ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 4

 

ST LUKES SCHOOL HISTORY

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

Date: October 11,2018

ST LUKES PARISH 

Towards the end of the 19th century, Tunbridge Wells was experiencing rapid growth in the north, especially in the area between St. John’s Road and Upper Grosvenor Road. The Shatter’s Wood suburb, now the Silverdale Road area, was a distance from St. John’s Church. Their vicar, Rev. Henry Eardley arranged for open air services to be carried out in the district by Captain Batstone, a Church Army captain. The services went from being in the open air to being conducted in a tent, but this was soon to be replaced by a Mission Room (image opposite), which was opened on October 13th 1895. Built mainly from metal, it became known as ‘The Iron Church’ and held about 200 people. It was built on a piece of land that ran between Silverdale Road and Upper Grosvenor Road.The work and worship of the Mission Church continued to grow, and in 1896, a church infant’s day school was started. The following year the site was extended and licensed for Holy Communion.

In 1898, the Rev. A. D. Ferrier - Rowe came to St. John’s as a curate, and by 1903 his main work was in the rapidly growing Silverdale area. Around this time the district started being referred to as ‘St. Luke’s’. In 1904 the Vicar of St. John’s made clear reference to the need to create a new Parish with a “substantial Church, capable of holding about 500 or 600.”  The parish of St Luke was formed by order of council gazetted April 4,1911 from portions of the parishes of St Johns, St James, St Barnabas and also from St Matthews in Southborough.

Fund raising began, but building a replacement Infants School became priority as the old building was condemned. It was opened on the October 18,1905. In the meantime, the pupils used the Mission Room, which now held 300 people. The wish to build a permanent church was still strongly in people’s minds, but it was not until the Golden Jubilee for St. John’s Church in January 1908 that a scheme for building a new Church was fully launched. By May 26,1909, when the building committee appointed by the Bishop of Rochester first met, £3,000 had been raised.

By 1909, the land in Silverdale Road was now not considered suitable and the Iron Church was to become a Parish Room, so a piece of land in Wilkin Road (now St. Luke’s Road) was purchased and Miss Adelaide Anne Mitchell (1831-1922), a wealthy spinster who provided the land and money for the new church laid the new church’s foundation stone on February 26th 1910.

On October 31,1910, the church was consecrated by Bishop Harmer, the Bishop of Rochester at that time. St. Luke’s had become a separate parish under the Bishop on October 1,1908, but legally it was declared on May 22,1911. Four days later, the Rev. Arthur Delph Ferrier - Rowe (1873-1942) became the first vicar after previously being the ‘Curate - in - Charge’.

SCHOOL SITE AND HISTORY 

As noted above St Lukes (infant) school was begun on Silverdale Road in High Brooms in 1896 but when the building was condemned a decision to replace it with a new building was made in 1904 and a fund raising campaign was begun. As a result of a successful fundraising drive a red brick school was constructed on the corner of Silverdale Road and Denbian Road in 1905. A  photograph of this school taken November 15,2008 (after the school was closed and boarded up) is shown opposite. The school was built from bricks supplied by the local High Brooms Brick and Tile Company.

When the school was built it was constructed to accommodate 192 children and Miss Temple became the school’s first mistress. She was still listed as the mistress of the school in directories up to and including 1922. More information about her is given later in this article.

Directory listings for the school gave the following (1) 1913-St Lukes (Infants) School, Silverdale Road for 192 children with average attendance of 173; Miss Temple mistress (1) 1918- same as 1913 listing but no average attendance given (1922-St Lukes Infant School-Silverdale Road for 192 children.Miss Temple Mistress.

Directories of 1930,1934 and 1938 provided no information about the school.

From an article about Belgians in Tunbridge Wells that appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier of March 26,1915, the following was reported “  Little Jeanne KUMPS must have made her mark on the town – not least when in March 1915 this “tiny mite of four years” sang the British National Anthem in English at a concert at St Luke’s School – a concert at which all the performers were Belgian refugees resident in the town.”

In 1922 Tunbridge Wells experienced one of its worse storms in history in which many streets were flooded. Shown opposite is a photograph of a flooded Silverdale Road from the Kent & Sussex Courier. In this view on the left can be seen a row of red brick shops and just beyond them and adjacent to them can be seen a partial view of St Luke’s School.  Beside this image is another in black and white showing the flood on Silverdale Road.











By the 1920s, St Luke’s was established as an important focus for the Silverdale area. Sadly, in 1924, Miss Temple had to resign, due to ill health. It must have been a great loss for the school. In January 1925, Lucy Kate Card(1880-1972) was made the school’s second headteacher. She proved to be just as prolific, and stayed for 19 years, until retiring in December 1944.

When Miss Card took over, the outside of the school was looking a bit the worse for wear, with broken doors and fences, as they hadn’t been painted since the school opened in 1905. Miss Card soon got the front of the school looking smart again by getting the children to make little gardens around the trees, and ivy was trained to cover the bakery wall – where the Silverdale House flats are now. Peggy Russell (then Osborne), who is in her 70’s, clearly remembers planting bulbs around the trees a few years later, making holes with a little wooden dibber. These gardening traditions have been carried on ever since. Miss Card’s motto was “A happy staff makes a happy school”.

Mrs Mary Blake, now in her late 80’s, has many clear memories from this era. She was born in 1923, and went to St Lukes from 1927. She lived just ten minutes’ walk away in Queen’s Road, and remembers her mother taking her to school for her first morning, but after that she walked down and then up the hill on her own. In those days there were horses and carts on the roads, she says, but things moved slowly and it was never busy, so crossing roads wasn’t a problem. She remembers the row of railings and the trees (which must seem very tall to a five-year-old), and the bakery next door. Mary learned her alphabet by tracing letters with a stick in a sand tray, and says they were told to have a rest every afternoon after lunch.

Another fond memory is of maypole dancing - but she also remembers the cold trek to the outside toilets! Attendance must have been a bit hit and miss in the 1920s, as Mary remembers every child who made it through a whole week was rewarded with a sweet! After school ended at 4pm, Mary would go back up the hill, home for bread and butter, with cheese, paste or jam. There was no TV yet, but the BBC had been broadcasting since 1922, and families with a ‘wireless’ would gather around to listen to programmes, much like we watch TV today. Favourite toys of the 1920s included paper dolls with fold-around clothes, snakes and ladders, toy cars, jigsaws and - every boy’s dream – a Hornby train set. Mary Blake also stated “The mornings would be taken up by teaching us to write. No pens or pencils were used but each child was given a small tray of sand and a stick, which we had to use to learn how to write the alphabet. The afternoons were quite different. After coming back from having our dinner at home we had to lay on the floor go to sleep, which we did: I don’t know what the teachers were doing at this time: I expect having a doze. If we had not missed a day at school all week, on Fridays we were given a sweet as we left school. I would take my sweet home for my mother. I would put it in the pocket of my school knickers!!”

