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Written By; Edward James Gilbert

Date: April 18,2014

In 1858 there were no photographic studios in Tunbridge Wells. In 1862 there were only two, namely John A Pace on High Street and Henry Loof at the Parade. It was at this time, when photography was in its infantcy that George Henry Lawrence  appeared in Tunbridge with the idea of setting up a photographic studio.

George Henry Lawrence was born 1832 in London,Middlesex. Details about his parents are unknown.  He grew up in London  and worked as an assistant in a photo studio there when he was a young man.In 1860 he moved to Tunbridge Wells and in 1863 married Elizabeth Victoria (maiden name unknown) who had been born 1844 in Tunbridge Wells. She later died in the 2nd qtr of 1917 at Greenwich. George and Elizabeth never had any children.

Shown opposite is a card back for the photographers Luck & Hatt whos studio was located at 1 Mount Sion, the same address as George’s studio. They advertised themselves as The Tunbridge Wells School of Photography established 1860). This school of photography was established in 1860 by George Henry Lawrence. Henry Luck had his studio in Tunbridge Wells in 1862 at The Parade. In 1876 Frederick Lindon Hatt(1844-1919) and Walter Luck (1854-1927) entered into a partnership and established a photographic studio in Tunbridge Wells .The two photographers operated from a single studio at #1 Mount Sion from 1876 until about 1881, but then opened a second studio at 18 Parade. In 1882 Walter  and Frederick were operating from two studios, one photographer being at the #1 Mount Sion premises and the other at #18 Parade. The 1882 Kelly directory records the partners with studios at the above two addresses and also records Walter Luck at 1 Princess Street. It is interesting to note, from the backs of the studio cards of Tunbridge Wells that the business is always shown as being established in 1860 although it is known that the partnership was not formed until 1876 and most of the card bakcs refer to them as “a school of photography”, implying that in addition to being portrait photograpers , they also taught lessons in photography. By the end of 1882 the partnership ended and Frederick left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Bristol where he set up his own portrait studio at the Triangle in Clifton, a studio he ran for over fifteen years.Walter was still working as a photographer in Tunbridge Wells in 1891 but not long afterwards  he left Tunbridge Wells,moved to Hastings Sussex, and became an innkeeper, dying in Hastings in 1927

From the above it can be deduced that George operated from his Mount Sion premises from 1860 until it was taken over by Luck & Hatt in 1876.

In 1867 there were only five photographic studios in town including that of George Henry Lawrence, which  identified himself in the 1867 directory as “G.H. Lawrence, photographic artist, Mount Sion.” The 1871 census, taken at No. 1 Mount Sion listed George H. Lawrence as a photographic artist. Living with him was his wife Elizabeth V Lawrence, age 27, and one servant.

The London Express of July 23,1864, in their section on bankruptcys reported “G.H. Lawrence, photographer, Tunbridge Wells” and that his last meeting before creditors was scheduled for August 10th.

By 1874,according to the Kelly directory, there were still only six studios in town with George still running his studio at  Sion Terrace.The post office directory for that year gave his address as #1 Mount Sion. As can be seen from an early example of the back of one of his CDV’s he identified himself as the Tunbridge Wells School of Photography under the name of G.H. Lawrence, with premises at Sion Terrace, High Street. It is believed that Sion Terrace was located on the corner or near the corner of Mount Sion Road and High Street. Chris Jones reported to me the following. “Sion Terrace was (is) the block of three houses on the left-hand side looking up Mount Sion, numbered 3, 5 and 7. According to Roger Farthing, Lawrences studio was on the top floor of a building just to the left of them, which possibly had a frontage to the High St. (The current building on the corner, Pizza Express, previously a bank, is more recent.)”

Shown throughout this brief article are examples of CDV’s from his studio in Tunbridge Wells. George continued to run his studio at this location until 1876 after which he left Tunbridge Wells and moved to Wales.

The 1881 census, taken at 11 Page Street, Swansea Town, Wales, records George H. Lawrence, age 33, a photographer. Living with him was his wife Elizabeth, age 38, born 1843 Tunbridge Wells. Staying with them as a visitor was Thomas Thompson, born 1838 Carforth, Yorkshire, who was also a photographer and no doubt worked as George’s assistant. Shown opposite is a photograph by G.H. Lawrence of Cardiff, Wales with the caption “The Hotel de Marl, photo by G.H. Lawrence of Cardiff,Wales”. George was still in Cardiff,Wales in 1895.

The 1901 census, taken at 145 Camberwell Road, St George Camberwell, recorded George H. Lawrence as a photographer and living there as a boarder. Living with him was his wife Elizabeth. Shown above is a photo of 148 Camberwell Road, to give an idea of the area he was located.

Throughout the period of 1902 to 1903 George had a studio at 43 (given as 40 in a directory) Walworth Road in Southwark,London.He was preceeded at that location by photographer Frederick Finer(1858-1940) who had been there since 1894. After George left the studio he was succeeded by Sidney Butler Angle. Shown above is a photo of the studio at 43 Walworth Road.Walworth Road seemed to be a popular location for photographers for at about the same time George was there also to be found were W.H. Fawn at 31 Walworth near the Elephant Station; P.R. Wilson at 116 Walsorth which also was at another time the studio of Nye & Co.

By 1903 George was age 70 nearing both the end of his career and his life. He died in London about 1905, although no conclusive death record for him could be located. His wife ,who was 11 years younger than he,died in Greenwich in the 2nd qtr of 1917.


Written By; Edward James Gilbert

Date: March 31,2014

J. Fermor was James John Fermor, born 4th qtr 1877 at Withyham,Sussex. He was one of three children born to John George Fermor(1849-1931), a sawyer by trade, and Jane Phillips (1860-1936). James had been baptised February 4,1877 at St Michael’s Church in Withyham,Sussex and was the eldest of three sons. The Fermor family had moved to Tunbridge Wells sometime between 1877 and 1881.

The 1881 census records just James and his parents living at Mr Weares Cottage No. 3. The “Mr Weares cottage” referred to will no doubt be one of the many cottages constructed by John Smith Weare (1878-1890), the founder of the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company in 1885, a man who owned several properties in High Brooms and the surrounding area. John Smith Weare had moved to Tunbridge Wells in 1869 taking up residence  initially at Ferndale House at No. 3 Ferndale Road.  At the time of the 1881 census Jame’s father was working as a sawyer .

By the time of the 1891 census, the Fermor’s had taken up residence  at 94 Auckland Road , a short distance from the Grosvenor and Hilbert Recreation Grounds, in what was a small red brick terrace house.James was attending school and living with his parents and two brothers Edward Henry Fermor(1882-1946) and Ernest Sydney Fermor (1886-1942). A photo of Auckland Road dated 1905 is shown below.

In October 1897 James John Fermor married Emily Elizabeth Woodgate in Tunbridge Wells. Emily had been born 1875 in Tunbridge Wells and was one of six children born to Edward and Susanna Woodgate. Before the marriage Emily was employed as a domestic servant . James and Emily took up residence at 59 Tunnel Road not far from the SER line in an area of small homes.

