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

Date: October 12,2014


The Gloster Tavern, named after the Duke of Glouster/Gloster (1689-1700), shown opposite, the son of Queen Ann, was built in 1706 in a spot located in about the middle of the Pantiles in a large and impressive building block constructed between the upper and lower walks.The former Gloster Tavern ,given today as 39-41 Pantiles, faced the shops along the upper walks and is shown and labelled on Bowra’s 1738 map connected on its north side by another building, which today is No. 35-37 Pantiles. In 1850 the quirky little building at 41 Pantiles, currently occupied by Jenner the jeweller, was moved to the Pantiles and attached to the south wall of No. 41. In 1801 the Gloster Tavern was enlarged and became one of the most prominent hostelry’s in the Pantiles. Over the years No. 39-41 Pantiles has been occupied by several different shops but today, along with No’s 35-37 ,it is the business premises of Trevor Mottram’s kitchen ware shop.

Although the original Gloster Tavern business is long gone, the building survives,although considerably altered, and for a time in the 21st century the main floor of the building returned as a public house under the name of The Gloster Tavern.It however, was short lived, and Mottram’s took that opportunity in 2011 to expand their premises from 35-37 Pantiles to take in the entire block from 35-41.

This article’s main focus is on the long and interesting history of the Gloster Tavern building ,but it also includes a broader treatment of the area by including information about the business premises adjacent to it.Included is a large selection of images covering the entire period from the 18th to the 21st century.


The Pantiles, a favourite spot for tourists, is a shopping district dating back to the 17th century. The Pantiles consists to a colonnade of shops along the upper walks and a similar one along the lower walks. Between the two is a tree lined area paved in tiles within which was a bandstand and benches where shoppers could relaz.Also within this area were a number of shop buildings, but unlike the others , they were not constructed in a continuous row.

The original buildings in the Pantiles were nothing in comparison to those of today. They were more crudely built and constructed of wood. These were largely destroyed by a devastating fire. The website of the Tunbridge Wells Museum ,from which the postcard view opposite appears, gave the following  account .”In 1664 Lord Muskerry, having acquired the Manor of Rusthall, improved access to the spring by building a new enclosure with an ornamental arch. In 1682 his widow sold the Manor to Thomas Neale, Master of the Royal Mint, who negotiated an agreement with the Freeholders of the Manor allowing him to build shops, lodgings and other facilities for visitors on a strip of the Common adjacent to the spring. After a fire in 1687, he constructed the present colonnade of shops and other facilities which was originally known as the Walks. In 1698 Princess Anne donated money for the Walks to be paved, after her son, the Duke of Gloucester, fell over on slippery ground near the spring. When she returned in the following year to find the work not done, she vowed never to return. Belatedly paving was laid, using square ceramic tiles known as pantiles. These gave the colonnade its current name of the Pantiles, although they were replaced by stone flags in 1792.” Shown below is a photo of the Duke of Gloucester, who is sometimes referred to as the Duke of Gloster, from whom the name of the Gloster Inn is derived.  The postcard view of the Pantiles above is an image taken looking north and the building on the right is a view of the Music Gallery at No. 41 Pantiles.

In the book ‘The History of Tunbridge Wells’ by Thomas Benge Burr 1766 is given “In 1687, a fire broke out in the house … at the bottom of the walk, by which the life of one poor child was lost, and all the shops, and other buildings, so lately erected on the green bank, were entirely consumed.It rose more glorious from its ashes, the buildings being afterwards more regularly planned, and better contrived … an assembly-room, coffee-houses, shops, and dwelling-houses have been erected in one continued line, and a convenient portico placed in front, and carried on from the upper end of the parade quite down to the well. These parades are usually called the upper walk and the lower walk; the first being neatly paved with square brick, raised about four steps above the other, and particularily appropriated to the company; the second remains unpaved, and is chiefly used by country people and servants.On the right hand of the paved walk in the way from the well is the assembly-room, the coffee-houses, and the shops for silver-smiths, jewellers, milliners, booksellers, Tunbridgeware, &c. From thence a portico is extended the whole length of the parade, supported by Tuscan pillars, for the company to walk under occasionally. This walk is shaded by a long row of large and flourishing trees planted on the left hand of it, in the midst of which is erected a gallery for musick; and the whole is properly separated from the lower walk by a range of neat palisades, opposite to which are the taverns, a few decent lodging-houses, and a very elegant assembly-room, with a coffee-house, and all needful conveniences for the entertainment of company.” The “gallery for musick” referred to is now the jewellers shop of Peter Jenner at No. 43 The Pantiles. Burr’s account of 1766 w.r.t “a gallery of musick”is interesting in that other accounts state that the Music Gallery ,which today is at 43 Pantiles,” was constructed in 1739 with bow window frontage and arching roof”(Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area Report of 2000). Today above the shop door of the Music Shop can be seen a sign that reads “ The Music Gallery referred to in the Rusthall Manor Act of 1739”. More about  No. 43 is given later.

Shown above is Bowra’s 1738 map showing the layout of buildings in the Pantiles. Upon this map I have circled in Red the block of buildings in which the Gloster Inn was located. The map shows two buildings namely the Gloster Tavern labelled as such, being the most southerly of the two buildings in the block. As this map predates the Music Gallery referred to above by one year it is of course not shown but was attached to the south wall of the Gloster Tavern building. The site of the Gloster Tavern today has the numbers 39 to 41. Attached to this building at No. 39 is a second building containing numbers 37 which for many years in in the early 1900’s was the flower shop of Arthur Charlton, the well- known nurseryman, seedsman and florist of the town, who had his nursery premises elsewhere. More information about this building is given later.In addition to these two buildings is found today  No. 35, also the former premises of Arthur Charleton who began at No. 35 and expanded to include No. 37. Current photos of this block of buildings strongly suggests that it is a group of three buildings of somewhat different styles and perhaps with different dates of construction,which although built in earlier times were significantly altered in external appearance in the 19th century. All three today are finished in red brick, a material not found in the Pantiles in the construction of other shops in the early 18th century. It is the view of the researcher that these buildings were initially wood tile hung buildings of modest proportions but added to and bricked in the 19th century.

Shown opposite is Kip’s engraving of a drawing made by Badeslade for Harris’s History of Kent in 1718 or 1719. This image is the earliest illustration of the Pantiles. Shown an labelled in the middle of this image is the Gloster Tavern, a three stry building with attic space.

Returning to Bowr’s map, to assist in identifying the location of the subject block, it is to be noted that just beyond the block is whats labelled as “Fish Market”. There had been a fish market at this spot from earliest times. Not shown on this plan is the existence of what today is the Tourist Information building. This building has a long and interesting history , a full account of which is given in my article ‘The Old Fishmarket in The Pantiles’ dated January 30,2013, in which is mentioned that the sign on the front of building reads “Established 1745”, seven years after Bowr’s map. To the north of the Fish Market site across the paved courtyard is found today the Duke of York pub, which was built in about 1770.Shown above is a modern panoramic view of the pantiles on which can be seen the block of buildings from 35-41 with the small Tourist Information building (the black and white building)just beyond it across the courtyard,  as well as the black and white Duke of York(No. 17 Pantiles) pub beyond it. The panoramic view has distorted the appearance of the block from 35-41, giving it a curved appearance, when in fact it is a straight row of buildings running parallel to those along the promenade opposite.

Shown opposite as a 1771 painting by Richard Samuel looking south with the upper walks promenade on the left and in the middle can be seen a building with a sign hanging on it, which is the Gloster Tavern. Also shown attached to the south end of the tavern is the Music Gallery set at that time in its old forward position. Later it was set  back so that its frontage was in line with the taverns frontage.

