ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 3

 

DUNORLAN LODGE PEMBURY ROAD

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

Date: January 13,2019

INTRODUCTION 

In 1854 the property on Pembury Road, opposite Sandrock Road,was acquired by the Tasmanian millionaire and evangelist Henry Reed(1806-1880). Reed demolished the old farmhouse on the site and hired the famous architect William Willicombe (1800-1875)to design a new retirement home for him set well back on the east side of  Pembury Road. This grand mansion was competed in 1862. Reed was never completely satisfied with the home but Willicombe (image opposite) refused to make changes to it fearing it would damage his reputation. Later Reed demolished part of the mansion and had a new wing added. Shown above is an old image of the mansion.

Reed hired the renowned Scottish landscape gardener Robert Marnock(1800-1889)to create a lavish garden setting for his residence, and what a spectacular garden it was! Reed also commissioned James Pulman to provide Pulhamite rockwork, a Pulmanite cascade, a Pulmonite and terracotta fountain, a Grecian temple, and he probably extended and re-shaped the lake. Pulman completed the work in 1864.

In conjunction with the construction of the mansion and its landscaped grounds a number of outbuildings were constructed including an entrance lodge located at the south entrance to the estate, the lane from which leading to the mansion was guarded by an impressive set of six brick lantern/gate posts with interconnecting wrought iron gates and fencing. This entrance lodge was built in 1862 along with a stable block, gardeners cottage and other outbuildings built on the north east section of the estate close to Pembury Road.  Shown above is a postcard view of Pembury Road by James Richards in which can be seen on the right the gates and fencing at the Dunorlan Lodge entrance.

In 1873 Henry Reed left Dunorlan and  returned to Tasmania where he died in 1880. Upon his departure the Collins family  moved in. When B.H.Collins died in 1941 the mansion fell vacant and was requisitioned for the war effort May 15,1941.

Tough times during the war and no doubt the high expense of the increasing maintenance and upkeep of Dunorlan resulted in the Collins family deciding to dispose of it in 1944. Lieutenent Colonel Richard Leslie Halliburton Collins ,who had retained ownership of Dunorlan thoughout the war , offered it for sale to the Tunbridge Wells Town Council in 1944 at a price of 42,000 pounds for the house and grounds plus three farms, Collinhurst and High Wood at Hawkenbury, the Hawkenbury Sports Ground, and various other parcels of land. At this time the acquisition consisted of the manor plus 390 acres of adjacent park and farm lands. The deal was finalized in early 1945.In March 1946 thirty acres of the estate were opened as a public park 'as a temporary measure', a measure which became permanent and over the next two years new gates and fences were installed, footpaths created and seats erected.

Due to the wartime registration order the council was not able to take possession of the mansion and on April 17,1946 a fire broke out in the building causing significant damage to the structure. Repairs were subsequently undertaken to preserve the building.

In 1951 discussions were still taking place about restoring the building. Finally on July 31,1957 the building was turned over to the council by the War Damage Commission. Although the Ministry of Works agreed to repair the building Council by that time could find no use for it so in September 1957 it was sold for development along with one lodge and some adjoining land for 7,650 pounds. The Dunorlan mansion was demolished in 1958 and eight houses constructed on the site. About all that exists of the mansion itself is the terrace at the rear which my friend Mrs Susan Prince and I got to see during our visit to Dunorlan Park in 2015.

As you will see later in this article the present site of Dunorlan Park is considerably smaller than the original site. The mansions outbuildings, including the entrance lodge were all located on the part of the estate that Council sold off for redevelopment.

Today the old entrance lodge exists at the entrance to a private road which was the original lane leading to the mansion. During the years of occupancy by the Reed and Collins family the entrance lodge was occupied by a member of their staff and his family. But from the time WW 2 onwards it came into occupation as a private home, a use it retains today. Over the years the entrance lodge has been extended in size and upgraded to accommodate modern living standards. In this article I present an image of the entrance lodge from the early 20th century which in addition to the lodge shows the elaborate gate/fence lantern posts and fences. Other modern images of the entrance lodge and its surroundings are as a comparison. Information is also given about the use and occupants of the entrance lodge.

Further details about the history of Dunorlan and Dunorlan Park can be found in my article ‘A Retrospective View of Dunorlan Park dated December 28,2011.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION 

Shown opposite is a 1907 os map on which the location of Dunorlan Lodge is highlighted in red. By the time this map was prepared the lodge had been enlarged with an addition on the back.

The lodge was located at the entrance to the estate opposite what today is Dell Drive, north east the current entrance to Dunorlan Park. The lodge was located at the beginning of a long drive that originated at the Pembury Road entrance and extended in a circular path to the front entrance of the mansion and then towards the stable block, gardeners cottage and other outbuildings near Pembury Road at the north east corner of the estate. Today this long drive is a private road providing access to both Dunorlan Lodge and a various homes built along this private road.

From the Planning Authority files of 1985 is the map opposite showing Dunorlan Lodge and the homes White Mays, Cedar Lawn, Autumn Hill and Fairmile which had been constructed in the 1960’s. The entrance to what today is Dunorlan Park is shown just south of Dunorlan Lodge, where a large car park is located. The entrance gates and fencing at the car park entrance are not original to the site.

Shown opposite is a postcard by local photographer James Richards showing Dunorlan lodge and the set of entrance gate/lantern posts and related ornate wrought iron gates and fences. This photograph was taken in the early 1900’s and shown in the image can be seen the entrance gate keeper and his wife.

Shown below are two modern views of Dunorlan Lodge in which the image looking east from Pembury Road shows the original gate/fence posts with lamps. Whether the wrought iron fencing is original or not could not be determined by comparing the old to the modern image. It is likely however that the iron work was lost during the metal drive of WW2. All the same the iron work that exists today is still quite ornate. The second image in this set was taken looking north and as one can see Dunorlan Lodge has been significantly enlarged.

 









Shown here is a map of the site from the Planning Authority files of 2005. The site  report relating to an application in 2005 for redevelopment of the land next to Dunorlan Lodge stated that the site under proposed development is occupied by three houses, namely Parkside House (formerly known in 1985 as White Mays), Cedar Lawns and Fairmile, a site of some 0.6 hectares. The proposal at that time did not impact directly on Dunorlan Lodge but called for demolition of the aforementioned houses to allow for the construction of apartments. This application was not approved. In 2006 and 2007 the redevelopment proposal called for an assisted living development but it too did not directly affect Dunorlan Lodge and was initially rejected, the applicant then seeking approval by appeal.

In 1985 an application was refused for the felling of an oak tree at Dunorlan Lodge by then owner Mr K.W. Rigby of Dunorlan Lodge. In 1990 Mrs and Mrs Rigby were refused permission to construct a double garage on the south east corner of their grounds. In 1990 Mr and Mrs Rigby received approval for the construction of a swimming pool enclosure. In 1991 they also received approval for the construction of a double garage and a garden room.

