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

Date: April 6,2019


The name of Barnard on Camden Road has long been remembered as a shop where gramophones and related music supplies and records could be purchased from their shop at 40 Camden Road from 1901 until the 1970’s.  An advertisement for the business given later in this article states the business was founded in 1901.

The business was begun by Edward Ferrier Barnard (1867-1927). At the time of the 1901 census he was living with his wife Harriet Eliza Barnard ,nee Richmond, (1869-1950) and son Edward Richmond Barnard (1899-1968) at 12 Newton Road in Tunbridge Wells. He had been born in Frome, Somerset the son of John Barnard, a shop manager, and his wife Ellen Barnard.

The 1911 census taken at 40 Camden Road gave Edward and his family there and living above the shop. He died at the shop August 29,1927 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery August 31st. After his death his son took over the business. His wife Harriet died in Tunbridge Wells August 9,1950 and joined her husband in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery.

In 1928 Edward Richmond Barnard, who was born December 3,1899 in Tunbridge Wells, married Dorothy Kate Streeter (1900-1976). He was found listed in directories at 40 Camden Road as a gramophone dealer and later as a record shop proprietor from 1927 to the time of his death at the shop in December 1968. He was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery November 19,1968. His wife Dorothy was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium November 19,1976.

Edward Richmond Barnard had a son John Barnard who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1929 who took over his father’s business from at least 1968. One person who worked in the shop in the 1970’s stated “John Barnard was a lovely man to work for, and with his mother living above the shop we were never short of a cup of tea or a cake.” Other first- hand accounts from those who used to work in the shop or who bought records there are given later in this article.

As you will read later the record shop in the 1960’s and 1970’s was a popular destination where music enthusiasts could listen to the records before buying them in the shops listening booths. All the latest hits by the Beatles and others were always well stocked.

Many years ago vinyl records fell out of favour and were replaced by digital technology but in recent times vinyl records have once again become popular and praised for the higher quality sound than their digital counterparts. It’s a good thing I kept my old stereo system and record collection. What was once old is now new again.

Shown above is a photograph of Barnards shop at 40 Camden Road from the 1950’s or 1960’s.


The patriarch of the family for the purposes of this article is John Barnard who was born 1834 in Lidlington, Bedfordshire. His wife was Ellen Barnard, born 1832 at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Among their children is one of the central figures in this article namely their son Edward Ferrier Barnard who was born 1867 in Frome,Somerset. His birth was registered at Frome in the 1st qtr of 1867.

The 1881 census, taken at “House and general shop’ on Beccles Road in Suffolk gave John Barnard as the manager of a general store. With him was his wife Ellen and their children Herbert T. Barnard (born 1866 in Frome, Somerset) and Edward Ferrier Barnard. Both of the boys were attending school.

The 1891 Wales census gave Edward Ferrier Barnard living as a boarder with a family at Rock House at Hay, Breconshire, Wales, where he was working as a grocers clerk.

In the 3rd qtr of 1892 Edward Ferrier Barnard married Harriet Eliza Richmond at Yarmouth, Norfolk where Harriet lived with her parents and siblings before the marriage.

Soon after the marriage, and before 1899, Edward and Harriet moved to Tunbridge Wells, information about which is given in the next section.


Edward Ferrier Barnard (1867-1927) and his wife Harriet Eliza Barnard, nee Richmond(1869-1950) took up residence in Tunbridge Wells sometime between 1892 and 1899.

The 1901 census, taken at 12 Newton Road Tunbridge Wells gave Edward Ferrier Barnard working as the manager of a music saloon. With him was his son Edward Richmond Barnard who was born in Tunbridge Wells on December 3,1899. Edward’s wife was away visiting family. As can be seen from the map Newton Road was a short walking distance to Camden Road.

A directory of 1903 gave E.F. Barnard at 66 Camden Road working as a dealer of domestic machines (gramophones).

By 1911 Edward senior moved to 40 Camden Road when at the time of the 1911 census his occupation was given as ‘gramophone dealer, own account at home’. With him was his wife Harriet; their son Edward Richmond Barnard and two visitors. The census recorded that the couple had been married 18 years and that they had just the one child. The family lived in rooms above the shop. Shown opposite is a modern view of 40 Camden Road.

Directories of 1918 and 1922 listed the following “ Edward Ferrier Barnard, 40 Camden Road, gramophone dealer”.

Directories of 1930 , 1934 and 1938 gave the listing “ Edward Richmond Barnard, 40 Camden Road, Gramophone dealer” suggesting that Edward Richmond Barnard had taken over the running of his fathers business in the mid 1920’s.

Probate records gave Edward Ferrier Barnard of 40 Camden Road when he died August 29,1927. The executor of his 4,494 pound estate was his widow Harriet Eliza Barnard. Edward was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery August 31,1927. His wife Harriet died August 9,1955 while a resident of 40 Camden Road and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on August 14th.

In the 2nd qtr of 1928 Edward Richmond Barnard married Dorothy Kate Streeter in Tunbridge Wells. Dorothy had been born August 4,1900. Her birth was registered in Hastings, Sussex in the 3rd qtr of 1900.

The 1901 census, taken at 98 Ducene Road, St Andrew, Sussex gave Frank Streeter as an omnibus conductor born 1871 in Hastings, Sussex. With him was his wife Kate A. Streeter who was born 1870 in Hastings and their daughter Dorothy Kate Streeter.

The 1911 census, taken at 55 St Georges Road in Hastings gave Dorothy Kate Streeter living as the stepdaughter of the James Phillips family (he was a house painter). Dorothy continued to live in Hastings up to the time of her marriage to Edward Richmond Barnard in 1928.

Edward Richmond Barnard and Dorothy appear to have had just one child, namely John Barnard who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1929.

A directory of 1939 gave the following listing at 40 Camden Road. (1) Edward Richmond Barnard, music gramophone bulb carriage dealer (2) Dorothy Kate Barnard, wife, of unpaid domestic duties (3) Harriet Eliza Barnard (Edwards mother) born October 4,1868 , unpaid domestic duties.

Edward Richmond Barnard died in Tunbridge Wells while a resident of 40 Camden Road on November 12,1968. His wife Dorothy and son John were the executors of his estate. Edward was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on November 19th.

Probate records for Dorothy Kate Barnard gave her of 40 Camden Road when she died on November 22.1976 leaving an estate valued at 54,716 pounds with her son John as the executor. She was cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium in Tunbridge Wells and her urn buried in her husband’s grave.

When Edward Richmond Barnard retired from business his son John took over. First-hand accounts by those who worked or shopped there in the 1970’s refer to John Barnard as the proprietor of the shop and that his mother lived above the shop. It appears the business ended sometime after November 1976 and before 1980 as no online records for the business were found during that period.  What became of John Barnard was not established but he was still single in the 1970’s (according to eye witnesses) and still operating the shop at 40 Camden Road.