The 1901 census, taken at 59 Tunnel Road records James John Fermor, a  stationary engine driver. A stationary engine driver today would be called a machine operator. In 1901 the engine was powered by steam and as the name implied was a large immobile engine used to  provide mechanical or electrical power to other machines. Stationary engines would have been used at the Broomhill Brick and Tile Company but also in farming and mining operations and for that matter anywhere else where a device to power machinery was required . Since 59 Tunnel Road was not far from the Baltic Sawmills Plant in the Goods Station Road area, and his father was a sawyer, there is a good possibility that James worked at the Baltic Saw Mills. In this census James was the head of the home and living with him was his wife Emily and  two of their children namely Lilian and Edward. James and Emily had six children in total namely (1) Lilian Beatrice(1898-1987) (2) Edward James (1901-1975) (3) Edward (1901-?) (4) Alice Elsie (1903-1973) (5) Cecil Leonard (1907-1963) and (6) Kenneth Wilfrid (1910-1946). All of the children were born in Tunbridge Wells.

Left....Typical homes on Tunnel Road
Right.... Baltic Sawmills

By 1911 the family were on the move again, and in that year they were living at 33 Cambrian Road in Highbrooms. This residence was , like all the others there, constructed of red brick made by the Highbrooms Brick and Tile Company. This was quite a nice home with a pair of small bay windows on the main floor bordering the front door, with two windows on the front of the second floor. The front of the home was separated from the sidewalk  by a low brick wall with an entrance gate.Living at 33 Cambrian Road in 1911 was James John Fermor, an engine fitter; his wife Emily; and their five children, the eldest of which were attending school. The census records that their residence had only four rooms, which is hard to believe as the home looks larger than that.

At the time of the 1911 census, James John Fermor was only age 34 and his eldest son Edward was only 10. Marilyn Laverty suggests that her photo of two men and bikes dates from about 1910 but the eldest man in the photo, which I took to be James, appears much older than age 34, suggesting that the photo must have been taken later. Could the boy in the photo be his son Edward when he was a teenager ? The sign in front of the bikes reads in part “J. Fermor Bikes, below which is “Cyles” and then “Motors”, the rest of the printing is too small to be readable. It would be interesting if Marilyn could take a close look at the original photo and tell us what it says.

I was unable to find out much more about James John Fermor or the rest of his family after the 1911 census. They seem to disappear from directory listings but it is known that most of them remained in Tunbridge Wells. James John Fermor died in Tunbridge Wells in April,1955 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery  on April 6th. When and where his wife died has not been determined.

So what happened to his children ? Well Cecil Leonard Fermor married Harriet Brooker in the 3rd qtr of 1930 in Tunbridge Wells; Kenneth Wilfrid Fermor married Rose Brooker (probably the sister of Harriet) in the 3rd qtr of 1938 in Tunbridge Wells; Alice Elsie Fermor married John Mackenzie in Tunbridge Wells in the 4th qtr of 1929 and Lilian Beatrice Fermor married John T. Houghton in 1917. James father was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on May 28,1931. Cecil Leonard Fermor was buried there also on June 10.1963.Also  in the same cemetery was  Kenneth Wilfrid Fermor on April 1,1946. James eldest son Edward James Fermor was found in a 1922 Kelly directory for Tunbridge Wells as “a Vulcaniser”.

Quite an interesting family . I wish I knew more about them !



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

Date: March 29,2014


Much of the information in this section is based upon an article about the history of the church written by Susan Schibli-Reader at St James. It is has been supplemented by information from the thesis of Chris Jones of the Civic Society in a 2011 document entitled ‘ Ferndale –A Different Kind of Suburb’ and by Stranges ‘ Royal Tunbridge Wells-Past and Present’1946; by various directories, such as Peltons 1883 Guide and by information from an articleabout the churches of Tunbridge Wells from the Anke website. In addition to this I have added information from my own research.

By 1827 John Ward had accumulated an estate of some 870 acres of land and in the 1820’s he began to develop it, creating in part, Calverley Park. In the 1850’s Ward turned his attention to the lands east of St James Road and constructed Sandrock Road, beginning at a point where St James Church is now and running eastward to connect with Calverley Fairmile (Pembury Road). From the same beginning point Ward also ,in the same timeframe, constructed Lansdown Road down to Calverley Road. Upon these roads were constructed many fine homes. Sandrock Road also connected at St James Road with an ancient lane that led to Charity Farm and on this lane, which became known as Ferndale Road , a few large homes were constructed in the early 1860’s. As the area began to become more heavily populated, the need for a church in the area was realized and as a result steps were taken to raise the funds and obtain the land necessary for its construction.

John Ward died in 1855 and his lands were passed along to his two sons Arthur Wellesley Ward and Neville Ward. The Ward brothers donated the land upon which St James Church was constructed.

In 1861 the Tunbridge Wells Gazette had this to say about the site for the new church of St. James: -“It is to be raised in the midst of a district which may be called remote from any place of worship. It is at the very centre of extensive building operations that are every day being enlarged so that the population of the locality is growing rapidly and is in evident want of a fitting place of worship, the nearest church being St John’s. The site has been well chosen and the country around is open and beautiful.

The first ceremony to take place at the site was the laying of the foundation stone and the Gazette gave the following graphic account: -“The ceremony was scarcely performed when a very smart, pelting hail shower drove some away and compelled others to take refuge under the best shelter they could find. Just as the hail commenced to fall, some of the scaffolding (built up to hold the seating) gave way with some noise. A number of persons were on it and underneath it and fears were entertained lest some person should have suffered an injury. Though several were compelled to cling to the scaffold and others fell eight to ten feet, happily no hurt was sustained by a single individual. The falling hail and broken scaffold merely causing a temporary confusion unusual on such occasions.

The report continues that about £100 was still required to open the church and about £800 was needed to build a spire. In September of that year, advantage was taken of the Harvest Thanksgiving services at Trinity and St. John’s to appeal for additional contributions to the building of St. James’ and £113 was received.In April 1862 it was reported that “the last few weeks have been so thoroughly well employed upon the building that a great improvement has been made with its appearance. The debris has been removed and the wall surrounding the Church has been completed. The incumbent is to be the Reverend C. R. Pearson, son of the Reverend J. N. Pearson, formerly of Trinity Church who will without doubt prove a valuable minister and we congratulate the inhabitants on obtaining a clergyman who is preceded by so favourable a reputation”.The consecration of the building was to have taken place in May 1862 but the Archbishop of Canterbury was unwell. Eventually the Bishop of Ripon was commissioned to open the building “with such sacred observances as are necessary to render it a recognised offshoot of the Mother Church”.The ceremony took place in unfavourable weather once more but on this occasion inside. The body of the church was nearly filled. No less than eighteen clergymen supported the Bishop in his duties on the happy occasion and a new choir had been formed under the direction of Mr. J. Roberts.At the end of July the choir joined Speldhurst and Rusthall at the choir festival at Canterbury and this was deemed to be “not a little flattering to the choir to be included. Although only recently formed, the progress has been so great that we are satisfied its performance will reflect credit upon themselves and the town”.Subsequently it was stated to have done so!”