By the 1930s, St Luke’s was a busy, thriving school. As it entered the new decade, the average number of pupils at the school was 115 – and most other years it was over 100. Until 1931, the school year ran from the beginning of April – not September as today. By the end of the decade, numbers has been swelled by the first wave of new, modern housing, like the Oak Road estate, just beyond the railway bridge. In 1939 the Best family moved from the centre of town to this new estate, and the three eldest children, John, Roy and Pam, were pupils at St Luke’s. John later married Jean – who became the well-loved reception teacher Mrs Best in the 1980s.

In those days, nutrition was a problem in many schools, and children were all given 1/3 pint of milk in the mornings to give them their daily calcium. If it was winter, the bottles were warmed by the fireside first.

And the school log shows that during most winters in the 30s there were outbreaks of illness: mumps, measles, chicken pox and whooping cough all kept children off school. Nits were also a problem, and a ‘head inspection’ was made one by a nurse.

By now, the school had firm links with St Luke’s church up the road, with children walk there, two by two, for St Luke’s day and special occasions, like the funeral of King George V on January 28 1936.

Times were hard for most parents, as unemployment was high, and there was no housing benefit or Social Security then –there wasn’t even a National Health Service until 1948, any medicines or doctor’s visits had to be paid for. Despite this, the spirit of St Luke’s parents was already strong, with people lending a hand whenever they could. In 1936, the playground’s surface was broken and rough, so parents, staff and children raised the then very large sum of £50, with concerts, jumble sales, whist drives and donations – in the same spirit as parents have until 2007.

Children also got a day off on  July 18,1932, when the Duke and Duchess of York visited Tunbridge Wells to lay the foundation stone of the new hospital.

On May 7,1935 Mayor and Mayoress visited the school and presented mugs to all the children to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V

In those days, teachers brandished a cane and were allowed to mete out punishment as they saw fit!

In 1932 one member of staff was reported for ‘unkindness’ to the children, and was placed on probation for three months. She must have mended her ways as she was still at the school a year later

Mary Blake (nee Benton) remembers being caned in 1930 for a minor slip-up in maths: she left 1/4d off a sum. She was aged just seven – and can still remember the injustice of her punishment at the fine old age of 84!

Ernest and Peggy Russell (nee Osborne) are both one of eight children, and both went to St Lukes – Ernie in the late 1920s and Peggy in the early 1930s. They still live just around the corner in Denbigh Road. Peggy clearly remembers planting bulbs around the school trees, using a little dibber to make the holes and Ernie remembers open fields on one side of Holmewood Road and at the top of Denbigh Road. While Ernie was doing his National Service, St Luke’s sent him cigarettes as part of the war effort!

Mrs Yelland took the youngest ones. She was the daughter of Mr Egan, who ran the bakery next to the school. We also had visits from Rev Rowe, the first vicar of St Lukes. I remember hanging up my coat on the pegs in the little cloakroom, and having to go outside to the toilet block. One day there was a huge story and the school flooded – I went racing home! My mother took me to school every day, and I loved the school. After St Luke’s I went on to St Barnabas

The last days of St Luke’s first headteacher: the staff register for 1924 shows that the much loved Jessie Temple is marked as ‘absent through illness’ in the weeks after the summer break, and after October the2 spreads

When the schoolchildren came to school for the new term on September 25 ,1939 she was awaiting further instructions from the Local Education Authority ‘on account of the country being in a state of war’, says the school log. The school reopened on October 16th, but to a different mood, and having to share the building with an evacuated school, St Joseph’s RC School. For a while the two schools worked a split shift so that one school used facilities in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Ex-pupil Peggy Russell remembers having to stay home in the mornings while the evacuees used the school before coming in the afternoons. St Luke’s had 20 new children starting in 1939, and three of them were evacuees – possibly relatives from London who had been sent to safety.

By 1940, the children were issued with gas marks and the school windows were treated with anti-splinter coating, as the threat of air attacks heightened. Two air raid shelters were built in the playground but when the first air raid warning rang out on August 12th 1940 it wasn’t finished. Because of this, it was decided that only half of the children should come to school, meaning even more time out for pupils. By November the shelter was finished: and the children observed a two-minute silence in the shelter on Remembrance Day. 

Air raids continued throughout 1941, and the children and staff must have appreciated the fact that the shelter, by now, was heated. The School Log records that air raid warnings calmed down in 1942 and 1943, but returned with a vengeance in June 1944 with the V1 attacks.

On July 14th, the LEA agreed that any parents who wished to evacuate their children could send them away the following week. A group of St Luke’s children went to Glamorgan in South Wales. Others left Tunbridge Wells for safer areas with their parents. Despite this, 107 children remained on the roll.

The end of the 1944 autumn term saw the retirement of Miss Card, after 19 years as headteacher.

The next year, on May 8 and 9, the children of St Luke’s had two more days off school, this time to join the rest of Britain in celebrating VE day.

On July 28,1944 the children had a day off school, due to an unexploded bomb in the area. In general, Tunbridge Wells got off pretty lightly from the war, with 153 hits from high explosives, 15 from oil bombs and 14 from flying bombs. A total of 3,821 properties were damaged or demolished, but only 15 lives were lost. But through the war years, children had to hear the ominous wail of an air raid siren and scramble for their shelters 970 times – that’s almost once every two days.

Bryan Mercer started at St Luke’s in 1943, right in the middle of the war years. He now lives in Canada, and wrote about his memories stating “ My first teacher was Mrs Ford and we sat in rows of desks, not shared tables like now, and mine was in the back row. We wrote on slates, using white chalk. In the playground there were two air raid shelters. We often had to have lessons in there, because of air raids. In the mornings a teacher’s assistant called Miss Stevens would take our cake or sandwich and put it in a basket, and give it back during playtime, when we had a bottle of milk. In the winter, this milk was warmed. In the third year, we used the Maypole – and I remember the bright ribbons making patterns around the pole. We didn’t have uniforms then, just a cap. No school pictures were taken while I was at school: with the war going on, nobody could afford a camera or film. It was here that I first heard the sound of chalk scratching on the blackboard – and I’ve disliked it ever since!

Bryan Mercer remembers lessons in the air raid shelter, bottles of warm milk and the screech of chalk on blackboard…

These photographs were taken during a school May Day celebration. They belong to Peter Parfitt, who is 73 and still lives in Silverdale Road. He was at the school from 1939 – so would have been among the children having lessons in the air raid shelter. He fondly remembers Miss Ford, the reception teacher and Miss Card, the headteacher, who was less glamorous but well respected.

