ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 5

 

THE COFFIN BIER

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

Date: May 8,2019

PREAMBLE

The impetus for this article, on a rather unusual topic, was the recent discovery of a coffin bier made by Thomas Piper & Sons of Cranbrook, Kent in the 19th century that originally came into use at the Tunbridge Wells West train station. Currently on display in a carriage museum, it was offered for sale on ebay with a starting bid of 3,000 pounds.

Details and images of this bier are the central focus of this article. Some brief information about the Tunbridge Wells West station and the maker of the bier are also presented.

COFFIN BIERS-GENERAL DESCRIPTION AND USE 

A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin, or casket containing a corpse, is place to lie in state or to be carried to the grave. In the case of the bier at the Tunbridge Wells West station ,or at any railway station, the bier is used to either transport the casket from the train to the person(s) waiting to receive it or in the alternative to transport the casket along the railway platform for loading of the casket on the train. The bier used at the train station was kept on the premises until needed.

A number of articles in the Kent & Sussex Courier refer to the use of a bier at various funerals where the coffin was displayed in a church but none were found regarding its use at the local railway station. It was not established if there was a bier used at the Tunbridge Wells Central train station but most likely there was one.

A number of photographs of a bier can be found on the internet which show they are similar in design but not do vary in construction. They fall into two categories namely one that is drawn by hand and one fitted out with retractable poles for use when drawn by a horse or pony. They are both generally small, being only slightly larger than a coffin.

A description of a bier from the website Wikipedia states “In Christian burials, the bier is often placed in the centre of the nave with candles surrounding it, and remains in place during the funeral. The bier is a flat frame, traditionally wooden but sometimes of other materials. In antiquity it was often a wooden board on which the dead were placed, covered with a shroud. In modern times, the corpse is rarely carried on the bier without being first placed in a coffin or casket, though the coffin or casket is sometimes kept open. A bier is often draped with cloth to lend dignity to the funeral service. The modern funeral industry uses a collapsible aluminium bier on wheels, known as a "church truck" to move the coffin to and from the church or funeral home for services. Biers are generally smaller than the coffin or casket they support for reasons of appearance. As a result, they are not particularly stable, and can tip over unless well-centered and undisturbed.”

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS WEST STATION BIER 

Shown in this section are three images of a bier that was once used at the Tunbridge Wells West train station (image opposite). This train station opened in 1886 but closed in 1995, leaving Tunbridge Wells served by only the Central Station on Mount Pleasant Road, which opened in 1845 which indicates that the bier was most likely made in 1886 although its exact date of manufacture is not known and does not appear on the bier itself. The maker of this bier, as identified on the iron axle was T. Piper & Sons of Cranbrook, Kent. Information about the maker is given in the last section of this article.

The three images presented show what the bier currently looks like after its restoration. The bier  currently forms part of the collection of an East Sussex museum but has been offered for sale on ebay. When the bier ended its service at the train station is not known and how and when it came into the hands of the museum was not established.

Here is the description of it as presented by the seller. “ Hand drawn Victorian Railway coffin bier funeral hearse Tunbridge Wells- Beautifully restored bier which was used at the Tunbridge Wells station,Kent. This line is part of the East Grinstead, Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells Railway (EGGTWR), engineered by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway’s (LB & SCR) Chief Engineer, Frederick Banister) as an extension to the Three Bridges to East Grinstead Railway. The station is now part of the Spa Valley Railway (SVR) a standard gauge heritage railway which runs along the Wealden Line. The bier has a wrought iron frame, with wooden “bed” and a planked wood canopy. The wheels have also been fully restored. The name T. Piper & Sons of Cranbrook,Kent  appears on the axle. This is a very rare object, and would be suitable for use as a hand drawn hearse for a funeral director. Alternatively, it would look stunning in a train museum or display environment. The nearest comparable example found on the internet is one held by the Tyrwhitt-Drake Carriage Museum on Mill Street in Maidstone which was also made by T. Piper & Sons. The Tyrwhitt-Drake museum was the gift of Sir Farrara Tyrwhitt-Drake, a twelve time Mayor of Maidstone. The museum opened in 1946 and contains more than 60 coaches and carriages from his collection. The bier at that museum was built in 1905 and made of painted wood, wrought iron and brass and was used by the Cranbrook Burial Board. The firm of T. Piper & Sons started business in Cranbrook as coach and carriage builders in 1874. The one at the Maidstone museum has detachable shafts that can be fitted to be drawn by horse or pony. Others, like the one offered for sale were hand drawn”.