The site chosen for the church can be seen on the 1909 OS map shown opposite, where it can be found on the north east corner of St James Road and Ferndale Road.The church was designed by the well -known architect Evan Christian (1814-1895) and constructed at a cost of 6,000 pounds.

The life of the church in 1863 was active, both spiritually and practically. On the practical side a public appeal was made for money for the completion of the spire on the church and in December that year the top stone was laid and a flag waved over it during the day.In that same year money was being raised for a bell that same bell calls the people to services to this day.

Four years after the Consecration of the building the population of the parish was already more than three thousand and the donors of the Church and Parsonage Ground Messrs A and N Ward gave an acre of land in the heart of the district for schools in connection with St James’.St James was granted its own district in 1865.

By January 1867 the new school was opened and by the end of the summer there were over two hundred children attending it. Boys and Girls from five years old were received on Monday mornings. Terms for Tradesmen and mechanics 3d weekly, for Labourers 2d weekly and a penny extra for out-parishioners. At the end of the summer the first St James’ School treat took place with nearly three hundred scholars as well as teachers and friends. Flags and banners bearing suitable inscriptions were carried and a procession headed by Rev. C R Pearson went up to a field on the Calverley Water Works kindly lent by Mr. Willicombe (a prominent builder of the time). Games were played and tea and cakes were consumed.

As we have seen the parish was rapidly expanding and in 1870 the Rev H W Hitchcock moved into Sandrock Road and offered to build a Mission Church in the poorest part of the parish near the school at his own expense. The hope was that the people who attended no church already would go to services “whether they have Sunday clothes or not”.

Mr Hitchcock was appointed curate in charge of “St Stephen’s” as the mission church was called. St Stephen’s had a somewhat stormy passage in its early years and many grievances were expressed about “Romish” tendencies. Public meetings were held in the town protesting about innovations of the ritualist party in the Church of England and in view of the prevalent national points of view, it was not surprising that St. Stephen’s was closed down for a time. It was reopened in 1875 and in 1881 was renamed St. Barnabas with its own separate parish.

A new Parish Room in Albion Road was built and opened in 1880.

The Tunbridge Wells Gazette reports that in 1883 the Easter Festival was very heartily observed. There were large congregations at services during the previous week and on Easter Day the church was crowded to overflowing with large numbers being unable to find admission at both morning and evening services. Little wonder that we find plans for an extension well under way.

With the building of the North Aisle in 1883 together with the Organ chamber and extension to the vestry major works on the church came to a standstill. At that time too a reredos and new chancel screen were erected all were designs by Ewan Christian.

Peltons 1883 guide gave the following “ St James Church, Sandrock Road, Calverley Plain,erected to meet  the necessities of this increasing neighbourhood, at a cost of 6,000 pounds, was opened on May 15th, 1862. Of the 700 sittings which this Church contains, 280 are free. The wood and stone used in its construction were presented by Messrs Ward, of the Calverley Estate. It was built after the very meritorious design of Ewan Christian, Esq., of Whitehall Place, Westminster, and has quite recently had an additional aisle added. Sunday Services: Moring, 8 and 11; Afternoon, 3-30; Evening, 6:30. Week-day Services: Evening 5.30; Wednesday, Friday and Holy Days, 12 noon; Wednesday and Holy Days, 9 pm. Hymes Ancient and Modern are used. The Rev. E.A. Eardley-Wilmot,M.A., is the Vicar”.

Although there were no major items of expenditure, repairs and maintenance had to go on over the years. The reports show several appeals for rebuilding and organ maintenance, better heating systems and redecoration.

At the vestry meeting of 1892 it was stated that owing to repairs to the cleaning of the organ costing £77.12.6 the church accounts showed a debit balance of 14/2d. The installation of electric lighting was first mooted in 1900 but was not installed until 1904 even though two people donated most of the cost.

The Church clock was installed in 1901 in memory of W. Bowell Esq. a past Churchwarden in celebration of whose Golden Wedding the Bowell Reading Room has been built at the parish hall. The Gymnasium was added to the existing hall in 1905 by W. Brindle in thanksgiving for recovery from a serious illness. People do not appear to think the same way these days! Shown opposite is a postcard view of the church dated 1906.

The lych gate was built in 1891 by C M Oldrid Scott, then became a first World War memorial in 1921.The choir and vicar vestries were built in 1912/1913.In 1913, the choir stalls were designed by C M Oldrid Scott.The font is a copy by the stonemason’s firm Burslem of a font in Rome sculpted in 1863 by the Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen (1770-1844). It was given to the church in 1914 in memory of another Churchwarden by his wife.

Strange, in his ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells Past and Present ‘of 1946 had this to say about the church. “ St James Church erected in 1861-2, of local sandstone (but of superior quality to that dug on the Calverley estate) , is one of the most pleasing architectural compositions in the town. It was designed by Ewin Christian, the eminent church architect. And has been subsequently added to and embellished with good taste. The new choir stalls and screen erected in 1927 are a memorial to the Ven. Archdeacon Scott, the popular vicar of the parish for many years. The elegant lunch-gate on the south side was the work of J. Oldrid Scott, the architect who designed the Canon Hoare memorial in St John’s Road. The Rev. E.J. He-plans, now retiring, has been vicar since 1930”.

The coloured roof of the chancel was redecorated in this style in the 1960s.The oak paneling installed in 1970 in the sanctuary was the work of Stephen Dykes Bower.

Whilst all the building projects and provisions of furnishings and fittings for the Church were being undertaken, it must not be thought that the spiritual and caring life of the Church was in anyway taking second place. St James’ has been built as one of the results of the spiritual revival known as the “Evangelical Awakening” and had a strong biblical-based and Prayer book orientated worship. To these ends, it ensured that its parishioners were well instructed with services, Sunday Schools and Bible Reading.

The way of life in the parish at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th Century was very different from today with two totally separate strata’s of society. The rich in the large houses of Ferndale, Pembury and Lansdowne Roads and the poor in the cottages in the areas around Camden and Albion Roads. The middle income group such as it was played a lesser part as they were neither benefactors nor needy. It was the rich who gave the donations that started many of the societies and groups and it was the poor who attended them.

In 1890 contribution were invited for the following:-The Assistant Clergy Fund – to provide a stripend for a poorly paid Curate;The Parochial Schools for Boys, Girls and Infants;The Sunday Schools;Provident Clubs – to assist the poor in summer in providing against the needs of winter;Maternity Society – to assist poor married women at the time of their confinement;Invalid and soup kitchen;Choir fund;St. James’ Parish Room;Mothers’ meeting – to gather together mothers and help them in making garments for their families at less than cost price.There was also a Coal club, a branch of the C. of E. Temperance Society, the Band of Hope, Men’s bible Class and an Industrial Society.

As is the case today Missions were held periodically with Guest Speakers and unlike today there were several mid-week services with daily Evensong and four opportunities on Sunday for church going. Shown opposite is a photograph sent to me by my second cousin Christine Harrison of Tunbridge Wells taken when her mother (foreground on the left) was in the choir at this church in the 1950's. Her mother had been born a Gilbert , the daughter of my grandfathers brother Robert H. Gilbert, and married Mr.  Skewis. Shown above is a postcard view of the church exterior when it was illuminated along with other buildings in the town for a special occasion.