Who owned or ran the Gloster Tavern in the 18th century is not fully known. There is an account from 1776 which refers to a “noble modern brick house on Mount Pleasant lately the property of the right honourable the Earl of Egmont, but is now possessed by Mr William Gratton, master of the Glocester Tavern”. The house on Mount Ephraim being referred to was Mount Pleasant House which the Duke of Leeds rented from William Gratton for 10 weeks a year from 1769 to 1789. Further information about William Gratton and the Mount Pleasant House (later the Calverley Hotel) can be found in my article ‘The History of the Calverley Hotel’ dated May 9,2014.William Gratton had obtained the Mount Pleasant House from the Earl of Egmont in 1776 and sold it in 1779 to Thomas Osborn (1713-1789), the 4th Duke of Leeds. Obviosuly William Gratton was a man of significant financial means.

Shown on the left is an image of the Pantiles dated 1797 ,taken looking south, which gives a view of the upper walks the right and the centre block in which is shown the building occupied by the Gloster Tavern. Note the sign hanging on the front of one of the buildings in this block and compare it and the image of the Pantiles in the photo on the right dated 1830 which shows the same sign and view but looking north. Although the Gloster Tavern building is three stys (plus attic space), as it is today, at the time these views were taken the building did not have a brick facing, as it does today.

THE 19TH CENTURY             

The book ‘Urban Characteristics of Tunbridge Wells’gives the following information. “ 39-41 Pantiles, 4 sty bldg., originally the Gloster Inn, upon which is a large wooden shield with the date 1706.This shield was placed on the front of the building in 1800 with the premises used at that time by a grocer.The arms on the shield are his”.  A second reference to this shield , from the Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area report of 200 refers to “a wall mounted printed crest of The Closter Tavern (the former name of 39 and 41 ) is an important historic element.The Music Gallery is at No. 43 constructed in 1739 with bow window frontage and arching roof.A Victorian letter box now stands in front of No. 39”. Later in this article I present a photo of the building with the Victorian mailbox shown that is referred to above. Although the Gloster Tavern was gone by 1800 it is perhaps interesting to note that the significance of the Duke of Gloster/Cloucester to the area’s history was not lost for a 1908 map records “Gloucester House” as a lodging house in the Pantiles. The crest itself displays in the centre a golden bird with spread wings, above which is a scroll, which in turn is supported by two columns, one each side of the bird.

Historical accounts speak in glowing terms  as it being “the best lodging house” and “one of several good taverns’ in the town and “one of the first and probably the grandest purpose built hotels in Tunbridge Wells of the early period, with alterations made later”.

Charles H. Strange, in his “History of Tunbridge Wells Past and Present (1946) refers to an engraving by J. Badstade of 1718 and remarks “ The Gloster Tavern (opened in 1708) is in full swing, with a choase and six driving away from it, while a very small equipage, also drawn by six horses enters the yard.he continues in reference to a 1806 map that “In 1801 the Gloster Tavern (1706) became a private hotel or boarding house…”

The book ‘The Spas of England-Southern Spas’ by A.B. Granville M.d. F.R.S. (1841) states “For those that prefer family boarding houses, the Gloucester, opposite the Assembly Rooms, has been generally recommended. It has the advantage of being near to the libraries and to the Upper Assembly Rooms, as well as to the mineral spring”.

So it is concluded that the Gloster Tavern was a combination of a public house (tavern) on the main floor, and a lodging house on the upper floors from 1706 until the premises were taken over by a grocer in 1800.The statement by Strange about it becoming a hotel/lodging house in 1801 does not jive the installation of the shield on the front of the building by a grocer who occupied the main floor of the building in 1800,but perhaps the ground floor was the grocers and the upper floors were used as a lodging house.

Shown opposite from the book ‘Tunbridge Wells As It Was’ by Jean Maulden is an image with the following caption. “ The Pantiles Road Sweeper. Undated,but probably c.1890. Taken in late autumn when the bank that separated the Upper and Lower Walk was being replaced by a wall, the sweeper stands in front of the Music Gallery.This, with its canopy and wrought iron balcony, is referred to in the Rusthall Manor Act of 1739. It was moved to its present position in 1850.The building behind it was once the Gloster Tavern, was Hughes’ Stores at the time of the photograph, and is now (1977) an antique shop. The photo was by G. Glanville”. The date of 1977 is based on the year the first edition of this book was published . This book has been republished four times since then, the last year  being 1987.

English Heritage gave 39-41 Pantiles a Grade II listing May 20,1952. As a hotel in its early years it was described in a report entitled ‘Pantiles Rejuvenation Strategy’ as “The Gloster Tavern (39-41),built in 1706, is cited as being an example of one of the first and grandest purpose built hotels in the town”. Shown opposite is a map showing 39-41 highlighted in red. Note that No. 43 is shown attached to the left side of No. 41 and the block of 35-37 which has been divided into two segments.The listing by English Heritage is given here “Hotel, later shop with accommodation above. Built in 1706 as the Gloster Tavern, one of the first and probably the grandest purpose-built hotel in Tunbridge Wells of the early period, with alterations of early and late C19. Two parallel ranges, built of brick but original front elevation tile-hung with half-hipped old tiled roofs with 2 brick stacks. Wooden moulded eaves cornice. Three storeys and attics; irregular fenestration. South west front, originally front elevation, retains 3 sash windows of the original 5 shown in Kip's engraving of 1718 or 1719. The tops of the other two are visible but these were blocked in during the early C19 when a further chimneystack was inserted. Windows have moulded architraves but no glazing bars. Two late C19 flat-roofed dormers. Late C19 brown brick projection to ground floor. North west elevation has 2 sashes with vertical glazing bars to attic and 4 windows without glazing bars to lower floors. Ground floor has late C19 shopfront with pilasters and deep fascia. Central double doors to shop and left side doorcase to upper floors. South east elevation has sash with verticals only to attic, one 16-pane sash to second floor and two 12-pane sashes to first floor. Ground floor had entrance and 2 windows boarded over at time of inspection. Windows appeared to be sashes with glazing bars. The principal interior feature is a very fine staircase of c1706 which has two flights at right angles from ground to first floor with two turned balusters to each step, scrolled tread ends and column newels. The staircase changes in character from the second floor to the attic, the dogleg arrangement becoming a well and there is a straight flight of thicker balusters. First floor rooms retain old floorboards and some two panelled doors, but were refurbished in the late C19 with florid panelling with dados having panels of quatrefoils or anthemions, doors with linenfold panelling and fireplaces with pilasters and tiled surrounds. Second floor south east room retains an C18 moulded cornice, visible corner posts and a panelled cupboard with 2 panelled door. The adjoining room has a similar moulded cornice, exposed beam with 3 inch chamfer and C19 basket grate. Further chamfered beams and 2 panelled doors. Attic retains original roof timbers with pegged rafters and some plank doors, one with wooden latch and pintle hinges. A particularly interesting feature is the original link between the two ranges at attic level, shown as a small hip in Kip's engraving of c1718. This was to provide staircase access to the front range of attics. Kip's engraving of c1718 indicates that there was originally an internal walkway on the north west side, echoing the colonnade on the other side of the Pantiles.”

