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

Date: November 8,2016


Nea Everilda Morin,nee Barnard (1905-1986) became a well-known rock climber and mountaineer. She was born at Headley rectory, Headley, Surrey, on  May 21,1905, the second of three children, and only daughter of Rev. Percy Mordaunt Barnard (1868–1941), a lapsed clergyman who was the rector of Headley from 1898 until 1905. In 1905 the Barnard family, consisting of Nea; her father Percy; her mother Alice Mary Barnard, nee Taunton (1872-1951);  her brothers Charles Mordaunt Barnard (1901-1983) and Osbert Howard Barnard (1903-1985) and widowed grandmother Adelaide Sophia Barnard (1834-1906) moved to Tunbridge Wells.

Nea’s father became an antiquarian bookseller who based on a 1906 directory sold second hand and foreign books from premises at 41 West Street in Suffron Waldon,Essex and 42 Mount Pleasant Road,Tunbridge Wells. Nea’s  mother sold artwork within her husband's business, and then worked as an independent dealer.

Nea was principally educated at home at Tunbridge Wells, where her father had established his bookshop. Her father's membership in the Alpine Club and his encouragement of the children's climbing activities at Wellington Rocks, High Rocks,and  Harrisons Rocks in Tunbridge Wells, made her passage into the sport of mountaineering an easy and acceptable one. Family visits to Switzerland created a great love on Nea’s part in mountaineering.

Her grandmother Adelaide died in Tunbridge Wells December 22,1906. By 1913 the family resided at 10 Dudley Road and then moved to 5 Mayfield Road in the Boyne Park residential area. The family was at this address from at least 1918 to 1922. From at least 1930 until the time of his death Rev Percy Mordant Barnard operated his antiquarian book business from his residence at 17 Church Road, a residence in part of Belvedere Terrace. Many examples of his book catalogues from his Church Road residence can be found. Percy was of 17 Church Road,Tunbridge Wells when he died April 1,1941 at the Denbigh Mental Hospital. Nea’s mother Alice Mary Barnard died in Tunbridge Wells May 31,1951.

On June 9,1928 Nea married Jean Ferdinand Joseph Morin (1897-1943)  at Westminster, London. Jean was the son of Michel Morin, a rear admiral in the French navy. Jean was a company director and one of the leading lights of the Groupe de Haute Montagne. After the marriage Nea and her husband lived in Paris and the couple had two children , a daughter Denise (born 1931) and a son Alan (born 1935), both of whom went on climbing expeditions with their mother. Nea’s husband was killed during WW II in 1943 while serving as a colonel in the Free French forces when the military transport plane in which he was travelling went down in the sea near Gibraltar.

A highly successful climber over a period of four decades, and still active thereafter in Britain and the Alps, Nea Morin was remembered as a supremely modest individual. She was an exceptionally gifted all-round climber who selflessly extended her enthusiasm for the mountains to others. She wrote or co-wrote a number of books on mountaineering, including her 1968 autobiography ‘A Woman's Reach’ which became a classic of mountaineering literature.

Nea died at St George's Nursing Home, Westminster, London, on  July 12,1986, and was cremated at Mortlake crematorium four days later.

This article reports on the Barnard/Morin families with a particular emphasis on Nea and highlights the years in which the family lived in Tunbridge Wells.


For the purposes of this article I begin with the Rev. Percy Mordaunt Barnard (1868-1941). Percy was born July 11,1868 at Heacham,Norfolk, one of several children born to Rev. Mordant Barfnard (1795-1885) who was born December 5,1795 at Litcham, Norfolk, and died October 29,1885 at St Leonards-On-Sea. Percy had been baptised August 2,1868 at Heacham,Norfolk.

Percy’s mother was Adelaide Sophia Barnard born December 16.1834 at Digby,Lindolnshire. Upon the death of her husband Adelaide lived with her son Percy and his family and when the family moved to Tunbridge Wells in 1905 she went with them. She died in Tunbridge Wells on December 22,1906. Her probate record gave her of 28 St James Road,Tunbridge Wells,when she died. The executors of her 3,224 pound estate were her son Rev Percy Mordant Barnard, clerk, and Arthur Francis Bell, esq.

At the time of the 1881 census, taken at Hastings, St Leonards, Sussex Percy was living with his parents  and siblings. On February 14,1900 Percy married Alice Mary Taunton (1872-1951) at St Andrew, Kingswood,Surrey. Percy and his wife went on to have the following children (1) Charles Mordant Barnard (1901-1983) (2) Osbert Mordant Barnard (1903-1985) (3) Nea Everilda Barnard (1905-1986). All three children had been born in Surrey, the eldest at Headley with the other two at Epsom,Surrey.

Census and directory listings show that the Barnard family were living in Headley in 1901 and from 1903 to 1905 at Epsom,Surrey, where Percy was a clerk in holy orders . The 1901 census, taken at The Rectory in Headley gave Percy as a clergyman C of E. With him was his wife Alice, his son Charles, his mother Adelaide, a widow living on own means, one visitor and five domestic servants.

The Cambridge University Alumni records gave the following “Adm. pens. at CHRIST'S, Apr. 27, 1886. S. of Mordaunt (1813), clerk. B. July 11, 1868, at Heacham, Norfolk. Matric. Michs. 1887; Scholar, 1889; Prizeman; B.A. (Class. Trip., 1st Class) 1890; M.A. 1894; B.D. 1901. Examiner for the Theological Tripos, 1899-1900 and 1904-5, etc. Ord. deacon, 1896; priest (Winchester) 1897. Assistant Master at St John's College, Leatherhead, 1892-8; Chaplain there, 1896-8. R. of Headley, Surrey, 1898-1905. Started an antiquarian bookselling business at Saffron Walden, Essex, 1905; removed to Tunbridge Wells, 1907. President of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (International), 1928. Of 17, Church Road, Tunbridge Wells. Editor of Clement of Alexandria; Quis Dives Salvetur?; Clement of Alexandria, Biblical Text, 1899, etc. Half-brother of Mordaunt R. (1847). (Peile, II. 724; Who's Who, 1938; Crockford, 1938.)”

Percy  was assistant master of St John’s College,Leatherhead from 1892; became ordained in 1896 and served as the college chaplain. By 1901 he was living at the rectory in Headley but left the church in 1905 to become an antiquarian bookseller. He began this business first at Saffron Walden but by 1905/1906  he and his family had moved to Tunbridge Wells.

A trade directory for 1906 gave the listing “ P. Mordant Barnard, second hand and foreign bookseller, 42 Mount Pleasant Road,Tunbridge Wells and 41 West Road,Saffron Waldon,Essex. Shown above  is a photo of his premises on West Road, which shows it served as both the residence for the family and a place from which he sold books. Shown to the right is a postcard view of Mount Pleasant Road, leading north up Mount Pleasant Hill from the SER station. His shop was about half way up the hill on the east (right hand) side of the road, one of many shops in this area.  This section of Mount Pleasant Road was in a popular commercial district and its close proximity to the railway station ensured a good trade. How long he remained at this location is not known but a review of directories show that he had no shop from 1918 onwards, instead operating his business from his residence.

The 1911 census, taken in Surrey gave Percy and his wife Alice  as a visitors with the Henry John Wild family. Percy was given as a clerk in holy orders but by this time had actually given up his work with the church. The census recorded that Percy had been married 11 years and that all three of his children were still living.

The Tunbridge Wells directory of 1913 gave the listing ”Percy Mordant Barnard, MA, bookseller and also out of print books, 10 Dudley Road. An advertisement for his business appeared in the same directory. Shown opposite is a photo of 10 Dudley Road.  In addition to selling books there it  also was the family residence.

