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

Date: October 15,2018


White’s Bazaar was one of, if not the most popular, toy shops in Tunbridge Wells, and many people today have fond childhood memories of shopping there either alone with their pocket money or with their parents.

White’s was a wholesaler and retailer of toys nicely displayed in cabinets and on shelves in their shop. Included among the merchandise they sold was a great selection of fireworks, as noted in various advertisments for the business in the Courier.

The business began in Tunbridge Wells in 1913 at 42 Monson Road in the Colonnade but by 1918 had moved to 30 Monson Road. As the business grew so did their premises and from 1922 until the shop closed in 1992 it operated from a double shop at 30/34 Monson Colonnade.

Records for the business show that there was also a White’s Bazaar shop and a warehouse in Pembury  as well as shops elsewhere. The business was incorporated at White’s Bazaar Limited (00715762) February 19,1962 with its head office located at 18 Hyde Gardens, Eastbourne, Sussex. Shown above is a photograph of White’s Bazaar in the Monson Colonnade circa 1970.


Whites Bazaar was found in local directories as having premises in the Monson Collonade on Monson Road. The Monson Collonade, connected to the Opera House on Mount Pleasant Road was a popular shopping destination. In the years before the introduction of the motor car is was common to see the sidewalks of Monson Road packed with shoppers and even today it is a popular shopping destination. When I visited Tunbridge Wells in 2015 my friend and I often walked along Monson Road; shopped there; had tea and cakes at one of the bake shops and dined one evening in one of the restaurants. Shown opposite is an advertisement for the business from the Pembury Village News of December 1979.

White’s Bazaar has not always operated from the same shop but was always in the Monson Colonnade as reflected in the directories for the business from 1913 until 1992 when the shop finally closed its doors (1) 1913…..White’s Bazaar, toy dealer, 42 Monson Road (2) 1918….White’s Bazaar, toy dealer, 30 Monson Road (3) 1922-1992….White’s Bazaar, toy dealer 30/34 Monson Road.

In 1903  No. 30 Monson Road was the business premises of James M. Richardson who was an insurance agent. In 1913  No. 30 Monson Road was the premises of Henry Adams. Adams was also there at the time of the 1911 census.  Also found from the 1911 census was (1) Arthur Judd a clothier at No. 26 (2) George Swanborough, an umbrella maker/retailer at No. 32 (3) Jean Baptiste Machler, a cook, at No. 34 (4) Henry Baker, typewriters shop at No. 40 (5) Septimus William Davies, a dentist at No. 42.

Among the toys sold in the shop were Corgi Toys. Shown below are two of them on which is printed information about White’s Bazaar. The one on the left is of a Ford box van. The sign on which is “Toys……..Toys…….Toys……..White’s Bazaar Ltd Retail and Wholesale Toy Specialists 127 Hastings Road Pembury, Kent. Also at Tunbridge Wells in Monson Colonnade”. The image below right is of a white painted van on which is “ White’s Bazaar Retail Toy Specialists Tunbridge Wells-Oxted Caterham-Maidstone”. Only twelve of these toys were made as samples and never made it into final production. It is speculated that White’s Bazaar contracted with Corgi to make these toys for them. Corgi Toys were introduced in the UK in July 1956 and were manufactured in Swansea, Wales, for 27 years before the company went into liquidation. These toys were particularly popular with boys and no doubt many boys in Tunbridge Wells purchased them.

The White’s Bazaar Ltd referred to on one of the toys above was incorporated at White’s Bazaar Limited (00715762) on February 19,1962 with its head office given as 18 Hyde Gardens, Eastbourne, Sussex and is still listed as an active business.

Another popular item sold in the shop were the Subbuteo games. These games were made by Peter Arthur Adolph (1916-1994). His football game was the most popular. He produced a catalogue of his games and shown opposite is an example of one the catalogues for 1971-1972 in which is stamped “ Whites Bazaar of Tunbridge Wells”.  Peter invented the game in 1947 and became a worldwide phenomenon. The games were made in his residence in Langton Green. A book by his son Mark Adolph entitled Growing up with Subbuteo (2006)provides and interesting account about his family and the games. White’s offered a large selection of other games also.

Another item them sold,which was a departure from their line of toys was fireworks. Given below are some their advertisments for fireworks from the Courier

October 18,1932………Fireworks’…Fireworks’ Best selection in town and County. All the best novelties. White’s Bazaar Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells. A similar advertisement appeared in the Courier October 30,1931.

July 11,1919………..C.T. Brooks &Co. Crystal Palace fireworks Limited. Order now, Whites Bazaar Monson Road. Flags, lanterns, decorations. Badges, victory trumpets etc.Special for July 18th Peace Flares, Victory Flash”.

Similar advertisments for fireworks from White’s Bazaar appeared throughout the period of 1919-1932 and not doubt they continued to sell them up to the time the business closed.

It appears that White’s also sold postcards for the one shown opposite posted in 1912 bears their name.

Meccano toys were a very popular item among boys. I should know for I had a Meccano set one when I was a boy along with a steam engine to run what I had built. As the steam engine’s fuel had to be lit to produce steam my parents would not let me fire up the steam engine on my own. My dad had to do it for me and he supervised me using it. Found on the internet was a Meccano catalogue which listed White’s Bazaar as a retailer of their products.

In the next section I provide in its entirety an article about White’s Bazaar from the Kent Live website.

FROM KENT LIVE (October 28,2017)

One of the shops in the street which remains close to people's hearts despite shutting in the early nineties was a toy shop called Whites Bazaar. Shown opposite is an advertisement for the business from a Tunbridge Wells Guide in 1966.