The occasional paper No. 3 by the Civic Society (2014) entitled “the Pantiles Royal Tunbridge Wells’ b y Philip Whitborurn states , and shows, on pg 13 that “ In around 1700 the Gloster Tavern was built at numbers 39 and 41, and named in honour of Queen’Anne’s son. Its elevation to the Pantiles is faced with “mathematical tiles” to give the appearance of brickwork, although the structure behind is timber frames.The tavern was later converted into a shop and the large mark on the front dates from this time (see advert for Edward T. Huges).Also dating from this time are the splendid coloured glass windows internally, depicting tea,coffee and cocoa plants”


I have already noted that the tavern was the premises of Mr William Gratton in 1776 and that in grocer occupied the premises in 1800. The list below was compiled based on all available online census and directory listings; all planning applications from 1974 to 2014; all online historical accounts and all other online references to the area of study. As records for every year are not available this list should be considered as partial record. Shown in this section are additional views of the shops in this block.

1706………………. Gloster Tavern built by unknown person

1801………………..Occupied by unidentified grocer on main floor, upper rooms must have been lodgings

1871……………….At No. 39 was Elizabeth Hancock,widow, born 1844 Chelmsford,Essex ,a tobacconist, plus three children, one aunt, one servant and one visitor.At No. 41 was Charles Semark,single, age 30, born 1841 Wrotham,Kent, a grocer. Living with him was four shop assistants and one domestic servant. No. 43 was listed as unoccupied. At No. 33 was Edward B. Strange, age 42, born 1829 Tunbridge Wells, a draper. With him was his wife Margaret,age 36 and five of their children plus two dressmakers and two domestics. At No. 37 was George Wickenden,age 51, born 1820 Southborough, an auctioneer and widower. Living with him was seven of his children and two domestics. At No. 35 was John Stephens, age 47, born 1824 Eastbourne,Sussex, a tailor. Living with him was his wife Emily and two sons.

1881……………..At No. 35 was EdwinW. Wheeler, born 1846 East Grinstead,Sussex, a hairdresser. With him was his wife Margaret and five of his children. At No. 37 was Ernest Charlton, age 32,  born 1849 Elintham,Hampshire, a seedsman and florest.He is related to Arthur Charleton the well- known local nurseryman and florist. Living with him was his wife Sophia and four of his children and a sister in law.At No. 39 was Elizabeth Hancock, widow, age 37, born 1844 Chelmsford,Essex, a tobacconist who was at the same place at the time of the 1871 census. Living with her was her son Alfred,age 16, a printers apprentice and her son Robert,age 14, also a printers apprentice.Two other children and a niece were also present. At No. 41 was Edward Thomas Hughes,age 31,born 1850 Plucley,Kent. Edward Thomas Hughes was one of three children born to William Hughes (1802-1880) and Ann Knight (born 1810). Edwards father in 1861 was a farmer of 150 acres employing 7 men. From 1850 to at least 1861 Edward lived with his parents in Pluckley,Kent. In the 3rd qtr of 1884 Edward married Elizabeth Strong Maylan (botrn 1851) and with her had two sons, William and Edward. Edward is found at No. 41 Pantiles in the 1881 census and at 39 Pantiles in both the 1891 and 1901 census and the 1899 Kelly directory. By 1903 if not earlier he occupied premises at the same time at 31, 39 and 41 Pantiles. The census records given should have reflected  31,39 and 41 Pantiles as this was how he was listed in the 1899 and 1903 Kelly with a reference in the 1899 Kelly that his business was “Italian Warehosues”.. At the time of the 1911 census Edward was living at 50 Grove Hill Road in Tunbridge Wells and was given at that time as a boarding house keeper. Living with him at that time was his wife Elizabeth  and six lodgers. The shop at No. 43 Pantiles was listed as uninhabited.Shown opposite is an advertisement for the business of Edward T. Hughes of the Tunbridge Wells & Mid Kent Stores at 39 & 41 Pantiles, which appeared in Peltons 1888 guide.

1891 …………The 1891 census listed at No. 35, Edwin Wheeler who was there in the 1881 census.Edwin is listed as a hairdresser and living with him was his wife Margaret (also a hairdresser) and four of their children. At 39 top 41 was Edward Thomas Hughes with his grocers shop.With him was his wife Elizabeth and their two children , six shop assistants and two domestic servants. No listings given for No. 37 or 43.

1899 ………………The 1899 Kelly listed Edgar Lockhart as a fruit merchant at 79a High Street and 43 Ye Pantiles. At No. 37 was the florist shop of John Charlton. At 39 to 41 was the grocers shop of Edward Thomas Hughes who was still there in 1903.

1901……………..The 1901 census listed at 35 to 37 Ellen Fear, age 44, born 1857 Bedfordshire, married. She is listed as lodger to Charles Pratt at No. 33 who was a 41 year old dairyman on own account.Also living with Ellen as lodgers was three other dressmakers.At 39 to 41 was Edward Thomas Hughes the grocer and his wife Elizabeth, two children, one boarder and two servants.  No listing for No. 43 was given.

1903……………..The 1903 Kelly listed at 31,39 and 41 Pantiels the grocers shop of Edward Thomas Hughes.

1911………………The 1911 census listed at 39-41, Isaac Porter, commission agent. Mr Porter was widowed and had been born 1857 at Easton,Nortamptonshire. He was alone there in 12 rooms. At No. 35 was Arthur Soloman Watts, born 1853 Rolverdden,Kent alogn with his wife Ellen , a nephew and one lodger. Arthur was a hotel porter and so was the lodger. In the 1881 census Isaac was a tobacconist in the town of Tonbridge at 30 Brunswick Place. Living with him at that time was his wife Catherine. Before 1881 he was living with his parents and siblings in Easton. In the 1891 census Isaac and his wife and daughter and one servant were at 22 Church Street,Tunbridge Wells where he was a lodging house keeper. In the 1901 census, taken at 18 Church Street,Tunbridge Wells Isaac was a lodging house keeper. Living with him was his wife Catherine and his daughter. It is believed by the researcher that when he occupied 39-41 Pantiles that he was operating a lodging house there, although as noted above he was recorded as a commission agent, perhaps working as an agent for the lodging house owner.

1913……………..The 1913 Kelly listed at 35 and 37 Pantiles the florist shop of John Charlton.

1922…………….The 1922 Kelly directory listed Arthur Thomas Kemp , furniture broker, 41 ye Pantiles.At 35-37 was the florist shop of Charles E. Sevier who took over Clarlton’s florist shop of John Charlton at that address.

1930……………. The 1930 Kelly listed the florist shop of Arthur Charlton & Sons at 35-37 Pantiles. For further information about Arthur Charlton and he Charlton family see my article ‘Charlton Nurseries’ dated November 1,2011. At 41 The Pantiels from 1930 to 1938 was the furniture dealers shop of Kyrle * Co. Ltd.Also from 1930 to 1934 is a listing at 43 The Pantiles for the boot and shoe shop of Beecher Bros.

1934……………The 1934 phone book gave a listing for W.W. Laurie at 39 Pantiles but no description of the type of business was given. Arthur Charlton  &Sons still had his florist shop at 35-37

1938……………...The 1938 Kelly listed at 39-41 Pantiles the antique furniture dealers shop of Kyrle & Co. Ltd.Arthur Charlton & sons still had his florist shop at 35-37.

1959…………… A B.J. Hewitt is listed at 39 Ye Pantiles but no description of the type of business was given. Also listed for 39-41 Pantiles was the furniture dealer L. Strawson.

1962……………...The phone directory listed “W. Strawson and L. Strawson. Amtiqes, 39-41 Pantiles.

1963-1965………Phone directory gave listing for B.A. Snelling No. 35 Pantiles but no description of the business was given.

1994-2014………Planning applications dating from 1994 to 2014 record the presence of a micro pub in the cellar of 39-41 Pantiles, below Mottrams shop. This business is referred to as “Tavern Cellar” 39-41 Pantiles in the records of the planning authority and that the business was owned in 2014 by Geoffrey Wentwoth and Jo Downing. This micro pub was to serve no alcopops or lagers, have no jukebox or betting machines. They had applied in 2014 for a license to have music and although objected to by some other business in the area the application was approved.

