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

Date: March 16,2018


This article provides some brief information about The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPH) with an emphasis on the League’s Tunbridge Wells Branch.

The idea that preventing war should be the equal responsibility of women and of men was voiced at the First Women’s International Peace Conference in The Hague in 1915. Agreement was reached on 20 resolutions including one for women’s participation in framing the peace settlement after war. A peace movement known as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom grew out of this

At a Tunbridge Wells meeting of the League in the 1930’s an invitation was extended to anyone interested in hearing about the League’s work. The meeting was by the invitation of Mrs Edward Harold Marsh with the meeting to be held at her home  10 Culverden Park Road . Mrs Grace Lankester, the Hon Sect of the W.I.L. India sub-committee spoke at the meeting about “Indian’s future –Strife or Peace” and assisting in organizing the event was Miss Emily Fearon Jones of 17 Frant Road. In this article I provide information about the aforementioned women , their families, and their residences in the town.


The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is a non-profit non-governmental organization working "to bring together women of different political views and philosophical and religious backgrounds determined to study and make known the causes of war and work for a permanent peace" and to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation. WILPF has national sections in 37 countries. The WILPF is headquartered in Geneva and maintains a United Nations office in New York City.

WILPF developed out of the International Women's Congress against World War I that took place in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1915; the name WILPF was not chosen until 1919.The first WILPF president, Jane Addams, had previously founded the Woman's Peace Party in the United States, in January 1915, this group later became the US section of WILPF. Along with Jane Addams, Marian Cripps and Margaret E. Dungan were also founding members. As of 1920 the US section of WILPF was headquartered in New York City.Marian Cripps, Baroness Parmoor, later served as president of its British branch.

Furthermore, the Women’s international league for peace and freedom was opposed to wars and international conflicts. Since it is an undeniable fact that wars will violate individual’s peace and freedom, the league organised and took formal actions to end the war. The major movements of the league are open letter to UN secretary general to formally end the Korean War, International day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and statement on weapons, gender-based violence and women human rights defenders. As the league is consisted of women, concentrated professionals are allowed to improve the current issues related to women and people.

The Tunbridge Wells branch of the WILF was founded about 1915 and drew strong support from the women of the town. They held regular meetings and participated in the Leagues pilgrimages and demonstrations and other events.  Two of the Tunbridge Wells members, which are the central focus of this article, are Miss Emily Fearson Jones who was active in the 1930’s and held office with the local branch. Another active and important local member at that time was Mrs Henriette Stephanie Marsh, the wife of Edward Harold Marsh, who is most often referred to in accounts of the WILF as Mrs E.H. Marsh.

There are several websites that provide detailed information about the activities and history of the WILP and a large number of photographs in addition to the few shown above.  Those who were aligned with the WILF often included those sympathetic to the general plight of women and many who participated in the Women’s Suffrage Movement supported the work of the WILF. Many connected with the church were also supporters as were Quakers (Friends).


Although many meetings of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the WILF took place in the pre WW era and afterwards the focus of this section is on a meeting that took place in Tunbridge Wells by invitation of Mrs E.H. Marsh at her home , 10 Culverden Park Road. Shown opposite in the invitation for the meeting that was to be held January 30th .

Speaking at this meeting was Mrs Grace Lankester the Hon. Sect. of the India sub-committee where she gave a presentation entitled “ India’s Future-Strife or Peace’.

Replies were to be sent to  Miss E.F. Jones of 17 Frant Road. From all accounts the meeting was well attended and no doubt the ladies enjoyed their break for tea.

A review of records and publications about the league turned up several references to the guest speaker, Mrs Grace Lankester. She had spent many years in India and wrote extensively about the plight of those in the country. A book entitled ‘Challenge of the North West Frontier’ (1937 )for example stated that Mrs Grace Lankester “ was one of the leaders of the movement and had lived on the Frontier with her husband who was in charge of a medical facility”. At a women’s conference reference was given to “Mrs Grace Lankester, our liaison officer in England, who came all the way from India to speak”.  In the eyes of the WILF she was and important and respected woman of her time and did much to advance the leagues cause. She no doubt was well known to those who attended the Tunbridge Wells meeting and her attendance would have drawn others in the town to attend the meeting to hear her speak.

It was interesting to note that offered for sale today is a framed print of this invitation and also surprisingly a puzzle of the invitation, a rather curious subject for a puzzle.


Emily Fearon Jones was one of the organizers of the 1930 meeting of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the WILF. At the time of the meeting she was single and living at 17 Frant Road, a residence which during her time and for many years later was known as “Woodlands Prospect”.

Emily had been born January 1,1867, her birth being registered in Ticehurst, Sussex. She had been born in Frant in the Broadwater Parish, the daughter of Robert Crompton Jones (1832-1885) and Laura Todd Jones (1833-1915). Emily was one of four known children in the family.

Robert Crompton Jones was born August 23,1832 in Walsall, Staffordshire and became a Unitarian Minister.  The Christian Reformer of 1853 Unitarian listed Robert Compton Jones as “a student in Divinity”. The Wellesley Index of Victorian Periodicals listed “ Robert Compton Jones (1832-1885) Unitarian Minister”.  Many other books and articles also refer to him and his work as a minister.

At the time of the 1861 census he was living as a visitor at Wesbury Upon Trym, Gloucestershire with Edwin Chapman, age 62, a retired Unitarian Minister, and his wife Joanna Chapman,age 69 and four domestic servants. Robert at that time was a Unitarian Minister and still single.

