ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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THE TILLARD FAMILY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date: May 31,2018

OVERVIEW 

The Tillard family are perhaps best remembered in Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere as quakers in connection with the Women’s Freedom League. In this regard the names of Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard (1874-1922) and her half- sister Lilian Irene Middleton, nee Tillard (1888-1964) come to mind. Although the Women’s Freedom League was a non-violent women’s suffrage organization some members of it, including Violet and Lilian, ended up being arrested and sent to prison.

The patriarch of the family was Violet’s and Lilian’s father George Henry Tillard (1840-1915), one of several children born to Rev. James Arthur Tillard (1812-1872) and Ellen Tillard, nee Cotterill (1817-1882). George was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire May 25,1840  where he lived with his parents and siblings and where he received his education.  George decided to embark on a military career beginning as an ensign in 1858. In 1862 his rank became a Lieutenant then a Captain in 1870 and finally a Major in 1878 and served with the Madras Army Staff in India. He retired from the military January 28,1887.

On April 17,1873 George married Louisa Fanny Anstey in Hastings, Sussex and then set off for India where their only child Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard was born December 29,1874 at Salem,Madras, India. Louisa had a short life for she died in the 1st qtr of 1883 at Kingston,Surrey.

On June 5,1884, at Brentford,Middlesex, George married Lilian Edith Hillard (1855-1929). Lillian was born in Pewsey, Wiltshire one of several children born to Joseph Stephen Hilliard (1827-1895) and his first wife Georgina Hawkins Hillard, nee Hamilton (1832-1861).

George and Lilian went on to have two daughters (1)  Georgina Gwendoline Tillard (1885-1936) who in 1908 married Noel Royston Harrison. Georgina was born May 9,1885 in Bangalore, Madras, India. (2) Lilian Irene Tillard (1888-1964)  was born in London. She went on to marry William Thomas Middleton. Lilian’s name is sometimes given in records as Lilian Isabella Tillard.

At the time of the 1891 census George Henry Tillard was given as a retired colonel in the Madras Staff Company and living in Kenton Devon. With him was his wife Lilian , his sister Margaret and his daughters Georgina and Lilian. Also there were three domestic servants.

Sometime after 1891 and before 1901 George Henry Tillard and his family moved to Tunbridge Wells. The 1901 census, taken at 38 Woodbury Park Road gave George as a retired colonel with the Madras Staff. With him was his wife Lilian and their daughter Lilian. Also there were two domestic servants.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 3,1908 reported on the arrival in Tunbridge Wells of a Women’s Freedom League horse drawn caravan with three ladies, one of which was the noted Murial Matters(1877-1969) an Australian born suffragist, lecturer, journalist, educator, actress and elocutionist. When she and the caravan arrived in the town she was met by Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard and the two of them remained as lifelong companions. Also meeting Muriel at that time was Violet’ half -sister Lilian Irene Tillard. Featured in this article are events surrounding the arrival of this caravan in the town and the activities of the aforementioned women in the suffrage movement.

The 1911 census, taken at ‘Westwood’ 76 Pennington Road, Southborough gave George Henry Tillard as a retired military man. With him was his wife Lilian and two domestic servants.

Probate records gave George Henry Tillard of Westwood, Southborough when he died June 21,1915. The executor of his 98 pound estate was his widow Lilian.

Probate records for George’s widow Lilian Edith Tillard gave her of 3 Southfield Road, Tunbridge Wells when she died June 3,1929 at the General Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. The executor of her 286 pound estate was her daughter Georgina Gwendoline Harrison. Both Lilian and George were buried in the Southborough Cemetery.

Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard was a suffragette, nurse, pacifist, supporter of conscientious objectors, international famine relief worker and a devout Quaker. In this article I provide details of her life and career. While in Russia she nursed three fellow workers who had fallen ill with typhus but she soon contracted the disease and died from it at Buzuluk,Bashkortostan, Russia on February 19,1922. The executor of her 4,505 pound estate was her half -sister Lilian Irene Middleton.

Lilian Irene Middleton, nee Tillard  was living at 512 Footscray Road in London when she died February 7,1964.  Her husband William Thomas Middleton was the executor of her 1,687 pound estate.  She had left Tunbridge Wells in the early 1900’s and took an active part in the organisation of the Women’s Freedom League. She married and had a son in 1917 and returned to live in West Kent for a while before settling in Canterbury. In February 1922 Irene had her sister Violet’s last letter published in the Kent & Sussex Courier as a means of appealing for funds for the Save the Children Fund’s work with children starving in Russia.

This article is far reaching in its coverage of the Tillard family and the Women’s Freedom League but its main focus is on the events and people of Tunbridge Wells. A series of photographs are also given for the key people referred to and a few of certain events such as the arrival of the Votes for Women caravan in the town in 1908.

GEORGE HENRY TILLARD (1840-1915)

George Henry Tillard (1840-1915), one of eleven children born to Rev. James Arthur Tillard (1812-1872) and Ellen Tillard, nee Cotterill (1817-1882). George was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire May 25,1840  where he lived with his parents and siblings and where he received his education. George was baptised July 12,1840 at Bluntisham Cum Earith, Huntingdon and given as the son of James Arthur Tillard and Ellen Tillard.

