taste of the Tunbridge Wells waters. Reputed for their intemperance, these sailors clearly would have preferred to imbibe more potent liquids than the salubrious non-alcoholic libation of Tunbridge Wells. Several examples of caricature drawings of Tunbridge Wells can be found such as one I showed not long ago in an article about Neddy Races  in which a group of society ladies are shown (in an unflattering way) riding donkeys on the Common. Since the 17th century when the so called health giving waters of the Pantiles were discovered and taken by residents and visitors to the town, all sorts of colourful characters gathered in the Pantiles to partake in entertainments and drink.


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.


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. Most of my relatives 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, born in Tunbridge Wells and her son born in Canada. 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.


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

Date; August 1,2017


Saul Rickwood was born 1851 in Wokingham,Berkshire, one of seven children born to bricklayer/ licensed victualler Seth Rickwood (1824-1875) and Mary Ann Rickwood, nee Houlton (1829-1892).

Saul had both an interesting and troubled life who initially followed his father into the bricklaying trade. He spent his early years in Wokingham where he attended school .

On November 4,1869 at Reading Berkshire, Saul married Matilda de Gray (1845-1918) and while living in Wokingham had their first child Ellen Matilda Rickwood (1870-1943). In 1872 his second child Alice Mary Rickwood (1872-1908) was born in Bermondsey, London.

At the time of the 1871 census, taken at The Bricklayers Arms on Rose Street, Wokingham, his father was both a bricklayer and licensed victualler of the pub.

In 1871 Saul began working as a porter with the L.B and South Coast Railway and was transferred to Tunbridge Wells soon after the birth of his daughter in 1872 to Tunbridge Wells where he worked for the same railway but as a “T/H. Driver”.

Between 1875 and 1882 Saul and his wife had five more children who were all born in Tunbridge Wells. The 1881 census, taken at 49 Cromwell Street off Bayhall Road near St Peter’s Church, recorded that Saul was working as a bill poster and was living in the 2 sty terrace house with his wife Matilda and six children.

By the time of the 1891 census, Saul and his wife and six children, plus one of his sisters and his widowed mother were living at 49 Mount Sion where Saul worked as a bill poster. By 1896 Saul and two of his sons went into business together. An advertisement for S. Rickwood & Sons as bill posters of 49 Mount Sion appeared in the 1896 Peltons guide.The Kelly’s directory of 1891 also listed Saul as a Town Crier and the family suggests that he also worked as an estate agent at that time. Shown opposite is a postcard view of Mount Sion by Judges.

Saul and his wife continued to live in Tunbridge Wells for some time.Due to the absence of a 1901 census record for him it was not determined where he was living at that time.

In the early 1900’s marital problems began to surface when his wife began to demonstrate mental problems and living together became intolerable. At the time of the 1911 census Saul was living alone as a boarder at 5 Alma Terrace in Chatham, Kent where he was working as a bill poster and his wife was working as a charwoman in Medway.

In July 1911 Saul had his wife incarcerated at the Barming Mental Hospital for he could not deal with her mood swings and drinking. Matilda had attempted suicide, compounding her husband’s concerns. Matilda came out of the hospital in 1916 and went to live near her son George in Rochester. Saul and his wife never reunited and Matilda never forgave him for having her incarcerated. Matilda led a sad life spending her remaining years in a workhouse and died at All Saints Hospital in Chatham from gangrene of the legs caused by alcoholism and was buried in a public grave in the Rochester Cemetery May 2,1918.

Saul later returned to Tunbridge Wells where he died on November 4,1926 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.


Saul Rickwood was born 1851 in Wokingham,Berkshire, one of seven children born to bricklayer/ licensed victualler Seth Rickwood (1824-1875) and Mary Ann Rickwood, nee Houlton (1829-1892). Sauls father never lived in Tunbridge Wells and died June 17,1875 at Wokingham. By the time of the 1891 census Saul’s mother had remarried and became Mary Ann Gilbert.She was recorded in the 1891 census as  a widow living in Tunbridge Wells  with her son Saul and his family at 49 Mount Sion.She died in Tunbridge Wells January 1892 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on January 12th.

The 1861 census, taken at Nonsuch Lane in Wokingham gave Seth Rickwood as a bricklayer born in Mildenhall, Suffolk. With him was his wife Mary Ann, born on Wokingham and five of their children, including a son Saul who was attending school. Shown above is a postcard view of the Wokingham railway station.

On November 4,1869 at Reading Berkshire, Saul married Matilda de Gray (1845-1918) and while living in Wokingham had their first child Ellen Matilda Rickwood (1870-1943). In 1872 his second child Alice Mary Rickwood (1872-1908) was born in Bermondsey, London.

The 1871 census, taken at The Bricklayers Arms pub on Rose Street in Wokingham recorded the presence of Seth Rickwood as a builder and licensed victualler of the pub. Seth was living  at the pub with his wife and four children including his son Paul (born 1853) who was working for his father as a bricklayer. Shown opposite left is the pub sign and to the right is a view circa 1900 of Rose Street. Rose Street was quite a thriving commercial district on which were several pubs and the Eagle Brewery from which Seth Rickwood obtained his ale. Those who have studied the history of this pub note that William May was its licensed victualler from 1830 to 1852 and that the only other known occupant of it was Seth Richards in 1871. All traces of the pub end after that date.

The 1871 census taken on Rose Street, Wokingham gave Matilda Rickwood as a bricklayers wife. With her was her daughter Ellen.

In 1871 , after the census,Saul began working as a porter with the L.B and South Coast Railway and was transferred to Tunbridge Wells soon after the birth of his daughter in 1872 to Tunbridge Wells where he worked for the same railway but as a “T/H. Driver”.


Saul Rickwood and his wife Matilda and two daughters moved to Tunbridge Wells in about 1872 where Saul initially worked as a “T/H. Driver” with the L.B and South Coast Railway. He operated out of the Tunbridge Wells West station. A photograph of the engine shed at this station is shown opposite.

The 1881 census, taken at 49 Cromwell Road in Tunbridge Wells gave Saul working as a bill poster. With him was his wife Matilda and his six children (1) Ellen (2) Alice Mary, who died in Tunbridge Wells February 9,1908 (3) George David (1875-1951) (4) Paul Frederick (1876-1940) (5) Charles William (1879-1915) (6) Victor Eugene (1880-1963).  Cromwell Road is located off Bayhall Road near Kingswood Road, east of St Peters Church. Their home (photo opposite) was much like the other 2 sty brick terrace homes on this road, most of which were finished in render.

The 1891 census, taken at 49 Mount Sion (photo below) gave Saul Rickwood as a bill poster. With him was his wife Matilda; his widowed mother Mary Ann, his spinster sister Martha,age 25, and his children George, Frederick,Charles,Victor, and Cyril, all of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells between 1875 and 1882.  In this census Saul’s sons George and Frederick were both posters and working for their father. It is also interesting to note that a 1891 Kelly directory listed Saul as a town crier. Although a photo of Saul was not found shown above is a photo of a town crier from the town of Tonbridge, wearing the typical uniform of a town crier. The town crier played an important role, one that dates back to ancient times, before the age of newspapers and the spread of news by the media. He would announce to the public important news. Today town criers play more of a ceremonial role but Tunbridge Wells still has one. Bill posters played a similar role in that they placed printed announcements of important news and events about the town.