In the 1860’s Robert married Laura Todd Jones (maiden name not known). She had been born 1833 in Westminster, London. Initially Robert and his wife lived in Bristol, Gloucestershire, where in 1865 they had they had their first child, Elizabeth Fearon Jones. The second child Laura Fearon Jones was also born there in 1866.

In 1867 the family moved to Frant The 1871 census, taken in Frant in the Broadwater Parish gave Robert Crompton Jones as a Unitarian Minister. With him was his wife Laura; their two daughters Elizabeth and Laura and the central figure in this article Emily Fearon Jones, born in “Tunbridge Wells, Sussex” in 1867. Being a religious family it is understandable that they would be supporters of any movement that worked towards peace and freedom.

The 1881 census, taken in Frant, gave Robert C. Jones as a “Unitarian Minister without Congregation”. With him was his wife Laura and their daughters Elizabeth, Laura and Emily, all of whom were attending school, and their son Arnold, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1872. Also in the home were three domestic servants.

Robert Compton Jones died in Frant in the 2nd qtr of 1885 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on April 24,1885. The Christian Reporter of 1886 had this to say about Robert. “ The Rev. Robert Compton Jones BA was born August 23,1832 and educated for the ministry at Manchester New College. He was co-pastor at Lewins Mead Chapel Briston (1859-66) and minister of Friargate Chapel Derby (1868-70). He is best known as the compiler of two volumes of devotional poetry (‘Poems of the Inner Life’ and ‘Hymns of Duty and Faith’) a book of ‘Chants and Anthems’ and a “Book of Prayer in Thirty Orders of Worship’. During the last 3 years of its publication he was editor of the ‘Modern View’ , the sound scholarship, pure literary taste and ernest religious tone of which, bear testimony to his power and spirit. He died at his residence in Tunbridge Wells the 22nd inst”.  Shown opposite is his book of prayer referred to above, this edition  published in 1887.

Also of interest from the 1881 census is that the future residence of Emily Fearon Jones at Woodland Prospect, 17 Frant Road, was the home of the noted Tunbridge Ware maker/wholesaler/retailer Henry Hollamby who in 1881 was given as age 63; a Tunbridge Ware maker employing 14 men and 2 boys. He was living in the home with his 43 year old wife Caroline and five of his children. He was also listed at the same address in the 1867-68 directory. In 2015 the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society had a claret plaque installed in recognition of Mr Hollamby on the front wall of 17 Frant Road .Today this home is referred to in records as “Hollamby House”. Further details about the Hollamby family and Tunbridge Ware can be found in my article ‘Tunbridge Ware-A Profile of Manufacturers’ dated February 12,2012 (updated August 28,2017).

The 1891 census, taken in Frant gave Elizabeth Fearon Jones as age 26 as the head of the residence. With her were her siblings Laura Fearon Jones, age 25; Emily Fearon Jones, age 24 and Arnold Fearon Jones,age 19. The three sisters were all spinsters and had no identified occupations. Arnold was listed as a “student of natural science”. Also in the home were three servants. Their mother was still living but was away from the home at the time of the census.

The 1901 census, taken in Frant, in the Broadwater Parish, gave Laura Todd Jones as a widow and living on own means. With her was her daughters Laura  and Emily, all of whom were living on own means. Also present were three domestic servants.

The 1911 census, taken in Frant, gave Laura Todd Jones as a widow living on private means. With her were her daughters Laura and Emily, both of which had no occupation. Also there was one nurse and three domestic servants.

Laura Todd Jones died at her home in Frant in 1915. Her death was registered at Ticehurst, Sussex. She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on October 4,1915.

The spinster daughters of Laura Todd Jones continued to live in Frant for many years. The National archives reported that ‘Woodland Prospect’ at 17 Frant Road was purchased freehold by Emily Fearon Jones on August 31,1923 and she remained there up to the time of her death December 1,1946.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 12,1928 reported on a meeting of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom in which notice Emily Fearon Jones was listed as the Honorable Secretary.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of March 20,1936 referred to Miss Emily Fearon Jones of Tunbridge Wells regarding “ a liason in Tonbridge on Monday that caused her to overnight there”. This article was in reference to a motorcar accident in which one of the vehicles overturned. Emily suffered only minor injuries which she was treated for at the hospital and then released the following day.

Probate records show the value of her estate as 59,310 pounds. An article in the Kent & Sussex Courier of June 20,1947 requested anyone with claims etc against the estate of Emily Fearon Jones late of 17 Frant Road to forward them to the solicitors for the executors. Emily was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on December 4,1946.


The home at 17 Frant Road is of interest for it had been purchased August 31,1923 by Emily Fearon Jones (1867-1946) and referred to then and for many years before and after 1923 as “Woodland Prospect”.

The  location of the residence is shown in red on the 1907 os map opposite.  It was located in the Broadwater Parish on the east side of Frant Road just north of Montacute Road and is believed to have been built in the early 1860’s.

An indepth investigation into the occupants was not undertaken but during the course of research, as I noted in the previous section, Woodland Prospect 17 Frant Road , was at the time of the 1881 census the residence of Henry Hollamby, the noted Tunbridge Ware maker/wholesaler/retailer, and his family. Directories indicate he was a resident of this home since at least 1867.

Shown opposite is a modern view of this detached 2 sty home. On the front elevation, on the right side can be seen in this image the claret plaque to Henry Hollamby. Chris Jones forwarded to me photographs of the house and the plaque in colour but unfortunately the file size was too large to include them here.