2010………………..Record given in 2011 on the website of Dead Pubs that there was a pub called The Gloster Tavern at 41 Pantiles up to 2010. In 2011 these premises were taken over by the kitchen ware shop of Trevor Mottram Ltd with the latter’s shop occupying from that time onwards No. 35 to 41 Pantiles. Mottrams was established about 1977 and has been a family business ever since.The owners Alan and Sarah Wood  recently expanded their business to occupy two buildings (this refers to 35-37 and 39-41 Pantiles).

2011 -2014……..At 35 to 41 Pantiles was the kitchen shop of Trevor Mottram Ltd.At 43 Pantiles in 2014 was the jewellers shop of Peter Jenner.



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

Date: October 20,2014


Allen’s Tea & Provision Warehouse was a business established in Tunbridge Wells in the 1860’s by Samuel Allen (1832-1902). When he died in Tunbridge Wells the business was carried on by his son Sydney James Allen, who had  been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1873. Under Sydney’s management the business continued until the late 1920’s. Samuel Allen was a grocer by trade and proudly advertised the name of his business on the wall of his building, which was clearly visible for some distance as one looked up Grosvenor Road from 5 Ways. His shop was located on the south east corner of Grosvenor Road and Goods Station Road, right across the street from the General Hospital.

This article provides information about Samuel Allen and his family and a description of his business activities.Of all the usual grocery items he sold, tea was one item he particularly promoted. Shown opposite is a photo of tea picking in India, which along with Ceylon, were the two countries from which his tea was imported.


Before the advent of the private grocery shop , the open market was the place where most people bought their groceries. As time advanced , the 19th century saw the arrival of the private, and generally smaller, grocers shop, which in towns like Tunbridge Wells tended to be one family businesses typically run by the husband  with his wife and children assisting in the business. Such was the case with Samuel Allen and his family.Shown opposite as an early 20th century image of a grocers shop interior, although not Mr Allen’s shop, of which no image is known.

While public market houses were operating in 19th century, they were increasingly subject to competition from independent grocery stores. These smaller stores were often located closer to (or, indeed, in the middle of) residential areas, and usually specialized in the sale of dry, packaged goods and imported specialty goods. Having grown out of the “pepperers” of medieval England, the most common items of trade for grocers in the 19th century were spices, sugar, flour, coffee, tea, and dried fruits and nuts. While unable to compete with the markets on size and selection, grocery stores used their small size to their advantage by being more flexible in location. As populations moved from city centers to the outskirts of cities, and then into suburban areas in the early 20th century, public markets were unable to follow these dispersed populations as grocery stores could. In a move to keep costs low despite the small size of individual stores, the first chain stores began to appear with several  shops controlled by one company. Several examples of this can be found in Tunbridge Wells. Most of the products sold in the small grocers shops were in the early years mostly bulk items which were weighed out by the shop keeper. Although there was a selection of prepackaged goods in the early 19th century it was not until the latter half of the century and into the 20th century that the transition from bulk loose goods to prepackaged goods took hold and eventually became about the only way goods could be purchased. The 19th century was the era of the specialty shop, where meat was bought from the butchers, fish from the fishmongers, vegetables from the greengrocer etc.

The bible of the British housewife was Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household management. It  was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton. It was originally entitled Beeton's Book of Household Management, in line with the other guide-books published by Beeton.Shown above from the early 20th century is a photo of tinned goods from her book. Tinned goods of meat and other foodstuffs were a welcome addition to any ladies pantry and available at Mr Allen’s shop and others in town.Previously published as a part work, it was first published as a book in 1861 by S. O. Beeton Publishing, 161 Bouverie Street, London, a firm founded by her husband, Samuel Beeton.

The arrival of tea in Britain in the seventeenth century altered the drinking habits of this nation forever. The late eighteenth century saw black tea overtake green tea in popularity for the first time, which also accelerated the addition of milk. In the nineteenth century widespread cultivation of tea in India began, leading to the imports of Indian tea into Britain overtaking the imports of Chinese tea. And in the twentieth century there was a further development that would radically change our tea-drinking habits - the invention of the tea bag, although tea connoisseurs still preferred loose tea.The tea bag had been invented in the USA in 1908 and while it was quickly adopted there those from England were wary of it.The material shortages of World War Two also stalled the mass adoption of tea bags in Britain, and it was not until the 1950s that they really took off.

Tea in the 19th century was still expensive, being considered a luxury item, and often kept in locked tea caddies in the home to prevent theft. Tea at that time was sold loose by weight or in packages . Most tea  at that time came from China, India or Ceylon where huge tea plantations could be found. As the production of tea increased and the transportation of it improved a broad range of tea became available and with increased availability came a reduction in prices to a level that it became a staple product for the masses. A photo of a Tunbridge Ware tea caddy, made in Tunbridge Wells is shown opposite,a very intricate one indeed, and a fine example of the local craft.


Samuel Allen was born 1832 at Wye,Kent, one of several children born to Samuel Allen (1795-1842) and Mary Ann Peploe, born 1810. Samuel Allen senior  had been born 1795 in Wye, Kent  and died there in the 2nd qtr of 1842. The 1841 census, taken at Church Street in Wye, Kent recorded Samuel, age 46, a cord wainer. Living with him was his wife Mary; their seven children, including Samuel junior; and Edward Allen,age 54, a tailor, who is believed to be the brother of Samuel Allen senior.Shown opposite is a 1908 postcard view of Church Street in Wye, Kent. The church is shown in the background and on the left side in the foreground can be seen the sign and premises of the King’s Head Pub. This card was published by H. Mummery of Wye,Kent. The Allen family lived on Church Street for many years.

Samuel’s father passed away when he was just 10 years old, creating hardship for the family, and his mother had to work to support the family. The 1851 census, taken at their Church Street residence recorded Samuel with eight siblings living with their widowed mother, who at that time was working as a “nurse pacifier”, a term unfamiliar to me. Samuels was working as a grocer; his brother Edward , a footman; and his brother Thomas, a groom.

On February 10,1856 Samuel married Eliza Marshall Garrett in the parish church at  Feversham, Kent . Shown opposite is a 1910 postcard view of the Faversham Parish Church published by A.N. Filmer in 1910. Marriage records show that Samuel was working as a grocer, and his wife was a spinster.

Eliza  had been born 1837 at Hythe,Kent, one of fourteen children born to Thomas Garrett (1794-1875) and Mary Anne Hokes born in 1795.She also had five half siblings from the second marriage of her father. Before her marriage to Samuel,she was living with her parents in Hythe,Kent. After the marriage Samuel and his wife took up residence in Ospringe,Kent where their eldest child Ellen Jane Allen was born in 1857.A review of the 1858 Melville directory for Tunbridge Wells showed that the Allen family had not moved to Tunbridge Wells by then but the 1862 Kelly directory gave the listing, under the heading of ‘grocers & tea dealers ‘, “S. Allen, Grosvenor Road,Tunbridge Wells”. As no 1861 census record was found for Samuel in Tunbridge Wells, the researcher is of the opinion that the Allen’s arrived in the town early 1862.Where Samuel and his family were living and working in 1861 was not established.