In 1972 a new Church Centre and Clergy house were opened in Birken Road, Sherwood by the Right Reverend R.D. Say, Bishop of Rochester. It was renamed the Church of St Philip the Evangelist by the Bishop of Rochester in 1981.

In 1983 The Bishop of Rochester Rt Rev. Say dedicated the new church hall in memory of Michael Adrian Raleigh, Architect & Church Warden. This hall was built attached to the church and replaced the old hall which was located some distance away in Albion Road, and subsequently pulled down to make way for more houses.

Also in the early eighties a new infant and junior school was built nearer to St James’s Church but still Church of England funded.

In closing this section of the article I give the following comments from the Anke website “ This beautiful church which was initiated by Canon Hoare to meet the desire of the burgeoning local population was consecrated in 1862 and has quite a rural feel to it. Entering the grounds through a traditional lynchgate, you pass under the canopy of trees and the tall spire slowly reveals itself through the leaves. In contrast to St Barnabas, the interior there has more organic feel to it, accentuated by the seemingly endless curves and arches that make up the roof structure. This is one of those places you come out of with a sore neck.” Shown opposite is a postcard view of the interior of the church by Lewis Levi who made many views of the town and its important buildings.


In his report of 1866, the vicar commented on the mansions that had sprung up in the area, giving the neighbourhood a reputation for opulence and ended with an plea that ‘the gentry of St James could well afford to provide their pastor with a house’.The plea was successful and as a result the Wards provided the land necessary for the vicarage, which was constructed in 1868 at No. 1 Ferndale Road.Upon its completion the Rev. Christopher Ridley Pearson moved in. The location of the vicarage is also shown on the 1909 OS map.

Of the vicarage Chris Jones gave the following in his thesis “Finally, the vicarage. Old English had been popular for vicarages from the 1820s, and Gothic, with its ecclesiastical associations, in the 1850s and 60s. There are also, perhaps, Deveyesque features in this one. It is in red brick with steep tiled roofs, gables with pendants, an oriel window, chamfered corners and shouldered arches to the roof windows.There were originally ornate chimney stacks. The architect is unknown.”


The St James Parish Magazine gave the following account of the dedication of the Lynch Gate, which I have paraphrased. “ The Church of St James,Tunbridge Wells was the scene of a solemn ceremony on Sunday afternoon-the dedication of the Lynch Gate, erected in memory of the men connected with the Parish who fell in the great war, by the Very Rev. the Dean of Rochester.The Church was soon filled, while outside detachments from the St James, Tonbridge and Erith Companies of the K.R.R. Cadets and the St James Training Corps formed a guard of honour from the Lynch Gate to the Church door, under the command of  Lieut. Col. R. Saunders Johnson. The service was conducted by the Vicar, the Ven. Archdeacon A.T. Scott, M.A., assisted by the Rev. G. Williams, and commenced with the singing of the hym, “Brief life is here our portion”. Following the prayers for the fallen etc”. Psalm 23 was chanted and a Lesson was read… the Archdeacon asked for a brief moment of silence “while they remembered with thanksgiving,and with all honour before God, those men who gave their lives for their country.while the congregation remained kneeling, the choir sang…”. The service continued with other songs and hyms and “Through the night if doubt and sorrow, the clergy, choir, Girl guides and relatives of the fallen proceeded to the Churchyard, where Chopin’s March Funebre was played by the Band of the Veterans’ Association”.

“The Very Rev. the Dean of Rochester, in an address, said their motto that day was ‘Lest we forget’.They would never, never be forgotten in their homes.Photographs, mementos, relics they had in in their homes, so they would never forget. But the community of the town were different. Alas! Our memories were apt to be rather short.Reaction took place after great stress and trouble. They had been like little children, who had been frightened and had run to their father and mother, and ran back again the moment the danger was over and forgotten”……”The memorial was one which would always remind them as they passed through it of those who had gone.Who could pass by it without thinking of those whos names were inscribed there?

After WW II donations were  requested and received towards the “provision and setting apart for all time of a War Memorial Chapel in the St James Church to the memory of those gallant parishioners who fell in WW II. The Parish Magazine provided a list of men who’s names were placed on the memorial. There were 18 in total. Last year I wrote an article about the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial on Mount Pleasant Road in which I provided a transcription of all the names on the plaques for both wars. Many of the men from St James Parish also had their names placed on that memorial. I say many instead of all for to be added to the memorial, a family member had to put the serviceman’s name forward, and not all did. Fundraising for the WW II memorial at St James was still going on in 1948 and it appears that the memorial itself was installed about February 1949. Church records show that in 1947 about 108 pounds was raised and that in 1948 another 125 pounds 11s and 3d was collected and that “it is hoped further funds will be raised in 1949.This fundraising was for the Freewill Offering Fund from which the cost of the memorial was to be paid.

The Parish Magazine published in part the following article entitled “A War Memorial Chapel” By Ex-servicemen (1939-1945). “ I attended the meeting called by the Vicar and Parochial Church Council to discuss what form a War Memorial should take, I found several other ex-servicemen there, and quite an enthusiastic meeting of some 50 parishioners and relatives of the Fallen. But it was distressing to me, and to a point shameful, that not more people out of 7,000 parishioners should have bothered to show their concern in a matter which should mark the respect of every parishioner to the Fall boys”of this Parish. …However the interest was very sincere …and something concrete was decided. After the Vicar read out the names of the fallen  it was agreed that some War Memorial should be erected “. Various options were suggested and those in attendance at the meeting spoke for and against each of them.It was decided that the names of the fallen should be placed on a stone cross or carved panel  or board and it was agreed that “ A War Memorial Chapel should be set aside for all time on the south-east corner of the Church” and oak panelling bearing the names of the fallen was to be made.


The Vicars who were in charge of St James’s Parish from its dedication to the present day are:-

1862     Rev Christopher Ridley Pearson.

1881     Rev E.A. Eardley-Wilmot M.A.Prebendary of Wells Cathedral.

1886     Canon Avison Terry Scott M.A.R.D.First Archdeacon of Tonbridge.

1925     Rev. George Thomas Manley M.A.

1930     Rev. Evan James Hopkins M.A.

1946     Rev. Geoffrey Watkins Grubb M.A.

1953     Rev. Donald Plumley A.L.C.D.

1964     Rev. Canon R.W. Goldspink M.D.

1983     Rev. Norman Norgate M.A.

1997     Rev. Canon Jim Stewart MA

Although I have not reported on curates of the church I did note during my research for another topic relating to the Greene family that Rev Walter Lighton Greene (1861-1936) was curate at St James Church from 1887 to 1901. Details about him and other members of his family can be found in my article ‘ The Greene Family of Arlington House’ dated November 30,2014.