Shown opposite from Peltons 1896 guide is an advertisement for Saul’s business operating at that time as S. Rickwood & Sons as bill posters from their home at 49 Mount Sion.

As no 1901 census record for Saul was found it was not determined where he was living but most likely she was still in Tunbridge Wells working as a town crier and bill poster.


The 1911 census, taken at 5 Alma Terrace in Chatham, Kent gave Saul Rickwood as married and living as a boarder. He was still working as a bill poster at that time. He and his wife had since the early 1900’s experienced marital problems due to her mental problems, mood swings and excessive consumption of alcohol. As a result they were living apart.

In July 1911, a Chatham, Saul had his wife Matilda incarcerated in the Barming Mental Hospital ( photo opposite) as he could not deal with her mood swings and drinking. She remained in the hospital until 1916 and after her release she and Saul never lived together again. At the time of the 1911 census Matilda was living at Medway and working as a charwoman. The register of patients cases, found in the Kent Archives, stated that Matilda had stabbed herself in the neck and tried to down herself in a bath of water.  Matilda kept going to the poor house both before and after her time atg the Balming Mental Hospital. When she was discharged from the Balming Hospital her diagnosis was given as Acute Meloncholia and depression (now called Bipolar) and also intemperate due to alcohol. When she was discharged she went to live near her son George and was living in lodgings.

Matilda died April 28,1918 in Chatham, Kent at the All Saints Hospital on Magpie Hall Road (photo opposte). This hospital began as the Medway Union Workhouse and closed as a hospital in 1999.  The cause of death given was “Gangarene of the legs due to alcoholism. She was buried in a public grave (N 168) in the Rochester Cemetery in the St Margaret section.

Near the end of his life Saul Rickwood returned to Tunbridge Wells and died  in the town on November 4,1926. He was buried November 8th in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery (section C14 grave 605).



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

Date: July 16,2017


The history of this building began back in 1928 when the site was purchased by the Christian Science Church. In 1929 local architect Cecil Burns(1882-1969) was hired by the Christian Science Church to design a new church for them at 157 St John’s Road. A model of the building was shown by Cecil Burns at an Arts and Crafts Exhibition held in Tunbridge Wells in October 1929.  The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 27,1931 announced in part that "work has commenced on the church"...and that the builder was " Messrs Punnett and Sons of Tonbridge". The Courier of August 14,1931 reported in part that the building was expected to be completed in the autumn of 1931.

The building was the first of its kind in the town being circular in shape and of modern architectural style. Shown above is a photograph of the building, when it was a church, by local photographer Sydney Kenneth Lazell (1909-1981). My article entitled ‘ Sydney Kenneth Lazell-The Photographer’ dated June 14,2017 was posted to my website August 2017 and describes the interesting life and career of Mr Lazell. Much of his work was centered around medical photography and had worked for the Kent & Sussex Hospital and the Kent & Sussex Courier. In addition to that work he also was active in the town taking various views of buildings etc , most notably in the 1950’s.

Construction of the building began in the spring of 1931 and by the end of May that year construction was well underway. A few workmen were injured during the buildings construction, including William Daniels of Grosvenor Road when a hoist from which he was working collapsed and he had to be taken to hospital. By the end of 1931 the building was complete and the Church held their first service. The Christian Science Church was a rapidly expanding word-wide religious movement founded by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) in the latter half of the 19th century. She was an American spiritual pioneer whose work encompassed the disciplines of science, theology and medicine.

The building continued to be a Christian Science Church until 1959 when it was sold and the congregation moved to a new church, called “First Church of Christ, Scientist”; of some 2,748 sf in size, in Linden Park Road behind the Pantiles, where they remained until the building was recently sold by estate agents Bracketts.

In 1959 the former church on St John’s Road became the offices of the Hospital Service Plan, a private health insurance plan company. This company began in 1940 as the London Association for Hospital Services Incorporated (LAHS) and operated at that time under the trading name of “Hospital Service Plan”. By 1943 they provided coverage to 3,100 members in and around London. In 1948 the NHS was founded which provided some challenges to the company but in 1950 they extended coverage to some 22,000 members throughout England. In 1962, with some 100,000 subscriptions, they changed their name to the Private Patients Plan (PPP) and by 1970 had 367,000 members. By 1990 membership had grown to 1,790,000 and has continued to grow since then.

In 1975 the building was taken over by the Freight Transport Association and re-opened as “Hermes House” by the Minister of Transport on November 25th of that year. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) based in Tunbridge Wells, is one of the largest trade associations in the UK, with members moving goods by road, rail,sea, and air. Its mission is to represent the views and interests of over 13,000 companies from the transport industry. They have many interests and roles in the industry not the least of which is to provide members with services that help them to operate safely, efficiently and in an environmentally sustainable way.  What better name for their building than Hermes House, as Hermes, from Greek mythology, is a god associated with speed and good luck, two things of great importance in the transportation industry.

In 1977 Planning Authority approval was granted to the Freight Transport Association for the demolition of a building at 155 St Johns Road and the construction of a large office building at that address which was linked by way of an extension to Hermes House. The design plans for this new structure were the work of architects Burns, Guthrie & Partners of 11 Calverley Road. A book states that Sir Patrick Mayhew opened an imposing extension to the building on July 10,1987 but it is the researchers opinion that the date given in the book should have been 1977 rather than 1987. Since that time the address of the Freight Transport Association has been 155-157 St John’s Road, who in 2017 still occupy the site. Other views of the building are given later in this article, along with a site plan and further details of the building architect and its occupants


The initial building for the Christian Science Church was constructed at 157 St John’s Road on a site on the west side of the road just north of its intersection with E Cliff Road. The site had been purchased by the church in October 1928 according to an article in the Kent & Sussex Courier of February 27,1931.The building was designed by local architect Cecil Burns (later Burns, Guthrie & Partners) who had been hired by the church in 1929 and the builder hired to construct it was Messrs Punnett and Sons of Tonbridge.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 18,1929 reported on an Arts and Crafts Exhibition that had opened in Tunbridge Wells and in part stated “A model of the proposed new Christian Science Church in Tunbridge Wells was shown by Mr. Cecil Burns, who also exhibited drawings for two private houses”.

Richard Cobb, in his book ‘Still Life; Sketches from a Tunbridge Wells Childhood’ (2009) referring to the 1940’s stated that to him “ the church looked like an ice-rink”. It certainly was unique or original in design and of a style, that up to that time at least ,was not one normally associated with a church.

It was not until the spring of 1931 however that construction of the building began. The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 27,1931 reported “ Christian Science Church-Work had commenced on the new First Church of Christ Scientist site in St. John’s Road, which site was acquired by the church in October 1928. The building will include a Sunday School and will be of reinforce concrete. The plans have been prepared by Mr Cecil Burns, and Messrs Punnett and Sons, Tonbridge, are the builders".