While living in Tunbridge Wells Samuel and his wife had the following children (1) Annie Ellen (1867) (2) Arthur Edward (1868) (3) Eliza (1869) (4) Maria Lucy (1870) (5) Frank Samuel (1872) (6) Sydney James (1873) (7) Ethel Mary (1880). The surprising thing about this family is that there is an eleven year gap between the birth of their first child Ellen Jane in 1857 and the birth of their next child Annie Eliza in 1868 and although no definitive records could be found for the birth of other children before 1868 it is highly likely that the couple had other children before arriving in Tunbridge Wells.Of the children listed the most significant one, for the purposes of this article is Samuels son Sydney James Allen, who, as you will see later, followed his father into the grocers business and took over the operation of his father’s shop on Grosvenor Road when his father passed away.

Shown opposite is a postcard view of Grosvenor Road in the early 1900’s in which can be seen on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Goods Station Road, two landmarks, namely the General Hospital on the NE corner and Allen’s Tear & Provisions Warehouse on the SE corner. Note the large sign on the side of Allen’s premises, which could be seen easily from the 5 Ways intersection, looking north.

Shown below is a second view of Grosvenor Road  around the same time, taken from a distance, near the 5 Ways intersection, looking north. In the background can be seen the tall building occupied by Samuel Allen with the sign on the building clearly visible (just above the head of the man on the bicycle). Grosvenor Road was a busy spot for shopping and along it was row after row of shops of all descriptions. One could expect that Samuel did a good business from this location, and the fact that the business was in operation for some 60 years is a testament to that fact.

The 1871 census, taken at 44 Grosvenor Road and 2 Goods Station Road, recorded Samuel Allen as a grocer. Living with him was his wife Eliza (given as Elizabeth) and five  of his children.His son Sydney James Allen was not present in this census, and may have been away attending school.Also present was Samuels nephew, who was working as a grocers assistant, as well as one other shop assistant and two servants. The 1874 Kelly directory gave the listing “Samuel Allen,grocer,44 Grosvenor Road. Directories of 1882 and 1899 give the same listing. The numbering system of streets in the town poses some problems for researchers, for like most other streets in the town, the numbers assigned to buildings have changed over the years.As you will see later the address for Samuel’s shop became No. 14 by 1903, even though the physical location of the shop had not changed.

The 1881 census, taken at 44 Grosvenor Road, recorded Samuel as a grocer employing three assistants. Living with him was his wife Eliza; six of their children and two shop assistants.The 1891 census was taken at the same address and at that time Samuel was listed as a grocer employing others. With him was his wife Eliza; four of his children; one grocers assistant and one domestic servant. At this time his sons Frank Samuel Allen and Sydney James Allen were working for their father as grocers assistants.

The 1901 census now gave the address of the grocers shop as No. 14 Grosvenor Road. Samuel was at that time a “grocer shop keeper employer”. With him was his wife Eliza; his son Sydney James Allen, a grocers assistant; his daughter Ethel Mary Allen, a “governess school”; one domestic servant; his sister in law Emma Garrett, age 60; and his brother in law Henry Garrett, age 71, a retired butler.The 1903 Kelly directory gave the listing “Samuel Allen, grocer,14 Grosvenor Road.

Samuel Allen passed away in Tunbridge Wells May 2,1902 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on May 7th. His wife Eliza passed away in Tunbridge Wells in December 1904 and she was buried in the same cemetery on December 17th. Probate records note that Samuel was of 30 Upper Grosvenor Road (photo opposite)at the time of his death, one of the many fine Victorian homes on Upper Grosvenor Road .His residence was located on the east side of Upper Grosvenor Road and was a semi- detached two Sty home,which in the 20th century was converted into flats. The photo shown dates from 2008, at the time when one of the flats was advertised by an estate agent. The executors of his 5,323 pound estate was his son Sidney James Allen, grocer, and John Edward Bignall, secretary in the civil service supply association. What connection Samuel had with Mr Bignall was not determined. It was surprising to me at least that no comprehensive obituary for Samuel was published in the newspaper. A brief notice of death was given stating his name and age at the time of his death and that he had died suddenly at his home “Ranmore” on Upper Grosvenor Road.

When Samuel passed away his son Sidney James Allen, born 1873 in Tunbridge Wells, took over his father’s business. Directories of 1903 to 1927 (the year of last record) list the proprietor of the shop as either Sidney James Allen or S.J. Allen, and record him as a grocer and tea dealer.As no directory of the business was found for 1930 or beyond under the name of Allen, it is the opinion of the researcher that the business either ended circa 1928 or was sold by the Allen family about that time and carried on by others under a different name. No research was undertaken to investigate the business after the Allen era.

The 1911 census, taken at 14 Grosvenor Road recorded the head of the business and family as Sidney Allen, a grocer. Living with him was his wife Edith, born in the 1st qtr of 1876 at Hull, Yorkshire. Also present was his children John Leslie(1907-1996),age 4; Stanley Garrett (1909-1985),age 2 and Cicely age 1 mth. All of the children were born in Tunbridge Wells. Sidney’s wife Edith was born Edith Wilkinson , one of six children born to William Arthur Wilkinson (1839-1926) and Maria Jane Wilkinson, nee Johnson (1838-1925). The 1911 census records that they were living in premises of 9 rooms; that they had been married 10 years (1901) and had four children, all of whom were still living. Also present was a mothers helper and a monthly nurse, indicating that perhaps Sidney’s wife was not well after the birth of her daughter Cicely in 1911, or perhaps she was well but required some help in caring for her young children.Records sometimes give Sidney’s name as either Sidney or Sydney.

Shown opposite is a photo of 65 Morpeth Street ,Sculcoutes,Yorkshire where Edith Allen, nee Wilkinson, lived with her parents and siblings before her marriage to Sidney. She is found at this address from 1881 to 1901 and in 1901 she was working as a school governess. Sidney and Edith were married September 11,1901 at Sculcoates,Yorkshire and after the marriage Sidney and his wife took up residence in Tunbridge Wells.

The last directory record of Sidney James Allen’s grocers shop on Grosvenor Road was 1927 and it appears that Sidney and his family left Tunbridge Wells , eventually taking up residence in Bromley,Kent and later Croydon,Surrey.

Probate records give Edith Allen of 12 Bishops Avenue, Bromley Kent  (wife of Sidney James Allen) died March 14,1935 at Avondale Nursing Home, Bromley. The executors of her 2,308 pound estate was her husband Sidney James Allen, grocer, and her son John Leslie Allen, schoolmaster. Probate records of Sidney James Allen recorded him of 82 Summer Road, Croydon,Surrey and of 1 East Drive,Cashalton Beeches, Surrey, and that he passed away November 18,1944 at 1 East Drive. The executor of his 1,754 pound estate was his son Stanley Garrett Allen, grocer.

Although much more could be written about the Allen family I close off this article with a brief mention of Sidney’s son Stanley Garrett Allen, for he, like his father and grandfather before him, carried on the family trade of being a grocer. Stanley Garrett Allen had been born in Tunbridge Wells November 14,1908. In 1911 he was living with his parents  and two siblings at the family shop at 14 Grosvenor Road. On September 34,1932 he married Daisy Agnes Carpenter at Addiscombe, St Mary Magdelene Church in Surrey. Daisy was the daughter of Franklin James Carpenter, a railway inspector. Daisy was age 25, a spinster,living at 95 Tunstall Road at the time of the marriage and Stanley was living at 58 Yarring Road in Worthing.



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

Date: October 2,2014


William Biscombe Garrner was a skilled  English painter, in oil and watercolour, and  wood engraver. His work is quite varied, for not only did he capture local scenes, including several of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area, but he also did much of his work in his studio where finely detailed engravings were made of well-known people.

He exhibited widely in London in the late 19th century at venues such as the Royal Academy of Art (photo opposite right) and the Grosvenor Gallery.