There are many shops from years gone by in Tunbridge Wells which send us off on merry trips down memory lane. But there are few which leave people as misty-eyed and nostalgic as Whites Bazaar of Monson Road. It was the town's toy shop - "a toy-filled Utopia" according to one local - loved by children and adults, where hours could be spent inspecting the packed shelves and cabinets in the dual shops, one of which had a slightly rickety spiral staircase to the basement.

It closed in 1992 but hundreds if not thousands of families have treasured memories of being in White's and spending their pocket money - whether it was choosing a plastic farm animal which were all lined up in neat rows in a glass cabinet or choosing which joke trick to play on your sister or brother - the chewing-gum finger-snapper was a favourite.

And there were dolls in national costume and Pippa dolls, chemistry sets, Action Men, Matchbox Superfast cars, train sets, Smurfs and so much more.

The shops were at 30 and 34 Monson Road and there was a warehouse at the top of Stanham Road in Pembury. ( researchers comment: Note that the address on White's blue van given earlier has the address of 127 Hastings Road on it so presumably they had a shop at that address although the Pembury History website does not list them there in directories.)

Plenty of memories were sparked for Clare Hall who said: "I saved all my pocket money for a year to afford a Palitoy Sheena doll with hair that grows! Only mine was a dud and the mechanism didn't work. Cost £4 which was a small fortune in the 1970s! I bought all my Pippa dolls from there, they would be very valuable now if I had kept them. Also those dolls in national costumes. And I saved up for a chemistry set for my brother's 9th birthday from Whites Bazaar, he bought his Action Men from the lower floor." She added: "Did I mention the stink bombs, fake nails through the finger, chewing gum with a mousetrap spring, plastic dog poo? I could go on."

While Vicky Sargent added: "Whites Bazaar was an amazing shop. fulfilling every child's dreams with stacks of marbles, rubbers, and that fantastic metal circular staircase to the basement jam packed of goodies."

The owners of Jeremy's Home Store in Monson Road which opened in 1996, Jeremy Waller and his wife Clare, took over the shop which had been the milliners Lydia Grace which had traded since 1908 making and selling hats and accessories. Next door was The Bradford and Bingley building society, which they then took over in 2012.

Talking of White's Bazaar, Mr Waller said: "This amazing emporium was an early inspiration for us as we used to go into this lovely toy shop as children. It was crammed to the rafters with amazing stock and pocket money toys, there was a spiral staircase that took you to a basement full of Sindys, Star Wars and Smurf's."




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

Date: October 10,2018


Adelaide Anne Mitchell (1831-1922) is best known in Tunbridge Wells in connection with her role as a significant benefactress of St Luke’s Church. In addition to her financial contributions towards the construction of the church in 1910 she was also given the honor of laying the foundation stone of the church on February 26,1910, an event publicised in the local newspaper and captured in a series of photographs by the noted Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn.

Adelaide was a women of independent means, one of several children born to the successful Westminster stationer James Edward Mitchell (1782-1840) and Mary Ann Mitchell (1794-1877). Adelaide was born in Westminster in 1831.

She spent her early life in Westminster and after the death of her father she lived with her mother and siblings in Westminster at 15 Great George Street in the parish of St Margaret. Census records of 1840,1851 and 1861 record her at that address with her mother being a lady of independent means and all of Mary’s daughters derived their income as fund holders, the money for which came from the families business fortunes left to them when James Edward Mitchell died.

By the time of the 1871 census Adelaide was living with her mother and two sisters at 8 St George Hanover Square. Adelaide’s mother passed away in the 3rd qtr of 1877 at St George Hanover Square and was buried August 10,1877 at Barnet St Mary, Hendon and when Adelaide died in 1922 she was buried near her mother.

By the time the 1881 census was taken Adelaide was living with two of her spinster sisters at 8 Cedars Road in Clapham, London and lived in Clapham of many years. Her sisters passed away while living in Clapham and when the 1891 census was taken Adelaide was living with three domestics at 8 Cedars Road.

By the time the 1901 census was taken Adelaide was in failing health and decided like many others with health issues to move to the more favourable climate of Tunbridge Wells, where by 1901 she took up residence at ‘Camerton’ 39 Queens Road, a substantial 13 room home she was still living in with three servants when the 1911 census was taken.

Probate records gave Adelaide of Camerton, Queen’s Road, Tunbridge Wells when she died on May 23,1922. The executors of her 43,824 pound estate ( a remarkable amount for 1922) were two relatives of hers namely Rev. Percy Robert Mitchell (1870-1934), who in 1922 was the Rector of Stambourne Church,  and Percy’s brother Herbert Edward Mitchell(1861-1936) esq. Both of these gentlemen were the sons of William Charles Mitchell who was born in Westminster in 1826 and related to Adelaide’s branch of the Mitchell clan.

In this article I present information about the life of Adelaide Anne Mitchell and her family with a concentration on the life and good works of Adelaide while a resident of Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is a photograph of Adelaide taken by an unknown photographer in Tunbridge Wells near the end of her life.

A review of Westminster directories for the early 19th century list  various members of the Mitchell family connected with a large and successful stationers business, one of whom was James Edward Mitchell (1782-1841). James had been born in Westminster. Details about his parentage and siblings were not established.

James Edward Mitchell married Mary Anne Mitchell (1794-1877) (maiden name unknown) early in the 19th century. Mary Anne Mitchell had been born  in London. How many children they had in total was not established but it is known from census records of 1840 and beyond that they had the following children. (1) Sarah Ann Mitchell, born 1816 in Westminster (2) Henry James Mitchell, born 1819 in Westminster (3) Mary Ann Mitchell baptised February 8,1829. (4) Adelaide Anne Mitchell, born 1831 in Westminster and lived under the shadow of Westminster Abbey, attending the adjacent St. Margaret’s Church, where she had been baptised. Some sources (including the death registration) state was born in 1830 but all of the census records give her birth as being in  1831(5) Charlotte Amelia Mitchell, born 1835 in Westminster (6) Sarah Ann Mitchell baptised September 9,1835. From a book about St Lukes church it was stated that “Adelaide was the seventh daughter and last surviving child of James Mitchell, who died when she was a child.