The best description of the home is a Planning application by Mr & Mrs Peter Clymer of “Hollamby House, 17 Frant Road” in 2008 in which the following information was given. “ The home is a detached 2 sty house on a sizeable plot. The front elevation has its surface in white painted render with sting course detailing and decorative quoins. Pitched roof slate tile finish. Both side elevations also painted white render. Rear elevation is a mellow stock facing brick. To the rear is a 1st element in which is found the kitchen, utility room and shower room which is finished in facing brickwork with pitched tiled roof and gable ends”.

As one can see from the 1907 os map the addition referred to above on the back of the home at its northern end was in existence at that time.

A review of Planning Applications from 1976 onwards did not list any major work on the building during that time and most of the applications dealt with tree trimming.

The site plan from the 2008 application is shown opposite. The residence appears from its footprint to be the same as it was shown on the 1907 os map.

Shown below from the 2008 application is a set of plans showing firstly the existing home and below it the proposed layout. The application was approved and the work undertaken. Peter Clymer, the applicant and resident of “Hollamby House, 17 Frant Road” was a quality surveyor and this 4 BR home was recently valued at 1,413,000 pounds.

Some interesting information about the home at 17 Frant Road was found in the Summer 2011 newsletter of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society from which I have summarized some points here. The article was written by the owners of the home,Peter and Michele Clymer who state that they moved into the home March 17,2008; that they submitted plans for their proposed work on the home in June 2008 and that they proposed to build extensions to the side and rear with a new bedroom suite over the kitchen and a new conservatory. They also undertook other extensive work including waterproofing the cellar; replacing totted timbers; rewired and replumbed; added bathrooms; installed a new kitchen and utility room; renewed floors; replaced ceilings; repaired the lath and plaster; replaced missing cornices and plaster detailing and so on. Interested in the background to the home they embarked on some detective work checking all known available sources of records etc. When they spoke with John Cunningham of the Civic Society they learned that the house had been owned by Henry Hollamby of Tunbridge Ware fame and with further research that the house had been built for Henry Hollamby and that he had signed a 75 year lease on September 29,1855 at an annual rent of 71 pounds 6s 0d plus ground rent of half a crown with one shilling for the tithe. According to the estate ledgers the house was built in 1856 so some discrepancy here. The article continues with further information about Mr Hollamby and concludes with a few words about the restoration work the Clymers undertook and that in honor of Mr Hollamby they renamed the home Hollamby House.  


The invitation to attend the meeting of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the WILF was made by Mrs. E.H. Marsh with the meeting to be held at her residence at 10 Culverden Park Road ,Tunbridge Wells. As was customary at that time she was referred to by her husband’s name  Edward Harold Marsh. Her name was actually Henriette Stephanie Marsh and was born as Henriette Stephanie Pannier on March 16,1901, most likely in France.

Henriette married Edward Harold Marsh at Chelsea. London in the 3rd qtr of 1921.  Shown below is a photograph of Henriette from her French passport dated 1921, given as a student. The passport was valid for one year from March 15,1921 and the stamps are from the Belgium Consulate in London dated March 23,1921. It is interesting to note that a framed print of this passport is offered for sale on the internet. How Henriette and her future husband met was not determined.

Edward Harold Marsh was born 4th qtr of 1884 in Dorking,Surrey and was a Quaker, and as a Quaker his beliefs aligned with members of the WILF who were against violence and military conflict.

Edward was one of at least six children born to William Alfred Marsh, a draper and clothier born 1839 in Dorking, and Caroline Marsh, born 1837 in Rochdale, Lancashire.

The 1871 census, taken at West Street,Dorking gave William Alfred Marsh as a draper and clothier. With him was his wife Caroline and his daughters Caroline Ann born 1869 in Dorking and Guilielma born 1871 in Dorking.

The 1881 census, taken at West Street, Dorking gave William Alfred Marsh as a draper and outfitter. With him was his wife Caroline and six children, aged 3 to 12 and two servants. The 1891 census, taken at the same place gave the same information except Edward Harold Marsh was included, age 7.

The 1901 census, taken at 51 West Street, Dorking gave William Alfred Marsh as a retired draper. With him was his wife Caroline and his children Florence, age 26, William,age 24, an electrical engineer, and Edward Harold Marsh,age 16. Also there were two domestic servants.

The 1911 census, taken in Dorking gave William Alfred Marsh as a retired draper. With him was his wife Caroline; his spinster daughter Florence,age 36 of no occupation and Edward Harold Marsh, age 26, a secretary. Also there were two servants.

Edward’s parents were married in Liverpool in June 1867.

A Quaker website gave Edward H. Marsh as the author of ‘Facts About Friends; A Study of the Statistics of London and Dublin Yearly Meetings 1861-1911’ that was published in London in 1912.

When WW1 broke out it is recorded on a website devoted to conscientious objectors of Surrey that Edward Harold Marsh was among the list and that he served in the war with the Friends Ambulance Unit and that his home address was given as 51 West Street, Dorking,Surrey. He is stated to have been an orderly with the British Red Cross during the war.