T. PIPER & SONS

The firm of T. Piper & Sons was founded in Cranbrook, Kent in 1874 by Thomas Piper (1845-1903).

Thomas Piper, most often referred to as Thomas Piper Junior, was born 1845 at Cranbrook, Kent. His birth was registered in the 4th qtr of 1845 in Cranbrook, although his birth is typically given in census records as 1846.

Thomas Piper was one of five children born to wheelwright Thomas Piper(born 1812 in Cowden, Kent) and Mary Piper, nee Finch, born 1816 in East Grinstead, Sussex.

The 1851 census, taken at Cranbrook gave Thomas Piper senior as a wheelwright. With him was his wife Mary Ann and four of their children including Thomas junior who was in school.

The 1861 census, taken at High Street in Cranbrook gave Thomas senior as a master wheelwright employing two men and one boy. His was given as a widower (his wife passed away sometime between 1853 and 1861). Living with him were four of his children, including Thomas junior who was working for his father as a wheelwright.

The Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser of October 15,1866 gave “ Commodious wheelwright shop with large yard and good garden attached, situate in High Street, Cranbrook in the occupation of Mr Thomas Piper as yearly tenant at 35 pound per annum”.

On June 21,1869 Thomas Piper junior married Rosa Emma Chantler at Egerton, Kent where Rosa lived with her parents and siblings. Thomas and his wife went on to have three sons and three daughters between 1871 and 1880 who were all born in Cranbrook. His sons later joined their father in the coach and carriage business.

The 1871 census, taken at High Street, Cranbrook, gave Thomas Piper junior as a wheelwright. With him was his wife Rosa and their son Percival and one lady who was employed as a ladies attendant.

Kelly’s directory of 1880 gave the listing “ Thomas Piper & Sons, High Street, Cranbrook, coach and carriage builders”. The business is found in later directories as well as coach and carriage builders.

The 1881 census, taken at 7 High Street, Cranbrook, gave Thomas junior as a coach builder. With him was his six children. His wife was away from the house at the time of the census.

The 1891 census, taken at Bellevue House, High Street, Cranbrook, gave Thomas junior as a coach builder employer. With him was his wife Rosa and five of his children, including his son Walter (born 1874) who was working for his father as a coach builder apprentice.

The 1901 census, taken at High Street, Cranbrook, gave Thomas junior as a coach and carriage builder employer. With him was his wife Rosa and four of his children including his sons Walter and Frederick who was coach and carriage workers.

Probate records gave Thomas Piper Junior of Cranbrook, Kent, when he died November 11,1903. The executers of her 1,529 pound estate was his widow Rosa and his eldest son Percival Thomas Piper , a coach builder.

When the business of T. Piper & Sons ended was not established but directories indicate that it was still operating in the years leading up to at least WW1.

NIGHTINGALE FARM

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

Date: January 14,2019

LOCATION AND DESRIPTION 

Nightingale Farm, so named from the Nightingale’s that could be heard singing in woods, is located on the Tonbridge side of Bidborough Corner on the London Road in Southborough about 2 miles south of Tonbridge.

The farm, at the time of the 1881 census, was described as being 190 acres in size. From the earliest times it was a farm that concentrated on the production of hops and before WW2 the farm had a thriving dairy business. Eggs, cheese, milk and cream were delivered in the 19th and early 20th century by horse and wagon but later by motorized transport. The use of a motorcycle with a sidecar, like the one shown above, were used to make deliveries in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

During the hops harvest  large numbers of seasonal workers arrived on the farm from London and elsewhere. On the farm were two oast houses in which the hops were dried and then placed in sacks. These sacks of hops were then loaded onto a wagon for transport to the nearest brewery. No doubt some of it ended up at Kelseys’ Culverden Brewery on St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells. Details about hops can be found in my article ‘ The History of Hops Growing’ dated May 8,2012 along with a related article about Kelsey’s Culverden Brewery.

OWNERS AND WORKERS

Although the origins of the farm date back centuries, information presented in this article begins from the mid 19th century.

