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

Date: April 14,2018


The firm of Charles, Reynolds & Company, was a partnership between Peter Charles (1831-1891), John Reynolds (circa 1830-circa 1886) and Cornelius Brabrook Pare (1837-1890). The business began in London in about 1860 and operated initially as merchants and importers of fancy objects from every corner of Europe.

The Journal of the Society of Arts of February 1,1878 reported on the meeting of the society, under the chairmanship of Sir Rotherford Alcock K.C.B. F.R.G.S.. An address was made at the meeting by Christopher Dresser PhD, F.L.S. etc entitled ‘The Art Manufacturers of Japan from Personal Observation’. In his address he stated in part “ Some few years ago I proposed to Messrs Charles, Reynolds and Co. who have already brought to England much of the common manufacturers of Japan, the establishment of a new business in a separate warehouse and importing not only cheap objects from the far east but also the rarest and most beautiful of works. The three partners Mr Charles, Mr Reynolds, and Mr Pare adopted my suggestion and trade under the style of Landos and Co. in London in the Art City Warehouses of 126 and 127 London Wall. Within two years a second warehouse was added and now they have three warehouses with branch houses in the various parts of Japan, China, Persia and Morocco and re probably now the largest firm in Europe that concerns itself with the importation of art objects. They refer smaller retailers to Charles, Reynolds and Co of Milk Street, where there is also an assortment of cheaper kinds of Japanese goods”.

The National Archives gave a listing dated February 7,1877 for Charles, Reynolds and Company at 26 and 27 Milk Street, Cheepside, London.

The London Gazette of May 30,1879 announced that the partnership between Peter Charles, John Reynolds and Cornelius Brabrook Pare, manufacturers and warehouses at 26 and 27 Milk Street, Cheapside, London, operating as Charles, Reynolds and Company , has been dissolved by mutual consent”. John Reynolds had retired from the partnership and the other two men carried the business on as Charles, Reynolds and Company. A second notice in the same Gazette for the same partners announced that they also had a business under the same name , as Japanese Merchants at 126 and 127 London Wall, London, and that John Reynolds had withdrawn as a partner and that the other two gentlemen had agreed to carry it on.

The London Gazette of November 24,1882 announced that the partnership between Peter Charles and Cornelius Brabrook Pare, operating as warehousemen at 16 & 27 Milk Street, London as Charles, Reynolds and Company and as Japanese merchants at 126 and 127 London Wall, London under the name of Landos and Company were dissolved as of October 31,1882. Peter Charles was responsible for all debts of both companies and Cornelius Brabrook Pare continued the business under the name of C.B. Pare and Co. At that time Peter Charles retired from business.

Among the various items that Charles, Reynolds and Company sold was a series of some 49 albums of various towns/cities in England in which scenic views and images of important buildings were shown. The albums are all undated but based on a review of the images of buildings by researchers it is believed that they were all produced about the same time between about 1880 and 1890. The early books in the series were less ornate than the later versions which had gold leaf adorning the front cover. The front cover of all the albums has on it “ Printed in Germany”.

Among this series of albums were two for Tunbridge Wells. The earliest one is shown above and below it is a  later edition.

The interesting feature of all the albums in the series is that the images inside are printed on one side only and are all connected together and fold out in one long strip. Sellers of these albums describe them as “photo-lithograpy ‘Leporello’ or concertina style fold outs”

Shown below are the views in the earliest Tunbridge Wells album believed to have been produced circa 1888. In the last view, which appeared inside the back cover, is and advertisement for the company that published it which at that time had premises at 26 and 27 Milk Street in London. This album measures about 18.3 cm by 13.8cm. The second, more ornate album was reported by the seller to contain 18 postcard images and three larger images. Unfortunately the seller did not show the images in the album.

The number of views in each town/city album varied. For Chester there were 27 views. For North Wales, when the company had premises at 72-73 Fore Street and 18-20 Fore Street, the album contained 22 views. The Views of Windsor album contained 24 views as did the album for Birmingham. The album for the Isle of Wight contained 20 views while the album of Oxford contained only 14 views. As expected the album for London had more images (about 27) including a panoramic view of the south side of the Thames River. And so it appears that on average each album contained about two dozen phot0-lithograph images.  The album of Margate views dated from about 1889 contained a nice assortment of views and at the time it was published the company had premises at 25-27 Milk Street Cheapside.