Edward Harold Marsh married Henriette Stephanie Pannier at Chelsea. London in the 3rd qtr of 1921 and after the marriage he and his wife took up residence in Tunbridge Wells. Edward and his wife had at least the following children, who were all born in Tunbridge Wells (1) Edith H. Marsh 2nd qtr 1922 (2) Efreda Marsh 1st qtr 1924 (3) Anne M. Marsh 3rd qtr 1927 (4) Harold S. Marsh 2nd qtr 1931 Tunbridge Wells.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 21,1932 referred to Edward Harold Marsh as coming from a Kentish family (which is incorrect) and that he had been in business in Tunbridge Wells for many years”.  Shown opposite is a photograph of Edward from the aforementioned Courier article. The article itself appeared under the title of “Municipal Elections in Full Swing” and noted that Mr Marsh was running in the North War elections. The article further stated “ He is managing director of the Woodlands Laundry, and is a prominent figure in the laundry business. Mr Marsh has been keenly interested in better co-operation between employers and employed, and in increasing the interest of workers in their own industry. A works council has been i9n operation at the Woodlands Laundry for several years. He believes that by such means a much better understanding between employers and employed is obtained, and that it is the best way to avoid big industrial disputes. He has been a member of the Executive of the British Launderer’s Research Association since its formation after the war, and was chairman of its Finance Committee for two years. This Association has had an enormous effect in raising the status of the laundry industry in the eyes of the Government. Now it is a well organised industry, and stands fourth in the country as a large employer of female labour. Mr Marsh is an enthusiastic member of the Tunbridge Wells Rotary Club, of which he was formerly President”.

Edward Harold Marsh during his time in Tunbridge Wells is found in records as having been the managing director of the Woodlands Laundry in the town.  Details about the Chandler sisters who started the Woodlands Laundry and the history of the laundry itself were given in my article ‘ The Woodlands Laundry’ dated February 12,2013. Shown below are some images pertaining to the laundry. It had premises at 177 Upper Grosvenor Road in 1898 and by 1910 there was also a branch laundry at Quarry Hill in Tonbridge. When Sarah Chandler, of 104 Upper Grosvenor Road, died July 7,1919 the Woodlands Laundry was sold to Edward Harold Marsh.

A directory for 1939 listed Edward Harold Marsh; his wife Henriette and two servants.

Edward Harold Marsh died in Tunbridge Wells, while a resident of 10 Culverden Park Road September 22,1946 leaving an estate valued at 15,747 pounds. He was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on September 26,1946. After his death his wife Henrietta continued to live at 10 Culverden Park Road up to the time of her death. The Courier of September 22,1946 announced “ Tragic Death of CLLR. E.H. Marsh-Active Life and Varied Interests” in which was stated “ He was a leading business man and a member of the Tunbridge Wells Council since 1931 and died in the Kent & Sussex Hospital on Sunday from injuries which he received in Upper Grosvenor Road on Friday as the result of an accident. During the past 20 years spent in Tunbridge Wells he identified himself with many projects which had as their ultimate aim the benefit of the town, and in a wider sphere, he was keenly interested in the promotion of international goodwill. Born in Bembridge House, West-street, Dorking 62 years ago, he was the youngest of eleven children, five of whom survived him. His family of Quaker origin came from East Langdor, near Dover, and had been associated with various businesses for three hundred years. His mother was the daughter of a Lancashire cotton spinner, but spent most of her life in Kent. As a young man he went to Canada for a short time, but returned in 1905, and until the outbreak of the Great Wart he lived mainly in the East End of London, at Bailiol House, Maresfield House, and Toynbee Hall, doing social work in the environment that has produced many of the leaders of the present Labour Party. At that time he would have described himself as a Liberal in politics, although it was as an Independent candidate that he was elected to the Town Council. He travelled extensively in Europe, and, as secretary of the Camping Club, visited France, Belgium and Switzerland. He spent a year in Scandanavia and became fluent in Norwegian, but declined the management of a canning factory in Norway. In the succeeding years he wrote extensively of his experience abroad, showing a remarkable flair for authorship. He volunteered in the Friend’s Ambulance Unit of the R.A.M.C. during the first world war, and served mainly at sea in the Clenart Castle hospital ship, which was twice torpedoed. At Dunkirk he met Henriette Stephanie Pannier Janssen, whom he married in 1921. On coming to Tunbridge Wells after demobilisation he immediately made his influence felt in many contrasting spheres, and from the age of 45 he felt called to civic duties and spent much of his time on the Council committees and the Advertising Association. He was a foundation member of the Tunbridge Wells Rotary Club, of which he was an early president. The Surrey Archaeological Society also claimed his interest, but his principal activities were in connection with the Tunbridge Wells Natural History and Philosophical Society, of which he was secretary for 15 years and president this year. Much of the success of the recent Jubilee Congress of the South Eastern Union of Scientific Societies was due to his efforts. A man of pronounced religious convictions, he maintained the family connection with the Society of Friends, and was treasurer for most of the period of his membership in Tunbridge Wells. As a business man and managing director of the Woodlands Laundry, he was deeply respected throughout the laundry industry. Studying the business in its wider aspects, he took and active part in the work of the Council of the British Launderer’s Research Association. He was also a past chairman of the London and South East Launderer’s Federation. The funeral took place yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, a service at King Charles the Martyr Church preceding the interment”. In the next part of the article entitled ‘Accidental Death Verdict At Inquest’ the description of how Mr Marsh met his untimely death was given. It was determined that his death was due to “ inter-cranial hemorrhage, due to a fracture at the base of the skull. Evidence of the identification was given by his widow, Henriette Stephanie Marxh, who stated that her husband cycled a good deal, and his eye-sight and hearing were good. Russell Wm. Richard Hart of 1 Quarry Road,Tunbridge Wells, told the Coroner that about 6.15 p.m. on September 20th he drove along Upper Grosvenor Road towards Grosvenor Road. He stopped at a house on his near side and signalled his intention before doing so. About 15-20 yards in front of him was a cyclist, who was about 3 ft from his near side. He looked over his shoulder, put out his right hand and half turned towards an alley-way on the offside. He had made a right hand turn and was about three-quarters of the way across the road when a motor cycle, which had approached from the rear, hit the cyclist. So far as witness could judge the motor cycle was being ridden in a proper manner. When the machine passed witness the speed was about 20 m.p.h. Peggy Rose Hilda Hart, who was in the van with her brother, corroborated and that the Mr Marsh on his cycle as well as the motor cyclist and his passenger were “all thrown to he ground”. Peter Charles Plume, of 1 Spring Cottages, Groombridge was the motor cyclist and went on to give his account of the accident  and stated when he saw the van turning he was not aware that there was a cyclist in front and that the van had obscured his sight of the road and the did not see the cyclist until he drew level with the tail of the van. He stated he immediately applied the brakes and did his best to avoid the cyclist and stop. He stated that he did not think the cyclist saw him and the collision occurred which led to the death of Mr Marsh from the injuries he sustained. Others testified at the inquest and it was ruled that the death of Mr Marsh was an accident and that there was no fault charged.”

