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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 photograph of a grocers shop at 67 Springfield Road at Edward Street in Southborough taken in the 1920's. Standing in the doorway is believed to be the shop proprietor Mrs Codelia Whibley who was listed as the shopkeeper there in the 1914 Kelly directory. The 1911 census gave her husband as the shop proprietor but when he died she took it over. The corner grocers shop was once an essential business, that ladies would visit on an almost daily basis to pick up what they needed but most of them are gone now as shopping trends have changed and most people shop once a week at  large supermarkets. These little shops sold all manner of groceries as can be seen by all the product signs on this shops windows. The early shops used to weight out many of their goods before the age of pre-packaging. This shop appears to have begun around the turn of the century for in 1903 it was the shop of Mrs Minnie Budgen before being taken over by the Whibley family. By 1922 Harry Russell ran the shop as a grocer and tea dealer. Directories of 1930-1934 record Walt Feaver as a grocer there and by 1938 the shop had been taken over by Mrs Susanna Feaver, his wife. The image of ladies with their long dresses and big hats walking to the shops with their little shopping baskets has all but faded from our minds. Now most people drive to the supermarket and load up the boot of their car with plastic bags filled with groceries.

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). 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 I am the self appointed genealogist of my family line. A complete family tree of my family going back five generations can be found on the Ancestry UK website.Although my greatgrandfather of Tunbridge Wells had three sons and four daughters I am the only surviving descendent with the surname of Gilbert.

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 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.


The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, and all across the land throughout the summer, are planned great celebrations of this important milestone in the countries history. By comparison to England, Canada is a young country but our interest in the countries history, with strong ties to England, is great and a time for celebration. The Canadian federal government will be spending an estimated half billion dollars on 150th anniversary events and projects.

Canada, is a large country covering some 9.8 million sq. km compared to England of 130,279 sq km but compared to England's whopping population of 53 million (2011) it is sparsely populated (36 million in 2015). Most of Canada's population is located in large cities and towns strung along ,in east-west fashion, along the Canada/USA border, with the shores of the Great Lakes the most heavily settled.

Vast parts of Canada were settled by those from England seeking new opportunities. Some of them, including many from Tunbridge Wells, came to this country when offered cheap passage and free land and helped to make Canada the diverse and vibrant county it is today. My grandfather brought his family to Canada because his second wife had a brother living in Canada who told in letters to his sister that the country was a land of great opportunity. Enticed by this news my grandfather left his employment as a printer with the Lewis Hepworth Company on Vale Road,Tunbridge Wells and headed of to Canada by steamship with his family and worked as a printers foreman in Toronto, Ontario until his retirement at the age of 70.

Queen Elizabeth II, Canada's sovereign, offered her best wishes and congratulations on the 150th anniversary of Confederation in a  December 31,2016, recorded message. Her son and heir, Prince Charles, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, will tour Ontario and Nunavut before attending the national celebration in Ottawa on July 1,2017.

I hope the people of Tunbridge Wells will join me in celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary, for no doubt many of you will have relatives in Canada or will have fond memories of your visit to my great country.



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

Date: April 30,2017


Great Culverden Park is a small 9-1/2 acre private Park established for the residents who live around and near it in a residential development located on the west side of St John’s Road just above its intersection with Mount Ephraim and London Road. Initially slated for new homes, house sales had slowed and a group of people in the area got together in 1936 and bought the land from the developer. Since that time it has been enjoyed by the residents as a natural reserve. The Park contains three small spring fed ponds and throughout the woods and playing fields a network of walking trails has been laid out with benches installed at various spots along them where one can sit and relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the peaceful surroundings. Every year the residents get together in the Park for their Summer Party, an event looked forward to with great anticipation.

The Park is owned today by Great Culverden Ltd. (12596429) incorporated March 28,1991 with 13 officers. John Pullinger of Tunbridge was presented with the Order of the Bath Companion (CVB) in 2014 for his services to Parliament and voluntary service to the Borough through Great Culverden Park Ltd.

The site on which the Park was established has a long and interesting history. The park derives its name from a grand home called Great Culverden designed by Decimus Burton for Jacob Jeddere Fisher in 1830. Fisher’s estate was extensive extending from just north of Boyne Park up to Culverden Park (Road) opposite Skinners School, where at the northern end Fisher had two follies built namely Culverden Castle and Swiss Cottage. Fisher drew water from one of the spring fed ponds on the property to supply his home. This pond and the remnants of its related hydraulic ram that lifted the water to the house can still be found in the Park, as can the remnants of an ice house.

Over the years Fishers former estate was divided up and redeveloped, including the construction of the Kent & Sussex Hospital. Fisher’s former home and related stables and outbuildings were demolished to make way for the construction of the hospital and related parking in the 1930’s. A map of Great Culverden Park provided above shows that the Upper Pond in the Park is near the boundary of the grounds of the Kent & Sussex Hospital, which hospital closed in 2011 and was demolished in 2014, its replacement being the new District General Hospital in Pembury.

This article begins with some background information on Fishers Great Culverden estate, and some notable occupants such as Rear Admiral Charles Davis Lucas who died there in 1914 and was the first person to be awarded the VC in England. The article then concentrates on the history and features of the Park itself, which account includes a series of photographs.


In 2013 this part of Tunbridge Wells was a central focus of a series of articles I wrote about the history of the area known as the “Lewes’ including such topics as the Swiss Cottage, Culverden Castle, the Huntley’s estate; Culverden Farm, the Culverden Brewery, and many others. Among them perhaps the most relevant as it relates to the Great Culverden Park was one entitled ‘Great Culverden-A History of the mansion and its occupants’ dated January 13,2013, from which article I have extracted large parts of it as background information to a more detailed description of the Park that was later formed on part of this once grand estate.

Shown opposite is a 1909 os map on which is highlighted in red the location of the former Fisher home ‘Great Culverden’). By the time this map was prepared redevelopment of the once grand estate that extended from just south of the house ‘Great Culverden’ north to Culverden Down, opposite Skinners School, had begun. Although not presented in this article, the 1909 os map also shows at the north west end of the estate Fisher’s two follies, namely Culverden Castle and Swiss Cottage, not far from Huntley’s estate to the west. As can be seen on the map just north west of the house ‘Great Culverden’ is a pond (labelled as “1”)where water was drawn for the house. This is the same pond shown and labelled on the map of the Park in the “Overview” as the “Upper Pond” and further west from it can be seen the “Lower Pond” (labelled as “2”). One can also see a network of old trails running from the house ‘Great Culverden’ and elsewhere to and beyond these two ponds.  The house ‘Great Culverden’ was built on a high elevation and the land towards the ponds sloped away from it. In addition to the main house there was also a stable block and other related outbuildings including an ice house in which ice was stored for use in the main house. As noted in the ‘Overview’ it is reported that remnants of the old ice house and the hydraulic ram at the ‘Upper Pond’ still exist today. Further information about these relics are given later.

The name Culverden  has been in use in Tunbridge Wells from medieval times.The name comes from ‘Culver’ (pigeons) and ‘Den’ (a grove of large trees) and in the 1700’s pigeons and trees were two things Tunbridge Wells had plenty of.

A book by Paul Amsinck dated 1810 entitled Tunbridge Wells & Its Neighbourhood  stated in part “At the extremity of Culverden Row is a handsome house, standing in a large court, at a convenient distance from the road, and commanding from behind beautiful and extensive views. This was formerly called the Culverden House and was probably the residence of the owner of the adjacent property. It has of late years been more generally known as Lady Huntington’s House; not that it was every owned, or indeed inhabited, by any of that family,though it owes much of its celebrity to their name.The lease of this house, of a small one adjoining, and of some acres of land in the vicinity, was many years since purchased by the late Dowager Countess of Huntingdon when on an adjacent spot, she built a small neat chapel, for the sect of Methodists,under her more immediate protection.The smaller house she devoted as an abode for the officiating minister whilst the larger, together with the land, was let and the rent allotted for his salary”. The comment about the Countess not occupying the house is contradicted in Colbrans 1768 guide which I give further information on below.The chapel referred to was constructed in 1769 and opened that year with a sermon by George Whitefield(1714-1770), who had a monument erected to him nearby ( 22 m from Great Culverden)and which in later times ended up in the grounds of the Kent & Sussex Hospital when the old buildings were demolished. This chapel was demolished and replaced with the Emmanual Church in 1867 which itself was torn down  in 1974 to improve access to the hospital.

An earlier reference to the name Culverden appears in The Tunbridge Wells Guide-An Account if the Ancient and Perfect State of the Place” by Jasper Strange in 1785. Although it paints a romantic picture of life in Tunbridge Wells at the time it offers little information about ‘Culverden’ except that in an appendix to the main work is given a “list of principal owners and principle rooms of each” as it relates to “Lodging Houses”. On the list is an entry for Mrs Hayward at Culverden Gate and four entries for Culverden Row among which are Lady Huntingdon with 4 parlours,5 chambers and stables for 15 horses and similar entries for Mrs Richardson, Mr Calverley and George Weller.

Cliffords 1830 Guide states that the area referred to as Culverden  “ was indeed formerly part of the lands called the upper Culverden Wood; and in the year 1683 belonged to Sir Charles Bickerstaff, of the Wilderness, near Sevenoaks, who let on lease for fifty years, at an annual rent of 4 pounds 16 shillings and 6 pence, twenty-one acres of the said land, the boundary of which was distinguished by a large oak, which grew on the spot now occupied by the counting house of Mr. T.D. Humphrey,wine merchant;also by a large ash tree, which grew in front of the premises, now Wellington Place,the extensive branches of which reached nearly across the carriage road; and by another very large beech, which grew on the grounds now belonging to W. Congreve, Esq., on a spot next to Tavistock Place:-these were part of the boundary hedge of the Culverden Wood;and they have all been cut down within the memory of an inhabitant now living…”

Colbran’s Tunbridge Wells states “ In 1768, Lady Huntington resided at Tunbridge Wells at a house on the Culverden, on the site of which Mrs Jeddere Fisher’s mansion is built. At this time Messrs Shipman and Matthews, two of the students expelled from Oxford, applied for admission into her college at Trevecca, and were most cordially received at the Culverden by her ladyship…” He goes on to say that Lady Huntington had two preachers “ at her house”.