He illustrated a number of books featuring the British landscape notably “Kent”, “Canterbury”, and “The Peak County”. He also drew scenes from the Welsh Elan Valley in the 1890’s, before it was flooded to form the Elan Valley Reservoirs, which appeared in two books by Grant Allan.

However, it was as a fine wood engraver that he was mainly known, providing illustrations (sometimes large) for English magazines of the day such as the Pall Mall Gazette, Illustrated London News, English Illustrated Magazine, and The Magazine of Art. He was a firm advocate of traditional wood engraving considering it to be the most versatile in comparison to metal engraving, etching or “process illustration”. An example of one of his wood engravings is shown above left

THE GARDNER FAMILY               

William Biscombe Gardner (1847-1919) was born 1847 in Hackney,London, one of six known children born to James Gardner (1817-1880’s) and Georgiana martin (1811-1896). His siblings were (1) Ellen S. Gardiner (b1845) (2) Margaret S. Gardner (b1854) (3) John Carey Gardner (b1857) (4) Isabella Rose Gardner (1849-1881) (5) James M. Gardner (b1861).A photo of William,as published in ‘The Sketch” dated June 13,1894, is shown opposite.

William was baptised August 26,1849 at St Peter’s Church, Stepney,Middlesex. His birth had been registered in the 3rd qtr of 1847 at Hackney,London.

The 1851 census, taken at 2 Railway Terrace, Church Street, West Ham,Essex recorded James Gardner with his wife Georgiana and his children James Martin,age 10; Ellen Aurelia, age 6; William,age 4; Isabella Rose,age 1 and one domestic servant. The three eldest children, including William were scholars.  The family was still living in Essex up to at least 1857.

The 1871 census, taken at Vicarage Road, Leyton,Sussex recorded James Gardner, born 1817 Middlesex, an advertisement and general agent. Living with him was his wife Georgiana.born 1811 at Edinburgh,Scotland and his children Ellan A, born 1845 Islington,Middlesex, who was working as a teacher; William B, born 1848 Hackney,Middlesex, who was a wood engraver; Margaret S, born 1854 Strarford,Essex, a teacher; John Carey,born3rd qtr 1856 Westham,,Essex, a scholar. Also in the home was one domestic servant.

John Carey Gardner later emigrated to Canada. On February 28,1883 he married Sarh Fox 9born 1853) at York,Ontario,Canada. In 1901 he was living at Toronto,Ontario,Canada. He and his wife had a son James Martin Gardner (1884-1943).

In the 3rd qtr of 1872 William married Elizabeth at Uckfield,Sussex, but the couple never had any children. She had been born 1840 at Hackney,London.No definitive information is given about her and her maiden name was either Martin or Trusler, according to the registration of marriage. Also present in their nine room residence was two servants. The census recorded that the couple had been married 38 years (1873) and had no children.

The 1881 census, taken at 4 Vicarage Terrace on Vicarage Road in Leyton,Essex recorded Georgiana as a widow. Living with her were her daughters Isabella, a schoolmistress and Margaret, a professor of music, and one servant. The 1891 census, taken at 48 St George’s Road in Leyton,Essex recorded Georgiana as head of the home. Living with her was her daughter Margaret, a professor of music, and one servant. The 1901 census, taken at 29 Abbey Road, St Marylebone,London recorded Margaret S. Gardner as a teacher of music on own account. Living with her was one servant. The 1911 census, taken at 28 E. Dudley Mansions on Abbey road, St Marylebone recorded Margaret as a professor of music and living with her were two servants. Margaret died in the 3rd qtr of 1934 at Hampstead.London. She never married and it appears that her sisters never married either.In the 1871 census, taken at 8 Cromwell House in Bromley,Kent, Isabella was working as a kindergarten teacher and living with Sophia Wheeler, the headmistress, and eleven others.Isabellas birth was registered in the 2nd qtr of 1849 at Stepney,London .Isabella died a spinster in November 1881 and was buried November 16,1881 at Leyton,Essex. Her brother James M. Gardner,born in 1845 got married and is recorded as having died in the 3rd qtr of 1927 at Edmonton.

From 1896 he lived at Thirlestane Court (photo below) which was an apartment complex at Tilford Road, Hindhead,Surrey. By 1900 he had moved to London.

Electoral records for 1900 and 1901 gave William at the Strand,London. In about 1904 William and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells. There is no record of him in the town in the 1903 Kelly directory.

The 1911 census, taken at 3 Prospect Road,Tunbridge Wells, recorded William as an “artist (pictures)”. Living with him was his wife Elizabeth, age 71, born 1840 at Hackney,London.

The 1918 Kelly directory listed William Biscombe Gardnet 3 Prospect Road,Tunbridge Wells.

William died in Tunbridge Wells in 1919. Probate records gave him of 3 Prospect Road,Tunbridge Wells, who died February 23,1919. The executor of his 1,604 pound estate was Elizabeth Gardner, widow. He was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on February 27,1919.  His wife Elizabeth died in the 4th qtr of 1915 in Tunbridge Wells.

Roslyn Barrettara, a decendent William Biscombe Gardner wrote in 2003 “ Would anyone have done any research on William Biscombe Gardner, wood engraver, who died 1919. He was a long- time resident of Tunbridge Wells,England and was the brother of my great grandfather  John Carey Bardner. John Carey Gardner lived at 93 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, Ontario,Canada. I have found many press releases and information regarding William Biscombe Gardner and his paintings and wood engravings among my own father, Ross’ papers since his passing in February 2001. I would like to known if any of “Biscombes” family are still in the Kent area. During my younger years I spent some time in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, working but did not get far with family research at that time. It would be of great interest to me to connect with family members in the U.K., and share resources regarding family history.Please feel free to contact me if you know of any connections. Thank - you, Roslyn”.


Given here is a list of books that William was known to have provided illustrations for;(1)    Allen, Grant. Drowning for Liverpool : Lake Vyrnwy and the end of old LLanwyddyn, 1887–89.(2)    Allen, Grant. A submerged village – Llanwddyn (Mar 1890)(3)    Gardner, W. Biscombe. Dickens country – watercolours (London: Adam & Charles Black)(4)    Gardner, W. Biscombe. The garden of England; Kent by brush and Pen (J. Salmon Ltd, 1995).(5)    Morris, J E. The Peak Country (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1914).(6)    Shore, W. Teignmouth. Canterbury (Adam & Charles Black, April 1907).(7)    Shore, W. Teignmouth. Kent (Adam & Charles Black, 1907).(8)    Home, Gordon. Canterbury (A & C Black, 1911)


Given here is a partial list of paintings representing his works of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. A search on the internet will result in finding an extensive catalogue of his work with many images. He did a number of fine portraits of famous men and paintings in both oil and watercolour throughout England with a large body of work done in the county of Kent, some of which was executed while William was a resident of Tunbridge Wells. One painting for example has inscribed on the back “ by W. Biscombe Gardner, Hillsborough, 3 Prospect Road,Tunbridge Wells. Exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts 1913”

(1)    Apple Blossom.
Chiddingstone from the corner of the churchyard.
The Deserted Cottage, Penbury.
A Game of Ball.
Packing the Golden Hops.
The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells.
The Question of the Day.
Their Old Home' Pembury near Tunbridge Wells.
Mowers Near Tunbridge Wells
(10)View of Toad Rock


(1)The Pantiles  ,watercolour 1907. (top left)
(2)Mowers Near Tunbridge Wells  (top right)
(3)Their Old Home , Pembury near Tunbridge Wells, watercolour (above right)
(4)View of Toad Rock  (above left)

Williams work can be found in galleries throught England and even the National Gallery of Canada has several of his paintings. His work comes ups for auction on a regular basis and commands high prices. Many of his paintings have been reproduced as paintings, posters, and even greeting cards. Prints of his paintings can also be purchased.