The Kent & Sussex Courier of October 4,1946 presented an article entitled “ Last Tribute to Coun. E.H. Marsh” in which details of his funeral were given. His widow and many members of the Marsh family as well a relative given as “Mdm Pannier” who was related to his wife. A very  long list of people attending his funeral was given that included representatives of the town, religious denominations and business representatives. I will leave you to read the article for the details.

Henriette Stephanie Marsh died at 10 Culverden Park Road on January 20,1981. She left and estate valued at 14,417 pounds. She was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium on June 27,1981 and her urn buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on June 30,1981.


It is believed by the researcher that the home at 10 Culverden Park Road dates back to the 1860’s. It was a large home situated on a large nicely landscaped plot. The location of the residence can be seen on the 1907 os map opposite. The occupancy history of the home was not investigated. Its significance for the purposes of this article is that it was the residence of the Marsh family for many years and the residence in which members of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the WILF met at the invitation of Mrs E.H. Marsh in the 1930s and at other times.

A review of online Planning Authority files revealed that on March 31,1981, the year that Henrietta S. Marsh died, that a Mr. S. Marsh made application for the demolition of 10 Culverden Park Road and the construction of a building for seniors living consisting of 24 2BR flats and matrons residence. Approval was granted and the work carried out. The buildings architect was the firm of B.H. Fountain Flannigan Associates of 2 St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells. A delegation report stated that the building site was on two levels “ the upper of which contains a large detached house in very poor condition. The lower level is undeveloped with many fine trees”. Who Mr. S. Marsh was could not be determined but appears most likely to have been related to Henrietta and her husband Edward. This new building was called Cedar Court, a modern view of which is shown opposite.




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

Date: March 14,2018


The history of Methodism in Tunbridge Wells goes back at least to 1762, the year of John Wesley’s first recorded visit to the area. By 1778 a congregation of the Methodists was meeting in the Presbyterian meeting house on Mount Sion, a building still in existence but long disused as a chapel.

In 1812 the Methodists built their first chapel on Vale Road, which opened June 24,1812. In 1821 and again in 1839 additions to the building were made and further changes were made in the 1840’s.

In 1857, the Primitive Methodists erected their first chapel in Camden Road. In 1878 this chapel was replaced by a new chapel, described in Peltons 1896 guide as a “very roomy and cheerful place of worship” attended at that time by Rev. J.C. Wenn.

This chapel built of stone sat on grounds located on the east side of Camden Road north of Stone Street just past the junction of Camden Road and Beech Street. It served its congregation well until 1982 when in that year Planning Authority approval was given for conversion of the disused church into an antiques Centre, along with its associated hall  in a separate building to the rear of the church.  The building continued as an antiques centre until November 1987 when Planning Authority was given for the demolition of the church and its hall along with 126 and 126a Camden Road and Bourne Cottage. On this site was erected a 3sty red brick building used as a combination of shops on the 1st floor with flats above. This building still exists today and continues in use as shops and flats. Shown opposite is a map from 1987 showing the buildings referred to.

This article provides information about the history of the Primitive Methodist Church on Camden Road and one Rev. William Potter who ministered there in the early 1900’s. Shown above is an early 1900’s postcard view of the church and Rev.Potter.


The first Primitive Methodist Chapel on Camden Road was referred to in Peltons guide of 1896 as having been “a small and inconvenient edifice”. It had been erected in 1857 and before its construction the congregation met in the Presbyterian chapel on Mount Sion.

The Primitive Methodist magazine of June 1857 contains an account by J. Ashworth of the opening of the 1857 chapel. Its foundation stone had been laid on Monday, October 13,1856 by Rev. A. Bishop with the opening services held March 29,1857. Sermons in the following weeks were given by Mr Ashworth, J. Petty of London, Rev. A. bishop, Rev. C. Temperton and T. Dakin.