The Countess of Huntingdon I have referred to was Selina Hastings(image opposite)  born August 24,1707.She was a religious leader who played a prominent role in religious revival of the 18th century and the Methodist movement in England and Wales. She was born Lady Selina Shirley, the second daughter of Washington Shirley, 2nd Earl Ferrers and Mary Levinge, at Staunton Harold, a mansion near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. She married Theophilus Hastings, 9th Earl of Huntingdon. The couple had six children, three of which died in childhood.Her husband died in 1746 after which she threw in her lot with John Wesley and George Whitefield in the work of the great revival.Overall she is credited with the founding of 64 chapels.A slave owner, having inherited overseas estates, she promoted the writings and independence of formerly enslaved Africans who espoused religious views compatible with her own.Until her death in London June 17,1791 she remained active in religious matters. Upon her death the 64 chapels, including the one in Tunbridge Wells, were bequeathed to four trustees. As I noted above her chapel in town continued until demolished in 1869 but the old house (which became known as Culverden House)next to the chapel was demolished by 1829 to make way for a grand mansion called Great Culverden.

The first authoritative reference to Great Culverden  is ‘Descriptive Sketches of Tunbridge Wells and the Calverley Estate’ by John Britton in 1832.In this publication is written “ Great Culverden has been recently finished, from the designs of Mr D. Burton, and executed by Messrs W. and L. Cubitt for Jeddere Fisher,esq, of Earling Park, near London. This house is adorned with porticos in front, and on one side, with bold cornices of dressings to the windows, and is finished and fitted up with all the cosmetic comforts, and even luxuries, appertaining to an English gentlemen’s home, seated in the lawn, which declines to the west, it commands a fine and diversified prospect. In a wild and romantic part of the grounds the proprietor has raised a singular fanciful cottage(this is a reference to Swiss Cottage), having its lower apartments hewn out of the sand-rock, it forms a most picturesque object. On another part of the grounds the same gentleman has raised a tower (this is a reference to Culverden Castle which was demolished in 1956), on high land, commanding a most extensive tract of county.A shaded walk of half a mile through a fine wood, leads to this building. A farm house near it is in the midst of stone quarries and excavations, which constitute a romantic scene.In Culverden Row is a chapel and a cemetery belonging to the Dissenters.

To make way for this new mansion the old house, ‘Culverden House’ , was demolished and the site cleared for construction. When Jeddere Fisher took possession of the property is unknown but since the new mansion was constructed in the period of 1829-1830 it would have been 1828 at the latest to allow sufficient time for the design drawings to be made and arrangements made with a contractor for it to be constructed.

The person responsible for the design of mansion was Decimus Burton(1800-1881)(image opposite) well known in Tunbridge Wells, particularly in connection with John Ward’s Calverley Estate, as a  respected designer of churches,schools and a wide assortment of residential villas and mansions. Shown above is an image of ‘Great Culverden’, which in its original rendering was an artist’s drawing done in colour. The building was two storeys  and constructed of white stone. Its columns and architectural details are described in some measure in the 1832 Britton account I gave earlier. The text associated with this artists drawing stated that the building was in the classical style and had an entrance with a “severe Doric portico with verandah and garden in the front”.

William Cubitt & Co was a London-based firm of contractors which undertook the design work of ‘Great Culverden’. By the end of 1830 the mansion was ready for occupancy but no doubt much of the landscaping work was left to be done during the following and subsequent years. The contract for the work included the main mansion ‘Great Culverden’ where the family and some servants resided; the stables ‘Great Culverden Stables’ where the coachman and groom lived with their families; the gardeners premises ‘ Great Culverden Lodge’ where the gardener for the estate and his family resided. Later census records also show ‘Culverden Cottages’ which accommodated three families and there was also a building (barn?)at ‘Culverden Farm’ located close to Culverden Lodge. Both Culverden Farm and Culverden Lodge are shown on the 1869 ordinance map but because of their distance from Great Culverden it is most likely that they did not form part of the original Great Culverden Estate. The map also makes reference to a mansion called Culverden Grove just south of the Brewery on London Road which was not part of the Great Culverden Estate. There may have also been a gate house, as was typical at the time, but no records pertaining to it were found by the researcher but possibly Great Culverden Lodge served as the gate house. Great Culverden was a large mansion for it was referred to in a 1911 census as having 21 rooms, however, one can expect that some alteration of the building was made by subsequent owners which may have enlarged it somewhat. The researcher has not found any evidence to confirm or refute that the living quarters of the mansion was enlarged.

It is known from a catalogue produced by the leading manufacture of glass houses ‘Messenger & Co’  in the 1920’s that a grand glass conservatory was built for Admiral Charles Davis Lucas at Great Culverden, which was  attached to the mansion.Glass conservatories, although extremely expensive, were very popular things to have among the well-to-do and in many cases quite ornate and certainly beautiful to look at.It would have provided a lovely place, filled with flowers, for Lucas and his family to enjoy.

The first occupants of Great Culverden was the Fisher family who had the place built for them and took occupancy by the end of 1830.The owner Jacob Jeddere Fisher, esq, was born 1766 in London.On October 21,1813 he married Elizabeth Wallinger at St Marylebone, Westminster,London. Elizabeth Wallinger had been born January 22,1795 at St John Westminster,London and was the only daughter of William Arnold Wallinger(b 1774) and Elizabeth Wallinger nee Turner, born 1774. From the years 1814 to 1828 Jacob and Elizabeth had four children namely Cuthbert Jeddere Fisher(1814-1891),born in London;  Ann Elizabeth Jeddere Fisher(b1817 France)Agnes Jane Jeddere Fisher(1820-1853)also born in France; Jessy Maria Jeddere Fisher(1823-1901) born at Ealing,Sussex; and Cyril Jeddere Fisher (1828-1902) born at Westminster, London. All of the children resided in 1830 with their parents at Great Culverden except for Cuthbert who began a career in law at an early age and was at the family home only on occasion( Cuthbert was admitted to the J. Temple June 1832).Cuthbert had attended Wahham College, Oxford.

Jacob’s father was Cuthbert Fisher of Place House, Little Earling Lane in London.This residence ,dating to the 1600’s had seen many owners over the years. In 1765 and 1711 the tenant of at least part of the estate was the statesman Thomas Thynne, Viscount Weymouth and later Marquess of Bath (1734-1796). Lord James Manner owned it and in 1789 he sold it to Cuthbert Fisher and whose widow owned it in 1811, when the estate had been renamed Ealing Park. Mrs Fisher was succeeded in 1824 by her husband’s devisee Jacob Jeddere who took the name Fisher and had died in 1833. In 1840 Ealing Park was owned by William Lawrence, a surgeon, later a baronet (1783-1867).

Jacob Jeddere Fisher did not get to enjoy his grand estate for long as he passed away July 20,1833 at Park Street in Westminster, London.During his short stay in Tunbridge Wells he and his wife became active in the church,something his wife continued after his death. Shown opposite is a photo of his grave bearing his name and reference to his daughters.

Colbran’s Tunbridge Wells of 1840 gives the following “ As you approach the Wells, on the right is the Culverden property, which formerly belonged to the Countess of Huntingdon, who resided there.The present elegant mansion, built for the late J. Jeddere Fisher, Esq., and now the residence of Mrs Fisher, is not seen from the road,but we may with truth apply the same terms in speaking of it now as were used of “The Culverden” upwards of seventy years since, “It is as happily situated as almost any house in the place”. In one part of the grounds there is a unique building, having its lower apartments hewn out of the sand rock.It is called the Swiss Cottage, and both the exterior and interior well merit the name,as may be judged from the annexed wood-cut.In another part of the grounds, and in a most romantic situation, is a tower, built also by Mr Fisher, which overlooks an extensive tract of country, and looks down immediately on a wild glen,which with the necessary adjuncts of moustachioed faces and high crowned hats, would have formed a capital study for Salvador Rosa…..”

A map of 1849 shows Great Culverden and the aforementioned Swiss Cottage and Culverden Castle as well as Culverden Farm and Culverden Lodge and Huntley’s estate labelled at that time as Culveden Villa.

The 1841 census , taken at Great Culverden records Elizabeth Jeddere Fisher as head of the household  and living with her are her four children and 9 servants.In the 1851 census Elizabeth is at Great Culverden along with her single daughter Ann Elizabeth and her daughter Jessy Maria.Also there are several servants, domestics, gardener,coachman etc. Elizabeth  had become the treasurer of a committee established for the creation of St Johns Church. The church was erected in 1858 and Mrs Fisher donated some of the stone used in its construction. In the 1861 census taken at Great Culverden was Elizabeth, age 66,; her son Cuthbert, a farmer of 40 acres with his wife Ellen J.age 35, and their two children and several servants of the estate. Probate records give that Elizabeth died at Great Culverden on July 30,1867 and left an estate valued at under 7,000 pounds. Her sole executor was her son Cuthbert of Huntlley’s, near Tunbridge Wells.

James Byng acquired the Culverden estate upon the death of Mrs Jeddere Fisher.The actual date of acquisition is not known by the researcher  but the London Gazette of February 29,1872 lists at Great Culverden the Hon. James Master Owen Byng,Lieut. Rifle Brigade, and George Stanley Byng.There is also an Electoral Register for Byng at Great Culverden in 1868 and since it is the earliest record one can safely conclude that Byng took occupancy of Great Culverden not long after the death of Fisher in 1867.

James Byng was a J.P. and L.D.L. for Kent and a wealthy man who in addition to Great Culverden had substantial land holdings in Surrey and other places.In 1876 for example there were several parcels of land in Surrey referred to in a lease agreement between “J.M.O. Byng of Great Culverden and Robert Carter of Surrey,auctioneer”. Byng was a barrister by profession and the Law Magazine of 1852 records that Byng was called to the bar Middle Temple on June 8,1852.Byng is also found in the 1880’s as a member of the Kent Archaelogical Society.

James Byng had been born July 20,1818 at London and was the son of Vice Admiral George Byng (1768-1831) and Frances Harriet Byng nee Barlow (1787-1868) and was one of 10 children in the family(from two marriages). James Byng married Caroline Louisa Cook (1825-1906) at Malling Kent on August 5,1856.Caroline was the daughter of William Cook and she had been born at Tooting,Surrey. Census records show that Byng was residing at Shipbourne, Kent in 1861 and at his Great Culverden mansion in 1871. He and Caroline never had any children throughout the years of their marriage and both died without issue.

