ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 4

 

HAROLD CAMBURNS POSTCARDS OF THE ORKNEY ISLANDS

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

Date: August 5,2017

BACKGROUND

Harold Hawtrey Camburn is recognized as perhaps the most competent and prolific photographer Tunbridge Wells ever had. He began his photographic career circa 1900 and after learning the trade at the arm of another photographer, he joined forces in the early 20th century with Tunbridge Wells photographer Percy Squire Lankester, operating as Lankester & Co from a fine studio in the north wing of the Great Hall on Mount Pleasant Road. In 1906 Camburn struck out on his own and never looked back. He had a long career, retiring after WW II. Shown opposite is a photo of the Camburn clan in which Harold is shown in the back row on the far left and beside him is his wife. Other members of the family are also shown.

During his career he concentrated on taking photographs of Kent and Sussex within a 50 mile radius of Tunbridge Wells, a distance limit easily explained by the fact that he travelled about from place to place on his motorcycle fitted out with a sidecar in which he carried his photographic equipment. His photographs were turned into sepia tone postcards employing the best photographic materials and the best printing equipment then available, producing clear images of superior quality. His postcards as a rule were numbered in a series by location and each had a hand printed caption on the front, easily recognizable by those who collect his postcards. He also produced portraits taken in his studio, but these are not common, suggesting by their rarity that the bulk of his photographic work was street scenes of  towns and villages and interesting sites in Kent and Sussex.

The postcards produced by Camburn beyond the typical 50 mile radius have somewhat mystified collectors, but my research shows that in most, if not all cases, although Camburn printed the images as postcards, the photographs themselves were not taken by Camburn. Although Camburn produced images for his own direct sale, he also was hired by post offices, stationers and other shop owners, to produce images for them, on which Camburn is most often given on the back of the postcards as the photographer/printer and the shop owner the publisher. Those not bearing his name on the back can be easily identified as being his as the “Wells Series” or simply the numbering and printing style on the front.

I have written about Harold Camburn in various articles but the main article in which information about his life and career can be found in is ‘ The Life and Times of Harold Camburn’ dated August 2,2011 but updated August 26,2015.

Shown above are two examples of Camburn's postcards of Orkney. The top card is "Blowing Squally" card 1629 and below it is 'The Peace of Evening" card 1615.  How many cards Camburn produced of the Orkneys is not known but the lowest number found in the series is 1069 and the highest 1701 but there is no evidence that this was a continuous number series.

THE ORKNEY ISLAND POSTCARDS

One aspect of Camburn’s career that has mystified collectors is the existence of a large number of postcard views of the Orkney Islands, in Scotland. They are atypical for two reasons, firstly the location is far away from Tunbridge Wells , and secondly they are the only examples found by the researcher of Camburn’s work in which the images have been colourized. The postcard front below labels the image as "An Autumn Evening Orkney" and is numbered. The back of this card is shown to the right. The postmark is not clear but up the left side of the card is printed " The Real Photo Series H.H. Camburn Tunbridge Wells". Most of his cards of Orkney referred to "Leonards Series" on the back and so this one, and there are others, is a bit of an anomaly.













Although some might think that the photographs were taken by Camburn himself, they are wrong. There is no evidence that Camburn was ever in the Orkney Islands and there is no genealogical connection between either the Camburn family or the Lankester family to the Orkney’s. The fact is that Camburn was hired by George Leonard, a stationer, bookseller and newsagent, of Kirkwall, Orkney to turn black and white photographs taken by others(no doubt local photographers) into colourized postcards, which cards were sold by George Leonard in his business. The biggest mystery is how this business relationship came about for there were many accomplished photographers in the Orkney’s that should have been able to produce the postcards. The website of the Orkney Family History Society for example included in their newsletter of 2004 an article about noted Orkney photographers, based on a presentation by David Mackie of the Photographic Archive, which archive has some 50,000 images of Orkney. No mention is made in that article about Harold H. Camburn or George Leonard.  Certainly Camburn had a reputation of being skillful in the printing of postcards but he did not stand alone in this skill.

Kirkwall (photo opposite), the capital of the main island of Orkney,at the northern tip of Scotland is some 765 miles from Tunbridge Wells, taking today some 14 hours by car; 22 hrs by bus . Since Camburn’s cards of the Orkneys typically bear postmarks of 1907 (the earliest), one can imagine how arduous a journey at trip from Tunbridge Wells to Kirkwall would have been in the early 1900’s when the age of the motor car was in its infancy and I would suggest that such a trip by motor car would have been near impossible given the distance, the unreliability and primitiveness of the motor car at that time. A trip by train would have been the only feasible way of getting there and no doubt that trip would take up most of a day. Camburn may have travelled to the Orkney’s to meet George Leonard to cement the deal but most likely the deal was struck by mail, the photos being sent to Camburn in Tunbridge Wells for colorization and printing.

So who was Camburn’s client George Leonard (1881-1965)?. Well records of the Leonard Clan in the Orkneys date back into at least the 17th century but George Leonard who hired Camburn was born December 13,1881 at Young Street, Kirkwell, one of several children born to bookseller John Leonard (1829-1889) and Williamina Leonard, nee Mather (born 1851). John Leonard had been born 1829 at Viera, Orkney and married Williamina Mather July 22,1875 at Kirkwall. Probate records gave John Leonard as a bookseller of Kirkwall when he died December 21,1889 at Kirkwall. He died intestate and his wife Williamina of Young Street, Kirkwall was named in the record as his relic. His parents George Leonard and Elizabeth Leonard were both deceased at the time of his death.

The 1891 census, taken at 3 Young Street, Kirkwall gave Williamina as a widow. With her were six of her children, ages 11 mths to 14 years, including her son George Leonard who was attending school.

The 1901 census, taken at 21 Victoria Street, Kirkwall gave Williamina as a widow. With her were six of her children ages 10 to 22, including her son George who was working as a booksellers assistant.

In about 1903 George Leonard opened a booksellers, stationers, and newsagents shop in Kirkwall and among the items he sold in his shop was a selection of postcards of Orkney.  Shown opposite left is a Camburn card No. 1623 entitled "Sunshine Kirkall Bay" and to the right of it is the back of this card. It is interesting to note that this unposted card has on the back Camburn's usual Wells Series logo of the wishing well with rope and bucket. Up the left side you will note that Camburn's name does not appear but instead is given "The Leonard's Orkney Series".