The building itself was a rather novel one for the town and was the first “round” building to be built in the towns history. The building employed an exposed concrete frame, an open arcade along the front, and attractive concrete tracery in the two main windows on the front elevation headed by segmental arches. The arcade along with the tracery were lost when a Planning Authority application for new windows was approved in 1976. As can be seen in the photograph presented in the ‘Overview’ the building was of modern architectural style and quite unique, but typical of the style of architecture promoted and carried on by Cecil Burns in such buildings as the Kent & Sussex Hospital.  Given in this section is a modern photograph of the building taken in the 21st century from which can be seen the colour and type of materials employed in its construction.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 14,1931 gave the following report."Church Building-That fast expanding organization, known as the Christian Science Church, a movement which has branches all over the world, and which for some time past has found it necessary to build a new Church every week, is now in the process of building a permanent Church at St John's,Tunbridge Wells, to supplant their present temporary building at Little Mount Sion. The new church, which is on the main road, si somewhat unique in design. Mr Cecil Burns is the architect, and the plans approved by the members specify a circular building made almost entirely of reinforced concrete. Standing well back from the road, provision is made for ample car-parking space. Around the building is a sort of verandah with a canopy, and the entrances are at the sides. The seats are in raised tiers, and there is a balcony round the top. The roof is domed and the windows arranged to reflect the light without glare. The reader's desks, which correspond to the pulpit in an ordinary church, are really in the centre of a semi-circle. A noticeable feature in this church, as well as in others of this organization, is the provision of an assembly hall. This portion is used by the congregation as a meeting place. Branching off from this, are retiring rooms and offices for the officials, cloak rooms and lavatories for the congregation and numerous class-rooms for the Sunday school scholars. A refreshing feature is that no bazaars or other means of raising outside help is allowed. All the members, as well as regular attendants, recognise that it is their duty and privilege to provide the necessary funds. The Church is being built to provide room for a congregation of 350 people, and will be ready for occupation in the late autumn".

A review of Planning Authority records from 1975 onwards provided the site plan shown opposite dated from the year 2007. On this plan one can see the original circular building on the right, which was set towards the rear of the site to permit a large parking area in front. The plan also shows an office building connected to it to the left (south). Planning Authority approval was granted in November 1977 for “Demolition of single sty building and 155 St John’s Road, and the erection of replacement offices”. The applicant was the Freight Transport Association and the architect hired to design the building extension was Burns, Guthrie & Partners of 11 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells. A discrepancy exists regarding the timing of this extension for it was noted in the book ‘Tunbridge Wells in Old Photographs ‘ Vol 2 pg 156, that “ Sir Patrick Mayhew opened an imposing extension to the building July 10,1987. It was interesting to note that there was no planning application for this work in or anywhere near 1987 perhaps suggesting that the date in the book should have been 1977. Since that time the address of the Freight Transport Association, who today still occupy the building(s) is 155-157 St John’s Road.

As noted above ,in August 1976 approval had been given by the Planning Authority to the Freight Transport Association to replace the windows on the front of the circular building, which they had named ‘Hermes House’ after the god of Greet mythology ‘Hermes’ who was associated with speed and good luck. This work resulted in the loss of the ornate arcade and window tracery.

A number of applications for Planning Authority approval were found from 1976 up to 2007 for window replacements, entrance gate signs, air conditioning and other relatively minor items. Certainly when the Freight Transport Association took over the church in 1975 it would have been necessary to make internal alterations to the building to convert it into office use, but no online details in this regard were found. Similarly, when the building came into use in 1959 by the Hospital Service Plan, interior alterations to the building would have been undertaken. No online information in this regard was available for viewing. For anyone interested in obtaining information about any pre 1975 work a trip to the Planning Authority would be necessary to examine their files.


On July 14,2015 I wrote an article entitled ‘ Cecil Leonard Burns-A Tunbridge Wells Architect’ which described the life and career of the noted local architect Cecil Burns (1882-1969). Since this article has been posted to my website (for the first time) below the Hermes House article I provide no information about him here, apart from what has already been given about him in the previous sections of this article.


The first occupant of the building was the Christian Science Church who had this new building constructed for them to the design of Tunbridge Wells architect Cecil Burns. The churches board had hired Cecil Burns in 1929 to design the building for them. Construction of the building began in the spring of 1931 and was completed by the end of that year in time for the churches first service. The Kent & Sussex Courier of May 29,1931 reported “ William Daniels, of Grosvenor Road, was injured when a hoist in which he was working on the building of the new Christian Science Church in St John’s Road collapsed on Tuesday” He was taken to hospital for treatment of his injuries. The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 27,1931 reported that construction of the church had commenced and the Courier of August 14,1931 reported that construction of the building was still underway.

The church continued to occupy the building until 1959 when in that year it was sold and became the offices of the Hospital Plan Service (later renamed Private Patients Plan). Upon the sale of the building in 1959 the church moved to new premises built for them in Linden Park Road.

The HPS/PPP continued to occupy the building until 1975 when it was sold to the Freight Transport Association, who later enlarged the building and still occupy it in 2017.

Given below is some information about all three occupants.


The Christian Science religious movement was one which was founded by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) (photo opposite). This was a new religious movement that began in the United States in the latter half of the 19th century. Eddy wrote the4 movement’s ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures’ (first published in 1875) and founded the Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879. She also founded the Christian Science Publishing Society in 1898, which continues to publish a number of periodicals including The Christian Science Monitor (founded in 1908).

Eddy had been born July 16,1821 in a farmhouse in Bow, New Hampshire to farmer Mark Baker and his wife Abigail Barnard Baker, nee Ambrose and was the youngest of six children. After a long and interesting life, which is well described on the Wikipedia website, she died of pneumonia on the evening of December 3,1910 at her home at 400 Beacon Street, Massachusetts.

The Christian Science movement expanded rapidly around the world. Currently there are almost 1,700 Christian Science Churches in 76 countries. The book she wrote , that I referred to above, had been a best seller for decades and was selected as one of the “75 Books by Women Whose Words Have Changed the World” by the Women’s National Book Association. In 1995 Eddy was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2002 the Mary Baker Library opened its doors and in 1921 on the 100th anniversary of her birth, a 100 ton pyramid with 121 sf footprint was dedicated on the site of her birthplace. For reasons unknown to me this monument was dynamited in 1962 by order of the church’s board of directors. Also demolished was her former home in Pleasant View, as the board feared that it was becoming a place of pilgrimage.

A review of articles in the Kent & Sussex Courier  show that on September 27,1929 a Christian Science Lecture on “Christian Science and its Collective Healing effects” was given at the Pump Room (photo opposite) under the auspices of the Christian Science Parent Church by Sir Henry Rapp, a member of the Board of Lectureship”. Several other Christian Science lectures were held at the Pump Room and reported on in the newspaper up to at least 1931.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 14,1931 reported “ Church Building-That fast expanding organization known as the Christian Science Church, a movement which has branches all over the world, and which for some time past has found it necessary to build a new church every week, is now building in Tunbridge Wells”.

In 1959 the Christian Science Church sold their building on St John’s Road to the Health Services Plan, a private health insurance plan company who converted the building into office use.