The 1871 census records that at Great Culverden was James and Caroline Byng; their nephew George L. Byng, age 19, a Lieut in the Rifle Brigade and 10 servants. At Culverden Lodge was William Swan the gardener with his wife and daughter. At Great Culverden Stables was Henry Bowles, the coachman with his wife and two daughters.At Culverden Cottages #1,#2, and #3 are other individuals, mostly laundresses.It is not clear to the researcher if Culverden Cottages had anything to do with the Great Culverden estate or not and the occupations of its residents suggests it didn’t,at least at the time of this census.

The 1881 census gives a clear picture of the extent of the Great Culverden estate and for that matter how the area in general had developed over the years, for since the time of the 1869 ordinance there had been many changes in the number of new buildings constructed in the area surrounding the Great Culverden mansion.. Sadly, today, most if not all of the buildings on the west side of St John’s Road, associated with the name Culverden in the stretch of the road from the former site of Kelsey’s Culverden Brewery to the former site of the Kent & Sussex Hospital, have been replaced by redevelopment of the area.

The 1881 census records at Great Culverden (the mansion) James M.O. Byng,age 62, J.P. and L.D.L. for Kent. With him Is his wife Caroline L Byng,age 56. Also present is Emmiline Walker,age 34 who was Byng’s private secretary. In addition there were seven servants (footman,housekeeper,cook, a kitchen maid and two housemaids. At “ Entrance Lodge Great Culverden” was William Swan,age 67, the gardener for Byng, and his wife Alice,age 65. At “Great Culverden Stables” was Henry Bowles,age 42 the coachman; his wife Anne and their six children. At “Great Culverden Gardeners Cottages” was George Kember,age 35 with his wife Sophia and their four children. A point of clarification is required at this stage with the introduction of the name “Entrance Lodge Great Culverden”. This building is not to be confused with the building referred to as “Culverden Lodge” on the 1869 map which as you can see is much father to the north in the vicinity of Culverden Farm.The building in the census would have been located on London Road where the drive to Great Culverden was to be found.

I have referred earlier to a “Castle” or “Tower” that Jadcob Jeddere Fisher had built upon his estate and although I have not found any evidence to suggest that it was owned by Byng in 1881, it appears in the 1881 census as “Culverden Castle” occupied at that time by Edwards Phillips, age 74,a clergyman born in London along with his wife Eliza and their four domestic servants .Also associated with this building is “Culverden Castle Stables with rooms, Huntleys Estate” occupied by John O. Cruttenden,age 34, a gardener along with his wife Barbara and their three children. Other references are made in the census to “Culverden Farm” which was known to be owned by Byng and occupied by Louis Kemsley, born 1851 at Boxley Kent who is given as farm bailiff, which more completely should have read “farm bailiff for J.M.O. Byng”. With Louis Kemsley is his wife Elizabeth and one child. Also in the household at the farm is sixteen year old Charles Taylor, a boarder, and worker on the farm as a cowman.

On the Rootschat website is a posting by an individual making inquiries about the Huntley family and their claimed association with the Great Culverden Stables. A person who responded to the inquiry claimed that the stables were part of the estate “run” by the Huntley family. As noted by me above there is a reference to the name Huntley in the 1867 probate records of Mrs Fisher where her son Cuthbert is “of Huntley’s near Tunbridge Wells” and it is known that Cuthbert was a farmer in the 1861 census of 40 acres. There is also reference in 1883 of ‘Huntley’s Estate’ in the Culverden Park area as well as Great Culverden, Culverden Castle (also given on occasion as Culverden Tower), Culverden Farm,Little Culverden Farm,Culverden Cottage,Swiss Cottage (see Fisher reference).The 1881 census also contains information about Huntley’s Estate.The name of Huntley is often referred to.Today one can find a reference to Huntley Park and Huntley’s Cottages in the approximate location of where Culverden Farm used to be before the area was completely redeveloped into residential use .There was also a ‘Huntley’s Practical Instruction Centre’ set up in Culverden Down in 1948. Any further coverage of Huntley is beyond the scope of this article and a subject for another time, but until further research is done there is no evidence known to me that Huntley had anything to do, as the inquirer suggested, with the running of the Great Culverden estate.The only possible connection I find is with regards to the geographical  location of current references to Huntley and the old Culverden Farm.

Before continuing my coverage of Great Culverden, a final word about Fishers ‘Castle’. This building.sometimes referred to as a castle and sometimes a tower is also sometimes referred to as Culverden Castle or Great Culverden Castle. This building had several different occupants over the years but perhaps the most noteworthty was Julius Drew the man behind the well- known Home and Colonial Stores that appeared on high streets up and down the country at the end of the 19th century. One of their shops was on Camden Road in Tunbridge Wells .Julius Drewe lived with his family at Culverden Castle in Culverden Down for some years before buying Wadhurst Hall in 1898.By age 33 Drewe was a rich man and at age 34 he purchased Culverden Castle which from a This is Kent article, was “ a folly built as part of the Great Culverden estate.With its turret and battlements rising dramatically from a grassy glen on the edge of town, it was the home to which he took his new bride,Frances Richardson, after their marriage in 1890, and a place where three of their five children were born”.By 1898 however he left the place and moved to Wadhurst Hall. The full storey about this castle was given in my article ‘ The History of Culverden Castle’ dated June 14,2013.

On May 21,1897 James Masters Owen Byng passed away at Great Culverden.Probate records record that he left an estate valued at about 130,000 pounds and that the executors of his estate were his wife Caroline Louisa Byng, Charles Davis Lucas, Admiral R.N. and Sir Charles Pontifex,Baronet K.C.I.E. The will of James M.O. Byng dated February 15,1895 gave detailed instructions about the disposal of his estate and as I have noted later there is reference in the 1920’s to trustees dealing with his property.

Probate records give that Caroline Louisa Byng “late of Great Culverden and of #2 marine Parade,Folkstone,widow,died at Great Culverden  April 2, 1906”. Caroline is listed in an 1883 directory as “Mrs James Byng”, as one of the  patrons of the Tunbridge Wells Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Probate records give a valuation of her estate at about 189,000 pounds with her executors being Charles Davis Lucas,Admiral, and Sir Charles Pontifex U.C.I.E. and Reginald Duke Hill, Esq. James and his wife were not  buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery.The probate information can be found in the London Gazette dated June 26,1906.When Caroline Byng passed away in 1906 the trustees of her estate sold or leased out the family’s land holdings and as a result Admiral Charles David Lucas came into possession of the Great Culverden estate.

Charles David Lucas(1834-1914) was a naval officer, born February 19,1834 at Druminargal House, near Poyntz Pass,Armagh,Ulster, Ireland.He was the youngest son in the family of four sons and three daughters of Davis Lucas(1802-1886), a member of the Lucas-Scudamore landowning family, of Clontibret,co. Monaghan. Charles mother was Elizabeth Lucas nee Hill(1804-1837). Charles joined the Navy in 1848 and was engaged in many actions and displayed much presence of mind and bravery, for which he was promoted to the rank of mate on July 1,1853.In May 1854 he was appointed mate of the H.M.S ‘Hecla’ a small paddle-wheel steam warship under the command of Capt William Hutcheon Hall.On the night of June 21-22 the Helca with two other ships were engaging the Russian fortress at Bomarsind, on the Baltic Aland Islands. At the height of the action a Russian shell fell on the deck of the ship which Lucas quickly picked up and threw overboard, averting catastrophy to the ship and its men.The shell exploded as it hit the water but fortunately the ship received only minor damage and only two men were wounded. For his actions Charles Lucas was promoted and later on the incident was recognized when Charles was presented with  the VC February 24,1857 by Queen Victoria.He was also awarded the Royal Humane Society medal for lifesaving, despite being engaged in warlike activity. After that time Lucas served on many ships.He was promoted on various occasions achieving the rank of captain October 25,1867. In 1873 he retired from active service and became a rear-admiral in 1885.Between 1873 and 1883 he commanded the 13th Argyll rifle volunteers with the rank of brigadier-general.

In Dunorlan Park is found today ‘The Victoria Cross Grove’ and monument commemorating ten men associated with Tunbridge Wells that were awarded the VC (photo opposite).Among them is Charles David Lucas. This grove of 21 oak trees was planted in the winter of 1994/5 and dedicated on May 8,1995. A pamphlet pertaining to the ‘Grove’ summarizes the information I have given above about the circumstances associated with Lucas receiving the VC.His medal was presented in 1937 to the Greenwich Museum and put on display. Lucas is noted as being the first person in England to be awarded the VC. Shown above is an image of him on a stamp issued by the BPO in 2006.

On April 22,1879 Lucas married Frances Russell Hall, the only child of his old captain Sir William Hitcheon Hall,KCB,FRS a man noted for his prominent role during the First Opium War in 1841.Frances’s mother was Hilare Caroline Lucas who died in 1889.Frances’s father had passed away in 1878.

Census records record that in 1861 Charles Lucas was at ‘Vessels Royal Navy’. In 1871 he was at Gate Fulford,Yorkshire. In 1881 he and his family were residing at Lismore and Appin at Argyle,Scotland. The census records of 1891 and 1901 record the Lucas family residing at Kensington,London.Lucas and his wife had three daughters namely Hilare Caroline Matheson Lucas, Frances Byng Lucas and Caroline Louisa Byng Lucas.Charles Lucas served as a J.P. for Kent, and while resident in Scotland, for Argyll.The 1901 census records Charles as a retired rear-admiral and apart from his wife and three daughters there were four domestic servants present.

The 1911 census, taken at Great Culverden records Charles as a retired rear admiral and a J.P. for Kent.He is now 77 years of age and not in good health and receiving care from a physician but from all accounts was still quite active for a man of his age. Also in the household are his wife Frances,age 55, and their daughter Caroline Byng,a 23 year old single woman. Also present are five domestic servants. The census records that Charles had been married 32 years and that he had three children,all of which were still living. The census also records that Great Culverden was a mansion consisting of 21 rooms. As noted earlier Charles had a grand glass conservatory added to his mansion.

Charles Davis Lucas died in Tunbridge Wells, while residing at Great Culverden , on August 7,1914 and was buried in St Lawrence’s churchyard,at Great Mereworth,Maidstone, where a memorial to him now stands. A photo of his headstone is shown opposite. His estate was valued at about 4,800 pounds. The Times of October 2,1914 announced “ Rear-Admiral Charles Davis Lucas, VC, of Great Culverden,Tunbridge Wells and 48 Phillimore Gardens, Kensington,London who was awarded the first Victoria Cross for gallantry in the Baltics on June 21,1854, and who died August 7, age 80 years, left unsettled property of the gross value of 4,729 pounds 18 shillings and 1 pence”. His trustee was his wife.