(1954) The Chris Watford Story of bands etc: I was a founder member of the Dolphin Jazzband, down in Hastings, buying  my first simple system clarinet in December 1954 at the ripe old age of  19, which I thought was too late to start ! The previous summer, I had seen the bands appearing at the White Rock Pavilion on a Sunday evening,  including those of Ted Heath; Jack Parnell; Harry Gold; Carl Barriteau; Basil & Ivor Kirchin, Sid Phillips, Humphrey Lyttelton, and Ken Colyer, and whilst working in Tunbridge Wells, I started buying 78rpm records  from Barnards, in Camden Road, and from another record shop round by the Central Station. I preferred the smaller bands, and started saving up to buy my first clarinet- for £5 !

(June 2008) I collect old records and among my collection are records in the original sleeves for McCowans on Monson Road, Rabsons on Vale Road, Ashplants at 106 Camden Road and Lindsay Hermitage who’s shop was at 53 High Street. Hermitage sold pianos and gramophones primarily but also had a good selection of records. Comment by George Strong.

(MAY 2011) Remember Barnard's in Camden Road? The best record shop I ever knew. What used to be called McCowan's Record Shop in Monson Road later became The Music Room in Monson Road. This lasted longer (and is now sadly a bread shop- singles upstairs in the main area with listening booths at the rear - and a really funky, darkly lit basement with an oil wheel adding psychedelic colours to the two listening booths down there. It smelled of damp and incense and I simply adored the place. There was also a deeply uncool place almost opposite the Music Room also in Monson Road, which was actually an electrical shop. It had a small record sales section at the rear. I can't recall what it was called right now - but I'll edit this posting when I do - unless someone else gets in first! Failing that we had Boots, which had a record section and a couple of listening booths upstairs (but nobody wanted to be seen carrying their purchase in a Boots bag!); or Woolworths (crappy Embassy and Avenue recordings). For kudos though it had to be a real record shop and not one of these crappy chain stores . . . . sigh, such happy days. I miss them.

(May 13, 2015) I worked at Barnard's during the 70s. John Barnard was a lovely man to work for, and with his mother living above the shop we were never short of a cup of tea or a cake. There was never a day when I did not want to go to work, and the 70s were a fantastic time to be in one’s late teens/early 20s. I wish I could go back. Comment: Chris Wilson.

(June 27, 2015) Barnards was the best record shop in Tunbridge Wells in the 1970s. I vividly recall the listening booths at the rear of the shop. I seem to recall John Barnard as a tall, quietly spoken man. I bought my copy of T.Rex's Electric Warrior LP there, which became my first and most prized album. I'm pleased to say I still have it. A much missed store and some very happy memories. Comment: Gary James.

(March 18, 2016) Got some race engine parts from John Barnard for my Morris Cooper S. Vanman.

(June 12,2016) Like Chris Wilson I also worked at Barnards record shop and remember fondly working in the shop with Chris Wilson, Sam Gish and Miles amount others. I remember John Barnard and his mother living over the shop. At the end of each day we would take the days takings up to John's Mother.  Although a long time ago my time working there brings back wonderful memories. Comment by Neal Goodwin.

(July 15,2017) I have an Edison record cylinder No. 13777 sold by E.F. Barnard of 40 Camden Road Tunbridge Wells that has a George Formby senior song on it called ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”. Comment by Maurice Holmes.  

In the above comments, various shops in the town were referred to that sold records. Further information about them can be found in my articles (1) ‘Woolworths-Tunbridge Wells’ dated February 5,2012 which notes them occupying premises at 3-17 Calverley Road in the period of about 1927 to 2009 (2) Boots Cash Chemists Ltd ‘ dated March 20,2012 which noted them in the town since the early 1900’s with premises in the Pantiles,  at 73 Mount Pleasant Road at 5 ways and at 9 Calverley Road (3) ‘Ashplants Tunbridge Wells’ dated May 20,2018 noting them in business from about 1911 to 1945 at 106 Camden Road (4) Lindsay Hermitage Ltd-Piano Dealers of the High Street’ date December 21,2016 which noted their shop on the High Street from about 1912 to 1957 (5) William James Rabson of Rabson’s Corner’ dated August 24,2016 which noted the business operating initially on Vale Road but later at 41 Camden Road in the period of about 1903 to 1940 (6) ‘McCowans Music Shop on Monson Road’ that was updated in 2018.



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

Date: March 17,2019


Lydia Judith Le Lacheur , nee Domaille (1843-1927), the wife of John Allez Le Lacheur (1838-1904)( the Consul General of Costa Rica),  and mother of twelve children, came to Tunbridge Wells with most of her family in the late 1870’s and took up residence initially at Barden Farm in Tonbridge and then in a 18 room mansion at No. 1 Pembury Road, called the Wilderness, where the family was found at the time of the 1881 census. Both the Le Lacheur and Domaille families were closely connected to shipping in Guernsey.

While living in Tunbridge Wells Lydia and several of her daughters became actively involved in the local branch of the Nation Union of Women’s Suffrage Society  (NUWSS) which had been established in the town in 1908 and which Society opened an office in November 1910 at 18 Crescent Road, opposite the stables of the Calverley Hotel.

John Allez Le Lacheur had been born in St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands (image above)  and was one of five children born to William Le Lacheur (1802-1863) and Rachel Le Meseurier de Jersey (1799-1882). Both of John’s parents were born in St Peter Port and John’s father was a noted ship captain and ship owner, engaged in the fruit and coffee trade with Costa Rica. By the 1860’s he owned about a dozen ships.

John became actively involved in his father’s business and when he arrived in Tunbridge Wells the 1881 census noted that he was a merchant, a ship owner and the Consul General for Costa Rica. As a result of these business ventures John Allez Le Lacheur became wealthy, a wealth that was passed down to his wife and children. Although some of John and his wife’s daughters married most of them remained spinsters living on private means. At least three of the daughters took careers in the flower nursery business or farming. The sons of John and Lydia, of which there were four, became either merchants or investment consultants.

In this article I present information about the Le Lacheur clan from the period of 1802 onwards, beginning with the origins of the family in Guernsey with a particular concentration on the family and their activities while residents of Tunbridge Wells.


William Le Lacheur was born October 15,1802 in Guernsey and was baptised Guillaume Le Lacheur (using the French version of the forename) in the parish church of the Forest, Guernsey (image opposite dated 1793) on October 31 by his parents Jean Le Lacheur (born 1774) and Marie Suzanne Le Lacheur, nee Allez (1775-1822).  He was named after his grandfather, Guillaume Allez, who was also one of his godparents.

The Forest is located in the south of Guernsey. It borders the parishes of St Peter's to the west, St Saviour's to the north-west, St Andrew's to the north and St Martin's to the east. Although it is predominantly of high elevation perched on cliffs overlooking the ocean there are some accessible beaches for swimming. Forest is located about 6km south west of St Peter Port.

Little is known of William’s education and upbringing. At a young age, he went to sea, working his way up to become the captain of his first ship ST GEORGE in 1827.

