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

Date: October 17,2017


Today the Russell Hotel ,on the south east corner of London Road and Lime Hill Road, at 79-80 London Road, is a favourite spot for visitors to Tunbridge Wells to stay. London Road, with its grand view of the Commons, has always been the site of lodging houses and it was as a lodging house that the Russell Hotel began back in the 1880’s. The building known as the Russell Hotel today is predated by an earlier building on the site no doubt demolished to make way for redevelopment in the area which included the building of Lime Hill Road. A map of 1872 shows a building on the site but not the existence of Lime Hill Road. A map of 1899 shows what later became the Russell Hotel building and Lime Hill Road.

The hotel building is an impressive structure, being 3-1/2 stys with a basement, and constructed of red brick with painted render on the front and side elevations. A modern photo of the hotel is shown above.

In 1899 the building was two lodging houses, namely 79 London Road run by Miss Jane Matthews, and 80 London Road, run by Mrs Emily Dann. By 1903 Mrs Dann was gone and Miss Jane Matthews ran 79-80 London Road as a lodging house. At the time of the 1911 census Miss Edith Tickner was the lodging house keeper at No. 80 along with her sister Jane and they had four elderly spinster ladies occupying five rooms in the 15 room building. At 79 London Road was a 12 room lodging house called ‘Comery House’ run by 80 year old Miss Emily Morin.

By 1922 the building began to be known as the ‘Victoria Private Hotel’ and in 1922 a Mrs Walton was the proprietress. Advertisments for the Victoria Private Hotel , with an address of 80 London Road, appeared in the Kent & Sussex Courier from 1920 to 1922, but by 1930 advertisments in the newspaper referred to it as the Russell Hotel, which in 1930 was run by Guy Stanley Barton and taken over by Mrs J. Trueman in the mid 1930’s. Directory listings for the Russell Hotel in the 1930’s gave it at 80 London Road. Planning Authority applications from 1982 onwards refer to it variously as 80 London Road or 79-80 London road. Modern and current advertisments for the Russell Hotel give it at 79-80 London Road.

This article provides some photographs of the hotel and some brief information about its history.


Early maps of London Road north of York Road show that a row of buildings existed along the east side of London Road facing the commons. Brackett’s map of 1860 for example shows several building in this stretch of London Road and the existence of York Road but at that time Lime Hill Road did not exist.

A map of 1872 did not show the existence of Lime Hill Road but that there was a building on the future site of the Russell Hotel, which no doubt served as a lodging house.

A map of 1899 shows  Lime Hill Road and a building on the SE corner of it and London Road, which at that time was two lodging houses,namely one at No. 79 and one at No. 80. These two lodging houses must have been joined structures. It is believed by the researcher that the current Russel Hotel building was constructed in the 1880’s around the same time that Lime Hill Road was built through the grounds of the building(s) that existed on the site at that time. Shown above is a map from 1907 on which the location of the hotel is highlighted in red.

The earliest photograph of the building as the Victoria Private Hotel is the one shown below from the 1920’s, which in part announced that the hotel had been “newly and tastefully furnished”.

As can be seen from the photographs in this article the building is situated on the SE corner of Lime Hill Road and London Road, and those who stayed in the hotel were afforded a fine view of the commons. The building was constructed of red brick with painted render on the front and side elevations. The rear of the building was not rendered. The building has a full basement with three main floors above as well as usable attic space. Over the years the building has been tastefully redecorated and modernized and has been maintained in very good condition. A review of Planning Authority applications from 1982 onward show that various upgrades to the building had been undertaken.

Shown below are a few postcard views of London Road from the early 1900’s. The first one on the left is a postcard by Boots Chemists franked 1907 showing a view of London Road looking north towards Mount Ephraim. Beside it is a view looking south along London Road which on the left shows the intersection of Lime Hill Road and London Road.



The earliest known occupants of the building that became the Russell Hotel were found in the 1899 Kelly directory. This record noted that Miss Jane Matthew was running a lodging house at 79 London Road and that Mrs Emy Dann ran the lodging house at 80 London Road.

The 1903 directory only listed Miss Jane Matthew having a lodging house at 80 London Road. No listing for 79 London Road was found and it is believed by the researcher that Miss Matthew had taken over No. 79 as well as being at No. 80.

The 1911 census, taken at 79 London Road referred to it as ‘Comery House’ a 12 room residence occupied by Miss Emily Morin a 80 year old spinster born 1831 in Freston, and three servants. She was given as a lady living on private means. The 1911 census gave three listings for 80 London Road. The first was for Miss Edith Tickner in 10 rooms who was born 1864 in Frant and was a lodging house keeper. With her was her spinster sister Jane, age 45 and one servant. The second listing at No. 80 was for Miss Marty Fry, age 63, living on private means and born 18548 in Rotherfield, Sussex. Living with her in 2 rooms was her sister Miss Jane Fry, age 55 born in Rotherfield who was also living on private means. The thirst listing for No. 80 was for 3 rooms referred to as “Hartonleigh” occupied by Miss Mary Isabella Burrough, age 55, born 1856 in Clifton, Gloucestershire, and the daughter of Richard and Mary Ellen Burrough. With Mary was his spinster sister Miss Mary Ellen Burrough, born 1874 at Flax Burton, Somerset. Mary Isabella Burrough had been christened April 13,1844 at Clifton. Probate records noted her of 20 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, as a spinster at the time of her death December 31,1931. The executor of her 2383 pound estate was her spinster sister Mary Ellen Burrough.

The 1922 Kelly listed “Victoria Private Hotel (Mrs Walton, proprietress) 80 London Road”. The Kent & Sussex Courier of May 4,1920; June 18,1920 and June 3,1921, all gave an advertisement for the Victoria Private Hotel at 79-80 London Road.

Sometime before 1930 the hotel changed names as the 1930 Kelly gave the listing “Russell Hotel (Guy Stanley Barton, Prop.) 80 London Road. The 1939 Kelly gave the listing “ Russell Hotel (Mrs J. Trueman, proprietress) 80 London Road”.