On January 3,1925 Frances Russell Lucas “of Great Culverden” passed away .Probate records give that she left an estate valued at about 11,000 pounds and that her executors were Caroline Louisa Byng Lucas, spinster and Frances Byng Byng-Stamper (wife of Edwin Poulden Fenton Byng-Stamper). I have not provided details of the children of Charles David Lucas but anyone interested in their lives can easily find information out about them on the internet.As can be seen from the names there was a connection by way of marriage between the families of Lucas, Byng and Stamper. Frances was buried in the same grave/cemetery has her husband.

The East Kent Records Office holds records pertaining to Great Culverden among which is one document which is described as “ Appointment of Frances Byng-Stamper, wife of Edwin Poulden Stamper of Northease in Rodmell, retired captain in the army and Caroline Louisa Byng Lucas if Northease, spinster, as new trustees of the unsold estate of James M.O. Byng deceased under his will of February 15,1895; schedule of plans of trust property at Great Culverden House and Farm, Buckingham House and Culverden Nurseries at Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells”. These documents cover the period of 1926 to 1928. I have not investigated the property referred to as Buckingham House but I have mentioned in this article Culverden Farm and I have researched and written about Culverden Nurseries. Culverden Nurseries, briefly, was located in the general vicinity of the south west corner of St Johns’s Road and the road Culverden Park. The nursery was that of William Charles Hollands who was a florist and nurseryman with his florist shop located at 13 and 15 St Johns Road next to the nursery. The nursery stood on the former grounds of a mansion called Culverden Grove ,which is shown on the 1869 ordinance map. Culverden Grove was put up for sale in 1887 and demolished and upon part of the grounds were constructed two large glass greenhouses of Hollands  to which access was gained by a drive off Culverden Park. In front of these greenhouses, facing St John’s Road were constructed three houses (demolished many years ago). The old Culverden Grove mansion had many occupants over the years but perhaps the most noteworthy was that of the Busk family, known for their literary works. The greenhouses of the Culverden Nursery were still there in 1926 and the business continued until  at least 1930.

After Frances Russell Lucas passed away in 1925 Great Culverden and its associated outbuildings were left unoccupied and it was around that time that interest was expressed in establishing the proposed Kent and Sussex Hospital on the grounds of the mansion. In 1925 Brackett & Sons, local auctioneers, were hired by the trustees of the estate to sell Great Culverden by auction. A booklet outlining the details of the sale were produced by Brackett’s .Also around this time are documents dated 1926 held by the National Archives about the Great Culverden Estate which include a general layout plan showing proposed new roads and noting details of dimensions of parcels of land and their ownership.These documents form part of their “Franklin” holdings and pertain to architects Franklin and Briars.The estate was put up for sale in 1927, and 11 acres of it, with frontage to Mount Ephraim, were purchased as the site for the new hospital. The remaining 63 acres were purchased by Col John Egginton (manager of the local Opera House in the early 1900’s) and Charles Hillman, formerly of Somerset, and a well-to-do coal and timber merchant. These two men developed the land as the Royal Chase Estate.

Some redevelopment of the area had taken place earlier for as an example there is reference in the 1882 Pelton’s directory that “ Culverden Park is an estate on the west side of St John’s Road, which has lately been laid out for the erection of gentlemen’s houses.”. This makes reference to the construction of the road Culverden Park that once was a narrow dirt drive leading to Culverden Farm and other roads in that area as well as several other roads built in the subdivision. After the road Culverden park was constructed many fine homes were erected along it which begin to appear in abundance in directories of the 1870’s. 

The trustees of the Great Culverden  property came to an agreement and sold the Great Culverden mansion and part of its grounds and in 1927 the building(s) were demolished. The sale included the mansion and 11 acres of land around it with frontage to Mount Ephraim.The remaining 63 acres were purchased by Col. John Egginton and Charles Hillman, who developed the land as the Royal Chase Estate, but 9½ acres of former parkland in the centre of the estate (which would have been difficult to build on) was retained as a park to which the freeholders of the estate had access, and it is an oasis of lush woodland, a park known as ‘Great Culverden Park’.

The foundation stone for the hospital was laid in 1932 and the hospital opened in 1934.After many years of use and expansion this hospital was closed September 21,2011 and demolished and subsequently replaced by the new District General Hospital in Pembury ,thus closing the book on my storey about the Great Culverden Estate.

The London Gazette of June 20,1991 announced in reference to “Great Culverden Park” that “following the sale of the property on April 29,1991 the trustees of Great Culverden Park are seeking missing beneficiaries who are entitled to a share of the sale proceedes. A list of places on Culverden Park (the road) were given in the announcement.

Although my story of Great Culverden has ended the continued redevelopment of the area in its vicinity continues. Most if not all of the old buildings in the area have been replaced over the years by a series of redevelopments and one would be hard pressed to find any buildings today  from  north of Culverden Park south to the former site of the Kent and Sussex Hospital (photo opposite) that were there before the beginning of the 20th century. In March 2012 Berkley Homes purchased the former hospital site and have made an ambitious and extensive proposal for developing the property which today is still under review. Thankfully ,amongst all this redevelopment, a small part of Culverden, once a  lovely wooded area, has been set aside for private use of residents, in the form of Great Culverden Park.


I begin my coverage of the history and features of this park with the photo opposite showing a modern view of the ‘Lower Pond’ the location of which is shown and labelled on the map of the park presented in the ‘Overview’. Unfortunately a photo of the ‘Upper Pond’ has yet to be located. Although the plan of the park has at the bottom a north arrow, point to the left, I should for purposes of clarity state that the top of the map faces east  and must be turned on its side to better relate to the 1909 os map I presented earlier, the top of which faces north.

In the early history of the site most of the land was originally woodland but over the passage of time large parts of it were cleared. Fortunately the 9 ½ acres of the former Great Culverden Estate ,which forms the park ,has been left mostly undisturbed although as noted on the map an area was cleared to provide playing fields for the residents and other parts have been opened up to better make use of and enjoy this oasis in a built up residential area.

A network of paths were created in the park, portions of which follow the original paths laid out by Fisher and subsequent owners. At various spots along these paths have been installed benches where one can sit and rest and take in the beauty of the surroundings and listen to the wildlife making there cheery sounds and hear the rustling of leaves in a gentle breeze. As can be seen in the photos many large and mature trees cover much of the site, and what a peaceful place it must be for residents to get out for some exercise and enjoy nature.

Great Culverden Park is a small, 9½ acre, woodland, about half a mile from the centre of Tunbridge Wells in Kent, England west of Mount Ephraim and bounded entirely by houses along Royal Chase, Knightsbridge Close, Culverden Park Road and Mt.Ephraim. It is not accessible, or visible, from a public place.

As noted in previous sections the land of the park is a remnant of the former Great Culverden estate of Jacob Jeddere Fishger and subsequent owners, and of course the part derives its name from this estate.

The 9 ½ acre plot of land that forms the park was originally slated to have homes built on it as part of the Royal Chase development but in the 1930’s house sales slumped and the proposed construction of homes was set aside. Since no formal park had been provided in the planned development for residents, a group of them got together and purchased a small part of it for use as their private park, which they name the Great Culverden Park. 

Records show that the purchase of the land took place in 1936. Details of the purchase agreement were not found by the researcher. Today one can find on the internet the names of company directors associated with this park, some dating back to 1936.

The London Gazette of June 20,1991 announced in reference to “Great Culverden Park” that “following the sale of the property on April 29,1991 the trustees of Great Culverden Park are seeking missing beneficiaries who are entitled to a share of the sale proceedes. A list of places on Culverden Park (the road) were given in the announcement.

The company who owns and manages the affairs of the park is Great Culverden Park Limited (LTD) which was incorporated on March 28,1991 (02596429). Recent records show that the company has 13 directors who are residents of the area near the park. Great Culverden Park Ltd., issues shares to properties adjacent to the park. Shown opposite is a photo of John Pullinger who in 2014 was awarded the Order of the Bath Companion (CB) for services to Parliament and voluntary service to the community through Great Culverden Park Ltd.

John James Pullinger CB (born 1 June 1959) is the National Statistician for the United Kingdom, serving in this role since 1 July 2014. Pullinger was a statistician in the Central Statistical Office and later the Office for National Statistics from 1980, finally rising to Director of Social Statistics in 1996. In 2004 he became the Director-General of Information Services and Librarian of the House of Commons. He was the President of the Royal Statistical Society for 2013-14. He has been actively involved in statistics education including as the first Chari of the Getstats campaign for statistical literacy from 2010-2103. In 2014, Pullinger was appointed to replace Dame Jil Matheson as the British National Statistician and the Permanent Secretary-graded Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority. As of 2015, Pullinger was paid a salary of between £150,000 and £154,999, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time. Pullinger was educated at Alleyn's School, Dulwich, the University of Exeter (geography and statistics) and Harvard Business School. In July 2016, Pullinger was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Exeter for outstanding achievements in the field of statistics. John has represented the Uk internationally at the United Nationals Statiscal Commission, Eurostat and OECD. John is married with three adult children. He is active in his local community in Tunbridge Wells and has been the chairman of Great Culverden Park Limited since 1999.

The eastern boundary of the park abutted the grounds of the Kent &Sussex Hospital ( built in the 1930’s;demolished 2014) which fronted on St John’s Road, and extended some considerable distance westward from that point. The former site of the hospital was planned for a 2017 housing development and school, details of which can be found in the online records of the Planning Authority.

The Park forms a 'green link' under the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Green Infrastructure Plan, 2011 that provides a wildlife corridor linking the park, Rusthall Common and other local wildlife sites. The housing development along Mt. Ephraim is required to provide a contiguous Protected Ecology Zone through the development to support this.