When Leonard contracted with Camburn to produce colourized postcards of Orkney for him is not known but most of the postcards bearing Camburn’s name bear postmarks dating from 1907. Some postcards were mailed after 1907 but the dates on them do no necessary mean they were printed in the year of mailing and most likely were old stock. It is known that Camburn left Lankester in 1906 and so these Orkney cards are quite early in Camburn’s solo career.  Shown below from left to right are the following cards by Camburn (1) The Glow of the evening 1076 (2) A Rocky Coast 1701 (2) Sunset on the Orkney Coast 1611.


Shown below are the following cards by Camburn (1) Solitude 1069 (2)  Evening Splendor 1071 posted 1907












Shown below are two photographs of George Leonard, both taken in 1910.  In the photograph on the left George is the gentleman on the far left and identified in the related text as a stationer. To his right is W.P. Drever, a general merchant of Kirkwall born May 10,1881. Next to Drever is Robert Eunson, an ironmonger born 1881. The fourth person in the photo is not identified. Since the gentlemen are all local businessmen it is most likely that they are members of the local tradesmen association or perhaps the freemasons. The photo to the right of it was taken in 1910 and relates to an event in Decmeber 1910 when three Germans took off in a balloon from outside Munich, heading they thought for Switzerland, but due to a change in the weather ended up over the sea where one of the men was thrown out of the basket and never seen again. On the second night the two survivors spotted some lights and made another decent, hitting the sea and being dragged ashore by the partially deflated balloon. They found themselves on the outskirts of Kirkwall. The photo notes the mens arrival at Kirkwall December 4,1910. The photo shows George Leonard on the left and the German balloonists Dister and Joerdens on the right.  














On April 24,1923 George Leonard married Alice Aitken Miller(1888-1964) and had a daughter Allison Aitken Leonard (1925-1954). Alice had been born in Dumbarton and was one of eight children born to James Miller (1849-1933) and Alice Miller, nee Aitken (1852-1921). Alice died June 7,1964 at the Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall, Orkney. He also had a son John Mather Leonard and George Leonard Jr. His son George Leonard Jr took over his father’s stationers business, which business survived until recently.

Shown opposite is a photo of “The Storehouse” on Bridge Street in Kirkwall that was owned by George Leonard Jr who used it as his print works and stationary storehouse.This building has changed little since 1880 according to the local historical society. A newspaper article dated November 11,2016 from Orkney Island reported on the discovery by George Leonard of some “Old Orkney Norn Books” in his archives, more than 80 years after being printed. A project was launched to get the pages bound and offered for sale. George had found these old records when he was selling the family business. Shown below right is a photo of Leonard's stationers shop (the red building). His sign over the window is visible.

Probate records gave George Leonard of Park Cottage Berstans Street Ola, Orkney Island when he died April 7,1965 at his residence. Confirmation of his death was by John Mather Leonard and William Isbister Tait.  Today there are many Leonards in the Orkney Islands, engaged in political life (Laurance Leonard) and as stationers (George Leonard & Co of 42 Broad Street,Kirkwall) and in various other types of employment.

Camburn’s postcard views of Orkney , produced in  “The Leonards Photo Series” often come up for sale on such websites as ebay and collectors of Orkney images or postcards by Camburn snap them up for their collections.

 

THE HISTORY OF BELLE VUE HOUSE-MOUNT SION

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

Date: January 28,2015

OVERVIEW  

The history of Belle Vue House in Mount Sion is intertwined to a large extent with the arrival of the S.E. Railway in the town in 1845.To facilitate the construction of the Central Station , and the rail line that connected to it, both north and south, considerable changes were necessary to the intersection of Mount Pleasant Road, Grove Hill Road, High Street and Vale Road to maintain the road network. In addition a large tract of land on High Street had to be acquired, with many shops demolished. The old brewery , once called the Mount Pleasant Brewery was demolished and on it was built the train station in 1846.Another casualty was Belle Vue House, the home of local magistrate Aretas Akers, that stood on land needed for the railway line.

The rail line first came to Tunbridge Wells in 1845.On September 19,1845 a ceremonial train arrived at Jack Woods station (Goods Station) however it was not until 1846 that a tunnel under Mount Pleasant (The Wells Tunnel)was dug and the central station opened.A further tunnel under the Grove gave Aretas Akers the chance to sell his Belle Vue House, which stood about the southern exist of the tunnel, together with land below, so that the railway could push on to Hastings.

Shown opposite is a sketch dated August 1851 that shows the existence at that time of Belle Vue House and the railway line running south from the Central Station on its way to towards Hastings. Belle Vue is the house on the left in the background.

Part of John Brett’s estate in 1738,Belle Vue House belonged to John Lloyd when he died in 1826. Aretas Akers, who never the liked the house, was having alterations made to it by Decimus Burton when he sold it in 1845 to the South Eastern Railway which demolished it in the 1850’s. The first image shown in this section is a painting by one of his children who reportedly loved the house.

Aretas Akers ,esq., lived in Belle Vue House from about 1830 to 1845. Many of his children were baptised at King Charles the Martyr Chapel. Retiring from the bar, owing to ill-health, he was a magistrate and active participant in local affairs. He edited a family magazine from which this drawing is taken. His grandson Aretas Akers douglas (1851-1926), the son of Rev. Aretas Kaers (1824-1956) became Lord Chilston in 1911.

The location of Belle Vue is perhaps best described in Colbrans 1844 and 1850 directory when it describes the route of the railway line. “ A tunnel of 800 yards passes under Bassinghall, the high road, Dr. Thompson’s pleasure grounds to the terminus at the south of Mount Pleasant Hill, formerly the site occupied by Bell’s Brewery. From thence the branch to Hastings passes under the turnpike road and Edgar Terrace, through a short cutting to the tunnel under The Grove, which is 858 feet long, ciming out by the southern side of Belle Vue House, lately the residence of A. Akers, esq.” 

One confusing account suggests that Belle Vue House still existed in 1864. This record appeared in ‘Respect on a Consideration’ by John W. Denney 2011 who reported about a Charles Lenox Richardson bortn in Rotherfield,Surrey 1796, the husband of Louisa Ann Richardson. Richardson was a merchant  in the period of 1831 to 1841 and by 1851 a merchant and glass dealer. The report states “by 1864, after the murder, they moved to Belle Vue,Tunbridge Wells (in 1840 the residence of Aretas Akers). The letter from Richardson was dated February 3,1864  from Belle Vue.