George decided to embark on a military career beginning as an ensign October 20, 1858. On January 1, 1862 his rank became a Lieutenant then a Captain October 10,1870 and then a Major October 20,1878 and served with the Madras Army Staff in India. He retired from the military January 28,1887. The India Army List noted that the date of his first commission was February 8,1859 and that in 1912 he was a Colonel. An image, reportedly of George is shown above.

On April 17,1873 George married Louisa Fanny Anstey in Hastings, Sussex and then set off for India where their only child Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard was born December 29,1874 at Salem,Madras, India. Baptisim records noted that Louisa Fanny Anstey had been born July 18,1846 and was baptised August 24,1846 at Milverton, Somerset, the daughter of Arthur Anstey and Fanny Agnes Anstey. The 1851 census, taken at the Parsonage House in Milverton, Somerset gave Arthur Anstey as born 1816 in London with the occupation of perpetual curate of Handley. With him was his wife Fanny, born 1814 in Staffordshire and his children Arthur,age 8; Thomas,age 6; Louisa Fanny Anstey and George Anstey,age 2. Also there were five domestic servants. Louisa had a short life for she died March 13,1883 at Kingston,Surrey. She was buried March 16th at Wimbledon Parish,Surrey.

On June 5,1884, at Brentford,Middlesex, George married Lilian Edith Hillard (1855-1929). Lillian was born in Pewsey, Wiltshire one of several children born to Joseph Stephen Hilliard (1827-1895) and his first wife Georgina Hawkins Hillard, nee Hamilton (1832-1861).

George and Lilian went on to have two daughters (1)  Georgina Gwendoline Tillard (1885-1936) who in 1908 married Noel Royston Harrison. Georgina was born May 9,1885 in Bangalore, Madras, India. (2) Lilian Irene Tillard (1888-1964)  was born in London. She went on to marry William Thomas Middleton. Lilian’s name is sometimes given in records as Lilian Isabella Tillard.

At the time of the 1891 census George Henry Tillard was given as a retired colonel in the Madras Staff Company and living in Kenton Devon at High House on Eoceler Road.  With him was his wife Lilian , his sister Margaret and his daughters Georgina and Lilian. Also there were three domestic servants.

Sometime after 1891 and before 1901 George Henry Tillard and his family moved to Tunbridge Wells. The 1901 census, taken at 38 Woodbury Park Road gave George as a retired colonel with the Madras Staff. With him was his wife Lilian and their daughter Lilian. Also there were two domestic servants. George’s daughter Georgina was away in Yorkshire at the time of the 1901 census visiting friends.

A passenger list recorded that George Henry Tillard departed from Liverpool on the steamship UMBRIA (image above) of the Cunard Steamship Line  and arrived at New York, USA September 1,1906. He was given as born 1840, a retired colonel and that he was on his way to Chicago to visit his daughter “Miss Tillard, a journalist”. This daughter was Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard who herself arrived in New York July 11,1904 and lived in America  for a few years.

The 1911 census, taken at ‘Westwood’ 76 Pennington Road, Southborough gave George Henry Tillard as a retired colonel of the Madras Staff Corp. With him was his wife Lilian and two domestic servants. By the time of the 1911 census George’s daughter Georgina had married and was living with her husband in Finchley, Middlesex. More about Georgina is given in a later section of this article.  The home called ‘Westwood’ , given as a 8 room residence was next door to ‘Bella Vista’, a much larger home at No. 74. The census recorded that George and his wife had been married 27 years and that they had two children, both of whom were still living. A postcard view of Pennington Road is shown opposite.

Probate records gave George Henry Tillard of Westwood, Southborough when he died June 21,1915. The executor of his 98 pound estate was his widow Lilian.

Probate records for George’s widow Lilian Edith Tillard gave her of 3 Southfield Road, Tunbridge Wells when she died June 3,1929 at the General Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. The executor of her 286 pound estate was her daughter Georgina Gwendoline Harrison. Both Lilian and George were buried in the Southborough Cemetery.

GEORGINA GWENDOLINE TILLARD (1885-1936)

Georgina was the eldest of two daughters born to George Henry Tillard (1840-1915) and his second wife Lilian Edith Tillard, ne Hilliard (1855-1929). She had been born May 9,1885 at Bangalore,Madras, India and received her early education in Madras.

At the time of the 1891 census she was living at High House on Eoceler Road in Kenton, Devon, with her parents; her sister Lilian; her aunt Margaret and three domestic servants.

When her family moved to Tunbridge Wells sometime after 1891 but before 1901 she moved with them and lived for a time at 38 Woodbury Park Road.

The 1901 census, taken at Brook Bank in Norton, Yorkshire gave Georgina as a visitor with the Joshua Hartley family, Joshua was a retired surgeon and magistrate. No occupation was given for Georgina.

On June 22,1907 she married Noel Royston Harrison who was born June 26,1879 at Royston, Hertfordshire. He was baptized at Royston March 30,1879 and given as the son of Joseph Harrison, Rev. Vicar of Royston (1843-1931) and Margaret Royston, nee Smith (1847-1924).The local newspaper of June 28,1907 reported that “Noel Royston Harrison, the only son of Rev. J. Harrison MA RD vicar of Royston and Rural Dean, married Georgina Gwendoline Tillard, eldest daughter of Colonel Tillard of Westwood, Southborough and that there was a large congregation at Royston Parish Church.” An image of the church and Rev Harrison is shown opposite.