THE OCCUPANTS OF DUNORLAN LODGE

An estate the size of Dunorlan required a large staff to keep the buildings and grounds in good order and to serve the needs of the mansions occupants.

The 1871 census taken at Dunorlan,Tunbridge Wells records the presence of Henry Reed (image opposite) and his wife Margaret and their children Georgina,Arthur,Walter,Annie,Margaret,Mary and Henry.Absent from the census is their son Eric who died at an early age.Also present was Caroline M Boileauma 42 year old barronets daughter who was vising the Reed's.It is interesting to note from the census just how many people it took to keep the place going for there were a total of 13 servants employed by the Reed's in the main house plus additional staff in other buildings on the estate. A list of servants at that time are given as follows; Anne Newborn,governess;Elizabeth Tullock,governess;Jane King,cook;Jessie Harkcombe,head housemaid;Christian Bruce,head nurse;Isabella Bruce,undernurse;Ann Edde,under housemaid;Mary Parks,under housemaid;Elizabeth Parks,under housemaid;William Gratwick,butler;Sarah A. Medhurst,kitchen maid and Robert Venus,postman.It goes to show how wealthy the Reed's were when you can affort to hire your own postman. I wonder how busy he was? They must have written a lot of letters! Also on the estate in the 'Gardeners lodge' was 53 year old head gardener Thomas Taylor with his wife and four children. At 'Gardeners Cottage was coachman Henry Wetherall and his wife plus gardener David Walker and his wife and three sons, two of which worked on the estate as gardeners. Also there is a record of Reed building a chapel on the estate for his employees

In 1873 Henry Reed returned to Tasmania where he died in 1880. Reeds widow Margaret S.E.Reed attributed their departure from Dunorlan to the fault some Christian people in England found with him because of the house.In a sale brochure of 1871-2 Dunorlan was described as 'a most elegant and substantial mansion,erected...entirely of Normandy stone,in the Italian style of architecture,finished throughout in the most perfect manner,and in every way adapted for the comfort and enjoyment of a nobleman or gentleman of fortune'. Josephine Carminhow,who had worked there at one time characterised it as an 'architectural monstrosity which represented everything one might expect from a man with too much money and too little taste".When the property was put up for sale after Reeds departure, it proved to be a "hard sell" as it remained unsold for quite some time and it wasn’t until the Collins family came along  that Reed was finally able to dispose of it.

The story of the Collins family begins in Nova Scotia, Canada, which you can read about in the referenced article of mine. To cut a long story short the family were residing at Dunorlan at the time of the 1881 census. Enos Collins (born 1771), a seaman, merchant, shipowner, financier and legislator,  and his wife and children moved into Dunorlan in 1874.

The 1881 census taken in Tunbridge Wells at Dunorlan,# 10 Calverley Fairmile Road (an early name for Pembury Road) records only two members of the Collins family in residence namely Brenton,age 52,living on own means and his six year old daughter Geraldine who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1875 . The census also records living in the residence a total of eleven servants with occupations of butler(1),footman(2),houskeeper(1)ladys maid(1)housemaid(3)nursery maid(1)kitchen maid(1) and a laundry maid. Also on the estate but in separate buildings were David Walker(head gardener) and his wife in 'Gardeners Cottage';at 'Undergardeners Rooms'were the undergardeners James Roberts,William W. Couzens and Frederick Perry. These four men all in their 20's were responsible for maintaining the extensive grounds of the estate. In the 'Grooms rooms' were three grooms. In the 'Rooms over laundry' were two young women in their 20's working as laundry maids. In the 'Coachmans rooms' was 42 year old John Selley,coachman, and his wife and lastly at the 'Dunorlan Gardeners Lodge' was gardener Samuel Smith,his wife and daughter. As was typical of estates at that time the number of servants occupying the premises was far greater than the number of family members who owned the estate and their large number gives not only a view as to how many people were required to keep an estate like Dunorlan going but also the expense involved and wealth of its owner.

The 1891 census taken at #10 Pembury Road 'Dunorlan' records Brendon,living on own means;his son Carteret,age 26, barrister /solicitor;his daughter in law Geraldine,age 26;grandson Richard Leslie Halliburton,age 1(born 1890 Chelsea) and his grandaughter Helen Irene Collins,age 2 months(born 1891 Chelsea).There were at this time thirteen servants in the manor consisting of sick nurse(1); housemaid(2) kitchen maid(1)scullery maid(1)nursery maid(1)laundry maid(2) butler(1) footman(2)and one groom. At the 'Gardeners cottage'was 48 year old head gardener William Lewis and his wife. At 'Lodge gate'was 27 year old gardener Ernest Haywood and two borders. At 'Coachmans house' was 47 year old coachman/groom Charles Raiswell,his wife,a daughter and two sons, both of whom worked for the Collin family as stable help.

The 1901 census taken at Dunorlan records only Brenton Hallibuton Collins with 7 servants in the manor consisting of housmaid(2)laundry maid(1)kitchen maid(1)scullery maid(1)and two footman. At 'Gardeners lodge' was 72 year old gardener Samuel Smith and his wife. At 'Gardeners cottage' was 60 year old gardener William Lewin and his wife and daughter. At 'Gardeners rooms' were gardeners Bertram Bowles,Fred Ward and Joseph Chapman, all in their early twenty's. At 'Stable rooms' was 57 year old Charles Raiswell,his wife and daughter and also three other stablemen.

The 1911 census, taken at Dunorlan House,records the occupants being Brenton Halliburton Collins,age 82 with no occupation given. There are no other Collins living at the premises. Included however are 8 servants namely Alice Goddard,age 38,housekeeper;Lily Wilson,age 29,laundry maid;Elizabeth Ann Revitt,age 23,laundry maid;Ellen Mary Clarke,age 22,kitchen maid;Kate Russell,age 19,housemaid;Catherine Mary Hitch,age 18,scullery maid;Salter Frederick Romemage 23,footman and Percy Minns,age 18,footman. No doubt there were other workers to be found in other buildings on the estate.Tim Cottingham informed me by email that a distant relative of his by the name of George James Hyland lived and worked at Dunorlan Park around 1911 and lived at Dunorlan Cottage.

In 1924 Brenton Halliburton Collins passed away at the age of 94 and left his estate (including Dunorlan) to his son Carteret Fitzgerald Collins.Probate records of his demise record that Brendon died at Dunorlan on November 17,1924.His probate at London on February 21 shows his estate was valued at 1,975,494 pounds with his beneficiaries being his sons Carteret Fitzgerald Collins and Brenton Robie Collins,both barristers-in-law.Brenton was buried in the Tunbridge Wells cemetary on November 21,1924.His wife Helen had passed away ,at the age of 77,in November 1915 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells cemetary on November 17 of that year. Probate records for Helen record she died November 13 at Dunorlan and she left her estate valued at 6,220 pounds to her husband.