JOHN BRETT             

John Brett was an apothecary from London, who in 1690 took over the lease of the Chapel Place block on John Wybourne’s death and built the Angel Inn,which was one of the first buildings on South Frith land.  In 1715 he found himself the master of more than one hundred acres of prime Tunbridge Wells land and houses. He did not live long to enjoy his fortune for he was buried at Tonbridge November 23,1719.He as married and still hoping for children but his houses and land passed to his nephew, John Brett, Doctor of Physic, John Brett seniors widow soon after married a cleric called Pickering but the deceased had not left enough cash to pay his legacies. On the other hand, rents came rolling in and the Pickerings pocketed the proceeds. B y 1727 Dr Brett’s patience was exhausted and he filed a suit; but death and delay intervened. Robert Pickering died in 1829 and Dr Brett in 1738/1740 with Margaret Brett passing away in 1743. The matter was not concluded until 1752 when seven houses, including the Mount Sion Bowling Green and House, and some 50 acres of land were sold by the court for 1,670 pounds to balance the accounts. Belle Vue House was one of the homes sold to settle the matter.

Shown above is Kip’s engraving circa 1719 on which can be seen on the near right corner a building with the name of Brett on it, which was Brett’s boarding house (Chapel House)

Shown opposite is Bowra’s map of Mount Sion upon which can be a number of properties labelled “Mr Brett”. As one can see he owned a considerable amount choice property in the town, including on this map the Grove Houses and the Bowling Green block and by his widow, Mrs Pickering , the Capel Place block shown above.

Another parcel of land owned by Brett was that of Lanthorn House on the north east corner of Aalverley road and Mount Pleasant Road. Brett left this house to his widow in 17`19 and was the home of his great nephew Rev. John Brett until 1787. This land was purchased by John Ward circa 1828 and in that year Lanthorn House was demolished. This land became part of Wards Calverley Estate development scheme and later became the site of the Town Hall.For further details about this house and property see my articles ‘The History of Lanthorn House’.

JOHN LLOYD

John Lloydd was in possession of Belle Vue House when he died in 1826. His will, which was probated October 39,1826 revealed that his wife was Catherine Lloyd and that in his will he gave the names and birth dates of his four children namely William, born October 9,1799; Mary Catherine, born May 12,1801; Thomas, born April 27,1805 and John,Born June 25,1809. John  appointed his wife as the executor of his will. A copy of his will can be seen online and is also in the records of the National Archives.

The Society of Anchient Britons, in their 1825 publication listed as a subscriber “ John Lloyd, esq., Tunbridge Wells. He was also listed in Paul Amsinck’s ‘Tunbridge Wells and its Neighbourhood. When he came to Tunbridge Wells and his residency record was not established, but obviously he was a well-to-do gentleman.

THE AKERS FAMILY         

[1]ARETAS AKERS (1759-1816)………Shown opposite is a painting of Burlignton House, a good example of an early Tunbridge Wells lodging house built by Nicholas Wood, fellmonger, in about 1689. It never left the family ownership until demolished in 1880. This image is a drawing,from Belle Vue Magazine by one of Aretas Akers children who was the same daughter who did the painting of Belle Vue House. Jane Akers , the mother of Aretas Akers (1799-1855), and wife of Aretas Alers (1759-1816) lived there when she died in the 2nd qtr of 1842. She is found at Burlington House in the 1841 census.

The patriarch of the family was Aretas Alers (1759-1816), a merchant and plantation owner and  the husband of Jane Akers ,nee Ramsay,who I referred to above. Jane died in Tunbridge Wells in 1842. The probate record of Aretas dated December 24,1816 at Cavendish Square,Middlesex referred to four of his children (2 sons and 2 daughters). The estate of Aretas Akers (1758-1816) and his brother Edmund Fleming Akers (q.v.) were the subject of protracted legal wrangling among legatees and creditors.

Aretas had been born in St Kits in 1759, and was the son of plantation owner Aretas Akers I (1734-1785) and Jean Douglas (?-1768, herself the niece of the Governor-General of the Leeward Islands). Areatas (1734-1785) brought his family to England in 1782 when St Kitts was captured by the French

Aretas married Jane Ramsay, daughter of Rev. James Ramsay (1733-1789), a prominent campaigner against the slave trade, in Camden, London, on March 19,1795. They had 7 children: Jane Charlotte (baptised 08/02/1796 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent), Isabel Rachel Rebekah (baptised in Margate, Kent, 09/08/1797 and buried in Margate, Kent, 12/08/1797), Aretas Akers II(baptised 21/06/1799 in St Pancras), Mary (baptised 21/04/1802 in St Pancras), Edmund Fleming (born 24/12/1803, baptised 02/04/1804 in Marylebone and buried 24/08/1796 in Margate, Kent), Caroline (born 02/02/1810 and baptised 19/10/1811 in Brighton, Sussex) and James Ramsay (baptised 05/1814 in Hanover Square, Westminster).

Aretas Akers II and his brother Edmund Fleming Akers were trustees of their father Aretas Akers I and spent more than 20 years untangling their father's financial affairs so that his will could be executed. Edmund Fleming Akers gave a mortgage to his brother Aretas Akers II for 203 enslaved persons and 165 acres of land on Monkton's Land, St Vincent, 02/11/1790. In their claim for compensation for ownership of enslaved persons in Jambon Vale in 1835, the widow and son of Aretas Akers II claimed compensation under the will of Aretas Akers II as mortgagees and residuary legatees of Edmund Fleming Akers.

When Aretas Akers II died in 1816. In his will he left £1400 a year to his wife, £25,000 to his eldest son Aretas III, £15,000 to his son James Ramsay, £10,000 to each of his daughters Mary and Caroline and the residue to his eldest son Aretas III. 

The will of Aretas Akers (now of Holles Street, Esq. _ was dated 9 June 1814 and read as follows”. Whereas in March 1797 I intermarried with my wife Jane, and I have issue by her two sons, Aretas A my eldest son and Jas. Ramsay A. My youngest and only other son, and two daus. Mary A. and Caroline A., and I secured by my bond £400 a year to my wife during her widowhood, and her fortune was vested in trustees for our lives and the for our children. I appoint my said wife and Geo. Douglas of Tunbridge Wells, co. Kent, Esq,. and the Rev. Richd Warde of Yalding, clerk, Ex’ors, they and Rob. Houston of Gt. Cumberland Street, Esq., G., a suit in Chancery to be instituted, Government securities to be purchased which shall yield £100 a year, my wife to have the income. I bequeath her all furniture, etc., £10,000 apiece for each of my daus. at 21, £15,000 for my son Jas. Ramsay A. at 21, £25,000 for my eldest son Aretas A. at 21. All residue of personal estate to my said eldest son in tail, and on death of all issue to the children of my brothers Edmund Fleming A. and John Houseton A., and of my late sister Isabel Morson. To my wife £200 immediately. I give my 100 acres of uncultivated land in St Vincent to my eldest son and all my books, watches, seals and family portraits. To my dau. Mary the small bedstead which her sister Jane used. My son Aretas not to be educated at a public school except to a University. My wife to give up all control over my nephew Henry Morson the son of my sister Isabel M. A black marble to be put over the grave of my two children who were interred in Margate church and a small monument near it, and a monument to be placed over the grave of my son buried in Yalding church. Proved 24 Dec. 1816 by Jane Akers, widow, the relict, and the Rev. Richard Warde, p.r. to G.D., Esq.”