Upon the sale of the their building the church moved into a newly constructed building in Linden Park Road, behind the Pantiles. A photo of this building is shown opposite. This building was recently sold as reported by the estate agents Brackett’s. They described the building having a floor area of about 2,748 sf and that this freehold building was arranged over ground and lower ground floors with a reception, entrance hall and main hall with gardens to the side and rear. The lower ground floor is accessible by an internal staircase with direct access off the garden and has a reception, main hall, office, kitchen and WC’s. Altogether it was valued at 500,000 pounds.


In 1959 this private health insurance company purchased and took occupancy of the building and made alterations to it to facilitate its use as office space.

This company began in 1940 as the London Association of Hospital Services Incorporated (LAHS) but their trading name was ‘Hospital Service Plan. The average weekly subscription for a single person at that time was a shilling. By 1943 it had 3,100 members in and around London.

When the NHS was founded in 1948 it posed some challenges for the company. In 1950 the LAHS extended coverage to the rest of England insuring 22,000 members. By 1960 its members had reached 121,000.

In 1962 as subscriptions reached over 100,000 the LAHS changed its name to the Private Pensions Plan (PPP) and by 1970 had 367,000 members.

In 1971 the company continued to trade as PPP but changed the company name from LAHS to Provident Association fo Medical Care Limited and in 1975 set up a charity to support the development of charitable hospitals and medical research.

Over the years they made changes to the services and plans offered its member. By 1980 it had 689,000 members and by1990 its membership had grown to 1,790,000 and has steadily grown since then.

In 1975 they sold the building to the Freight Transport Association.


This organization purchased the building from the PPP in 1975 and undertook internal alterations to the building to meet their needs.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is headquartered in Tunbridge Wells and is one of the largest trade associations in the UK, with members moving goods by road, rail,sea and air. Its mission is to represent the views and interests of over 13,000 companies from the transport industry; from large multinationals and household names to small and medium businesses.

The FTA also proves members with services that help them to operate safely, efficiently and in an environmentally sustainable way.  It is no wonder with this mandate that the FTA gave the name “Hermes House” to their premises, for Hermes in Greek mythology is the god of speed and good luck, two important aspects of the transport industry.

This association has its roots following the 1888 Railway and Canal Traffic Act which led in July 1889 to the creation of an organization called the Mansion House Association on Railway Rates. The arrival of the internal combustion engine led to the formation in 1904 of the Motor Van and Wagon Users Association which changed its name to the Commercial Motor Users Union in 1907,. In 1921 the third and final segment of the FTA was formed- the Traders Co-ordinating Committee on Transport.

Over the years the names and roles of the related organizations changed and in in 1964 the united under the name of the Freight Transport Association.

As noted under the heading of “Location and Description’ the FDA found it necessary in 1977 to expand their offices by taking over a building at 155 St John’s Road (next to Hermes House). They had the building demolished an a large building constructed on the site to the design of local architects Burns, Guthrie & Partners, which building was connected to the original Hermes House, as can be seen in the site plan given earlier. A photo of this large office extension is shown above.



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

Date: July 14,2015

Cecil Leonard Burns was born 1882 at Epsom,Surrey and was one of three children born to Leonard Balfour Burns(1855-1944) and Matilda Jane Dark (1857-1932). His father seems to have been  a man of independent means for in 1891. when Cecil was living with his parents and sister Maud at 8 Oakhall Road . St Leonards, London, Cecil’s father was only age 36 and ‘living on own means’. His father had been born 1855 at Marylebone London and his mother in 1857 at the same location. The 1881 census, taken at Sutton,Surrey records Leonard B Burns as ‘secretary land .

On November 17,1905 Cecil married Clementina Strong at St James parish in Tunbridge Wells but the marriage was not registered until the July qtr of 1907. Clementina had been baptised August 29,1879 at Norwood Christ Church and was the daughter of Leonard, a gentleman,  and Dorothea Strong. By the time of the marriage her father was deceased. The 1881 census, taken at 12 St James Road,Tunbridge Wells records Clementina living with her widowed mother Dorothea and three servants. The 1891 census records Clementina and her mother, and two servants living at 14 St James Road. The 1901 census, taken at 32 Queens Road, Tunbridge Wells, records Clementina living with her widowed mother and four servants. Both Clementina and her mother in 1901 were living ‘on own means’ from the money left by Leonard Strong’s estate.

After Cecil married Clementina they took up residence in Camden Park. The 1911 census, taken at “Camster” Camden Park records Dorothea Strong, age 69, born 1842 at Lybster, Caithneisshire, as the head of the household. Living with her was her daughter Clementina Burns and her son-in-law Cecil Leonard Burns, age 28, and architect. Also living in this 18 room home were four servants.

John Cunningham, in his book entitled “The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells”,published in 2004 makes reference to Cecil Burns residence “Camster” on page 31. He states “ If one enters Camden Park by the northern lodge, there is on the left the fine view of “Camster”, which has a long drive and lawn leading to it. Camster, set well back behind a light screen of trees, looks like an illustration by Randolph Caldecott.Designed in the Wren tradition, it was built for Mrs Strong”.. ( this is Dorothea Strong, the mother in law of Cecil Leonard Burns)..” in 1905 and is the earliest known work by the eminent local architect,Cecil Burns. Burns was born in 1882 and went to Tonbridge School. He then worked in the office of Sir Reginald Blomfield before setting up in practice on his own account in Tunbridge Wells, which he continued for some 60 years; he died in 1969. His buildings include the neo-Georgian Tunbridge Wells and Counties Club  40 London Road(1909),Hermes House, St John’s Road (now the offices of the Freight Transport Association, but built as a Christian Science Church, 1931), the Kent and Sussex Hospital (1934)addition to Hermes House 155-157 St Johns Road (1977) for the Freight Transport Association as Burns, Guthrie & Partners of 11 Calverley Road. In 1945 he contributed largely to a report published by the Civic Association,suggesting future plans for the town. In 1959 he was a founder member of the “59” society, forerunner of the Civic Society…”  For further details about Camden Park and other parks in Tunbridge Wells I would suggest obtaining a copy of John’s book for it is a very interesting read. Shown opposite is a drawing showing what “Camster” looked like, as presented in John’s book. Above it is a winter view of the entrance gates and posts on which the house name is shown. Shown below left is a view of the building at 40 London Road and to the right is a view of the Kent & Sussex Hospital.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 18,1929 gave a report on an Arts and Crafts Exhibition that opened in Tunbridge Wells , at which exhibition Cecil Burns showed a model he had built for the proposed Christian Science Church on St John’s Road, along  with plans for two private houses. Cecil designed several homes in the town but details about them all are lacking.

In addition to the buildings listed above Cecil did work on St Paul’s Church Rusthall in 1947. There is also a record of an architect named Cecil Burns F.R.I.B.A who served in WW 1,and who while convalescing in Falmouth from wounds he sustained in the war Cecil drew up plans for “the Point”, a 1920’s villa built on the headland at the very end of the village.This building was constructed in 1927.Unfortunately his military records are among those destroyed and as a consequence the researcher was unable to determine if that gentleman was Cecil Leonard Burns.Several websites report on this building and describe the architect as either the “well-known “ or the “renounded” architect.

In July 1940 Cecil Leonard Burns did the design for the emergency wards of the Holden Hospital in Banbury. He also designed St Andrew’s Church ,in 1953, at Paddock Wood, which was a replacement for  its predecessor of 1860 that had been bombed.This church was described as being “Gothic in style but without historical precedent”.