It is stated on the Wikepedia website that “Except for an ice house, a hydraulic ram connected to a spring and some other hydraulic works, nothing remains of the house that gave the park its name.”  Ice houses (photo opposite) built either above or below ground used to be a necessity for keeping blocks of ice which were purchased from local suppliers of ice such as the Tunbridge Wells Ice and Storage Company which had a new building constructed on Goods Station Road at its intersection with Mercer Street, across from the premises of the Baltic Sawmills (at 103 Goods Station Road) in 1912. Details about that company can be found in my article ‘ The Tunbridge Wells Ice and Storage Company Ltd’ dated April 26,2017. A photo of hydraulic ram is shown below.

Homeowners, before the invention of the electric refrigerator, used to have ice boxes in their homes in which a block of ice was placed to keep its contents cool. 

Unfortunately no photograph of the remains of the ice house in Great Culverden Park was found and so it is unknown by the researcher what state it is on today nor whether it was an above ground ice house or one installed underground. Its precise location on the site is not known by the researcher either but must be close, for reasons of convenience, to the site of the former Great Culverden house, which would place it in the vicinity of the Upper Pond.

With respect to what remains of the hydraulic ran that was connected to a spring and some other hydraulic works on the site, no photograph of it was available to include in this article. Instead I have shown opposite a generic photo of a hydraulic ram. A Hydraulic ram is not in itself a pump for it does not rely on electric power for its operation. The principle it works on is based on the differential pressure created by the flow of water and so in the case of the one in the park the pressure differential was likely that created by the source of the water from the spring and its outlet in the Upper Pond. Details about hydraulic rams can be found on Wikipedia or other websites. Obviously a pipe ran from the hydraulic ram to the house Great Culverden where water was drawn for domestic use.

The community surround the park is a vibrant one and for many years now they get together in the park for their annual Summer Party. When the first party began was not established but it has been an event looked forward to with much anticipation by local residents in recent times. Each year residents from the surrounding area gather for the event of July 30, 2016 where the music was provided by Groove 101. Two photos of this event are shown below. The one on the left in the afternoon and the one in the evening under lights while dancing to the music.

The website of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Croquet Club which showed their newsletter of June 2008 makes reference in part to a croquet challenge in which a team called ‘Duckweed’ of Great Culverden Park competed.

A visit to the park with a camera would be of benefit to obtain other interesting views of the park ,ice house and other relics on the site.



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

Date: May 2,2017


The Broadwater Estate Development was an undertaking of the 4th Earl of Abergavenny,the Rev’d William Nevill ,who set about to transform,what was in 1860, an area that had become a heather covered ridge, but  originally part of the ancient Waterdown Forest, into a residential estate complete with a church (St Marks),church vicarage and church parsonage  and eventually, in the initial development, a residential  subdivision of 45 grand Victorian mansions  on a lovely lime tree lined road named Broadwater Down.

No. 21 Broadwater down was built in the 1860’s by George Mansfield, a local builder who constructed many others homes in the Broadwater Down residential development. He was living at this home at the time of the 1871 census but by 1881 moved to No. 19 Broadwater Down. At the time of the 1871 census George was employing 90 men and 5 boys in his business.

The home, being 2 stys and constructed of red brick,  has seen many residents over the years including William Henry Nunn in the 1870’s; John Ducksey, a retired grocer in the late 1870’s and until 1882 when Alfred Pulford took occupancy. By 1891 Richard Haby, a Colonel in the army, lived there and by 1901 the home was the residence of Thomas Henry Elam , a wealthy woolen merchant, who was still there at the time of the 1911 census, although he was absent and the home was in the care of his gardener Thomas George Partner Neves who lived there with his wife Annie (nee Passmore) and his son Stanley. Annies brother Arthur Passmore (1886-1916) had emigrated to Australia and was killed during the Battle of the Somme while serving with the 55th Btn of the Australian Infantry. Arthur Passmore had written to his sister while the Neves lived at 21 Broadwater Down. An example of his correspondence is given in this article.

Adolphus Spies, born in Germany, was a chemical merchant and lived at No. 21 from at least 1913 until 1920.

On November 3,1925 the Marquess of Abergavenny sold a freehold interest in No. 21 to Robert Duncan Bell.

The home does not appear to have come into military use during WW 1 but in WW II is was requisitioned for use by the Army Signalling Corp and a shelter was constructed in the cellar. It was one of many homes in Broadwater Down that came into military use during the war.

In the 20th century the home was divided up into flats and today there are six flats in it. Shown above is a modern view of the home.


No. 21 Broadwater Down was located on the south side of the lovely lime tree lined road Broadwater Down east of St Mark’s Church. The photographs of the home given in this article serve as a description of the home and the map shown opposite, marked in red, denotes its location in the development. Unlike many of the homes in this area is still looks on the exterior much as it did when constructed and is one of the few survivors of the original homes constructed, for the area has undergone significant redevelopment over the years with new roads branching off Broadwater Down constructed and many new homes built on them.

The home was built on large and nicely landscaped grounds and at times the occupants of the home had a live in gardener who tended the trees, shrubs and flower gardens that beautified the site.

This home, and all the others in the development had been constructed on land owned by the Marquess of Abergavenny but in the 1920’s he began to sell off a freehold interest in the homes, including No. 21 in 1925.

A company called “21 Broadwater Down Management Company Limited was incorporated December 13,2010 with registered offices in Dorset. The company (07468349)  has three directories, and is a property management company in charge of the six flats that the home had been divided into in the 20th century.

For further details about the Broadwater Down Development see my article entitled ‘ The Broadwater Down Estate Development’ dated November 22,2013.


George Mansfield (1800-1882)was the builder of St Mark’s church in 1864-1866 and his son Alfred John Mansfield  did additional work on the church in 1903. Shown opposite and below are two postcard views of St Mark's Church by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn. George was also the builder of the vicarage and he parsonage for the church and hired by the Marquess as the principal builder of the private residences in the estate. They had operated under the business name of George Mansfield and Son until their partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on March 24,1866. The companies address at that time was Gray’s Inn Lane in Middlesex but also had business premises in Tunbridge Wells.George Mansfield had an office in The Pantiles located behind the Bath House. The London Gazette of March 27,1866 gave the announcement of the dissolution of the company. After that George and his son operated separately but by 1866 George was essentially retired. His elder and younger son Henry however carried on his work.

The National Archives holds a large archive of documents pertaining to the Nevill family (The Marquess) and amongst those documenst is a contract entered into by them with George Mansfield. The contract  and related plans are dated 1862 and pertain to the construction of the road Broadwater Down; several homes and the church of St Marks as well as the dedication of the land for the church in 1866.

George Mansfield became the principal builder of homes with the Marquess retaining ownership of the land. The homes were kept as leasehold by the Nevill’s until many were sold as freehold interests in the 1920’s and more in the 1940’s. Some of the homes George constructed are identified on the architectural drawings as homes for the Marquess of  Abergavenny, with others being constructed for other parties. George himself is found living in one of the homes he constructed on Broadwater Down in the 1871 census (#21). In that census he was identified as a builder employing 90 men and three boys. Living with him was his wife Ann, born 1805 at Soho,London  and their two children Amy and Harry and a granddaughter. His son Harry(Henry) was working for his father as an assistant builder and he was born 1853 at Holburn,London. Also in the home were three servants. It is possible that it was George’s son Henry/Harry that was involved in the work on St Marks Church in 1903 and not his brother Alfred. Henry is shown in the records of Tonbridge School where he received his early education.

George Mansfield had been baptised August 1800 at St Andrew Holburn. He was the son of James Mansfield and M How. Going back in time George is found in the 1841 census at St Andrew Holburn as a builder. Living with him was his wife Anne,age 35 ; five of their children and three servants. George had married Ann Wingfield Bowler(1805-1899) May 12,1824 at St Andrew Holburn.Ann was born in London and died in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1899.The 1861 census, taken at 19 John Street Holburn St Andrew records George as a builder. Living with him was his wife Ann and seven children and two servants. The 1881 census, taken at 19 Broadwater Down records George as a builder employing 80 men and two boys. Living with him were five of his children and three servants. His son George Needham Mansfield(1848-1895) is living with him and is recorded as a cabinet maker employing 80 men. George’s son Harry is still living with him and is recorded as a builder, age 38.

George Mansfield was involved in a number of projects in Tunbridge Wells apart from Broadwater Down and as one example he was the builder of Ely Grange in Frant, as noted in The Building News of September 16,1881 and again in November 1881. A picture of the building along with details of its owner and architect are given in the articles and states “ it has been carried out by Messrs George Mansfield and Son of Tunbridge Wells”.

The National Archives also holds an agreement between the London,Brighton and South Coast Railway and George Mansfield “builder, Tunbridge Wells” regarding the transfer of land to the railway. There are also papers of the Nevill family concerning  building contracts  and plans with George Mansfield dated 1862 for his work on the Broadwater Down Estate. Probate records give George Mansfield late of 19 Broadwater Down,Tunbridge Wells, builder, died March 4,1882 at 19 Broadwater Down. Proved by Alfred John Mansfield of 39 South Street Grosvenor Square,Middlesex, builder, and George Needham Mansfield of 114 New Bond Street,Middlesex,cabinet maker, the sons two of the executors. George Left a sizeable estate.


Given below is a list of known occupants of the home covering the period of 1871 to 1938. The list is by no means complete as annual records for the home were not available and the information contained in the table is based on a review of available census , directory and related documents.

1871……….George Mansfield

1874………..William Henry Nunn

1881…………John Docksey

1882…………Alfred Pulford

1891…………Richard Haby

1899-1901…..Thomas Henry Elam

1911-1922……Adolph Spies

1925…………….Robert Duncan Bell

1930-1938……John Drake

WW II…………..Requisitioned for use by the military

Given below is some brief information about some of the occupants and information about George Mansfield who built the home and was still there at the time of the 1871 census was given in the previous section.


William first appears at No. 21 in the 1874 directory and had left the home by the time of the 1881 census. He was a retired gentleman of about age 68 in 1874. He lived there with his wife and 2-3 servants.


John was found at No. 21 at the time of the 1881 census. He had been born 1821 at Hilton, Derbyshire. At the time of the 1841 census he was single and working as a grocers assistant for John Morley, who had a grocers shop in Derbyshire.

In the 1840’s John married Jane, who had been born 1824 in Hanley, Staffordshire. At the time of the 1851 census, taken at Market Square, Hanley, John was running a grocers shop. Living with him was his wife Jane; two of his daughters;five shop assistants and apprentices and two domestic servants. He and his family were still at that shop at the time of the 1861 census. No reliable 1871 census was found for him.