Mrs Margaret Simons (nee Smith) was at St Lukes between 1940 and 1943. She wrote about her memories stating “ Miss Ford was a lovely lady, an elegant blonde, who was the ideal person to help children into what seemed an alien world. Every morning she played the piano and we skipped in to the strains of An English Country Garden. We sat on tiny chairs with small tables, until we were ‘promoted’ to the real desk which skirted the room. On the walls were pictures of the alphabet, with an apple for A etc. In the middle of the room a huge colourful paper parrot hung overhead. Our morning were taken up with learning our numbers or words, while the afternoons were spent making small things out of raffia or sewing. I clearly remember taking an empty cocoa tin and, with the aid of thick paper and glue, converting it into a smart spill-holder for my Mum. Ever afternoon the whole class had to spend some time resting at our desks, laying our heads on our arms. I was sad to leave the secure feeling of the elegant Miss Ford’s class, but whenever I saw her in town, she would stop and have a chat with me – right up until I was a mother myself. The next class was taught by Mrs Winter, where we recited our times tables and poetry. I saw shy of reciting poetry in front of the whole class or the school plus parents, so Mrs winter worked wonders by words of encouragement plus small bars of toffee! While in this class we were introduced to Maypole dancing. The Maypole was brought out into the playground at the beginning of May, and groups of us would perform a dance so the ribbons were plaited down the pole. I was also in a concert about fairies and flowers, and I was Fairy Daisy, and wore a crepe paper dress with a green bodice and a skirt of large white petals. On my head was a daisy chain and I had to say what Fairy Daisies do and do a little dance. I still have a photograph of me in the costume, as a lasting reminder. Mrs Winter had been very kind, but I did get a smack on the leg ‘for talking in the lobby’ – the only corporal discipline in my school years. It didn’t hurt but my pride took a jolt!”  regarding year 2 lessons she stated “ Miss Yelland taught us about the British empire, and we would look at the globe with parts shown in red to denote this. The whole school took pride in singing Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia on Empire Day. Miss Yelland also taught me to sew properly and I presented Mum with a table runner embroidered with ducks. Throughout my days at St Luke’s the headmistress was Miss Lucy Card – a rather rotund lady who wore hand-knitted suits or dresses: austere but approachable. “ Regarding wartime lessons she stated “ My years at St Luke’s were constantly interrupted by air raids. When the siren went the whole school would be shepherded into the windowless lobby and we should sit on the floor for what seemed like hours and sing Ten Green Bottles, etc. When the Battle of Britain was in progress, we had to go into the large, very cold concrete shelter that had been erected and seemed to take up most of the playground. But as children we were mostly unaware of the dangers of war. On an everyday level we had to take our gas masks to school every day, and practise writing on the green blackboard rather than paper, as there were paper shortages. As I was at St Luke’s from 1940 and 1943, the many interruptions must have taken their toll in some way, but I must say that I received a good education foundation from my teachers in those important years. “

The post war years saw Miss Chapman taking charge in 1945, who would remain there for the next 13 years. There was also an administrative change: in 1946 the school came under the direct control of the Kent Education Committee, who assumed responsibility for maintenance and repairs, so the playground was resurfaced and the roof retiled.

In the 1940s, songs and country dancing were part and parcel of life at St Luke’s – both to keep traditions going and keep up spirits. Patrick Best, brother-in-law of teacher Mrs Best, started there in 1947 – and had a particular loathing for the country dancing classes. Forty years later his mother was having a clear-out and discovered a battered copy of  Ten Easy Dances for Infants School, with a list of eight couples pencilled in the back pages, including Patrick’s name!

In 2006 a report was made regarding the status of St Luke’s School. The report showed that there had been a significant drop in the number of children attending the school and a decision was taken to close it. Around that time Mrs L. Cooper was the principal of the school and had in attendance 68 pupils ( 29 boys and 39 girls).

The school was officially closed on August 31,2007. At the time of its closure the school capacity was given as 85 pupils and that Mrs Mandy Crossan was the school principal.

Still in existence is the St Luke’s Nursery School which is open Monday to Friday and operates from the St Lukes Church Hall on St Lukes Road, Tunbridge Wells, a building that is located to the rear of St Lukes Church. They take children ages 2 ½ to 4. This nursery school is regularly inspected and is highly praised in reports.

MISS JESSIE TEMPLE (1872-1946)

When the school was built it was constructed to accommodate 192 children and Miss Temple became the school’s first mistress (head teacher).She was still listed as the mistress of the school in directories up to and including 1922. In 1924, Jessie had to resign, due to ill health.It must have been a great loss for the school. In January 1925, Lucy Kate Card (1880-1972) was made the school’s second headteacher.

Jessie was born in Chelsea, London with her birth registered at Chelsea in the 2nd qtr of 1872. She was one of nine children born to Charles Edeart Temple (born 1835 at Whicharin, Cumberland) and Mary Temple (born 1840 in Kennington, London).

The 1881 census, taken at 7 Paulton Square, London gave Jessie living with her parents and seven siblings and three servants. Her father at that time was working as a tailors fitter. Her sister Mary was a milliners apprentice; her sister Kate,age 20, a milliner; and her sister Nelly,age 18, a machinist. Jessie was attending school.

The 1891 census, taken at 7 Paulton Square, London gave Charles Edward Temple living on own means. With him was his wife Mary and the following children (1) Kate, age 30, a milliners shopwoman (2) Nellie, age 28, a tailors machinist (3) Dora,age 20, a tailors shopwoman (4) Jessie, age 19, a student training college (5) Marie,age 16, a florists shopwoman (6) Ralph,age 14, scholar (7) Janet,age 12, scholar (8) Phyllis,age 9, scholar. Also there were two domestic servants.

Jessie decided to become a teacher and obtained training in this line of work in London.

The 1901 census, taken at 11 St John’s Road in Tunbridge Wells gave Jessie as single and living as a boarder with the Frederick B. Harris family. She was given as a “teacher certified elementary”. Also living there as a boarder was Matilda A. Edwards, a single lady age 30 who was an assistant teacher in a school.

The 1911 census, taken at 5 East Cliff Road, Tunbridge Wells, gave Jessie as single and working as a certified head teacher. What school she taught at was not established.  She was found at the same address in a directory of 1913 and in all directories up to 1946.  No. 5 East Cliff Road still exists and is a 2 sty red brick semi-detached home located on the north side of East Cliff Road between St John’s Road and Riddlesdale Avene. A modern photograph of the home is shown opposite.

Probate records gave Jessie Temple of 5 East Cliff Road, Tunbridge Wells, spinster, when she died September 18,1946. The executors of her 3,658 pound estate were Lloyds Bank Ltd, Emma Louise Gooding (wife of Frank Coleman Gooding) and Clarence Burnett, local government officer.  Jessie was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on September24,1946.

LUCY KATE CARD (1880-1972) 

A detailed account about the life and career of Lucy Kate Card was given in my article ‘ The Life and Times of Lucy Kate Card’ dated September 2,2013. An image of her is shown opposite.  The aforementioned article gave genealogical information about her and information about her service during WW 1 as a nurse with the Red Cross.