When the company ceased trading is not known but the Pottery Gazette of London dated August 1,1894 still listed Charles, Reynolds and Company.

Shown opposite are two images of a medallion by Charles, Reynolds and Company described as “a rare photo medallion souvenir of Devon, Cornwall, within which was a series of fold-out photo images each with a description on the back. Another similar medallion by the same company shows images of Rome.

Books of steel line-engraved vignettes had disappeared by about 1880, at which time real photographs were still relatively expensive and the picture postcard had not yet arrived. This left a gap in the marker which was filled by the rather unsatisfactory sepia-tinted ‘photo-lithographs’, printed on coated paper and largely produced in Lower Saxony, Germany. The photo-lithographs usually have an essentially photographic base to which has been added hand-working, giving a picture with the appearance of both a photograph and a drawing. With the demise of books of steel line-engraved vignettes, Charles, Reynolds and Company and others issued their vignettes in Leporello album form.



Definitive information about John Reynolds was not obtained but it is believed by the researcher that he was decended from the noted engraver and painter Samuel William Reynolds (1773-1835) and his son Samuel William Reynolds junior (1794-1872). It appears based on John’s business partners that he was born in the 1830’s. It is known from the London Gazette of May 30,1879 that John withdrew from the partnership with Peter Charles and Cornelius Brabrook Pare and from that it is expected that he retired from business and like his former partners died in London in the later 1880’s or early 1890’s.


Peter was born 1832 at Warden, Northamptonshire and was the son of Richard Charles who in 1855 was a paper maker. On June 16,155, at St Leonard Shoreditch Peter married Elizabeth Ellen Stafford, a millioner, and the daughter of William Stafford, a builder. Both Peter and his bride to be were both living in Nicholas Street and Peter was working as a warehouseman.

The 1861 census, taken at Avenhoe House in Erith, Kent gave Peter as a manufacturer of fancy goods. With him was his wife Elizabeth Ellen, born 1830 in Islington. Also there were four of their children (born between 1856 and 1860); Peters mother in law Sarah Stafford age 71, widow, and three domestic servants.

The 1871 census, taken at 38 Joy House ,Charing Lane in Stoke Newington, gave Peter as a merchant warehouseman. With him was his wife Elizabeth; five of their children and two domestic servants.

The 1881 census, taken at Olders Hill House in Hendon Lane gave Peter as a merchant. With him was his wife Elizabeth; four of their children; one visitor and two servants. Peters son Robert who was born 1857 was a warehouseman as was Peters son Peter who had been born in 1861.

Directories if 1890-1891 gave the address of Charles, Reynolds and Co at 27 Milk Street, Cheapside with Peters residence listed at 72-73 Fore Street, a tenement.

Probate records gave Peter Charles being formerly of 26 and 27 Milk Street Cheapside, London but late of Olders Hill, Hendon Lane  Fincley, London and also of 72 and 73 Fore Street London, warehouseman. Who died January 17,1891 at Olders Hill. The executors of his 67,073 pound estate was his widow Elizabeth of the same address and Peter James Charles of Olders Hill, warehouseman, and Richard Stafford Charles of 4 Morden Road, Blackheath,Kent, surveyor.


Cornelius was born January 21,1837 at Begham, Warwickshire and baptised June 28,1837 at St Martin Church at Birmingham, Warwickshire. He was given as the son of John and Elizabeth Pare.

On May 12,1861 he married Anne Saumary Blackler at St Mary Church in Islington. She had been born 1838 at De Beauworth, Middlesex.

The 1871 census, taken at 156 Balls Pond Road in Islington gave Cornelius as a fancy warehouseman. With him was his wife Anne; one visitor and two servants.

The 1881 census, taken at 48 Torrington Square in London gave Cornelius as a Japan merchant. With him was his wife Anne and three servants. They had a son Albert Blackler Pare who was baptised at St Judes, Islington October 19,18623 but it appears he died young.

In 1890 Cornelius was living in a tenement at 120 Taluft Road, Bayswater.

Probate records gave Cornelius Brabrook Pare of 125 London Wall, London but late of 39 Powis Square,Bayswaterm Middlesex, merchant, when he died March 23,1890 at 39 Powis Square. The executor of his 1,142 pound estate was his widow Ann Saumary Pare of 39 Powis Square and Sidney Brabrook Pare  of St Lukes Road, Chatham, Surrey, auctioneer and surveyor, nephew.