The 1881 census, taken at No. 21 Broadwater Down gave John as a retired grocer. With him was his wife Jane ; his daughter Jeannette, born 1856 in Hanley and two domestic servants.

Probate records gave John Docksey late of 17 Lulworth Road, Birkdale,Southport, Lancashire, gentleman, when he died May 5,1887 at No. 17 Lulworth. The executors of his 28,439 pound estate were his widow Jane and his son Thomas Docksey ,gentleman, of Manor House, Swavesey,Cambridge.


Alfred was listed at No. 21 in the 1882 Kelly directory. The Law Times of December 19,1896 and he London Gazette of November 27,1896 both refer to Alfred Pulford, the younger of Benholm, 21 Broadwater Down, Tunbridge Wells, in connection with the settlement of his estate.


Richard was found at No. 21 at the time of the 1891 census. He was born 1841 in Tunbridge Wells and had taken up a military career.

The 1891 census, taken at 21 Broadwater Down gave Richard as a “soldier Col. of Infantry”. With him was his wife Geraldrin, born 1844 in Guernsey, Channel Islands and their two daughters Mabel, born 1872 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and Hilda, born in the same place in 1877. Also in the home were two domestic servants.


Thomas is found at No. 21 in the 1899 Kelly directory and the 1901 census.

Thomas as born February 27, 1846 at St James, Westminster and was baptised August 5,1846 at the same place and given as the son of Thomas Henry Elam and Sophia Elizabeth Elam.

On January 10,1901 at St John’s Church in Paddington Thomas married Ethel Matilda Stamper who was born 1866 in Wandsworth, Surrey.

The 1901 census,taken at No. 22 Broadwater Down gave Thomas as a woolen merchant employing others. With him was his wife Ethel and four servants.

The 1911 census, taken at 41 Holland Park, Kensington, gave Thomas as a woolen merchant. With him was his wife Ethekl and his 9 year old granddaughter. Also there in the residence of 16 rooms were six servants. The census recorded that the couple had been married 10 years and had two children, both of whom were still living.

Probate records for Thomas Henry Elam gave him of 41 Holland Park, Kensington and of 33 Sackville Street, st James, Westminster when he died November 8,1912 at 4 Upper Wimpole Street, St Marylebone. The executors of his 108,859 pound estate was his widow Ethel and his solicitor and accountant. 


Adolph was the occupant of No. 21 at the time of the 1911 census although he was absent and the home was in the care of his gardener Thomas George Partner Neves. Details about Mr Neves and his family are of some interest and are given in the last section of this article. He is also found at No. 21 in the directories of 1913 to 1920.

Adolph, also known as Adolphus, was born in Germany in 1850/1851 and while in England worked as a chemical merchant.

The 1901 census, taken at Ewell Road in Surbiton, Surrey gave Adolphus as age 50 and single and working as a chemical merchant. With him was his widowed aunt and two domestic servants.

Death records gave Adolphus Spies as born 1850 and that he died in the 4th qtr of 1927 at Chipping Sudbury, Gloucestershire.

[7] WW II

Several homes in Broadwater Down were requisitioned for military use in the war. No. 21 as well as No. 16 were taken over by the Army Signalling Corp and records show that a shelter was built in the basement of No. 21. The map presented earlier in this article is from a website reporting on the bunkers in Broadwater and the homes used on Broadwater Down for military use.


As noted above Adolph Spies who lived in No. 22 was absent at the time of the 1911 census and that the home was in the care of his gardener Thomas Neve.

Thomas Neve was born Thomas George Partner Neve November 8,1881  in Tottenham, London and was the son of George Neve, a gardener, one of several children in the family. At the time of the 1901 census he was living in Herden and working as a gardener.

On April 30,1904 he married Annie Passmore at St Mary, Finchley, the daughter of Richard Passmore, a painter. Annie had been born 1879 in Barnstaple, Devon(postcard view above).

Thomas and his wife had two children namely (1) Stanley George Passmore Neve (1905-1933).He was buried at Ashford Barnstaple Devon at St Peter’s Church Cemetery. (2) Arthur William Passmore Neve (1913-1995) who became the managing director of the Neve Roofing Company Limited (01212920) which was incorporated May 16,1975 but now is dissolved. His wife Gwendoline Ida Neve born 1922 was also a director in the company. His business operated from premises at 30 Staddon Road in Appledore, Bideford, Devon.

The 1911 census, taken at No. 21 Broadwater Down gave Thomas Neve as a gardener domestic. With him was his wife Annie, given as born 1878 in Barstaple, Devon. Also there was their son Stanley.

Probate records gave Thomas George Partner Neve of Rixton Cottages, Sticklepath, Barnstaple, Devon  when he died May 21, 1956 at Alexandra Hospital in Barnstaple. The executor of his 572 pound estate was his son Arthur William Passmore Neve, company director.

Turning now to Thomas’s wife Annie, she was born as Annie Passmore . one of eleven children born to Richard Passmore (1849-1906) and Jane Passmore, nee Hoyle (1851-1940). Among her siblings was a brother Arthur Passmore (1886-1916) who sent the postcard below from France to his sister Annie Neve while she was living at No. 21 Broadwater Down. Shown below is the front and back of the postcard. The text on the back is of no great significance except Arthur states that he had arrived safely in France. The postcard was addressed to "The Lodge" 21 Broadwater Down and the 1909 os map shows that there was a lodge at the rear of the property accessed by a long drive from the road that ran down past the east side of the house. The postcard noted the senders service number as 5428 with the 1st Reinforcement of the 55th Btn of the Australian Infantry and that he was a signaller on active service. From this record a search for him was made and the following information found.

Firstly Arthur had decided to emigrate to Australia and departed from London September 26,1912 on the steamship COMMONWEALTH (photo below right) of the P& O Line and arrived November 18,1912 at Sydney, Australia. When war broke out he enrolled for service with the Australian Infantry.

The 55th Btn was an infantry battalion of the Australian Army. A badge of the AIF is shown left. It was raised in 1916 for service during WW 1 and served on the Western Front until the end of the war. In June 1916 the battalion took up positions in the trenches and by mid -July were engaged in heavy combat during the Battle of the Somme. It was during this battle that Arthur was killed on October 23,1916. He is recorded on the Villeres- Bretonneaux Memorial in France. There is a plaque on the memorial with his name on it as " A. Passmore". Shown here is a photo of the memorial.

Several members of the Passmore family are buried at Holy Trinity Church in Barnstaple, Devon including Arthur’s parents. The headstone  records the names of his parents as well as Arthur'sname and three of his sisters . Arthur is recorded on the stone as the son of Richard Passmore. His sisters Bessie,Jane  and Emily are also recorded on the stone as the daughters of Richard Passmore. Althogh Arthur of course was not buried at Holy Trinity his name on the headstone serves as a local memorial to him.



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

Date: April 28,2017


Today we take ice cream for granted but it began as a special treat. People of all ages have enjoyed it since it was first introduced to England since the 17th century, when a French chef whipped up a dessert for Charles the First, using frozen cream.

By the 18th century ice cream parlours were springing up across London, where the rich and famous could sample delights of dairy ices. The frozen treat remained a luxury item until cheaper ices hit the streets with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the 1860s. With the cries of “hokey pokey, penny a lump”, the hokey pokey men became regular street corner vendors, bringing cheap ices to the masses. But with ice cream produced in back street basements, often in filthy conditions, customers often got more than they bargained for.

Refrigeration had been known about for centuries, but the techniques were pretty homely. Until the 1920’s, most methods used salt and ammonia to make ice and frost. This process could be tricky business and batches of ice cream were often tainted by leaking chemicals. Newspaper reports of illnesses and deaths resulting from “poisoning” after eating ice cream were common in the 1880’s and local councils wrestled with complaints about a lack of standards on what constituted ice cream, even into the 1930’s.

In 1896 an Italian immigrant in America called Marciano patented a special mould to produce the first ice cream cone, but it was not until about 1903 that his invention caught on. The ice cream cone was introduced to Britain by Lawrence Askey who travelled from Italy in 1910 and set up as an ice cream salesman. While cones were new to Britain people had been enjoying ices on wafers since 1905, which were introduced by an ice cream seller called Lewis from his pitch in Bolton Market Hall. Lewis had devised a rectangular brass slide used for making up the sandwich, which was designed to fit the new thin wafer biscuits make by Peak Frean & Co. and were called “sliders”.

In 1922 a revolution occurred when sausage maker Thomas Wall turned to the production of ice cream and initially sold wrapped brickettes through various outlets. His ice cream did not however become popular until Wall went mobile, taking his ice cream to the public on tricycles. His trikes could be seen in London with their operators dressed in smart uniforms and peaked caps. With the eye catching slogan “Stop me and buy one” Wall’s trikes soon ousted the hokey pokey men from their long standing ice cream monopoly. Walls sold ice cream in tubs or as brickettes. Ice lollies with sticks had yet to be invented and so their “Sno Frute” was wrapped in waxed cardboard. They also produced a milk based lollie called “Sno Cream” and by the 1930’s sales of these two products peaked at 25 million.

The year after Walls trikes hit the streets (image opposite), the rival company the “Eldorado Ice Cream Co. Ltd. of London, which in the 1930’s had a depot in Tunbridge Wells at 25a Victoria Road, as well as others in England, scored a first, introducing ice cream to the cinema. A competitor called Lyons, who frequently advertised their ice cream in the Kent & Sussex Courier, and was sold locally by confectioners, café’s etc, competed with Eldorado for the cinema business. Patrons of the cinema welcomed the sight of the ‘Lyons Maid” is her smart costume selling a selection of ice cream.

On the domestic front home-made ice cream was something many women attempted employing the use of cream,sugar,eggs etc placed in a container in a hand cranked churn, chilled by the surrounding ice and salt. Most early ice cream made at home or by large companies was plain but later fruit or artificial flavourings and colorants were added to expand the selection available. The first recipe for home-made ice cream appeared in the 1880’s.