Another curate of the church was Henry Baron Dickinson. A photo of him is shown opposite signed “ Henry B aron Dickinson, Xmas 1881” and was taken at the portrait studio of C.F. Wing in Tunbridge Wells. Henry was born 1853 in Brixton,Surrey.He attened Cambridge University and is found in the records of the Cambridge University Alumni. At the time of the 1871 census, taken in Hove Sussex, he was living with his widowed mother Catherine MM. Dickinson and two sisters. The 1861 census reveals that his father was Henry Dickinson, born 1807 in Deptford,Kent. Henry also had a brother Frederick but the boy died young sometime before 1871.On April 15,1880 Henry married Esther Wakeling in Brighton,Sussex.She was the daughter of George Wakeling. The 1881 census,taken at 14 Beulah Road,Tunbirdge Wells, recorded Henry as the curate of St James Church. Living with him was just his wife. The 1891 census, taken at St Peter’s,Streatham, Lodnon gave Rev. Dickinson as the curate of the parish , a position he held from 1890 to 1904. After St Peter’s he became Vicar of St Stephen’s,Lewisham from 1904 to 1922. He died November 12,1925 at Beckenham,Kent.


The following information is from the Cambridge University Alumni records “Christopher Ridley. Pearson ;…College:QUEENS' ;Entered:Michs. 1845 ‘BORN:1826;  Died:16 May 1905 .More Information:Adm. pens. at QUEENS', June 12, 1845. [3rd s. of the Rev. John Norman (1804) (and Harriet Puller). B. June 2, 1826.] Matric. Michs. 1845; B.A. 1849; M.A. 1852. Ord. deacon (Canterbury) 1849; priest (Winchester) 1850; C. of Walmer, Kent, 1849-50. C. of Holy Trinity, Tunbridge Wells, 1850-3. V. of Mark, Somerset, 1853-60. V. of Standon, Herts., 1860-2. V. of St James, Tunbridge Wells, 1862-82. C. of Monkton-Wyld, Dorset, 1882-4. R. of Combepyne, Devon, 1884-91. Married, Feb. 19, 1862, Mary Louisa Foster, dau. of the Rev. Peter La Trobe, Presbyter of the Moravian Church. Author, The Soul in Paradise; The Soul in Heaven; Immortality. Resided latterly at St Leonards-on-Sea, where he died May 16, 1905. Brother of John (1837) and Alleyne W. (1851). (Scott, MSS.; A. P. Burke, Family Records; Burke, Col. Gentry, I, 91; Cant. Act Book; The Times, May 18, 1905.)

Christopher was born 1826 at Islington,Middlesex, one of thirteen children born to John Norman Pearson (1787-1865) and Harriet Ouller(1790-1870). In 1851 he was a clergyman Church of England and living as a lodger with the Harris family at Westminster Lodge in Tunbridge Wells. In 1861 he as living at Standon,Hertforshire. In 1862 he came to Tunbridge Wells and became the vicar of St James Church, a position he held until replace in 1881 by Rev. E.A. Eadley. The census records of 1851 to 1871 were all taken at No. 1 ferndale Rioad, the site of the vicarage of St James Church. In 1901 he and his wife were living at 41 Carisbrooke Road at St Leondards-on-Sea where in the census for that year he was recorded as a retired clergyman.  His wife was Mary Louisa Foster La Trobe who he had married February 19,1862. The couple had no children.

Probate records give Rev Christopher Ridley Pearson of 41 Carisbrooke Road, St Leonards-on-Sea , clerk, died May 6,1905. He left an estate valued at 5,382 pounds with his executors being Arthur Ashley Pearson, esq, William Lawrence Wemyes Pearson, barrister-at-law, and Thomas Sutton,solicitor. How the two Pearson executors are related to Christopher was not determined.They are not found to be his brothers.


Crockfords 1908 directory gives the following “ Ernest Augustus Eardley-Wilmot……St Jude Vicarage, South Kensington, S.W.-Late Exhib. Of Clare Coll. Cambridge. BA (1st dl. Theol. Trip) 1871; MA 1879; ordained 1871; priest 1877 Chich. Preb. Of Wedmore 5th in Wells Cathl. 1890; Vicar of St Jude South Kensington, Dio. London 1892; Dio London 1903; Commis. To Bp of W. Eq. Africa 1903; F.C. of Petworth 1871-74; Vicar of Sherborne 1874-82; Dom Chap. To the late Lord Sherborne 1875-83; Vicar of St James Church Tunbridge Wells 1882-86; Chap. Tonbridge Union 1883-86; Rector of Walcot Bath 1886-92; Select Pr. Cam 1896”.

He had his sermon ‘The National Church’ published 1886 by Courier Publishing Co., Tunbridge Wells.

Ernest was born November 9,1848 at Kenilworth, Warwickshire, one of four siblings of Edward Revell Eardley Wilmot (1814-1889) and Emma Hutchinson Lambert (1827-1907). He also had three half siblings. In 1851 he was living with his parents in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. The 1861 and 1871 census recorded him at St Marylebone, London. In 1861 his father was the Rector of All Souls Church St Marylebone. On April 8,1875 he married Emily Dora Holland (1855-1897) and with her had six children. In 1881 he was living at Windrush, Gloucestershire; in 1891 at Walcot, Somerset where he was he recor of the church; in 1901 at Kensington,London.

Ernest died December 13,1932 at St Albans, Hertfordshire.


The following information about Scott is from my article about the history of golf clubs in Tunbridge Wells I wrote a couple of years ago. The part of the article dealing with the history of The Tunbridge Wells Golf Club and Scott reads “The definitive record of the history of this club is perhaps the book by Eric Carter I have referred to before that was published in 1989 to record in part the 100th anniversary of the founding of the club.Eric Carter is quick to mention that the clubs history is somewhat sketchy due to the absence of many club records over its long existance. As I do not intend to repeat word for word the contents of Eric's book I would recommend to anyone interested in a more detailed history of the club to look at a copy of the book which should be available at the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library or if not there at the local museum. A copy of the book may also be obtained from the Club itself for the current club secretary was kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of the book for my research.The first time the words golf club were attached to the name of Tunbridge Wells was Saturday December 22,1888 when on that day a meeting was held at the Brambletye Hotel, Forest Row, to form the Ashdown Forest and Tunbridge Wells Golf Club at Forest Row. The connection with Tunbridge Wells was through Archdeacon A.T. Scott who is remembered as being the founder of the club.Scott was an enthusiastic golfer who at the time had taken up residence in Tunbridge Wells.In 1888 there were no golf courses at all in the vicinity of Tunbridge Wells and in 1889 this club became formally registered.The course was in use that year and patronized by a number of Tunbridge Wells residents who made the long journey, a couple of hours by horse and carriage each way, to play some golf.”

Avison Terry Scott was born July 18,1848 at Cambridge,Cambridgeshire and died June 18,1925 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1851 he was living at 21 Hills Road in Cambridge. Between 1870-71 he was at Cambridge. Between 1871 and 1873 he was the curate of Swaffham,NorfolK. Ordained 1871 at deaon. Obtained degree of BA Cambridge 1871; priest at Nowich 1872; from 1873-79 curate of Wimbleton,Surrey; MA Cambridge in 1874. He married Dorothea Sarah Tillard, born 1850 at Wimbleton,Surrey in the 3rd qtr of 1874 at Walsingham,Norfolk.From 1879 to 1886 he was the vicar of Christ Chrch, Bootle Lancashire. In 1881 he was living at 1 Breeze Hill, Bottle cum Linacre, Lancashire.He was vicar of Christ Church Bootle in 1881. From 1886 to 1925 he was the vicar of St James Church in Tunbridge Wells. From 1904-05 he was the Hon. Canon of Canterbury. From 1905 to 1906 the Hon Canon of Rochester; From 1906 to 1925 the Archdeacon of Tunbridge Wells. He had been educated at Brighen College, Sussex.