Death records show that James Edward Mitchell, a stationer in Westminster in 1829,  died age 58 in January 1840 and was buried January 12,1840 in Westminster. His death was registered in the 1st qtr of 1840 at St George Hanover Square, where at that time he was living with his wife and children.

The 1840 census, taken at 15 Great George Street in Westminster gave Mary Ann Mitchell as a widow living on independent means. With her was her children Sarah, Henry James, Adelaide Anne and Charlotte Amelia. Also there were four domestic servants.

The 1851 census, taken at 15 Great George Street, Westminster, gave Mary Ann Mitchell as living on independent means. With her were her children Sarah,Henry James, Adelaide and Charlotte. Also there were three servants. Henry James Mitchell was listed with the occupation of “Gent” and none of the daughters had occupations listed.

The 1861 census, taken at 15 Great George Street, Westminster, gave Mary Ann Mitchell as a fundholder. With her were her spinster daughters Sarah, Adelaide and Charlotte, who were all fundholders, and two domestic servants.

Given below is an 1802 sale advertisement for 15 Great George Street and shown above is a map showing the location of the residence. A heritage website for Westminster noted that the row of houses on the South side of Great George Street were built in the 1750’s but demolished in or before 1900 to make way for new buildings.

“No. 15, SOUTH SIDE of GREAT GEORGE-STREET,Westminster…To be Sold by Private Contract, by Mr. CHRISTIE…A Singularly elegant LEASEHOLD HOUSE, with two coach houses, roomy four-stall stable, &c. … with views from the balcony into St. James’s Park and Westminster-bridge, from which a most perfect free circulation of air rendering the premises chearful, airy, healthy, &c.  The premises have, on the parlour floor, a library, dressing room, and elegant dining parlour, spacious entrance hall, with folding doors, paved with marble; first floor, a suit [sic] of three spacious apartments, the two principal ones laid together occasionally by folding doors, the windows of the front room opening down to the floor into balconies; four spacious bedchambers and patent water closet on the second floor; five excellent bedchambers on the attics, principal staircase of easy ascent, and back staircase; basement story, butler’s pantry, housekeeper’s room, store room, and excellent wine cellars, servant’s hall, detached kitchen, wash house, and laundry, capital arched vault for pipes of wine. the premises have been recently put into the most elegant and complete repair, fit for the immediate reception of a large family. The locality of the premises to both Houses of Parliament, St. James’s Park, Westminster Bridge, and within one shilling fare of Court, Places of Amusement, &c renders the premises particularly eligible. — To be viewed with tickets, and further particulars known in Pall Mall.” As one can see from this description the Mitchell residence was a substantial and valuable one.

The 1871 census, taken at 8 St George Street,Hanover Square  in Westminster gave Mary Ann Mitchell as living on own means. With her was her spinster daughters Sarah, Adelaide and Charlotte and three domestic servants.

Mary Anne Mitchell’s death was registered in the 3rd qrt of 1877 at St George Hanover, Westminster. She was buried August 10,1877 at Barnet St Mary, Hendon, the same cemetery where her daughter Adelaide would be buried upon her death in 1922.  St Mary's Churchyard, Hendon or Hendon Churchyard is the churchyard of St Mary's Church in Hendon in the London Borough of Barnet. It adjoins Sunny Hill Park, and it is part of the Sunny Hill Park and Hendon Churchyard Site. A photo of the cemetery is shown opposite.

Adelaide had lived for some 50 years in Westminster.


After the death of Mary Ann Mitchell in 1877 Adelaide and three of her sisters moved to Clapham London where she lived for the next seventeen years. During the time she lived in Clapham, three of her sisters died in very quick succession.

The 1881 census taken at 8 Cedars Road in Clapham gave Sarah A.Mitchell as the head of the household and living on own means. With here were her younger sisters Adelaide and Charlotte, and three domestic servants. Shown opposite is an early postcard view of Cedars Road, Clapham.

By 1891 the last of her sisters had passed away and Adelaide was found in the 1891 census at 8 Cedars Road living on her own with just three domestic servants. She was given as living on own means.  Adelaide was still living at this address in 1894 when in that year she experienced health problems and was advised by her doctors to take up residence in a place with a more conducive climate, and so she decided to move to Tunbridge Wells.


Due to health reasons Adelaide left Clapham and moved to Tunbridge Wells in 1895.

The 1901 census, taken at 39 Queens Road, in the St John’s Parish, gave Adelaide living on own means. With here were three domestic servants and Rev. Arthur Delph Ferrier Rowe (1873-1942) who was the first vicar of St Lukes Church when it was built in 1910 but before that time , according to Crockford’s Clerical Directory, served in Tunbridge Wells as the Vice Designate of St Luke’s . More information about him and the other vicars of St Luke’s are given in a later section of this article. A postcard view of Queens Road is given opposite.

Upon her arrival in Tunbridge Wells Adelaide occupied much of her time supporting the efforts of St John’s and later St. Luke’s Church. Details about the history of St. Luke’s Church were given in my article ‘ A History of St Luke’s Church’ dated October 10,2018.  St Lukes began as a mission with services conducted in a metal clad building until funds were raised in 1909 for the construction of a substantial church constructed of ragstone to the designs of H.H, and E. Cronk, local architects. In support of the new church Adelaide donated the land on which the church was built and funds towards its construction. In January 1908 t a scheme for building a new Church was fully launched. ByMay26, 1909, when the building committee appointed by the Bishop of Rochester first met, £3,000 had been raised, with the initial £1,500 donation being given by Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell, with Mr. J. Deacon adding £500 and Mr. F. Smart a similar sum. The remainder constituted of smaller donations. The land for the new church in Wilkin Road (now St. Luke’s Road) was purchased, again courtesy of Miss Mitchell.