The 1911 census, taken at Park View, Ballards Lane, Finchley, Middlesex gave Noel and Georgina as visitors with the family of Peter William Darnton, a retired non-conformist minister. Noel at that time was working as an assistant secretary to a public brewing company.

Probate records gave Georgina Gwendoline Harrison of Green Glose, Orchard Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire (wife of Noel Royston Harrison) when she died May 10,1936. Her husband was the executor of her 232 pound estate.

Noel then married Margaret A Wilson in the 2nd qtr of 1938 at North Bucks, Buckinghamshire. Noel died Marcy 17,1974 at Stevenage, Hertfordshire. It appears that there were no children form either of his marriages.

Although Georgina was a supporter of the Women’s Suffrage Movement she appears not to have been as active in the cause as her two sisters as no specific reference to her was found on the internet.

LILIAN IRENE TILLARD (1887-1964)  

Lilian Irene Tillard (photo opposite). sometimes given in records as Lilian Isabella Tillard, was the youngest daughter of George Henry Tillard and his second wife Lilian Edith Tillard. Nee Hilliard.

Lilian was born July 2,1887 in London. She was living with her parents and sister Georgina and aunt Margaret and three domestic servants at High House Eoceler Road in Kenton, Devon at the time of the 1891 census.

Sometime after 1891 and before 1901 she moved with her family to Tunbridge Wells. The 1901 census, taken at 38 Woodbury Park Road gave Lilian living with her parents and two domestic servants. She had been educated a Tunbridge Wells girls school.

In 1908 when a Women’s Freedom League caravan arrived in Tunbridge Wells she and her sister Violet were in Tunbridge Wells and came out to meet the women in the caravan.

Lilian became active with her half -sister Violet in the Women’s Freedom League and Women’s Suffrage Movement. She was arrested and imprisoned at Bow Street September 3,1909 and again on November 25,1910 for her activities in support of the movement. The Wikipedia website gave the following “ Violet’s sister, Irene Tillard, was also involved with the Women’s Freedom League. She is known to have helped on the caravan tour of 1908 and in August 1909 was arrested with eight other member of the WFL (including Charlotte Despard) for picketing outside 10 Downing Street, London. The picket prevented Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith from entering his residence and the group was later sentenced to serve seven days imprisonment or pay fines of 40 shillings. As was the suffrage tradition they intended not to pay the fine and serve their imprisonment. However, as paying the fine did not require the consent of the incarcerated, the group’s fines were anonymously paid against their will”.

On April 1,1915 Lilian married William Thomas Middleton and in 1917 had a son.

The website ‘Women of Tunbridge Wells’ gave the following “Thirteen years her sister’s junior, (Lillian) Irene Tillard also left home in Tunbridge Wells to live in London, arriving just when Tilly (Violet)was taking part in the organisation of the Women's Freedom League (1908). Irene's involvement was inevitable, and for a time she worked on producing posters but she progressively became more active. She was one of the women arrested in Downing Street where they had gone to present a petition to Mr Asquith, for ‘obstructing the police in the execution of their duty'. Irene married and had a son in 1917 and returned to live in West Kent for a while before settling in Canterbury. In February 1922, Irene had her sister’s last letter published in the Courier, as a means of appealing for funds for the Save the Children Fund's work with children starving in Russia. Irene wrote: 'We are apt to take advantage of the fact that we do not see these horrors at our own door. Who is there among us who would see a child starving, naked and sick, standing at his threshold, and shut the door in its face?....is not each man his brother's keeper?'

When Lilian’s half sister Violet died February 18,1922 Lilian , given as Lilian Irene Middleton, was the sole executor of Violets 4,505 pound estate.

Probate records gave Lilian Isabella Middleton of 512 Footscray Road, London (wife of William Thomas Middleton) when she died February 7,1964. Her husband was the executor of her 1,687 pound estate. Her husband at that time was a retired process engineer.

VIOLET ELLEN ANSTEY TILLARD (1874-1922)

Violet , who went by the nickname Tilly or Till, was the eldest daughter of George Henry Tillard and the only child born from the marriage of her father to his first wife Louisa Fanny Anstey(1846-1883). Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard was born December 29,1874 at Salem,Madras, India. She was baptised at Salem, Madras, India on January 24,1875.

Violet was only age 9 when her mother passed away and during her early life she was raised by her step mother Lilian Edith Tillard who her father had married in 1884. Violet was still living with her family in Madras, India in 1885 but by 1888 the family returned to England and lived in London.

During her life she is reported to have lived in America for three years. A passenger list gave Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard born in England 1874 who departed from London and arrived at New York July 11,1904 on the steamship MINNEAPOLIS  and given with the occupation of nurse. Her last place of residence was given as London and she reported that she had never been in the USA before and that she was on a visit. However based on the 1906 passenger list for her father he reported that he was visiting his daughter in Chicago, which suggests that she had lived in Chicago for 3 years.

Although Violet was not found in any Tunbridge Wells census records it is known that she visited her family their as often as she could, and it is known that she was in Tunbridge Wells when the Women’s Freedom League caravan arrived in the town in 1908.  A directory of 1918 listed Violet living in London at 31 Clevedon Mansions.

A number of website chronicle and life and activities of Violet, who among her two sisters was the most active in the Women’s Freedom League.