Moving ahead to 1982 , a Planning Authority application of that year for an illuminated sign gave the applicant as “Mr. K.A. Wilkinson, Russell Hotel 80 London Road”. Mr Wilkinson’s name was also given in an application of 1985. By 1998 the hotel was run by Mr M.C. Porter and by 2004 by Peter Temple of Grand Bois Limited, Russell Hotel, 79-80 London Road.

An interesting book, which can be read on the internet, entitled ‘Lovers and Husbands and What Not: A Biography of Margaret L. MacPherson, refers to Margaret staying at the Russell Hotel in 1965 and writing a letter to her son from the hotel “Christmas 1965”. Margaret was still boarding at the hotel in 1966 “when the hotel was full of old folk and Margaret was reasonably well, then aged 71”. She had once been the editor of ‘The Northlander’ but “Margaret had a poverty stricken time in Tunbridge Wells ,which all changed when she was given a 600 pound grant in 1966 to buy a typewriter and begin travelling again”. Several websites provide information about the life and career of this interesting woman. 

The Manchester United team stayed at the Russell Hotel in 1968 and over the years many interesting people have stayed there. Today the hotel is still going strong providing modern accommodation in a fine old building and fine dining, all in a setting that provides a scenic view of the commons. Listed in order from top to bottom in this section is a photo of the Russell Hotel from the 1960's followed by a multiview postcard and finally one of the hotel taken at night.




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

Date: January 17,2017

‘The Old Chapel’ as it is referred to on maps of the 20th century, is  what I would describe is a most interesting little red brick building on the south side of Grosvenor Park behind what is now the Divizia Italian restaurant at 84-86 Grosvenor Park.

The existence of this building came to my attention a few years ago when researching the history of carriage and motor body manufacturers Rock, Thorpe & Chatfield who had premises on the north east corner of Grosvenor Road and Grosvenor Park. In 1915 there was a great fire at this company’s premises which I reported on in my January 2017 article ‘The 1915 Fire on Grosvenor Road’ in which article I presented the photo shown above taken on August 1915 at the time of the fire. This was one of two known photographs of the fire taken by Tunbridge Wells photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold H. Camburn. The large building featured in this photo is that of Rock, Thorpe & Chatfield  located on the north east corner of Grosvenor Park and Grosvenor Road. On  the right side of the photograph just a few hundred feet from the intersection is  the little chapel that is the subject of this article tucked in just past the business premises of Mr Harris, which building was later a warehouse. On the east side of the chapel was a building referred to as Grosvenor House which became  a block of offices, which in 2005 was converted into flats.  The old premises of Mr Harris were demolished in the 20th century to make way for a restaurant (Divizia) and a row of shops.  Surprisingly the old chapel has survived.

The name Grosvenor House is based on an old mansion that once stood on grounds that encompassed a large block of land on the south east corner of Grosvenor Road and Grosvenor Park known as and labelled on early maps as ‘Grosvenor House’. An so this little red brick building, that has all the makings of being an old chapel as well as the premises of Mr Harris and the Divizia Restaurant were all built on the former site of Grosvenor House.

A review of maps from 1839 onward shows that this old chapel did not exist in 1891 but by 1899 is clearly shown. Who designed and built it and for that matter exactly when it was constructed and for who is still a mystery except in all probability it was constructed for use as a Baptist Chapel. A map shown above from the Planning Authority files dated 2005 shows this building  labeled as“The Old Chapel”.

The building has undergone a number of changes over the years. Changes to the front elevation can be seen by comparing a 1915 image to the one shown opposite from 2009. The 1915 photo shows a central passage door flanked by two long arch top windows with stained glass and a similar window above the passage door. The shape and type of windows and the pediment on the roof are typical chapel features for similar buildings constructed in the last quarter of the 19th century. The 2009 photo shows the central arch top window, the roof pediment and the arch top window to the left however the arch top window on the right has been shortened with the bottom part of it and the passage door replaced with an old wooden door, suggesting that in the 20th century this building was used as a garage. Shown below left is a 2005 elevation plan and to the right is a modern google image of the chapel .

Recently estate agents Rightmove advertised the availability of a 2 bedroom flat in this former chapel. Images of the exterior and interior of the building can be seen on their website. Within the listing it is stated in part ‘Converted former chapel, this individual flat incorporates the first floor area and has the benefit of beautiful stained glawss windows, a modern kitchen with open plan living space and wood-laminate flooring, full bathroom with corner bath, double bedroom and further double bedroom with galleried storage area, GCH and permit parking”. It is clear from viewing the interior images of the building that it has been completely changed and brought up to modern living standards. It is also clear the most of the original front façade of the building remains as a historical record of a by-gone era.

The Baptists have a long history in this area, having a chapel on nearby Hanover Road and at the intersection of Grosvenor Road and Mout Ephraim, just a stone’s throw from The Old Chapel is the Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church that was built in 1889 to the designs of architect H.M. Caley as the St John’s Free Baptist Church at a cost of 7,560 pounds. Today there is also a Friends Meeting house further down Grosvenor Park that has been there for many years.




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

Date: January 19,2017


In 1738 Grosvenor Road was sparsely populated north of Calverley Road, but near the junction of Grosvenor Road and Mount Ephraim Bowra’s map of that year shows the existence of what is portrayed as three 2 sty homes on the east side of Grosvenor, at and north of this intersection. The site on which Grosvenor House was constructed in the early 19th century was at that time the home of Mr Brett, a major landowner in Mount Sion and in other parts of the town. It appears that Mr Brett’s home was demolished to make way for the construction of Grosvenor House.

A building,which is later identified as Grosvenor House, first appears on a map of 1801  along with Grosvenor Lodge, a Grade II listed building that still exists, smaller than Grosvenor House, but built around the same time. Barrow’s map of 1808 clearly shows Grosvenor House and Grosvenor Lodge set well back off of Grosvenor Road with what later would be known as the road Grosvenor Park being situated on the north property line of Grosvenor House. In 1808 Grosvenor Park was little more than a narrow trail leading a short distance towards the rear grounds of Grosvenor House. Both Grosvenor House and Grosvenor Lodge are shown on an 1828 map just as they were in 1808 but by this time other buildings had been constructed to the south of them.