Other projects by Burns was a house in Church Street, Hartfield, East Sussex(1929);The Tunbridge Wells Technical School for Boys (1965), which was a collaborative effort between Cecil Burns and Guthrie  and Edward Terence Ashley-Smith.Also by Burns was the Kent & Canterbury Hospital (1937).Another of his projects was the nurses home (now known as Burslem House) in Tunbridge Wells that was situated north of the Kent & Sussex Hospital built in 1932. Both the hospital and the nurses home were built the same year. The nurses home provided 100 bedrooms, 7 sitting rooms and a library and in 1938-9 was extended from the design of Cecil Burns with an addition.

The architectural firm of Burns Guthrie & partners was established in 1909 in Tunbridge Wells by Cecil Burns,F.R.I.B.A. On Cecil’s retirement from the company in 1965 the practice was restyled as Burns, Guthrie and Partners. This company is still in operation in the town and according to their website they carry out projects throughout Kent, Sussex and South London with premises at 11 Calverley Park.

Architect James Frederick Hampton, served in WW 1 until March 1919. Three months later he joined Alexander Ross & son of Inverness as an assistant but after six months moved to Bury St Edmunds to work for the practice of Hunt & Coates. In 1920 he moved to Tunbridge Wells and worked in the office of Cecil Burns and was admitted ARIBA in 1922. Charles Hilbert Strange was one of the gentlemen who proposed him for admission. James worked for Cecil from 1920 to 1921 as an assistant and then started his own practice in or near Paddock Wood, Kent and had a fine career.

Cecil Burns is found in directories of 1920-1933 as an architect at Andrew Bank Colemans Hatch,Sussex and therefore one must conclude that he had a branch office there while also operating in Tunbridge Wells (note the same location in the probate record below). Tunbridge Wells directories of 1947 to 1964 record Cecil as an architect at 11 Calverley Park (private residence) and at Stone Lodge on Vale Avenue. Cecil and his wife had a son B.J. Burns who is listed in directories of the 1950’s and 1960’s as” B. J. Burns, ARIBA, 5 Banner Farm Road,Tunbridge Wells.

The probate record for Clementina Burns of Andrew Bank Colemans Hatch,Sussex, “single woman”, died December 28,1954 at St Agnes Nursing Home,Garland Road, East Grinstead,Sussex. Probate was to Cecil Leonard Burns, architect, Ursula Margaret Lawson Cambell, married woman. She left an estate valued at about 53,000 pounds.

The reference to Clementina as a “single woman” is an interesting one . There is a marriage record for a Cecil L Burns for the 4th qtr of 1935 at Holborn,Middlesex to Lynette Elizabeth Tewson, who most likely is the second wife of Cecil indicating that he had divorced Clementina and thus the “single woman’ status in her probate record. Lynette Elizabeth Tewson was one of several children born to Edward Arthur Tewson, a surveyor, born 1857, and Fides Tewson,born 1859.The 1911 census, taken at 14 Molyneux Park records Lynette ,born 1893 at West ham, Essex, living with her parents and siblings in a grand 11 room home along with two servants.

The death of Cecil Leonard Burns was registered in the 2nd qtr of 1969 in the Tonbridge District. It is not known by the researcher where he was buried but there is no record for him in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.



Written By: Edward James Gilbert

Date:  April 8,2015


Camster is a red brick 2 sty residence located down the end of a long drive at the east end of Camden Park, south of the north entrance gate. It was designed by local architect Cecil Leonard Burns(1882-1969) and constructed for his mother in law Mrs Dorothea Strong (1841-1926) in 1905. It was Mrs Strong , who had been born in Caithness, Scotland who gave the residence the name Camster after a place in her homeland called Camster Burn in Caithness,located in the Highland region of Scotland.

Mrs Strong was a widow ,who lost her husband Leonard Strong (1833-1879), just after the birth of her only child Clementina Strong, who had been born in 1879. After the marriage of Cecil Leonard Burns to Clementina Strong in 1905 he and his wife lived with Dorothea at Camster.

The house itself was a grand home of interesting style, and of significant architectural merit, although it has not been listed by English Heritage. Access to the property is by way of a long driveway extending south off of Camden Park Road, which entrance is guarded by a pair of gate posts and a wrought iron gate. The grounds are very extensive and have been nicely landscaped.

When Cecil Burns and his wife left Camster is not known but it is likely they continued to live there with Dorothea for at least a few years after the marriage.

Dorothea Strong is found living at Camster at the time of the 1924 directory but probate records show she was of The Norfolk Hotel on Church Road in Tunbridge Wells at the time of her death in 1926. It is known that Camster and its contents were sold in 1924

Records for 1925 to 1934 show that Camster was the home of James Arthur Fraser Henderson . Mr Henderson then  moved from Camster to take up residence at Wavertree, No. 2 Camden Park.

In the years of at least 1936 and 1937 Camster was the home of H.W. Souther. He was followed by the Hutchinsons in 1938 and then by Robert H. Henderson in the 1940’s. From at least 1952 to 1975, and perhaps since the end of WW II  it was the home of the Maurice Drake-Lee family. After the Lee family to the early 1980’s it was the residence of B.H. Mott.  Since 1999 Alistair and Jenny Cook lived there and still lived there in July 2017.

This article reports on the history of Camster and some of its noteworthy occupants over the years.


Shown opposite is a 1909 os map showing the location of Camden Park and the homes in it. The location of Camster on the map is given in light orange just below the label “Park” at the end of a long driveway leading south off of Camden Park Road. Access to the site is also available from the road to the south of the residence that leads west from Forest Road  past the eastern entrance lodge of Camden Park.  Not shown on this map, but shown on later maps, is Camster Cottage located on the plot of ground on the 1909 map at # 644, just east of Camster. Camster was designed by local architect Cecil Leonard Burns and constructed in 1905. Who built the residence was not determined. The 1911 census recorded that the house had 18 rooms, and it is known from other records ,sketches and photographs that it was a 2 sty red brick home with tiled  pitched roof of an interesting architectural style, with large windows, the frames of which were painted white.

John Cunningham, in his book entitled “The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells”,published in 2004 makes reference to Cecil Burns residence “Camster” on page 31. He states “ If one enters Camden Park by the northern lodge, there is on the left the fine view of “Camster”, which has a long drive and lawn leading to it. Camster, set well back behind a light screen of trees, looks like an illustration by Randolph Caldecott.Designed in the Wren tradition, it was built for Mrs Strong in 1905 and is the earliest known work by the eminent local architect,Cecil Burns”.

The records of the Planning Authority, which can be seen online, first mention an application that was approved in 1975 for the construction of a dwelling with a garage on land adjacent to Camster. The applicant was Mr M.B. Drake-Lee, who at that time owned Camster and also the land abutting it to the east. Later in  1975 the same applicant changed the proposed work and requested permission to construct two dwellings each with a double garage, but this request was not approved. Then in 1978 the same applicant requested approval for renewal of the first 1975 application for a single home with a garage, which request was approved. Further application pertaining to this site were made and approved in 1991 and 1993.What resulted from this protracted process was the construction of a residence known as “Camster Cottage” in about 1993. Shown above is an enlarged site map for the home from the year 2000. 