Lucy was born in Tunbridge Wells October 28,1880 and was educated locally. During the pre WW1 years she worked in Tunbridge Wells as a teacher. Upon completion of her service in WW1 she returned to Tunbridge Wells and resumed her teaching career and as noted earlier she took over the position of head teacher at St Lukes Infant School when Jessie Temple retired in 1925. Lucy remained at St Lukes for 19 years, until retiring herself during the autumn term of 1944.

MURIEL BURY WELLS- FIRST LADY MAYOR

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

Date: October 13,2018

OVERVIEW 

Muriel Bury Wells (1890-1953) has the distinction of being the first lady Mayor of Tunbridge Wells. She had served initially as a Councillor on the Town Council and after serving as Mayor for two terms from 1949 to 1951 she continued to serve the town as a Councillor. She had to resign her position due to ill health and died in Tunbridge Wells at the Lonsdale Nursing Home on June 29,1953.

Murial had been born 1890 in Bowden, Cheshire and was baptised there April 21,1890. She came from a very wealthy and well known family and was the youngest of six children born to Civil Engineer Lionel Bury Wells (1843-1931) and Mary Eliza Wells, nee Kirkman (1847-1944) who were married October 11,1871 at Croft, Lancashire.

Her father had a distinguished career as a Civil Engineer to the River Weaver Trustees until he retired in 1887 and died January 9,1931 in Devon. He was a patent holder of inventions and the author of books related to Civil Engineering and is best noted for his design work of canals.

At the time of the 1881 census Lionel Bury Wells and his wife Mary and five of their children were living with four servants at Highfield House, Castle Northwich, Cheshire.

Muriel Bury Wells first appears in the 1891 census taken at Green Walk, Bowden, Cheshire which was noted as being an exclusive area of grand homes. Muriel was living there with her parents, four siblings and three servants. It was in this home that Muriel was born.  Muriel was still living in this home with her parents and two siblings and two servants at the time the 1901 census was taken. Her brother Lionel Fortescue Wells (DSO) (1877-1972), was living with her at that time. He later married and became a Civil Engineer and served as a Lieut-Col. with the Royal Engineers during WW1. He died in Tunbridge Wells at the Wellington Hotel November 10,1972. His wife Edith Mabel Wells, nee Raban (1875-1964) also died in Tunbridge Wells.

Muriel Bury Wells never married and never had to work, living instead on income from investments.

When the 1911 census was taken Muriel was living on private means with her elder spinster sister Mary Dorothea Wells (born 1875) and two domestics in premises of 12 rooms at Stonehanger, Salcombe, Devon.

In the 1920’s Muriel lived on Netherfield Road in Lancashire. From the late 1920’s to at least 1933 she lived in Kensington, London at 48 Redcliffe Square.

By 1939 she and her widowed mother Mary and sister Mary Dorothea Wells moved to Tunbridge Wells. A directory of 1939 lists all three of them along with two domestic servants and one visitor living in a fine home in Nevill Park.

In the 1940’s  Muriel became involved in local politics and in the late 1940’s became a Councillor on Town Council. From 1949 to 1951 Councillor Muriel Bury Wells served for two terms as Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, having replaced James Albert Sargent who had been Mayor from 1947-1949. Frank Shearme Harries L.L.B. replaced Muriel as Mayor and served from 1951-1952.

After relinquishing her position as Mayor Muriel was elected an alderman in 1952. She served on several council committees, was a governor of local schools, and during the war served as district head of the Women’s Voluntary Service. She was presented at Court shortly before her death.

Probate records gave her of 3 Wybourne Crest in Hawkenbury (off Forest Road) when she died June 29,1953 at the Lonsdale Nursing Home. Her mother had been living at Ventnor on Roedean Road, Tunbridge Wells when she died January 14,1944.

In this article I present information about the Wells family with an emphasis on the life and career of Muriel Bury Wells, particularly as it relates to her time in Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is a photograph of Muriel as Mayor of Tunbridge Wells taken by local photographer Payne Jenkins.

THE PRE TUNBRIDGE WELLS YEARS

I begin my coverage with Lionel Bury Wells (1943-1931) the father of Muriel Bury Wells. He had been born in East Porsmouth, Devon, and was one of eight children born to Rev. Thomas Bury Wells (1795-1879) and Catherine Frances Wells, nee Stockdale (1816-1860). Lionel was the eldest child in the family, the other being born between 1844 and 1860.

In the years leading up to 1861 he lived with his parents and siblings in at the Rectory in Portsmouth. His mother died September 27,160 at the Portsmouth Rectory and his father died May 23,1879 in Portsmouth.

At the time of the 1861 census Lionel was a pupil at Lee St Margaret,Kent and went on to become a noted Civil Engineer.

On October 11,1871 Lionel married Mary Eliza Kirkman (1847-1944) at Warrington, Lancashire. Mary Eliza Kirkman was born April 31,1847 at Croft Southworth, Lancashire and was baptized there July 25,1847. She was one of four siblings born to Rev. Thomas Penington Kirkman (1807-1895) and Eliza Anne Kirkman, nee Wright (born 1815). She was living with her parents and siblings at Crofty Southworth up to the time of her marriage to Lionel.  At the time of the 1871 census Lionel and his wife were living at Southworth with Croft, Lancashire.

Lionel and his wife Mary had six children namely (1) Katherine Emma Wells (born 1875) (2) Mary Dorothea Wells (born 1875) (3) Lionel Fortescue Wells (1877-1972) (4) Elizabeth Rose Wells (1878-1970) (5) Elinor Kickman Wells (born 1881) (6) Muriel Bury Wells (1890-1953). The two eldest children were born in Pembroke, Wales. Lionel and his sisters Elizabeth and Elinor  were born in Norwich, Cheshire. Muriel was born in Bowden,Cheshire.

At the time of the 1881 census, taken at Highfield House in Castle Northwich, Cheshire Lionel was a Civil Engineer. Living with him was his wife Mary and five of their children. Also there were four servants.

Lionel is best known as a Civil Engineer during  his time with the River Weaver Trustees and his work on canals. He retired from the River Weaver Trustees in 1887.  Information about his appears in various publications of The Engineer from 1888 to 1897. Another reference to him can be found online from 1907 in the Autumn 2008 Journal of The Friends of the Cromford Canal which describes his role in the building works of this canal and that he operated from offices at the Haworth’s Buildings in Manchester; that he had been a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers for over 35 years and that in 1877 he was appointed engineer to the River Weaver Navigation.

Lionel was an author of books on topics related to Civil Engineering and shown opposite is a patent he was awarded for an “apparatus for taking the end thrust of shafts” US patent 366748A dated July 19,1887.

The 1891 census taken at Green Walk, Bowden, Cheshire is the first census in which Muriel Bury Wells is found. Green Walk, Bowden was an exclusive residential community consisting of large and very expensive homes. Shown below are two postcard views of Green Walk.

 










Present in the home in the 1891 census was Lionel Bury Wells, Civil Engineer, and his wife Mary along with five of their children, including Muriel, a nurse and two domestic servants.