Directories of 1918 and 1922 gave the listing “ Percy Mordant Barnard, B.D. 5 Mayfield Road,Tunbridge Wells, bookseller. Directories of 1930 to 1941 gave ‘Percy Mordant Barnard, BD, MA, antiquarian bookseller, 17 Church Road,Tunbridge Wells. No. 17 Church Road was one of a terrace of residences in Belvedere Terrace located on the south side of Church Road just east of Clarence Road. A photo of Belvedere Terrace is shown below right with a photo of 5 Mayfield Road shown left. During these early years his son Osbert Howard Barnard took an interest in prints and worked for a time with his father in Tunbridge Wells selling prints. He later moved to London and continued the business there. Details about the life and careers of both of Percy’s sons is given later in this article, for both of them lived as children and young men in Tunbridge Wells before leaving the family home and striking out on their own with their wives and children.

Percy and his wife lived out the remainder of their lives in Tunbridge Wells. Probate records for Rev Percy Mordant Barnard gave him of 17 Church Road,Tunbridge Wells when he died April 1,1941 at Benbigh Mental Hospital in Benbigh, Denbighshire. The executors of his 1,741 pound estate was his children Osbert Howard Barnard, printseller, and Nea Everilda Morin (wife of Jean Antoine Morin). Probate records for Percy’s wife Alice Maru Barnard gave her of 17 Church Road,Tunbridge Wells when she died on May 31,1951. The executor of her 8,743 pound estate was her son Osbert Howard Barnard, printseller. Where they were both buried or cremated was not established but there is no record of them in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.

To close off my coverage of Percy I give below and article about him by Laurence Worms in connection with Ash Rare Books, dated August 9,2012. It duplicates in some respects the information given above from my own research but fills in the story.

“A visit to the past again this week – in search of another president.  Prompted by the arrival this morning of a small bundle of old book catalogues – seven catalogues published in the interwar period by P. M. Barnard of 17 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells.  Stylish, elegant, varied, precise, bibliographically punctilious – and full of interesting books at prices (eighty years on) to make us weep. A photo of Percy is shown above.

They are the work of the Reverend Percy Mordaunt Barnard, who became President of the ABA in 1928.  His is an unusual tale.  Born at Heacham in Norfolk (just south of the red cliffs of Hunstanton) in 1868, he was the son of the Reverend Mordaunt Barnard, who in 1866 (at the age of seventy-one) had taken as his second wife his first cousin once removed, the thirty-two year old Adelaide Sophia Barnard.  Inter alia, Mordaunt Barnard also produced The Odyssey of Homer Rendered into English Blank Verse in 1876. Shown below is a photo of Percy with his son Charles.

Brought up in Hove and Hastings on the south coast, Percy Barnard, a member of the Christ’s College rowing eight, took a first at Cambridge (Classical Tripos) in 1890, later becoming an examiner for the Theological Tripos.  He was an assistant master at St. John’s College, Leatherhead, from 1892, became ordained in 1896 and served as the college chaplain.  He produced editions of Clement of Alexandria in 1897-1901 and in 1898 became the rector of Headley in Surrey (midway between Epsom and Dorking).  In February 1900, he married Alice Mary Taunton (1872-1951), daughter of the Reverend Frederick Taunton, vicar of Kingswood, and his wife, Flora Charlotte Wild.

We catch a glimpse of Percy Barnard on the 1901 Census, living at the Rectory in Headley, with his wife, an infant son, Charles Mordaunt Barnard (1901-1983), his widowed mother, a cook, a nurse, a parlourmaid, a housemaid and a kitchenmaid.  Two more children soon followed, Osbert Howard Barnard (1903-1985) and Nea Everilda Barnard (1905-1986).   

He produced Jezebel : A Drama in 1904 (priests of Baal and Ashtoreth, chorus of boys and maidens, Elijah, Ahab, Jezebel, etc.).  Although there would appear to be no copy of this in any major UK library, his family still have one.  He was a candidate for for the Gresham Lectureship in Divinity in that same year, but then, in his late thirties, he appears to have had a crisis of faith.  According to his daughter’s autobiography (Nea Morin, A Woman’s Reach : Mountaineering Memoirs 1968), in trying to persuade his wife back to the faith, he lost his own.  Feeling that he could no longer teach what he had ceased to believe, he gave up the church and became an antiquarian bookseller.         

He appears briefly to have begun his new career in Saffron Walden, but by 1907 he was ensconced in Royal Tunbridge Wells, where he remained for the rest of his career.   There was also briefly a second branch at 85 Bridge Street, Manchester.  He cast a final glance at his earlier life with the publication of The Interpretation of the New Testament in Modern Life and Thought (1909), and still described himself as a clerk in holy orders on the 1911 Census, but with his Facsimiles from Early Illustrated Books, printed at the Chiswick Press  (1910), his life had become one devoted to the world of rare books – and rare prints too.  The celebrated printselling firm of “Craddock & Barnard” was established by his wife Alice Mary Barnard in 1915, issuing parallel catalogues from that year onwards.  It is generally said that there never was a “Craddock” involved in the business, but family tradition suggests that this was in fact the pseudonym of a university don reluctant to be seen engaging in ‘trade’.  An obscure announcement in the London Gazette of 5th January 1917 that a certain Alexander Gordon Wynch Murray had relinquished his partnership in the business almost certainly provides the truth of this – Murray (1884-1919) was a former bookseller who had become librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge.  It is not inconceivable that he had worked for P. M. Barnard at one time.

The Barnard catalogues, stylish, elegant, varied, precise and bibliographically punctilious, are monument enough to a highly skilled bookseller, but we can add that he sold the Vernon Dante Collection to the John Rylands Library in 1914 and that the P. M. Barnard Collection of Deeds now resides at the National Library of Wales.  An annotated run of the catalogues, bound into five volumes, remains in the family to the present day.

Barnard Alpine Barnard was a keen mountaineer and a member of the Alpine Club (there is a brief report of a new route he climbed in Switzerland in the 1899 Alpine Journal).  He produced specialised catalogues on the subject and left a permanent mark on his family.  His daughter’s  autobiography recalls family holidays in the Swiss and Austrian Alps, while Nea, whose husband Jean Morin was killed fighting with the Free French in 1943, herself became President of the Ladies’ Alpine Club. Her daughter Denise in turn married Sir Charles Evans, the Everest and Kanchenjunga mountaineer, and she became first woman President of the Alpine Club.

Desmond Flower, writing in The Private Library in 1963, recalled going to visit Percy Mordaunt Barnard as a schoolboy to buy a book from a catalogue some forty years earlier: “He was rather like Mr Pastry: he had a purple face, a grizzled moustache stained with nicotine, and he looked at one over the top of his glasses.  In a kindly way he asked me what I wanted and I told him. He looked at me over those glasses again and said: ‘My boy, let me give you a word of advice.  Do not collect books.  Buy instead drawings of the old masters; they will cost you little and you will never regret it’.  I gazed back with a patronizing smile and said: ‘Thank you, sir; I will bear that in mind. Now might I have No. 156?’  He sighed and found it for me.  Of course he was right; if I had taken his advice I would today be a wealthy man”.      

Percy Mordaunt Barnard died at Denbigh Mental Hospital in Denbigh on the 1st April 1941. The length and severity of his mental illness has not been established.  Administration of the estate was granted to his son Osbert Howard Barnard and his married daughter, Nea Everilda Morin.  Already a partner in the “Craddock & Barnard” arm of the business, which had moved to London some years earlier, first to an address off Tottenham Court Road and then to Museum Street, opposite the British Museum, Osbert Howard Barnard took over the business on the retirement of his mother in August 1941.  He was joined in the business at this time by his elder brother Charles Mordaunt Barnard, originally a dyestuffs chemist, who took charge of the cleaning and restoration side of the operation.  Osbert Barnard ran “Craddock & Barnard” until his death in 1985.  He bequeathed the business to his long-term assistant, Audrey Gibbs, who later passed on the name and goodwill to Christopher Mendez.


Percy Mordaunt Barnard had two sons. The eldest was Charles Mordaunt Barnard who had been born February 28,1901 at Headley,Surrey. He was baptiserd April 4,1901 at St Mary the Virgin, Headley,Surrey (photo opposite).