[2]ARETAS AKERS (1799-1855)……Aretas Akers was one of the children of Aretas Akers (1759-1816) and Jane Akers, nee Ramsay and it was he who eventually took up residence in Belle Vue House. He had been born May 15,1799 in St Pancras.Middlesex and was baptised there on June 21,1799 at St Pancras Old Church. He died April 21,1855 at Malling Abbey,West Malling,Kent. He was a magistrate, J.P. for Kent and a Deputy Lieut. for Kent.

On May 9,1821 he married Isabella Larking(1800-1891), the daughter of John Larking,esq., late of Clare House,Hent..She had been born at East Malling,Kent and died at Malling Abbey, West Malling in 1891. Aretas and his wife had 9 children between 1822 and 1845 namely (1) Isabella Dorothea, born 1822 (2) Jane Mary (1823-1863).She married John P. Green March 25,1857.He was a resident of Hucking House,Kent. (3) Rev Aretas Akers, born November 18,1824 Tunbridge Wells, died August 19, 1856 at Malling Abbey (4) Charles Style (1828-1887), born Tunbridge Wells (5) Caroline Ramsay(1830-1910), baptised  Dec. 22,1830 Tunbridge Wells, died April 6,1910 Malling,Kent .She had married Rev. William Lewis Wigan(1818-1876) in 1849 at Malling,Knet and had five children.(6) Edmund, born 1832 Tunbridge Wells (7) Mary Elizabeth (1824-1918), born Tunbridge Wells,died January 1,1918, She married Bertie Peter Cator (died March 30,1875), on October 10,1860. (8) George, born 1837 St Marylebone (9) Dorothy, born 1845 Tunbridge Wells. There appears to have been another son referred to as Alexander Douglas Akers, the second son of Aretas Akers ,esq. of Tunbridge Wells, who died at age 14 in Woowich March 6,1841.

He was a claimant for a share of the compensation for Jambon Vale in St Vincent under the will of his father.His father had inherited land in St Vincent and St Kitts from his grandfather.He was left £25,000 and 100 acres of uncultivated land in St Vincent in the will of his father, of whom he was also residuary legatee, in 1816. In his will, his father also stipulated that Aretas III was not to attend a public school but to attend a university and as a result he  Matriculated Christ Church, Oxford, May 28,1816 age 17.

Electoral Records give Aretas in Tunbridge Wells throughout the period of 1835 to 1845 and at Malling Abbey, West malling from 1846 until the time of his death. The Parliamentay Papers of 1836 listed “Aretas Akers, Belle Vue House,Tunbridge Wells”.

The book ‘British Spas 1805 to Present by Phyllis May Hembry (1997) referred to a call by ratepayers and property owners for street lighting in 1833 and that “They were led by Aretas Akers, a rich, influential barrister from the West Indies, now retired to Tunbridge Wells, and active locally”. The Tunbridge Wells Improvement Act of 1835 brought the lighting they desired.

In the 1841 census he was living at Bellevue, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, age 40, with his wife Isabella, age 40, his children Isabella age 19, Charles age 12, Caroline age 10, Emma age 9, Mary age 7 and George age 3, plus a governess, 1 male servant and 5 female servants.In 1845 Aretas sold his Belle Vue home to the SER and moved to West Malling.

A Tunbridge Wells Civic Society newsletter included an article about Holden House and that in 1842 Aretas Akers offered to the buy it but to pay only the value if the house as building materials and stated “ the house, though substantially buit, is so situated that I should pull it down-I would on no account live in it”. The article continues by stating “In his property dealings Akers was something of a chancer”.

Colbrans 1844 directory gave the listed Aretas Akers,esq., as the treasurer of the Victoria Natrional School.

The Medical Topography of Tunbridge Wells by Powell dated 1846 referred to meteorlogical information  “ from an elaborate meteorlogical journal kept by Aretas Akers, esq (now of Dover) for the Tunbridge Wells Literary and Scientific Institution, at his residence on Mount Sion. “

In 1851 he was living at Malling Abbey, West Malling, Kent, with his wife Isabella and children Isabella, Jane M., Mary E., George and Dorothy (age 6) with a governess, 2 male servants and 5 female servants. From ‘County Families of the UK’ it is reported that Aretas Akers purchased Malling Abbey in 1850 and that Malling Abbey was near Maidstone,Kent.

Probate records gave Aratas of Malling ,Kent. His son Aratas was named as the executor of his estate.

His son the Rev Aretas Akers was born in Tunbridge Wells November 18,1824 and was baptised in Tunbridge Wells January 1,1825. On August 7,1849 he married Frances Maria Brandram (1829-1900) at Trinity Church,Tunbridge Wells and with her had a son Aretas Akers-Douglas (1851-1926). His wife was the daughter of Francis Holles Brandram. At the time of the 1851 census, he and his wife and son were living at Smeeton Westerby, Leicestershire. He died at Malling Abbely, West Malling,Kent on August 19,1856. The probate of his will was on November 22,1856. His will refers to his mother and son Aretas being beneficiaries.

His son was The Right Honourable ARETAS AKERS-DOUG LAS, a Member of Her Majestys Most Honourable Privy Council, Member of Parliament  for St. Augustine's Division of  Kent, Justice of the Peace for the county of Edinburgh,  Justice of the Peace for the counties of Kent and Dumfries,  and a Deputy-Lieutenant for the city and the county of the  City of Canterbury, formerly a Lieutenant East Kent  Yeomanry Cavalry. Born 1851, being the only son of the late  Reverend Aretas Akers of Mailing Abbey, in the county of  Kent, by Frances Maria his wife, daughter of Francis  Holies Brandram of Tunbridge Wells, and assumed in 1875  by Royal License the arms and the additional surname and  designation of ' ' Douglas of Baads. " Clubs — Carlton ; Junior  Carlton. Armorial bearings— Argent, a man's heart with  a dart piercing through the same fesseways gules, on a chief  azure three mullets of the field. Married, 1875, Adeline  Mary, elder daughter of Horatio Austen Smith of Hayes  Court, Kent; and has Issue — (1) Aretas Akers-Douglas,  Gentleman, born 1876 ; (2) George Alexander Akers-  Douglas, Gentleman, born 1878 ; Adeline Frances ; Ethel Margaret; and Bertha Marion. ' Estates — Chilston Park,  Maidstone ; Craigs, near Dumfries.