The Hove History website had this to say about ice cream " Home made ice-cream was popular. Stanley Bishop was so fond of it that he thought nothing of walking all the way from Edward Street, Brighton, to the Holland Road factory to collect some ice. Back home the ice was packed into a wooden bucket around a central metal container that held the mixed ice-cream powder. By turning a handle the ice revolved around the cylinder – it was somewhat similar to the laborious churning of butter. Sometimes it took a good half-hour before the ice-cream was set properly.Mrs Grove’s shop on the corner of Suffolk Street, Hove, offered home made ice-cream for sale. It was newly made every morning and was popular with children who had the choice of vanilla or pink ice-cream.In the streets men sold ice-creams from large boxes placed on bicycles or tricycles. They also sold something called a snow fruit, an early version of an ice-lolly. If you wished you could have ice-cream delivered to your door. All you had to do was place a card with a large W in the front window and the Wall’s salesman would knock at your door on his rounds."

During WW 1, restrictions were imposed on the use of many products, including sugar, an essential ingredient in making ice cream, and as a result the production of ice cream was severely impacted until 1919 when manufacturers were once again allowed to use sugar.

As the nation recovered from the war during the 1950’s, a new ice cream revolution occurred namely the arrival of the ice cream van, a brightly decorated conveyance with a window and sales point on the side which announced its presence by a loud speaker and bells. Children upon hearing it coming chased after it in hopes of buying with their pence a cool tasty treat. It was not long before thousands of these vans could be found  plying the streets of Britain or parked at key points at fairs and other events, and they can still be seen today satisfying our appetite for cool creamy treat. The Kent & Sussex Courier of June 12,1934 reported “ Between 30 and 40 million gallons of ice cream were consumed in England this year”. Boy-talk about an appetite for ice cream ! One has to wonder what the consumption was in 2016.


The availability of ice cream and similar cool treats in the town no doubt followed the national trend. Residents initially relied upon the home production of ice cream using a churn. During the 19th century ice cream vendors, most notably those of Italian decent,arrived in the town and after obtaining the required license, plied the streets with their ice cream barrows.

A review of local directories and newspaper accounts from the Kent & Sussex Courier and the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser during the 19th and 20th century provide some indication of events on the local scene surrounding the ice cream manufacturing industry, the distribution and sale of ice cream products and issues surrounding licencing and health. These and other sources of information were used in constructing the information presented in this article.


On the issue of health several reports were found dealing with concerns about the manner in which ice cream was being made particularly with regard to contamination of the product and many cases of illness and death after consuming ice cream. The Whitstable Times of September 24,1892 reported that a deceased gentleman had died after telling witnesses that he had been eating ice cream before his demise. The Canterbury Journal and Kentish Times of June 13,1885 reported a case where poisoned ice cream had been bought from an Italian vendor.

The Dover Times of July 18,1924 carried a report from a council meeting where it was asked if the Officer of Health was keeping close watch on ice cream being sold in barrows. He replied that he was. The question presumably referre4d to the milk danger and it was stated that ice cream made from pasteurised mile should be absolutely safe. Obviously some ice cream was being made from unpasteurised milk causing illness.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of August 22,1900 reported on the death of a local man , a Thomas Trueinan, the son of a labourer the result of eating ice cream. The article reported that “no fewer than 150 cases of poisoning by ice cream” (not in Tunbridge wells however) had recently been noted.

Even as late as 1933 there were repeated cases of impure ice cream products being made. The Institute of Hygiene Food for Health was the organization responsible for the certification of the purity of ice cream . Advertisments of ice cream by manufacturers often stated within them for example  “Wall’s Ice Cream-sold under the Certificate of the Institute of Hygiene” . The Thanet Advertiser of April 11,1930 reported “there are now 2,000 Wall’s ice cream sellers of their products”.

The Thanet Advertiser of June 23,1936 gave an article entitled “What is ice cream?” and stated that there was no legal definition according to the Medical Officer of Health of what it was  and that it could be made of anything as there were not standards”.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 7,1949 reported “ Council concerned about ice cream purity question. Members of the Tonbridge Urban Council are keen to improve the standard of ice cream sold in the town but are hampered by a lack of authority to deal with the matter.


Many cases of crime surrounding ice cream were found. Some involved vendors charged with being drunk and carrying alcohol in their ice cream barrow; others charged with the theft of money or ice cream while employed as vendors and even some cases of ice cream shops being robbed of their ice cream. A few examples are given below.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of September 10,1948 reported a sentence of three months imprisonment for larceny in a case involving a question of the manufacture and weight  of ice cream.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of November 4,1932 regarding the Tunbridge Wells Borough involved a charge of embezzlement where the accused Leonard Joseph Richardson, in his capacity of a servant to the Eldorado Ice Cream Company Ltd, was charged with taking the sum of 1 pound 6s 7d that was received by him on account of his employer.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 23,1936 gave an account from the Tunbridge Wells Police Court that Frederick Roberts was charged of theft ,while being the servant of the Eldorado Ice Cream Co. Ltd, regarding an ice cream wallet etc valued at 1 pound 12s 6d. A Benjamin Blake of St James Road gave testimony to the case.

The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of June 26,1936 reported from the Tunbridge Wells Borough Bench that William
Eagles, ice cream salesman, pleaded guilty to stealing 13s 11d worth of stock from the Eldorado Ice Cream Co. Ltd.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 29,1938 reported on a collision between an ice cream van and a motor car while driving down a hill ( presumably Mount Pleasant Hill). The ice cream van operator was found at fault. Several other cases across the country were found of accidents between ice cream barrows and vans and other conveyances.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 28,1916 reported from the Tunbridge Wells County Court that a Mr Clark, who was sent out with an ice cream barrow was short in his return. Mr Duca, a Tunbridge Wells confectioner and maker of ice cream, alleged that the plaintiff had stolen some of the takings or gave away ice cream or that he did not measure the ice cream properly.

A report in the Courier in 1936 gave an account involving the Eldorado Ice Cream Co. Ltd w.r.t. a 16 year old boy who was charged with stealing 3s 6d as well as a coat, cap and badge from his employer. The ice cream vendors of that company, like many others, wore a uniform consisting of a cap, coat and a badge of the company they worked for and it appears that this young land made off with it and the money.

These are but a few examples of health related concerns.


Rationing during war time was a way of life and one of the items rationed in both wars was sugar. The production of ice cream in England during WW 2 was banned altogether in 1942 on the basis that it had no nutritional value. The Americans however permitted the production of ice cream as they believed it boosted morale among the troops. Shown opposite from the BBC is a photo of three little children with carrots on a stick, a healthier alternative to ice cream which was not available during WW 2 due to rationing.

During WW 1 sugar was also rationed and without it ice cream could not be made. The Dover Express of March 14,1919 reported “ Defence of the Realm Regulations- To ice cream manufacturers, relaxation of the restrictions upon manufacture of ice cream. It has been decided to revoke the ice cream restriction order as from March 22nd and thus to permit the use of sugar in its manufacture from that date”.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of March 25,1915 reported  “Tunbridge Wells Borough Bench- Military authorities objected to vendors selling pastry, unripe fruit and ice cream to their troops, which were not good for the troops. They had asked Council to take action to prevent the sale of these items to the troops and had threatened to take steps themselves under military regulations if this practice was not stopped”.


All ice cream vendors operating in Tunbridge Wells were required to be licensed and their operations were controlled by the local licensing authority. There were many regulations including the requirement to display their name and address; restrictions on the days and hours of operation etc.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of December 28,1906 reported on the Tunbridge Wells Improvement Bill which in part referred to “ any person being manufacturer or vendor or merchant or dealer in ice cream or other similar commodity who within the Borough….”

The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of October 15,1948  gave an article referring to “ice cream vendors travelling 60-70 miles there and back to sell ice cream, taking the money out of the town and leaving our streets littered with empty cartons. A member of council wanted to know what grade of ice cream was being sold and why our local traders could not hold the trade”.

One amusing account regarding the manufacture of ice cream appeared in the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser dated May 26,1906, when it talked about a St Bernard dog that was put to work on a treadmill to churn ice cream, make hamburg, sharpen knives, chop onions etc.

A review of the 1911 census for Tunbridge Wells gave two listings of ice cream vendors but surely there must have been more. The first was Antonio De Moria at 19 Stanley Road. He was born 1847 in Italy and was given as an “ice cream maker”. He was living there with his wife Mary,age 45 and their five children. A second listing was for Gaetano De Duca born 1860 in Italy who was living at 64 Camden Road with his wife and four children. His wife Christina born 1866 in Italy was assisting him in his ice cream merchant business. Also there were two other Italian men working as his servants. Directories of 1918 gave Gaetono De Duca & Son, confectioners, 64 and 1b Camden Road. In the 1930 Kelly the same company was just listed at 1b Camden Road.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 8,1921 gave an account from the Tunbridge Wells Town Council where “ A memorial was signed by Superintendants and officers of various Sunday Schools regarding what steps can be taken in the interest of the children to prevent in future ice cream barrows parading the streets”.

Competition in the local ice cream trade was noted by the Kent & Sussex Courier August 25,1933 under “ The Courts-Professional jealousy said Alfred James Manktelow, an ice cream salesman, when he summoned J. Dimascin for using threatening words to hi,. He alleged that Dimascin, who was also in the ice cream business, objected to his occupying a certain pitch…”

Most of the ice cream sold in Tunbridge Wells was not made locally. The only ice cream manufacturer found in Tunbridge Wells was the Eldorado Ice Cream Co. Ltd. who had only a depot at 25a Victoria Road. This company’s head office was in London and had depots and agents throughout most of Britain. Shown opposite is an advertisement for the business and elsewhere are other photos related to this company. From their depot they distributed ice cream to local merchants, most notably confectioners shops, café’s and restaurants, but they also had hired boys and men to work for them as street vendors and could be found peddling their ice cream tricycles about the town. The National Archives holds records for this company from 1925 to 1960. When the depot closed in Tunbridge Wells is not known but were still there up to at least 1938 at the same address. Shown here are images of an Eldorado ice cream trike, a poster advertisement and a photo of one of their lorries.

Another competitor was Walls Ice Cream. A photo of one of their vans is shown below. They also advertised extensively in the Kent & Sussex Courier.

Another competitor was Lyon’s Ice Cream, which advertised extensively in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This was a national company with thousands of agents/outlets. The Kent & Sussex Courier of May 31,1935 advertised “ Lyons Ice Cream 3d,4d,6d and in 1 pound bricks”. A similar advertisement in the same newspaper appeared June 6,1930.  The Courier of May 11,1928 ran the advertisement “We are agents to Lyons Ice Cream bricks. Baby bricks 2d each; bricketts 6d each;chocolate ices 3d each; brocks 1 pound each; Kup ices 3d each”. Many shops in the town sold ice cream, such as Raiswells who advertised locally as being agents for Lyons Ice Cream bricks.