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

Date: April 21,2018

Kent is known as “The Garden of England” for good reason, for apart from its profusion of flowers in private gardens, parks and elsewhere, it has from the beginning of time been a county where agriculture has played a significant part in its history and economy. Scenes like the one shown opposite in a 1940 photochrom postcard of Tunbridge Wells, were common throughout the countryside.

Below left is a view of Eridge Castle with cattle grazing in the foreground.  Below right is a farm view postcard of Langton Green posted 1903 in which can be seen various waggons.

The town of Tunbridge Wells is a relatively new town in history of England, having been established in the 17th century, largely due to the discovery of its so called health giving waters, and became a spa town, attracting visitors mostly during the summer season. With this discovery buildings began to be constructed at the Pantiles and nearby in Mount Sion. The construction of new buildings elsewhere in the town continued since that time, built largely on what had been woodland, pastureland , land under cultivation, or on land used for the raising of livestock. Shown opposite is a postcard view of Happy Valley, posted 1908 showing sheep grazing.

All of the residential areas we know today, such as Culverden, Madeira Park,Nevill Park, Warwick Park, Camden Park, Calverley Park etc were developments on former agricultural land. Many of these were developments in the 19th century and new ones continued since then. As is the case throughout England land for agricultural use has been shrinking due largely to urban sprawl and this was the case in Tunbridge Wells.

Kent in general ,and the areas in and around Tunbridge Wells, have long been noted for the growing and harvesting of hops, an activity which attracted thousands of migrant workers from London and elsewhere annually. The production of vegetables and grains and the raising of livestock have long been important parts of the local economy. In addition the area is noted for its fruit production, most notably cherries(image opposite) and apples. During my trip to Tunbridge Wells in 2015 by vehicle from London my friend and I saw may stalls on the roadside selling apples and cherries. We stopped at one to get a bag of lovely cherries and did so again in the town from a vendor and also from a stall at the Langdon Fete. Shown below are two photographs pertaining the growing and harvesting of hops in the area of Tunbridge Wells.


Many postcard views of the Tunbridge Wells Commons show livestock grazing. Two examples are shown below.

Agriculture in the region and throughout England accounts for millions of pounds annually in the economy. Farming has always been a risky business with production effected significantly by adverse weather, disease etc. Before the introduction of steam and later petrol/diesel farming equipment farming was a particularly labour intensive job, relying on horse drawn plows etc with much of the crop harvesting done by hand, before the age of mechanization. The cost of production, both for crops and livestock, has always been high, where drainage works, fertilizer, pesticides and vet bills took a real bit out of the bottom line.


Many of the early farms were relatively small land holdings, where the farmer worked for the lord of the Manor, or privately on his own account. Over the years the trend has been for the amalgamation of small farms into large land holdings and much of the land of the Manor was sold off, with few tenant farmers remaining as a result.


Shown above are two photographs taken at the Agricultural Fair in Tunbridge Wells, an event held annually for many years at the Showgrounds. This event was popular among farmers who showed off their animals and crops competing for recognition and prizes. Horses, many bred locally, were also a feature. Farm equipment, tractors etc, were also to be found there. Thousands of people attended these fairs annually and for many years , including today, farmers markets were held in the town (photo opposite outside the Civic Centre), where fresh farm goods could be bought.


Despite its noted agriculture, England has for most of its existence been a country that relied on imports for the majority of its farm goods. This dependence became a major issue during WW 1 and WW 2 with food shortages and the shortage of farm workers ( due to war service) his the country hard. As a result people were encouraged to have some chickens and rabbits in their gardens to produce some food for their own consumption. The Women.s Land Army was formed to fill the gap of a shortage of men to work the land. The photo above left shows women picking vegetables and the photograph above right shows a women in the Land Army delivering milk from a Tunbridge Wells farm.  Rationing of food and other items became the norm throughout the war and even until the 1950’s as the country struggled to recover from the war.

Many paintings have been produced providing a romantic and bucolic views of farms and the countryside. Shown below are two examples. The one on the left is by local artist C.T. Dodd who painted a view of Reynolds Lane , named after Reynolds Farm and the one on the right is another local view by the same artist.