 

THE ADAMS FAMILY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

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

Date: January 24,2015

OVERVIEW         

The Adams family line, who are the central figures in this article, are those of George Fry Adams (1848-1927) who came to Tunbridge Wells in 1873. George Fry Adams came from an agricultural background and was a nurseryman, whos early life,before his marriage to Martha Streatfield (1846-1929) in 1870 was spent in Rotherfield,Sussex. In the 1880’s and 1890’s he was the proprietor of Fern Cottage Nurseries on Queens Road .At the beginning of the 20th century George Fry Adams and his son George Israel Adams (1874-1944) operated their business as George Adams and Son with premises at 9 Grosvenor Road and 71 Queens Road. Eventually this business was taken over by his son George Israel Adams and George senior became a dairy farmer on Forge Road in Southborough. Later he ran a dairy operation on Reynold Lane at both Caenwood Farm and Whitegate Farm in partnership with his son Edward Walter Adams but this partnership was dissolved in 1899.Later still George went into the same dairy business with his son George Israel Adams, but this partnership was dissolved in 1914. Upon his death in 1927 at Caenwood Farm, all of his business dealings were taken over by his sons.

George Israel Adams, the eldest son in the family followed his father into the nursery business but became a successful nursery man, florist and seedsman, who after his initial partnership with his father in both the nursery and dairy business, struck out on his own.In 1896 George married Ellen Rebecca Botting(1867-1933) in Tunbridge Wells and started a family. By 1911 he was operating his florist and nursery business from premises at 21 Grosvenor Road. By 1918 he had expanded to include 21 Grosvenor Road, 71 Queens Road and had greenhouses on the road Sandhurst Park, beside the nursery grounds of Robert Giles (Gordons Nursery). He still had his business at these locations in 1939 and died at 21 Grosvenor Road on 1944.His wife Ellen had died 1933 at a mental home in Barming,Kent.

George Fry Adams son Frederick William Adams (1878-1948)also went into the dairy business and by 1918 was operating a dairy as F.W. Adams & Son at 111 St John’s Road,Tunbridge Wells, where he sold milk,cream and butter produced at the dairy farms of his father and brothers. Under the name of Adams Dairies the business was still in operation  at 111 St John’s Road in 1922.

The other sons of George Fry Adams went into a number of professions such as soldier,cabinet maker,and provision merchant but had left Tunbridge Wells before WW1, one of them eventually emigrating to Canada. This article traces the history of George Fry Adams and his relatives but concentrates on those who lived and worked in Tunbridge Wells.

GEORGE FRY ADAMS (1848-1927)       

George had been born September 22,1848 in Rotherfield,Sussex, one of six children born to William Adams (1824-1887) ,an agricultural worker, and Harriet Turk (1825-1863).George had been baptised at Rotherfied December 3,1848. He grew up in Rotherfield, where he went to school and worked in farming. At the time of the 1861 census George was living with his parents and four siblings in Rotherfield, where his father was an agricultural labourer.

On May 11,1870, at St Mary the Virgin Church,Goudhurst,Kent (image opposite) George married Martha Streatfiled (1845-1929). A photo of the church is shown above. Martha had been born July 2,1845 at Rotherfield, and was baptised at St Deny’s Church in Rotherfield  on October 5,1845. Martha was one of four children born to Richard Streatfield and Philadelphia Streatfield (nee Leopard).In 1851 she was living with her parents and siblings at Mark Crotts, a large farm in Rotherfield , where he father was an agricultural labourer.In 1861 Martha was working as a general servant for the Killick family in Rotherfield. It is believed that Martha died in Tunbridge Wells in 1929.

The 1871 census, taken at Church Row in Goudhurst, Kent recorded just George and his wife living together, with George working as a gardener..Based on the birth records of their children it was established that the family moved to Tunbridge Wells by 1872. George and his wife had the following children (1) Florence S Adams (born 1872) (2) George Israel Adams (1874-1944) (3) Edward Walter Adams (born 1876) (4) Frederick William Adams (1878-1948) (5) Arthur Alfred Adams (1879-1954) (6) Ernest William Adams (1880-1935) (7) Reginald Adams (born 1881) (8) Mabel Adams (born 1884) (9) Percy Henry Adams (1885-1965) (10) Newton Neville Adams (1886-1959) (11) Emily Martha Adams (1889-1975). All of the children had been born in Tunbridge Wells except for the eldest child who was born at Goudhurst.

By 1873 George and his wife moved to Tunbridge Wells. By the time of the 1881 census George and his wife and six children were living at Fern Cottage Nursery on Queens Road,Tunbridge Wells where George was running a nursery business. The 1874  and 1882 directories gave “George Fry Adams, gardener, 39 Queens Road.

The 1881 census, taken at 157 Queens Road (photo opposite left)recorded George as a nurseryman and living with him was his wife and their 11 children. No. 157 Queens Road was and still is a 2sty residence finished in white painted brick.The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing George Fry Adams, florist, nurseryman and seedsman, 157-159 Upper Grosvenor Road .By this time George and his son Edward Walter Adams had gone into the dairy farming business but the Gazette of August 15,1899 reported that the partnership between George Fry Adams and Edward Walter Adams,carrying on business as farmers,dairymen and milk retailers in Tunbridge Wells and Hawkenbury, Kent, under the style of G.F. and E.W. Adams had been dissolved by mutual consent.

The 1901 census, taken at 48 Forge Road in Southborough, gave George Fry Adams as a dairyman, milk producer employing others. With him was his wife Martha and their children Mabel,a nursemaid domestic; Percy, a cabinet maker, Newton and Reginald, both working for their father on the dairy farm. The house at 48 Forge Road was a modest 3 BR red brick detached  building. Around this time George son George Israel Adams (1874-1944) had joined his father in the florist,nurseryman business. The 1903 Kelly gave the listing “George Adams & Son, florists 9 Grosvenor Road and 71 Queens Road.