His father was Rev John Scott (1810-1886) and his mother was Charlotte A Scott, born 1815. Avison was one of seven children born to his parents. He and his wife had two daughters and four sons. Census records for 1891, 1901 and 1911 record Avison and his wife and children living at the Vicarage No. 1 Ferndale Road. Also in the home was three domestic servants.

Probate records give The Rev. Avison Terry Scott of St James Vicarage, Tunbridge Wells died June 18,1925 at 4 Dorset Square, Marylebone, Middlesex. The executors of his 17,589 pound estate was his wife Dorothea Sarah Scott and Charles Tilliard Scott, physician, Charles was his son, who had been born in 1877.


Crockfords 1932 Directory gave the following; “ George Thomas Manley…..Ch. Coll. Cambridge BA 1893; 1st smith Pri 1895; MA 1896; d 1899; priest 1900 Ely. Math Lecturer of Magd, Coll Cambridge 1894-98;Fellow of C. Coll Cambridge 1895-1910; Worked among the students of India 1900-02; Asst. Sec. C.M.s. 1906-12; Sec. for Miss. In Africa 1912-1925; Vicar of St James Church,Tunbridge Wells 1925-1930; St Luke Hampstead, Dop of Con. From 1930 (P. Trustees); Eccles; St Luke Vicarage Hampstead N.W.”

George Thomas Manley was born in the 2nd qtr of 1872 at Hull, Yorkshire. George was the son of Martin R. Morley, a railway goods agent, born 1840 at Honiton,Devon, and Margaret Morrison born April 19,1830 in Scotland and was one of several children born to the couple.

In the 1881 census, taken at 10 Wentworth Terrace in Wakefield, Yorkshire George was living with his parents and brother George. The family was at the same address in 1891 but this father was absent from the census. George was at that time living with his mother Margaret and his brother George. His mother was working as a school mistress ; Ernest as a bankers clerk and  George was a mathametician in school. George went on to be a Senior Wrangler in mathematics at Cambridge University,beating Bertrand Russell. He changed course and became a well-known evangelist in India and wrote many books on theology. A Senior Wrangler in a top mathematics undergraduate at Cambridge College ,a position once regarded as ‘the greatest intellectual achievement attainable in Britain”. George is recorded as a Seniro Wrangler in the records of Cambridge for 1893 at Christ College, who list him as a “clergyman, missionary”.

Probate records give him of 37 Ravensdale Avenue, London, clerk, when he died March 15,1961 at The General Hospital Barnet Hertfordshire. He left an estate value at 5,365 pounds and the executors were Gerald Arthur Churchill Manley, solicitor, and Stanley Pattenden, local government officer. Gerald Arthur Churchill Manley died October 25,1963 at Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire. He had been born 1899. His connection to George was not established but was born 27 years after him and therefore might have been his son.


Crockfords 1932 clerical directory gave the following “ Evan James Hopkins……Pemb coll Cambridge BA 1894; MA898: Ridley Hall Cambridge 1895; d 1896; P 1897 St Alb.; C of Benges 1896-98; St Luke South Kensington 1898-1906; Rector of St Sav. Bath 1906-14; Vicar of All Saints Eastbourne 1914-1930; Vicar St James Church Tunbridge Wells from 1930. Gross income 622 pounds net income 517 pounds and house. St James Church,Tunbridge Wells”.

Evan had been born 1871 at Richmond Surrey and was one of two children born to The Rev Evan Henry Hopkins(1838-1919) and Isabella Sarah Kitchen (1849-1928).His father had been born in New Grenada. Evan’s wife was Constance Harriet Eleanor Dashwood who had been born at Marylebone, London ,the daughter of George Lionel Dashwood and Avic Frances Ann Dashwood.  and the couple had a daughter Constance.

Evan died in 1955.


Geoffrey was born September 18,1908 at Croydon,Sussex. He was baptised there on January 29,1909.He was the son of Ernest Watkins Grubb , a clergyman born 1877 at Marlow Resident, Ireland. His mother was Mary Pauline Grubb, born 1878 at Stone, Kent.

The 1911 census, taken at Siberswold Vicarage, at Sibertwold,Kent recorded Geoffrey living with his parents,one visitor, and four servants . Their residence had 18 rooms. His parents had been married three years and Geoffrey was their only child at that time.

Geoffrey was educated at Oxford (MA)and ordained 1933. He became the Irish Grubb family historian and founded the Grubb Family Association in the UK. He was author of “the Grubbs of Tipperary”. In addition to editing the publishing the newsletter of this Assocaiton ,(called “Grubbing Around”), he was at the time of his death in 1975 preparing his second history entitled ‘Brubbs about the Globe’. After his death his son David completed the work and also took over his father’s role as Editor. David went on to become the president of the Association. He was a Proctor in the Convocation of Canterbury and was the Hon. Chaplain of the Tunbridge Wells Sea Cadets.

Goeffrey was married in the 4th qtr of 1934 to Anna K. Hinde at Edmonton,Middlesex. From 1937 to 1946 he was the vicar of St Andrew’s Church in Cullompton.


Rev Donald Plumley authored a book entitled ‘Guide to the Church of St Peter and St Paul in 1970. At Woodhurst. The Woodhurst Historical Society have a number of records pertaining to Rev Plumley. He is also recorded at the Woodhurst vicarage form 1964 to 1872. He is recorded as the vicar of St James Church Tunbridge Wells during the period of 1953 to 1963. He was he at St Luke’s Church in Brighton form 1946 to 1952.

The publication ‘Pacific Stars & Stripes’ of October 1962 had an article in in in which the following was said “ A church of England minister has urged the British government to set up censorship for television plays. He is Rev Donald Plumley’. Plumley was disgusted what he had been seeing on television and wanted some regulations put in place.

It is believed by the researcher that he was born January 29,1912 at Plymouth Devon and died December 1977 at Uckfield, West Sussex.


Rev Goldspink was the vicar at St James Church, Tunbridge Wells from 1964 to 1983. He had been a financial supporter of Fitzwilliam College at a time when they were raising money for expansion of the college.

He had been born June 24,1923 and died January 2000 at Huntingdon,Huntingdonshire.



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

Date: March 7,2017

In 2013 I wrote an article entitled ‘The Ancient Order of Foresters (AOF)’ dated September 12,2013 which provided an account about the formation of the AOF as a Friendly Society in 1834 and its history since then. Referred to as “Courts” rather than Lodges , a name used for example by the Freemasons, these Courts were established all over England.

The AOF had a strong presence in Tunbridge Wells and conducted their meetings with other Friendly Societies at the Friendly Society Hall (image opposite) at 3-7 Camden Road. In my article ‘The History of the Friendly Society Hall’ dated August 20, 2016 I provided information about this hall.