The first map on which Grosvenor House and Grosvenor Lodge are shown and labelled as such is that of 1832, an image of which is given above. Maps of 1839 and1843 show the same information as the 1832 map.

Shown opposite is a map from 1849 which provides the most detailed image of Grosvenor House, with a circular drive off Grosvenor Park just east of Grosvenor Road, situated on large landscaped grounds. To the south of it is shown the much smaller (about half the size) Grosvenor Lodge. As can be seen from the map the grounds of Grosvenor House extended back some considerable distance and it is no wonder that the site of this house resulted in its demolition in the later part of the 19th century to make way for the extension of Grosvenor Park to the east; the construction of shops along Grosvenor Road ; the construction of a small red brick Baptist chapel on Grosvenor Park just east of the intersection and beside it to the east, what began as the furniture removal warehouse of Mr Harris, and later offices and flats named appropriately “ Grosvenor House”.  

Grosvenor House appears to have begun under residential use but in the period of 1843 to 1850 was a Hydropathy Establishment begun by Dr Henry Clare Timpson who left in 1847, at which time it was taken over by Dr. H. C. Heathcote, who left in 1850. By 1853 the building was occupied by Dr A. Wilson of the East India Company and by 1858 by Mr Thomas Taylor. By 1871 and up to the time of his death there in 1879, Grosvenor House was a military school run by Rev. Robert Fowler who at the time of the 1861 census was running a military school at 3 Sion Terrace in Mount Sion,Tunbridge Wells. When Rev Fowler passed away Grosvenor House continued as a military school run by Edmund Douglas Archibald (1851-1913) until 1886 when he left the town and it appears that his departure coincided with the demolition of Grosvenor House and the redevelopment of the site.

This article provides maps and other images pertaining to Grosvenor House; details about the history of the site and its use up to the time of its demolition.


From a review of maps and other information, the future site of Grosvenor House sat on grounds at the north east intersection of Grosvenor Road and Mount Ephraim. Whether he named his residence ‘Grosvenor House’ or not is not known for maps do not provide a name of his residence. Shown opposite is the earliest map found referring to John Brett, namely Bowra’s map of 1738, which is shown opposite. If the image of his home is to be relied upon, it was a large 2 sty residence, with two residences immediately to the north of it owned by Mr Warner. No homes ,such as Grosvenor Lodge, were at that time located to the south of Mr Bretts home are shown.

A detailed 1738 map of Mount Sion shows that Mr Brett owned some eleven buildings in Mount Sion and several more in other parts of town-in all “over hundred acres of prime Tunbridge Wells land and houses” according to Roger Farthing in his book ‘A History of Mount Sion ‘(2003).. He noted that land in Mount Sion was leased to John Brett (Senior)in 1690 , described as an “apothecary of St Clement Dane”.He added to his land holdings in Mount Sion in the early 1700’s. His father was a Colonel and his sister in 1663 married Dr Hugh Chamberlen of the family of obstreticians. Mr Brett had good connections and was a London man. In Chapter 5 Roger Farthing reported that John Brett(Senior) died November 13,1719 while a resident of Tunbridge Wells. His heir was his nephew John Brett, a Doctor of Physic who had five children. It is this John Brett that is referred to on the 1738 map, the same John Brett that died 1740. His heir was his son Rev. Brett who in the 1780’s sold off the Brett land holdings in the town and by 1840 Rev. William Brett owned just a single meadow. It is expected that part of the lands he sold off was the house/land at the corner of Grosvenor Road and Mount Ephraim that later became Grosvenor House. There is no information to indicate that the former residence of Mr Brett became Grosvenor House and based on information from English Heritage it appears that the old Brett home was demolished and that a new building was constructed on the site circa 1801.


Grosvenor House was located on the south east corner of the intersection between Grosvenor Road and a lane to the rear which later became known as Grosvenor Park. Grosvenor Park is located just south of the intersection of Grosvenor Road and Mount Ephraim. Shown opposite is a map from 1907.

Shown in the ‘Overview’ is perhaps the most detailed map of the site from its early history, namely Gisborne’s map of 1849, on which can be seen a large circular drive in front of  Grosvenor House, a building located on the south east corner of Grosvenor Road and what later would be call Grosvenor Park Road. To the south a short distance away is the much smaller Grosvenor Lodge, which still exists today.

Some information about Grosvenor House can be gleaned from the information given in the Grade II English Heritage listing for Grosvenor Lodge. From the Planning Authority files, it was stated in part that Grosvenor Lodge was at 72 Grosvenor Road( its current address, after buildings on Grosvenor Road were renumbered. At the time of the 1871 census Grosvenor Lodge was at 28 Grosvenor Rd and Grosvenor House at No. 30). “Grosvenor Lodge Grade II circa 1820 2 sty stucco over red brick. House deeply set back off Grosvenor Road in large gardens. North of Grosvenor Lodge, from early maps, is a much larger Grosvenor House with extensive landscaped gardens”. It goes on to describe Grosvenor House as a Georgian home with extensions and alterations.   From this it would be safe to state that Grosvenor House was built about the same time and of the same or similar materials, being a 2 sty red brick building of a grand scale. It no doubt had a slate roof with a central door under a portico supported on columns, similar to the home of the same vintage shown in the image above. The Georgian era pertains to the period of 1714-1830 and so Grosvenor House was built mid -way in this period.

Grosvenor Lodge was recently listed for sale through estate agents Bracketts. A map from their listing is shown opposite. All of the land shown north of it had been redeveloped and was formerly the site and grounds of Grosvenor House. Regarding Grosvenor Lodge Bracketts described it along with ‘The Studio’ at the rear of the site as “a detached Georgian former house (circa 1820 with later additions) now in office use, a detached Victorian Villa”.

Shown above  is a photograph of Grosvenor Lodge from Roger Farthings book ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’. The text below it is self explanetory. The ornate entranceway in this image and the glass roofed structure to the left of it no longer exist.


Given below is a table providing a list of known occupants of Grosvenor House covering the period of 1843 up to its estimated demolition in 1887.  Some information is given about each of the occupants.