The 1857 chapel measured 38 feet by 28 feet and 15 feet high with a front of Portland cement to imitated stone. It had a small vestry and the cost of the chapel was reported to be 500 pounds of which the sum of 140 pounds had been raised by subscriptions. Major donors included H. Reed, Joshua Wilson, J. Finch, L. Lidgett and G. Pemble, the architect who had designed the building. A booklet by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society reported “The first Primitive Methodist Chapel on the Camden Road site was built between 1856-7 at a cost of 500 pounds (including furnishings) raised by subscription. It was built to house 500 people and was constructed of Portland cement. In 1861 the Tunbridge Wells church became head of its own circuit and with the appointment of Rev. Joseph Sheale as Superintendent Minister in 1873 the congregation flourished. A mission chapel was opened in Down Lane (now Downlane Hall Antiques in Culverden Down) and another in Crowborough.” In May 1877 a circular stated “the old chapel was built when there were few houses, but a very small population in this part of town, which has now become the most populous. The building was dilapidated and is althogther unsuitable for extended Christian usefulness”.

In 1878 the old chapel was replaced by a new, and more impressive, church. Shown above and elsewhere in this article are some views of this new church. Shown opposite a photo of the new church with related text which reported that it was a Renaissance-style design by local architects Weeks and Hughes and that it was brick with Bath stone dressings  and that it had internally a gallery on ornate iron columns. The church, including the minister’s house was  4,480 pounds (a debt that was not repaid for many years ) and was opened by Rev’d Dr S. Antliff January 1878 and situated between 124 and 126 Camden Road. The Courier recorded that “the event is one which has been looked forward to with interest by Christians of the various denominations in the town for some time past, and to show the kind of feeling which even Churchmen view the movement, we may state that the Rev. Canon Hoare presented a very handsome Bible for use in the pulpit of the Chapel”.

The plan for the new church on the Camden Road site was approved by most church leaders in the town “ The architects were Weekes and Hughes who also designed the Friendly Society’s Club on Camden Road. Mr Perigoe was the builder and the stone work was carried out by Mr. H. Card”. The local newspaper described the building as “particularly neat, pretty and in the French Gothic style of architecture”. It was also acclaimed “ alike creditable to architects, builder and stone mason”.

The new church held 500-600 people, had a gallery on ornate iron columns and was built of brick with a dressing of the best Bath stone. There was a large schoolroom and three classrooms behind the church.

Shown above is a map of 1907 on which the location of the church is circled in red. It was built on a site located north of Stone Steet near the intersection of Camden Road and Beech Street on the east side of Camden Road. Also shown on the map to the rear of the church was the church hall. Shown opposite is a map from 1987 on which the Methodist Church and the Methodist Church Hall are shown. This map was part of the Planning Authority files regarding the proposed demolition of the Church and Hall as well as Bourne Cottage and 126 and 126A Camden Road. This group of buildings formed a block on which a new commercial/residential building was to be constructed. Details about this are given later.

Joseph Sheale remained Superintendent Minister until 1880.

The church was described in Peltons 1896 guide  as being opened in 1878 “on the site of a small inconvenient edifice. The present is a very roomy and cheerful place of worship attended by the minister J.C, Wenn”.

In 1911 a pipe organ was installed. Electric light was re-installed in the church in memory of Mr. E.W. Winchester by his wife.

The Kent and Sussex Courier of August 27,1915 referred to Rev. J. Dodd Jackson (the connectional editor of London) preaching at the Primitive Methodist Church on Camden Road next Sunday August 19th.

In 1932, the year of Methodist Union, when most of the separated Methodist bodies were reunited to form the Methodist Church as we know it today, the Camden Road church was brought into the same circuit as Vale Royal. At this period, a small Weslayan Methodist chapel in Hill Street was closed,and its membership amalgamated with that of Camden Road.

The war years were eventful. The schoolroom was used as a Soldier’s Club and fire watching on wet nights involved moving the temporary beds in the choir vestry because the skylight leaked. After the war KCC hired the schoolroom for school meals. It was around this time, too, that the Church debt was finally cleared.

Alterations to the forecourt were carried out in the sixties, and a seat was provided with the invitation “Come ye apart and rest awhile”. It was also in the late sixties that the idea of the Anglicans and Methodists opening a new joint centre on the site of Holy Trinity first arose for serious discussion. Though the possibility never came to fruition it brought an uncertainty about the future of the Camden Road church and therefore an understandable reluctance to carry out costly refurbishments. Centenary celebrations were held in 1978 .

In 1980, after various other options had been considered in the preceding years, it was decided that the future of the Methodist Church in Tunbridge Wells and the Circuit would best be served by a complete refurbishment of the Vale Royal premises and the sale of the Methodist Church on Camden Road. By April of 1981, a scheme for this had been drawn up and a final decision was taken to proceed with the plan. The closing service of the church on Camden Road was held August 30, 1981, and its contribution was commemorated by the Camden Chapel at Vale Royal, which preserves the Communion table. The Vale Royal closed Easter 2015.

The National Archives have among their collection the minutes and accounts of the Methodist Church on Camden Road.

After the closure of the church on Camden Road, it came into use as an antiques centre (showroom). Details about the history of building are found in the Planning Authority files online and begin with an application in 1882 with a change in use of the site of the Methodist Church and 126 Camden Road Court and Shops to an antiques centre. Approval was granted for this use until March 31,1985. In 1984 an application was approved to extend this use until March 31,1987 and in 1987 approval was given to extend this use. Shown above is a photograph taken during the demolition of the church.

On November 19,1987 approval was granted for the demolition of the church and church hall along with Bourne Cottage and 126 and 126A Camden Road. The applicant was Triple Crown Developments Ltd. On this site was constructed a 3 sty red brick building with shops on the ground floor and 24 bed sit flats on the upper two floors. This building still exists today and is in the same use. Shown opposite is a full view and partial view of the new building. Shown here is a photograph of the new building.