The farms that George Fry ran were on Reynolds Lane, one being Caenwood Farm and the other Whitegate Farm. For anyone interested in reading about the history of these farms see my article ‘The History of Caenwood Farm-Reynolds Lane’ dated April 12,2013 from which I give the ‘overview’ from that article “Caenwood Farm dates back to at least the 18th century and is located on part of the ancient lands of the Manor of Southborough. It is situated on Reynolds Lane, a historic track,  in the area where the lane jogs from its north westerly branch off of Culverden Down to where the lane swings abruptly in a north east direction towards Speldhurst Road. Originally an ancient wooded area the site of the farm was partially cleared and turned into pasture land for the raising of livestock and cultivated for the growing of hops and hemp and to a lesser degree laid out in orchards.Who first farmed the land is unknown to the researcher but Reynolds Lane, a name it has been referred to since the late 1700’s, is derived from the Reynolds family who lived and farmed the land, and it is with this family that I begin my review of the history of the farm. Over the years the name of the farm has been given variously as Caen Wood  (medieval); Cane Wood Farm (1849 map);Caenwood Farm (1858 directory)Reynolds Farm (c1860 painting by C.T. Dodd); Taylors Farm (1861 census); Caenwood Farm  (today and throughout most of the 18th -21st century) with the occasional spelling of Cane Wood thrown in for good measure from time to time. The researcher is of the opinion that the name Caen Wood is rooted in the monastic wood in Hampstead during the 13th to 16th centuries  which was in Royal Possession from 1532 to 1565 and apart from the similarity of the name it is known that Southborough was used by Royalty as a hunting ground. Caenwood Farm has been many occupants over the years. Some have been the owners or tenants of the farm and some have been farm bailiffs acting as managers of the farm for its owner. Although there has been development of the area on Reynolds Lane most of it has been on the east side of the lane that was not part of Caenwood Farm and what development has taken place on the west side of the lane has been along its northern half beyond the farm. Caenwood Farm today remains much the way it was from the earliest time but the old farmhouse and outbuildings and the appearance of Reynolds Lane itself  have been altered significantly from the time that local artist Charles Tattershall Dodd captured the scene in one of his beautiful paintings back in the 1860’s. Reynolds lane has been somewhat levelled and straightened out and paved ,although is still a very narrow tree and hedge lined lane but has benefitted from being paved .The original farm house and outbuildings shown in Dodds painting (see above) are no longer there and were replaced in the 19th century, although British Heritages listing of them claims they are from the 18th century. A discussion of this discrepancy is given later in this article.Local fishermen have fond recollections about fishing in the large pond on the farm, who like all fisherman like to boast (and no doubt exaggerate)about the size of the fish caught there and children being like they are used to swim in the pond. The pond exists today although diminished in size by changes in drainage patterns but its waters are no doubt refreshed by the many natural springs in the area and on the farm itself.Although Caenwood is still farmed to some degree today it seems that it and Whitegate Farm to the north and for that matter all of the land within a broad area bordered by Reynolds Lane, Smockham Lane,Broomhill Road and Speldhurst Road have been closely watched by land developers and now that the area has been designated as part of the urban area and studied for its use for redevelopment as residential land, its use as open land seems in peril”. Shown above is a map showing the location of the farms and the painting referred to by Charles Tattershall Dodd.As noted in the Caenwood article George employed a farm bailiff to run the day to day activities at the farm.

The 1911 census, taken at Whitegate Farm on Reynolds Lane gave George as a dairy farmer. Living with him was his wife Martha and their three children Reginald, Newton and Emily, who all worked on the farm. The census noted that the couple had been married 41 years and of their 11 children, 10 were still living. The 1913 Kelly directory gave the listing “George F. Adams, Reynolds Lane”.

The Gazette of May 29,1914 gave the notice that the partnership between George Fry Adams and his son George Israel Adams carrying on business as farmers at Caenwood Farm and Whitegate Farm in Tunbridge Wells and Southborough, Kent and as milk retailers in Tunbridge Wells, under the style of G. and G.I. Adams had been dissolved by mutual consent. Shown opposite is a photo of milk delivery men with their delivery carts. The Adams family had a round of milk delivery near their dairy premises and also sold milk, cream and butter at the dairy.

The 1918 Kelly directory gave the listing “George F. Adams, farmer, Reynolds Lane” and the 1922 Kelly gave “ George F. Adams, farmer, Whitegate Farm,Reynolds Lane.

Probate records showed that George Fry Adams was of Caenwood Farm when he died February 1,1927. The executor of his 4,520 pound estate was his son George Israel Adams, florist. The London Gazette of May 1,1928 recorded “ George Fry Adams, deceased, late of Caenwood Farm, and Grove Hill Road,Tunbridge Wells and also of Alksford Farm,Withyham,Sussex,farmer died February 1,1927”.

GEORGE ISRAEL ADAMS (1874-1944)

George was one of eleven children born to George Fry Adams(1848-1927) and Martha Adams, nee Streatfield (1846-1929). George had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1874 and was educated locally. From an early age he took an active interest in his father’s farming and nursery business  and in his early career was a partner with his father in both the nursery and farming businesses. When his father decided later in his career to concentrate on dairy farming George Israel Adams concentrated on running the family florist and nursery business.

George lived with his parents and siblings up to the 1890’s. In the 1st qtr of 1896 he married Ellen Rebecca Botting in Tunbridge Wells. Ellen had been born 1867 at Lamberhurst,Kent.George and Ellen had a daughter Mabel Emmeline Adams, born 1905 in Oxfordshire and another child which did not survive infancy( Stanley G.W.Adams, born 1900 Tunbridge Wells).

The 1901 census, taken at 9 Mount Ephraim,Tunbridge Wells, recorded George as a florist and nurseryman employing others . Living with him was his wife Ellen and their son Stanley G.W. Adams. The 1903 Kelly gave the listing “George Adams & son, florists, 9 Grosvenor Road and 71 Queens Road”. George Israel Adams was the son in this partnership. The Courier of March 10,1905, under the heading of ‘County Police’ gave a report of a theft of money from George’s florist shop in the amount of 145 pounds. His sister Emily (1889-1975), was working in the shop at the time of the theft but George was away. The man had entered the shop asking for George.

The 1911 census,taken at 21 Grosvenor Road gave George as a nurseryman employing others. Living with him was his wife Ellen; their daughter Mabel Emmeline Adams and one domestic servant. The family were at premises of 8 rooms and the census reported that the couple had been married 15 years and of their two children only one was living. His wife Ellen is shown in the census as assisting her husband in the business. Shown above is an early postcard view of Grosvenor Road just north of 5 Ways. George’s premises were on the west side of Grosvenor Road in the section between the 5 Ways intersection and the public house at Hanover Road.