In 1999 approval was given for the construction of a 1 sty orangry extension. The applicant at that time was  Mr & Mrs Cook who owned Camster. The firm of Glass Houses Ltd of London supplied the design and were hired by the owners to construct the orangry, which was built with glass, hardwood timers, brickwork and render. The brick used was “Imperial Red Brick” to resemble the red brick on the main house.Shown opposite is a partial view of the exterior of Camster. In colour this image shows the house exterior in red brick, a tiled roof, with windows finished in white. Not all of the buildings shown on the year 2000 site plan are original to the home, but details about them are not found on the Planning Authority records online and were no doubt additions made to the site prior to 1975 and no doubt, in the early 20th century.

In 2000 a controversial application was made by Dr. A.J. Cook, the owner of Camster for the construction of a hard surface tennis court with a 2.75m high enclosure in green chainlink fencing. The location of the proposed tennis court is highlighted in green on the site map opposite. What made this application so controversial was the fact that the applicant wanted to construct the tennis court on land he did not own, but rather in the northern part of the parks meadow to the west of his residence. The request, as one would expect, was strongly objected to, including  the Camden Park Residents Association. In the end permission for the proposed work was refused.  Another application by Mr Cook in the year 2000 for an extension was approved, but no details of what this work was about was given.

In 2002 approval was given for a request made by Dr. & Mrs Cook to use part of Camster Cottage as an examination room for patients.


Given in this section is a summary of the known occupants/owners of Camster covering the period of 1905, when it was built, up to the 21st century.It  is based on a review of genealogical records, local directories and Planning Authority records and since records for every year in the study period were not available to the researcher it should not be considered a complete list. All ranges of dates are approximate, but include known dates of occupancy.

1905-1906………..Mrs Dorothea Strong

1907-1915………..Mrs Dorothea Strong/ Cecil Leoanard Burns and wife

1916-1924…………Mrs Dorothea Strong

1925-1935……….. James Arthur Fraser Henderson

1936-1937………… H.W. Soutter

1938-1949………… Robert H. Hutchinson

1952-1978………… A.E & M.B Drake-Lee (possibly there since the end of WWII

1979-1981………… B.H. Mott

1999-2017………….Dr. Alastair J. Cook  and wife Jenny

[1] MRS DOROTHEA STRONG (1841-1926)    

Dorothea Strong,nee Sinclair, had been born September 2,1841 at Caithness,Scotland, located in the Highland region of Scotland. She was baptised September 20,1841 at Latheron,Caithness,Scotland and was the daughter of William Sinclair and Elizabeth Sinclair, nee Mowat.Shown opposite is a postcard view of the village of Lybster on the east coast of Caithness in northern Scotland. The view is of the harbour and at one time was a big herring fishing port.

The 1851 census, taken in Caithness gave William Strong born 1806. With him was his wife Elizaeth,age 43 and five of their children including Dorothea. Also in the home was William Sinclair;s 83 year old mother Ann. Dorothea at that time was attending school.

The 1861 census, taken at Smarlie, Latheron, Caithness, Scotland gave William Strong with his wife Elizabeth and four of their children, including Dorothea age 19.

It appears that by 1871 Dorothea had left the family home and moved to England for in the 4th qtr of 1877 she married Leonard Strong at Carlisle, Cumberland.

Leonard Strong (1833-1879) was born in Limpsfield, Surrey. He was baptised November 5,1833 at Limpsfield , St Peter, Surrey and recorded as the son of Rev. Clement Strong(1790-1852) and Catherine Bridget Strong, nee Biscoe (1793-1852). Clement had been born September 28,1790 at St Mary Le Bow, London and died April 15,1852 at Bromley, Kent. Catherine Bridge Strong was born July 22,1793 at Limpsfield, Surrey and died November 18,1875 at Bromley, Kent. At the time of the 1851 census Leonard was given as age 17, a scholar. Leonard was living with his parents and his sister Frances Sophia Strong (born 1832) and 7 servants at Hair Hatch House. Clement’s occupation was given as “clergyman without care of souls”. The 1861 census, taken at Hayes, Kent, gave Leonard’s occupation as “fund holder” and at that time he was living with his widowed mother, a fundholder and his sister Clare Bridget Strong (1826-1888). Also there was a 14 year old grandson of Catherines (M.G. Davison) and seven servants. It is obvious from the census records that Leonard’s family was well off financially. Leonard’s father Clement was a well -educated gentleman . The records of Cambridge University for Clement show he was “admitted to St John’s College July 7,1812 and given as the 2nd son of Clement Samuel Strong (1740-1827)of Limpsfield, Surrey and Anne(1749-1839), the daughter of Robert Strathfield, esq. Clement took Civil Law classes achieving first class 1815-1816; LL.B. 1819 and admitted at Lincoln’s Inn June 29,1809. He was ordained priest (Chester, Litt. dim. From Chichester )April 14,1816. (Sinecure) R. of Gedney, Lincs., 1824-1852. Married April 30,1816, Catherine Bridget, daughter of Vincent Hilton Briscoe, esq., of Hoodwood, Surrey. Died April 16,1852, aged 62, at Hayes Common, near Bromley, Kent”.Clement appears to have had just one sibling, namely Rev. Thomas Linwood Strong (1786-1865).

Probate records for Catherine Bridget Strong gave her as a widow and late of Hayes, Kent when she died November 18,1870 at Hayes, Kent. The executors of her over 40,000 pound estate was Rev. Robert Biscoe Tritton of Otford near Sevenoaks, Kent and her son Leonard Strong, esq. of Hayes, Kent.

In the 4th qtr of 1877 Leonard Strong married Dorothea Sinclair. According to Electoral records Leonard Strong was at 25 Hyde Park Place , St George Hanover Square throughout the period of 1873 to 1878. Details about Leonard’s education was not determined but he no doubt graduated from university. Coming from a wealthy family he had no need to work and census records gave his occupation as “fund holder”, suggesting he was a man if independent financial means having inherited from the substantial estates of his parents.

Dorothea and her husband Leonard Strong lived most of their lives in Hyde Park, London and Scotland. Probate records of Leonard Stong  were filed in both Scotland and England and record “ Personal Estate under 50,000 pounds in the UK; two cordiciles dated HUne 7,1878 and May 15,1879 (Middleton v. Strong). Certificate Commissary-Clerk of Edingburgh, on double Probate of the will, and Codicile of Leonard Strong, formerly of Hyde Park, Middlesex, late of Camster, County of Caithness, N.B., and of Richmond House, Kew, Surrey, who died May 23,1879 at 44 Marina Parade, Brighton, Sussex, testate, granted at London June 24,1880 to Oswald Robert Middleton, his nephew, one of the executors and a Major in H.M. Army 4th Regiment of Infantry”.

By the time Dorothea shows up in the census records of England she is a widow and in care of their youngest child Clementina Strong who had been born 1879 in Norwood,Surrey.

The earliest record of Dorothea being in Tunbridge Wells is the 1881 census, taken at 12 St James Road where Dorothea is a widow and living on own means. With her was her daughter Clementina, age 1. Dorothea’s husband Leonard had died in Surrey soon after the birth of Clementina.Also in the home were three servants.