The 1901 census, taken at Green Walk, Bowden, Cheshire gave Lionel as a Civil Engineer. With him was his wife Mary ; his son Lionel (Civil Engineer), his daughters Elinor and Muriel and two domestic servants.

Later in the early 1900’s but before 1911 most of the children in the family left home., including Muriel.

The 1911 census, taken in a residence of 12 rooms at Stonehanger, Salcombe, Devon, gave Mary Dorothea Wells as the head of the home and living on private means. With her was her sister Muriel Bury Wells who was living on private means. Also there were two domestic servants.

Electoral records for 1920 to 1925 gave Muriel living at 292/298 Netherfield Road in Lancashire.

Electoral records for 1929-1933 gave Muriel living at 48 Redcliffe Square in Kensington, London.

Probate records for Lionel Bury Wells gave him of Carbery Salcombe, Devon when he died January 9,1931. The executors of his 35,341 pound estate were his son Lionel and Harry Augustus Whittall, esq.

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS YEARS 

Towards the end of the 1930’s Muriel and her mother Mary and sister Mary Dorothea Wells moved to Tunbridge Wells and took up residence initially in Nevill Park, a map of which is shown opposite.

The Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health regarding the school medical officer for the years 1937 and 1938 refer to Miss Murial Wells and it is known that Muriel Bury Wells have served as a governor of local schools.

A 1939 listing for Nevill Park, Tunbridge Wells gave Muriel Bury Wells living on private means. With her was her sister Mary Dorothea Wells who was living on private means and Muriel’s widowed mother Mary (house holder unpaid domestic duties). Also there were two domestics and a visitor. The Wells family residence was listed in the 1939 record as being near a home called Byways and the Nevill Lodge. The name and or address of the Wells home was not legible in the directory.

During WWII Muriel served as district head of the Women’s Voluntary Service.

In the 1940’s  Muriel became involved in local politics and in the late 1940’s became a Councillor on Town Council. From 1949 to 1951 Councillor Muriel Bury Wells served for two terms as Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, having replaced James Albert Sargent who had been Mayor from 1947-1949. Frank Shearme Harries L.L.B. replaced Muriel as Mayor and served from 1951-1952.

On June 6,1945  town council formally thanked  the Mayor ,Alderman Charles Westbrook  O.B.E. J.P. for his achievements as mayor from 1938-1945 during the difficult WWII era. He was further honoured in November 1950  by the Council when Miss Muriel Wells, the mayor, declared  with only the slightest exaggeration  that during the war years  “He was to this town what Churchill was to this nation – a tower of strength and an inspiration”.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of May 26,1950 reported “ Experts spotlight causes of crime at meeting to the Tunbridge Wells Council on Wednesday. The event was organized by the National Association for Mental Health at the invitation of the Mayor (Councillor Miss Muriel Wells)…”

After relinquishing her position as Mayor Muriel was elected an alderman in 1952. She had served on several council committees and was presented at Court shortly before her death.

Probate records gave her of 3 Wybourne Crest in Hawkenbury (off Forest Road) when she died June 29,1953 at the Lonsdale Nursing Home. Her mother had been living at Ventnor on Roedean Road, Tunbridge Wells when she died January 14,1944. Shown above is an architects plan of 3 Wybourne Crest from the Planning Authority files which gives several elevation and floor plan drawing of the home.  Given below is her obituary from the Courier.








LIONEL FORTESCUE WELLS (1877-1972)

Lionel was the only son born to Lionel Bury Wells and his wife. He had been born October 20,1877 at Northwich, Cheshire . He was living with his parents and siblings at Highfield House in Castle Northwich, Cheshire at the time of the 1881 census,and with them at Green Walk, Bowden at the time of the 1891 and 1901 census.

Like his father he became a Civil Engineer. At the time of the 1911 census he was still single and working as a Civil Engineer and living at 5 Carey St Vincent Square, Westminster.

During WW1 he served with the Royal Engineers in Egypt as a Lieut. Col. Details of his military appointments were posted in the London Gazette and his medal index card shows his medal entitlements and service.

On January 8,1920 he married Edith Mabel Raban at St Peter Cranley Gardens. A photo of Edith taken in 1919 by Bassano Ltd which is part of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, is shown above.  Edith had been born April 29,1975 in Bengal, India and was baptised at Shillang, Bengal,India May 15,1875. She had a sister and was the daughter of Sir Edward Rabin (1851-1927) and Elizabeth Raban, nee Welman (1856-1932). It does not appear that the couple had any children.

In the 1960’s Lionel and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells. Edith Mabel Wells died in Tunbridge Wells in the 2nd qtr of 1964. Probate records gave Lionel Fortescue Wells of the Wellington Hotel, Tunbridge Wells (image above) when he died November 10,1972 leaving an estate valued at 125,628 pounds.

 

THE HENRY BARING FAMILY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date: January 14,2017

OVERVIEW 

Henry Baring senior (1831-1929) and his second wife Harriett Emily Baring, nee Cubitt (1863-1950) were married 1888 in Hampshire and after the marriage moved to Tunbridge Wells.

Henry, born September 6,1831 at Eaton Place, Belgrade Square, London, came from a wealthy family, and was the second son of Major Henry Bingham Baring (1804-1869) M.P. and Lady Augusta Baring, nee Brudenell, the 6th daughter of Robert Brudenell, the 6th Earl of Cardigan.

Henry made the military his career, entering the 10th Hussars as a Coronet in 1853 becoming a Lieut. 17th Lancers in 1854 and became a Captain with them in 1856. He served in the Crimea and served with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars from 1862-1873. By the time he and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells he was retired and first took up residence at 2 Mount Ephraim.

While living in Tunbridge Wells Henry and Harriett had four children namely (1) Augusta (1889-1941) (2) Charles (1891-1891) (3) Rev. Francis Guy (1893-1962) (4) Henry (1893-1990). 

By 1901 the family resided in a fine and large home at 5 Canricade Gardens, and from at least 1911 to 1950 they lived in Boyne Park at 5 Somerville Gardens, an equally grand home. Henry senior and his wife both died at 5 Somerville Gardens.

Of their four children perhaps the most interesting and relevant to this article is their son Henry, born in Tunbridge Wells April 7,1893, the twin brother of Rev. Francis Guy Baring. The two boys graduated from University having obtained masters degrees and although Francis became an educator most of his career was devoted to the church after obtaining his MA from Oxford University.  Both brothers, along with their sister Augusta were living with their parents at 5 Somerville Gardens at the time of the 1911 census, and both were attending school.

Henry Baring’s education at Oxford was interrupted by WW 1 but he managed to compete it right after the war.

The records of the Royal Aero Club show that Henry, born 1893 of 5 Somerville Gardens, Tunbridge Wells, was a Captain in the 3/4th Royal West Kent Regiment when he obtained his certificate (4011) taken on a Maurice Farman Bi-plane (photo above)at the Military School in Shoreham on September 18,1916.  As noted in his obituary Henry began in the military with the Royal West Kent regiment, after which he became a Lieutenant in the RAF. Upon being shot down he was appointed a captain instructor.