Local organizations existed such as the Farmers Club, which included members of the local farming community, and represented their interests. May local newspaper accounts report on events surrounding this club.

Although thousands of postcard have been produced showing views of Tunbridge Wells they largely depict urban scenes. Very few were produced of rural area and more specifically of farms and farm buildings. Shown below are four depicting life on the farm by the Tunbridge Wells firm of Lankester & Co. This business had its premises on Mount Pleasant Road in the north wing of the Great Hall.  The company had a large and well- equipped studio there and although the company did portraiture work much of its production of postcards was field photography. The company was a partnership between Percy Squire Lankester and Harold H. Camburn, which partnership was dissolved in the early 1900’s with both photographers then operating on their
own. The postmarks on the back of these image indicate that they date from circa 1905.


Although I have by no means given a full account ,or even a detailed one ,of farming I hope you enjoy the brief history I have given and the photographs. Please support local agriculture. At least take a trip to and buy something from the local farmers market or one of the local farms and pick up some of those very tasty cherries and other fruit. It’s a refreshing and healthy snack. If thirsty have a pint or two to support the hops growing industry.



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

Date: April 19,2018


Robert Hutchinson Powell M.D. (1818-1864) was born in Dublin, Ireland.  He had obtained his medical degree at the University of London and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1840.

He had held a number of important positions as a surgeon at various infirmaries in London and during the 1840’s and 1850’s he was the author of several articles on medical topics which appeared in various medical journals of the time. He was also the author of several medical books while living in London

In about 1845 Robert moved to Tunbridge Wells where he authored the following books (1) A Medical Topography of Tunbridge Wells (1846) (2) A Guide to the Mineral Waters of Tunbridge Wells (1847). While working as a surgeon in Tunbridge Wells he resided at Rock Lodge, a lodging house on London Road and also had his medical office at Gloucester House in the Parade (Pantiles). He performed his surgeries at the General Infirmary on Grosvenor road.

By about 1850 Robert left Tunbridge Wells and appears as a physican in London in medical directories from 1851 onwards. The Medical Times of July 27,1861 reported “ Robert Hutchinson Powell M.D. University of London; M.R.C.P London; M.R.C.S. England has been unanimously elected by a special general meeting of the Governors of the Chester General Infirmary an Honorary Physician in the room of Dr. Richard Phillip Jones (resigned)”.

Probate records noted that Robert Hutchinson Powell  M.D. was late of the City of Chester when he died March 10,1864 at Abbey Square, Chester. The executor of his under 200 pound  estate was Anne Powell, spinster, of 8 Penfield Terrace, Black Rock, City of Dublin. The Gentlemen’s Magazine of 1864 reported that Robert “ fell victim in 10 days to erysipelas” (an acute infection).

Details about Robert’s personal live are lacking but it is known that he had been married to Isabella Joanna Greaves who was born in India in 1817, the daughter of William Dodd Greaves  a surgeon of the Madras Army. During her life Isabella was married three times and died in 1894 when the widow of Richard Edmondson.

This article presents what little information was found for the private life of Robert Hutchinson Powell and gives an overview of his medical career and his published works. The central focus of this article is his life and work while a resident of Tunbridge Wells.


Robert Hutchinson Powell was born 1818 in Dublin Ireland and is believed to have been the son of Robert Powell, a Dublin hat maker. The information in support of this claim is a marriage record for John Henry Powell, a Dublin publisher and book seller, dated June 16,1849 at St George Everton church in Liverpool. John Henry Powell was given as the son of John Powell, a hat maker. He had married Elizabeth Sherlock Hodges, a minor of Everton who was the daughter of William Hodges, gentleman. Witnessing this marriage was William Hodge and Robert Hutchinson Powell. John Henry Powell had been born in Dublin in 1820.

As you will read later from the probate record for Robert Hutchinson Powell, the sole executor of his estate was a spinster by the name of Anne Powell, who is believed to be Robert’s sister. The probate record for Anne Powell gave her estate valued at under 30 pounds and that she was formerly of Upper Leeson Street and late of 48 Hoddington Road, both in Dublin, Ireland, a spinster, when she died September 26,1876 at the latter address. The executor of her estate was Elizabeth Frances Hunt of 14 Pembroke Road, Dublin, a spinster. Elizabeth Hunt was still living on Pembroke Road as a spinster with spinster sisters Anne and Cecilia at the time of the 1901 census. Death records gave Anne Powell as having been born in Dublin in 1817.