By 1905 he lived with his parents in Epsom,Surrey,He initially lived with his parents in Surrey but came to Tunbridge Wells with them and his two siblings in 1906/1907.

At the  time of the 1911 census, taken at St Clare, Cranes Road, in Upper Walmer, Kent, he was a pupil in a boys school run by Alexander Elder Murray. With him were twenty other boys aged 8 to 13.

Charles appears to have lived most of his life in Surrey. On April 1,1954 he married Pasha Trevenen James (1919-1978) at Buxted, Surrey. A photo of Pasha is shown left.  She was one of five children born to Lionel James and Ethel de Pearsall James. She had been born April 26,1919 at Monmouth and died April 2,1978 at New Cross London. The couple had one son and one daughter, both born soon after their marriage.

Shown opposite is a photo of Charles. He died March 11,1983 at North Western Surrey.

Percy’s second son was Osbert Howard Barnard who became a printseller. He was referred to in this occupation in the probate records of his parents in 1941 and 1951,

Osbert was born March 28,1903 at Epsom,Surrey and was baptised at Headly St Mary the Virgin June 1,1903.

The 1911 census, taken at Walmer,Kent listed Osbert and his sister Nea as visitors  at 2 Belfour Road, Alton Villa. They were staying in a lodging house run by Eliza Thwaites, rather surprising given their young ages. He was active as a print seller in London and Tunbridge Wells between 1925 and 1985.

Records show that Osbert was particularly interested in the works of Old Masters, especially wood engravers. He became a print dealer and owner of the firm Craddock & Barnard, a business which his mother had started, as referred to in the previous section of this article. He have his collection of prints by Jean Morin to the British Museum before his death on September 12,1985 at Camden, London.


Nea was born May 21,1905 at Epsom,Surrey, one of three children born to Rev Percy Mordaunt Barnard (1968-1941) and Alice Mary Barnard, nee Taunton (1872-1951). She was baptised July 6,1905 at St Mary the Virgin, Surrey.

After living with her parents and siblings in Surrey she came with them to live in Tunbridge Wells 1906/1907 and it was while living in the town that she received her education and early experience in climbing the Wellington Rocks (photo opposite) Harrison Rocks and High Rocks, a place still popular today among climbers. The image of Wellington Rocks is a postcard by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn. Wellington Rocks are located in the Common opposite the Wellington Hotel which can be seen in the background. Compared to High Rocks they afforded a rather tame climbing experience.

As noted in the previous section about her brothers, she and her brother  Osbert, at the time of the 1911 census were staying as visitors at a lodging house in Walmer, Kent.  Afterwards she returned to Tunbridge Wells to living with her parents initially at 10 Dudley Road and by 1918 at 5 Mayfield Road on the Boyne Park residential area and later still at 17 Church Road.

On June 9,1912 she married Jean Ferdinand Joseph Morin (1897-1943), further details of whom are given later. With him she had two children, a daughter Denise, born 1931 and Ian born 1935. She and her husband had moved to France after the marriage and it was there that the two children were born.

As you will read later in a biography she went on to become an accomplished and well-known mountaineer, a field of sport dominated by men. Shown above is a photo dated 1933 showing Nea in the centre with Micheline Morin (her husband’s sister) on the left and Alice Damesme on the right. This photo was taken during an expedition at the Aigle hut after a traverse of the Meijie.

Shown in the 'Overview'  is a autobiography by Nea entitled ‘A Womens Reach’ published in 1968. To the right is an autobiography by her friend Micheline Morin (1899-1972) who is shown in the photo above with Nea. Micheline is often referred to as the sister of Jean Antoine Morin and mountaineer. Alpine clubs appeared in Europe in the mid 19th century but most mountaineers were men with women gaining an inferior status in the sport. Of all the autobiographies written by mountaineers 90% are by men with only 10% by women, demonstrating a disproportionate number of women in both the sport and writing about it.

Shown below left is a photo of Nea during her eponymous climb in the Llanberis Pass. Shown below right is a group photo of Nea and other climbers from her 1968 book.

Nea’s two children became active and accomplished climbers and often went with their mother on expeditions. Her daughter Denise went on to marry Charles Evans of Mount Everest fame.

Nea’s husband was killed in 1943 when the plane he was on crashed near Gibralter while serving with the Free French. After the war she took up residence in Tunbridge Wells at 17 Church Road where she remained up to the time of her death. She however travelled abroad regularly on mountaineering expeditions.

Probate records for Nea gave her of 17 Church Road Tunbridge Wells, when she died July 12,1986. Her estate was valued at some 230,974 pounds. She died of a stroke at St George's Nursing Home, Westminster, London, on  July 12,1986, and was cremated at Mortlake crematorium four days later.

Although there is some duplication with the information I have already given I provide below another account of her life, which concentrates on her mountaineering exploits to fill out and close out my coverage of her life. This account comes from the Dictionary of National Biography.

“ Nea Everilda Morin, nee Barnard(1905–1986), rock climber and mountaineer, was born at Headley rectory, Headley, Surrey, on  May 21,1905, the second of three children, and only daughter of Percy Mordaunt Barnard (1868–1941), a lapsed clergyman who was the rector of Headley from 1898 until 1905, when he became an antiquarian bookseller. Her mother, Alice Mary Taunton (1872–1951), sold artwork within her husband's business, and then worked as an independent dealer. Nea was principally educated at home at Tunbridge Wells, where her father had established his bookshop. Her father's membership of the Alpine Club and his encouragement of the children's climbing activities at Wellington Rocks, Tunbridge Wells, made her passage into the sport an easy and acceptable one. As mentioned above she also climbed at Harrison Rocks, a photo of which is shown below.

Family holidays in the Tyrol, at Diablerets, Switzerland, and her first guided season, aged sixteen, revealed her natural ability. She financed an independent holiday to the Dauphiné Alps in 1925 by working in her father's bookshop. The season of 1926 yielded a list of guided, classic alpine climbs, which secured her membership of the Ladies' Alpine Club. During this trip she became associated with members of the prestigious Groupe de Haute Montagne from France. They were at the forefront of a movement committed to tackling difficult ascents in the Alps without guides. Invited to climb with them, success was early achieved when in 1927 Nea was one of the party which made the first guideless ascent of the Aiguille de Roc. Thereafter, the experience she accrued and shared as a member of the group in Britain, France, and the Alps, rendered her a valuable link between British and continental schools of climbing.

After marrying, on  June 9,1928, Jean Ferdinand Joseph Morin (1897–1943), a company director and one of the leading lights of the Groupe de Haute Montagne, Nea lived in Paris. The couple were married at Westminster, London.

Her husband was the son of Michel Morin, a rear-admiral in the French navy. They undertook much weekend climbing at nearby Fontainebleau, but the economic climate of the 1930s and the birth of their children Denise (1931) and Ian (1935) served to curtail regular trips to the Alps. These restrictions did not prevent Nea from becoming a leading exponent of the cordée féminine, the practice of making guideless alpine ascents on an all-female climbing rope. Early successes with Alice Damesme and Micheline Morin (Nea's sister-in-law) included a first feminine traverse of the Meije in 1933 and an ascent of the three summits of the Aiguille de Blaitière in 1934. The menfolk associated with these female climbers understood the risks attached to guideless ascents, and only reluctantly agreed to their climbing at such unprecedented high standards. They did, however, defer to their exceptional talent, as demonstrated by Nea's first feminine lead of the traverse of the Aiguilles Mummery and Ravanel with Maurice Damesme in 1938. For Nea, until the end of the 1950s, there were to be several more remarkable guideless ascents, en cordée féminine and on mixed ropes.

In north Wales during the Second World War, Nea Morin climbed some of the hardest routes of the day. In 1941 she became one of the few women to pioneer a route bearing her own name on Clogwyn Y Grochan (she had already pioneered the Rocher de Nea in France). After the death of Jean, serving as a colonel in the Free French forces, in 1943 (the military transport plane in which he was travelling went down in the sea near Gibraltar), Nea accepted the presidency of the Ladies' Alpine Club. Resident again in her native Tunbridge Wells, in 1947 she joined the Pinnacle Club and was destined to become one of its most committed members. During the 1950s, en cordée féminine with her daughter Denise, Nea enjoyed innumerable successes in the Alps. They also climbed together at every grade of difficulty on British rock and became a renowned climbing partnership.