After serving throughout the war with the Royal Air Service he returned to civilian life and became a school teacher. His first teaching position was in England but then went to Canada and in the early 1920’s he emigrated to Shanghai, China where he worked for the remainder of his life as a schoolteacher at the Public School for Boys in Shanghai and the Thomas Hanbury School for Boys. Like many people in the late 1920’s he took an interest in the Communist movement and commonly introduced his friends to the works of Karl Marx. Among these friends was Rewi Alley(1897-1987), a prolific poet, writer of non-fiction, adventurer, social reformer, peace activist, who’s life history has been recorded in several books, in which his contact and friendship with Henry Baring is recorded particularly w.r.t. Henry’s interest in and promotion of Communism. Henry, described in these books as “a progressive English schoolteacher” united with Rewi Alley and the American Marxist and feminist Agnes Smedy to form a Marxist study circle with a few other friends. In the words of Rewi Alley “Henry Baring was assassinated by the Shanghai Police in 1930” no doubt because of his pro-communist activities, undertaken at a time in China’s history when the government was anti-communist and took strong measures to quell the Communist movement in the country.  Probate records show that Henry Baring died September 14,1930 at only age 37, leaving his meager 139 pound estate to his mother Harriett Emily Baring, widow, for he never married.

THE EARLY BARING CLAN

In this section I provide some brief information about the ancestors of the Baring clan that took up residence in Tunbridge Wells and who lived in the town for about 60 years.

I begin with Sir Francis Baring ,1st Baronet (1740-1810) and his wife Harriet Baring, nee Herring (1730-1804) who had a number of children including Henry Baring (1777-1848). Sir Francis Baring was a merchant banker (Barings Bank). He was born at Larkbeare House near Exeter, son of John Baring (1697–1748) and his wife, Elizabeth Baring née Vowler (1702–1766), daughter of a prosperous Exeter dry goods wholesaler (at that time called a grocer). In 1762, Francis Baring, in partnership with his brother John, established the London merchant house of John and Francis Baring Company, which by 1807 had evolved into Baring Brothers & Co.. Despite being partially deaf from an early age, Francis did very well and, by the mid-1790s, had the full confidence of the British Parliament. By 1804 the partnership capital had reached £400,000. His total wealth, business as well as private, rose accordingly, from almost £5000 in 1763, to £64,000 in 1790, and to £500,000 in 1804.

Turning now to his son Henry Baring (1777-1848),  he was of Cromer Hall,Norfolk (photo opposite). He was a British banker and politician, the 3rd son ( of five)of Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet, the founder of the family banking firm that grew into Barings Bank. Henry, along with his older brothers Thomas and Alexander, became partners in the firm in 1804. Less interested in banking than his brothers he retired from the partnership in 1823. He sat as Member of Parliament for Bossiney from 1806-1807 and for Colchester from 1820 to 1826. He was married twice, first to Maria Matilda Bingham, the daughter of US Senator William Bingham, and former wife of James Alexander, Comte de Tilley, in 1802 . This marriage produced three sons and two daughters. In 1824 he divorced Maria and married Cecilia Anne, daughter of Vice-Admiral William Lukin Windham in 1825 and had at least seven sons and one daughter, several of which gained distinction. His eldest son from his first marriage was Henry Bingham Baring (1804-1869).

Henry Bingham Baring (1804-1969 (image opposite),born March 4th and died April 25th was a British Conservative Party politician and was the half brother of Evelyn Baring, 1st Earl of Cromer. He entered the House of Commons in 1831 as Member of Parliament for the rotten borough of Callington in Cornwall. When Callington was disenfranchised the following year, he was returned for the Marlborough constituency in Wiltshire, and held this seat until 1868. He married lady Augusta Brudenell(image opposite) ,the 6th daughter of Robert Brudenell, the 6th Earl of Cardigan. Of their four known children they had a son Henry Baring (1831-1929) who as noted in the ‘Overview’ was the head of the Baring family who took up residence in Tunbridge Wells. Details about him and his wife and children are given in the next section of this article.

THE BARING FAMILY IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS

The head of the Baring clan that took up residence in Tunbridge Wells was Henry Baring (1831-1929).

Henry had been born September 6,1831 at Eaton Place, Belgrade Square, London, came from a wealthy family, and was the second son of Major Henry Bingham Baring (1804-1869) M.P. and Lady Augusta Baring, nee Brudenell, the 6th daughter of Robert Brudenell, the 6th Earl of Cardigan. Lady Augusta died January 8,1859. Henry was baptised October 10,1831 at St George Hanover Square, Westminster.

Henry made the military his career, entering the 10th Hussars as a Coronet on June 10,1853 becoming a Lieut. 17th Lancers December 29,1854 and became a Captain with them in 1856. He served in the Crimea, at the siege of Sebastopol (medal with clasp and Turkish medal). He was Adjunct with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars from 1862-1873. By the time he and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells he was retired and first took up residence at 2 Mount Ephraim. Shown opposite is  a group photo showing left to right Henry Baring, 17th Lancers; G. Thomplinson 8th Hussars; J.E. Edlmann KDG; R Hale 7th Hussars. This photo was taken at Canterbury in 1857.

Henry’s first wife was Emily born 1831 in London with whom it appears he had no children. The 1881 census, taken at 23 Homefield Road in Wimbledon, Surrey gave Henry as a “captain late 17th Lancers”. With him was his wife Emily, born 1831 London and two servants. Emily died sometime before 1888.

On March 27,1888 Henry married Harriett Emily Cubitt at Holy Trinity,Christchurch, Hampshire (photo opposite). Harriett had been born 1863 at Honing Hall, Honing, Norfolk and was baptised at Honing on June 25,1863. Her parents were Edward George Cubitt (1795-1865) and Emma Cubitt.  From a review of the birth records of their children it is known that Henry and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells soon after their marriage for their first child was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1889. 

While living in Tunbridge Wells Henry and Harriett had four children namely (1) Augusta (1889-1941) (2) Charles (1891-1891) (3) Rev. Francis Guy (1893-1962) (4) Henry (1893-1990). All of the children were born in Tunbridge Wells. Further information about each of them is given later.  

The 1891 census, taken at 2 Mount Ephraim gave Harriett Emily Baring as a married woman living on own means. Where her husband Henry was at that time was not established. Living with Harriett were her children Augusta and Charles Brundenall Baring age 2 mths born 1891. Charles however did not survive and died in the same year he was born. Also in the home were five servants and one visitor.