William married Rachel de Jersey (1798-1882) in the parish church of the Forest, Guernsey on May 19,1828 and together they had the following children (1) Rachel de Jersey Le Lacheur (1832-1867) (2) Amelia Le Lacheur (1834-1891) who married Thomas Bull Allen (3) JOHN ALLEZ LE LACHEUR (1838-1904) who married Lydia Judith Domaille (1843-1927) (4) Louisa Maria Le Lacheur (1839-1915) who married Benjamin Abbot Lyon the founder of Banco Lyon in Costa Rica (5) Emma de Jersey Le Lacheur (1842-1916).

Rachel de Jersey (image opposite) was born February 21,1799 at St Peter Port, Guernsey, the daughter of Nicola Le Mesurier de Jersey. She died September 29,1882 in London.

Not long after the marriage in 1828 the family settled in St Peter Port, Guernsey, at which place JOHN ALLEZ LE LACHEUR was born in 1838. Saint Peter Port (Saint-Pierre-Port in French) is the chief town, resort, parish, and capital of Guernsey, Channel Islands. It is  located on the east coast of the island of Guernsey where a narrow valley reaches the sea between moderately high cliffs. Early in the 13th century, Castle Cornet was built on an offshore tidal islet, reinforced later with La Tour Beauregard on the main shore to protect the roadstead. The Anglo-Gascon wine trade was then developing, and the existence of well-protected anchorage, together with Guernsey’s position on the English Channel near the route of medieval shipping, meant that St. Peter Port was used increasingly as a refuge and port of call. Late in the 13th century a quay was built, and in 1309 the island’s chief market was moved to St. Peter Port. The quay was extended in the 16th century, a second arm was built in the 18th, and the present harbour was constructed between 1853 and 1874. St. Peter’s, the town’s ancient church from the 13th century is but one of many notable buildings there such as  the Royal Court House (1799), the Markets (1822), Elizabeth College (1826; founded 1563).

William played an important role in the economic and spiritual development of the Central American county of Costa Rica. He is widely recited in Costa Rica with having transformed the economy of the country by establishing a direct regular trade route for Cost Rican coffee growers to the European market, thereby helping to establish the Costa Rican coffee trade. Shown above  are two portrait images of William.

In 1830,William entered the Azores fruit trade with the ship MINERVA. By 1836 he had formed the company Le Lacheur & Co., which owned two ships; MINERVA and DART. Over the following years, he continued to add to his fleet, and to seek out new markets. In 1841 he took delivery of the barque 'MONARCH',which being a much larger vessel was capable of journeys further afield. During a stop at the port of Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, he learnt from the British Council of the difficulty that Costa Rican coffee growers were having finding a market for their produce. William, seeing a business opportunity, agreed with the Costa Rican coffee growers to establish a regular service to carry their coffee to London.

In 1843 the MONARCH arrived in Puntarenas and loaded the first cargo of nearly 5,000 bags of coffee. The venture was a success, and he began increasing the size of his fleet to accommodate the increasing demand for coffee in London. During the rest of the 1840's,he diverted his other shops from the fruit trade to the coffee trade. Then,starting in 1850,he commissioned the construction of five ships designed expecially for the coffee trade. During the 1860's,a further seven ships were added to his fleet.

Once William had established a fleet of ships that were making regular journeys between Costa Rica and London, he arranged with several Costa Rican families to take their sons to England for their education, which is something cited as a contributing factor to Costa Rica's economic success. This arrangement was also responsible for the introduction of the game of football to Costa Rica.

When William Walker, an American filibuster, attempted to invade Costa Rica in 1856,the Costa Rican government declared war. However,the march from the Costa Rican military base in San Jose to the northern border was an arduous one. William Le Lacheur put his ships at the disposal of the Costa Rican military commanders to transport the army up the coast to the boarder so they could arrive fit and ready to fight. As a result, they successfully repelled the filibusters.

William , a devoit Christian, was appalled by what he described as "the lowest form of the Roman faith"being practised, where superstition took precedence over true religion. Through the British and Foreign Bible Society, he obtained and distributed Spanish language Bibles, thereby introducing Protestant faith into Costa Rica. He distributed 3,500 bibles in Costa Rica, and was presented with an inscribed Imperial Quarto Bible by the Bible Society in recognition of his achievements.

William retired from the sea in 1857 .He became a national hero in Costa Rica, credited with having helped boost it from one of the poorest countries in Central America to one of the wealthiest.

After a long illness, William died in his home in London on June 27,1863. William was buried in the Highgate Cemetary in London.

In 1864 it was resolved to build the first Protestant church in Costa Rica. It was made of pre-fabricated iron and was carried to Costa Rica by his son John Allez Le Lacheur and was assembled in San Jose as the Church of the Good Shepherd (Image above). It became unofficially known as the 'Iron Church'. When it was rebuilt in 1937 with more traditional materials, a memorial plaque was erected to Le Lacheur with an inscription which included the phrase "by whose exertions public Protestant worship was established in this Republic.

Postage stamps (opposite and above) have been issued commemmorating his achievements by both his native Guernsey in 1997 and by Costa Rica in 1963. The Guernsey stamp in the form of a souvenier sheet refers in the text as “ The Costa Rica Packet owned and captained by William Le Lacheur.


As noted in the previous section John Allez Le Lacheur(1838-1904) was born at St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands in 1838, one of five children born to William Le Lacheur (1802-1863) and Rachel Le Mesurier Le Lacheur, nee de Jersey (1799-1882).

At an early age John became actively involved in his father’s shipping business operating out of St Peter Port. Nothing definitive is known about his education but it is known that he resided in St Peter Port well into the 1850’s. At the time of the 1851 census John was given as a scholar living with his mother Rachel (a ship owners wife) and two of his sisters Louisa and Emma who were also attending school. Also there was one domestic servant.

By 1860 the Le Lacheur family moved to London. When his father died June 27,1863 the family were residing at 47 Gloucester Road, London.

In 1867 John married Lydia Judith Domaille (1843-1927),who was born in Guernsey March 14,1843, with the  marriage being registered at  Hampstead,Middlesex. Lydia was the daughter of Thomas Domaille and Maria Domaille, who formerly was a widow by the name of Maria Martin and had one son Thomas Martin who was born 1847 at St Peter Port, Guernsey.

The 1841 census, taken at St Peter Port, Guernsey gave Thomas Domaille as the owner of lands. With him was his wife Maria (given as Mary) ; their children Mary,age 5; Emma,age 2 and Charles, age 1. Also there was one domestic servant.

The 1851 census, taken at 1 Prince Albert in Guernsey gave Thomas Domaille as born 1806 in St Peter Port with the occupation of general merchant and ship owner. With him was his wife Maria (given as Mary) born 1809 in St Peter Port and their children LYDIA, Ellen and Peter Domaille and step son Thomas Martin. Also there were two domestic servants. The family were still living at St Peter Port at the time of the 1861 census.

The 1871 census, taken at 30 Aberbourne House in St Peter Port gave Thomas Domaille as a boat maker. With him was his wife Maria (given as Mary); their children Emma,age 25 (a milliner), Anne,age 23 (a dress maker); John, age 20, a drapers assistant and Rosaline,age 17 a confectioners assistant. Also there was one domestic servant.