On February 26,1910 a foundation laying ceremony was held for the new church with Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell given the honour of laying the foundation stone. The Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn was on hand to capture the event on film and produced a series of photographs , some of which he turned into postcards such as the front and back of one shown below. Shown in this photograph as well as a second view given after the postcard view is another photo of Adelaide and the foundation stone laying ceremony, a photograph no doubt also taken by Harold H. Camburn. In the Camburn postcard you can see the time capsule placed beneath the stone and to the left is Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell standing beside Rev. Arthur Delph Ferrier-Rowe with the boys choir standing opposite them.

The 1911 census, taken at 39 Queens Road, gave Adelaide as living on own means in a residence of 13 rooms called ‘Camerton’. With her were three domestic servants. It was in this home that she lived out the remainder of her days.

The registration of Adelaide’s death gave her born 1830 and died 2nd qtr of 1922 in Tunbridge Wells. Probate records gave Adelaide Anne Mitchell of Camerton, Queen’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, spinster, died May 23,1922. The executors of her remarkable 43,824 pound estate were her relatives Rev Percy Robert Mitchell (1870-1934), clerk in holy orders and Percy’s brother Herbert Edward Mitchell (1861-1936). Both of these gentlemen were the sons of William Charles Mitchell who was born in Westminster in 1826 and related to Adelaide’s branch of the Mitchell clan. The exact connection between William Charles Mitchell and Adelaide’s father was not established.

Herbert Edward Mitchell had been born in Richmond, Surrey December 18,1861 and died in the 3rd qtr of 1936 at Hailsham,Sussex. He was one of four children born to William Charles Mitchell (born 1826 in Westminster) and Sarah Elizabeth Mitchell (born 1838 in Brampton, Middlesex). His brother Percy Robert Mitchell had been born 1869 in Kensington and was baptised December 24,1869 at St Paul, Kingston. The 1891 census, taken at 9 Fourth Avenue, Hove, Sussex, gave William C. Mitchell as a retired civil servant. With him was his wife Sarah and thee of their children including Herbert (a civil servant) and Percy. At the time of the 1901 census, Percy was living as lodger in Lambeth, London with the occupation of “clergyman C of E”.  In the 1911 census, taken at South Kensington, in premises of 18 rooms. Percy was a lodger at 33 Hogarth Road, Earls Court along with thirteen others with the occupation of “ Chaplan to the forces 4th class. Percy served in WW1 as a Chaplan ; was  mentioned in despatches and awarded the O.B.E. Details about his religious career are given in Crockford’s Clerical Directory of 1932 which noted in part that he was Rector of Stambourne from 1920-1922 after which, up to 1932, he was the Vicar and Rector of Bodium in Hawkhurst.

Burial records noted that Adelaide Anne Mitchell born 1830 died 1922 was buried May 26,1922 in the St Mary Church Cemetery, Hendon, Barnet. This was the same cemetery that her mother was buried in. The cemetery records gave her as being age 91 upon her death and that she was a resident of 39 Queen’s Road, Tunbridge Wells. The records also noted that Rev. A.D. Ferrier Rowe, the vicar of St Lukes Church in Tunbridge Wells performed the ceremony. Her well attended funeral was also held at St Lukes Church with Rev Rowe conducting the service.

An obituary for Adelaide gave the following. “Known by many as the Grand Old Lady of St. Luke’s, Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell lived to the magnificent age of 91, and was a highly respected and admired person. She was a generous lady, who made much of St. Luke’s Church and Infants School possible. Her good work and deeds have always been associated with the early history of St. Luke’s Church. A church member for over twenty years, her desire to extend the religious work in this part of the town was evidenced by her gift of the site for St. Luke’s Church, as well as the Infants School. She also gave a substantial sum of money towards the building of the church, entirely giving the tower in memory of her parents. She laid the church’s foundation stone in February 1910. Miss Mitchell always felt that nothing could be too good for the House of God, and though many things were wanted and had been wanted since the church was built — the furnishing of the church was a most expensive task — she was always ready and eager to do the best she could to help. Her mentality to lend a helping hand won her way into the hearts of her fellow parishioners by her devoutness and kindly interest in the welfare of those she was so often brought into contact with.”



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

Date: October 14,2018


The present St Luke’s Church on St Luke’s Road was built in 1910 to the designs of local architect Egbert Cronk. The church was built of ragstone and Bath stone in a style many considered at the time to be old fashioned but was typical of the style of architecture used by Cronk on other churches. Also connected with the church was St Luke’s Infants School, the details of which were given in my article ‘St Luke’s School History’ dated October 11.2011.

This fine solid church was predated by a metal clad mission building that opened in 1895 and the name St Lukes came into use before that even though the Parish of  St Lukes was not officially created until 1911.

The foundation laying ceremony, conducted on February 26,1910 was a grand affair captured in several views by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn. A central figure in the ceremony was Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell (1830-1922) who had provided the land for the church as well as a large financial contribution for the construction of the building. Miss Mitchell was a wealthy spinster who took an active role in local church affairs. Details about her were given in my article ‘ The Life and Times of Adelaide Anne Mitchell’ dated October 10,2018.

With the passage of time St Lukes Church Hall was built to the rear of the church where apart from church use it was made available to the community for a variety of events. Today this hall is used in part for a nursery school that operates daily. A view of this hall is shown oppoiste.

Many changes to the church have been made over the years, including the installation of several lovely stained glass windows. Details of this work form part of this article.