Two owners of the farm in the 19th century stand out namely Mr John Braby who was the proprietor of the Wellington Hotel in Tunbridge Wells and who also owned Tangier Farm for a time. The second owner after the sale of Nightingale Farm at auction 1896 from the estate of Mr Braby was Mr Goldsmidt of the grand Sommerhill estate, the same family that was involved in the 1860’s with the great sewage debate in the town and who had large land holdings in the area. Some further information about both of them is given later. Both of these gentlemen hired farm bailiffs to run the farm on their behalf and each farm bailiff had a staff of farm workers who resided at Nightingale Cottages on the farm. In total there were 3-4 cottages for the workers,each one, according to census records being 4-5 rooms in size and constructed of brick.

Later in the history of the farm a number of men held over the years a freehold interest in the farm. Among them was Frederick James Podmore who ran the farm from at least 1915 to at least the early 1950’s. He was followed by the Young family, who appear at Nightingale Farm as William E. Young (born 1911) and his brother James R. Young (born 1914) as farmers employed by Frederick James Podmore in 1939.

Rodney Warrener in his recollections dated Mary 14,2009 stated that he had been born in 1950 and recalled the smell of hops drying in the 1950’s. He lived with his family near Nightingale Farm and Mabledon Farm next door. He recalled Mr Podmore and later a Mr Young at the farm. He stated “ There was a German prisioner who worked at Nightingale Farm named Berger. Mr Berger stayed at the farm in the 1950’s and he knew my parents well and also helped in the garden. In the 1970’s Mr Berger and his wife visited my family while on holiday from Germany”.

[1] JOHN BRABY 

Details about John Braby, the proprietor of the Wellington Hotel (image opposite) and owner of Nightingale Farm from at least 1883 to 1896 as well as Tangier Farm for a time were given in my article ‘ John Braby-Watchmaker and Hotel Proprietor’ posted to my website in 2012.

The Maidstone Journal of July 6,1883 reported on a case of swine fever at Nightingale Farm and that several swine were diseased and 8 had died.

The Courier of October 5,1883 reported on the sale by auction of live and dead farming stock including six powerful young cart horses, eight dairy cows and other animals on Wednesday October 1oth at Nightingale Farm.

The Courier of December 21,1883  referred to ‘some fine porkers bred and fattened by Mr. J. Braby of Tangier and Nightingale Farms.

The Courier of September 20,1889 reported “ We regret to record the death of one of our octogenarian residents Mr John Braby, esq., which occurred at Nightingale Farm Tuesday last. Braby (who is the father of councillor Braby) was well known and much respected. The funeral took place…..”

The Courier of September 29,1893 reported that “At Nightingale Farm a party took place last Friday where Mr. J. Braby of the Wellington Hotel, Tunbridge Wells paid off his hoppickers”.

The Courier of May 18,1894 reported on Mr Braby providing milk and vegetables and luxuries to his Wellington Hotel from Nightingale Farm “ a pretty little pleasure farm”.

The Courier of June 7,1895 referred to William Springate “who resided at Priory Street who was working the hops for Mr J. Braby of Nightingale Farm and was injured. Dr Watts was called for…”

The Courier of October 4,1895 reported that “ Mr John Braby the genial owner of the Wellington Hotel and tenant of Nightingale Farm payed off his hoppickers”.

The Courier of November 13,1896 reported that W.R. Tompsett was selling for the executors of the late J. Braby  Nightingale Farm and other properties in two lots.

[2] HORACE STANDEN

Horace Standen was the farm bailiff to Mr John Braby as noted in several newspaper articles. The earliest mention of his was in 1890 when given as the farm bailiff to Mr J. Braby.

He is found in the 1891 census at Nightingale Farm and given as born in Sussex in 1843. At that time he was a widower and living with him was his daughter; two boarders and one visitor. His occupation was given as “farm bailiff”.  In the same census other workers on the farm and their families were recorded at Nightingale Cottages. At Cottage 1 was Tom Greely a farm labourer and his family. At Cottage 2 was Thomas Oxley, age 26, milkman and his wife and two children and sister in law and one lodger. At Cottage 3 was Charles Vidler, a 23 year old gardener domestic with his wife and son.

Horace was not found at this farm at the time of the 1881 and 1901 census. 