REV. WILLIAM POTTER (1872-1947) 

Shown opposite from  the Primitive Methodist Magazine of 1929 is a photo of  Rev. William Potter and below is another photo of him.

William was born in 1872 at Carlisle, Cumberland to parents James and Mary Potter . James was a carpenter and builder. William was christened June 29,1873 at Carlisle, Cumberland.

Very early in life William revealed his possession of pulpit gifts and was known in the North as the ‘Boy preacher’. Offering himself for the Ministry, he was sent to assist Rev Thomas Jackson at Whitechapel and then to Hartley College.

William’s ministry was divided into two periods of eighteen years, the first being spent in the provinces and the second in London. William served the Halifax District as Missionary Secretary.

After uphill work at Upton Park came his outstanding achievement at Newbury Park where, under his leadership, the beautiful new church, the first Trust in the new Methodism, was built. Finally Clapton Mission, with its widespread social activities, received his inspired guidance.

William was a minister of unusual energy of mind, a preacher of power and distinction, and an able administrator, though rarely accepting official responsibility and office. The soundness of his judgement, combined with an incisive wit and humour, made him a valued member of any committee.

Of his literary works William authored ‘Thomas Jackson of Whitechapel: a record of fifty years of social and evangelistic enterprise’ published in  1929.

The 1901 census, taken at Withington, Lancashire gave William as a student living with his parents.

William married Annis Jackson (1880-1933) in the spring of 1905 at Whitechapel, London. Annis was the daughter of Thomas Jackson. Census returns and birth records identify two children.

The 1911 census taken in Tunbridge Wells gave William as a Primitive Methodist Preacher born 1873 in Carlisle, Cumberland. With him was his wife Annis, born in Walthamst, Essex; his daughter Bessie Russell Potter, born in Tunbridge Wells 1910 and one domestic servant. His son James was also born in Tunbridge Wells in 1912.

A local record noted that Rev. William Potter and his wife Annie (Annis) lived at Fir Glen on Woodbury Park Road.  

•Bessie Russell (1909-1995)

•James G (b1912)

The Kent & Sussex Courier of July 4,1913 reported “The Rev. W. Potter came to Tunbridge Wells from Grimsby and completed 5 years ministry at Camden Road Church on June 29,1913”.  He and his family left Tunbridge Wells soon after.

William married Edna Annie Trethewey Targett (1883-1962) in the spring of 1935 at Romford, Essex.

William died on 24 January 1947 at Truro, Cornwall.

His circuits included the following;


•1901 Croydon

•1905 Grimsby II

•1908 Tunbridge Wells

•1913 Halifax I

•1920 Cleethorpes

•1923 Upton Park

•1933 London Upton Park

•1938 London M Clapton




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

Date: December 20,2016


Victoria Road is not exist in 1839 based on a map of that date but did exist in 1849, but at that time very few buildings existed on the north side, however shown on the 1849 map is a small building on the site of what became the Volunteer Tavern that, when Albert Street was later constructed, was positioned on the north west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street. No information is available to determine if this building became the tavern or if it was demolished to make way for the tavern. A map dated 1852 does not show the existence of Albert Street, but the aforementioned small building appears to have been extended to the rear.

A 1868 of 1868  shows Victoria Road, Albert Street and Kensington Street to the north. The building that became the tavern is shown on this map. It is known that by 1871 at the latest it became known as the  Volunteer Tavern. A 1907 os map shows the Volunteer Tavern  on the north west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street

A review of Planning Authority records turned up some references to this building. These  online records date from 1975 onward and so do not provide any information from an earlier period. In 1977 and application was made by Mr B. P. Davies of Stitches Farm in Eridge, Sussex for “Retail shop with flat above 42 Victoria Road”. Permission was granted with and expiration date for this usage in 1982, and so in 1982 there was an application submitted for a continuation of this usage by Mr. B.P. Davies which application was approved with a requirement to renew this usage buy December 31,1986. Shown above is a map from 1982 highlighting the location of 42 Victoria Road.

In 1984 there had been an application by Mr B.P. Davies for an extension to the buildings at 42-44 Victoria Road but permission was not granted. In the same year a retrospective application was approved for “A change in use first floor from residence use to office and store at 42 Victoria Road. This application suggests that after the building had been a tavern that it had been converted somtime4 prior to 1975 as a residence, which it remained until 1984 at which time it was converted in office space and a shop. In 1985 Mr B.P. Davies applied for “A extension to increase retail area for 42-44 Victoria Road but permission was not granted.

In 1986 a proposal was put forth to the Planning Authority for a major redevelopment of a block of land bordered by Camden Road, Calverley Road, Grosvenor Road and Kensington Road. A map  showing the extent of this planned redevelopment to make way for a shopping centre (Royal Victoria Place) was presented to the Planning Authority for approval. With some alterations the scheme was approved but revised in 1988 and approved again. Demolition and alterations of buildings began soon after with part of the work being to remove the section of Victoria Road between Camden Road and Albert Street as well as Kensington Road to the north of it. At the intersection of the old Kensington Road and Camden Road, the new Victoria Road began and travelled westward for a short distance and then travelled in a south westerly direction to meet the intersection of the old Victoria Road and Albert Street, with Albert Street itself blocked off from meeting Victoria Road.