From the website ‘Women of Tunbridge Wells’ is the following “Violet, who came to be known to most people as Till or Tilly because she disliked her first name, undertook training as a nurse at Poplar and Great Ormond Street Hospitals. At this time, in the final quarter of the nineteenth century, when universities and the professions remained closed to women, nursing was one of the few routes to independence for a young woman who wished to do more than stay at home. Tilly subsequently spent three years in America with a paralysed boy who needed special care. In the new century Tilly's independence of spirit led her to the cause of women's suffrage. She joined the Women's Freedom League and became one of its organisers. She threw herself into the work with passion, but was committed to non-violent methods. On October 28th, a week after the  imprisonment of the Pankhursts, while Members of Parliament were discussing the Licensing Bill, the proceedings were suddenly interrupted by cries of 'Votes for Women' close behind the brass grille of the Ladies' Gallery. It was discovered that some ladies had padlocked themselves to the grille and it was decided that the only thing to do was to remove the grille with the ladies attached. Violet Tillard and a number of other women were arrested and Violet went to prison for a month. Her friend Muriel Matters subsequently remembered her thus: 'Tall, slender, delicate, reticent... even in prison clothes – and I see her now that first awful day in Holloway October 30th 1908 – with the rough boots, long unshapely dress, check apron and harshly pointed prison cap – yet “Till” managed to look so graceful.  How cheerful she was, how philosophic when many were either “edgy”” “weepy” with strain, or rebellious'. During the First World War Violet joined the No-Conscription Fellowship. The NCF anticipated that conscription (forcible draft into the army) would eventually become government policy, even though it had never happened in any previous conflict. Women like Tilly, who worked in the maintenance department, and acted as General Secretary for a period, were extensively involved in the NCF. This was especially true when male colleagues were imprisoned for refusing the draft following the Military Service Act of 1916, which enforced the conscription of men between the ages of 18 and 41. Official harassment was constant; the NCF's weekly news-sheet, The Tribunal, was the subject of regular raids, and two printers had their machinery wrecked. Violet Tillard and Lydia Smith were charged with refusing information to the police.  The information in question was the name and address of the printer of the March NCF News.   Tilly was sentenced to two months and once again found herself in prison. She formally joined the Society of Friends and, after the Armistice, went to Berlin at the end of 1920 or early 1921 to work with the Mission that the Quakers had established. The Society of Friends' War Victims Relief Committee was operating in Russia, where it had survived the Revolution. It was characteristic of Tilly, as the severity of the Russian famine became apparent, that she sought immediately to be transferred from Berlin to Russia where the need for help was clearly even more imperative. Though run down herself, she told a friend that she felt she was one of those who ought to accept the risks because there was no one dependent upon her. In November 1921 she set out, via Warsaw, where she made her will, for Russia. On the 10th January 1922, she wrote to Ierene, her sister from Buzuluk: “I was to-day in one of the Receiving Homes where children are brought from the streets, etc., 415 children (only you forget they are children), and there are no beds. In their misery and lousy clothes they wait, weak as they are, on their feet, or huddle on the ground, for there is not even room to lie down. When the door was opened a crowd of crying children surged forward much as a cageful of animals might. One wonders how children can suffer so much and yet live. Some are alive enough to be lonely and frightened; others are perfectly apathetic. Outside in the streets you see them falling from weakness, and sometimes lying dead in the snow. I also went to a Home for Orphans of from one to three years of age. There was a kind of long wooden bed running down the room, raised in the middle. Babies up to two years lay on little quilts all along it. Most of them just lay still, whimpering a bit – they were suffering from stomach and eye trouble. In most places the attendants themselves are almost as ill and dispirited as the children –they have so enormous a work, and nothing to do it with. We give food (not really enough, but it has to do), but there are frequently no beds, always no proper bedclothes, sometimes no clothes at all – perhaps one thin cotton shirt. In one home where the children may have to stay for months there are 64 children, 26 quilts and five outdoor garments. So they cannot get out to get the fresh air, and generally too cold to walk about, and just crouch against the wall or on their beds, hour after hour, day after day. Clothes and bedclothes are almost as necessary as food. The pile of unburied bodies grows higher and higher. You cannot conceive how everybody is down to their lowest level. You cannot get clothes altered for children because there is no cotton. There are no drugs, no thermometers, often no spoons – everyone is hungry, even if they are not dying.” Violet Tillard died on February 19th 1922 from Typhus in the famine stricken area of Buzuluk in Russia in her forty sixth year. She had been in Russia barely three months. Her letter, sent to the Courier by Irene, was published two days before Violet’s death from Typhus. Among the many tributes published after her death was one by a colleague from the NCF: 'Her ability and courage, proved already in loyalty to another cause, were devoted unsparingly to ours'.”

Probate records gave Violet Ellen Anstey Tillard of Buzuluk, Russia, spinster, when she died February 18,1922. The executor of her 4,505 pound estate was her half- sister Lilian Irene Middleton.

Other excellent sources of information about Violet are the websites menwhosaidno.org and Wikipedia. Shown above are three photographs of Violet and one of her bible.

Regarding the arrival of the Women’s Freedom League caravan in Tunbridge Wells, is the following from the website ‘Women of Tunbridge Wells. Two photographs of the caravan are shown below. The one of the right was by Percy Squire Lankester of Tunbridge Wells.