The Courier of June 17,1891 gave an advertisement for a “good ironer wanted, good wages offered, apply to Miss Standen, Nightingale Farm”.

The Courier of June 19,1891 reported on an accident in which a child while trying to avoid an omnibus “ran right into the horse and cart of Nightingale Farm driven by Mr Standen”.

[3] FREDERICK JAMES PODMORE

Frederick is listed in records at this farm from at least 1915 until the early 1950’s and appears to have been the longest running farmer there. In 1911 he was a dairy farmer at High House Farm in Sevenoaks. He died in Tonbridge June 19,1963. Frederick was born August 2,1885 at Liverpool, Lancashire.

The Courier of February 19,1915 referred to Mr Podmore at Nightingale Farm.

The Courier of December 22,1916 reported that “Mr F.J. Podmore, farmer of Nightingale Farm asked for the conditional exemption for his cowman Albert William Kemp, age 32, married, which exemption from war service was granted”.

The Courier of January 18,1918 reported that Mr Podmore of Nightingale Farm was elected as a member of the Tunbridge Wells Farmers Club.

Mr Podmore was found in a 1939 listing  at the farm as a “general farmer”. With him were (1) Gertrude M. Young, born November 9,.1912, schoolteacher (2) William E. Young, born January 27,1911, general farmer (3) Johm R. Young, born December 10,1814, general farmer.

At Nightingale Cottages were (1) Jessie Cornford, born 1903, a cowman with his wife (2) Percy Roven,born 1919 a milk roundsman (3)Ernest J, Wright, bort 1893, a farm heavy worker, with his wife and two children. (4) William I. Pontworth born 1872 a farm  carter and his wife and son (5) Henry E. Dovell, born 1878, a farmer with his wife and one dometic servant.

The account given earlier in this article by Rodney Warrener noted that he recalled Mr Podmore at the farm in the 1950’s and after the farm was run by a Mr Young. The members of the Young family he referred to were given above from the 1939 listing and so it was them who took over the farm from Mr Podmore later in the 1950’s.

[4] WILLIAM JOHN CLAPP

William was born 1875 at Salisbury, Wiltshire and in 1901 he married Elizabeth Blanche (maiden name unknown).

The Courier of November 8,1907 referred to Mr William John Clapp the tenant of Nightingale Farm.

The Courier of July 17 and 24, 1908 reported the sale of 50 milk shorthorn cows and Heifers at Nightingale Farm for Mr W.J. Clapp>

The 1911 census taken at Nightingale Farm in premises of 8 rooms gave W. John Clapp as a dairy farmer. With him was his wife Elizabeth and one visitor. The census recorded that they had been married 10 years and had no children.  The 1911 census also listed at Nightingale Cottages (1) Alfred Ball, age 40, wagoner for farm,  With him in premises of five rooms was his wife and six children (2) Hilary William Vidler, age 32, cowman for farm, with his wife Emily; two children and his farther in law Alfred Bottin , a 66 year old widower who was working on the farm, all living in premises of 4 rooms  (3) James Staymaker, age 29, a cowman on the farm with his wife in 4 rooms (4) Alfred Penfold, age 34 a farm labourer with his wife in premises of 4 rooms. Alfred Penfold was still at the farm in 1914. Also there in 1914 was Joseph Morfitt and George Gibbons, both farm workers.

[5] THE SKINNER FAMILY

Records of this family, from local newspapers, at the farm cover the period of at least 1858 to 1888.

A marriage announcement from the Kentish Gazette dated March 23,1858 gave that on March 9th at Southborough Mr. T. Skinner of Nightingale farm married Mary Dorothea Humphrey, the daughter of the late Mr. T.D. Humphrey of Tunbridge.  George R. Skinner was one of their children.

The 1881 census, taken at Nightingale Farm gave George R. Skinner as born 1844 in Biddenden, Kent and a farmer of 190 acres employing 6 men. With him was his wife Charlotte, born 1842 in Yalding, Kent; two of their children and two servants. Also staying at the various cottages on the farm were (1) Richard Croching and his wife and four children and who was a farm labourer (2) Robert Smith with his wife and son in law and was an agricultural labourer (3) Henry Seal, a farm labourer with his wife and two children.

George Skinner died at Nightingale farm according to the Canterbury Journal of March 20,1888.