The above information about the likely siblings of Robert Hutchinson Powell and his father is largely circumstantial and no publications or genealogical information was found to confirm who his parents and siblings were but obviously from the probate record for Robert there was a family connection between him and Anne Powell, the executor of his estate. Just as disappointing is that no census records were found for Robert .

Information about Robert’s married life is just as sketchy but it is known that he married Isabella Joanna Greaves sometime in the 1850’s, although no marriage record was found. The two records suggesting that a marriage between them took place was a family tree or Isabella which listed Richard as one of her three spouses but did not give a date or location of the marriage or indicate that there were any children from the marriage. The second record, providing more concrete proof of either a marriage or an illegitimate birth was the baptism record for Bertha Joanna Lois Edmondson Powell who was given as being born March 5,1855  at St Johns Wood, Middlesex and baptised June 13,1866 who was given as the daughter of Robert Hutchinson Powell , physician of London, and Isabella Joanna Greaves. Based on this it appears that the union between Robert and Isabella was circa 1855, while Robert was practicing medicine in London.

The baptism record for Isabella Joanna Greaves gave the date of November 22,1816 at Calcut, Madras, India and that she was the daughter of William Dodd Greaves and Joanna Greaves.

The Asiatic Journal of 1840 gave a marriage at the Cape of Good Hope on November 21,1840 at Westbrook-Rondebouch of Liet. Col. N.Alves of the Madras Army and an agent to the Governor General for the states of Rajpostane and Commissiobner of Aimere. He married Emily Elizabeth Greaves, the eldest daughter of the late William Dodd Greaves, esq., surgeon of the Madras Army.

The Gentlemen’s Magazine of July 16,1851 gave “ On board the Gwailer on his way to England aged 37 Henry Harrison Greaves, youngest son of the late William Dodd Greaves, esq., surgeon of the Madras Army”.

It is known that Isabella Joanna Greaves married William Alexander Dennett and that they had two children, both born in Tunbridge Wells namely (1) William Alexander Dennett (1845-1878) (2) Alexander Dennett born April 21,1846.

The 1851 census, taken at Stepney gave Isabella Greaves as single,age 34, born 1817 East Indies Calicut and living as a visitor with the Adams family and living on independent means. With her were her sons William Alexander Dennett and Alexander Dennett.  The recording of her as single should have listed her as a widow.

The 1861 census, taken at Devonshire Road in Islington, Middlesex gave Isabella Greaves, born 1817 East Indies as widow and working as a schoolmistress. With her was her son William Alexander Greaves, given as born 1845 in Tunbridge Wells and an “invalid from four years old”. Also with her was her son Alexander Greaves, born 1847 in Tunbridge Wells, who was in school. Also listed was her daughter Bertha J.L. Greaves born 1855 at St Johns Wood, Middlesex, a scholar. Also there was one domestic servant.

On June 13,1866 at Islington St Mary Church Isabella Joanna Greaves, spinster, married Richard Edmondson, widow, a farmer of 3 Mount Row. Isabella was given as a spinster of Shenley, Hertsfordshire and the daughter of William Dodd Greaves, surgeon, and Richard’s father was given as John Edmondson, a farmer.

The 1871 census, taken at Bowley Green,Shenley, Hertfordshire gave Richard Edmondson as born 1813 in Dolton, Yorkshire, a retired agricultural worker. With him was his wife Isabella Edmondson , a 54 year old annuitant born in India; William Alexander Dennett, stepson, age 26, “invalid from year old”, born in Tunbridge Wells and two visitors.  William Alexander Dennett died in the 1st qtr of 1878 at Wandsworth, London.

The 1881 census, taken at 3 Osborn Terrace New London Road, Hertfordshire, gave Isabella Edmondson as a widow born 1817 in Calicut India, an annuitant. With her was one visitor and two lodgers.

The 1891 census, taken at 15 Saumarez St, Guernsey, Channel Islands, gave Isabella Edmondson born 1817 in Indian and living on own interest. She was a widow and living as a lodger with the Talbot family.