The 1891 census, taken at 14 St James Road gave Dorothea living on own means. With her was her daughter Clementina and two servants.  No.’s 12 and 14 St James Road were both semi-detached homes located on the east side of St James Road, just up from St James Church near the intersection with Beulah Road. A photograph of the home is shown opposite. Both homes have  been converted into flats.

The 1901 census, taken at 32 Queens Road gave Dorothea living on own means and with her was her daughter Clementina and four servants.

In 1905 Dorothea hired local architect Cecil Leonard Burns (1882-1969) to design a new home for her in Camden Park which she named “Camster” after Camster Burns, Caithness Scotland.

On November 17,1905 Cecil Leonard Burns married Clementina Strong at St James parish in Tunbridge Wells but the marriage was not registered until the July qtr of 1907. Clementina had been baptised August 29,1879 at Norwood Christ Church and was the daughter of Leonard, a gentleman,  and Dorothea Strong. After the marriage Cecil and his wife lived at Camster with Dorothea.Shown opposite is a postcard view of St James Church where the wedding ceremony was held. The exterior view is dated 1906 and the interior view by L.Levi about the same time.

The 1911 census,taken at Camster, Camden Park recorded Dorothea as born 1842 at Lybster, Caithneisshire, Scotland and was living on own means. With her was her married daughter Clementina Burns and her son in law Cecil Leonard Burns, an architect. The census recorded that the home was of 18 rooms. Also present in the home were three domestic  servants and a sick nurse. The census did not record how many years Dorothea had been married  and recorded that she had only one child.

Directories record that Dorothea was still a resident of Camster in 1924 but by 1925 it became the home of James Arthur Fraser Henderson.

Probate records gave Dorothea Strong of The Norfolk Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, widow, who died February 19,1926. The executor of her 1,554 pound estate was her married daughter Clementina Burns. There is no record of Dorothea being buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery or cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium. As noted in the account about Cecil Leonard Burns , Dorothea’s daughter Clementina died in 1954.


After Dorothea Strong vacated Camster it became the residence of James Arthur Fraser Henderson. From my article ‘The History of Wavertree, No. 2 Camden Park’ is information about him.

James Arthur Fraser Henderson and his family moved into Wavertree shortly after the death of Constance Coote in 1936. He is recorded at this home in the 1938 Kelly directory.

Records before 1936 show that he and his wife were residents of another home in Camden Park called ‘Camster’ located near the entrance gate to Camden Park off Bayhall Road. An incoming passenger list recorded that James , age 47, of independent means, was travelling with his wife Amy, a “housewife”, from Madiera, arriving at Southampton May 31,1927. They had departed from Buenos Aires Argentina on the ship ARLANZA. A  second passenger list recorded James travelling alone when he departed from Sydney,Australia on the ship ORMONDE ON February 7,1930. He was given as ‘retired, of Camster, Camden Park,Tunbridge Wells. The 1934 Kelly directory gave the listing “James Arthur Fraser Henderson, Camster, Camden Park”.  A confusing listing in the 1930 Kelly directory gave “Captain Arthur James Anderson, Camster,Camden Park.

James was born 1879 at Partick,Lanarkshire.Scotland and was one of two known children of John Lorenzo Henderson (1849-1906) and Elizabeth Lennox Fraser (1852-1910). James lived with his parents in Patrick and later Govan Scotland up to about 1907. In a divorce action brought by Elizabeth Lennox Fraser against her husband John Lorenzo Henderson, John was given as “sometimes engineer” of Glasgow.

On September 19,1907 he married Amy Minter (1879-1959) at St Hildas Church, Darlington, a photograph of which is shown above. Darlington is a market town in County Durham, in the North East of England.

Amy Minter had been born in the 3rd qtr of 1879 at Darlington,Durham and was the daughter of William Minter (1834-1898) and Eliza Peacock (1855-1937) and was one of four children born to the couple. She had been christened September 17,1879 at Holy Trinity Church in Darlington,Durham.Shown here are two Minter family photos. The one on the left shows Mabel Minter with her sister Amy and their mother and two unidentified individuals. The photo on the right shows Amy, Bertha and Mabel with Jack “B” and their mother Eliza Minter.

The name of Henderson figures large in the history of retailing in Scotland, and the name is common reflecting the size of the Henderson clan there. From the ‘House of Fraser Archive’ is reference to a company by the name of Fraser Sons & Co. Ltd which operated from 1909 to 1947. The first directors of the company were Hugh Fraser, James Arthur Fraser and John Fraser, the former partners of Fraser Sons & Co. Hugh Fraser was chairman. He was to remain chairman for as long as he remained a director. James Arthur Fraser died in 1911. At the company’s annual general meeting in 1923, Hugh Fraser proposed that his son, Hugh, should become a director of the company. In 1924,Hugh junior was appointed managing director. Hugh Fraser, the elder, died in August 1927 and his trustees transferred all of his holding in Fraser,Sons & Co. Ltd to his son Hugh. Hugh became chairman of the company and appointed his mother Emily F.M. Fraser, and cousin, Captain James A Fraser Henderson, as directors.In April 1929, John Fraser sold his share in the company to Hugh Fraser. The Captain James A Fraser Henderson referred to was James Arthur Fraser Henderson, born July 5,1880 and served during WW 1 as a RAF officer and is the same gentleman who lived in Camden Park. He had a brother Hugh Fraser Henderson born in 1879 at Partick,Lancashire.

There are two probate records for James Arthur Fraser Henderson. The first states he was of “Camster, Camden Park” and the second says he was of “2 Camden Park”. Both state he died July 24, 1942 and give “First Eik to Confirmation of Amy Henderson, widow, and David  Baird Smith, CBE,Solicitor”. The correct record is the one referring to him as a resident of Wavertree, 2 Camden Park . The probate record is confusing in another way for James wife Amy is recorded to have died in Tunbridge Wells January 9,1959. Her probate record gave “Amy Henderson of 2 Camden Hill, Tunbridge Wells, widow, died January 9,1959 at ‘The Highlands’ Ticehurst,Sussex. The executors of her 17,474 pound estate were Peter Edward Hughes Bailey, insurance inspector attorney of John Minter Bailey and William Bernard Bailey. The name Camden Hill often appears in accounts and it is the opinion of the researcher that in the case of the probate record for Amy Henderson that it refers to Wavertree at 2 Camden Park.

No burial records for James or Amy were found in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery.

[3] AFTER 1935

H.W. Soutter moved into Camster after the departure of James Arthur Fraser Henderson. He is found at Camster in the directories and electoral records of 1936 and 1937.

Robert H. Hutchinson is given at Camster in a 1949 directory. In the period throughout 1952 to 1975 os found at Camster Mrs. A.E. Drake-Lee  (1966 and 1967 listing only) with M.B. Drake-Lee for the rest of the date range. Directories of 1879 to 1981 gave B.H. Mott. As noted in my review of Planning Authority applications Dr. Alastair J. Cook and his family lived at Camster from at least 1999 to the present time.