The use of the name St Luke’s came into use in the town in the 19th century when the vicar of St John’s Church, Rev. Henry Eardley arranged for open air services to be carried out in the district by Captain Batsone, a Church Army Captain (image opposite).These services went from being conducted in the open air to being held in a tent, which tent was soon replaced by an iron clad building, which building became known as ‘The Iron Church’ and held about 200 people. This building opened its doors for services October 13,1895 and was located on a plot of land that ran between Silverdale Road and Upper Grosvenor Road. Shown to the left  is a photograph of ‘The Iron Church’.

The work and worship of the Mission Church continued to grow, and in 1896, a church infant’s day school was started. The following year the site was extended and licensed for Holy Communion.


In 1898, Rev.Arthur Delph Ferrier - Rowe (1873-1942) came to St. John’s Church as a curate, and by 1903 his main work was in the rapidly growing Silverdale area. Around this time the district started being referred to as ‘St. Luke’s’.

In 1904 the Vicar of St. John’s made clear reference to the need to create a new Parish with a “substantial Church, capable of holding about 500 or 600.” Fund raising began, but building a replacement Infants School became priority as the old building was condemned. It was opened on October 18,1905. In the meantime, the pupils used the “Iron Church’  Mission Room, which now held 300 people.

The wish to build a permanent church was still strongly in people’s minds, but it was not until the Golden Jubilee for St. John’s Church in January 1908 that a scheme for building a new Church was fully launched. By  May 26,1909, when the building committee appointed by the Bishop of Rochester first met, £3,000 had been raised, with the initial £1,500 donation being given by Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell, with Mr. J. Deacon adding £500 and Mr. F. Smart a similar sum. The remainder constituted of smaller donations.

By 1909, the land in Silverdale Road was now not considered suitable and the’Iron Church’ was to become a Parish Room, so a piece of land in Wilkin Road (now St. Luke’s Road) was purchased, again courtesy of Miss Mitchell. Shown above is a map showing the location of St Lukes Church.
insert Camburn postcard an second image of stone laying)

Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchess laid the new church’s foundation stone on February 26th 1910, placing a sealed bottle underneath that contained a copy of The Times,The Courier, St. Luke’s Magazine,and coins of the period. Shown opposite is a  photograph taken during the foundation stone ceremony by Harold H. Camburn.

Upon the foundation stone containing the cache was placed the plaque  which in part notes a dedication to Miss Mitchell. In 1924 the parish also gave three stained glass windows in memory of Miss Mitchell. These windows and others in the church are shown later in this article. In addition to providing the land for the church, and money for its construction she also paid for the tower and bell as a memorial to her parents.

On October 31st 1910, the church was consecrated by Bishop Harmer, the Bishop of Rochester at that time. St. Luke’s had become a separate parish under the Bishop on  October1, 1908, but legally it was declared on May 22,1911.  The parish of St Luke’s was created out of parts of the parishes of St Johns, St James and St Barnabas as well as St Matthew in High Brooms. Four days later, the Rev. A. D. Ferrier - Rowe became the first vicar after previously being the ‘Curate - in - Charge’.


St. Luke’s Church was designed by Egbert Cronk, in an early 14th century style. Egbert Cronk's claim to fame in Tunbridge Wells was being a church warden of St Johns' Church for 30 years; preparing as an architect a ground plan for St John's Church October 1920;the design of St Luke's Church on Silverdale St Lukes Road in 1910 and other buildings in the town.

Egbert Cronk was born August 20,1847 in Southborough. His parents were John Cronk(1816-1851) and Elizabeth Taylor Cronk(1808-1875).He had five brothers and three sisters.

In 1861 Egbert was living with his widowed mother, a fund holder; his brother Henry Hickman; one sister and two servants. Edbert at that time was a student.

In the 1871 census taken at 30 Mount Pleasant Road, Egbert was living with his mother,his brother Arthur,age 27, a tutor with a B.A. from London and his sister Margaret,age 25,a governess. Edgert at that time was an architect’s clerk.

In the 1881 census, taken at 30 St John's Road, Egbert was still single and working as an architect and living with his mother,three sisters,two nieces of his mother,three boarders and two servants.

In the 1891 census, taken at 30 St John’s Road Egbert was an architect living with his sister Margaret W. Cronk,single,age 45 who was the school mistress of a girls school at that location. Also present were two servants and eight girls between the ages of seven and 14 who were boarding at the school. Among the students were five sisters of the Snelling family, of which Lilian (1879-1971) became a world famous artist. For details about her life see my article ‘Lilian Snelling And Her Artistic Career ‘dated April 21,2014.

In the 1901 census,taken at 30 St John's Road Egbert was still single and working as an architect and living with his sister Margaret,age 55.There was also one visitor (Lilian Snelling);two students and two servants in the household at the girls school.

Egbert obtained his training as an architect at the Kensington School of Art, just as his brother Henry did. He articled to his brother Henry. Directories for 1899 to 1903 record him as a surveyor at 30 St John's Road. Directories of 1913 to 1922 record him as an architect and surveyor at 4 Mount Ephraim, the business address of the architectural firm of his brother. From 1923-1925 he is recorded as a surveyor and architect at 30 St John's Road.

Egbert is not found in the Directory of British Architects except in reference to him articling with his brother. On October 29,1925 Egbert passed away at 30 St John's Road and left his estate of 3,861 pounds to his sisters Constance Emma Cronk and Mary Augusta Cronk,both spinsters.


Site preparation for the new church began in 1909 soon after the architectural plans were completed.

The church was built from Kentish Ragstone with Bath Stone details, with tiled roofs by Messrs. Strange & Sons, well-known local builders. A view of their building is shown opposite left of the Weslayan Church.

The Strange family was a large one and have played an important role in the history of Tunbridge Wells. They are decended from Edward Strange who came to the town in 1779 as a lodging room keeper in Mount Sion.