It appears that the financial fortunes of the Collins family were on the decline as each generation passed,due in large measure to difficult financial times and excessive taxation.As was the case throughout Britian thousands of fine country homes fell victim to the ravages of the stock market crash in 1929 and the resulting Great Depression as well as oppressive taxation imposed to pay for the expense of the two wars. Many owners of country estates could no longer afford to live the extravagent lives they had once led.Many went into debt,debts they could not repay,and were forced to sell their estates,in whole or in part,or abandon them when buyers could not be found,and in some cases, as a last attempt to keep their country mansions, they resorted to letting their servants go and selling off the house contents just to pay the bills. Dunorlan was no exception as it had outgrown its usefulness to the Collins family and did not see much use by them after Brendon Halliburton Collins passed away in 1924.His son Carteret and his family did not become full time residents of Dunorlan when he inherited the property from his father as their main home was in London. Photographs show that at least during the summer his family were at Dunorlan and no doubt used it more as a country home getaway,an extravagent luxury for the times.

When Carteret Collins passed away in 1941 and left the estate to his son Richard, he and his family were living in Chelsea and had no real use for Dunorlan.Tough times during the war and no doubt the high expense of the increasing maintenance and upkeep on the manor resulted in the Collins family deciding to dispose of it in 1944.

When B.H.Collins died in 1941 the mansion fell vacant and was requisitioned for the war effort May 15,1941. In the early years it appears that troops were billetted there and according to local accounts it was these troops that caused the destruction of the avenue of statues and figures on the fountain by using them for target practice. Another great loss was the ornate wrought iron entrance gates and fences that were removed and melted down for use in the war effort.

In 1943 the War Damage Commission took up residence there and remained in control of the premises for the next fourteen years. No doubt during that time Dunorlan Lodge and the other outbuildings were used by the military.

Lieutenent Colonel Richard Leslie Halliburton Collins ,who had retained ownership of Dunorlan thoughout the war , offered it for sale to the Tunbridge Wells Town Council in 1944 at a price of 42,000 pounds for the house and grounds plus three farms,Collinhurst and High Wood at Hawkenbury,the Hawkenbury Sports Ground,and various other parcels of land. At this time the acquisition consisted of the manor plus 390 acres of adjacent park and farm lands.The deal was finalized in early 1945.In March 1946 thirty acres of the estate were opened as a public park 'as a temporary measure',a measure which became permanent and over the next two years new gates and fences were installed,footpaths created and seats erected.

Due to the wartime registration order the council was not able to take possession of the mansion and on April 17,1946 a fire broke out in the building causing significant damage to the structure. Steps were taken afterwards to make repairs and preserve the building.

In 1951 discussions were still taking place about restoring the building. Finally on July 31,1957 the building was turned over to the council by the War Damage Commission. Although the Ministry of Works agreed to repair the building Council by that time could find no use for it so in September 1957 it was sold for development along with one lodge and some adjoining land for 7,650 pounds. Dunorlan was demolished in 1958 and houses constructed on the site.

Over the years Dunorlan Lodge has had many occupants but only those who lived and worked there pre WW1 were investigated and only the Rigby family who were found there from Planning Authority records were noted for the years 1985 to 1991, in which years the family applied for Planning Authority approval.

The story of Dunorlan Lodge is much the same as many other entrance lodges to grand mansions where often the mansion itself was demolished for redevelopment but the entrance lodge  remained in use as a single family home.

 

REV. ARTHUR HENRY COURTHOPE OF PEMBURY

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

Date: January 21,2019

OVERVIEW 

Arthur Henry Courthope(1854-1904) was born in Ticehurst, Sussex, one of six children born to magistrate and land owner George Campion Courthope (1811-1895) and Anna Courtope, nee Deacon (1817-1897). An image of Arthur’s father is shown opposite.

Coming from a wealthy family Arthur and his brothers all attended Oxford University. Arthur obtained his M.A. in 1880 and chose the church as his career. Crockford’s Clerical Directory of 1898 provides details of his career and notes that by 1898 he had served in six churches  in various parts of the country, but by 1900 he took a position as a clerk in holy orders in Pembury, Kent.

Two morning letters, which are shown in this article, dated March 13, 1901 and April 3,1901 were both addressed to “The Rev. A.H. Courthope, Laurelhurst, Pembury” . Also shown is an envelope addressed to “The Rev. A.H. Courthope, Claremont, Wateringbury, Kent” (in Maidstone) postmarked Norwich April 3,1897.

By 1903 Arthur moved to Tunbridge Wells where he took up residence at 17 Calverley Crescent at which place he died on July 17,1904.

Arthur never married and upon his death his brother arranged to have his body buried in the family plot in Ticehurst, Sussex.

GEORGE CAMPION COURTHOPE AND FAMILY

For the purposes of this article the patriarch of the family is George Campion Courthope. He was decended from a wealthy family line with extensive land holdings in Kent and Sussex.

The National Archives holds in their records and extensive collection of papers pertaining to George and his relatives. Details in this regard can be found online from the National Archives website. The records themselves are held at the East Sussex Record Office under the heading “ Courthope family of Wyleigh in Ticehurst”. The source catalogue was made by William Courthope, Somerset Herald in 1836 from a number of older catalogues as well as the original deeds. At the beginning of the catalogue he wrote “Catalogue of charters in the possession of George Campion Courthope, Esquire, at Wyleigh, Sussex “which being entrusted to me by his father, George Courthope Esq. decd, for the purpose of collecting from them any information relative to the Pedigree of the Family, where by me, all properly arranged, numbered, & tied up in brown paper parcels, marked & specified in the following Catalogue, a duplicate of which is in my possession”. The deeds were deposited with the Sussex Archeological Trust  January 1956 and in 1982 the records were transferred to the East Sussex Record Office.

George Campion Courthope was born February 22,1911 in London. He married Anna Deacon (1817-1897) and with her had 10 children namely  (1) Ann Sophia (1842-1881) (2) Emily Mary (1844-1936) (3) Frances Albinia (1846-1916) (4) George John (1848-1910) (5) William Francis (1850-1924) (5) ARTHUR HENRY (1854-1904) (6) Alexander (7)William J. (8) Caroline (9) Frederick G. All of the sons graduated with a M.A from Oxford University and went on to have distinguished careers.

The 1861 census, taken at Tichehurst gave George as a magistrate. With him was his wife Anna and 10 of his children including ARTHUR. Also there were three other relatives, one visitor; two boarders and six domestic servants.

The 1871 census, taken Ticehurst, gave George as a magistrate and land owner. With him was his wife Anna; six of their children, including ARTHUR who was given as a scholar at Eton. Also there were one nephew and ten domestic servants.

In the 1870’s Arthur was away at University and apart from several visits back home he did not return to live with his parents. In the next section I continue with the story of Arthur.  His father George died September 7,1895 at Ticehurst and his mother Ann died December 12,1897 in Ticehurst.

ARTHUR HENRY COURTHOPE 

Arthur was born May 25,1854 in Ticehurst. His parentage and information up to 1871 were given in the previous section. An image of Arthur is shown opposite from a family album.