A highly successful climber over a period of four decades, and still active thereafter in Britain and the Alps, Nea Morin was remembered as a supremely modest individual. She was an exceptionally gifted all-round climber who selflessly extended her enthusiasm for the mountains to others: ‘She wanted to make better climbers of those she led and instructed, and gave them time and energy that could have gone to building up her own reputation’ (Adam Smith, 292). Her several works of translation included the best-seller Annapurna, by Maurice Herzog (1952, in collaboration with Janet Adam Smith), and her autobiography, A Woman's Reach (1968), became a classic of mountaineering literature. While recounting the progress of her own career, it highlights the talent of her contemporaries and incorporates a comprehensive record of feminine achievement in the mountains, a record to which she contributed so much and through her own example determined to elevate and encourage.

She died at St George's Nursing Home, Westminster, London, on  July 12,1986, and was cremated at Mortlake crematorium four days later."



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

Date: September 29,2016


The writing of this article was prompted by two images of the Grosvenor Recreation Ground credited to “Photographer- A. Le Pine Strange”, that appeared in a circa 1891 booklet by the Lewis Heworth Company from their Vale Road works, a business that my grandfather worked for as a printer for several years before emigrating to Canada in the early 1920’s.

Although I have researched and written about many local photographers before I had not come across any references to Alfred Le Pine Strange as a photographer except for those in the  aforementioned booklet entitled ‘Pictures of Tunbridge Wells and Neighbourhood”.  A photo of Alfred is shown opposite.

Alfred was the son of Nevill Strange(1842-1904) who was born in Tunbridge Wells and one of several children born to Edward Jeffrey Strange (1803-1868) and Mary Strange, nee Mathew (1802-1837). As anyone will know ,who has taken and interest in the long and important history of the Strange family in Tunbridge Wells, one important part of the story was the donation of land,in 1931, that became part of the Grosvenor & Hilbert Recreation Grounds.

Alfred was born in Eastbourne,Sussex and lived and worked his entire life there and while there established a successful printing/publishing business by the name of “Strange The Printer Limited” a business which continued after his death in 1959 for some 30 years. Many references to that companies business operations can be found but all of them relate to the printing and publishing of books, booklets, pamphlets and all manner of printed material, but not one mention is given of them as photographers, although many of the items they produced contained photographs by others.

The role of Alfred Le Pine Strange as a photographer is a bit of a mystery, one which this article reports on as well as providing information about him personally and his family and his business operations in Sussex and London.


The printing/publishing firm of Lewis Hepworth was established in 1878 with premises at 13 Nevill Street. In 1891 the company had new premises built at 10 Vale Road . A photo of their premises on Vale Road from this same booklet is shown opposite. Details about the history of this company can be found , along with several other images, in my article ‘The Lewis Hepworth Company’ dated January 11,2016, an updated version of an earlier article.

The booklet contains some 40 images of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area, the majority of them by local photographer George Granville with lesser contributions by various local photographers, among which was Percy Lankester of the Great Hall Studio on Mount Pleasant Road. However, most interestingly were the two photos shown in this section by “A. Le Pine Strange” who was identified on the bottom left of both images of the Grosvenor Recreation Grounds as “photographer” and not merely publisher or printer. This of course begged the question “What other photographs were credited to him? . The answer –None! For after an exhaustive search on the internet no other images credited to him as the photographer or publisher of photographs were found.

As you will read in the next section about the Strange family, although many members of the Strange clan lived and worked in Tunbridge Wells and played an interesting and important part in the town’s history, A. Le Pine Strange was not one of them, although he was related to the Strange family of Tunbridge Wells. The A. Le Pine Strange referred to was Alfred Le Pine Strange (1875-1959) the son of Nevill Strange (1842-1904) who had been born in Tunbridge Wells and was in turn the son of Edward Jeffrey Strange (1803-1868) and Mary Strange, nee Mathew (1802-1883).

Since there was a connection between the Strange branch of Nevill Strange , who ran a drapers & costumers business in Eastbourne, Sussex, and those in Tunbridge Wells, no doubt Alfred Le Pine Strange visited the town, and if the “photographer” credit given to the images of the Grosvenor Grounds by him is to be relied upon then obviously sometime during his early life (before 1891) he must have visited Tunbridge Wells and took at least the two photos presented here. If he was in fact in the habit of taking photos, and the ones shown are quite good, why therefore are other examples of his photographic work not more readily available, or non-existent? An exhaustive search on the internet for photographs or postcard views credited to him was undertaken and not one example was found. A website which lists and provides details about postcard publishers in Sussex does not list “A. Le Pine Strange” or the business name he operated by in Eastbourne, Sussex “ Strange The Printer Limited”. Many examples of the books, booklets and other printed material by his company were found, and of course some of them contain photographs, but none of the photos were credited to “A. Le Pine Strange” or any variation of the name. Could the two photos by him (shown below)in this booklet be the only surviving examples of his photographic work? If so, then they are rare indeed! Shown above ,for comparison purposes only, is a postcard view by an unidentified photographer/publisher of the same scene captured by Alfred.


The connection between Alfred Le Pine Strange and the Strange clan of Tunbridge Wells is given below to set the stage for a more detailed account about the man himself. Shown opposite is a photo claimed to be that of Alfred, taken circa 1905 at the studio of Ernest Percival at 67 Grove Road, Eastbourne, a studio close to where Alfred had his business premises.

Alfred Le Pine Strange was born 1875 in Eastbourne, Sussex. He was one of nine known children born to Nevill Strange (1842-1904) and Mary Elizabeth Strange, nee Dowsett (1844-1929). Nevill Strange had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1842 and died in Eastbourne,Sussex October 8,1904.

Nevill Strange was the son of Edward Jeffrey Strange (1803-1868) and Mary Strange, nee Mathew (1802-1893). Edward Jeffrey Strange and his wife had ten known children. Edward Jeffrey Strange was a builder in Tunbridge Wells who had several children among which was Charles Mathew Strange (1838-1925), a builder, who had two sons Charles Hilbert Strange, an architect, born 1867 and Edward Jeffrey Strange (1870-1941) who in 1931 was a councillor and presented the Council with a substantial portion of Charity Farm as an extension to the Grosvenor Recreation Ground in memory of his mother Lydia Hilbert.

Having established a connection between the Strange family and the Grosvenor and Hilbert Recreation Ground on one hand , from the aforementioned granting of land, and a connection between the same Ground and Alfred Le Pine Strange who took two photos of it, I now report on the life and times of Alfred.

Alfred lived with his parents in Eastbourne, Sussex and attended school there. The 1881 census, taken at 2 Lismore Road in Eastbourne gave Nevill Strange as a draper and costumer shop proprietor. With him was his wife Mary Elizabeth, born 1845 in Bishopsbourne, Kent. Also there were six of their children including Alfred who was attending school and four domestic servants. A review of births noted that Alfred’s birth had been registered in Eastbourne in the 3rd qtr of 1875. Alfred was still living with his parents and siblings in Eastbourne at the time of the 1891 census. For many years, dating back to at least 1874 Nevill Strange had his shop at 28 Terminus Road (1925 photo opposite)in Eastbourne and from all accounts did a good trade.

Although no marriage record for Alfred was found, the 1911 census recorded that he and Elizabeth Ann Chapman were married in 1901. Elizabeth Ann Chapman was born in the 2nd qtr of 1871 at Bristol, Gloucestershire. She is found in the 1891 census living at 268 Stratford Road in Bordesley, Warwickshire living with her father Henry P. Chapman, born 1837 at Ashton under line, Lancashire, and her mother Ruth, born 1834 in Blackburn, Lancashire. Also there was a cousin and one domestic servant. Henry P. Chapman was working as a commercial traveller.