“The Women’s Freedom League (WFL) was formed in 1907 following a split in the WSPU. In contrast to the WSPU, the League opposed violence, instead using peaceful forms of protest such as non-payment of taxes and refusing to complete census forms.  The League confined its militancy to attacking the Government: members chained themselves to objects in the Houses of Parliament and protests were made in the Commons during 1908 and 1909. The League grew to over 4,000 members and published The Vote newspaper. It continued with the strategy of pacifism during World War I, supporting the Women's Peace Council. On the outbreak of war, League members suspended their campaigns and undertook voluntary work, but in 1916 they restarted their lobbying activities. In July 1908, the WFL sent its first van out on a suffrage crusade through Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The Kent and Sussex Courier''s edition of 3rd July reported the van’s arrival in Tunbridge Wells: ‘Three ladies arrived on Monday with a cosy caravan, which was stationed in a field near Rocks Lane, the intention being to hold a meeting each evening on the Common’. One of the ladies who arrived with the caravan was Muriel Matters. She later recalled that, as the van made its way slowly up the hill to Tunbridge Wells, Violet Tillard and her sister Irene came out to greet them. The first public meeting, according to the Courier, attracted ‘lads and youths who scented the opportunity for creating a disturbance’ and by the time Muriel Matters mounted a chair to address the crowd, it had swelled to a thousand; ‘Probably the hobbledehoys were disappointed to find that Miss Matters was not the suffragette of the comic papers.... [but ] a lady of amiable demeanour [who] gave ‘finely detailed’ reasons for a female franchise. After Matters had been speaking for about half an hour, the crowd began to sway. ‘Then the roughs – many of them distinguished by cigarettes, high collars, straw hats and unintelligent faces, made a rush for the chair...”. For her own protection Muriel Matters was taken to the police station and then went to the house of a friend (the Tillard sisters). Shown above are three images of Muriel Matters. The one at the top right  is dated 1924 and this is followed by a WFL postcard and one of her on  another votes for women postcard. Much has been written about Murial Matters (1877-1969) such as on Wikipedia which described her as “an Australian born suffragist, lecturer, journalist, actress, educator and elocutionist”.

 

 

‘OAKHURST’ ON MOUNT EPHRAIM

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

Date: June 4,2018

OVERVIEW 

Maps dating back to the 18th century show that a residence existed on the site of what later became known as “Oakhurst”.  In the 1820’s to 1840’s period this home was the residence of the Fenning’s family but this home was later demolished to make way for a new and much grander home of the same name in the mid to late 19th century when the Huth family acquired the residence. Oakhurst was a large private residence located at 77  Mount Ephraim. Built on large landscaped grounds it also had an entrance lodge known as Oakhurst Lodge, in which the gardener and his family lived and a stables, occupied in addition to the carriages and horses, by the coachman and his family and a groom.  Immediately to the north east of Oakhurst was the Earls Court, the residence of the Molyneux family(now luxury flats) and immediately to the south west of Oakhurst was Bredbury, formerly a large residence but now flats.

The home was occupied by members of the wealthy Huth family dating back to the mid 19th century. On the site was an older residence dating back to about the beginning of the 19th century, which was purchased by Charles Frederick Huth (1806-1895). He demolished the old house and built a new and much grander home. He died at Oakhurst March 11,1895. After his death Oakhurst became the residence of his son  Capt. Frederick Henry Huth (1844-1918), who at the time of his death was living in London.

By the 1930’s Oakhurst became the premises of the Ladies National Club, who were still there until at least the beginning of WWII. No record was found of Oakhurst being requisitioned for use by the military during the war. Shown above is a postcard view of Oakhurst taken when occupied by the Ladies National Club.

Later still in the 20th century, Oakhurst was demolished and the site redeveloped into a large office building. The old stable block vanished from the site also, but Oakhurst Lodge (Grade II listed) was saved and became a single family residence, a purpose it still serves today. The office building was given the name ‘Oakhurst House”.

This article presents information about the buildings occupants , a few maps and photographs of the site and building and some brief information about the history of the site.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION

Bowra’s map of 1738 shows a row of homes and lodging houses along the north side of Mount Ephraim overlooking the Commons and no doubt one of them was located on the site of what became ‘Oakshurst’. Only the names of the residents are given on this map and the name ‘Oakhurst’ does not appear on the map. The same is true on a map of 1808.

A map of 1828 shows a large home on the site of Oakhurst set back off the road with a circular drive in front. The same home appears on a map of 1832. Stidolph’s map of 1827-1843 shows this home as that of Mr. J. Fenning’s esq and the map of 1839 labels the home as being that of Mrs Fenning’s and is the first house south west of Earl’s Court, the residence of the Molyneux family.

Shown opposite is a map of 1849 on which the home that became known as ‘Oakshurst’ is highlighted in red along with its entrance lodge known as ‘Oakshurst Lodge” and to rear the stable block. A map of 1852 labels this home as “Castle House”, which home appears unchanged from its footprint on the 1849 map. Maps from 1872 onwards label this house as ‘Oakhurst’.

It is known from historical account of the Huth family and from local directories that the wealth merchant Charles Frederick Huth “ purchased Oakhurst on Mount Ephraim” but the date of purchase was not given. Directories of 1862 to 1885 that Charles F. Huth was the occupant of Oakhurst. As you will read in the section on occupants his son (Capt. Frederick Henry Huth) took over Oakhurst after Charles death at Oakhsurst in 1885 and was still living there in 1899.