The Oxford University Alumni records for Arthur gave “Rev. Arthur Henry Courthope, fourth son of George Campion Courthope of Ticehurst, Sussex, arm. Christ Church, matric 10 Oct., 1873, aged 19; BA 1877, MA 1880”.  The university records of his brothers can be found online from the same source.

Crockfords Clerical Directory of 1898 gave the following : Arthur Henry Courthope, of Claremont Wateringury, Maidstone. Ch. Ch. Ox BA 1877; MA 1880. Ordained 1878; priest 1879; Pet. Clerical Teston, Dio. Cant, 1896; F.C. of Aston-Flamville, Leicestershire 1878-1888l H. Trin, Margate 1883-1887; Selborne, Hants. 1887-1891; Sprowston, Norfolk 1891-1892; St John, Meads, Eastbourne 1893-1894.  No listing for Arthur was found in Crockfords for 1901.  While in Selborne he was a subscriber to ‘Nature Notes’ in the Selborne Societies Magazine. Shown opposite is an envelope sent to Rev. A.H. Courthope while residing in Claremont.

The 1881 census, taken at Back Lane, Burbage, Leicestershire, gave Rev. A.H. Courthope living as a lodger with the family of Arthur Peacey (a carpenter and wheelright). Arthur was single, and in fact never married. His occupation at that time was “curate of Burbage”. An image of the church is shown opposite.

The 1891 census taken at Sprowston, Norfolk gave Arthur as the curate of Sprowston and living as a lodger with the family of Frederick Andrews (general mechanic). Crockfords 1898 , given above notes that he had not moved to Pembury, Kent until sometime after 1898.

Shown below are two morning envelopes addressed to “The Rev. A.H. Courthope, Laurelhurst, Pembury. Both are franked Tunbridge Wells and dated March 13,1901 and April 3,1901.  It was not established why these morning envelopes were sent to him as there is no indication from family records that any members of his immediate family had passed away in 1901.

While living in Pembury he attended St Peter’s Church, a view of which is shown opposite. Details about the church can be found on the Pembury History website.

Arthur’s residence in Pembury was Laurelhurst (sometimes given as Laurel Hurst) which was located on the lower green. Two postcards showing the Pembury Green and some of the houses were found but which one of the homes was Laurelhurst was not established but most appear to be rather large two storey homes.

By 1904 Arthur left Pembury. Probate records for Rev. Arthur Henry Courthope gave him of 17 Calverley Crescent, Tunbridge Wells , a clerk, when he died July 17,1904. The executor of his 14,851 pound estate was his brother George John Courthope, esq. As no record of Arthur’s burial was found in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery is appears that his body was claimed by his brother George John Courthope and buried in the family plot in Ticehurst, Sussex.

 

THE TRUST HOUSE HOTELS

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

Date: January 26,2019

INTRODUCTION

The name “Trust House” has nothing to do with the National Trust but rather a badge of honour attached to hotels throughout England, Scotland and Ireland of a hotel chain which today is known as ‘Trusthouse Forte PLC’.

This company began as ‘Trust House’ (later Trust House Group Ltd) formed in 1904 by the fourth Earl Grey (image opposite) in response to two related problems of the English countryside. The recession of the farming industry and the advent of railroads meant the end of England’s extensive coach lines which resulted in the falling to ruin of country inns by the end of the 19th century. The second problem was the growth of public drunkenness. Earl Grey was instrumental in the formation of the ‘Public Home Trust Company’ in each County, which through the pooling of local funds allowed for the purchase and rehabilitation of these inns and to install new managers who promoted food and lodging instead of alcohol.

My interest in the 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917) goes beyond his involvement in the ‘Trust House’ for from 1904 to 1911 he served as the Governor General of Canada. The Canadian football cup ‘The Grey Cup’ ,awarded to the top team of the year, is named after him for he was a noted sports enthusiast.

The first ‘Trust House’ was in Hertfordshire in 1904 and by the end of WW1 the company operated some 100 hotels around the country, which hotels became known for their high standards of cleanliness, service, and good food.  Today hotels are rated by ‘stars’ (eg. A 4 star hotel) providing travellers with an indication of the ‘quality’ of the hotel. In the first half of the 20th century a ‘Trust House’ hotel was a mark of excellence.

THE TRUST HOUSE (s) OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

A Trust House guide of 1935  recorded the existence of 228 Trust House hotels in England with another 15 in Scotland and Ireland. Among this list were fifteen hotels in Kent including the Wellington Hotel in Tunbridge Wells. Later the Castle Hotel in Tunbridge Wells was added to the list.

Shown here is a series of Trust House guides and maps from the 1930's to the 1970's. Shown later is a Trust House label for the Wellington Hotel . A label for the Castle Hotel has yet to be found but one for the Castle Hotel in Windsor is provided. The Castle Hotel in Tunbridge Wells was not listed with the Wellington Hotel as a Trust Hotel in the 1935 guide but did appear listed as such in a later guide.

[1] THE WELLINGTON HOTEL

Details about the Wellington Hotel were given in my article ‘ The Wellington Hotel’ dated June 15,2011 but below is an overview.

The Wellington Hotel, at 84 Mount Ephraim (formerly recorded as 87-91) , is an old hotel located across the commons at the western end of Mount Ephraim, who’s name is likely connected to Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Wellington Rocks , in the Commons, derive their name from the this hotel.

English Heritage, who gave the hotel a Grade II listing in 1874 states “This hotel began as a terrace built as 8 houses in 1873-74 and was converted into a hotel in 1874”. However Colbrans Guide of 1840 recorded the hotel under its former name “ Wellington Place” as “ three excellent lodging houses belonging to Messrs Palmer. Sir George Buggin, knight, built the first house on this spot, which now forms Nos 2 and 3”.

Philip Whitbourn, in an article about the hotel in a Common Conservators newsletter stated “ Built in around 1873, partly on the site4 of a pair of houses called Gilead Place, and partly in the grounds of Chancellor House, the property originally formed a mansion block of eight terraced houses. A surviving plan of that date, for new stabling to be built at Gilead Place to the designs of local architect William Bamsley Hughes, shows the building as “new houses”. Hughes client was Francis Peek (1834-1899), one of the richest tea merchants of his day, and first cousin of Sir Henry Peek, Chairman of Peek Freans Bisquits”.

On Monday November 21,1875 the Wellington Hotel opened under the management of John Braby, Hughes having converted five of the eight lodging houses to form a hotel. Formerly the proprietor of the old Kentish Hotel near the Pantiles, Braby was described in the Courier as having “ all the essential qualifications, urbanity, courtesy, intelligent comprehension, and mature discrimination, that the head of a hotel imperatively demands”.

The 1881 census recorded John Braby as the hotel proprietor. He was age 47  and born 1834 at Storrington,Sussex. With  him was his wife Emily,age 26 and their 18 year old daughter Mary. Also there were ten servants and eight hotel visitors. John Braby, a widower, age 53, was still the proprietor of the hotel at the time of the 1891 census. With him was his niece, 19 servants and ten visitors.