Probate records gave Isabella Edmondson of 15 Saumarez St, Guernsey , widow when she died August 11,1894. The executor of her 241 pound estate was William Pitman, solicitor.

Isabella’s husband William Alexander Dennett, with whom she had two sons (given above) had been born in London in 1822 and died at Kensington, London in 1866. He was the son of Edward Dennett (born 1798) and Eliza Bennett (died 1845). At the time of the 1841 census William was living at St Clements Danes, Middlesex and working as an apprentice with his father Edward Dennett, age 43, a law stationer. Also there was his mother Eliza,age 33 and two apprentices and one domestic servant.

The 1851 census, taken at 5 Exeter Place in Fulham, London gave William Alexander Dennett,age 29 living as the nephew to Harriet M. Lawton, a 60 year old artist. William was working at that time as a law stationer. Also living there was the widowed sister of Harriet Lawton and two domestic servants.

Robert Hutchinson Powell lived his early life in London where worked as a surgeon. About 1845 Robert moved to Tunbridge Wells where he authored two books about the waters of Tunbridge Wells, one in 1846 and another in 1847. While living in the town he took up residence at Rock Lodge, a lodging house on London Road with his medical office at Gloucester House in the Parade (Pantiles).

By about 1850 Robert left Tunbridge Wells and appears as a physican in London in medical directories from 1851 onwards.

In 1861 he was appointed Honorary Physician at the Chester General Infirmary (also known as the Chester Royal Infirmary).

Probate records noted that Robert Hutchinson Powell  M.D. was late of the City of Chester when he died March 10,1864 at Abbey Square, Chester. The executor of his under 200 pound  estate was Anne Powell, spinster, of 8 Penfield Terrace, Black Rock, City of Dublin. The Gentlemen’s Magazine of 1864 reported that Robert “ fell victim in 10 days to erysipelas” (an acute infection). His death was also reported in the Lancet of March 17,1864 and the Gentlemen’s Magazine of 1864.

In closing off my report on the Greaves family, a website about the St Mary and St Michael rectory in Brougton Astley provided in part the following information about the Greaves family. “There are three stones in the churchyard remembering past Rectors. Against the North Wall of the tower is a stone dedicated to Rev’s Thomas Greaves (died age 72 in 1806) which is flanked in each side by those of two of his sons namely James Bexworth Greaves who died age 21 in 1802 and William Dodd Greaves, a surgeon in the Madras Medical Establishment for 16 years who died age 39 in March 1816, leaving a wife and five children. Further details about these three gentlemen and some images can be found on the website.


By the time Robert took up residence in Tunbridge Wells in about 1845 he was a respected surgeon and author of several articles and books on medical topics.

The University of London student list of 1840 gave “Robert Hutchinson Powell-Intermed Med 1860, Digges St Dublin; MB 1840; Apoth Hall Ireland; MD 1845, Apoth Hall Ireland.”

A Tunbridge Wells directory of 1847 gave Robert as a surgeon and living at Rock Lodge, Tunbridge Welles. He also had a medical office at Gloucester House, Parade (Pantiles). Information about his life and work  in Tunbridge Wells is given in the last section of this article.

The 1850 Medical Directory gave “ Robert Hutchinson Powell, 21 Edward St, Portman Square London (The London & Provincial Medical Directory M.D. London 1845; MRCS 1840; Author of Medical Topograpy of Tunbridge Wells”. He was still at this address in a 1851 directory.

A 1855 London and Provincial Medical Directory gave Robert at 5 Aberdeen House, Maida Hall, London.

The 1860 Medical Directory gave  “Robert Hutchinson Powell, 7 Wyndham Place Bryonstone Square W. London (The London & Provincial Medical Directory MD London 1845; MRCP London 1859; MRCS England 1840; Late Plysican Roy Infirmary for Disease of the chest; late Vice President Marylebone Lit. Sci. Inst and Harvard Medical Society”and continues with a long list of books and articles he authored on medical topics.

The Medical Times and Gazette of July 27,1861 reported ““ Robert Hutchinson Powell M.D. University of London; M.R.C.P London; M.R.C.S. England has been unanimously elected by a special general meeting of the Governors of the Chester General Infirmary an Honorary Physician in the room of Dr. Richard Phillip Jones (resigned)”. Robert died while working at this infirmary in 1864.  A photograph of the infirmary is shown above.