Edward Jeffery Strange  was born in 1869 and his maternal grandfather, William Hilbert, was the engineer behind the Calverley Waterworks, on which Grosvenor and Hilbert Park is founded. His paternal grandfather, also called Edward Jeffrey Strange(1803-1868) was a plumber by trade, starting work in 1824 in Pembury. In 1856 he built the impressive building, No 8 London Road, as this work premises, the business expanding into all building trades as Tunbridge Wells grew in size. His wife, Mary, ran a hosiery shop at 9 The Parade, The Pantiles, and the family lived first, above the shop, and then at Nevill Lodge, more or less where Union Square now is. They had ten children, and the fifth, Charles Matthew Strange(1838-1925) carried on the family business. In 1866 Charles married Lydia Hilbert(1845-1874), William’s daughter and they lived at 4 Cumberland Gardens. Lydia died not long after giving birth to their fourth child. On October 2,1877 Charles married his second cousin Mary Anne Price(1841-1914)

The younger E.J. Strange was apprenticed as a joiner and carpenter and went on to became Managing Director of the family building firm, Strange and Sons. He was involved in several trade organisations, and Tunbridge Wells activities. He was one of the founders of the Tunbridge Wells Rotary Club, and a Freemason, where he was a donor to various charities. In 1929 he was elected Councillor for the South Ward, and he became Mayor in 1936. He was created a Justice of the Peace in 1925 and an Alderman in 1939. He was a member of the Mount Pleasant Congregationalist Church, now known to us as Cotswold and Ismail shops. As well as all the other activities he was involved in, he still had time to give to the Church, serving as a deacon, treasurer and a supporter of the Sunday School.

In 1928 he donated the land known as Cadogan Playing Fields, in St John’s Road, and in 1931 a large part of Charity Farm to the Local Authority to form the parkland to be known as Hilbert Recreation Ground, in memory of his mother, Lydia. In 1933 he was appointed a life member of the National Playing Fields Association.

In 1894 he married Maude Helen Coulson, and they lived in Cadogan House in the centre of the town, where the Crescent Road car park now is. They had four daughters, the eldest two moving to Australia. Maude died in February 1940, and Edward on December 24th 1941. They are buried together in Tunbridge Wells Cemetery, next to the grave of Maude’s mother Annie and her elder sister Alice. The graves are as photographed, there are no headstones, but lettering around the rectangular sides. This has meant that over the years some of the lettering has been obscured, most notably that of Edward Jeffrey Strange J.P. There are several other members of the Strange family at the cemetery, including Edward’s brother, Charles Hilbert Strange, and their father Charles Matthew Strange, who lived to the grand age of 86.

The Strange family are an interesting one and complete coverage of them, or at least a detailed report on the business of Strange & Sons is beyond the scope of this article.

The cost building St Luke’s Church was estimated to be £7,500, with a capacity to hold 500 people.


St. Luke’s consists of a chancel, clerestoried nave and aisles, plus a square tower in the north - east of the church. The nave is 70′ long by 39′ high, with four moulded stone arches on cylindrical piers with moulded caps and bases. It also features clerestory windows. The aisles are each 60′ 6″ long by 12′ wide and the chancel 33′ 6″ long

The chancel is separated from the nave by a stone arch that stems from carved corbels and clustered pillars. It has an apsidal sanctuary, and is raised above the nave by four marble steps and dwarf stone wall with a moulded coping.The original proposal for St. Luke’s only shows a small spire, not a tower, but Miss Mitchell, in addition to her original gift, paid for the tower and the first of the bells as a memorial to her parents. The tower’s lower section features an arched opening to the chancel for an organ, which was installed in 1915, and the provision for a set of bells, which was accomplished in 1919.In the same year, Gillett & Johnston made and installed the Westminster quarter clock on the tower. Due to the poor quality of gold leaf available soon after the war, it was re - gilded in 1923. In 1970 it was converted to electrication by John Smiths & Sons from Derby.

Early church pictures show the tower without a peaked roof. In those days the choir would sing from the top on Easter Sunday morning. In 1920, Miss Mitchell proposed the tower should be heightened, which she said she would pay for, so this was done. The flagpole was moved to the garden at the front, but has since been removed. The tower is now topped by a weather - vane shaped as an ox, a symbol shown with St. Luke. Another change involved replacing the wooden fence for a wall topped with iron railings in 1931.

An organ chamber was provided at the base of the tower, and on 18th October 1915 — St. Luke's Day — an organ built by Norman & Beard Ltd. was installed and dedicated. The organ underwent major renovation in 1991. On October 12th 1919, the clock and eight bells were installed in the tower and dedicated “ In Memory of Those Who Fell in the Great War 1914 –1918”  with one bell being inscribed with the phrase.The bells are clavier chime with ringing clappers and were cast by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon.Records show when the church was first built there was one bell with a weight of 14cwt, with a diameter of 41¾ inches. It was cast by John Warner & Sons and is presumed to have been removed although no record exists of what happened to this bell. Information about the bells can be read on the board in the ringing chamber.

The building and furnishing of the church both initially, and in later alterations and additions has relied heavily on the generosity of individuals donating monetary sums or purchasing items, often in memory of people who served the church. This generosity, which has enabled the beauty and the work of the church to grow, has been regularly noted from the time since the church was first planned until the current day.

The lectern is a brass eagle, presented by A. D. Ferrier - Rowe while the pulpit is of Caen stone with marble pillars and was given in memory of Rev. John Ferrier - Rowe by his widow and family. The font is also made from stone, with an oak cover bearing a cross that was given by the children of the Parish in 1913. A table font, bought with a bequest in 1994 is now used.