Probate records for John Braby gave him of the Wellington Hotel when he died July 15,1896 leaving an estate valued at almost 20,000 pounds.

The hotel being a success was expanded in 1898 when the remaining houses of the mansion block were added, as part of a major re-modelling. This was undertaken jointly by Hughes and the nationally known architect Sir Robert Edis, who was also working at that time on the spectacular Great Central Hotel (now the Landmark) at London’s Marylebone Station. The central porch and the grand staircase were features of this 1898 re-modelling work. Coloured glass in the grand staircase window incorporates the Wellington armorial bearings; the Wellesley Cross and Plates quartered with the Cowley Lion Rampant.

An advertisement in Pelton’s Directory tells us that the establishment was patronised by the Duke of Wellington, but of course the first Duke, who had died in 1852. There is no evidence that the “Iron Duke” ever visited Tunbridge Wells, although his Duchess came several times and stayed nearby on Mount Ephraim. Shown opposite is an advertisement for the Wellington Hotel dated 1960 at which time it was still a Trust House hotel.

The Courier January 13, 1899 reported “ The "Wellington Hotel," Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, occupies unrivalled position, uniquely situated amidst the most beautiful scenery in the South of England. It is 422 feet above sea level, and commands magnificent views into Forests unsurpassed in the Ardennes, for the wild grandest of their surroundings. The hotel has, during the winter of 1897-98 been extended, re-modelled, re-decorated, and thoroughly re-drained, and the latest and most scientific Sanitary appointments introduced, the Public Rooms enlarged, a handsome Billiard Room, and Passenger lift added. Under the management of Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Boston.”

The H.W. Boston referred to was Henry William Boston (1859-1941) who had been born at St Leonards, Hastings, Sussex. He was one of at least seven children born to lodging house keeper Joseph Cragg Boston (born 1808 Thurston, Leicestershire) and Jane Palmer Boston (born 1819 in Rollaston, Leicestershire.

William and his parents and siblings lived in Hastings, Sussex throughout until  1891 when in that year he married Emily Heath in Hastings. Before his marriage the 1891 census gave Henry as the manager of the Sussex Hotel at St Leonards, Hastings, Sussex. He was admitted to the Freemasons Derwent Lodge in Hastings  June 11,1894  and given as a hotel manager.

The 1901 census taken at the Wellington Hotel gave Henry  and his wife Emily (born 1857 in Sutton, Surrey) along with 33 servants; 6 visitors and six families, with Henry still the hotel manager.  In a 1903 directory was the listing “  Wellington Hotel Co. Limited (H.W. Boston, manager) Wellington Family Hotel Mount Ephraim”.

By the time the 1911 census was taken Henry and his family had left the hotel. Henry died February 18,1941 at Henley on Thames, St Mary, Oxfordshire.

When Henry left the Wellington Hotel it came under the management of Miss Ethel Winifred McAvera (1879-1920). She had been born at Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales and was one of at least seven children born to James McAvera, a manager of a boot and shoe shop who was born 1853 in Ireland, and his wife Annie M. McAvera born 1856 in Wales.

Ethel was living with her parents and siblings  at Swansea at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census. In 1909 Ethel took over the hotel from Henry William Boston and in that year the hotel underwent refurbishment. The 1911 census taken at the Wellington Hotel gave Ethel as a manageress of the hotel and still single. With her were 26 servants and eight visitors. How long
Ethel ran the hotel was not established. Probate records gave Ethel Winifred McAvera of the York Hotel Arbemarle Street, St Marylebone, a spinster, when she died May 6,1920.

The hotel underwent further refurbishments in 1927 following the acquisition of the hotel by Trust Houses  that year. Shown opposite is a Trust House baggage sticker for the hotel.

Although extensively renovated over the years it still retains the Italianate grandeur of the frontage to the Common, with its canopied first floor balconies in the Regency tradition.

Today and for many years prior, the Wellington Hotel has been known as the Travelodge, one of at least 450 hotels in the chain across the UK,Ireland and Spain.

[2] THE CASTLE HOTEL

Details about the history of the Castle Hotel at 27 London Road was given in my article ‘ The Castle Hotel On London Road’ dated September 11,2012 but below is an overview.   The hotel building still exists today at the corner of Castle Street and London road but for many years has been used as an office building.

This fine hotel has greeted visitors to Tunbridge Wells since the 1830's. The hotel itself was constructed of brick with a tile gable style roof and consisted of three main floors plus an attic floor. Its most distinctive feature was the five bay windows on each floor that afforded an excellent view of the common. The hotel is shown on Colbran's map of 1839 and in Pigots guides of 1826-7 was referred to as the Castle Inn,operated by Elizabeth Jeffery.

In 1840 Pigot’s directory it was only one of seven hotels and inns listed in the town and in that year and was referred to as the "Castle (commercial) Hotel on London Road run by Luke Long who had been born 1781 in Kent and had been living in Tunbridge Wells as early as 1835 but passed away in the first quarter of 1849 at St George Southwark, London.

Luke Long was replaced as the proprietor of the hotel/inn by Edward Scott who is found in the 1841 census running "The Castle Inn London Road". Edward Scott was born 1811 in Kent and was a victualler. In 1841 he was living at the hotel with his wife Martha and the two of them worked together running the hotel with the assistance of several members of staff. He was still the keeper of the hotel in 1847.

By 1851 Edward Scott had left the hotel and moved to Lambeth Surrey where he worked as a beer retailer. Probate records give the following; Edward Scott late of Charlton Dover, Kent, innkeeper, died March 25,1876 at Charlton. His estate of under 200 pounds was left to his brother Henry.

Edward Scott was replaced as the proprietor of the Castle Hotel in the late 1840's by Joseph Wooster. Joseph had been born 1820 at North End, Buckinghamshire and was listed in the 1851 census as hotel keeper of the Castle Hotel. The census records him living at the hotel with his wife Sarah and his sister Sarah along with a few visitors and servants.

Edward Scott was replaced in the early 1850's by Charles Edward Mallam,who was shown as the keeper of the place in 1855. He ran the hotel until replaced by Richard Ross Gadd  in or before 1858. Richard Gadd had been born 1829 at Chichester, Sussex and is found in the 1851 census residing at 6 Calverley Place in Tunbridge Wells as a single man. He was still in town in 1858 but by 1861 he had moved to Brighton Sussex with his wife Jane and his children. He was working in 1861 as a traveller in wine and spirits. Richard Gadd passed away in the 3rd quarter of 1867 at Camberwell.

The next person to run the hotel was Benjamin Brayne who took over on or before 1862 and continued as the proprieter until about 1873.Benjamin had been born 1809 at Brixton, Surrey. His wife was Elizabeth and by 1851 he had two children. Benjamin passed away at 7 Beeston Cottages, Albert Road, Peckham,Surrey on October 13,1873 and left his estate to his nephew Henry Benjamin Brayne.