It is believed that Charles had the old house torn down and a new and much grander home built in the late 19th century. Shown opposite is a 1907 os map on which Oakhurst and its lodge and stables can be seen. The main house is labeled as “ 1” ; the entrance lodge as “2” and the stable block as “3”.

There is no indication that Oakhurst came into use for the war effort in either WW1 or WW II. Local directories , newspaper articles and the postcard shown opposite show that between at least 1937 and 1939 Oakhsurst was the premises of the Ladies National Club, who let out part of the premises.  Oakshurst in census records prior to 1874 is listed simply as “Oakhurst”. Census and directory listings for it from 1874 onwards gave it as “Oakhurst 77 Mount Ephraim” and census records of 1901 and 1911 position the residence as being between Earl’s Court and Bredbury.

Sometime later in the 20th century (before 1982) Oakshurst was demolished along with the stable block but Oakhurst Lodge was saved and became a single family residence, a use it serves today.  On the site of the old home was built a large office building (image below) which still exists today, called “Oakhurst House” with an address of 77 Mount Ephraim. Also shown below is a recent map of the site from English Heritage.











Shown below from the Planning Authority files is a set of plans for Oakhurst Lodge dated 2008 in connection with additions and alterations to this residence. It was given a Grade II listing by English Heritage in 1974.  At the gates were two large old oak trees that unfortunately blew down in the storm of 1985 and had to be cut up and disposed of.

































Shown below are two modern images of the front and back of Oakhurst Lodge.

 












THE OCCUPANTS

The early history of the home that became known as Oakhurst was not established but as noted above Mr J. Jenning’s , esq. was given as the resident on a map of 1827-1843 and then on a map of 1839 is given its occupant at Mrs Jenning’s a widow. By no later than 1862 Oakhurst became one of several residences owned by the wealth merchant Charles Frederick Huth( 1906-1895).  Charles died at Oakhurst, 77 Mount Ephraim in 1895. Upon his death, his son Capt. Frederick Henry Huth (1844-1918) took over Oakhurst and he is listed there in directories and census records with his family from 1895 to 1901.

By the mid 1930’s Oakhurst became the premises of the Ladies National Club and they were still there in 1939.

The occupancy record of Oakhurst after 1939 was not established but several records pertaining to Oakhurst Lodge were found showing that it survived demolition when the main house was taken down and still exists today as a single family home. No attempt was made by the researcher to report on the occupants of Oakhurst Lodge.

A review of Planning Authority records did not turn up any online records prior to 1982 and by that time the old Oakhurst residence had been demolished and replaced by an office building called Oakhurst House. No attempt was made to investigate the occupants of Oakhust House.

Given below is a short take listing the known occupants of Oakhurst. All dates are approximate and the list may not be complete. Some information is provide below the list about the occupants.

1738-1826………..Unknown

1827-1839………..The Jenning’s family

1862-1885…………Charles Frederick Huth

1885-1901…………Capt. Frederick Henry Huth

1937-1939………….Ladies National Club

[1] THE JENNINGS FAMILY

A map of 1827-1843 showed that a home on the site of Oakhurst was occupied by Mr J. Jenning’s esq. and a map of 1839 gave the occupant as Mrs Jenning’s indicating that by 1839 she was a widow. No definitive information for the Jennings family in Tunbridge Wells was found apart from a possible record from ‘The Analyst’ of 1834 that reported on the death of J. Jennings, esq in 1834 in his 62nd year (born 1772). He had died at his home at Poswick Lodge in Hertfordshire. Another possible record was with respect to an act passed in the House of Lords in 1736 for a Sir John Jennings and a George Jennings in connection with a conveyance of  estates in Hertfordshire and Surrey, which gentleman may have been the father of J. Jennings who resided in Tunbridge Wells.

[2] CHARLES FREDERICK HUTH (1806-1895)

Charles was born Nov 7,1806 in Corunna Spain. He was one of 12 children born to Johann Freiderich Andreas Huth (1777-1864) and Manuela Felios Lorenza Mayfren  (1785-1856). Charles and his family were still living in spain in 1808 but by 1810 the family had moved to England and resided in Islington, Middlesex. Shown opposite is an image of Charles dated 1836. A second undated image is also shown below left.

Charles and his siblings had inherited great wealth from their grandfather Frederick Huth (1774-1864) who had been born in Germany and started as a trader in Hamburg and eventually moved his business to Corunna , Spain. He had left an estate valued at 500, 000 pounds. Charles and his brothers enjoyed the wealth he had created and became noted bankers.

Charles Frederick Huth, the eldest son in the family, according to a historical account “ purchased Oakhurst Manor in Tunbridge Wells where he lived with his wife Frances and their large family”.

On November 5,1836 , at Westminster, Charles married Frances Caroline Marshall (1812-1901). An image of Frances is shown opposite. Frances had been born May 21,1812 in London and was one of several children born to Sir Chapman Marshall and Anne Marshall, nee Stansfield(1786-1848) Shown below left is an image of her father who was born in 1786.

Charles and Frances went on to have 10 children between 1837 and 1853, including a son Captain Frederick Henry Huth (1844-1918) who you will read more about later in connection with Oakhurst. All of the children were born in London.

As a wealthy merchant, and director of the Bank of England and director of Huth & Co, merchants of London, it is understandable that he had more than one residence and like so many others decided no doubt to make Oakhurst on Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells his or one of his summer residences where he had a commanding view of the Commons and the befit of the towns favourable climate and fresh air.