The 1881 census, taken at ‘Villette House’ on La Villlete Road, Guernsey, gave Thomas Domaille as a ship owner. With him was his wife Maria (given as Mary) and their daughter Ellen, age 36.

Probate records gave Thomas Domaille of the parish of St Peter Port but late of Villette parish of St Martin, both in Guernsey and that he died November 25,1884 at the Villette. The executors of his 2,657 pound estate were Mary Martin, otherwise Domaille, widow of Villette.

It is clear that John Allez La Lecheur and Lydia Dudith Domaille came to know one another in Guernsey and no doubt they were introduced by their fathers who were both merchants and ship owners operating from St Peter Port. In the years leading up to Lydia’s marriage in 1867 she lived with her parents and siblings in St Peter Port, where she received her education.

After the 1867 marriage between John and Lydia the family took up residence in Hampstead, London. John and Lydia had the following children (1) Brealey Le Lacheur (1866-1884). This son was born in Hampstead, London (2) Lydia Mary Le Lacheur (1867-1940). She was born June 20,1867 at Regents Park, Middlesex. (3) Ellen Marian Le Lacheur (1870-1954) who was born in Hampstead, Middlesex on July 7,1870. (4) Amy Louisa Le Lacheur (1872-1875) who was born in the 2nd qtr of 1872 in Hastings, Sussex and died in London (5) Emma Margarita Le Lacheur (1875-1947) who was born in St Leonards, Sussex (6) Edith Kate Le Lacheur (1876-1959)who was born September 12,1876 at Hackney, London (7) William John Le Lacheur (1878-1923) who was born May 6,1878 at St Leonards, Sussex.

Sometime after 1878 and before 1880 the Le Lacheur family moved to Tonbridge living at Barden Farm and then moved to Tunbridge Wells taking up residence at a fine 18 room mansion at 1 Pembury Road called the ‘Wilderness’. While living in Tunbridge Wells John and his wife had additional children namely (8) Frances Amy Le Lacheur (1880-1927) who was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1880 (9) Dorothy De Jersey Le Lacheur (1882-1917) who was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1882. (10) Edward Tom Le Lacheur (1884-1959) who was born in Tunbridge Wells on May 30,1884. (11) May Martin Le Lacheur (1886-1944) who was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1886 (12) Mabel Blanche Le Lacheur (1890-1954) who was born in the 2nd qtr of 1890 in Tunbridge Wells.

Further information about all twelve children are given in a later section of this article.


The Le Lacheur residence in Tunbridge Wells was called the ‘Wilderness’ a fine and large home located at the western end of Pembury Road just east of the intersection of Pembury Road (originally known as Calverley Fairmile Road) and Calverley Park Gardens. Before the Le Lacheur family took occupancy of it sometime after 1878 but before 1880 it was the residence of Henry Gould Sharp (1833-1898) a stockbroker.  Further information about this home is given in a later section of this article.

The Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening of July 8,1880 reported on events at the Tunbridge Wells Horticultural Society on July 2nd and that among the prizes awarded in the open class for fuchsius was one to Mr Turner gardener to  J.A. La Lecheur esq. of the Wilderness Pembury Road.

The 1881 census, taken at 1 Calverley Fairmile Road (later renamed 1 Pembury Road) gave John Allez La Lacheur as a merchant, ship owner and Consul General of Costa Rica. With him was his wife Lydia and their children Brealey, Lydia, Ellan,Emma, Edith, William, and Frances with Frances being the only one born in Tunbridge Wells. The four eldest children were attending school. Also present in the home were seven servants. At the room over the coach house was living John Varney with the interesting occupation of "Bath Chair man".

In a document entitled "An Agreement and account of crew" for April 1881 to May 1882 for the ship BARRAMCA ;port of registry 'Guernsey' being 677 tons,is recorded as being owned by John Allez Le Lacheur and he was also the managing owner of the same ship in 1886.

The 1891 census, taken at 1 Pembury Road, gave John as a Consul General for Costa Rica. With him was his wife Lydia and their children Lydia, Ellen,Emma,Edith, Frances,Dorothy,Edward, May and Mabel. Also present were eight domestic servants. Living at the gardeners cottage was Norman Turner,age 42, a gardener, with his wife Esther and four of their children.

The 1901 census taken at the Wilderness on Pembury Road gave John  as a merchant. With him was his wife Lydia and their children Frances, Dorothy, May and Mabel. Also there were six house servants and a groom. Also there was a grandson Martin Gordon Bretherton, age 3 mths born in Tunbridge Wells in 1901, who was the son of Lydia’s daughter Ellen Marian Le Lacheur (1870-1954).At ‘Wilderness Garden Lodge’ was Norman Turner, a gardener, with his wife Esther and three of his children.

Probate records give the following "John Allez Le Lacheur of 58 Lombard Street,London and of the 'Wilderness",Tunbridge Wells died March 24,1904 at St Leonards-on-Sea." The executors of his 181,000 pound estate  were William Edwards Le Lacheur,Lydia Judith Le Lacheur,widow,William John Le Lacheur,merchant,and Edward Gordon Bretherton Esq. At the Guille-Aues library in Guernsey are two tablets bearing the names of several Le Lacheur's including one entry for John Allez Le Lacheur dated 1889.

After John’s death his wife and some of her daughters continued to live at their home on Pembury Road.

The 1911 census taken at the Wilderness gave Lydia Judith Le Lacheur as a widow with the occupation of “ treasurer of the Tunbridge Wells Women’s Suffrage Society (NUWSS)”. With her was her spinster daughter Mabel Blanche Le Lacheur of no occupation. Also there were seven servants. The census recorded that this home had 18 rooms.

Probate records give the following "Lydia Judith Le Lacheur of The Wilderness,Tunbridge Wells,died December 16,1927" .The executors of her 22,000 pound estate were her son Edward Tom  Le Lacheur,an investment consultant, and her daughter Lydia Mary Edwards,wife of William Edwards.

The website of Burslem, noted stonemasons of Tunbridge Wells, posted to their website an article entitled ‘ A fitting tribute to pioneering local women’. Of the Le Lacheur family they gave the following. “ Burslem is proud to have been commissioned by The Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery to restore two memorials to three notable local women. These memorials were restored in time for the recent Exhibition of Exceptional Women of Tunbridge Wells at the Cemetery, which exhibition took place in 2018 to mark the centenary year of women first getting the right to vote in 1918. Of the three women referred to, those of the Le Lacheur family were Lydia Judith Le Lacheur (1843-1927) and her daughter Dorothy De Jersey Le Lacheur (1882-1907). Shown opposite is a photograph of the restored headstone for  these two women. Of Lydia , Burslem’s wrote “ Lydia Le Lacheur lived in a Gothic mansion on the Pembury Road known as ‘The Wilderness’ and was a Suffragist, using peaceful means to campaign for votes for women. She had eight daughters who she brought up as independent and well-educated women. Lydia was Treasurer of the local branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (many meetings were hosted at ‘The Wilderness’) and took part in the ‘Kent Pilgrimage’ to Downing Street and in 1911 helped the Women’s Tax Resistance League to campaign.” This same article also gave information about Dorothy De Jersey Le Lacheur, which I have given in a later section of my article.