Throughout the period of 1874 to 1881 Charles Santer ran the hotel. Charles was born 1840 at Bidenden. He was living at Chilham,Kent in 1851 and in 1861 he wed Mary Williams. His parents were Stephen Santer and Catherine Santer nee Brazier. Charles and Mary produced five children. In the 1871 census Charles is found at 70 St John's Road ,Tunbridge Wells as the keeper of the Harp Hotel. He is living there with his wife and four children and two servants. In the 1881 census he is found as the keeper of the Castle Hotel and was living there with his wife and four children and had seven members of staff and a number of visitors staying at the hotel.

In 1882 Mrs Sarah V Jewell became the new keeper of the hotel and she remained there until replaced by William E. Urguhard who was the keeper of the hotel throughout the period of 1891 to 1922.

The 1883 Peltons guide described the hotel this way; " The Castle Hotel, in the London Road, and near the Kentish, not only offers good accommodation to tourists, but stands very high as a commercial house". The name "Urguhard" appears on a postcard view of the hotel dated circa 1922.The front of the postcard makes reference to the hotel facing the common (300 acres) and being near the "G.P.O.". On the back of the postcard is the symbol of the "AA"(the Automobile Association). Hotels or guest accommodation assessed by the AA are rated under a set of common quality standards agreed to by the AA and the UK tourist authorities. The Castle Hotel had been inspected and rated by the AA and only hotels meeting their standards were allowed to use the AA symbol on their advertising. William Urguhard was born 1851 at Hastings,Sussex. In the 1891 census, taken at the Castle Hotel he is found as the keeper living with his wife Emily along with a compliment of staff and several guests. In the 1901 census he is at the hotel with his wife, two children and several servants and guests. The 1911 census, taken at the Castle Hotel records William, his wife (who he had been married to for 18 years) and two of their children and a number of servants and guests. Both William and his wife ran the hotel. On January 12,1932 William passed away at 30 Claremont Road,Tunbridge Wells and left his estate of 734 pounds to his wife Ellen.

The publication ‘Pictorial History of Tunbridge Wells and District’ dated 1892 provided the following information. “ The Castle Hotel,London Road & Castle Street- There is always a special interest attaching to the history and records of an old established inn or tavern, and this interest is justifiably attached in the case of the famous Castle Hotel at Tunbridge Wells. Not that the town does not possess taverns of considerable antiquity, but it has none older or more celebrated than that which forms the subject of this brief sketch. Everybody who has visited this beautiful resort knows the Castle which stands in the London Road. The position is a splendid one-in the very heart of the town, in close proximity to the London, Brighton and South Coast system, and immediately facing the Common. The attractive porch of the entrance hall, with its frontage of flower beds, shrubs and luxuriant ferns, is a feature which Mr Urguhart has borrowed from the continental hotels, and is never passed without being admired. In an extract from the Whitehall Evening Post, dated 13th May,1725, we notice that the Castle Hotel was then to be “lette”, and therein described as a “well-accustomed house, has good wine vaults, a granary, coach-house, stables and all accommodation for a public business, with twelve acres of pasture land belonging to it. It is furnished with household goods, which will be sold to the tenant.” From this we gather confirmation that the Castle must have existed and flourished in Tunbridge Wells at a very remote period, and has from time to time advanced under its respective managements until the present time, when, under the proprietorship of Mr Urguhart, it has very successfully entered upon and era of progress fully in accordance with the most advanced modern ideas. The public apartments are comfortably furnished and tastefully arranged. They comprise coffee-room, billiard saloon, smoling-rooms, drawing, commercial and stock-rooms, and an adequate number of bed-rooms, from the windows of which a splendid view of the Common may be obtained. The wants of the casual visitor are no less studied, provision being made for their entertainment in a section of the hotel approached by a separate entrance, giving access to the private and old-fashioned bar. The reputation which this establishment has gained for excellent catering dates back many years, and parties may rely on being served in the best style at the shortest notice. A thoroughly reliable and experienced staff being employed, dinners banquets etc, are provided, the proprietor supplying by special appointment, refreshments for Balls, Agricultural and Flower Shows, Soirees, Jubilee and Friendly Society Fetes, Races etc., including tents on hire, cutlery, serviettes, rout seats, dinner and tea ware and every requisite connected there with. The wines and spirits are of excellent quality, and the tariff a most reasonable one. Host Urguhart and his wife are well known in the town and district, whose connection therewith is characterized by the laudable desire to promote by every means in their power its best interests and most substantial progress. There is also every accommodation for livery and baits; and horses and carriages are supplied”.

By 1930 the hotel was being run by Major R.M. Everett and he was followed in 1938 by W.J. Guilford who ran the hotel until at least the time of WW 2.

The Castle Hotel continued to operate as a hotel until 1994. The company who owned the hotel was "The Castle Hotel (Tunbridge Wells) Limited #01006764 which was a private limited company with share capital that had been incorporated April 2,1971 with registered offices in London. John and Nita Hogg were directors of the company in the 1990's.  The company filed a dissolution notice November 1,1994 and a final meeting of creditors was held on July 19,1994.

In 1994 the building was sold and was converted into offices In 2005 "Artesian" a group of companies involved in a wide range of property activities acquired the former hotel property and runs it as an office building under the name of Castle House. They advertise the building as being a " 6,676 square foot office investment".

LUGGAGE LABEL HISTORY 

Luggage labels, also called baggage labels, are long gone. However they used to be a small but eye-catching part of the so-called golden age of travel from approximately 1900 to the mid-1960s.  Some of the most commonly seen labels were those of hotels, steamship lines, and airlines but other examples of this colourful advertising artwork were in use. Those who travelled seemed to like advertising where they had been and how they travelled saying in effect “ I stayed there” or “ I sailed on that ship”, their baggage adorned as a form of status symbol or for some bragging rights.  Being a world traveller meant more in the early 20th century then it does now.

Hotel luggage labels particularly for the so-called 'Grand Hotels', led the development of these small labels. Hotel chains and many of the world's most notable hotels produced luggage labels, which today remind us that travel wasn't always about budget airlines, overbooked hotels and security line-ups.

Don't think of luggage tags - the small and unremarkable tags where you add your name, address and flight number before boarding a plane. Luggage labels were a form of advertising that hotel staff would apply, using a sticky gum, to the suitcases and trunks of travelers arriving at their establishment. Back in those days, suitcases were rigid affairs, which made it easy for bellhops or concierges to stick on their label.

For the hotel, they were free advertising. For the traveler, they were a badge of honor if you stayed in prestigious hotels or visited fashionable places, or if the suitcase showed you were a seasoned traveler. Is there a more fascinating travel accessory than a well-used classic brown leather suitcase plastered with luggage labels of hotels from Lake Como to Paris?, such as the one shown above.