Insufficient information is available for the above occupants to provide further details except to note the following record for Dr Cook “ Alastair Cook MA. M chip, MB, B chir., FRCS. GMC member 2212564. Qualified 1974, practicing at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital-general surgery, gastroenterology, colorectal”. He is also a director of a company called Alastair Cook (914222746) with a registered address of Camster, Camden Park,Tunbridge Wells. With this I end my coverage of this topic.


Since writing this article the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society held their annual garden party at Camster July 8,2017. Given below are some photographs and the article about Camster that appeared in their Summer 2017 newsletter. It of course duplicates much of the information given above but does add some interesting facts .

“Burns was probably the most prominent architect working in Tunbridge Wells in the early to mid 20th century. His early work: Camster, and what is now the Bridge Club in London Road, reflected his training under Reginald Blomfield. He later turned to a more robust style for the Kent & Sussex Hospital (1934), and the Christian Scientist church in St Johns Road (1931), now offices for the FTA. His involvement with Camster is intriguing, and perhaps not entirely clear; in fact all the details below have come from a very brief study and must be considered tentative. Burns was born in 1882 in Epsom, and attended Tonbridge School. After training under Blomfield, he set up practice in Grays Inn Square. His client for Camster was 26 year-old Clementina Strong. She had been born in Norwood in 1879 to Leonard and Dorothea Strong, but Leonard died soon afterwards and Dorothea moved with the young child to Tunbridge Wells. They lived in St James Road and later in Woodbury Hill, a large house at the corner of Queens Road and Dunstan Hill. The plans for Camster are dated March 1906. In August 1907, the Courier reported a ‘Fashionable Wedding’ at St James. It was the marriage of Clementina and Cecil. Had she awarded the contract to her intended husband? Or had she been swept off her feet by the dashing young architect she had hired to build her a house?

The newly-weds then lived with Mrs Strong (Dorothea) at Camster. The 1911 census also records a ‘sick nurse’- perhaps Mrs Strong was an invalid. The house was named after Camster in the north of Scotland were Dorothea had been born, and where she had lived briefly with Leonard. During the war Cecil served with the Royal Artillery in Flanders. Back at Camster Clementina collected socks and sweaters for the men in his battery. The war disrupted life in many ways. In 1917 a cook at Camster was accused of concealing a birth - the baby’s body was found in a brownpaper parcel stuffed up a chimney. She said that ‘a man would have to suffer’ - a lancecorporal serving in France. Mrs Strong died in 1926. The house and contents had been sold in 1924. Burns then operated from 5 Calverley Terrace, and then Vale Avenue (Calverley Terrace was acquired by the council for development). These may have just been offices, with the Burns living in Colemans Hatch, near Ashdown Forest where Cecil played golf.

In 1935 they divorced, and Burns married again. His second wife, Lynette Tewson, was a well-known local dancer. As a girl she had been a guest at his first wedding. From the 1940s, he operated from 11 Calverley Park which was home to the Burns, Guthrie partnership until very recently.

After Mrs Strong’s death Camster was the home of James and Amy Henderson (and their Irish setter). His family were engineers and ship-builders on the Clyde (with connections to the House of Fraser family of retailers). They were followed by another couple - the Soutters - with similar manufacturing / retail backgrounds. His family were prominent makers of copper kettles in West Bromwich; her family had a department store in Natal. Then, a more unusual couple - the Hutchinsons. When they arrived in 1938 the Courier declared that there was no truth in the rumour that she was the popular novelist Ethel M. Dell. There may have been something to the story though - he was a writer of murder mysteries, including Spectral Evidence and The Hand of the Chimpanzee . They were originally from America and organised the American Eagle Club in Charing Cross Rd in the early years of the second war. After the war, Camster was the home of a Tonbridge solicitor, Maurice Drake-Lee, and then of Mr and Mrs Moss, Mrs Moss being the daughter of the famous conductor Annuncio Mantovani. Our hosts have lived there since 1999 - he is a retired surgeon and at one time worked from his private surgery in what was formerly the gardener’s cottage.

Camster is a fascinating house – Geoffrey Copus / Philip Whitbourn described it as being in the style of Christopher Wren. The point of a garden party, though, is the garden, and there is much to enjoy there too - see the pictures on p. 2. The approach is through ornamental gates and via a long straight drive. The main garden is behind the house, but there is also a view across what appears to be open countryside. It is actually the central space ‘not to be built on’ at the heart of Camden Park. The Park was created in the late 1840s by the 2nd Marquess Camden, on the model of Calverley Park. Some dozen or so houses were built at the western end - the first for the Marquess’ sister, Georgiana, but there was little development at the eastern end until much later in the century - thus providing Clementina and Cecil with their opportunity. We look forward very much to the party. (CJ….. My thanks to Geoff Copus, Ed Gilbert and Philip Whitbourn.”)



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

Date: August 21,2017

In the 1920’s Council purchased the land which became the Calverley Gardens. It was beautifully landscaped complete with vast lawns, trees and flower beds. Of the buildings constructed in the Gardens the most noteworthy was a grand pavilion and bandstand and a tea house, all built in close proximity to one another . Sadly the bandstand and the pavilion are long gone but in 2015 during my visit to the town my friend Mrs Susan Prince and I got to see the tea house and enjoyed having some refreshments that we sipped on while sitting on one of many benches nearby.

One other feature, enjoyed by thousands of children in the 1970’s and 1980’s was a paddling pool installed near the tea house. Shown above and below are two photographs of it. Sadly it too was removed, much to the disappointment of local residents, particularly the children who took great enjoyment paddling about on a hot summers day. This was not the only paddling pool in the town, for there was also one in the Grosvenor Recreation Ground, installed about the same timeframe as that in the Calverley Gardens, but it too was removed and the spot tarmacked over and became a play area.

Two articles which make reference to the paddling pool in the Calverley Gardens were written by Courier reporter Jane Bakowski. The first was September 8,2016, which stated “ In the 1980’s Tunbridge Wells offered less than sparking fun for children. Right in the Town Centre Calverley Grounds was more geared to pensioners than children. However at least it had a paddling pool”. The second article, dated March 20,2017 entitled ‘ From Pavilion to Paddling’ she stated ‘These vintage pictures show Calverley Gardens through the years”. Among the pictures was the colour photo I presented above. Jane wrote “ Although Calverley Gardens had been a magnet for local families from the earliest days, it had never really catered for children. A paddling pool provided the chance to splash on summer days, for some years, and it was conveniently close to the café ( Tea House) for parents, but it has not survived. Its loss was widely mourned”.

Apart from the information given above little else is known about it. Exactly when it was installed, at what cost, and by whom, was not determined, nor was the date of its removal.

A review of the Tunbridge Wells byelaws dated December 2,1977, which byelaws were to come into effect January 1,1978 stated in part that the Pleasure Grounds were open from Monday to Saturday from 7:30 am to a half hour before sunset and that on Sunday they were open from 9am until a half hour before sunset. Furthermore it stated “ A person shall not in the pleasure ground bathe, wade or wash in any ornamental lake, pond, stream or other water. Provided that where the Council has provided a paddling pool this byelaw shall not be deemed to prohibit any child aged 12 years and under from bathing or paddling in that pool”.

It’s a shame that the paddling pool was removed. Today its existence, for many a child, is just one part of growing up in the town that brings back fond memories.



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