1843-1846……..Dr Henry Clare Timpson

1847-1850……...Dr. G.H. Heathcote

1853………………Dr. A. Wilson

1858……………….Mr Thomas Taylor

1863-1879……… Rev. Robert Fowler

1879-1886………Edmund Douglas Archibald


Shown opposite is an advertisement dated 1846 for the Hydropathic Establishment “Grosvenor House” Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells in which the name of H.C. Timpson appears as a surgeon and the person in charge of this establishment. He is credited as having started the facility in Tunbridge Wells in 1843.  By 1847 he was replaced by Dr G.H. Heathcote. Although the image with the advertisement is indeed interesting it is unfortunate that no image of Grosvenor House itself was provided.

Hydropathy had become popular in the 19th century as a means of treating aliments through the “cure by water”. The topic and the benefits to be derived from this type of treatment had been written about by many medical men and during the 19th century many Hydropathic Establishments were set up all over England. This method of water cure treatment had been introduced into Britain from the continent in the mid 19th century, as a separate medical strand from taking the waters at a spa. For the water cure primarily concerned water as an external treatment with baths, douches and other inventive ways of applying water to the body. Hydropathy was big business.

No listing for H.C. Timpson was found in the 1840 Pigots directory confirming advertisments that he did not start this facility until 1843. An advertisement in this regard from the Illustrated London Nes of 1843 stated “ Hydropathy Establishment-Grosvenor House, Tunbridge Wells. Mr H.C. Timpson, surgeon, had opened this establishment. Accommodation is excellent. Terms very moderate.”

Henry Clare Timpson had been born October 30,1816 at Dr Williams Library, Birmingham, Warwickshire. He was christened at the same place and was given as the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Timpson.

The 1841 census, taken at Thomas Place, Gravel Lane, Southwark, Surrey gave Henry Timpson as a surgeon born 1816. With him was his wife Eliza, born 1818 ; his son Thomas, born 1841 in Surrey and one servant.

The 1851 census, taken at 4 Albion Road, Woolwich, Kent gave Henry Clare Timpson as a surgeon and apothecary. With him was his wife Eliza Jane, born 1818 in Ramsgate, Kent; six of his children including two born in Tunbridge Wells, namely Howard Clare, born 1845, and Alfred Newton born 1846. His son Henry Shrewsbury was born 1843 at Souwthwark, Surrey and  there was a daughter Hilda Jane born after the family left Tunbridge Wells at Woowich, Kent in 1848. Also in the home was one servant.

His first wife died sometime after 1851 and 1857 for in the 4th qtr of 1857 Henry Clare Timpson married Jane Smith Francomber in London.

The 1858 Melville directory gave the listing “ Henry C. Timpson, surgeon, Samuel Street, Woolwich, Kent”.

The 1861 census, taken on Cambridge Road in Bethnal Green gave Henry C. Timpson as a chemist and druggist. With him was his wife Jane S. Timpson.

Henry had run into some financial difficulties for he is found in records of The Jurist December 8,1856 as H.C. Timpson, surgeon, Woolwich, Kent…a bankrupt”. He was also listed as a bankrupt in The Economist of 1855 and in The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian Glamorgan, Wales dated May 15,1847 as a bankrupt under the name of H. C. Timpson, Woodwich, chemist”.

Death records for Henry Clare Timpson gave him born 1817 and died 3rs qtr  1879 at Woolwich, Kent. He was buried August 8,1879 at St Thomas, Chaulton, borough of Greenwich.


Dr G.H. Heathcote took over Grosvenor House from H. C. Timpson in 1847 at noted by the 1847 advertisment shown opposite. Dr Heathcoat and other physicians were heaving criticised for advertising their serviced in the Lancet of March 20,1847. They included as an example Dr Heathcote’s advertisement that read “ Hydropathy-Grosvenor House, Tunbridge Wells. Resident physician-Dr Heathcote, Licentiate of the College of Physicians, London etc, who may be consulted the first Friday in every month between the hours of eleven and one at 37 Moorgate Street, London where prospectuses may be had”. The Lancet stated “ There should exist a distinct difference between the conduct of a professional man and a tradesman and between the qualified practitioner and the uneducated quack”.

As noted in the 1847 advertisment for Grosvenor House Dr Heathcote stated he was formerly of Leeds (Leeds, Kent) at the Hydropathic Hospital there and that he was the author of ‘Observations on the Water Cure’. This book was referred to in ‘The Athenaeum of 1843 at a price of 1s 6d by G.H. Heathcote M.D. based on observations at Greufenburg the hydropathy establishment of Vincent Priessnitz in Scotland. Shown opposite is a photo of that establishment dated 1839.

Not much is known about this  doctor except that he was a graduate of medicine at the University of Edinburgh and a licentiate of the College of Physicians and that he was in charge of the Leeds,Kent Hydropathy establishment in 1846 and left there to take over Grosvenor House in Tunbridge Wells.

The book ‘The Rise and Progress of Hydropathy in England (1906) by Richard Metcalf stated “ Dr G.H. Heathcote, who opened a place (1847) in Tunbridge Wells and conducted it for a considerable time, though without making any mark”. The Medical History of Waters & Spas (1990) also makes a brief reference to G. H. Heathcote.

The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser of May 30,1843 gave “ Water Cure Establishment-70 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. This establishment fitted up with all necessary apparatus for the cure of acute and chronic disease by the hydropathic process is now open for the reception of invalids. Resident physician-G.H. Heathcote, MD, Licentiate of the College of Physicians Lodnon and Author of The Hydropathic Treatment of Disease”.

This doctor may be related to Sir William Heathcote (1801-1881) , bart, of Hursby Park near Winchester, Hants, for among his collection of books in 1865 was the book by G.H. Heathcote ‘Some observtions on the Cold Water treatment 1843.

Regarding his time in Leeds, the Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal of 1846 has a detailed article about “the new house of Recoverfy in Leeds, a hydropathic establishment, a new and commodious hospital for fever patients, is now ready to be opened. A handsome brick 2 sty building some measuring some 252 ‘ x 23-6” costing over 6,000 pounds.