The 1851 census, taken at Marylebone gave Charles as a merchant. With him was his wife Frances, five of his children and eight servants.

The 1861 census, taken at 25 Upper Harley Street, Marylebone gave Charles as a merchant. With him was his wife Frances, a few of his daughters and several servants.

The 1871 census, taken at Paddington gave Charles with his wife, some family members and several servants at premises given as 9 Kensington Palace Gardens. The family was still given in the census records of 1881 and 1891 at this address.

Regarding Charles living in Tunbridge Wells, the earliest local directory was that of 1862 which gave “ C.F. Hutt, Oakhurst, Mount Ephraim. a directory of 1867 gave the same listing. Directories of 1874 to 1882 gave “Charles Frederick Huth, 77 Mount Ephraim” which at that time was the address of Oakhurst as confirmed by the 1901 census, given later.

Probate records gave Charles Frederick Huth of Token House Yard, London , merchant, when he died March 11,1895 at Oakhurst, Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his 345,242 pound estate were his sons Ferdinand Marshall Huth,merchant, and captain Frederick Henry Huth, esq.  Charles was buried at St Paul’s Church on Langton Road. Two photographs of his grave are given above. His wife Frances died June 18,1901 at 5 Kensington Palace Gardens.

[2] CAPT. FREDERICK HENRY HUTH (1844-1918)

Frederick was the fourth eldest son born to Charles Frederick Huth. He had been born February 22,1844 at Marylebone, London and lived with his parents and siblings in London during his early life.

Frederick went into military service and became a Captain with the King’s Dragoon Guards.

Local directories of 1874 gave captain Frederick Henry Huth living at Hillside, Bishopsdown, Tunbridge Wells. By that time he was married and had one child.  His wife was Manuela C. Huth, born 1844 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Frederick and his wife had a number of children, details of which are given later.

The Frederick’s father passed away 1895 Frederick and his family moved into the home. The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Capt. Frederick Henry Huth, 77 Mount Ephraim”.

The 1901 census, taken at 77 Mount Ephraim, Oakhurst gave Frederic as living on own means. With him was his wife Manueal, born 1844 in Liverpool and the following children (1) Violet, born 1872 in Tunbridge Wells (2) Mariam born 1877 in Tunbridge Wells (3) Sydney F, born 1979 in Tunbridge Wells. Also there was his brother in law Herman Kinderman,age 65 and five domestic servants.

The 1911 census gave Frederick as a retired Captain King’s Dragoons living at Beckford House, 20 Lansdown Crescent London with his wife Manuela; two children and six servants.

The 1911 census taken at Oakhurst Stables, Mount Ephraim gave the premises as having 4 rooms occupied by George Henry Stickland, a 61 year old coachman. With him was his wife Mary Ann,age 70 and one servant. They had been married 42 years and had three children.

The 1911 census, taken at Oakhust Lodge, Mount Ephraim gave it as premises of two rooms. Living there was Henry Towner, ae 37, a gardener and kitchen domestic and his wife Alice Maude, age 35. The couple had been married 14 years and had no children.

The 1911 census, taken at Oakhurst, Mount Ephraim gave the home as having 25 rooms. Living the there was the caretaker Henry Gander, age 52 with his wife Emily age 56 and his neice Edioth age 31. The census recorded that they had been married 20 years and had no children. Who the owner of Oakhurst was in 1911 was not established and details about its occupants after that are lacking.

[3] LADIES NATIONAL CLUB

The premises of the Ladies National Club at Oakhurst on Mount Ephraim was just one of several premises occupied by various branches of this organization. One for example was located in Bournemouth and another in London.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 8,1937, November 11,1938’ February 10,1939 and March 14,1939 all gave an announcement for the Ladies National Club, Oakhurst, Tunbridge Wells in regards to the letting out of a large room, or rooms in the building.

There is a reference in the Journal of Hellenic Studies of June 20,1929 to a “Miss M.R. Hoste, Ladies National Club, The Summit, Mount Ephraim who was an honorary member of this organization. The St Catherines School Magazine of February 1928 referred to a Mary Gorrall, Ladies National Club, The Summit, Mount Ephraim.

When the Ladies National Club took up occupancy of Oakhurst and when they left the building was not established.

Sometime later in the 20th century the building occupied by them was demolished and the site redeveloped , becoming Oakhurst House (office building) and Oakhurst Lodge ( the original gate lodge).

THE PANTILES AVIARY

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

Date: May 22,2018

OVERVIEW

The Pantiles Aviary at 31 Pantiles was located next to the Coach and Horses Passage. The sign hanging from the front of the shop in 1934 read “ Kent & Sussex Pet Stores Ye Pantiles (Mrs Figgett) Coperns Bird Seed” and leaning up against the front of the shop was a billboard announcing a local dog show. Up against the front of the shop on the sidewalk was a large cage containing pets for sale.

The Mrs Figgett referred to was Ellen Amelia Figgett ,nee Coomber (1975-1950) who was born in Wadhurst Road in Frant, Sussex and who had married John Frederick Figgett (1873-1958) in Tunbridge Wells in 1892 and with him had seven children born in Tunbridge Wells between 1893 and 1909. Ellen, often referred to in records as “Nellie or Nellie Amelia Figgett” ran the pet shop in the Pantiles from about 1920 up to the time she died at 31 Pantiles in 1950.