When the AOF was formed it was established for men over the age of 18 who ascribed to the credo of the organization as gentlemen of good character, kind, considerate with a desire to help their fellow man. Members payed a fee to belong to the AOF and in return for their membership they were entitled to receive medical and funeral benefits. My grandfather Francis Reginald Gilbert, who was born in Tunbridge Wells ,held a position with the local AOF. His sash and jewel were passed down to me which I have on display.

Members of the AOF found that their wives, daughters and sons, shared their interest in the AOF but it was not until 1840 that Juvenile Forester courts were established for those under age 18.  Women were not allowed to be members until 1892 when it was proposed that Female Forester courts should be allowed. Initially there was reluctance among the men to allow women to join for although they were in favour of women joining they were concerned, since women earned much less than men, that the women would be a burden. However the men decided to allow Female Forester courts to be established and as a consequence the AOF sash,which up to that time showed only an image of a male Forester , was changed to show both a male and female Forester.

Over the years the regalia of the Foresters has changed. Juvenile Foresters wore the collar shown below left and the Female Foresters the collar shown below right.

Like the men, juveniles and women joined the AOF because they shared the organizations beliefs and supported their work. They also welcomed the health and death benefits. Apart from this they also got to enjoy the social aspects of membership, going to meetings, going on excursions, being in parades, participating in fancy dress balls  etc. Some Juvenile Foresters even formed brass bands.

Shown in this brief article are three photographs of the Female and Juvenile Foresters of Tunbridge Wells. The one at the top of this article is of the Female Foresters Court Florence in Tunbridge Wells, a photograph taken in the early 1900’s by local photographer J. Goodwin. Shown below by the same photographer and around the same time are two images of the Juvenile Foresters with their parade floats in Tunbridge Wells. The Foresters  (men, Female and Juveniles) were regular participants in the annual Hospital Sunday parades in the town and not doubt all three images were taken during that event, an event that was formed to raise money for the local hospitals. The Foresters also marched in every parade organized in the town such as those organized for Royal family jubilees, coronations etc.

The Courts established all had names, and as can be seen by the image of the Female Foresters, they belonged to a Court called “Florence”. It is not known if there were other Female Courts in the town but the name “Florence” appears repeatedly in reports in the Courier of AOF activities in the town, and many of the accounts provide the surnames of the Females in this Court. The Kent & Sussex Courier of January 31,1908 for example refers to a J.H. Hubens of “Court Florence” at a meeting of the Foresters. The Courier of July 29,1912 reported on Hospital Sunday and listed as members of Court Florence the female Foresters sisters Ede, Weekes,Wicks, Hubens, Pearson and Goodwin. The inclusion of the name Goodwin is an interesting one for it was a member of her family James Goodwin who took the photographs I referred to above. Court Florence was still going strong in 1937 for in that year on October 19th the Courier referred in an article about Hospital Parades to “sister H.E. Hubens (Court Florence)”.  Shown above is a photograph dated 1912-1913 of the Foresters in Tunbridge Wells in or in preparation for their participation in a parade.

When the Juvenile Foresters and the Female Foresters courts were established in Tunbridge Well was not established but the earliest mention found about the Female Foresters was in the Kent & Sussex Courier of October 25,1907 when reference was given to “Court Florence” and its members (partial list) sisters E. Weeles (O.R.); E. Scrace (S.C.R.); A. Scrace; E. Stanbrige; M. Brown. Francis; S. Strange; J.H. Hubens (treasurer) and  B. Brown (Secretary).

The Foresters were an interesting organization and whenever my grandfather talked about them  I paid close attention.



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

Date: March 15,2014


Stamp collecting is a hobby enjoyed by millions throughout the world  and has grown in popularity in Britain since it issued its famous “Penny black” in 1840, generally considered to be the world’s first stamp. When this stamp was introduced Robert Nash, the son of John Nash, the postmaster, was the postmaster in Tunbridge Wells. He had come into this position  on February 7,1837 and anyone wishing to post a letter or  buy a stamp for their collection had to go to his premises . The introduction of this stamp, and for that matter the reform of the postal system in England ,was thanks to the efforts of Sir Rowland Hill.

These new stamps were not the perforated gummed stamps we are familiar with today but came on a sheet which had to be seperated from one another by cutting them with scissors.With its introduction people would go to the post office and ask for a stamp and the postmaster would sell to you as many as you wanted so you could affix it to your letter.The stamp was then "cancelled" or "franked" by the postmaster by applying an inked mark with the place and date of mailing on it.Because the Penny Black was black in colour and because the black ink cancellation marks did not show up well on it, it was decided in 1841 to replace this stamp with one of a red-brick colour. Other colours and denominations of stamps followed in subsequent years as postage rates changed and the monarch,whos image appeared on the stamp,changed also.It wasnt until 1845 that a postage stamp with perforations between each stamp became available in Britain making the use of stamps easier.

In the early years very few stamps were produced annually but today the demand for new stamps and the need of British Post to generate revenue have resulted in a significant increase in the number of stamps issued. It has become a profitable enterprise for British Post but an expensive hobby for the collector.

The Royal Philatelic Society of London, the oldest Philatelic Society in the World, was founded in 1869. The growth of the hobby resulted in Philatelic Societies and  Clubs springing up all over Britain. Today the Royal Philatelic Society has over 1,150 overseas members and another 900 in the UK. The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada, was a bit of a late starter, having been formed in 1887.Many residents of Tunbridge Wells took an interest in the hobby and organized themselves on an informal basis in the 19th century to share their interest in the hobby.Although there had been Philatelic Clubs in Tunbridge Wells from an early time it was not until 1945 that the Royal Tunbridge Wells Philatelic Society(RTWPS) was formed and is still in operation today. They have been involved in many events over their long history but the one of interest to me in this article  was the 32nd Philatelic Congress of Great Britain, which had been sponsored by the  RTWPS and was held at the Spa Hotel from May 16 to 19 in 1950, a grand event that attracted a large crowd from all over the world.

Shown opposite with accompanying text is a photograph taken at the Spa Hotel on July 25,1953 which was attended by Sir John Wilson, the keeper of the royal philatelic collection.

My interest in this topic arises from the fact that my father Douglas Edward Gilbert, who was born in Tunbridge Wells January 31,1916, became  an avid collector of postage stamps and he was always particularly proud of his collection of British stamps, all neatly arranged and nicely displayed in several volumes of stamp albums. This collection had been started by his father Francis Reginald Gilbert who worked in the early 1900’s as a printer with the Lewis Hepworth Company on Vale Road. My other interest in this topic is that I was born in 1950, the same year the 32nd Philatelic Congress  event took place, and my father introduced me to the hobby of collecting stamps in 1958, a hobby I have carried on since then and the one who inherited my fathers collection when he passed away in 2009.