Internally, the roofs are stained and varnished pitched pine, sitting upon arched ribs that are supported by stone shafts. The nave and chancel roofs are formed with trussed rafters, with the tower featuring a pine-framed spire. The wall surfaces are generally plaster, featuring stone dressings over archways. Tiled moorings cover the chancel and sanctuary with the space under the seats being paved with wood blocks and the aisles with tiled paving. The reredos is made from oak, with the sanctuary rail supported on polished brass standards. The prayer desk, choir stalls and seats in nave are also all oak. The choir stalls and pews in the nave were in the church for its consecration, but the side aisles were furnished with chairs. The chairs were replaced by pews of Austrian Oak (to match those in the nave) in 1912.In 1996, the back of the church was improved with new notice-boards to improve displays and shelving for storage of service books. A small number of pews have since been removed to improve space at the front and back of the church. In addition, the North Porch was cleared and refurbished to be used as a room for prayer meetings and small services such as mid - week communion. This was named the Whyte Room in memory of Canon Whyte (Vicar 1954 –1992.).

In 1953, the Church received two gifts, the first from Miss D. Ferrier - Rowe for £300 in memory of her sister, and the second, £50 in memory of the Misses Hitchens by their nephew. This made various improvements in the sanctuary possible, including a new carved oak altar and riddle posts with angels, plus blue and gold curtains of the same material used in Westminster Abbey for the coronation, although these no longer hang. At the same time, a new blue patterned carpet was given for the sanctuary and all the woodwork and furniture was renovated and re - polished.  

The original altar and frontals were sent to Rev. Cecil Rhodes (Vicar 1944 –1949) to be used in St. Augustine’s Church, Edgbaston, the Parish to which he had moved. The reredos is the original one put into the church when it was built. It is made from carved oak and has a gold letter inscription at the top stating “Do This in Remembrance of Me” with gold Alpha and Omega symbols placed respectively in the left and right panels.

The Ferrier Row Memorial Chapel Created in the North Aisle in memory of Rev. A. D. Ferrier - Rowe, the chapel was dedicated at the 40th Anniversary Service on Tuesday 31st October 1950 by Bishop Chavasse. The woodwork is of limed oak, with blue and gold curtains.The altar kneeler has an inscription “In memory of Arthur Delph Ferrier - Rowe, first Vicar of this Parish, 1910 –1935.” An additional kneeler was added in 1959 to enable more people to kneel.

The five wonderful stained glass windows located behind the altar were dedicated on May 11,1924, the central three given by the parish to the memory of Adelaide Anne Mitchell, the left one to the memory of Edward Maugham Kelsey (the Vicar’s Warden from 1911 – 1918) by his brother Mr. A. R. Kelsey, while the Vicar Rev. A. D. Ferrier – Rowe gave the right one in memory of his mother. The windows all depict stories from St. Luke’s Gospel — The Annunciation, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Christ’s Ascension, and Christ and the Doctors — with the fifth one being of St. Luke and St. Paul, taken from 2 Timothy.

To celebrate the church’s 21st birthday on November 1st 1931 — All Saints’ Day — several items were dedicated, including the Rabboni window on the nave’s south wall. It was dedicated to John Gresswell, who had been church warden since 1910. The window depicts Jesus appearing to Mary in the garden

A more recent addition is the north wall nave window dedicated in May 1994 to the memory of Canon Whyte (Vicar 1954 – 1992.) The subject matter of the Good Samaritan reflects his close relationship with the Samaritans — he was closely involved in the foundation of the Tunbridge Wells branch — as well as work of a similar nature. Designed by Keith and Judy Hill, the central design is of handmade ‘antique’ glass, painted, stained and kiln-dried in their studio. The background is in ‘cathedral’ glass, matching the adjacent windows.In the bottom right corner Glasby’s signature is visible.The Rabboni window on the south wall.The window in memory of Canon Whyte.

The two windows by the Ferrier - Rowe memorial chapel were designed by A. Buss, an artist working for the Shoreditch firm of Goddard & Gibbs. The process for designing the windows was long, initially starting in 1958 with a plan for one window, which then changed to two. They were fitted and dedicated in June 1959, in memory of Benjamin Payne, Frank Stoneman, Charles Morris and Harry Waters, all founding members of the Men’s Fellowship, with the former two also being church wardens. The windows feature the symbols of the crucifixion at the top of one window, with the communion symbols at the top of the other.

The three lowest windows on the west wall of the church, two of which show the evangelist symbols and one the Agnus Dei, were mentioned in the Courier’s account of the church’s consecration as being in the apse windows. Recent research into the windows shape and Parochial Church Council records when the current ‘Glasby’ windows were installed in 1924 suggests they were moved.

In addition to the dedicated stained glass windows, there are also a large number of commemorative tablets around the church, a small selection of which are visible here, as well as a memorial garden located on the east side of the church. The largest memorial, the War Memorial Tablet is located on the south wall of the chancel. It originally had 90 names of those who died fighting in the Great War, but in 1949, 23 names were added to for those who died in World War .


Given below is a list of the vicars of the church from the time of its construction up to  2017. Also shown are photos of them.

1910-1935………..Arthur Delph Ferrier Rowe(1873-1942)

1936-1944………..Arthur Williams Molony (1892-1973)

1944-1949………..Cecil  Rhodes

1950-1953……….. Donald MacLeod Lynch

1954-1992……….. Robert A. Whyte

1993-2009…………James A. Wheeler

2010-         ………….Caroline M Glass-Gower

Given below is some information about the Arthur Delph Ferrier Rowe, Arthur Williams Molony and Cecil Rhodes.


Arthur  was born 1873 and baptised July 31,1873 at St Mary’s Sandwich, Kent. He was the son of John Ferrier Rowe and Mary Francis Rowe and was one of at least five children in the family.

The 1881 census, taken at 19 Athelstan Road in Margate gave John Ferrier Rowe  as born 1831 in Margate with the occupation of ‘Curate of Holy Trinity Church, Margate’. Also there was his wife Mary, born 1845 at Colhampton, Hampshire and their three children Mabel F.age 10’ Arthur D.F,age 7 and Edgar D.F., age 3. Also there was one domestic servant.