As noted above his partnership with his father  as dairy farmers at Caenwood Farm and Whitegate Farm on Reynolds Lane and as milk retailers in Tunbridge Wells under the name of G. and G.I. Adams was dissolved May 25,1914. The Kent and Sussex Courier of October 16,1914,under the heading of ‘Notice to Wood Dealers’ invited tenders for cleft poles,stakes etc w.r.t. a ‘Catalogaea Application” by George I Adams, F.R.H.S. (Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society), a nurseryman and florist of 21 Grosvenor Road.

The 1918 Kelly and 1922 Kelly gave the listing “ George I Adams, florist, 21 Grosvenor Road, 71 Queens Rd and Sandhurst Park.A 1909 OS map of Sandhurst Park,a residential development at the top end of Sandhurst Road shows three nurseries, details of which can be found in the Civic Society book ‘The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells’ (2004) and in my article ‘The Armstrong and Brown Nursery in Sandhurst Park’ dated January 18,2015. Among them was the nursery, consisting of a small building and a large range of glass greenhouses , owned by George Israel Adams on the road Sandhurst Park. His nursery was located next to that of Robert Giles (Gordons) nursery, a postcard view of which is shown opposite. Details about the Giles business can be found in my article ‘Robert Giles-Florist and Nurseryman’ dated January 28,2015.

A 1939 trade directory gave the listing  “George I Adams Ltd, Nurseryman, Sandhurt Park. George continued to run his business almost up to the time of his death.Sadly he had no sons to take over the business from him. Probate records show that his wife Ellen Rebecca Adams died February 25,1933 at a mental home in Barming,Kent. The executor of her 1,580 pound estate was her husband “George Israel Adams, nurseryman, and Mabel Emmeline Adams, spinster”. Probate records for George Israel Adams gave him of 21 Grosvenor Road and that he died at Tregothman Chesnut Avenue in Southborough, the same residence his was was living at before her death. The executor of his 30,523 pound estate was his daughter Mabel Emmeline Connor, the wife of Joseph Connor.

THE SIBLINGS OF GEORGE ISRAEL ADAMS

1)      ERNEST WILLIAM ADAMS……..He was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1880 and died May 8,1935 at Hastings, Ontario,Canada. In 1891 he was living in Tunbridge Wells with his parents and siblings.He decided to persue a military career and at the time of the 1911 census he was living in a garrison with dozens of other soldiers. He was single with the rank of private with the 1/Royal West Kent Regiment. He is believed to have served in WW 1 but his service records have not survived. After the war he emigrated to Canada and died May 8,1935 at Hastings, Ontario,Canada. Hastings is an amalgamated village within the municipality of Trent Hills, Northumberland County, in the province of Ontario, Canada. It is on the Trent River in what is considered to be Ontario's "cottage country".

2)      REGINALD ADAMS……Reginald was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 1st qtr of 1882. Up until 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings. In the 1911 census, taken at Whitegate Farm on Reynolds Road he was working on the family dairy farm. What became of him was not determined but it appears that he left Tunbridge Wells.

3)      NEWTON NEVILLE ADAMS…….Newton was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1886. At the time of the 1911 census he was living with his parents and the Whitegate Farm on Reynolds Road where he worked on the family dairy farm. In the 3rd qtr of 1937 he married Daisy V. Burley of Jones in Tunbridge Wells, It appears he remained in the dairy business. He died in Tunbridge Wells in 1959.

4)      PERCY HENRY ADAMS……..Percy was born in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1885. In 1901 he was living in Tunbridge Wells with his parents and siblings. At the time of the 1911 census he was living in Ilford,Essex as a boarder at 7 Farm Terrace, High Road,Chadwell Heath where he was working as a cabinet maker. It was while in this trade that he met his future wife, Ethel Louise Pestell, the daughter of cabinet maker Alfred George Pestell. The couple were married August 21,1915 at Christ Church, Clapton. At the time of the marriage Percy was working as a cabinet maker, producing coffins for an undertaker. Probate records show that he was of 39 Jenner Road in Newington,London when he died July 26,1965. The executor of his 4,314 pound estate was his wife and a bank official. Percy had died at the Hackney Hospital in London.

5)      ARTHUR ALFRED ADAMS………Alfred had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1879. He was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells up to at least the time of the 1891 census.In 1901 he was living as a boarder in Kensington with the George Burton family at 22 St marks Road where he was working as a provision merchant.  In 1904 he married Clara Jane Margaret Siller, who had been born in 1879. Probate records gave Arthur Alfred Adams as being of 118 Powder Mill Lane in High Brooms when he died March 27,1954. His wife was the executor of his 1,402 pound estate.

6)      FREDERICK WILLIAM ADAMS…….Frederick had been born September 5,1877 in Tunbridge Wells. Up until the time of the 1891 census he was living with his parents and siblings in Tunbridge Wells. In 1901 he was living as a boarder at 16 St John’s Road,Tunbridge Wells with the family of Frederick William Henry Green, a beer retailer. Frederick William Adams was working at that time as a horticultural gardener. He went on to marry Edith Fanny Ethel Lilian Mules (1884-1913), who had been born July 3,1884 in Southborough and died 1913 in Tunbridge Wells. They had one daughter Edith Doris Flossie Adams (1913-1989) who in 1937 married William Murray (1912-1995). Probate records for Frederick gave him of 27 Lime Hill Road,Tunbridge Wells when  he died July 27,1948. His daughter Edith Doris Murray was the executor of his 3,954 pound estate.

7)      EDWARD WALTER ADAMS……….Edward had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1876 and went into the dairy business with his father ,but the partnership was dissolved in 1899. On June 13,1900 he married Eleanor Mary Walters, who had been born 1877 at Kingston –upon-thames,Surrey. He and his wife had two children between 1902 and 1907. The 1901 census,taken at 2 Oak Villa,Tunbridge Wells gave him as a dairy farmer employer. Living with him was just his wife. The 1911 census, taken at 9 Grand Parade, High Street, Teddington,Surrey recorded Edward as a dairy farmer. Living with him was his wife and two children, which appear to be the only children he had. What became of him after 1911 was not established.