By 1901 Alfred and his wife were living in Eastbourne, Sussex where Alfred worked as a printer. Directories of 1909 to 1918 gave the listing “ Strange The Printer Limited (Alfred Le Pine Strange, sec) printers, York Road, Eastbourne.

The 1911 census, taken at 35 Victoria Drive, Eastbourne, gave Alfred Le Pine Strange as a “master printer letter press and lithographic employer”. With him was his wife Elizabeth Ann,age 40 and their three daughters (1) Ruth Mary, born 1902 Eastbourne, who went on to marry C. Alcoock and then Harry Weatherstone and had one daughter (2) Hilda Pridmore Strange, born 1909 in Eastbourne who went on to marry Joseph Martin which whom she had two daughters, and then married Vivian Roy Morin. (3) Phyllis Le Pine Strange (1905-1993) who was born in Eastbourne and married Gilbert Clark; then emigrated to Canada where she died.

A newspaper advertisement dated 1916 gave “EASTBOURNE. "The bourne to which all travellers return". Intending residents, visitors or parents selecting boarding schools should send for "Leafy Eastbourne" the guide to the Town and Schools 1s. 6d. post free of The Register of accommodation generously illustrated with particulars of amusements, etc., three penny stamps post free.- Strange the Printer Ltd., Eastbourne.

It appears that this business was involved in more than printing for a publication by the Imperial Typewriter Company Ltd of Leicester,gave a list of their agents, and among them was Strange The Printer Limited, 58 Grove Road, Eastbourne.

As one can see on the internet there are a long list of books and other publications by this company dating from all periods in the 20th century including the 1935 book shown opposite entitled ‘Birds of Eastbourne’.

The records of the Freemasons show that Alfred Le Pine Strange was a printer when he was initiated into the Freemasons on January 7,1919 at Eastbourne and was of the Royal Connaught Lodge.

Probate records gave Alfred Le Pine Strange of Seaburg Prideaux Road, Eastbourne, Sussex and that he died July 17,1959 at The Royal East Sussex Hospital,Hastings (photo below). The executors of his 26,533 pound estate were William Charles Parkin and Peter Guy Smart and Geoffrey Gould Remington Hickes, solicitors. Alfred’s wife Elizabeth Ann Strange died in the 2nd qtr of 1960. He death was registered at that time in Hastings,Sussex. No probate record was found for her.

The company name of Strange The Printer Limited continued after the death of Alfred. The company was registered as 00252972 which business was listed some years ago as dissolved. Business records show that it had premises in Eastbourne as well as London and that in 1992 there were five officers in the business, but none by the name of Strange. The London Gazette of December 6,1935 referred to this company in connection with an authorization for a reduction in capital. The House of Commons debates of June 16,1942 referred to a question through  Mr Speaker to the President of the Board of Trade regarding a question of what was taking so long to gain approval for a new piece of punching equipment for the company Strange The Printer Limited.

Company records show that the business premises in Eastbourne were located at 58 Grove Road. Shown above is a general view of Grove Road and also one of 58 Grove Road, occupied at the time by the Chelsea Antiques Emporium. A recent business directory recorded that the firm of TRB Printers Limited (00082455) ,who were newspaper publishers, took over Strange The Printer Limited January 17,1989 and noted that the Strange business had been incorporated November 2,1904.



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

Date: September 15,2016


Bishops Down Corner is located at the intersection of Langton Road, Major Yorkes Road and Bishops Down Road, at the west end of The Commons. Shown opposite is an early lithograph from the 1770’s looking north from the Commons towards this intersection on which can be seen a small building on the south west corner of Major Yorkes Road. It is this corner of the intersection that is the subject of this article. Across the road on the north side of Langton Road is the Spa Hotel, originally a private residence by the name of Bishops Down Grove, built in 1765 by Sir George Kelly, Lord of the Manor,which was purchased in 1772 from the heirs of Kelly by Major Martin Yorke of the East India Company, after whom Major Yorkes Road was named. This residence became the Spa Hotel. The history of the Spa Hotel and other buildings on Bishops Down Road have been written by me previously, and as a result only limited reference to them is given in this article. Roger Farthings book ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’ presents an image from the 1700’s showing George Kelly’s residence, but more importantly the buildings then in existence on the south west corner of the intersection.

The first building constructed on the subject site was a private residence dating back to the 16th century, no doubt the one shown in the lithograph above.Today the site appears significantly altered by the construction of 18th and 19th century additions. The complex on the site today consists of four main parts namely a former pub at the west end; a later separate building on the east end that in the early 1900’s was a tea house run by Mrs Annie Elizabeth Lawson; a building from the 19th C that joined the two and a large addition to the tea house building to the south on Major Yorkes Road that served as a private residence identified in 1911 as No. 1 Langton Road, and occupied by the Lawson family. All four parts of this complex exist today but their usage has changed significantly.

The pub at the west end is shown on Bowra’s 1738 map as the White Hart public house and appears to have continued in use as a pub under different names including the ‘Brokers Arms’ and most recently ‘The Major Yorke’ which opened in 2002 but closed the following year. Shown opposite is the sign for the The Major Yorke. In an article by Philip Whitbourn in 2014 he states that “the pub was given on Bowra’s map of 1738 as the ‘White Hart’ and that in the 1960s was a restaurant called ‘Petranella’s which in the 1970’s became the ‘Alpine Rose’ which by the 1990’s became the ‘Brokers Arms free house and restaurant which in turn became ‘The Major Yorke’ free house before it closed in 2013”. The ‘Brokers Arms’ was found in listings often as ‘The Brokers Arms Inn”, and it is obvious that this pub served beverages and offered accommodation for guests in its upper rooms.

In 2003 this building as well as those to the east of the pub came into use as accommodation for the staff of the Spa Hotel (photo opposite)across the street, and in 2014 Planning Approval was given to convert this complex into three dwellings. The view of the Spa Hotel is a postcard by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn.

This article provides a history of this site and several photographs and postcard views showing the subject buildings.


In this section is provided a some maps and images and information about the subject building(s) up to 2014 when Planning Authority approval was given to convert the complex into three dwelling units.

As would be expected with a site dating back to the 16th century a detailed account about its history is all but impossible and what is provided here should by no means be considered a complete account.

In the overview I presented two images of Bishops Down Corner in which buildings on the site are shown.  The building(s) referred to in this article date back ,according to English Heritage, to the 16th century. Shown above a postcard showing Langton Road between Rusthall and Tunbridge Wells dated 1906 by the French publishers Lewis & Levi.

Bowra’s 1738 map  shows on the south west corner five separate buildings; one fronting on Major Yorkes Road; one right on the corner and to the west of it a gap followed by a public house labelled  ‘White Hart’. To the west of the White Hart are two other buildings which do not form part of the subject complex. If the accuracy of this map us to be relied upon the ‘White Hart’ appears as a two sty building. Barrow's map of 1808 shows  some changes to the site have occurred .Most notably is the building labelled as “Johnson’s manufactory’. What he manufactured is not known to the researcher and nor is any information about Mr Johnson. What is significant about this plan is that Johnsons establishment joins together the building on the corner shown on Bowra’smap with what appears to be the separate building fronting on Major Yorkes Road in Bowra’s map. The building to the west of Johnson’s establishment on Langton Road is not labelled but is presumed to be what was shown as the ‘White Hart’ in 1738 but what name it went by in 1808 is not known, but is presumed to still be a public house. Maps of 1828 and 1838 show this same layout of buildings but does not label the names of them.

Colbrans 1839 map shows three main buildings; one being the ‘U” shaped building previously labelled as ‘Johnsons Manufactory’ fronting on Major Yorkes Road; a separate building fronting on Langton Road at or near the corner, and to west of it past a gap, a separate building formerly labelled ‘White Hart’. This same arrangement of buildings appears on a map of 1852,although the building to the rear of the pub from the 1839 map shows that it had been enlarged. A map of 1899 shows that the two buildings fronting on Langton Road have been joined together by a third building, forming more or less  the structure on the site as we see it today.Shown above is 1907 os map on which is highlighted in red the subject site, which to a large degree shows the subject buildings as they appear today, although they have been somewhat altered since the time of the 1899 map.