Harringtons, a well-known name in local business advertised in the Kent & Sussex Courier July 4,1924  “ Harrington’s Ice Cream (made with fresh cream) can now be obtained in the form of ice cream bricks which will remain frozen for a considerable time. Price 1/6 each. Take one home with you. Harrington’s, The Five Ways”. In directories of 1918 to 1922 Harrington’s had premises at 4a Grosvenor Road ( Five Ways); 30a Ye Pantiles and at 39 Calverley Road and advertised themselves as confectioners. In the April 2017 edition of my website I posted an article entitled 'Harringtons-The Tunbridge Wells Confectioners' that I wrote in 2014. That article should be consulted for more information and photographs pertaining that business.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of April 27,1928 stated “ Sirs, what electrical refrigeration can do for you. Millions of tons of ice cream are consumed in this country every summer and the habit is growing. To the confectionery trade ice cream is rapidly becoming a most important source of profits instead of a sideline”. The same newspaper dated June 21,1929 reported “Tunbridge Wells-This combination ice cream freezer and storage cabinet makes ice cream electrically and economically. It is designed for the small trader and will make 2 gallons of finished ice cream”. Advertisments for ice cream making equipment were found in newspaper advertisments dating back to the 1860s’ and touted the large profits that could be made from the production of ice cream.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of May 13, 1932 advertised “Latter’s Ice Cream, a nutritious and healthy food and has been awarded a diploma of merit for its high standard of quality and purity in every open competition for ice cream is in this county sold by all confectioners, cafes and dairies…”

Some idea of the wages payed to ice cream vendors was given in the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser of April 7,1939 when it stated “ Tunbridge Wells-Ice cream salesman wanted. Wages 4s per day 2s Bed one pound guaranteed minimum. Six day week also thrift scheme and free laundry. Apply at the Ice Cream Co. Ltd 25 a Victoria Road,Tunbridge Wells.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of June 16,1939 gave the report “ Womens Institution- When the ice cream man arrived the children gave great cheer and followed him as he rode round the gardens looking rather like the Pied Piper of Hamlin modernized. The ices for the children were bought by Mrs Macdonald”.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of Mary 20,1947 ran an article which in part stated “ Guerilla Chief now sells ice cream to the people of Tunbridge Wells. Giovanni De Mascio is an ice cream merchant but in Cassino Italy he is known as a leader of the resistance movement during the Nazi occupation…”

Most recently Flossies has an ice cream business in the town. Shown above is an ice cream tricycle used for a wide range of outside events and also doubles up as an instore freezer.

Shown opposite right is a view of Cabachon’s ice cream barrow in the Pantiles, a modern view. It has been decorated with wallpaper.

A recent newspaper article reported on Taywell Ice Creams of Paddock Wood, a business begun in 2006 and which supplies nearly all of Tunbridge Wells top end restaurants and about 1,000 more nationwide. The business had begun from the Goudhurst farm which had been in the founder’s family since 1870.

To close off this article I present above left a photo of Mr De Mashio's restored ice cream van .He had his ice cream business for many years from his shop at the south end of the High Street . You can see his ice cream van on the right hand side of the High Street postcard above it.



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

Date: April 29,2017


Until the arrival of the railway in Tunbridge Wells in 1845 and the establishment of a Goods Station  just west of John Ward’s quarry there was no Goods Station Road. Soon after the initial terminus of the railway work began on extending by way of a tunnel to what became the Central Station at the south end of Mount Pleasant Road. Shown opposite is a map of the area from 1849 on which can be seen Ward’s quarry and to the west of it the Goods Station which is labelled on the map as the Jackwood Station and Wharfs. The building at 103 Goods Station Road had not been built at the time this map was prepared and as the map shows, any buildings on it were at the west end near Victoria Road.

The area along Goods Station Road soon after began to build up with a combination of industrial and residential buildings and of course the usual pubs such as ‘The Baltic’, named after the Baltic Sawmills, which was located on Goods Station Road. The Kent & Sussex Courier of December 14,1877 announced “ A new establishment has opened called The Baltic on Goods Station Road designed for the special use of the working classes located near the Baltic Saw Mills. The building which this pub occupied on the north west corner of Goods Station Road and Mercer Street is still there but the pub closed many years ago.  The Kent & Sussex Courier of March 9,1877 gave a notice to the public that on February 6,1877 Baltic Sawmills had been sold by Mr C. Wood to Messrs Green, Potter & Co.

The Baltic Sawmills Company was a large employer in the town and had yards and buildings in several places, in addition to wharfs on the Medway River. When Baltic Sawmills first set up business in Tunbridge Wells was not established but based on newspaper accounts it established premises on Goods Station Road in the 1870’s. A map of 1852 shows that some buildings had been built beyond Victoria Road but none had reached the site of 103 Goods Station Road.

The two sty red brick building at 103 Goods Station Road was built in the 1870’s for the Baltic Sawmills Company and served as both a manufactory of wood products and the company’s head office.  The building’s entrance faced onto Goods Station Road and was built on a large plot of former farm land on the south west corner of Goods Station Road and Mercer Street. The building was of somewhat unusual design in that it featured a large central arch providing access into a large courtyard in which horse drawn waggons were loaded and unloaded. Across this arch was a large wrought iron gate, and although the building still has a gate it is not likely original to the building. Shown above is a modern view of the building's frontage on Goods Station Road. Shown opposite is a 1909 os map highlighting the buildings location in red.

Baltic Sawmills also owned and occupied land across the road from their building , on both the north and south side of Beech Street. The 1909 os map above shows these two Baltic yards, where wood was stored and their building at 103 Goods Station Road, all of which are boldly labelled on the map as “Baltic Saw Mills”.  Both of these Baltic yards are gone now. The one on the south east corner became an ice factory and cold storage building in the first qtr of 1900 owned by the Tunbridge Wells Ice and Cold Storage Co. Ltd.

Shown above  is a map from 2016 which shows the existence of the building at 103 Goods Station Road, the former “The Baltic” pub at No. 105 and the existence of “Baltic House” and “Elizabeth Garlic Court” which had swallowed up the former Baltic yards, the Ice Factory and part of Beech Road.


The best description of the building is by means of the photo presented in the previous section but in this section I provide more recent images of the exterior and interior.

Shown above is a ground floor plan of the building pertaining to a Planning Authority application in 2010. The  central feature of this plan  is a large courtyard. The area labelled “parking” above it pertained to the conversion of former warehouse space to provide additional parking on the site.  At the time this application was made the building was owned by Debeff Developments Ltd.  The upper floor of the building shows additional warehouse and office space. Shown below on the left is a view of the building when it was occupied by Baltic Sawmills and to the right of it is a modern image to compare with.

In 2013 estate agents Bracketts offered this building for sale. Their sales brochure provided three good images of the exterior and interior of the building and a description of it namely “ A modern
construction behind an attractive brick frontage with gated entrance. Insulated roof with roof lights. Ancillary workshop or storage and offices. 16 ft eaves, some heating and carpeting, 3-phase power, mains gas, lighting. On the ground floor is a factory of 3,430 sf including yard and undercroft of 1,960 sf. The rear suite is 250 sf ground floor and 43- sf first floor for a total of 680 sf. The front suite is 210 sf ground and 715 sf first floor for a total of 925 sf. The total area of the building is 5.034 sf. Rent is 30,000 pounds per anum plus vat. Rates to be re-assessed. Shown here are the two interior views of the building from the estate agents brochure.


Given below is a list of known occupants of the building. It is by no means complete for the building has been occupied by a number of tenants over the years and parts of the building were occupied various tenants rather than by one tenant. The information was assembled based on a review of local directories, newspaper articles, records of the Planning Authority and other sources including an article in the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society newsletter of Autumn 2016.

Circa 1872-abt 1938……….Baltic Saw Mills

1987-2013………………………Glendale Printing Services

2008-2009………………………Ticktock Media Ltd

2010………………………………..Building vacant

2006-2011……………………….Recall Theatre/Recall Studios Limited

2013-2015……………………….Co-Op Funeral Services

2015-2016………………………..The Wells Studio Ltd/Present Health Ltd

The earliest online Planning Authority record found for this building was in 1983 when the applicant Debaff Developments Ltd received approval for two industrial units with parking.

The next application was in 2010, a retrospective application which made no changes to the building , from which file the 2010 floor plans given in the previous section were obtained.

In 2013 Glendale Printing Services received approval for a change in use to a Co-Op funeral services occupation. Glendale was referred to in minor applications at No. 103 in 2011 and 2012.

In 2015 approval was given to the applicant “ The Wells Studio Ltd of 2A William Street, Tunbridge Wells (Miss Jemma Smith) to operate a studio for drama, singing and dance for children and adults and for a small office area. The building at that time was owned by Debaff Developments Ltd of Unit 2, Forest Row Business Park Station Road, Forest Row.

The last application was dated 2016 in which the applicant was Mrs Jemma Shireby for the installation of an illuminated sign. The delegation report in part stated “ A large red brick building currently occupied by a number of businesses.

Glendale Print & Finish Ltd, formerly known as Glendale Printing
Services Ltd (02143665 incorporated July 1,1987) is now dissolved but left No. 103 Goods Station Road and took up premises at unit 8 Orchard Business Centre on North Farm Road.

The Wells Studio Ltd was incorporated August 21,2013 (08659501) but renamed Present Health Ltd July 21,2016. The head office was given as 32/34 St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells and the directors as James David Shireby and Jemma Louise Smith. This studio provided yoga classes.

A firm called Recall Theatre was in this building for a time. It had been set up in 2006 to provide further education for young performers in the Theatre Arts. Their website states “ We no longer run drama and singing classes in Tunbridge Wells”.  It was incorporated as 07674277 June 20,2011 and was still active in 2016.

Co-Op Funeral Care is part of the UK’s leading funeral director companies with over 1,000 funeral homes in the UK . It was registered as 01892517152.

Tick Tock Media Ltd (04052016) was incorporated August 14,2000 and dissolved October 19,2012. This business was a publishing company and a number of their publications can be found on the internet. In 2008 the company operated from premises at unit 2 Orchard Business Centre on North Farm Road and in 2009 the left 103 Goods Station Road and moved to Sevenoaks. This company is also sometimes referred to as “ Tick Tock Books Limited”.


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