John and Lydia La Lecheur had twelve children, eight daughters and four sons. The four youngest children were born in Tunbridge Wells between 1882 and 1890, the others being born in either London or Sussex. In this section I provide information about each of them.

[1] BREALEY LE LACHEUR (1866-1884)

Brealey was the eldest child and first son. He was born in the 2nd qtr of 1866 at Hampstead, London. He was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1881 census and attending a local school.

Brealey died in Tunbridge Wells at only age 18 from an unidentified illness and buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on May 3,1884.

[2] LYDIA MARY LE LACHEUR (1867-1940)

Lydia was born June 20,1867 at Regent’s Park, Middlesex. She was living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census but was gone by the time of the 1901 census.

In the 3rd qtr of 1891 Lydia married William Edwards (1855-1931) in Tunbridge Wells and with him had the following children (1) William Le Lacheur Edwards (1892-1961). He was born June 15,1892 at 14 Deleham Gardens, Hampstead.  (2) Harrison Stewart Edwards (1893-1962).He was born in Tunbridge Wells on July 30,1893.  (3) Harmans Edwards (born 1894 in Tunbridge Wells) (4) Aileen Dorothy Le Lacheur Edwards (1897-1975). She was born July 1,1897 in Hampstead (5) Brian Le Lacheur Edwards (1900-1973). He was born in Guildford, Surrey in the 3rd qtr of 1900.

At the time of the 1901 census Lydia was living with her husband and children at Regents Park, Hampstead. Her husband was listed as a wholesale druggist and sundry manufacturer born in Lambeth,Surrey. In addition to the six members of the Edwards family there were also five domestic servants.

The 1911 census, taken at 34 Netherhall Gardens in Hampstead gave William Edwards as a wholesale druggist. With him was his wife Lydia ; two of their children and five servants. There census recorded that the family were living in premises of 19 rooms; that they had been married 19 years and that all four of their children were still living.

William Edwards died in 1931 and Lydia’s  death was registered in the 2nd qtr of 1940 at Hampstead, London.  Probate records gave Lydia Mary Edwards if North Court Redington Gardens, Hampstead, widow, who died April 22,1940. The executors of her 12,064 pound estate were her sons William Le Lacheur Edwards, retired wholesale druggist and sundryman and Harrison Stewart Edwards, retired druggist.

Lydia was buried at Camden April 25,1940.


Ellen was born July 7,1870 at Hampstead. She was living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census but not at the time of the 1901 or 1911 census.

Ellen married a Mr Bretherton and with him had a son Martin Gordon Bretherton who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1901. Her son Martin was living with Ellen’s mother and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1901 census.

A family tree records that Ellen died in 1954.

[4] AMY LOUISA LE LACHEUR (1872-1875)

Amy had a short life for she was born in the 2nd qtr of 1872 at Hastings, Sussex and died in the 2nd qtr of 1875 at Hastings.


Emma’s birth was registered at Hastings, Sussex in the 4th qtr of 1875. She was living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census but had left the family home sometime before 1901.

Emma never married. Probate records gave her as Emma Margarita Le Lacheur or Emma Margaret Lasher of Elm Meadow Lane, Cornwall, spinster who died June 4,1947. The executors of her 28,544 pound estate were Marjorie Winifred Knight, spinster, and Robert Atkinson, photographic artist. Emma’s sister Edith Kate Le Lacheur married William E.G. Atkinson Atkinson with whom she had two children, one of whom was Robert Le Lacheur Atkinson. See the section about Emma’s sister for further information.

[6] EDITH KATE LE LACHEUR (1876-1959) 

Edith was born September 12,1876 in Hackney, London. She was living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census but was gone from the family home by the time of the 1901 census. Edith made farming her career.

The 1901 census, taken at Manor Farm in Leckhamstead, Berkshire gave Edith as a visitor with the occupation of “farmer”. She was working on the farm of Alfred Charles Medhurst who was the farm bailiff.

In the 3rd qtr of 1912 at Battle, Sussex Edith married William E. G. Atkinson , a farmer, and with him had two children namely (1) Robert Le Lacheur Atkinson who was still alive in 1959 (2) James Godfrey Atlinson who was still alive in 1959. Both of these sons, like their father were farmers.

Probate records gave Edith Kate Atkisnon of 53 Wood Lane. Sonning Common,Oxfordshire, widow, when she died May 24,1959 at 44 Liebenroad, Reading. The executors of her 18,741 pound estate were her sons Robert Le Lacheur Atkinson, farmer, and James Gordon Atkinson, farmer.

The death of her husband during WW1 from a memorial to the fallen at the Wye South Eastern Agricultural College  reads as follows. “ Captain Walter (Will) Edmund Godfrey Atkinson, 9th Btn, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (DCLI). Attached 4th Btn, Worcestershire Regiment. Formerley Berkshire Yeomanry (Machine Gun Section). Died Gallipoli, Turkey 6th August 1915. Born 1878. Second son of Dr Edmund Atkinson (Professor of Applied Science at the Staff College) of Portesbery Hill, Camberley, Surrey. Will has no known grave. His name appears on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Turkey panel ref. 17. Educated at Clifton and the South East Agricultural College, Wye. Walter joined the college in the autumn term of 1898 and left in the summer of 1902. He gained a first class diploma and received prizes for general science, botany and chemistry. He was also awarded a National Diploma in Dairying. Upon leaving education Walter went to work under the Lawes Agricultural Trust at Rotheampstead and conducted experimental work on wheat-growing for the Millers Association. For a short while he lectured at the Reading University Agricultural College. In 1909 he took a farm in conjunction with his brother R.E. Atkinson near Battle, Sussex, and from this then moved to a smallholding at Checkenden, Oxforshire. Will married Miss Edith Kate Le Lacheur in May 1912 and they had 3 sons. On the outbreak of war Walter enlisted in the Berkshire Yeomanry and was attached to the machine gun section. He spent some time under canvas at Churn Camp and then went into billets where he remained until November 14,1914. He was gazetted a Temporary Lieutenant in the DCLI and the rest of his training was completed at Falmouth, Devon. Walter was promoted to Captain in May 1915 and then left with his regiment for Gallipoli. It was reported that Will did not reach the fighting until July 4,1915. He spent the next month very heavily engaged in fighting. The day he was killed his unit was in action all day. He did his share nobley”.

An article from ‘The Vote’ dated April 27,1912 gave an article entitled ‘ A tax-resisting cow’ a story of what happened while Miss Edith Kate Le Lacheur was attending the sale of a dog cart at Reading for the non-payment of the agricultural tax on one of her farms. The story might be deemed a practical joke on the part of the revenue authorities, but for the fact that the cow took the matter entirely into her own hands and flouted the bailiffs. In the absence of Miss Le Lacheur, a cow was seized for non-payment of other taxes. Twice the bailiffs took the cow away and got it three or four miles up the road, but then the cow bolted back. Finally they gave up and left Miss Le Lachuer the distraining order-and the cow. We wonder whether in due time Suffragists will have reason to worship the cow. Meanwhile, we congratulate Miss Le Lacheur on her tax resistance and on the noble support of her cow”. There was also a report that “Miss Le Lacheur of Henley on Thames avoided her transport costs by surrendering a cow”.  Shown above is a photo of Kate.