Shown above from a recent estate agents brochure is a site map on which the complex of buildings is given and numbered. No 1 & 3 once a single family residence fronting on major Yorkes Road appears as a replacement of ‘Johnsons Manufactory’ building and now is two residences. The main building numbered 5 to11 consists of the former pub on the west end, the somewhat younger building on the corner and the later infill building that joined all three together.


In this section I give first a description of the buildings by English Heritage who listed No. 5-11 on November 24,1966.

“1. LANGTON ROAD 1746 Nos 5 to 11 (odd) TQ 53 NE 10/70 24.11.66. II GV 2. A C16 timber-framed house, altered and enlarged, with Cl9 additions at the east end. The original portion is of 2 storeys and attic with plastered front painted in imitation of timbering on a stone base. 2 windows. The west side is of brick and tiles. One dormer and gable with attic window in it. This gable overhangs, but the protruding ends of the floor joints supporting it are modern. Contemporary brick chimney-breast. On the east end are the Cl9 additions. That nearest to the original building is of 2 storeys red brick with 2 tiled gables and 2 C19 windows with verticals only. Left of this is a mid C19 section also of 2 storeys. The ground floor of the front elevation is painted brick with tile hanging above. The gable is partly stuccoed with timber-framing above. Carved bargeboards. The side elevation is tile hung. Nos 1 to 11 (odd) form a group.

insert ‘Bishops Down corner 2’ ‘Bishops down corner 3’ a postcard by W.H.S. Kingsway posted 1909 ; ‘Spa Hotel Rushthall Rd Valentine postcard’ ‘Camburn Bishops Down corner’ ‘The Brokers Arms’ ‘The4 Major Yorke 2008’ ‘Major Yorke Rd 1965 photo 1 and 2; ‘Major York Road 1898’ ‘Bishops Down Tea Rooms 1912’ and scan from Major Yorkes Rd 2014

In November 2014 Planning Authority approval was granted regarding 5-11 Langton Road for conversion from pub and ancillary staff accommodation for the Spa Hotel into three dwelling units. In connection with this application a Heritage Impact Statement was prepared describing in detail the historical aspects of the subject building, portions of which I have included below. The complete report can be read online on the Tunbridge Wells Borough website under “Planning Applications”.  The information in this report is based on a detailed investigation of the property carried out on December 4,2014 along with subsequent studies of the building and its historic context. The previous plans of the building were consulted, which had been prepared when the building was converted into sleeping accommodation for the Spa Hotel in (about) 2003. The report also takes into consideration the notes prepared by the Canterbury Archaeolocigal Trust following their inspection of the premises in 2003.

“The Major Yorke is an assemblage of 3 separate structures that were joined together only in the late 19th century when a building was constructed in a gap between two older timber framed buildings…The combined buildings became a public house, The Brokers Arms in 1878 (renamed the Major Yorke in 2002) but the public house closed down in 2003 and was converted into staff accommodation for The Royal Spa Hotel opposite. The property is now empty pending the outcome of the current Planning applications. The current proposals envisage the separating off of the three constituent parts of the buildings and their conversion into 3 attached residential units”. The report goes on to state that no major alterations to the original historic fabric of the buildings is planned and that alterations are in the main minor in nature.

Regarding the information contained in the English Heritage listing, the report states “The List entry mis-identifies the Eastern end of the building as being C19th, when in fact an early C18th timber framed structure, not a house, but more likely to be some sort of agricultural store building. The entry also, understandably, fails to pick up the fact that the 2 older parts of the building were originally separate structures”.

“The Major Yorke was formerly a Public House, previously known as the ‘Brokers Arms, but the buildings have been used for the past 11 years as staff flats for the Spa Hotel. The building forms part of a group closely packed buildings extending to the rear, (no. 1-3 and 13 Langton Road and an un-numbered bungalow)….The Major Yorke comprises three constituent elements, each with a very different characteristic, but an attempt has been made to unify the group by the over cladding of the elements with white painted render and black painted mock half timbering. Clearly the oldest part of the building is at the west end and here there is a two storey building with a steep tiled roof with a gable feature and dormers, raised up half a storey on a half-sunken basement cellar with sandstone walls. A substantial external brick chimney stack projects from the western gable end of this building”.

“The eastern-most end of the buildings is, by contrast, much more modest-a one and a half storey structure built off a rendered brick ground storey. Again this has a steep tiled gabled roof with the same skinny black painted mock Tudor half timbering and attractive cusped barge board to the gable end”.

“Between these two ranges there is a rather taller range, also tile-roofed with a pair of gables, but having a slacker pitch. Again the original brickwork has been over-rendered and clad in black painted mock timbering.”

“Around at the rear, only a narrow brick paved alley separates the building from a number of other houses including nos 1-3 Langton Road and ‘The Coach House”. Shown opposite from Google maps is a view Yorke Road, on the right hand side of which, partially hidden by trees, as part of 1-3 Langton Road, along with two 20thC residences, one of which is identified as ‘Sheldon” on the site map given earlier. This image was taken in 2014 and a different view of the Major Yorke building closer to the intersection shows that at that time there was a sign on the east facing wall that read “The Spa Hotel” with and arrow pointing across the road. The sign on the pub at that time read “Free House The Major Yorke”.

“The rear elevation here is built of red-brown brickwork and recessed sashes and casements and the general character suggests a late c19th date for this part of the building. Further to the west, the alleyway is blocked by two single storey weather boarded and brick outbuildings, with tile roofs, projecting from the rear of the main range and leaving only a narrow passage between this and the modern bungalow house to the south. Around to the rear, at the western end, the original timber framing of the c16th building is exposed to view.Although the south-west corner post with up-braces appears to be the real thing, all the rest of the in-filled framing is very modern, a recent reconstruction around the primary corner frame member. Behind this there is a flat roofed extension forming a first floor terrace, reached via a metal fire escape stair. To the south a brick built structure, a former coach house, backs onto the small rear courtyard (this building is not part of the Major Yorke complex)”.

“Although the main elements of the Major Yorke date back to the c16th, it has been used as a Public House for only about 120 years. Formerly the Brokers Arms, the house was renamed the Major Yorke in 2002. However this rebranding appears to have not been successful with the building being purchased by the Spa Hotel the following year and converted into staff accommodation besit flats.”

“It would seem that the rear extension, including the flat roofed rear terrace and fire escape stair dates back to the time of the pub use. It would also seem that the main staircase circulation within the building near the back wall also dates back to this time”.

“ The 2003 conversion was carried out without significant alterations to the structure but it seems that a modern staircase was removed at the time of this conversion and several of the rooms subdivided to create the self-contained bedsit units”

“The basement bar area seems to have not been altered at all but the conversion of the upper floors has been carried out in a generally unsympathetic manner with standard modern finishes and joinery, hard plaster with a series of hitchenettes and bathrooms etc. This had left the interiors devoid of any period character apart from a few exposed ceiling beams and the brick fireplaces associated with the west stack at basement, ground and first floor levels. Only at the second floor level in the attic accommodation can be seen any period features. Here there are three old plank doors and queen post struts associated with the roof structure, but even here the rest of the finishes are generally modern and not of interest”.

The report continues with a detailed description of each part of this complex of buildings and although it makes for fascinating reading the rest of the report is too lengthy to include here. Since it can be read online, I have left it up to you to obtain further details from the original source if you so desire.

Shown in this section are a series of plans of the building that formed part of the approval package. Among them is a set of existing and proposed elevation and floor plans for the building identified on the site map as 5-11 Langton Road.


An article in ‘Kent Business’ dated October 2,2002 gave the photo opposite and the following article about the opening of this pub.

The caption on the photo reads “ At the bar of the renamed The Major Yorke, from left, Spa Hotel general manager Andrew Salter and managing director Richard Goring with managers Hazel and Richard Callow”.