The last directory listing for him in Tunbridge Wells was that of 1850 which gave “ Hydropathic Establishment Dr Heathcote, Grosvenor House. It appears he left that year for a Dr A. Wilson appears there in 1853.

A 1882 directory listing for Leeds, Kent, gave “G.H. Heathcote, 20 Lenham Road”.


Dr A. Wilson took over Grosvenor House from Dr. G.H. Heathcote circa 1852 for he is not found in Tunbridge Wells at the time of the 1851 census but is listed  in the records of the East India Company as “Dr A. Wilson, of East India Co’s service at Grosvenor House, Tunbridge Wells 1852”.

Allens Indian Mail reported for April 7,1852  “Birth…..Wilson, to the lady of Dr. A. Wilson, East India Co’s service, a daughter, at Grosvenor House, Tunbridge Wells”.

The only other reference is from the Association Medical Journal  dated September 28,1855 for a Thomas Taylor, esq., consulting surgeon to the Infirmary, Wrexham”.


The first record of Thomas Taylor at Grosvenor House is the 1858 Melville directory which gave the listing “ Mr Thomas Taylor, Grosvenor House, Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells”.  This listing appeared under the “Gentry” and not the trade listings.  He is not found in the Tunbridge Wells census records for 1851 or 1861 and so his residency in the town was quite limited.


There from about 1863  to his death 1879 Rev. Robert Fowler was the principal of a military school at Grosvenor House. Before that he ran a military school in Mount Sion called Clyde House at No.3 Sion Terrace.

Robert Fowler was born December 28,1823 at Buckfastleigh, Devon, one of several children born to Henry and Sarah Fowler.

At the time of the 1841 census Robert was a pupil at the St Peters Cathedral training school in Devon.

The 1851 census, taken at 32 Green Street in Cambridge gave Robert Fowler as a boarder while an undergraduate at Christ Church College, Cambridge. The records of the Cambridge University Alumni give the following “ Robert Fowler-St Johns College, Entered Michs 1849; born December 28,1823; died May 31,1879. Admin. Sizar at St John’s June 30,1849. Son of Henry, builder [ and Sarah]. Migrated from St Johns to Christ’s March 20,1851; scholar, 1851; B.A. (16th Wrangler) 1853; M.A. 1856. Fellow of Christ’s 1854-6. Previously Vice-Master of the Royal Military College, Chelsea. Ord. deacon (Chester) 1853; priest (Ely) 1854; C. of W. Lavington, Wilts., 1855. Assistant Master at Tonbridge School, 1856-60. Military tutor at Clyde House,Tunbridge Wells. Owner of a private school at Grosvenor House, Tunbridge Wells. Lived there latterly.Author, mathematicial. Died May 31,1879. Father of Charles R (1878).

Crockfords Clerical Directory of 1868 and 1874 gave him ,at that time, “ of Grosvenor House, Tunbridge Wells and gave him as “Principal of Grosvenor House Military School. In addition to what is given above from Cambrige,Crockfords adds that Robert Fowler was the author of ‘Solutions of questions on mixed mathematics (1863) and a Treatise on Algebra (1860).

In 1857 Robert Fowler married Caroline Watson(1830-1895) , born 1830 at Darlington Devon in Devon, and after the marriage took up residence in Tunbridge Wells.

The 1861 census, taken at 3 Sion Terrace in Mount Sion gave Robert Fowler M.A. as a “clergyman engaged in tutoring”. With him was his wife Caroline and their first two children namely (1) Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933) (3) Charles R. Fowler born 1860. Both boys were born in Tunbridge Wells. Also at this address were ten boys aged 12-18 who were military students; one nurse and two domestic servants.

Robert and Caroline had several children namely (1) Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933) (2) Charles R Fowler (b 1860) (3) Alexander Wilson Fowler (1861-1879) (4) Edward Seymour Fowler (1864-1886) (5) Edith Caroline Fowler (1866-1914) (6) Arthur J (F) Fowler (b1868) (7) Francis George Fowler (1871-1918) (8) Herbert J. Fowler (b1874).

Most families I have researched often have in their family tree a number of men who have become either clergymen or military men. Many families have a connection with the military going back several generations and of course many men saw active military service in a number of conflicts around the world. It therefore should not be surprising to find military schools throughout Britain and Tunbridge Wells certainly had their fair share of them.

Regarding Robert Fowler’s military school in Mount Sion it appears that the name of the school, from the Oxford Alumi record was “Clyde House” which he was a tutor at before moving to Grosvenor House. Roger Farthing, in his book ‘A History of Mount Sion’ (2003) gives no listing in the index for Robert Fowler  or ‘Clyde House” but  has this to say about 3 Sion Terrace (p233, 415). “There are two points to notice about Sion Terrace.Firstly, it used to have a magnificent balcony and canopy running along the whole front. This can be seen in the background of the photograph (below left) which shows the girls of the Girls Public Day School Trust in the garden of Jernigham House in about 1894. Secondly No. 7 Sion Terrace was the residence of Dr William Webber in 1864 when the ‘Webber Riots’ took place outside."

It is known from an advertisement dated August 22,1864 that Rev Fowler had left Clyde House and established his military school at Grosvenor House. The advertisement read “ Military Civil Service Examinations-Clyde House, Tunbridge Wells.-Six pupils have passed for Woolwich, two of whom have obtained commissions in the Royal Engineers; seven for Sandhurst, three of whom obtained commissions without purchase; 25 for direct commissions. For terms etc apply to Robert P. Jones. B.A”

Brackett’s 1866 Guide listed under the heading of ‘Professors of language’ “ Melle Rosseau (French & Classics_ Clyde House, Tunbridge Wells”. The same directory also listed the following Military Schools in the town (1) Rev. G.F. Alfree. Romanoff House (2) Rev. R. Fowler, Grosvenor House (3) Mons Moyer, Prospect Hill. 