A 1911 newspaper article referred to ‘The last of the tax resisters meeting was held on Friday at Tunbridge Wells by the suffrage society and presided over by miss Edith Kate Le Lacheur”.


William was born May 6,1878 at St Leonards, Sussex. He was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1881 and 1891 census.

The records of Cambridge University note the following “ Adm. pens. at Trinity, October 1,1895. Son of John Allex Le Lacheur of The Wilderness, Tunbridge Wells. Born there 1878. School, Tunbridge Wells (private). Matric. Michs. 1895; BA 1898; MA 1903. Served in the Great War 1914-1919 (Lieut. RNVA). F.G.S. Died Mary 2,1923 at Highgate”.

He was admitted to the Freemasons British Lodge in 1905. In 1909 he sailed from London and arrived December 17,1909 in New Orleans. Louisiana and made another trip out of the country departing from Bristol on  December 31,1921. It was noted that he also made a number of trips to Costa Rica and that passenger records gave his occupation as “merchant”.

He married Cecilia Mary Nutter. It was not established if he had any children.

Probate records gave William of High Ridge 36 Shepherds Hill Highgate Middlesex when he died May 2,1923. The executor of his 50,878 pound estate was his widow Cecilia and his brother Edward Tom Le Lachuer, gentleman.

[8] FRANCES AMY LE LACHEUR (1880-1927)

Frances was born in the 3rd qtr of 1880 in Tunbridge Wells, most likely at their home ‘The Wilderness’. She was living with her parents and siblings there at the time of the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census and was educated at a girl’s private school.

Frances was not living with her widowed mother and siblings at The Wilderness at the time of the 1911 census and where she was living was not established, but based on the probate record for her it appears that she lived in Tunbridge Wells her entire life and never married.

Probate records gave Frances Amy Le Lacheur of 77 London Road, Tunbridge Wells, spinster, when she died May 7,1927. The executor of her 6,787 pound estate was her brother Edward Tom La Lecheur, an investment agent. She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on  May 10th.


Dorothy was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1882. She was living with her parents at ‘The Wilderness’ on Pembury Road from the time of her birth until the time of her death on June 8,1917. Probate records gave her of the Wilderness, a spinster, who died June 8,1917. The executor of her 18,014 pound estate was the Public Trustee.

Dorothy was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery, In 2018 The Friends of the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery hired local stonemasons Burslem to restore the headstone of Dorothy on which her mother Lydia is also recorded. From an article by Burslem is the following “ Dorothy Le Lacheur (1883-1917) was the sixth of Lydia Lacheur’s eight daughters. Educated at Tunbridge Wells High School, Dorothy went on to join the militant Women’s Social and Political Union and Women’s Freedom League. As a suffragette Dorothy became a seasoned marcher and speaker and had unbounded energy, engaging in open-air meetings, leafleting and other publicity for her cause. Dorothy died of pneumonia in 1917, age 34, a year before she would have achieved the right to vote. Her mother died 10 years later and shares the grave of her daughter in the cemetery. An image of her restored headstone was given earlier in my article.

[10] EDWARD TOM LE LACHEUR (1884-1959)

Edward was born in Tunbridge Wells May 30,1884. He was living with his parents at The Wilderness at the time of the 1891 census but was away at university at the time of the 1901 census.

In the 3rd qtr of 1913 at Richmond, Surrey he married Dorothy Constance Fairclough  who was born October23,1885 at West Kensington and died June 15,1980 at Hampstead. It was not determined if the couple had any children.  Dorothy was one of four children born to Morrison Fairclough (1846-1919) and Emma Constance Fairclough, nee McClean (1859-1935).

He enrolled for service in the British Army during WW1 and returned to civilian life in 1919.

When his brother William John Le Lacheur passed away in 1923 Edward was one of the executors and given as a “gentleman”. When his sister Frances Amy Le Lacheur passed away in Tunbridge Wells in 1927 he was named as her sole executor with the occupation of “ investment agent”.

In 1934 he went on a business trip to Swansea, Wales and arrived back in Bristol on July 16,1934.

Probate records gave Edward of Wades House, Barton Stacey Winchester when he died August 22,1959. The executors of his 78,013 pound estate was his widow Dorothy and his Geoffrey Tom Le Lacheur, solicitor.

[11] MAY MARTIN LE LACHEUR (1886-1944)

May was born in the 4th qtr of 1886 in Tunbridge Wells. She was living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1891 and 1901 census but not at the time of the 1911 census.

At the time of the 1911 census she was a spinster living at Henfield, Sussex with the occupation of “suffragist and nursery gardener employer”. With her was Clady’s E.M. Sherris born 1885 in Porstmouth, a single lady who gave the same occupation as Miss Le Lacheur, who never married.

In 1913 she departed from Liverpool and arrived in New York, USA on December 12,1913.

An article in the BM5 Magazine dated June 13,2018 gave the following under the heading of ‘Henfield Suffragists’. “ Gladys Ellen Murial Sheeris and May Martin Le Lacheur, nursery owners of Flower Farm in Upper Station Road Henfield were also Henfield suffragists. Both ladies completed the 1911 census posting their occupation as suffragists, the only women in Henfield that year to declare this on the census”.

From ‘Henfield then and now’ was the following about the aforementioned flower nursery. “ Flower Farm Close is a long close of bungalows running west off Fabians Way. Before the development of the modern bungalows took place, the north side of the close was the site of Henfield Flower Farm Nursery, a business which had been started in the early years of the century. Fabian’s Way didn’t exist at that time and the only way in to the nursery was from Staples Barn. In 1911, the nursery was owned by May Le Lacheur from Tunbridge Wells and Clady’s Sherris from Portsmouth. Both single ladies gave their occupation as ‘Suffragists and nursery gardener’. In the 1930’s and 1940’s the nursery was owned by a Mr Hills, who lived in Blackgate Lane, and foreman was a Mr Munnery”.

Probate records gave May Martin Le Lacheur of St Peters Hill Speen, Buckinghamshire, spinster, when she died November 3,1944 at Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The executors of her 27,120 pound estate were Richard Edward Sparks, garage proprietor and Pamela Peggy Brackett (wife of Lancelot Morris Brackett).

A publication dated August 1897 by the Cyclists Touring Club listed as a member “Miss M. Le Lacheur of the Wilderness, Tunbridge Wells”.


Mabel was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1890. She was living with her parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1891, 1901 census and with her widowed mother at the time of the 1911 census. She did not identify herself as a suffragist in the 1911 census but her mother recorded herself as the treasurer of the NUWSS.

Mabel never married and lived her entire life in Tunbridge Wells. Probate records gave her of 7 Forest Road, Tunbridge Wells, spinster, when she died November 19,1954. The executors of her 16,144 pound estate were her nephew Martin Gordon Bretherton, a school teacher, and Judith Dornic Guthrie (wife of Tyrone Guthrie). She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on November 25th.