The article reads “ Centuries Old Tunbridge Wells landmark and popular watering-hole the Brokers Arms has re-opened its doors-with the new name of The Major Yorke. The pub, on the junction of Major Yorke Road and Langton Road, is being managed by Rowland and Hazel Catlow, under the ownership of the Spa Hotel, which stands opposite. Major Martin Yorke bought the property which is now the Spa Hotel in 1772. He served under Lord Clive of India and made his fortune with the East India Company. While he owned the house, Major Yorke gained a reputation for his lavish entertaining and even welcomed Princess Victoria, alter Queen, as a guest. The pub, just across the road, is understood to date back to the 16th century. It ceased trading under its former owners earlier this year. Andres Salter,general manager of the Spa Hotel, said: “ We will remain true to the centuries-old tradition of a welcoming hostelry, with no machines or arcade-type amusements-and for those who enjoy a pint after excercising their canine companions on the Common it remains dog friendly”. Unfortunatley the pub was not a commercial success and was closed in 2003.


The following article appeared in ‘The Common Ground’ winter 2014 under the heading “Noteworthy Buildings Facing the Commons;’The Major Yorke, Langton Road”.

“The Borough Council’s Conservation Area Appraisal for the Royal Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area shows the group of properties numbered 5-11 Langton Road as a “focal building”, in a “key view”, facing the Common. The group has been included in the government’s statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest since 1966, and it is described there as a 16th century house that has been altered and enlarged. A 16th century date would put it as one of the oldest buildings in the vicinity, pre-dating the arrival of Lord North on the scene, and the founding of Tunbridge Wells in the 17th century. The right hand end of the group is the earliest part, the double gabled central section being an infill between the two end sections. Bowra’s map of 1738 appears to show the old building as the “White Hart”.”

“During the 1960s the premises accommodated a very popular restaurant called “Petranella’s” which, in the 1970s, became the “Alpine Rose” (image of 1976 advertisment opposite, note address given as 9-11 Langton Road). “. No doubt the sign on the building showed the flower ‘Alpine Rose’ which grows on hillsides to 3,200 m where they have to adapt to temperatures below zero and extreme winter dryness. The name ‘Alpine Rose’ appears in a directory of pubs in Tunbridge Wells in the 1970’s.

“By the 1990s the name had changed again, this time to the “Brokers’ Arms” free house and restaurant which, in turn, gave way to “The Major Yorke” free house, before the establishment finally closed to the public. In the autumn of 2013 the Spa Hotel was looking into the possibility of changing the function of the building from staff accommodation to general residential use. This was ruled to require planning permission, and there the matter is understood to rest, at the time of going to press. The closed aspect of the former hostelry currently  presents a somewhat forlorn look, and it would be good to think that a worthy and long-term future can be secured for this prominent group, before too long.”

“The property to the left of the group, facing the common, is shown on Barrow’s map of 1808 as “Johnson’s Manufactory”. To the right of the group, through the trees, is Clare Lodge, also altered, but once the residence of Vice-Admiral Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt, CB, (1811-1888). As a naval officer, Thomas Spratt made a major contribution to the Black Sea campaigns during the Crimean War of the 1850s. Moreover, Spratt was an accomplished hydrographer hydrographer and geologist, and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1856. In 1877 he was in correspondence, from Clare Lodge, with Charles Darwin concerning researches he had made in the island of Crete. He died in March 1888 at Clare Lodge, a property which fronts on to that stretch of the A264 linking Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons, formerly known as Sandy Lane”


A listing of 5-11 Langton Road by the estate agents “Savills” advertised the property for sale under the heading “Licensed HMO with development/investment potential-The Major Yorke, Langton Road,Tunbridge Wells” as a freehold property consisting of nine single and one double occupancy rooms; a self contained flat; lower ground floor former bar; sold with vacant possession; site area approximately 0.07 acres (0.03 ha) with main accommodation of 4191 sf with the self contained flat being 710 sf.; latterly it has been used as staff accommodation by the Spa Hotel; used as a public house for most of its existence”. The listing included a site map ,building photos and architects drawings which I have provided in previously, with one other photo of the building shown opposite.


Accurate dates of occupancy of this range of buildings is not available, and since 5-11 Langton Road has had a variety of uses over the years initially as separate buildings and then as a unit, no attempt has been made to prepare a complete chronology. What is provided in this section is information about the Lawson family who occupied the site in the early 1900’s and operated a tea house there, a use which can be seen in the postcard view of the premises circa 1912, on which image can be seen a sign on the east wall of the building that identifies the building as a tea room. The same image shows what appears to be a pub side on the front of the most westerly part of this building at No. 11. The working on the sign cannot be read. It may relate to the name of the tea room or its presence may indicate that it was still a pub and that only the eastern part of the building was a tea room. A postcard given in the photogallery dated 1909 by WHS Kingsway also shows the words “tea rooms” on the east facing wall of the building, but the 1912 postcard appears to name the premises also as “Bishops Tavern “ and Tea Rooms.

The 1913 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Mrs Lawford, tea rooms, Bishops Down”. The Mrs Lawford referred to was Annie Elizabeth Lawford, born 1863 at Plymouth, Devon.

The 1911 census, taken at 1 Langton Road, which at that time would have been what is now 1-3 Langton Road, but the entire residence and not just the southern half. The census gave William Douglas Lawson as a retired solicitor born 1856 in Highbury London. With him was his wife Annie Elizabeth, who’s occupation was given as “proprietoress of tea rooms employer’). Also present were five of their children, including a daughter Dorothea, age 22, and her sister Phyllis,age 17, who were both working as “assistants in tea rooms”. The census recorded that the couple had been married 25 years and that all eight of their children were still living.

The children born to William and Annie were as follows;(1)Douglas Reginald Cury (1886-1966) (2) Marjorie (1888-1966) (3) Dorothea (1889-1954) (4) Noel Campbell (1890-1981) (5) Plyllis (1894-1959) (6) Patrick John (1895-1916). Patrick served in WW 1 and was killed while with the Mesopotanian Expeditionary Force October 6,1916. (7) Alan Bowring (1897-1967). Alan had enlisted for service in WW 1 at Maidstone in 1914 and remained at home until sent to France October 12,1915, serving with the Machine Gun Corp (serive No. 41628). His military records gave his father as next of kin at 14 Church Rd,Southborough, suggesting that the tea house operation by the family had ended by then. (8)Ruth (1899-1969).

Birth records for the children indicate that the family had moved about a lot living in Clapham, London 1887; Richmond, Surrey 1888;Teigmouth,Devon 1889, at Haaswell Cottage Paignton,Devon in 1891;Hampstead, London 1894; Putney, London 1896; Leigh, Kent 1898; Margate Kent at 27 Norfolk Riad in 1900 and 1901. William Lawson was a working solicitor at the time of the 1891 census but the 1901 census recorded him as a “retired solicitor not practising”.

Sometime after 1914 the family left Tunbridge Wells and moved back to London. Annie Elizabeth Lawson died at Hampstead, London in the 3rd qtr of 1952.



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

Date: November 7,2016

This is a  brief article about the history of postcards in general with a concentration on the era of the Multi-View postcard. In this article are presented a representative sample of typical cards of this type to demonstrate known variations in style, colour, subject etc. Hundreds of different cards of this type were produced for the Tunbridge Wells market, so many in fact that one could create a Mulit-View postcard collection on its own, which would keep you  occupied for years seeking out examples to add to your collection.

The production of postcards in England date to 1870 although they had no picture and were only published by the post office. It was not until 1894 that the post office allowed others to produce postcards. In 1895 the size of postcards was standardized and known as Court Cards. The address was written on one side and the reverse side had a small image and space to write a message. In 1899 the Uk adopted the internationally accepted standard postcard size. On these cards the address and stamp were on one side and the other side held an image and your written message. Because the image often occupied a good deal of space, the message would be crammed in around the edges of the photograph side of the postcard. It was not until 1902 that the post office decreed that one side of the postcard was to have only an image and on the back was to be the stamp with the mailing address and your message. This soon resulted in postcard manufactures producing postcards with a line on the back running vertically up the middle of the card to divide the stamp and address on the right from the message on the left. These became the standard in the industry and were , and still are, called ‘Divided Back’ postcards. In 1926 minimum and maximum postcard sizes were designated to control the industry and to facilitate easier mail handling.