The Gentlemans Magazine of 1866 announded the birth on December 27,1866 of a daughter to Rev. Robert Fowler at Grosvenor House. This child was Edith Caroline Fowler (1866-1914)

Clyde House has seen a number of occupants over the years. The Kent and Sussex Courier of January 14,1895 for example announced the marriage of Eva Maria, 5th daughter of the late Mr Thomas Fox Simpson of Clyde House, Tunbridge Wells”.

Returning now to Robert Fowler, he is found in the 1871 census at 30 Grosvenor Road, which at that time, before a later renumbering of buildings on Grosvenor Road, was the address of Grosvenor House. At that time Robert was given as a clergyman and tutor. With him was his wife Caroline and his children Edward Seymour,age 6; Edith C,age5; Arthur J,age 3 and Francis age 7 mths. Also there were twelve boys ranging in age from 15-17 who were military students; one assistant (clergyman curate William Thompson age 28); one nurse; one under nurse and four domestic servants.

Probate records for Rev. Robert Fowler gave him of Grosvenor House, Tunbridge Wells when he died on May 31,1879. The executors of his estate (valued at under 14,000 pounds) was his widow Caroline Fowler; his son Henry Watson Fowler, gentleman of Tunbridge Wells, and a relative of his widow Henry Harris Watson of Darlington, Devon, esq.

Robert was buried in the Woodbury Park Cemetery. A photographs of the family headstone is shown above. The records of this cemetery note the following names on this headstone

(1) Rev. Robert Fowler, 1st name on monument born 1823 died Mary 21,1879

(2) Caroline Fowler, wife of above, born 1831 died February 9,1895 at Eastbourne, Sussex

(3) Herbert Samuel Fowler, son of Robert, born August 12,1873, died at Marseille February 13,1905

(4) Edward Seymour Fowler, son of Robert, born 1864 died 1886 in Ceylon

(5) Edith Caroline Fowler, daughter of Robert, born December 27,1865, diedOctober 24,1914 at Shirley,Croydon

(6) Alexander Wilson Fowler, son of Robert, born 1861 died 1879 at Malnesbury, Victoria

Caroline Fowler, the widow of Rev Robert Fowler, and some of her children left Tunbridge Wells and took up residence in Eastbourne, Sussex where she is found there in the 1891 census taken at 3 Hartfield Square .With her were her children Edith, age 25; Arthur,age 23; Francis G. age 20 and Herbert age 17. The three youngest children were attending school. Also in the home were two domestic servants.

Probate records for Caroline Fowler gave her of 3 Hartfield Square, Eastbourne, Sussex when she died February 9,1895. The executors of her 2,099 pound estate was her sons Henry Watson Fowler, schoolmaster, and Charles Robert Fowler, schoolmaster. As noted above her name appears on the family grave in the Woodbury Park Cemetery.

Of all the children of Rev. Robert Fowler perhaps the two best known were Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933) a schoolmaster, lexicographer and commentator on the usage of the English language; and Francis George Fowler (1871-1918) who was a writer on English language grammar and usage. Francis had a short life as he died of tuberculosis picked up during his service in WW 1 with the British Expeditionary Force. Details about these two brothers can be found under the title “ The Fowler Brothers” on the website and the Wikipedia website has a good account about Henry Watson Fowler with several photographs. The latter source notes and shows a blue plaque to Henry Watson Fowler at 14 Paultons Square. Chelsea, London. Shown opposite is the headstone for Francis George Fowler who died May 27,1918 at the Castle Mount Military Hospital, Dover. He was married to Una Jane Mary Maud Fowler and had three children. Both brothers are noted in accounts as having lived in Tunbridge Wells and did much of their earlier writing in the town.


Edmund took over the running of the military school at Grosvenor House upon the death of Rev. Robert Fowler there in 1879 and was still there in 1886 when soon after Grosvenor House was demolished and the site redeveloped.

Edmund was born January 23,1851 at Hampstead, Middlex. He was one of four children born to Sir Thomas Dickson Archibald (1817-1876) and Sarah Archibald, nee Smith (1814-1907). He was baptised at Bloomsbury St George on February 27,1851.

From ‘Armorial Families’ is the following “EDMUND DOUGLAS ARCHIBALD, Esquire. M.A. (Oxon. ), is the younger son of the late Sir Thomas Dickson Archibald, Knight Bachelor, Judge of the Common Pleas, by his wife Sarah, daughter of Richard Smith of Dudley Priory, in the county of Worcester. Armorial bearings — Argent, on a bend azure between two estoiles of the last, three creicenis of the first, all within a bordure invected sable, charged w ith three mullets or. Crest — A palm branch slipped in bend proper, in front thereof a mount vert, thereon an estoile or. Motto — " Palma non sine pulvere." Married, 1876, Janet Helen, daughter of Robert Finlay;  and has /w«*— Robert Douglas Archibald, Gentleman,  b. July 2, 1881 ; Constance Helen Margaret ; Phyllis Muriel Cowan ; and Elizabeth Mary. Club — Constitutional.”

Sir Thomas Dickson Archibald (image opposite)was a judge. He was born at Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was educated at Picton College and qualified as an attorney and barrister-at-law in Nova Scotia in 1837. He was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1852; was junior connsol to treasury 1868; appointed justice of Queens Bench and invested with coif 1872 and knighted in 1873. He transferred to Common pleas in 1875. Sir Thomas was born August 23,1817 and died October 18,1876. He was the son of Hon. S.G.W. Archibald and Elizabeth Archibald ; the husband of Sarah Archibald ;the father of Sir William Frederick Alphonce Archibald (1846-1922), Edmund Douglas Archibald (1851-1913), Ellen Emma Archibald (1844-1913) and Richard George William Archibald (1844-1865). Sir Thomas was the brother of Charles Dickson Archibald; John Duncan Archibald; Foster Hutchinson Archibald; George William Archibald; Elizabeth Archibald and 9 others.

At the time of the 1851 census Edmund was living with his parents and siblings in Hampstead, Middlesex. The 1861 census, taken at 10 Marlborough Hill in St Marylebone gave Thomas as a barrister in private practice. With him was his wife Sarah, born 1815 at Ripon ; his children Ellen E. born 1844 London. Also there were three servants.