In 1988 a  planning application called  for the redevelopment of land on the north west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street. A map from that year  shows the old drill hall as “Hall” and across Albert Street is shown No. 42 Victoria Road. The proposal was for a new two sty brick residential development. It was approved with the building at No. 42 Victoria Road and other buildings in the site of the new building being demolished. Shown above left is a view of Victoria Road showing the Drill Hall (red brick building) and a white building (No. 42 Victoria Road), the former Volunteer Tavern building just prior to their demolition. To the right is a second photo showing the Drill Hall Itself.


The Volunteer Tavern in Victoria Road,Tunbridge Wells dates back to at least 1871 when in that year Frederick Muffett (1841-1910) was the licensee of the tavern and a carpenter, living above the tavern with his wife Elizabeth and three of his children.

The tavern was located on the north- west corner of Victoria Road and Albert Street. On the north east corner was the Drill Hall ,at No. 38,where members of the Royal West Kent Regiment met and conducted their drills. Details about the history of this drill hall are given in my article ‘The Victoria Road Drill Hall’ dated December 19,2016.  In the years leading up to WW 1 members of the RWK were “Volunteers” and it is from this military connection that the Volunteer Tavern derived its name. The address of the tavern began as No. 40 but was renumbered 42 Victoria Road during the early 1900’s during the time that Frederick Muffett was the licensee.

The only known photograph of the tavern is the one shown above, dating to the period of 1909-1914. This image shows a horse and wagon and soldiers outside the drill hall and also provides a partial view of the Volunteer Tavern on the opposite side of the intersection of Albert Road from the drill hall. The name of the tavern can be seen in this image on the front of the tavern with a reference to the availability of ales and porter. The soldiers in this image were members of the 4th Btn Royal West Kents going off to camp from the drill hall.

The 1871 census shows that Frederick and his family he came to Tunbridge Wells before 1870 and after 1866 and it is likely that he started the tavern in the late 1860’s. Frederick had been born 1841 in Bromley, Kent.  On May 3,1863 he married Elizabeth Hancock at St George the Martyr Church in London. Frederick was given as a bachelor, working as a carpenter, and the son of Benjamin Muffett a carpenter. Elizabeth Hannock had been born 1835 at Paddinton, London and was the daughter of William Hannock, a farmer.

Frederick and Elizabeth had the following children (1) Walter Frederick, born 1865 in Bromley, died 1935 Tunbridge Wells (2) Alice, born 1866 in Bromley, died in 1895 (3) Edith, born 1870 in Tunbridge Wells (4) Lily, born 1872 in Tunbridge Wells (5) Lena, born 1874 in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1871 census, taken at the Volunteer Tavern, 40 Victoria Road, gave Frederick as a carpenter and tavern keeper4. With him was his wife Elizabeth and three of his children.

The 1881 census, taken at the Volunteer Tavern,40 Victoria Road gave Frederick as a carpenter and tavern keeper. With him was his wife Elizabeth and their children.

The 1891 census, taken at the Volunteer Tavern, 40 Victoria Road. Gave Frederick as a carpenter and beer retailer, With him was his wife Elizabeth, his daughter Alice, a dressmaker; his daughter Edith; his daughter Lily, a dressmaker and his daughter Lena a milliners apprentice.

The 1901 census, taken at the Volunteer Tavern, records the addresss now being  42 Victoria Road but is the same premises as No. 40 from previous census records. Frederick was given as a carpenter and beer retailer. With him was his wife Elizabeth; his daughter Edith, a house worker and his daughter Lena who was a dressmaker worker.

Probate records show that  Frederick Muffett died October 29,1910 in Brooklyn, New York but also of the Volunteer Tavern at 42 Victoria Road indicating that he had been on holiday in the USA when he died. His body was returned to Tunbridge Wells where he was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on November 12th. He left an  estate valued at 2,283 pounds.

His son Walter Frederick Muffett was living at 61 Beulah Road at the time of the 1911 census. With him was his wife Alice Anne, age 45, who he had married in 1887. With him were four of their eight children, although two of the eight had not survived infancy. They were living in 6 rooms. Probate records gave Walter Frederick Muffett of 61 Beulah Road when he died May 4,1935 at the Kent & Sussex Hospital. The executors of his estate were his sons Fredrick Arthur Muffett, upholsterer, and Sydney Herbert Muffett, motor engineer.

The 1911 census, taken at 42 Victoria Road gave Elizabeth Muffett, as a widow, age 76 and a beer retailer. With her was her daughter Edith Willcocks, born 1871 in Tunbridge Wells, who was assisting in the tavern business of her mother.

When Elizabeth Muffett gave up the tavern is not known. Probate records show she died 1912 in Tunbridge Wells at 42 Victoria Road and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on November 14,1912.

Upon the death of Elizabeth  Muffett in 1912 the tavern was taken over by Mrs Edith Killick (1871-1955), the wife of John Thomas Killick, who remained as the licensee up until at least 1938, based on local directories.

Edith Killick died June 10,1955 while a resident of 61 Beulah Road,Tunbridge Wells. Probate records gave the above address and date of death and that she was the wife of John Thomas Killick and not his widow. The executor of her 8,624 pound estate was Edgar Henry Groves, accountant, which suggests that her husband was not alive. A number of possibilities exist as to who her husband was but not definitive information was found in his regard.

Edith Killick  was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on June 15th.  Further information about the occupants of the tavern are given in the last section of this article. It was interesting to note that Edith Killick of 61 Beulah Road had the same address as Walter Frederick Muffett who died there in 1935.

A search for the Volunteer Tavern after 1938 did not turn up any results and a general search on the internet for any references to 40 or 42 Victoria Road did not result in finding out anything about the occupancy of the building after 1938.


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