The 1899 Kelly gave the listing “ Captain Henry Baring, 59 Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

By 1901 the family resided in a fine and large home at 5 Canricade Gardens. The 1901 census, taken at that address, gave Henry Baring as living on own means. With him was his wife Harriet; their children Augusta,age 11 ; Henry and Francis Guy Baring, twins, born 1893. Also in the home were five servants, including a governess, cook, childrens maid, housemaid and a parlormaid. A 1903 directory still listed the family at this address. The London Metropolitan Archives have a file pertaining to the Edgware and Boys manor in which a draft deed of enfranchisement dated 1908   recorded that Henry L. Hebbert “of 5 Clanricade Gardens Tunbridge Wells. Esq”. was Lord of this manor, who as Lord of the manor in 1879 was a resident of 18 Calverley Park.

By 1908 the family took up residence in Boyne Park, at 5 Somerville Gardens. The 1911 census, taken at this home gave Henry Baring as a retired Cavalry officer living on own means. With him was his wife Harriett (1863-1950) and their children Augusta (1889-1941) Henry (1893-1930) and Francis Guy Baring (later Rev Francis Guy Baring) (1893-1962). The census recorded that they were living in a home of 12 rooms; that they had been married 23 years; and that of their four children only 3 were still living. Henry junior and his brother Francis were both students at that time.

Directories of 1913 and 1922 gave the listing “ Captain Henry Baring, 5 Somerville Gardens, Tunbridge Wells”.

Henry senior and his wife Harriett both died at 5 Somerville Gardens. Probate records for Henry Baring gave him of 5 Somerville Gardens when he died August 12,1929. The executor of his 5,565 pound estate was his widow Harriett Emily Baring and Edward George Cubitt, esq., a relative of his wife. Henry was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on April 16,1929. Probate records for Harriett Emily Baring gave her of 5 Somerville Gardens, Boyne Park when she died August 12,1950. Her death was announced in the London Gazette of April 3,1951 and recorded that the executors of her estate were her son Rev. Francis Guy Baring, Brenton Robie Collins (from the Collins family of Dunorlan , now Dunorlan Park), esq. and Ernest William Dawson, esq.  Harriett was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Cemetery on August 16,1950.

THE BARING FAMILY RESIDENCES IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS

The first known residence for the family was at 59 Frant Road (1889). The second residence was at 2 Mount Ephraim Road (1891 census). Their third residence (1901 census) was at 5 Clanricade Gardens. Their last residence from at least 1911 (1911 census) up to the time of the death of Harriett Emily Baring in 1950 was in Boyne Park at 5 Somerville, Gardens. No information or photos are given in this section for 59 Frant Road.

[1] 2 MOUNT EPHRAIM ROAD

Mount Ephraim Road runs between 5 Ways on the east and London Road on the west with No. 2 being on the north side at the 5 Ways end. It was at the time a  large detached single family home of rendered brick, and built as a Victorian 2 sty villa style home now painted in the typical white finish. Unfortunately a good image of the building could not be obtained as a view of it from the road is largely obscured by trees.


[2] 5 CLANRICADE GARDENS

Clanricade Gardens is a residential development  located west of Mount Pleasant Road on a high plot of land, on which six large detached red brick homes were constructed facing south towards the SER station and overlooking the back yards of the homes build on Lonsdale Gardens. Shown here is  a modern photograph of it. All of the homes in this development look very similar and apart from a few are essentially identical, being constructed of red brick; being 2 stys detached with a basement and usable attic space. Because of the large size of these homes many of them have been converted into flats and offices.

A description of No. 5, was given in two recent Estate Agents listings. The first records that this once single family home was converted into offices with the building taking on the name of ‘Jaeger House’. It was described as having a total of 3,516 sf of developed space divided up into washrooms, office space and receptions on all floors.

A more recent listing described the building as a 6 bedroom detached home with a value of about 1.9 million pounds. Stated to be “ an outstanding detached period family house with generous and adaptable accommodation situated over four floors. The present owne3rs have extensively renovated the house creating a fantastic modern home, with high specification plumbing and heating whilst retaining many of the features one would hope to find, such as cornicing, door pediments, deep skirting and original floors”. The records of the Tunbridge Wells Planning Authority provides details of the various applications made for work on the building over its history since about 1975, which records can be viewed online.

[3] 5 SOMERVILLE GARDENS 

The road Somerville Gardens is located in Boyne Park off Mount Ephraim. Shown here is an old  photograph of the home.

The book ‘The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells’ (2004) by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society provides an account about the history of this residential development, which was also reported on in my article ‘ The History of Boyne House’ dated February 21,2013. These sources record that Boyne House and its extensive grounds were purchased by Charles John Gallard, a Southborough builder who in 1893 demolished Boyne House and began the residential development almost immediately by the construction of the roads Boyne Park, Somerville Gardens, Mayfied Road and Oakdale Road. The first homes in the development were erected in 1893 at the Mount Ephraim end of the road Boyne Park and proceeded more or less in a west to east direction. In 1895 many of the lots were auctioned on building leases and the estate was largely built up by 1910. The development was layed out by Herbert Murkin Caley, an architect who from 1908-1909 served as Mayor of the town.

Among the homes designed by Caley was 5 Somerville Gardens, and it is believed that the Baring family were the first occupants of the home. As can be seen by the photograph of the house, it was similar in many ways to the style of other homes in the development, being 2 stys, detached,  with usable attic space and a basement on reasonably large landscaped grounds. Constructed of red brick in the typical Victorian era style with large bay windows it was described in the 1911 census as a home with twelve rooms, not huge, but certainly substantial enough for a family the size of the Baring’s .  Built by Mr Gallard, this home ranged in price at the time it was constructed between 700 and 900 pounds, a substantial sum for the times.

THE CHILDREN OF HENRY BARING (1831-1929)

Henry and his wife had four children but one of them Charles B. Baring, who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1891 did not survive Long. He is last recorded living with his mother and sister Augusta at 2 Mount Ephraim at the time of the 1891 census, when his age was given as 2 months. He died soon after the census was taken. Information about the tree surviving children are given below, with a particular emphasis on Henry Baring (1893-1930) and his twin brother Rev. Francis Guy Baring (1893-1962).

[1] AUGUSTA BARING (1889-1941)

Augusta was the only daughter in the family. She was the first of the four children to be born and had been born in Tunbridge Wells on May 11,1889. She was living with her mother and younger brother Charles at 2 Mount Ephraim at the time of the 1891 census. At the time of the 1901 census she was living with her parents and siblings at 5 Clanricade Gardens and at the time of the 1911 census with her parents and siblings at 5 Somerville Gardens.

She was educated at home by a governess and continued to live in the family home until her marriage. The Kent & Sussex Courier of June 26,1917 announced her of 5 Somerville Gardens when she married the Rev. Walter Frederick Scott. R.N., the youngest son of Major General Sir Charles Scott KCB of Colleens, Wadhurst. Apart from noting her death in 1941 no further research was conducted about her life

[2] REV FRANCIS GUY BARING (1893-1962)

Francis was the twin brother of Henry Baring, both of whom were born in Tunbridge Wells April 17,1893. Francis died January 7,1962 at Norwich, Norfolk.