The 1871 census taken at ‘Inglewood’ in Bromley, Kent gave Thomas as a barrister in practice on own account. With him was his wife Sarah; their son Edmund Douglas Archibald, an undergraduate at Oxford University; three visitors and six servants. Edmund went on to obtain his MA at St John’s College, Oxford.

On March 23,1876 Edmund married Janet Helen Finlay at Calcutta, Bengal, India. Janet had been born in 1850 at Lanark, Lanarkshire, Scotland and was the daughter of Robert Gilchrist Finlay

Edmund and his wife went to India where in 1878 his daughter Constance H.M. Archibald was born in Patna, Bengal, India. While in India he taught mathematics under the austices of the Bengal Educational Service.

In 1881 Edmund and his family returned to England and settled in Tunbridge Wells, where he ran a military school and experimented with kites and weather balloons.  While in Tunbridge Wells his wife gave birth to Phyllis Muriel Cowen Archibald in the 2nd qtr of 1880 and then a son Robert Douglas Archibald (1881-1941) on July 1,1881. In 1886 his wife had a daughter Elizabeth Mary Archibald.  

The 1881 census, taken at Grosvenor House gave Edmund as late professor of mathematics in H.M. Bengal Educational Department. With him was his wife Janet and his daughter Plyllis. Also there were nine boys aged 17 to 19 who were army pupils as well as a W.G Brown,age 20 who was an assistant classical teacher. In addition there were three nurses, two housemaids, one cook, one kitchen maid and one visitor.

The 1882 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Edmund Douglas Archibald, M.A. Grosvenor House, Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells, military tutor”. Edmund took a great interest in science. He was a member of the Royal Meteorological Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He regularly attended transatlantic conferences and published widely on meteorological matters such as his book of 1878 entitled ‘The Rainfall of the World in connection with the eleven year period of sunspots etc”.

In November 1888, Professor Edmund Douglas Archibald, an M.A. of the University of Oxford, became lecturer under direction of Colonel Gouraud who was just beginning to exhibit Edison's perfected phonograph in Europe. After a thorough instruction by Henry de Coursey Hamilton, sent by Edison to accompany the phonograph in England, Archibald was given one of the first spectacle type Class M's. In the following he gave more than 100 lectures, illustrated by lantern slides, all through England, parts of Scotland, Ireland and Switzerland. Archibald's most important achievement was his recording of William Ewart Gladstone, Great Britain's most powerful man at the time, addressing Lord Carrington, Governor of New South Wales in Australia in March 1890. Immediately afterwards he bought the phonograph for an inflated price from Gouraud and sailed to Australia via the United States. He reached New Jersey in April and Sydney about early June. In New Jersey he met Thomas Edison and obtained a recorded message from the inventor to the people of Australia. After arrival Archibald prepared a twenty-page booklet, see below, and travelled through Australia and New Zealand, this time under direction of MacMahon Bros., local show men. The phonograph was cleverly promoted as "a star" and - as in England - made big profits. In early 1892 Archibald left Australasia for England. On the trip home he gave exhibitions in Batavia, Java, Burma, Ceylon and India. I don't know what happened to him or his phonograph after he landed in March 1893. It certainly was the most widely travelled talking machine of its time.

At the time of the 1911 census Edmund was living in Hampstead, Middlesex. His wife had passed away by then and on August 6,1908 he married his second wife Frances Elizabeth Dunn. Probate records gave Edmund Douglas Archibald of 17 Springfield Road Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, Middlesex, when he died December 1,1913. The executor of his 2,124 pound estate was William Higgins, barrister at law.

The following obituary was provided in ‘Symons’s Meteorological Magazine of November 1913 “  EDMUND DOUGLAS ARCHIBALD 1851—30TH NOVEMBER, 1913.THE name of Douglas Archibald will be chiefly remembered in connection with his pioneer work in modern upper air research. In 1882 he revived the use of kites for meteorological observations, and at the same time brought forward a comprehensive programme for the exploration of the air by means of kites, which has since been more than realised. This scheme was outlined at a meeting of the Royal Meteorological Society on November 15th, 1882, but during the next three or four years Mr. Archibald's experiments—in the absence of meteorographs—were confined to ascertaining the increase of wind velocity with elevation. To effect this, four registering anemometers were attached at different points on the kite wire, and thus differential measurements of the velocity of the wind up to a height of 1,200 feet were obtained. Archibald was the first to substitute steel pianoforte wire for the string, the weight, size and cost of the line being thereby diminished. In 1887 he invented the captive kite balloon, and in the same year took the first photograph from a kite, Mr. Archibald was elected a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1877, and served on the Council from 1881 to 1885, being Vice-President in 1883 and 1884. He was an M.A. of Oxford University and a Corresponding Member of the German Meteorological Society. His published works include a portion of the well-known " Report of Krakatoa Eruption," to which he contributed in collaboration with Rollo Russell the chapter on " Sun-glows." He also wrote " Rainfall of the World in connection with Sun-spots," a monograph on the " Climate of Calcutta," being one of the Indian Meteorological Memoirs, and "The Story of the Earth's Atmosphere." He was for some time, about 1877, Professor of Mathematics under the Bengal Education Department at Bankipore. and at a later period held a chair in the University of Calcutta.”

One can find many references to Edmund Douglas Archibald and several interesting detailed articles about his scientific work but only passing reference is made to his occupancy of Grosvenor House and his work running the military school.


Shortly after the departure of Edmund Douglas Archibald from Grosvenor House in 1886 (the last record) he moved to Hampstead and it is believed by the researcher that soon after his departure Grosvenor House was demolished and the site redeveloped. Shown opposite is a 1907 os map centered on the intersection of Grosvenor Road with Grosvenor Park. On this map one can see that Grosvenor House is gone; that a row of shops was in existence up to and beyond Grosvenor Park and that Grosvenor Park itself had been extended with homes constructed along what was the north property limits of Grosvenor House. Between the homes there and the shops on the corner of Grosvenor Road  can be seen from the photograph below two other buildings namely a small red brick Baptist Chapel and a warehouse building occupied by furniture removers W.G. Harris & Co. Ltd.