[5] MR GOLDSMIDT 

Mr Goldsmidt was a wealthy gentleman who had considerable land holdings in the area and lived at a grand estate called Somerhill (image opposite).

The Courier of October 25,1899 referred to”a new cowshed at Nightingale Farm for Mr Gildsmidt of Somerhill”.

It would appear that Mr Goldsmidt came into possession of this farm from the estate sale of John Braby in 1896.

Details about the Goldsmidt family were given in my article ‘ The Great Sewage Debate’ dated March 5,2014.  From that article in part I reported “A sewage inquiry  was initiated in 1860 by a complaint from an irate Mr Frederick David Goldsmidt who owned the Somerhill estate on the road to Tonbridge. Frederick David Goldsmid was the tenant in life of the Somerhill Estate and had initiated the complaint about sewage on his land. When Frederick David Goldsmidt died March 18,1866 the cause was taken up by his son Julian Goldsmid, who upon his father’s death, inherited the Somerhill Estate and other estates of his father”. It was Julian Goldmidt that the 1899 article referred to.

THE WW2 ERA  

During WW2 many farm workers left the farm to serve in the war. To make up for the shortage of manpower the Women’s Land Army was formed and some 800,000 women from all walks of life joined up to work the land and to ensure a supply of foodstuffs. On the internet one can find a great deal of information about the Women’s Land Army, which sometimes was called “The Girls Army”.

During the war a number of women from the  Women’s Land Army worked at Nightingale Farm tending to the dairy herd and delivering milk by motorcycle. Shown opposite is a photo of one of these women at Nightingale Farm. The text with it gives a date of 1943 and states that the milk was being delivered for J. R. Young of Nightingale Farm. The J,.R. Young referred to was the same person given above from the 1939 listing as born December 10,1914 with the occupation of general farmer, although at that time the farm was run by Frederick James Padmore.

Shown here is a second image with text showing ladies of the Women’s Land Army delivering milk for Nightingale Farm. Of the women mentioned the following additional information was located.

Of Eileen Bray the Sevenoaks Chronicle of March 3,1944 reported “Black-out-offence-Lost her head-Eileen Bray pleaded not guilty to stealing from Messrs Marks & Spencers store on February 25th a lady’s coat, valued at 3 pounds. Florence Ford, employed by Marks & Spencers as a store detective said she saw Bray take the coat from the rack and place it over her………”

The Sevenoaks Chronicle of May 5,1944 gave “ Branch of the Electrical Association for women held their monthly meeting on Tuesday when Mr. H.K. Tutte presided and Mrs Bray spoke on garden produce, exhibiting examples of seeds for illustration and advice. The hostess for the tea was Mrs Pemble…”

The Courier of April 28,1944 reported “ Stockton-Bray-On April 22,1944 in Birmingham, Alee Stockton, son of Mr and Mrs Stockton, Weymoor Farm, Harborne,Birmingham married Eileen Bray, the adopted daughter of Mrs Parker of 14 Duke’s Road, Tunbridge Wells.

The Courier of June 5,1942 reported “New members- motor-cycle combinations carrying a full load of milk and driven by Land Girls. The bride was Miss Sybil Alice Lye, daughter of Mr and Mrs F.T. Lye, 60 Mabledon Road and the bridegroom was Mr James David Munro, son of Mr and Mrs Munro of Morayshire, Scotland”.

The Courier of June 11,1945 reported “ An interesting wedding took place in the Parish Church on Saturday when Miss Barbara Edith Lye, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. Lye of 50 Mabledon Road was married t0 Mr Stephen George Giles,son of Mr and Mrs Giles of 21 Priory Rd”.

Regarding Amy Lewis there was reference in the Courier of May 19,1929 to a Mrs A. Lewis, a Mr Alfred Lewis and their daughter Miss Hetty Lewis. There was also mention of a Mr. Charles Lewis.










Shown above left is a photograph taken during WW2 of the Women’s Land Army being inspected by Lord Walton at what is believed to be in the parking lot of the Holy Trinity Church in Tunbridge Wells. Shown above right is a photo of a land army woman milking cows, a task they performed at Nightingale Farm as well as other farm work. One can expect that in addition to dairy work that there were other women on the farm tending to fruits, vegetables and hops.