 

THE QUEENS GROVE –TUNBRIDGE WELLS COMMON

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

Date: March 9,2015


I begin this account by stating this is not a history of the Tunbridge Wells Common itself, although I do provide some information in this regard of a general nature. For a more detailed account of the overall history of the Commons I can suggest looking at the website of The Tunbridge Wells Commons Conservators. The Tunbridge Wells Common is a 104 hectare open space close to the centre of town. Comprising mixed oak woodland and open areas. Originally a common where animals grazed, but trees have grown as grazing declined. Underlain by Tunbridge Wells Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous), which outcrops in several places across the common. Owned by the Borough Council but looked after by the Tunbridge Wells Common Conservators .

The focus of this article is on The Queens Grove”, more commonly and more correctly known as the” Royal Victoria Grove”, where  a double row of trees was planted in the Common in 1835 in honor of Queen Victoria and to supersede the dying Queen Anne's Grove.It was planted in February 1835 as a double avenue to commemorate visits to the town by Princess Victoria with her mother the Duchess of Kent. Just to the north was the earlier Queen’s Grove, planted for the coronation of Queen Anne in 1702 and replanted in 1811; this never did well and died out in the early 1850s. Victoria Grove was planned as three rows of sycamores, limes, and elms, but some trees had to be replaced in later years and often did not conform to the original plan. The elms succumbed to disease in 1972, and in 1992 the third row was replanted to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Elizabeth II's accession. For a few years from 1911 a moveable bandstand was set up to the south. To the north of the Grove is a small patch of surviving heathland, a type of vegetation once much more widespread on the Common.

Historical accounts provide details of various visits of the Royal Family to Tunbridge Wells and that Queen Victoria, then a Princess was a frequent visitor and because of this “Royal” connection, the town became known as Royal Tunbridge Wells.

The historical record for 1608-1722 states “In 1688, Princess Anne of Denmark was at Tunbridge-Wells … This princess several seasons successively honoured the place with her presence, and was a great benefactress to it. She gave the bason to the spring called the "Queen's-well" which is situated on the left hand as you enter the area, and distinguished from the other by its iron barsIn 1698 her royal highness took her son, the young Duke of Glocester with her to the Wells, and was made sensible of the utility of paving the walks by a fall which he got; in his play with other children. … she left money for this purpose … her royal highness returned to the Wells before any progress was made. This neglect very much disgusted the princess, who thereupon instantly quitted the place … but before she went, she took effectual methods to have the pavement carried on with proper diligence.On the accession of this princess to the throne of Great Britain, the inhabitants of Tunbridge-Wells, … planted the "Queen's-grove" on the common, for a growing monument of gratitude to their royal and generous benefactress.”

The website of the Tunbridge Wells Commons Conservators adds “Some eighteenth century residents and visitors believed that the Commons would benefit from tree planting and other embellishments, but the planting of Queen’s Anne’s Grove in 1702 (along with Queen Anne’s Oak a couple of years earlier) is the only reported example prior to 1835. Shown  here is a photo of the plaque at Queen Annes Oak after restoration of the railing. The plaque refers to the planting of the oak around 1700 and is stated to be “ one of the oldest trees on the Commons”.

A Visitors Guide of 1829 reported “ The trees having gone considerably to decay, it was proposed, at the wish of a few individuals, that a new grove, in addition to the old one, should be planted to form a comfortable shade for those who might feel inclined to visit this pleasing spot: fresh trees were accordingly planted in the year 1811, but their present appearance is not the most flourishing”.

The historical account from 1835 about its creation states “Her present Majesty [Queen Victoria], with her royal mother, the Duchess of Kent, having frequently honored Tunbridge Wells by residing there in the season, chiefly at Calverley House, the inhabitants were anxious to afford them a growing proof of their attachment and gratitude. At a meeting of the Freeholders of Rusthall Common, in the autumn of 1834, it was considered that the most appropriate record of their feelings would be shewn in planting a Grove on the common, adjoining Queen Anne's Grove, to be called the Victoria Grove. … [and] on Thursday, the 12th of February, 1835, soon after one o'clock, notwithstanding the torrents of rain which were then falling, the committee of management with the magistrates, and a great number of the inhabitants, preceded by the local band, went in procession from the upper assembly room to the spot selected for the new grove. Precisely at half-past one, William Scoones, Esq. as representative of the Lord of the Manor of Rusthall, planted the first tree, a Lime, and spoke to the following effect :- " In the name and on behalf of Thomas Christopher Gardner, Esq. I plant this tree, being the first of a series of trees to be called the Royal Victoria Grove; and I hope they may flourish for ever and ever, as well as their Royal Patroness." Three cheers were then given, and the band played the national anthem. … On the evening of the 12th upwards of two hundred of the clergy, magistrates, gentry, and inhabitants dined at the Upper Assembly Rooms in celebration of the event. The grove is 550 feet long and 50 feet wide, and consists of three rows of trees, Elms, Limes, and Sycamores - the trees being planted 12 feet apart.” The best part of three very wet days were occupied in the planting: a list is preserved of the names of those taking part, including 25 boys of Chapel School (now King Charles').
























Cliffords 1834 guide gave the following “ The most pleasant part of the Common is the Queens Grove, planted in grateful and honorable memory of Queen Anne, who was particularly fond of the place, and a liberal benefactoress to it. Here in the height of summer is always to be found a cooling and delightful breeze”. Shown below left is a view of the grove in the fall of 2009 and to the right is a view during the summer of 2013.














Since the time the Grove of trees was installed, it has been a favourite spot for local residents and visitors to the town to visit, and naturally has been the subject of many photographs. Some of these have been turned into postcards and are quite collectable among postcard enthusiasts and historians alike. In this article I present a nice selection of them. Shown above are two recent photos of the Grove. The one on the left was taken in the fall of 2009 and the other in the summer of 2013. Shown below are two related views featuring in the foreground one of the rock formations in the Commons with a view of The Queens Grove in the background.The card on the left is by Photochrom of Tunbridge Wells entitled 'Tunbridge Wells Queens Grove,The Common From Big Rock'. The card on the right, simply labelled as "The Common, Tunbridge Wells" ,  is by an unidentified publisher but based on the shortness of the skirt the lady is wearing (standing on rocks) it appears to date from the 1960's.












Over the years Tunbridge Wells has been hit by a number of storms which have done considerable damage to the towns trees, and those in the Grove have not escaped the damage and destruction. As a result the Friends of the Common have made it their responsibility to keep the Common in repair and have undertaken various restoration projects over the years to keep the Common looking its best. Part of this work has involved the replacement of trees in the Queen's Grove which have been damaged or blown down or for that matter have become deseased.  Thanks to the great work by "The Friends", everyone gets to enjoy one of the towns great features.

 

 

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