In this article I present information about the Figgett and Coomber families as well as family photographs and images of Ellens shop.

THE COOMBER AND FIGGETT FAMILIES

Ellen Amelia Coomber was born January 12,1875 at Wadhurst Road in Frant, Sussex. She was baptised at the parish church in Frant (photo opposite) March 12,1875.

Ellen was one of five children born to George Coomber (1831-1907) and Sarah Ann Coomber, nee Streeter (1835-1904).

The 1881 census, taken at Rotherfield Sussex, gave Sarah Coomber as a charwomen born in Rotherfield. Her husband George was absent and Sarah for some unknown reason was listed as a widow despite the fact that her husband did not pass away until the 4th qtr of 1907 in Kent. Living with Sarah was her children  Elizabeth Ada Coomber (1867-1941); Rose Coomber (born 1871) and the central figure in this article Ellen Amelia Coomber (1975-1950). At the time of this census both Rose and Ellen were attending school.

In 1892 Ellen Amelia Coomber married John Frederick Figgett who had been born June 29,1873 at 13 Stanley Road, Tunbridge Wells. John was one of three children born to John Frederick Figgett (1844-1907) and Anne Marie Figgett, nee Styles (1854-1909).

The 1891 census, taken at 3 Roebuck Cottage on Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells gave John Frederick Figgett born 1844 in Frant and working as a general labourer. With him was his wife Anna, born 1852 Tunbridge Wells (a charwomen) and their two children John Frederick Figgett (general labourer) and William Figgett who was in school.

Ellen and John had the following children (1) John Frederick Figgett, who was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1893 (2) Bernard William Figgett, who was born in the 2nd qtr of 1899. He died in Tunbridge Wells in 1963. (3) Winifred Figgett (1909-1973). Winifred was born in Tunbridge Wells June 2,1909. She married Leslie Harry Burgess (1911-1992) in 1930  and with him had a son Kenneth Leslie Burgess(1931-2009) and Shown opposite is a photograph of Winifred taken in 1934 showing her in the Pantiles pushing a pram with her son Kenneth in it. Winifred died in Tunbridge Wells on August 4,1973 and was buried at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on August 9th.  (4)Arthur Philip Figgett born 1902 (5) Nellie Violet Figgett, born 1903 (6) Nora Dorothy Figget, born 1905 (7)Dora Anna Figgett, born 1911 but died 1911 .

Shown below left is a photograph dated 1898 showing John Frederick Figgett; his wife Ellen and their son John Frederick Figgett. Shown below right is a photo dated 1902 showing John Frederick Figgett; his wife Ellen and their children John Frederick Figgett and Bernard William Figgett.











The 1901 census, taken at 59 High Street, Tunbridge Wells (image opposite) gave John Frederick Figgett working as a general labourer and living in a flat above a shop. With him was his wife Ellen of no occupation and their two sons John Frederick and Bernard William. Also there were two boarders.

The 1911 census, taken at 31 The Pantiles gave John Frederick Figgett as born 1874 and working as a bricklayer labourer for the SE Railway. With him was his wife given as Nellie Amelia Figgett (Nelle was Ellen’s nickname) given as born 1875 in Frant. Also there were their children Winnifed, Arthur,Nora,Nellie,Bernard and John Frederick Figgett who was working as a railway porter. Four of the other children were in school. Also in these premises of 14 rooms were three boarders. No mention was given at this time of 31 Pantiles being a pet shop. The census recorded that John and his wife had been married 19 years and that of their seven children only six were still living.

Probate records for Ellen Amelia Figgett gave her of 31 The Pantiles (wife of John Frederick Figgett) when she died May 24,1950. The executor of her 993 pound estate was her husband, a retired railway worker. Ellen was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on May 30th.  Her husband died in Tunbridge Wells in 1958 and was buried in the same cemetery.

THE FAMILY SHOP

The earliest directory listing for the Figgett family pet shop at 31 Pantiles was that of 1922 when the proprietor of the shop was “Nellie” Figgett who ,as stated earlier, was actually Ellen Amelia Figgett.

The directories of 1934 to 1938 gave the listing “ Mrs Nellie Figgett, 31 Ye Pantiles , bird and live animal dealer”. It is known from her probate record that she was still at the shop when she died on May 24,1950.

Shown above are two photographs of the shop taken in 1934. Note the billboard on the sidewalk announcing a dog show and the cage of pets on the sidewalk. Note also the sign on the front of the building “ The Pantiles Avery’ and the seed sign hanging from the front of the shop.

This shop was located near the Coach and Horses Passage, a photo of which is shown opposite.  A plan of the Pantiles from a 2014 publication on which is marked “ No. 31a, Pantiles Oriental Carpets” and shows the passage leading towards the Sussex Mews from the lower walks.

By 1981 31 Pantiles was an antique shop run by T.C. Hinton and by 1997 it was an antiques shop run by L.J. Arditti.

The building at 31 Pantiles is quite old. It was a pub called the Coach and Horses from 1828 to 1891 and based on the 1911 census, when it was occupied by the Figgett family it appears to have been a lodging house and continued as such until Ellen converted the front part into a pet shop. Of the Coach and Horses Passage local lore states that some witnesses say they hear the sound of a creaking rope under strain when they pass through it. The eerie noise is said to be from the ghost of a local 19th century man who was in severe debt and hanged himself in the passage.

 

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