While living in Tunbridge Wells in the mid to late 1840’s Robert had his medical office at Gloucester House in the Parade (pantiles) and worked as performed his surgery at the General Infirmary on Grosvenor Road. Below left is an image of the General Infirmary and to the right is an early image of the Pantiles.

Gloucester House is referred to in a 1808 local guide in a list of places in the Parade as “on or near the Parade”. In the Parade was also an old tavern called the Gloucester Inn, the history of which was given in one of my articles a few years ago.

A directory of 1816 listed Gloucester House had having 3 parlours; 5 bed chambers and 4 garrets. A 1817 directory gave the same information but added it was owned and run by Mr. Nesbit.

A guide of 1827 listed Gloucester House being in apartments run by a Mr. Lashmar and having 3 sitting rooms; 6 bed chambers and 4 garrets.

Pigots 1847 directory listed “ Francis Golding, Gloucester House, Tunbridge Well”.  Colbrans 1850 guide listed “ Francis Golding, Gloucester House, Parade, a town commissioner”. Colbrans 1860 guide gave “ Thomas Semark, tea dealer and family grocer, Gloucester House, Parade, Tunbridge Wells”.

The first book Robert wrote while living in Tunbridge Wells was entitled ‘ A Medical Topography of Tunbridge Wells’ (1846). He was given as Robert Hutchinson Powell MB, MD. The forward to the book was written by Robert of Rock Lodge, Tunbridge Wells June 1846. The book was published by John Colbran of the High Street, Tunbridge Wells and by John Churchill of Princess Street, London. Although many books had been written previously about the waters of Tunbridge Wells,Roberts was reported to have been the last authoritative book on the topic and what made it different from the others is that he addressed the topic in three parts, describing the waters etc in three parts of the town. Images of this book are shown opposite.

Robert’s second book from Tunbridge Wells was entitled ‘ A Guide to the Mineral Waters of Tunbridge Wells (1847). The forward to the book was written by Robert dated Rock Lodge, Tunbridge Wells May 1847.

Rock Lodge was a lodging house located on London Road in the vicinity of the Pantiles. It was not listed in the 1806 directory although the lodging houses of Rock House, Rock Cottage, Rock Villa and Rock Mount (all on London Road) were listed. Shown opposite is a map of 1839 on which can be seen the footprint and name “ Rock Lodge” of this residence., located on the east side of London Road opposite the Commons just south of a residence named “Lime Hill” from which the later Lime Hill Road derives its name, and which was built through this site between Mount Pleasant Road and London Road. As can be seen on the map it was a large building in two parts and located exactly across London Road from St Helena (cottage) on the north west side of the Commons. A map of 1849 shows Rock Lodge much as it looked in 1839 but a map of 1852 shows it having been much altered in its footprint. The building on the site since that time has changed over the years and the one that is there now is not likely the original building that Robert stayed in, however shown below is an early 20th century postcard view of this part of London Road.

Sometime after 1807 and before 1827 Rock Lodge began to appear in directories. The 1827 directory gave “Rock Lodge No. 1 Mr Hunt 2 sitting rooms; 4 beds; 2 stables” and “Rock Lodge No. 2 Mr Hunt 1 sitting room; 2 beds and 2 stables. Rock House (Mr R. Delves), Rock Cottage (Mr Seamer) ; Rock Villa (Mr Seamer) and Rock Mount (Mr Hilman) , all lodging houses on London Road were also listed.





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

Date: April 15,2018


Music Circulating Libraries were popular in the 19th century and early 20th century. These libraries were run either by music publishing companies or private individuals. They were places where ,by subscription, one could take out sheet music for use at home. Although music for all types of instruments was available, pianoforte music was particularly popular.

The music library operating under the name of W. Phillips initially at 14 High Street, opposite Christ Church, in the 1880’s-1890’s and later in the Opera House building between Barclay’s Bank and the entrance to the Opera House in the early 1900’s (pre WW1) was a popular destination. The premises in Tunbridge Wells were a branch of Mr Phillips main premises at 436 Oxford Street in London W, where he had both a music library and his showroom, where he offered pianos for sale or let.  As one can see from postcard views of the Opera House Mr. Phillips, who lived in London and had a manager run his Tunbridge Wells branch, offered not only music but also let and sold pianos. The Kent & Sussex Courier, particularly in the 1890’s often ran advertisments for Mr Phillips business.