 

WIDBURY IN LANGTON GREEN

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

Date: February 13,2019

INTRODUCTION

The impetus for this article is the recent discovery of a family photo album for sale on ebay pertaining to a residence in Langton Green called ‘Widbury’, a rather attractive and large residence located on a large plot of land on Stonewall Park Road. All of the photographs were dated from the first qtr of the 20th century and from the dates it was established that it was the residence of John Chapman (1847-1930) and his wife Edith Georgiana Chapman, nee Parbury (1856-1947) and their children.

Several newspaper advertisments were found throughout the 1920’s by Mrs Chapman for servants to work in the house and in grounds which included a large greenhouse and chicken coups.

The Courier of January 14,1930 reported on the death of John Chapman at Widbury in his 83rd year; that he was of a well-known Yorkshire family and had moved to Langton Green 9 years ago to live a retired life. He left a widow, two daughters and four grandchildren. John’s funeral was well attended by family and friends and the servants of Widbury. John was a wealthy stockbroker and his fine home ‘Widbury’ reflected his financial situation. John’s  wife Edith died at Widbury February 10,1947.

A review of Planning Authority records show that in 1987 ‘Widbury’ was owned by a land developer who obtained approval that year to demolish the house and in its place construct five new detached homes on a new  cul-de-sac called Widbury, which homes exist today as No.’s  1 to 5 Widbury.

In this article I present a series of family photographs of Widbury and information about the Chapman family who occupied it from 1921 to 1947. Also provided is a site map of the home and information on the redevelopment of the site.

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION 

Widbury was a large 2sty home built on Stonewall Park Road where this road makes a sharp bend to the west. It is believed based on newspaper advertisments in the Courier that it was built circa 1921 for the Chapman family. It is known from the Courier of of January 24,1930 regarding the death of John Chapman at ‘Widbury’ that he had come to Langton Green “9 years ago” making his arrival there in 1921.

The Courier of February 3,1922 contained an advertisement for domestic staff wanted by Mrs Chapman, which advertisement in part described the home as “ a new labour saving home, family of four”. The Courier of October 30,1925 contained an advertisement by Mrs Chapman for domestic servants for “3 in the family in a comfortable modern home”.  Both of these advertisments support the researchers assertion that Widbury was built circa 1921.

Shown later in a separate section are a series of photographs of ‘Widbury’ from the Chapman family album in which views of the house and its grounds can be seen, which views show that the house was quite impressive; that it sat on large landscaped grounds; that on the grounds was a large greenhouse and a large chicken coup.

Shown at the top of this section is a map from the Planning Authority files  dated 1984, which indicates that an addition had been built on the back of the house , most likely post WWII sometime after the death of Mrs Edith Chapman in 1947.

A map dated 1987 shows that ‘Widbury’ had been further enlarged by an addition on the rear western elevation. A map dated 2016 shows that ‘Widbury’ was demolished and replaced by five new homes on a cul-de-sac called Widbury which homes appear in directories as No.’s 1 to 5 Widbury, Stonewall Park Road.

The earliest online Planning Authority record for Widbury was 1984 when approval was given for the construction of two detached homes but there is no evidence that this was carried out by the applicant Davis Build Developments Ltd. In 1985 and 1986 approval refused for the  construction of 12-15 retirement homes in blocks and two detached homes. In 1987 approval was granted for the demolition of Widbury and the construction of a cul-de-sac and five detached homes, which work was carried out. Since that time various applications were made for various types of work on the five new homes up to and including 2016.

VIEWS OF WIDBURY         

Shown in this section is a series of photographs from the Chapman family album. In this group of images can be seen the house ‘Widbury’; its grounds and various members of the Chapman family, further details of whom are given later. Note in one of the photographs a horse drawn removals van backed up to the doorway, taken at the time that the Chapman family moved into Widbury. Note also the existence on the grounds of a large greenhouse and a large chicken coup.









THE CHAPMAN FAMILY

The Chapman who took up residence at ‘Widbury’ in Langton Green consisted of John Chapman (1847-1930); his wife Edith Georgiana Chapman, nee Parbury (1856-1947) and two of their children namely (1) Edith Madeline Chapman (1878-1950) who died a spinster (2) Mary Constance Chapman (1886-1988)  who in 1938 married Elijah Solomon Saleby. It also appears from the photographs in the previous section that at times some of John’s grandchildren also resided at the home. Some speculation is required to identify the people in the family photographs for as is usually the case few if any of the people are identified by name.