Once a label had been applied to a suitcase, it was not coming off. Therefore the vintage luggage labels that exist today were never stuck on a trunk or a case. Perhaps the guest asked for extra labels after a particularly good vacation or tipped the bellhop generously in order to obtain a handful of particularly beautiful ones. No matter how the labels survived intact, there is now growing interest in original luggage labels by travel-loving collectors.

Labels fell from favor as soft luggage started to replace rigid suitcases, and as the grand independent hotels were bought up by chains with centralized marketing departments.

Luggage labels from 1900 to the 1960s were closely aligned to the travel posters of that era, even sharing the same designs sometimes. Whereas vintage copies of beautiful travel posters can be pricey, original luggage labels have remained more affordable. It's possible to buy original hotel luggage labels for anywhere from a pound or two  to several hundred pounds depending on condition, hotel, illustrator, scarcity and style.

There were several important illustrators who contributed immensely to this area of graphic design. As well as the Internet, original luggage labels might be found at antique shows, flea markets, car boot sales, and rare bookstores with decent ephemera sections. Be mindful that reproductions do exist and that sticker books of luggage labels are also easy to find.

 

 

THE WELLINGTON HOTEL

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

Date: June 15,2011 (updated January 27,2019)

INTRODUCTION 

The Wellington Hotel began in the early 19th century as a group of lodging houses at the western end of Mount Ephraim known at times as Wellington Place and Gilead Place.

In 1875 these lodging houses were grouped together and became known as the Wellington Hotel, a rather curious and not particularly attractive hotel due to the manner in which it was created rather than being purpose built like most of the hotels in the town.

In 1875 John Braby (1833-1896) became the proprietor of the Hotel and for a time in the 1870’s was the proprietor of the Royal Kentish Hotel on Mount Ephraim just north east of the site of the Wellington Hotel. Details about the history of the Royal Kentish Hotel were given in my article’ The Royal Kentish Hotel’ dated April 13,2012 (updated October 24,2014) and for that reason little information is given about it here.

Henry William Boston (1859-1941) took over the hotel from John Braby and was referred to in a Courier article of 1899 as being there. He was also found there with his wife Emily and a large number of servants and guests in the 1901 census.  Upon his arrival at the hotel it was refurbished. The hotel was owned at that time by the ‘Wellington Hotel Co. Limited.

By the time the 1911 census was taken the manageress of the Wellington Hotel Co. Limited was a spinster by the name of Ethel Winifred McAvera (1879-1920) who’s father James ran a boot and shoe shop in Swansea,Wales, where Ethel had been born.

In 1927 a hotel chain by the name of ‘Trust House’ took over the hotel. Details about Trust House were given in my article ‘ The Trust House Hotels’ dated January 26,2019.  A 1935 Trust House hotel guide listed the Wellington Hotel.  In 1927 the hotel was again refurbished. In the years following the hotel was run by a number of proprietors.

Although extensively renovated over the years it still retains the Italianate grandeur of the frontage to the Common, with its canopied first floor balconies in the Regency tradition.

Today and for many years prior, the Wellington Hotel has been known as the Travelodge, one of at least 450 hotels in the chain across the UK,Ireland and Spain.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION 

Today the Travelodge (the former Wellington Hotel) is given with the address of 84 Mount Ephraim, being located at the western end of Mount Ephraim facing the commons. In earlier records the Wellington Hotel was given as being at 87-91 Mount Ephraim reflecting the fact that the hotel was not purpose built but instead was an assemblage of early 19th century lodging houses cobbled together to form a hotel. As can be seen from the postcard views of the hotel presented throughout this article the building is a large one but rather strange in appearance, a reflection of how the hotel was created.

Although the interior and exterior of the hotel was refurbished over the years, most notably in 1898, 1911 and 1927 its front façade retains much of its original features. Guests staying at the hotel are afforded a fine view of the Commons and no doubt most if not all of the guest at the hotel strolled in the Commons.

Shown below left is a map of 1839 on which the  future location of the hotel is shown with a reference to the lodging houses it was created from. Shown below right is a 1907 os map showing the hotel.

















THE PRE JOHN BRABY ERA

The name Wellington Hotel is likely connected to Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Wellington Rocks , in the Commons, derive their name from the this hotel. Details about the Wellington Rocks were given in my article ‘ Tunbridge Wells Diamonds’ dated July 14,2017.

English Heritage, who gave the hotel a Grade II listing in 1974 states “This hotel began as a terrace built as 8 houses in 1873-74 and was converted into a hotel in 1874”. However Colbrans Guide of 1840 recorded the hotel under its former name “ Wellington Place” as “ three excellent lodging houses belonging to Messrs Palmer. Sir George Buggin, knight, built the first house on this spot, which now forms Nos 2 and 3”.

Philip Whitbourn, in an article about the hotel in a Common Conservators newsletter stated “ Built in around 1873, partly on the site of a pair of houses called Gilead Place, and partly in the grounds of Chancellor House, the property originally formed a mansion block of eight terraced houses. A surviving plan of that date, for new stabling to be built at Gilead Place to the designs of local architect William Bamsley Hughes, shows the building as “new houses”. Hughes client was Francis Peek (1834-1899), one of the richest tea merchants of his day, and first cousin of Sir Henry Peek, Chairman of Peek Freans Bisquits”.

An advertisement in Pelton’s Directory tells us that the establishment was patronised by the Duke of Wellington, but of course the first Duke, who had died in 1852. There is no evidence that the “Iron Duke” ever visited Tunbridge Wells, although his Duchess came several times and stayed nearby on Mount Ephraim.

THE JOHN BRABY ERA

The information in this section about the Braby family originally appeared in my article ‘ The Royal Kentish Hotel’ dated April 13,2012 but updated October 24,2014. That account has been supplemented with additional information regarding the family and the Wellington Hotel.

On Monday November 21,1875 the Wellington Hotel opened under the management of John Braby, Hughes having converted five of the eight lodging houses to form a hotel. Formerly the proprietor of the old Kentish Hotel near the Pantiles, Braby was described in the Courier as having “ all the essential qualifications, urbanity, courtesy, intelligent comprehension, and mature discrimination, that the head of a hotel imperatively demands”. John Braby had taken over the Royal Kentish Hotel on Mount Ephraim from William Hughes about 1872 and remained there until 1875 when he moved to the Wellington Hotel.

John Braby was decended from a long line of pub proprietors, which no doubt gave him the experience and credentials to make the transition from watchmaker to hotel proprietor later in his career.

John was born 1834 at Storrington,Sussex. His father was John Braby senior,born about 1807 in Storrington, and was an inn keeper. John senior had two wifes;the first was Mary born about 1801 at Rudgwick and the second was Elizabeth born about 1812 at Henley-on-Thames,Oxford.

The 1851 census, taken at Strayton, Sussex gave John Braby senior as born 1807 in Storrington with the occupation of Innkeeper. With him was his wife Mary; his daughters Harriet and Emily and one lodger.

The 1861 census, taken at ‘Roselle’ on London Road in Tunbridge Wells gave John Braby senior as a sadler and lodging house keeper. With him was his second wife Elizabeth and one servant.