The photograph opposite was taken in August 1915 on the occasion of a great fire that almost destroyed the carriage and motor body works premises of Rock, Thorpe & Chatfield on the north east corner of Grosvenor Road and Grosvenor Park. Their premises are featured in this image on the left but on the right can be seen the Baptist Chapel and the warehouse of W.G. Harris & Co. Ltd. Little is known about the chapel and no exact date for its construction is known. The chapel is still there today. The 1915 photo shows the chapel as it was built with a central passage door and three arch top windows in which is stained glass. Later images of this chapel show that the central passage door had been removed and the arch top window on the right shortened to facilitate the installation of a garage door. For some time later the building , referred to on maps as “The Old Chapel” was used as a garage but in the latter part of the 20th century it was converted into a flat, a use it retains today. A recent estate agents listing shows interior and exterior views of the building as a flat. Further details about this chapel can be found in my article ‘The Old Chapel’ dated January 17,2017. 

The firm of H.G. Harris & Co Ltd was described in detail in my articles ‘The Royal Victoria Pantechnicon’ dated October 22,2014 and in ‘The Royal Victoria and Sussex Hotel’ dated October 22,2014. Mr Harris had for a time occupied the former hotel in the Pantiles for his furniture removal business and began his business in the town circa 1838. The 1903 Kelly directory gave “W. G. Harris & Co, furniture removers 37 & 39 Grosvenor Road and Victoria Pantechnicon Ye Pantiles. The 1922 Kelly gave “W.G. Harris & Co. Ltd 37-39 Grosvenor Road, upholsterers. In the 20th century this building was identified as being a warehouse and in 2005 Planning approval was given for conversion of it into offices. A few years later approval was given for conversion of the building from offices to flats, a use it retains today. Quite appropriately, on the front of this building is a plaque that reads “ Grosvenor House”.

It is indeed unfortunate that no image of Grosvenor House is known to exist. There are several postcard views centered on the intersection of Grosvenor Road and Mount Ephraim showing the Molyneux drinking fountain and behind it the former St Johns Baptist Church and further down Grosvenor Road the Grosvenor Mount Hotel/pub. Some also show the former premises of Rock Thorpe and Chatfield and the shops south of Grosvenor Park, of which the building on the south east corner, is today and has been for several years, an Italian Restaurant, a building who’s history was reported on in my article ‘A History of 60 Grosvenor Road’ dated January 12,2017. An image showing the restaurant on the right is shown opposite.

An indepth chronological investigation of the redevelopment of the former Grosvenor House site was not undertaken for in most cases little definitive information is given regarding the dates in which the buildings on the site were constructed. In 2005 the site of the warehouse /flats at the “new” Grosvenor House on Grosvenor Park was described in a 2005 delegation report as being about 100 years old (1905) but this appears to be just a guess, for as noted above it was already there in 1903 and I suspect was built in the late 19th century around the same time as the rest of the buildings on the former Grosvenor House site.



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

Date: March 10,2018


A. & G. Taylor was a British photographic business, and manufacturer of cabinet cards and cartes de visite, and later picture postcards.

In 1866, the photographers Andrew Taylor (1832–1909) and George Taylor opened their first studio in London's Cannon Street. By 1866 they had expanded to have 36 outlets in major British cities and 6  in the US. In 1886, they received a Royal Warrant, and became self-proclaimed "Photographers to the Queen".

By 1901, they were producing picture postcards, using four different series, the Reality Series of greetings, children, actresses, and military themes, as real photo postcards, the Carbontone Series of black and white printed views and greetings, the Orthochrome Series of views and greetings, printed in tinted halftone, and a Comic Series. After 1914, they moved their main studio to Hastings, but may have closed by 1918.

An advertisement for the business shows just how large they were. It stated “A & G Taylor, Photographers to her Majesty the Queen and their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales. Miniature and Portrait Painters. A & G Taylor, 34, Church Street, Liverpool and at 24, High Street, Carnarvon. Branches: London, Queen Victoria St., Fenchurch St., Regent St., Luddgate Hill, Forest Hill. Barrow, Birmingham, Bishop Auckland, Blackburn, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cumbridge, Cardiff, Carlisle, Carnarvon, Coventry, Derby, Doncaster, Dublin, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greenock, Hamley, Lancaster, Leicester, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Newport, Nottingham, Sheffield, Stafford, Stockton, Sunderland, Swansea, Wigan. New York, Boston, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark. Negatives kept - Copies may be had. Cartes enlarged to life size and finished in oil or water.”

The company referred to themselves as ‘The Biggest Photographers in the World’ and are often referred to by others as “the largest Victorian Photography firm in the United Kingdom.”

The National Portrait Gallery, London, holds a number of examples of the studio’s work, including a photograph of Queen Victoria with her grandson, Alexander Mountbatten, 1888, and a carte de visite of Prime Minister, William Gladstone, 1869. Shown above is a A & G Taylor Multiview card of Tunbridge Wells  posted in 1910.


The quality of the real photo images by A& G Taylor vary considerably in general but those by them of Tunbridge Wells are inferior in quality to those by other noted photographers and postcard printers/ publishers operating in Tunbridge Wells during the pre WW1 era.

All of the examples of the Taylor cards in the town were posted during the period of 1908 to 1912. To date only three postcards by them have been located and studied.

Shown above left is a view of Brighton Lake in the Commons with the caption “ Sunset Near Tunbridge Wells’ being card number Z502. It was posted from Tunbridge Wells January 20,1908 and like all of their postcards it was purchased from one of the local stationers shops. To the right is the back side of this ‘Reality Series’ card which reads " A & G Taylor's Reality Series of Copyright Pictorial Postcards 70 & 75 Queen Victoria Street, London EC.



Shown above is the front and back of a postcard mailed May 17,1912 from Tunbridge Wells addressed to a destination in New Zealand. This image is entitled “ Tunbridge Wells Common” card number K2085. On the back of this card note at the top the reference to their Royal Appointment and their logo of a man with a tripod camera photographing the globe with the word “Reality” forming part of the logo.


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