Details about this residence were given in my article of the above name dated January 30,2012 and for that reason only a brief overview is given here. The Wildnerness, located at 1 Pembury Road was one of several large home constructed in what became known as ‘millionaires row’ .

The Wilderness was a multi-sty residence of 18 rooms, according to the 1911 census, built of local sandstone, and set back well off Pembury Road as highlighted on the 1909 os map opposite.

The Wilderness mansion was built about 1870 well back off of Pembury Road just west from the Rosebank mansion(now gone) that was built in the 1860's and accessed by a long drive which is now a road called Shandon Close.

When " The Wilderness" was constructed it was built,according to Chris Jones of the Civic Society on ground "that was the site of the Calverley Waterworks reservoir.The water was pumped up there from the Jack Woods Spring down by where Grosvenor Bridge is now" and the mansion "was in the gabled style similar to those facing Calverley Park Gardens".

The mansion was first occupied in 1872  and from the map one can see that there was a gate house well back off Pembury Road,a "Fish Pond" and other service buildings. In the 20th century the entire site was redeveloped into what became the Shandon Close residential community accesses from Pembury Road by Shandon Close. A sign at the entrance to this road makes reference to the former Wilderness estate in its reference to the names of "Wilderness Cottage" and "Wilderness Mews.

The first known occupant of the Wilderness was Henry Gould Sharp (1833-1898), a wealthy stockbroker. He was found listed at this residence in a directory of 1873 and 1874 and is believed to have taken up residence there in 1871.

For the most part the original mansion was a structure of four storeys with a three storey wing at one end. The grounds of the mansion were originally on a plot of land of about five acres with frontage on three roads namely Calverley Road, Pembury Road and Calverley Park Gardens.

In addition to the mansion can be seen several service buildings no doubt occupied by some of the household staff such as the gardener and in the stables the groom and coachman.

Henry's occupation of the Wilderness was a rather short one for in the 1881 census he is found living with his wife,son Harry and there servants on Park Hill Road in Croydon,Surrey. Henry was still working as a stock broker at that time. In 1891 Henry and his wife are living alone at Kingskerswell, Cockington, Devis with only one servant.

In 1898 Henry passed away.Probate records gives 'Henry Gould Sharp of "Greuville" Wellington Road,Bournmouth died June 24,1898". His estate of just over 12,000 pounds was left to his wife Jane and his son Harry, who like his father took up a career as a stock dealer.

In 1880 Henry sold the Wilderness estate to John Allez Le Lacheur. The last member of the Le Lachure family to live there was Lydia Julia La Lacheur who died there in 1927.

The entire site of the estate was redeveloped in the 20th century.The old drive to the mansion became a road called Shandon Close and within it are a small number of recent homes and two residences bearing a reference to the old mansion( ‘Wilderness Cottage’ and ‘Wilderness Mews’). The development also consumed what once was the abutting mansion called Rosebank which according to Chris Jones was renamed sometime in its history "Shandon Court" and the name Shandon was given to the road into the development.


During WW1 Lydia Le Lacheur and several of her daughters became actively involved in the suffrage movement. Lydia became the treasurer of the NUWSS and was a member of ‘The Mayors Committee’ regarding the town’s role in providing accommodation for Belgium refugees. This committee consisted of 25 women and 5 men and was formed in October 1914. Lydia,who was on the committee immediately assumed responsibility for a group of about 13 Belgian refugees that had recently arrived in the town.The Scott sisters, Susan Power and one of Lydia’s daughters were also on the committee. The local branch of the NUWSS held their meetings from their premises at 18 Crescent Road, a photo of which by local photographer and postcard printer/ publisher Harold H. Camburn, is shown above.

A detailed account of the Le Lecheur family from the women in history website is as follows “Several members of the Le Lacheur family of the Wilderness, Tunbridge Wells were involved in the women’s suffrage movement.” The photo opposite shows Kate Le Lecheur in the back row second from the right at Cambridge University.” The family, originally from Guernsey, had moved to Tunbridge Wells by 1880.  John Allez Le Lacheur was described in the census of the following year as ‘merchant, ship owner and Consul General’, roles which he inherited from his father, William Le Lacheur, who had opened up the coffee trade with Costa Rica and been rewarded by its government with the title of Consul General.  John’s wife, Lydia, gave birth to at least eleven children between c.1867 and 1890, including eight girls, while he developed many business interests in the city of London with a variety of shipping, transport and insurance companies as well as the family firm.  The Le Lacheurs were generous supporters of philanthropic causes especially those related the Congregational church: John served on the national Congregationalists’ Missionary Committee.  In Tunbridge Wells he supported local causes including the Leisure Hour Club which was run for working girls by members of the National Union of Women Workers.

The Le Lacheurs’ home in Tunbridge Wells, which was pulled down decades ago, was probably one of the most impressive dwellings in the Pembury Road, where some of the town’s greatest mansions could be found.    It was described by auctioneers in 1905 as ‘occupying the finest position’ in the town, with ‘commanding views stretching into three counties’.  A ‘handsome gothic mansion’, the house had five reception rooms, eleven bedrooms, a conservatory and a billiard room.  It also had extensive and ‘magnificently timbered grounds, with tennis and other lawns; kitchen garden; extensive glasshouses, ornamental water, wild gardens and woods’. 

John and Lydia’s two surviving sons, William and Edward Tom, followed John into the family business and soon after John’s death in 1904 William took over as Consul General for Costa Rica.  Of the eight daughters at least two were educated at the Tunbridge Wells Girls’ High School.  These two, Emma Margarita and Edith Kate, went onto Newnham College at Cambridge, so the family were evidently supporters of female education.  Another daughter studied agriculture at a college in Swanley, Kent.

Lydia was very active in the Tunbridge Wells branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, where she served as treasurer and hosted many meetings and ‘at homes’, both at the Society’s shop and club rooms in Crescent Road and at the Wilderness.  She was also a supporter of the Women’s Tax Resistance League and presided over a meeting in support of the League’s campaign of passive resistance held at Crescent Road in the summer of 1911.  After the outbreak of the First World War Lydia and one of her daughters joined a committee to receive and support Belgian refugees who were coming to Tunbridge Wells, and Lydia was reported by a local newspaper to be in charge of receiving a group of refugees at Grosvenor Lodge.  Lydia showed an interest in progressive politics as well as philanthropy.

The Le Lacheur family like the Scott sisters were quickly involved in efforts to support Belgian refugees in Tunbridge Wells. Lydia and one of her daughters were members of the Mayor’s emergency relief committee established in October 1914. In early October 1914 it was announced that the first group of refugees were to be received by Lydia Le Lacheur-two full weeks before the Mayor’s official committee was formed. Her hostess role was reminiscent of the part she had played in so many of the suffrage society ‘at homes’ held at her residence.

In 1915, by which time Lydia was in her seventies, she hosted a meeting at her home at which a MP named Percy Alden spoke in favour of the establishment of an international organisation to prevent future wars.