The 1891 census, taken at 96 Oakfield Road in Croydon, Surrey gave Mary F. Rowe as a widow and living on own means. With her were her children Mabel F,age 20, living on private means; Dagmar F.age 19, a civil servant in the general post office; Arthur D.F,age 17, a clerk in the royal exchange and Edgar D.F Rowe,age 12, in school. Also there was one domestic servant.

In 1898, Rev.Arthur Delph Ferrier - came to St. John’s Church as a curate, and by 1903 his main work was in the rapidly growing Silverdale area.

The 1901 census, taken at 39 Queens Road gave Arthur living as a visitor with Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell (the benefactoress of St Luke’s) and three servants. Arthur was given as ‘clergyman C. of E..

The 1911 census, taken at 82 Upper Grosvenor Road, a residence of 8 rooms, gave Arthur as single with the occupation of ‘clergyman in established church. With him was his spinster sister Dagmar Ferrier Rowe,age 39 who had been born January 17,1872 at St Mary Sandwich. Also there was one domestic servant.

Directories of 1914 to 1934 gave Rev.Arthur D.F. Rowe, vicar St Luke’s Church, 158 Upper Grosvenor Road.

A directory of 1939 gave Arthur as still single but a retired clergyman. He was living at 13 Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells. Living there were two domestics.

Probate records gave Arthur Delph Ferrier Rowe of 13 Eridge Road , clerk, when he died May 18,1942 at the Southborough Nursing Home at 17 Park Road, Southborough. The executors of his 5,337 pound estate were Frank Potter, timber merchant, and Walter Newton Harrison, bank cashier.  Arthur was buried May 22nd.

Crockfords 1932 Clerical Directory gave the following “ Arthur Delph Ferrier Rowe Qu Coll Oxford BA 1897 MA 1901. Wycl Hall Ox. 1897; deacon 1898; priest 1899 cant, Cleric of St John’s Church Tunbridge Wells 1898-1901; Southborough 1901-1903; St Jo.Div (n church of St Luke ) Tunbridge Wells 1903-1910; vicar of St Luke’s Tunbridge Wells dio. Rochester from 1910”.


Arthur became vicar of St Lukes in 1936 and remained in this position until 1944 at which time he was replaced by Cecil John Rhodes.

Arthur had been born October 4,1892 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His father was unknown but his mother was Katherine Mary Molony born 1863 in Plymouth, Devon. It was not established if he had any siblings but he had a half sister Margery Elsy Molony (born 1895 in Woolwich) and a half brother Edward Frederick Molony (born 1899 in Croydon,Surrey).

The 1901 census, taken at 9 Park Hall Road in Croydon gave Katherine Mary Molony as a widow living on own means. With her was five of her children including Arthur who was in school. Also with her was her mother in law Eleanor Jane Molony, a 66 year old widow born in Dublin, Ireland; one governess; one visitor and three domestic servants.

The 1911 census, taken at Long Eaton, Derbyshire gave Arthur attending a boys school.

On November 27,1924 Arthur married Monica Gwynne Davies (1895-1962) at St. Paul’s Church in Ningo, China. Monica had been born March 13,1895 at Heathercote in Redhill. The marriage was conducted by the Rt. Rev. H.J. Molony. Monica was one of nine children born to James John Davies (1850-1926) and Edith Bona Ball (1859-1947). At the time of the 1911 census Monica was living with her parents and attending school in Hove,Sussex.

A directory for 1939 gave Arthur living at 158 Upper Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells, which was the St Lukes Vicarage. Also there was his wife Monica (born March 30,1895); two visitors ; a hospital nurse and another woman given as ‘travelling companion’. Arthrur was given at that time as a clerk in holy orders St Luke’s Church.

Arthur and Monica had two daughters, one of which was Muriel Dorothy Molony who was born November 11,1926 in China and died the same year.

Crockfords Clerical Directory of 1932 gave the following “ Arthur Williams Molony-Pembury College Cambridge BA 1919 MA 1922 Ridley Hall Com 1920; deacon 1921; priest 1922 Win. C. of St Sav. Stoke on next Guildford 1921-23; Vice prin. Trinity College Ningpo China 1925-1928;  furlough 1928-1929; C.M.S. Mission at Ningpo Dio Check from 1929; Vice Principal C.M.S. Ningro since 1930”.

Arthur’s wife Monica died March 22,1962 at The Old Bakehouse, Urchfront, Devises, Wilthshire. Arthur died in the 4th qtr of 1973 at Cambridge,Cambridgeshire. Probate records gave Arthur of 18 Springhill Road, Saffromn Waldon, Essex when he died December 22,1973 leaving an estate valued at 6,578 pounds.


Cecil became the vicar of St Lukes in 1944. Cecil had graduated from St Peter’s College in 1931 with a MA.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of February 16,1945 gave “ Sunday games being protested-scathing command by the Rev. Cecil Rhodes, vicar St Lukes Church when speaking to a large congregation.

As noted above, Cecil left St Lukes in 1949 and became vicar of St. Augustine’s Church, Edgbaston where he remained until 1964.

A newspaper article dated September 29,1967 gave the following “In tomorrow's ceremony Canon Cecil Rhodes will officiate at the wedding of his daughter Judith to Mr. Nicholas Turner of Wellow, near Bath. And the bridegroom's pastor, Fr. Alfred Langford will give the address.”

A newspaper article from 1974 referred to Canon Cecil Rhodes as the minister of St Augustine’s Cathedral in Birmingham.

In 1998 a newspaper reported the death of “ the devoted wife of Canon Cecil Rhodes, loving mother of Judith, John and Jennifer.



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