Although the majority of postcards within the timeframes given above typically had just one image of some local scene or other topic, by the late 19th century the Multi-View postcard became popular. Multi-View postcards, as the name suggests ,typically have two or more images, with most having at least four, and sometimes as many as nine. The larger the number of images shown, the smaller each image was of course and so there was a practical limit to the number of views per card.

They typically show a collage of views in the form of miniature pictures of local scenes and were produced to promote the town’s most popular attractions. For this reason, the majority of multi-views of Tunbridge Wells included an images of the Pantiles, the Commons, Toad Rock and High Rocks, the same subjects most often featured on single view postcards. However one can find many examples of other spots in the town portrayed, in combination with these, such as the Civic Centre and street views (typically the main commercial districts of the town such as the High Street, Calverley Road, Grosvenor Road, Mount Pleasant Road etc), and in some cases churches or other notable buildings.

Multi-View postcards are just a popular today among visitors to the town as they were when they first appeared, for they provide an economical means of sending off a postcard, where you can get several views of the town for the price of one postcard.

The style in which these cards were produced come in quite a variety. Quite often however there is one central image around which the other views are arranged and it is common to find a message printed on the front saying for example “Greetings from Tunbridge Wells” or simply just “Tunbridge Wells”. 

The central image, if there is one, on these Multi-Views is typically one of the most notable spots of the town. However local examples can be found on which the central image is the town crest bearing the slogan “Do Well Doubt Not”, and in rare cases the image is something which seems to have no relationship to the town whatsoever. Shown below left is one example of a card with the town crest and shown to the right is a card with a black cat as the central image. One wonders- Why a black cat? The answer is that in England the black cat is a symbol of good luck, except in Yorkshire where it is bad luck. Many postcards and cards in general can be found showing a black cat with the words ‘Good Luck From…” , and who can forget the iconic image of a black cat on Black Cat Cigarettes.

Multi-View cards can be found in black and white, sepia tone , or in colour. The early cards in colour are often hand coloured or colorized black and white images, while those from about WW II onwards are ‘real’ colour photographs.

Mulit-View postcards, like their single image cousins, were produced by almost every postcard publisher in the trade. There are no known producers of postcards who made only Multi-Views although some publishers produced more of them than others.  Local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn for example, who produced thousands of real photo postcards of Kent and Sussex, is not known to have  produced many Multi-View cards in his long career. Another local producer of postcards, namely ‘Photochrom’ produced many Multi-Views as did J. Salmon in Sevenoaks, Judges, Sweetman & Sons and others.

In cases where the back of the postcard does not provide a clear date of franking, one can fairly accurately date them based on the value of the postage stamp. Given here up to 1965 are the postage rates for sending postcards in England. 1870 - 1918: ½d ; 1918, 3 June: 1d;1921, 13 January: 1½d ;1922, 24 May: 1d ;1940, 1 May: 2d (letter 2½d);1957, 1 October: 2½d (letter 3d);1965, 17 May: 3d (letter 4d).

The collecting of postcards is a popular hobby and although they were quite inexpensive to buy years ago when they could be bought at a department store, such as Woolworth’s, or from one of the many stationers shops in the town, today they have gone up in price considerably. Bought for perhaps a penny in 1900 they can now command prices of several pounds. They can often be found at much reduced prices in charity/junk shops or car boot sales or similar events. With the age of the computer they can be bought online but tend to be more expensive due to competitive bidding on sites like ebay as well as the cost of shipping and handling. Postage stamp and postcard clubs can be found across Britain and residents of Tunbridge Wells have easy access to at least one. There you get to share the hobby with other like- minded collectors and have access to more postcards for your collection. There are also postcard magazines for enthusiasts such as ‘Postcard Monthly’ that contain information on the hobby; contacts; sales information etc, all of which is of interest to anyone engaged in this aspect of postal history.


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

Date: December 18,2016

Fishing, particularly fly fishing, has been a favourite pastime of many men and women. Apart from an assortment of flies and lures and other fishing related items, one item of most importance to the fisherman is a good fishing rod and reel. What better way to spend a lovely summer day than to stand on the bank of a river and do some fishing. A nice trout or salmon may be lurking in the water, waiting to take your line, and when caught makes for a fine meal. Many fishing enthusiasts today in Tunbridge Wells belong to the Tunbridge Wells Angling Club and the Royal Tunbridge Wells Angling Society.

My father and I ,from the time I was a young lad, would often go fishing together and continued to do so until he was age 90. Some of my fondest memories of him were the times we went fishing together.

In and around Tunbridge Wells there are many ponds ,streams and rivers where fish can be caught and on some days one can see people of all ages enjoying the sport, such as those shown in the photos given in this article of Holden Pond and High Rocks Lake.

Although many companies manufactured and or sold fishing rods and tackle, this article reports on one company in this business ,namely ‘Tunbridge Wells Rods Ltd’ who in the 1950’s and early 1960’s operated from premises at 5 Birling Road.

From an earlier time (ie 1911) there were two businesses in Tunbridge Wells selling fishing equipment namely (1) Joseph Swinnard (born 1839 Hastings, Sussex) who was a fishing tackle and picture dealer operating from premises at 26 Crescent Road (2) Robert Charles Monte, born 1872 Lower Edmonton, Middlesex, who was a tobacco and fishing tackle dealer operating from premises at 2 Berkeley Road.

The company does not appear to have been in business for many years but a 1959 directory for example lists them as “ Tunbridge Wells Rods Ltd., Fishing Tackle Makers, 5 Birling Road, Tunbridge Wells Tel. 1221”.

A review of auction sales and ebay offerings of fishing rods produced a number of fishing rods for sale made by this company. An article in The Arcanist’s Angling of February 21,2014 showed some photos (see opposite) of one of their rods called “The Pleasant” described as a cheap and cheerful boy’s rod made from cane butt and mid sections with built up cane tip, brass tube ferrules and allow winding check, reel bands and butt cap. The windings are red and black jasper and all of the guides are plain high bells and the tip is porcelain lined”.

An article dated August 23,2014 referred to “A vintage fiberglass float fishing rod made by Tunbridge Wells Rods Ltd which was offered for sale at a price of 30 pounds.

Bonhams Auctions sold on May 17,2002 a fishing rod by Tunbridge Wells Rods Ltd described as “a float rod,14 ft whole cane butt and centre section with whole cane/split cane spliced tip section, in cloth bag, together with a similar Army and Navy rod”.

Another rod by the same company was sold for 22 pounds in December 2013 described as “A split cane sea fishing rod 12-1/2 ft long. Bramfords Auctioneers also offered for sale two cane rods by  Tunbridge Wells Rods Ltd in June 2013 .

On ebay was offered for sale one of their ‘vintage’ rods described as a 3 piece rod 10.5 ft in length, which was sold for 12 pounds. Townsend Auctions also offered for sale a rod by the same company described as “a glass rod” (fiberglass).

In addition to “The Pleasant’ rod they also sold a rod called ‘The Linden” named after the Linden (Lime) trees that line many of the roads in Tunbridge Wells. Their rods came in different lengths and in various price ranges depending on quality, length, type of material etc and as can be seen from the auction listings they produced both cane and fiberglass rods.

This company listed in corporation records as Tunbridge Wells Rods Limited (No. 00506662) was dissolved many years ago. When the business began and ended was not established. Today, or at least until recently there was a shop called ‘Friendly Fisherman’ selling fishing tackle from premises on Camden Road.

If you have not tried fishing, check it out. Its an enjoyable pastime and if you are lucky , or good, you might catch yourself a nice meal. If not, you will at least have been out in the fresh air in relaxing surroundings.


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