Of her daughters, (Edith) Kate (born c.1877) is the best-known for suffrage activities.  After Newnham, Kate took up farming, becoming a member of the recently-formed British section of the Women’s Agricultural and Horticultural International Union (WAHIU) early in 1901.  Later the Women’s Farm and Garden Association, the WAHIU was formed to promote farming as a profession for women.  The following year, she was appointed Manageress of the Leckhampstead Manor Farm School near Newbury.  By 1904 she was running Lovegrove’s Dairy at Checkendon near Reading, an establishment described as in Raeburn’s book The Militant Suffragettes as ‘a suffragette dairy and farm school’, and in the photograph of the farm  in Raeburn’s book a ‘votes for women’ poster is visible on a barn.  In retrospect, Kate was especially proud of running one of the first dairies to use motorised transport for milk delivery.  Kate married in 1912 but did not change her name, merely altering the prefix to ‘Mrs’.  In 1913 she started advertising courses offering ‘practical training for Home or Colonial farming’ at Checkendon in the newsletter of the WAHIU.  Kate and her husband had three sons, but she was soon widowed, as her husband volunteered for the army at the outbreak of war and died in the Dardanelles campaign of 1915.

Kate seems to have been associated mainly with the Women’s Freedom League (WFL).  She is reported in the first issue of The Vote in 1909 as having donated £2 to the WFL legal defence fund.  In November 1910 she was arrested alongside 161 other people for obstruction in Downing Street, a few days after the famous ‘Black Friday’ demonstration which is remembered for police assaults on women.  On that occasion she was discharged at Bow Street Court when no evidence was offered.  Her later involvement with the Women’s Peace Crusade – which opposed war and militarism - suggests close connections to the WFL leadership and world view.  The WFL also spawned the Women’s Tax Resistance League in which Kate played a part, famously having a cow seized by bailiffs for non-payment of tax.

Some of the other Le Lacheur daughters were also involved in the suffrage campaign.  At least one of them belonged to the Tunbridge Wells Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), and demonstrated alongside Olive Walton outside the Great Hall anti-suffrage rally in 1913.  Miss M M Le Lacheur, who followed her older sister Kate into farming and the WAHIU, was in the car driven by ‘Mr Le Lacheur’ (presumably one of her brothers) to the WSPU ‘Women’s Sunday’ demonstration in June1908.  Unfortunately, newspaper reports rarely gave a first name or initials, but it seems likely that one or two of the younger daughters who still lived at home in the years leading up to the First World War were active alongside their mother in the town’s suffrage movement.  As studies in other towns have found, families like the Le Lacheurs were active in several suffrage societies, and the dividing lines between ‘militants’ and ‘non-militants’ were far from clear.  The Tunbridge Wells anti-suffragist, Margaret Backhouse perhaps had some justification when she argued that the local NUWSS leadership were being disingenuous when they tried to disassociate themselves totally from the actions of militants in the wake of the cricket pavilion fire in 1913.”

Further reading about the Le Lacheur ladies in connection with the Women’s Suffrage Movement can be found in the book ‘Disgusted Ladies’ by Anne Carwarine.


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

Date: March 22,2019


The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells is the oldest commercial district in the town, dating back to the 17th century.  The old style shops on both the upper and lower walks have been a popular destination for local residents and tourists alike. The long row of columns in front of the shops on the upper walks, the roof over which provides shelter to those visiting the site ,have often been adorned with a wonderful selection of flowers in hanging baskets.  At various spots in the Pantiles floral displays in the form of planters ,and in more recent time floral fountains, have all helped to beautify the spot. The Pantiles Association and the Tunbridge Wells Tradesmen’s Association in conjunction with local council have over the years worked together to promote local business through various initiatives, including the beautification of the Pantiles.

Among these floral displays, the one that is the subject of this article, is the circular stone planter that was installed in 1920 in the middle of the square in front of the former bath house at the entrance to the Pantiles.

Images of this planter are plentiful covering the years 1920 to the early 21st century but it is not to be seen in photographs and postcard views of the Pantiles up to the end of WW1, thus the installation date of 1920. A review of local newspapers unfortunately turned up no specific mention of its installation. It would appear that the installation of the planter was part of the work referred to the Kent & Sussex Courier of March 19,1920 which referred to soliciting suggestions on how to restore the business prosperity of the Pantiles after the war. Perhaps one of the suggestions involved a scheme to beautify the spot by the provision of this planter and other floral arrangements.

The flower shop,nursery and landscaping business of Arthur Charlton and Sons operated from premises in the Pantiles from the early 1920’s and references to that business providing flowers to decorate the Pantiles were found. It is speculated therefore that Charlton may have had a hand in the planting of flowers in this planter.

From photographic images it is known that the planter was still there in 1997 but those of 2016 onwards show it had been removed and I know from visiting the Pantiles in 2015 that it was gone by then. Lasting some 80 years it’s a shame that this landmark is now gone. Perhaps it’s time to install a replacement. Today the spot on which the planter stood has been filled in with paving stones and occupied by several tables and chairs from the nearby café/restaurant. 

Given in the remainder of this article are a selection of photographic images of the Pantiles in which the planter is shown, which images are arranged in order. The earliest of these images (at the top of this article)is the postcard above franked 1920 which was published by J. Salmon of Sevenoaks and which image is based on a painting by Quintin.  Shown above are two postcard views of the entrance to the Pantiles in front of the former bath in which can be seen what the site of planter looked like before it was installed.


When constructed the planter was built of stone and measured about 8 feet in diameter and about 2-1/2 feet high and planted out with beautiful flowers.

Although not intended for this purpose the height of the planter was such that people often used it to sit on. To discourage sitting on it a row of iron spikes were installed around the inside rim of the planter. This metal work can be clearly seen in postcards of the 1950’s and may have been installed earlier than that.

Another feature that shows up in postcards of the 1950’s are vertical white stripes painted around the planters perimeter at intervals. These stripes were a misguided attempt to make the planter more beautiful or stand out, but unfortunately as the images show these white stripes faded or wore away with the passage of time. Later images of the planter show this deterioration to the point where the stripes are barely visible. When this white paint was applied was not determined but images of the planter from the 1930’s and 1940’s don’t show them.  The postcard view shown above was postmarked 1958 and in addition to the white stripes one can also see the iron spikes referred to.

The iron spikes, perhaps installed in the 1930’s were still there in images from the late 1950’s . They however  do not appear in images from the 1980’s suggesting that they either wore out or a decision was taken to remove them. Perhaps people complained about them, who wanted to sit on the edge of the planter, and the idea of keeping them off was no longer important.

Images of the planter from the 1980’s onward suggest that the stone ledge installed along the top edge had deteriorated and was replaced by newer looking and smoother stone.

Shown above left is a postcard franked 1932 and to the right is one by Harold H. Camburn franked 1946.

Shown above left is a postcard franked 1977 and to the right is a modern view from 2018 showing that the planter had been removed and replaced by tables and chairs from a nearby café. As the Pantiles is the most often photographed part of town there are hundreds of postcard views of it, many taken showing the planter and many before its installation.

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