John Chapman was born 1847 at Kensington, London although some records give his place of birth as Richmond, Surrey and as the son of John Meller Chapman.

The 1851 census taken at 9 Landsdowne Place in Hove, Sussex gave John Meller Chapman as a landed proprietor born 1805 in Whitby, Yorkshire. With him was his wife Caroline S. Chapman, born 1808 in Newcastle Upon Tyne and their children (1) Caroline, age 12 (2) Theodosia,age 8 (3) Harriett A,age 6 (4) JOHN CHAPMAN,born 1848 Richmond Surrey (5) Frederick S,age 1. Also there were three domestic servants. The birth records of the children indicate that Teodosia and her sister Harriett were born in Usworth, Durham and that their brother Frederick was born in Hove, Sussex. The family appears to have been well off, as suggested by reviewing the family of John Meller Chapman in Yorkshire.  

John Chapman (born 1847) continued to live with his parents and siblings in the 1860’s. John married  Edith Georgiana Parbury April 28,1877 at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate .The marriage record gave John as a bachelor, a gentleman of Kensington and the son of John Meller Chapman (deceased gentleman). Edith was given as a spinster of Lancster Gate, the daughter of Frederick Parbury, gentleman.  

Edith Georgiana Parbury was born 1855 in Clapham, London, one of eleven children born to Frederick Parbury (1808-1877) and Ann Aliza Parbury, nee Robinson (1812-1893).  Edith lived with her parents and siblings in London up to the time of her marriage of John Chapman. He father was given as an “Australian Merchant’ in the 1871 census, taken at 99 Lancaster Gate,Kensington, London and at the time of this census he had with him his five and five children, one visitor and seven servants.

Robert Chapman and his wife Edith had the following children (1) Edith Madeline Chapman (1878-1950). She was born in Kensington and died as a spinster October 19,1950 at Worthing. She was one of the children who moved to ‘Widbury’ with her parents and sister Mary. Probate records gave her of Little Grange The Plantation Worthing, a spinster, when she died October 19,1950 at 14 Queens Road in Worthing. The executor of her 23,076 pound estate was Frederic Hercy Montague Chapman, a retired major in H.M. Army. (2) Theodosia Maud Chapman (1880-1920). She had been born in Kensington and was baptised at St John the Evangelist Church at Ladbroke Grove on February 4,1880. In the 1st qtr of 1910 she married Walter Henderson Molesworth at Basingstoke, Hampshire and with him had a son Ernest born 1911 at Spring Grove, Middlesex. Walter Henderson Molesworth was born 1874 in Todmorden, Lancashire. The 1911 census, taken at 127 Thornbury Road in Spring Grove, Osterley Park, Isleworth gave Walter as a consulting engineer civil and electrical and partner in the business. With him was his wife Theodosia and his son Ernest and one domestic servant living in premises of 7 rooms. Theodosa died December 28,1920 in Middlesex. (3) Mary Constance Chapman (1886-1988) who was born at Ware, Hertfordshire. In the early 1900’s she was working as a governess at All Saints Westley, Suffolk. She and her sister Edith moved to ‘Widbury’ in Langton Green in 1921. In the 2nd qtr of 1938 , at Uckfield, Sussex she married Elijah Solomon Saleby (1872-1947) who had been born in Brighton, Sussex and died November 30,1947 in Gloucestershire. His first marriage was to Alice Mount (1869-1935) in the 4th qtr of 1904 at Newbury, Berkshire and with her had a daughter Mary Alice Saleby (1905-1974) who was born in Brighton,Sussex. Alice died November 28,1935 at Gloucestershire. Probate records for Elijah gave him of St Leonards Stonehouse, Gloucestershire when he died  November 30,1947. The executor of his 398 pound estate was his second wife Mary Constance, widow. (4) Leonard Chapam who was born 1882 at Harrow, Middlesex. He was living with his parents and siblings in Horsey Middlesex at the time of the 1891 census but did not survive infancy (5) Ernest Chapman who was born 1884 in Bayswater, London. He was living with his parents and siblings in Horsey Middlesex at the time of the 1891 census but did not survive infancy.