Census records up to and including 1911 record Francis living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells.  Francis was recorded as a student in the 1911 census. The records of Cambridge University note that he graduated from Emmanual College, Cambridge University in 1917 with a BA and that he graduated from the same college in 1921 with a MA. He was an assistant master between 1946 and 1947 at Yardley Court School, Tunbridge and was headmaster between 1952 and 1962 at Earsham Hall School, Bungay, Suffolk.

Crockfords Clerical Directory  for 1932, which can be seen online, provides details about his religious career.

Passenger records for his brother Henry show that Francis was for a time in the 1920’s living and working in Victoria, British Columbia Canada for on the trips made by Henry to and from China he often went to visit his brother Francis.

Probate records for Rev. Francis Guy Baring gave him as a clerk that died January 7,1962 at Norfolk, Norwich Hospital care of Barclay’s Bank Limited Mount Pleasant Road Tunbridge Wells and of Earsham Hall School, Earsham near Bungay, Suffolk. The executors of his 26,960 pound estate were Thomas Randall Cubitt, accountant (a relative of his mother); Stephen Eveloyn Ruggles Brise, insurance broker and Raymond Alexander Baring, captain H.M. Army. He was buried in the All Saints Church burial ground  at Earsham.

[3] HENRY BARING (1893-1930)

Perhaps of all the surviving children this gentleman had the most interesting but the shortest life. Like his twin brother Francis he was born in Tunbridge Wells on April 7,1893.

As noted in the census records given earlier he lived with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells up to and including the time of the 1911 census and that in the 1911 census he was given as a student.

Henry enrolled in Oxford University but his studies were interrupted by the war. He volunteered for service first joining the Royal West Kent Regiment, after which he became a lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. Upon being shot down he was appointed captain instructor.

The records of the Royal Aero Club how that Henry, born 1893 of 5 Somerville Gardens, Tunbridge Wells, was a Captain in the 3/4th Royal West Kent Regiment when he obtained his certificate (4011) taken on a Maurice Farman Bi-plane at the Military School in Shoreham on September 18,1916. After serving throughout the war with the Royal Air Service he returned to civilian life and became a school teacher. Shown above from the Royal Aero Club archive is a photo of Henry.

His first teaching position was in England but soon emigrated to Canada and by the early 1920’s he emmigrated to Shanghai, China where he worked for the remainder of his life as a schoolteacher at the Public School for Boys in Shanghai and the Thomas Hanbury School for Boys. A photo of the school, known as the Hanbury Public School for Boys located at 63 Kaskell Road (since 1917) is shown opposite.  Shown below  is a photograph of the staff of the school showing how to play cricket in which Henry Baring is shown bottom right in this image.

A review of passenger lists show that on a number of occasions Henry Baring travelled to and from China in the 1920’s and during these trips he would often stop in Canada to visit his brother Francis.On one trip for example he sailed from China to Canada on October 10,1924. He was given as a teacher, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1893 with his objective in going to Canada “to stay with Francis in Victoria” and that he had lived in Canada before at University School, Victoria,Canada and that at that time (December 1921) he had entered the country at St John and departed from Montreal July 4,1924. He said he left Canada “to come back for holiday”. In his trip of 1924 he brought with him 250 pounds and stated that his passage had been paid for the “ Overseas Settlement Dept”. After visiting his brother he stated that he was going next to Columbia and “then to Municipal Schools, Shanghai, China”. He gave his father Henry Baring of 5 Somerville Gardens, Tunbridge Wells as his next of kin. He made at least four similar trips between England, Canada and China between 1924 and 1929 sometimes being routed through the Phillipines.

Like many people in the late 1920’s he took an interest in the Communist movement and commonly introduced his friends to the works of Karl Marx. Among these friends was Rewi Alley(1897-1987), a prolific poet, writer of non-fiction, adventurer, social reformer, peace activist, who’s life history has been recorded in several books, in which his contact and friendship with Henry Baring is recorded particularly w.r.t. Henry’s interest in and promotion of Communism. Henry, described in these books as “a progressive English schoolteacher” united with Rewi Alley and the American Marxist and feminist Agnes Smedy to form a Marxist study circle with a few other friends. In the words of Rewi Alley “Henry Baring was assassinated by the Shanghai Police in 1930” no doubt because of his pro-communist activities, undertaken at a time in China’s history when the government was anti-communist and took strong measures to quell the Communist movement in the country. Shown opposite is a photograph of Shanghai taken in 1930.  For further information about the contact between Rewi Alley and Henry Baring see the online book ‘The Peoples Doctor…” and also an article about the life and career of Rewi Alley, in which it was stated in part that “After witnessing the execution of five young men accused of trying to organize a trade union Alley visited his friend Henry Baring who introduced him to the writing of Kark Marx………Alley’s work for the Communists was mostly underground”.

Probate records show that Henry Baring died September 14,1930 at only age 37, leaving his meager 139 pound estate to his mother Harriett Emily Baring, widow, for he never married. He was buried in Shanghai at the Hungjao Road Cemetery (photo opposite).

An attempt was made to find an article or any account providing details about the circumstances that led to the death (assignation) of Henry Baring but it appears that no information was given in the news media, for nothing was found apart from what I gave above.

His obituary, which appeared in the Courier on October 10,1930 gave no details of what led to his death. The obituary reads as follows;

“ The Late Mr Henry Baring……….The death has occurred in Shanghai of Mr. Henry Baring, one of the most popular members of the local foreign community, who was a member of the teaching staff of the Public and Thomas Hanbury School for Boys. Deceased, whose home was in Tunbridge Wells, was a member of the Union of China, the Shanghai Light Horse, S.V.C., the Oxford and Cambridge Society, the Foreign Y.M.C.A., the Junior Golf Club, the International Students’ Fellowship, etc. Going out to Shanghai in 1926, Mr Baring endeared himself to all with whom he came into contact, being known to all as a true and amiable gentleman, a good sport and a man of high ideals. His good nature and quiet disposition and his personal magnetism made him exceptionally popular with the boys of the school with which he was connected and with a host of friends outside. He was keenly interested in the organisation of the Cadet Corps, the re-organisation of the school magazine and in arranging for the July camp for the junior section of the Foreign Y.M.C.A., of which he was one of the officials. He was also an officer of the International Students’ Fellowship, a chapter of which he established at the local school. A student of Oxford University, his studies were interrupted by the Great War, for which he volunteered. He first joined the Royal West Kent Regiment, after which he became a lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. Upon being shot down, he was appointed a captain instructor. After the war he went to Canada and then to Shanghai. The funeral took place at the Hungjao Road Cemetery, Shanghai, in the presence of a large attendance of mourners. Dean Trivett officiated at the service in the chapel, and also at the graveside, Mr R. Ross was the chief mourner”. The article continues by listing the pall-bearers and noted that his mother was among those attending the service. A long list of names was given of those who sent or layed wreaths at the ceremony, including wreaths by the schools he taught at in Shanghai and the Y.M.C.A to name just three.

 

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