The 1871 census, taken at 41 Albert Villas, Tunbridge Wells gave John Braby senior as “formerly a sadler’. With him was his wife Elizabeth.

The 1881 census, taken at 64 Mount Ephraim gave John Braby senior as a lodging house proprietor. With him was his wife Elizabeth, four servants and six lodgers.

John Braby senior died in Tunbridge Wells in 1884. The following information is about his son John Braby who was born 1833 in Storrington, Sussex. He was baptised June 2,1833 at Storrington and given as the son of John Braby.

In the 2nd qtr of 1854 in Tunbridge Wells John Braby married Jane Palmer Davis had at least two children namely Alice W. Braby born 1856 and Mary J.J. Braby born in 1863. John’s wife passed away sometime before 1875.

John Braby opened his watchmakers shop at 37 High Street in 1858.He ran his business proclaiming to be the only manufacturing jeweller in Tunbridge Wells until 1870.This was the date when his shop at 3 South Grove Terrace, as 37 High Street was then called, was taken over by the Payne family.

In the 1871 census, taken at 37 High Street, John was given as a jeweller employing 5 men and 1 boy. He was found at the shop with his daughter Alice W ,born 1856 and daughter Mary J.J., born 1863. Both daughters were born in Tunbridge Wells. Also present at this address were 23 year old Thomas Fieulman,a shop assistant and 36 year old Charles Metcalf, also a shop assistant. Also present were two domestic servants. John had wed Mary in 1854 but for some reason was not present at the time of this census.

When John Braby disposed of his watchmakers shop he became( in 1872) the proprietor of the Kentish Hotel and in 1875 he left this position and became the proprietor of the Wellington Hotel. Braby was described in the Courier as having "all the essential qualifications, urbanity, courtesy,intelligent comprehension and mature discrimination,that the head of a hotel imperatively demands".

John’s son John Braby junior (from his first marriage),who was baptised January 4, 1860 at Christchurch Tunbridge Wells and given as the son of John Braby and Jane Palmer Braby,  went on to be a wine and spirit merchant who married Alice H in 1881 and was living in 1881 at 6 Bedford Terrace,Tunbridge Wells. John junior ran into financial difficulties and went bankrupt,while trading as Braby and Co. in 1882.

John Braby married his second wife Emily in 1875.She had been born 1855 at Brighton,sussex.

The 1881 census, taken at the Wellington Hotel recorded John, as a hotel proprietor. With him was his wife Emily and his daughter Mary J.J. who was working at the hotel as a bookeeper. Also there were ten hotel staff eight guests.

John Braby, a widower, age 53, was still the proprietor of the hotel at the time of the 1891 census. With him was his niece, 19 servants and ten visitors.

Probate records give the following “John Braby of the Wellington Hotel,Tunbridge Wells,licensed victualler,died July 15,1896".His estate was valued at over 19,597 pounds.The executors were Henry Wickendon,auctioneer and valuer and  William Herbert Stent,a china and glass dealer.

Upon the death of John Braby Henry William Boston (1859-1941) took over as the proprietor of the Wellington Hotel.

THE HENRY WILLIAM BOSTON ERA

The hotel being a success was expanded in 1898 when the remaining houses of the mansion block were added, as part of a major re-modelling. This was undertaken jointly by Hughes and the nationally known architect Sir Robert Edis, who was also working at that time on the spectacular Great Central Hotel (now the Landmark) at London’s Marylebone Station. The central porch and the grand staircase were features of this 1898 re-modelling work. Coloured glass in the grand staircase window incorporates the Wellington armorial bearings; the Wellesley Cross and Plates quartered with the Cowley Lion Rampant.

The Courier January 13, 1899 reported “ The "Wellington Hotel," Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, occupies unrivalled position, uniquely situated amidst the most beautiful scenery in the South of England. It is 422 feet above sea level, and commands magnificent views into Forests unsurpassed in the Ardennes, for the wild grandest of their surroundings. The hotel has, during the winter of 1897-98 been extended, re-modelled, re-decorated, and thoroughly re-drained, and the latest and most scientific Sanitary appointments introduced, the Public Rooms enlarged, a handsome Billiard Room, and Passenger lift added. Under the management of Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Boston.”

The H.W. Boston referred to was Henry William Boston (1859-1941) who had been born at St Leonards, Hastings, Sussex. His birth was registered in the 3rd qtr of 1859 in Hastings and given as the son of Joseph Cragg Boston and Jane Boston.

He was one of at least seven children born to lodging house keeper Joseph Cragg Boston (born 1808 Thurston, Leicestershire) and Jane Palmer Boston born 1819 in Rollaston, Leicestershire.

The 1861 census, taken at 8 Eversfield Place in Hastings, Sussex gave Joseph Cragg Boston as a lodging house keeper. With him was his wife Jane and six of their children including Henry. Also there was a governess and three domestic servants.

The 1871 census, taken in hastings gave Jane Boston as a lodging house keeper. Her husband was absent (she was given as married) but with her were five of her children including Henry who was in school.

The 1881 census, taken at 34 Warrior Square in Hastings gave Joseph Boston as a lodging house keeper, His wife had passed away by that time. With him was four of his children including Henry who was working as a commercial clerk. One domestic servant was also there.

In the 2nd qtr of 1891 Henry married Emily Heath in Hastings. Before his marriage the 1891 census gave Henry as the manager of the Sussex Hotel at St Leonards, Hastings, Sussex. He was admitted to the Freemasons Derwent Lodge in Hastings  June 11,1894  and given as a hotel manager.

The 1901 census taken at the Wellington Hotel gave Henry and his wife Emily (born 1857 in Sutton, Surrey) along with 33 servants; 6 visitors and six families, with Henry still the hotel manager.  In a 1903 directory was the listing “  Wellington Hotel Co. Limited (H.W. Boston, manager) Wellington Family Hotel Mount Ephraim”.

By the time the 1911 census was taken Henry and his family had left the hotel. Henry died February 18,1941 at Henley on Thames, St Mary, Oxfordshire.

When Henry left the Wellington Hotel in 1909 it came under the management of Miss Ethel Winifred McAvera (1879-1920).

THE ETHEL WINIFRED McAVERA ERA

Miss Ethel Winifred McAvera (1879-1920) had been born at Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales and was one of at least seven children born to James McAvera, a manager of a boot and shoe shop who was born 1853 in Ireland, and his wife Annie M. McAvera born 1856 in Wales.

Ethel was living with her parents and siblings  at Swansea at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census.

In 1909 Ethel took over the hotel from Henry William Boston and in that year the hotel underwent refurbishment. The 1911 census taken at the Wellington Hotel gave Ethel as a manageress of the hotel and still single. With her were 26 servants and eight visitors. How long

Ethel ran the hotel was not established. Probate records gave Ethel Winifred McAvera of the York Hotel Arbemarle Street, St Marylebone, a spinster, when she died May 6,1920.

 

 

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