It is believed that the little boys shown in the Chapman family photographs at Widbury were the grandchildren of John Chapman and the lady with them was their mother, most likely Theodosia who had a son Ernest (named on one of the photographs) and one other boy. The little girl was most likely the daughter of Mary Constance Saleby nee Chapman. It is to be expected that when Theodosia died in 1920 that John and his wife took the children in and cared for them on behalf of their father.

The 1881 census, taken at 30 Pembridge Gardens, Kensington gave John Chapman working at the stock exchange and with him was his wife Edith and their daughters Edith and Theodosia. They were living at that time with Edith’s parents (the Parbury family) along with seven servants.

The 1891 census, taken at ‘Holmwood’ Shepherds Hill in Hornsey, Middlsex gave John Chapman as a stock broker. With him was his wife Edith and their daughters Edith ,Theodosia,Mary and their two sons Leonard born 1882 an Ernest born 1884 who did not survive infancy. Also there were four servants.

The 1901 census, taken at Chaffcombe, Somerset gave John Chapman as living on own means and as a visitor with the Bagnell family. With John was his daughter Edith. Where his wife and other daughters were at that time was not established.

The 1911 census, taken at the Firs, Ramsdell near Basingstoke gave John Champan as a ‘receiver court of lunacy’. With him was his wife Edith; their daughter Edith, one visitor and two servants. The census recorded that the couple had been married 33 years, that they had five children but only three were living and that they were living in premises of 12 rooms.

Based on the death notice of Robert Chapman and the advertisments buy his wife for domestic servant the Robert Champman and his wife and two daughters Edith and Mary moved in ‘Widbury’ in Langton Green.

The Courier of February 3,1922 had an advertisement which read Domestic housemaid required “ house and gardens; new labour saving house; electric light, central heating, family of four, reply to Mrs Chapman, Widbury, Langton Green.”

The Courier of October 30,1925 ran an adverstisment for a domestic which read “ three in family, comfortable modern home, electric light, gas etc. Daily housemaid and help in garden. Apply Mrs Chapman Widbury Langton Green”.

Although the Chapman family were at ‘Widbury’ in 1921 no listing for Widbury or the Chapmans in Langton Green was found in the 1918 or 1922 directories but Mrs Chapman was listed in directories of 1930 to 1938.

A death registration for John Chapman gave him born 1848 and died in the 2nd qtr of 1930 at Tonbridge. The Courier of January 24,1930 reported “ Death of Mr John Chapman of Langton Green. His death occurred at his residence ‘Widbury’ in Langton Green on Saturday. He was in his 83rd year and belonged to a well-known Yorkshire family but owing to his advanced age he lived a very retired life for the past 9 years in Langton. His widow, two daughters and four grandchildren survive him. The internment took place at Speldhurst on Wednesday. The family mourners present were Mrs John Chapman, The Misses E,> and M.C. Chapman’ Mr Mobrey Chapman, Major F.H.M. Chapman. The staff of ‘Widbury’ also attended as did many other friends of the family”.

Edith Georgiana Chapman was of Widbury, Stonewall Park Road, Langton Green, a widow, when she died there February 10,1947. The executors of her 10,822 pound estate were Frederick Henry(Hercey) Montague Chapman, retired Major; Edith Madeline Chapman, spinster and Mary Constance Saleby (wife of Elijah Solomon Saleby). Edith died at age 91 according to the report on her death.  The Courier of September 29,1947 gave an announcement by her executors that a meeting was to take place “Monday next at 1p.m. by order of the executors of the late Mrs E.M. Chapman of Widbury, Stonewall Park Road, Langton Green”

The Frederick Henry Montague Chapman referred to as an executor of John Chapman and his wife  served in WW1 and WW2 with the Royal Army Medical Corps and was awarded the VC in 1914. A group of five of his medals were sold at auction in 2005 and noted that he had been trained as a M.D. He had been born December 30,1882 and died at Westminster in 1975. His birth was registered in the 1st qtr of 1883 at Portsea with his mother’s maiden name given as Elliott and appears to have been the nephew of John Chapman. At the time of the 1901 census, taken at West Cromwell Road in Kensington Frederick was a medical student living as the nephew of Catherine Chapman age 30, living on own means.

 

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