In this article I present information about the business operations of W. Phillips with an emphasis on his business in Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is a postcard postmarked 1906 showing the Opera House with the awning of Mr Phillips shop and his name easily seen. His shop was the first one south of the main entrance to the Opera House.


Although much has been written about music libraries in Britain, very little information seems to have been assembled about one of their most popular though often ephemeral forms-the circulating library..

Of the majority, little is known except the fact of their existence within certain dates, which frequently were only approximate. Exactly how long they lasted probably cannot now be ascertained, and practically nothing is known of the their contents until after the mid 19th century because the few extant catalogues date only from that time.

Nevertheless, as a phenomenon in British musical life, the circulating library is not without its importance. Most of these libraries were maintained by music publishers, but a few were part of self-sufficient, independent organizations. What records exist show that Musical Circulating Libraries date back to at least 1778, and one of Samuel Babb claimed in 1778 to consist of upwards of 20,000 music books. Joseph Dale who took that library over advertised in 1786 that he had “one hundred thousand books and upwards”. The Musical Society of London published a catalogue of its library in 1863 but was just a small library consisting of only 441 entries.

Apart from books of music one could also ,by subscription, take out for a period of time individual song sheets. The availability of music in book or sheet form was much appreciated by music lovers for they could borrow the music to play on their piano at home without incurring the high cost of purchasing the music, and it also provided a broad selection of music, perhaps broader than an individual could assemble him/her self.  Music books/sheets were available for all types of musical instruments, but since many of the better off residents of towns ,such as those of Tunbridge Wells, owned or rented pianos, it was piano music that was the most popular. Tunbridge Wells had several shops where pianos and other musical instruments could be bought or rented, many of which I have written about before.


No definitive information about Walter Phillips was found, but it is known from newspaper articles from the 1880’s and 1890’s that the head office for his business as in London  where at 436 Oxford Street, London W he had a Circulating Music Library and Piano Showroom. Shown opposite is a view of Oxford Street dated 1897 looking east from Regent Circus. Oxford Street was an important commercial thoroughfare and ran a distance of some 1-1/2 miles, and was lined with shops and other important buildings. Anyone with a shop on Oxford Street could be guaranteed of a large passing trade.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of January 10,1896 for example referred to W. Phillips music library at 436 Oxford Street London and that W. Phillips also had a branch on the High Street “opposite Christ Church”. Other articles clarify that his shop was at 14 High Street and that in addition to having a circulating music library there he also sold and let out pianos. Mr W. Phillips never lived in Tunbridge Wells and his business premises in Tunbridge Wells were run by his manager, who’s name was not established.

Another reference establishing his connection with London was an advertisement that appeared in the Musical Times of September 1,1895 which gave “ School of Music- Splendid opportunity for establishing a School of Music by any professor. Situated in the centre of High Street, Putney, London within a few minutes from three railway stations and good omnibus service passing the door. Apply by letter to W. Phillips,14 High Street, Tunbridge Wells. View at Mendelssohn House, Putney, High Street”.

The Musical Times of February 1,1894 contained an advertisement regarding the availability of rooms  with those interested to apply to Walter Phillips at his Putney Road Showrooms.

The earliest advertisement found for Mr Phillips business in Tunbridge Wells appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier of May 24,1895 where it was advertised that “A small iron framed piano used less than 3 months is now reduced in price to 18 guineas. May be hired with option of purchase. W. Phillips Library, Tunbridge Wells”.

Articles in the Courier dated August 2,1895 and December 6,1895 refer to W. Phillips circulating music library on the High Street.

The Courier of December 27,1895 advertised “Pianos are supplied from W. Phillips London Showroom-The Great Library of Music (a branch of which is established in Tunbridge Wells)”.

The last advertisement found for W. Phillips at 14 High Street was dated February 21,1896 and it is known that by 1905 at the latest he had moved from the High Street to premises located in the Opera House building between Barclay’s Bank on the south and the front entrance to the Opera House on the north. Shown above left is a view of the High Street across from Christ Church . Above right is a view of the Opera House.  Note the awning shown in this image on which is W. Phillips and on the side of it is “Pianos”. His name also appears on the front of the shop.


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