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

Date: September 24,2014


This article reports on the history of butcher shops at 25 Calverley Road in the period of about 1892 to 1940.From about 1890 to 1899 the Semple Brothers had a number of butcher shops in Tunbridge Wells, including one at 25 Calverley Road. The working partner in this business was John Herbert Semple (1875-1949), with his brother William Arthur Semple as the silent partner.John was originally from London but by 1891 had settled in Eastbourne,Sussex. In 1897 he married Isabel Annie Wyatt (1873-1961) in Tunbridge Wells. In 1915 John was fined for his involvement in the Army Meat Scandal while operating the Calverley Meat Market. He left Tunbridge Wells by 1928 and died in Bromley,Kent.

In the period of about 1900 to 1905 John Albert Priestly (1870-1939) had his butchers shop at 25 Calverley Road. John had been born in Boston,Lincolshire and soon after his married to Ruth in 1891 he moved to Tunbridge Wells and began his business as a butcher.He died in Grinsby, Lincolnshire in 1939.

James Toup(1879-1954) took over the business of John Albert Priestly in about 1906,just after his marriage that year to Lucy Dawkins and continued operating his butchers shop from this location until about 1940 with the assistance of his two sons Albert Stanley Toup and James Algernon Toup who were both butchers at the time of their father’s death in Tunbridge Wells in 1954.


The patriarch of the Semple family was John Gustavus Semple (1832-1895) who operated a butchers shop in Greenwich,Kent in 1881 and elsewhere at other times. His wife was Mary Loft (1839-1905) and with her had four sons and six daughters. All of his sons,except Thomas  became butchers and were (1) George Edwin Semple (1861-1901) (2) Frederick William Semple (1863-1916) (3) William Arthur Semple (born 1870) (4) John Herbert Semple (1875-1949) (5) Thomas Semple (1882-1915). Thomas Semple became a Marine Engineer and during WW 1 served in the Atlantic in the merchant service, transporting troops and items for the war effort.While onboard his ship, the ‘Olympic’ he caught a chill and died in Hampshire at 1 Victoria Road November 17,1915.

George Edwin Semple (1861-1901) had been born July 14,1861 at Marylebone, London. On October 11,1890 he married Elizabeth Jacobs, born 1866, at St Andrew, Kensal Green,London. In 1891 he was living at Christchurch,London and working as a butcher and living with his father in law and wife at The Crown” public house, where his father was the licenced victualler. George died in the 2nd qtr of 1901 at Islignton,London

Frederick William Semple (1863-1916)was born August 10,1863 at Marylebone,London. He was still living with his parents in Eastbourn at the time of the 1901 census. In the 4th qtr of 1902 he married Mary Gopsill, born 1854. In 1911 he was living at “The Thrifts Cottage, in Great Amwell, Hertforshire, where Frederick was a poultry farmer. He died at The Thrift October 5,1916. His brother William Arthur Semple was the executor of his estate.

William Arthur Semple was born October 6,1870 at Kilburn,Middlesex. Up until at least 1891 he was living with his parents and siblings, but by 1901 he had moved to Tunbridge Wells. In 1901 he was living in Tunbridge Wells as a single man and as a boarder, but his occupation was given as “butcher shop keeper employer”. As noted above he was a partner in the Semple Brothers butcher shop business in the town, with his brother John Herbert Semple (1875-1949). In the 2nd qtr of 1905 he married Louise Shorter (1873-1925) at St George Hanover Square,London. In 1911 he was a purveyor of meat living with his wife and niece at Battersea.London. In 1926 he was living at 38 Gorst road in Battersea and in 1931 he was living at “The Thrift”, at Amwell,Hertforshire, which was the former poultry farm of his brother Frederick William Semple. Livign with him at that time was his second wife Very. He died sometime in the late 1930’s.

John Herbert Semple was born October 18,1875 at St Pancras,London. He had been baptised November 28,1875 at Camden Town All Saints. At the time of the 1881 census, taken at 132 junction Rd, Islington London, John was living with his parents, 9 siblings and one servant. At the time of the 1891 census, taken at Sunyside, St Leonards Rd in Eastbourne,Sussex, John was living with his parents, seven siblings and one servant. His father was running his own butchers shop . John and his brothers Frederick William and William Arthur were all working for their father as butchers.

Sometime before 1897 John moved to Tunbridge Wells to establish a butchers shop. The 1899 Kelly directory interestingly gave the listing “ Mrs Mary Semple, butcher, 54 and 25 Calverley road; 14 Basinghall Street and 15-17 Camden Road. Who Mary Semple was is a mystery for in the 4th qtr of 1897 John married Isabel Annie Wyatt (1873-1961) in Tunbridge Wells. Isabel had been born in the 4th qtr of 1873 in Tunbridge Wells, one of two children born to John G. Wyatt (born 1843) and Sarah Wyatt (born 1848).

John and Isabel had the following children (1) Gladys Isabel Mary Semple (1898-1973) .Gladys was born March 13,1898in Tunbridge Wells;she married July 28,1920 Ernest George Foley (1897-1967) at Upper Norwood,surrey. He was a shipping clerk and son of William M Foley, Archdeacon of Ardfert in Ireland. Gladys had a daughter Evelyn Geraldine Foley (1928-1988). Gladys died 1st at 1973 at Camberwell, London.(2) John Gustavus Semple (1899-1993).John was born December 7,1899 in Tunbridge Wells and was baptised in the town February 25,1900. He was living with his parents until his marriage to Lillian Hilda May Hoyles (1902-1998). At the time of the marriage John was a master butcher of 65 Howberry Road in Thornton Heath.Lillian’s father was Alfred Joseph Hoyles, a lithographic artist. In 1931 he and his wife were living in Lewisham. He died in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1993. (3) Olive Marjory Semple (born 1902).Olive was born in the 1st qtr of 1902 in Tunbridge Wells and was living with her parents in the town in 1911. Nothing further was investigated. (4) Frederick Herbert Alfred Semple (born 1908) .Frederick was born in the 3rd qtr of 1908 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1911 he was living with his parents in Tunbridge Wells. In 1930 he was living at Sydenham, Kent on Wiverton Road with his parents and two of his brothers.(5) William Percy Semple (born 1909).William was born in the 2nd qtr of 1909 in Tunbridge Wells, In 1930 he was living with his parents and two brothers at Sudenham,Kent on Winverton Road. (6) Arthur James Saxly Semple (born 1911).Arthur was born in the 2nd qtr of 1911 in Tunbridge Wells. Noting more  was researched  about him after the 1911 census.

The 1901 census, taken at 17 & 19 Camden Road recorded John Herbert Semple as a butcher shopkeeper and employer. Living with him was his wife Isabel and his children Gladys and John.

The 1911 census, taken at 7 Meadow Hiil Road, Tunbridge Wells recorded John Herbert Semple as a working partner in a retail butcher shop. Living with him was his wife Isabel Annie Semple; his 6 chidlren, and one domestic servant. The older children were all attending a local school.

The 1913 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Semple Brothers, 54 Calverley Road” and “John Herbert Semple, 7 Meadow Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells”. In the same directory is the listing “ J. Toup, butcher, 25 Calverley Road. The occupancy and operation of this shop by James Toup is given later.

During WW 1 there was a shortage of foodstuffs and initially voluntary rationing came into effect which proved ineffective and later in the war mandatory rationing of meat came into effect. In Britain, during the First World War, 1914 to 1918, queues for food had become dangerously long. A Ministry of Food was created to help with the homefront food situation, and rationing was introduced starting with sugar in December 1917, then with meat and butter in February 1918. The government congratulated itself on its measures, and the Ministry of Food was dissolved on 31 March 1921. In truth, though, it wasn't a great success: food prices rose by 130%, and the ration coupons were often useless, as the supply of items just wasn't there to meet even that coupon-limited demand.After the outbreak of the war food shortages led to a dramatic reduction of meat.In order to make sausages producers packed them with scraps,cereal and water, which caused them to pop and hiss,hence the name “Bangers”.

The Surrey Mirror of June 29,1915 gave an article about John Herbert Semple, butcher, who was fined 5 pounds and a penalty of 6 pounds and related to the same matter was an article in the Kent & Sussex Courier of June 25,1915 under the heading of “ Army Meat Market Scandal” in which John Herbert Semple of the Calverley Meat Market was involved.

By 1922 John Herbert Semple had left Tunbridge Wells and in 1922 was a butcher at 19 Anerley Station Road in Penge,Kent. In 1928 he was living in Lewisham and in 1930 on Wiverton Road in Sydenham,Kent where living with him was his wife Isabel and his sons William Percy and Frederick Herbert Alfred Semple.

Probate records give John Herbert Semple of 11 Brookmead Avenue, Bromley,Kent who died January 12,1949 leaving an estate valued at 10,386 pounds.The executors of his estate were his son John Gustavus Semple, a wholesale meat salesman and Edward Robert Lawrence a chartered accountant. His wife Isabel died July 2,1961 at Chislehurst. She had been a resident of 11 Brookmead Avenue, Bromley,Kent but died at18 Oakwood Close, in Chistlehurst. The executor of her 15,339 pound estate was her son John Gustavus Semple, butcher and also her solicitor.

JOHN ALBERT WHITE PRIESTLY (1870-1939)          

In the period of about 1900 to 1905 John Albert Priestly (1870-1939) had his butchers shop at 25 Calverley Road. John had been born in Boston,Lincolshire and soon after his married to Ruth in 1891 he moved to Tunbridge Wells and began his business as a butcher.He died in Grinsby, Lincolnshire in 1939.

John had been born in the 1st qtr of 1870 in Boston,Lincolnshire, one of six children born to Joseph Priestly (1834-1901) and Rebecca M. Priestly, born 1837. In the period up to the end of the 1880’s John lived with his parents and siblings in Boston,Lincolnshire.

On July 7,1890 John married Ruth Smitt at Pulborough,Sussex.Ruth was born 1871 at Clayton,Sussex, After the marriage John and his wife moved to Tunbirdge Wells where he took over the butcher shop at 25 Calverley Road. The 1901 census, taken at 25 Calverley Road recorded John as a meat purveyor. Living with him was his wife Ruth and their son John Albert Priestly, who had been born 1892 in Marylebone,London. The 1903 Kelly directory gave the listing “John Albert Priestly, butcher, 25 Calverley Road.

The 1911 census, taken at 2 Victoria Villas, Calverley Street,Tunbridge Wells recorded John as a meat purveyor. Living with him was his wife Ruth and his son John Albert Priestlry, who was working for his father as a meat purveyors assistant. The census records that they were livening in 6 rooms; that the couple had been married 10 years and that of their two children only their son John was still living.

John died in Grimsby,Lincolshire in the 1st qtr of 1939. His wife Ruth died at the same place in the 2nd qtr of 1944.

James Toup (1879-1954) had taken over John’s butcher shop at 25 Calverley Road in about 1906.

JAMES TOUP (1879-1954)            

Shown opposite is a photo circa 1921 showing James Toup standing outside his shop at 25 Calverley Road. James had been born 1879 at Bramshott,Hampshire, one of five children born to James Toup (1848-1916) and Ann Moss (1846-1938).Shown below is a photograph pertaining to his father James ,a blacksmith, who had died February 1,1916 at Haslemere,Surrey and was buried at Bramshott Church.

The 1881 census, taken at Bramshott, on Passfield Road,recorded  James Toup living with his parents and three siblings. His father was a blacksmith  and was employing one boy in his business.

The 1891 census, taken at Bramshott recorded James living with his parents and four siblings at Passfield Road where his father was working as a blacksmith.

The 1901 census, taken at No. 1 Elm Villas in Betchworth,Surrey recorded James living on his own and working as a foreman.

On August 11,1906 James married Lucy Dawkins at Betchworth St Michael church. Lucy was the daughter of Albert Hawins, who was deceased at the time, but had been a coachman. James father was now working as a ferrier.The marriage documents state that James was a butcher and living in Tunbridge Wells. By this time he had taken over the butcher shop at 25 Calverley Road.

The 1911 census, taken at 25 Calverley Road recorded James Toup as a butcher. Living with him was his wife Lucy, born 1881 at Betchworth,Surrey, who was assisting her husband in the business. Also in the home was their son Albert Stanley Toup(given as Albert Henry Toup) who had been born in Tunbridge Wells March 29, 1908 and who died in the 4th qtr of 1996. Also present was one domestic servant. The census also records that they were living in premises of 5 rooms; that they had been married four years and had only one child. James and his wife went on to have another child, James Algernon Toup who was born September 13,1917 in Tunbridge Wells, who died March 20,1992 in Eastbourne,Sussex. James Algernon Toup married Marjorie Theobald December 1939 in Tunbridge Wells and it was he who took over the butcher shop of his father at 25 Calverley Road and who continued to operate the business until about 1940. James Algernon Toup and his wife had one son the two daughters  including Janet Susan Toup (1946-1983). Directories of 1964 to 1966 give “james A Toup, 94 Beachlands, Pevensey Bay,Sussex. James son Albert Stanley Toup married Rose E. Cheesman in the 1st qtr of 1933 in Tunbridge Wells and he is found in directories of 1938 to 1982 living at 53 Calverley Park, Tunbridge Wells.

Kelly directories of 1913 and 1918 record ‘J. Toup, butcher, 25 Calverley Road.  Directories of 1920 to 1938 give the listing ‘James Toup,pork family  butcher, 25 Calverley Road”.

The Pembury Village News of Spring 2012 carried a memorial piece about peopleof Pembury who had died in WW 1. On the list was John Henry Steadman 46713 private with the 13th Btn Royal Fusiliers (city of London), the son of John Henry and Hannah Steqadman of East Grinstead and then 8 Goods Station Road,Tunbridge Wells. John had been born 1891 at East Grinstead and became a farmer there. He was one of 10 children born to his parents. He was the husband of Alice May Stedman (nee thrift) of Peter’s Cottage,Pembury. They were married in 1913 and had one child. He had enlisted for service June 28,1915 in Maidstone and was previously employed by Mr Toup of Calverley Road and was a butcher at his shop. He died at age 26 on September 4,1918 and is remembered on Panel 3, the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais,France.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of May 24,1940 reported “ Everyones talking-Rumour has been busy in Tunbridge Wells spreading all sorts of ridiculous things in which even some of our prominent and respected tradesmen are implicated. One of the victims  is Mr James Toup, the well-known butcher, whose absence from business from a few days, was seized upon as evidence that he had been interned.The simple fact is that Mr Toup is engaged on Government service in connection with national meat distribution. It would be much better if busy bodies occupied themselves in work of national importance, rather than spreading stupid stories about those who are doing their bit to help the country in its hour of need”.

Probate records gave James Toup of 4 Calverley Park Gardens, Tunbridge Wells, died August 25,1954. The executors of his 31,108 pound estate were Albert Stanley Toup and James Algernon Toup, butchers, the sons.

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