The first Philatelic congress of Great Britain was held in conjunction with a Philatelic Exhibition at Hulme Town Hall, Manchester in 1909. The business included the formation of a Nation Society or Federation, the desirability of a Collector’s Catalogue and other issues of interest to the stamp collector. Although many stamp catalogues for collectors have appeared over the years the “Bible” for British stamps is the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue, considered to be the authoritative reference on the topic. My father’s Stanley Gibbons is dog-eared and worn  showing that he made good use of it.

The Congress has held their exhibitions annually, except for a break during WW II.Their Congress of 1940 was held at Bournemouth with the next one held in 1946 in Brighton. From 1909 to 2012 they held 94 exhibitions in almost the same number of different towns and cities in England. In 1950 it was Tunbridge Wells turn to host the event, and what a grand one it was, attended by thousands from May 16 to May 19, at the equally grand Spa Hotel (photo above).

The “Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP) is a philatelic award of international scale, created by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain in 1921. A complete list of the names on the Roll can be found online. The Roll consists of three pieces of parchment to which the signatories add their names, and not just any old collector of stamps can get on the list. One has to meet certain requires to be considered for the honour. King George V was the first signatory to the Roll. At the 1950 Congress eight prominent philatelists were invited to sign at the 32nd Congress. Those who signed that year were;

(1)    R W T Lees-Jones (United Kingdom), student and writer on Canadian stamps.

(2)    H W Bessemer (United Kingdom), outstanding research on the stamps of France.

(3)    Walter H C Bronzfield (Australia), President of the Philatelic Society of Western Australia for twenty-one years, intensive research on Western Australian stamps.

(4)    J Schmidt-Andersen (Denmark), Father of Danish philately, wrote extensively on the stamps of Denmark, published the plating of all four plates of Denmark No 1.

(5)    Ibrahim Chaftar Bey (Egypt), President of the Club Philatélique d'Egypte, student of early Egyptian stamps.

(6)    Pierre Morel d'Arleux (France), Honorary Secretary of the Académie de Philatélie, chief organizer of the Citex (Paris) Exhibition, writer on the stamps of France.

(7)    Stanley B Ashbrook (United States), writer of standard books and many articles on early U.S.A. issues.

(8)    Lester G. Brookman (United States), editor for many years of the American Philatelist, writer of books on the 19th-century issues of the U.S.A.

Shown opposite is the front cover of the ‘Menu Card’. This example is one which bears the autographs of Mrs Mary William and Muriel Dorothea Wells (The Mayoress of Tunbridge Wells) and by Lt Cdr Gerald Wellington Williams J.P. M.P. (1903-1989) who was the MP for Tonbridge from 1945 to 1956. The signature that clearly reads Muriel Dorothea Wells was actually Muriel Bury Wells the Mayoress of Tunbridge Wells for 1950-1951 and again 1951-1952.

Shown opposite is the inside of the Menu Card which outlines the delicious meal, including sole and other tasty goodies and coffee being served on May 19th, the last day of the event. Also shown is the ‘Toast List’ and among those who spoke was the Mayoress, the Rev. Turnbull , the chairman J.C. Cartwright and postal historian Leslie Ray,esq.

Shown opposite is the ‘Sending Envelope’ which guests  to the event received  bearing one of the current postage stamps cancelled by a special cancellation postmark provided just for the event with the time and date in the middle with the wording “32nd Philatelic Congress of Great Britain Tunbridge Wells” around the circumference. The “Congress Postal Arrangements” for the event stated “Permission has also been given by the Postmaster General for a temporary Post Office to be installed in the Congress Office in the foyer of the Assembly hall, for the sale of stamps and the acceptance of registered mail only. A distinctive number has been allotted to the registration label”. The times that the Congress Post Office was to be open was listed and went on to say “A Special posting box will be provided and all mail in same will receive the special Congress postmark. First Day covers, which the Congress issued for each of their annual events, where specially made for the Tunbridge Wells event and as you will see from the examples given below they showed the image of the Pantiles in different colours to coincide with the colour of the postage stamps then available. The Congress went on to say “ First Day Covers will be dated May 16th, 1950.”

The Courier published two articles about the event. The first entitled “Postman will hand them toast lists-Town welcomes philatelists” gave the following news; “ When delegates to the 32nd Philatelic Congress of Great Britain sit down to a banquet at the Spa Hotel,Tunbridge Wells this (Friday) evening the toast list will be delivered to them by a uniformed postman. It will be in an envelope addressed in old-fashioned copper plate and bearing the special “Congress” postmark. This postmark is being stamped on all mail sent through the special “Congress” Post Office which has been installed in the Assembly Hall lounge through the cooperation of the Heat Postmaster of Tunbridge Wells (Mr. R. Hutchinson). By the time the 200 delegates, who have come to the Congress from all over the world had arrived and been welcomes by the Mayor (Cr. Miss Muriel Wells), and the Mayoress (Miss Wells) at a reception in the Assembly Hall on Tuesday evening more than 5,000 letters had passed through the office. A further 1,500 were dispatched on Wednesday morning while delegates in the Council Chamber were listening to ;-An address of welcome by the Mayor, who said that although she knew nothing about philately she felt sure that the mutual interests of collectors in Britain and overseas must be of great value to the world at the moment. A welcome to overseas visitors-especially to the representatives of the American Philatelic Congress-by Major Adrian E. Hopkins (chairman of the Congress Executive Committee) and the opening address by Canadian born Mr J.C. Cartwright of Madeira Park,Tunbridge Wells, chairman of the Congress. The report of the Executive Committee-presented by Major Hopkins- and the Statement of Accounts reviewed by Mr G.W. Collett (hon. Treasurer). And the first paper-“Lawful Prize –or was it?” –by Dr Gordon Ward of Sevenoaks. While this was going on a party of woman delegates were viewing the summer collections of Mary Lee at her Mount Pleasant showrooms. As more mail passed through the special Post Office in the afternoon and evening delegates either toured the surrounding countryside by motor coach, visited the repertory theatre or discussed their favourite specialty in study circles. Yesterday (Thursday) after a 13 minute business meeting and listening to two more papers- one of them “The Charm of the Classics” by the Rev. P.H. Turnbull, former Rector of Penshurst- delegates again had the choice of spending their time in motor coach tours, study circles or visiting the cinema”.

The second article was entitled “Postman called on Philatelists at their banquet-closing sessions of Congress” which in part gave “ The big social event of the Philatelic Congress at Tunbridge Wells was the banquet and ball held on Friday at the Spa Hotel…There were several speeches, most of them in lighter vein, with special references to the affairs of the Congress, the town, distinguished philatelists, and so on. …Major Adrian E. Hopkins had many pleasant things to say about Tunbridge Wells in proposing a toast to the town and said all delegates would have only the happiest memories to take away with them and thought the Borough had shown good taste in its choiceof Mayor. The Mayor was delighted to think that the town would have its place in the history of philately. …As a token of appreciation of his services as hon organizing secretary, Mr B.t. Stevenson was presented with a beautifully bound album and the Chairman (Mr. J.C. Cartwright) paid special tribute to him, saying if it had not been for Mr. Stevenson there would have been no Congress at Tunbridge Wells.” Several other speeches followed. At the end Mrs D.M. Green gave the final speech of the Congress who praised the arrangements made locally, naming in particular the Pantiles Association and the Mount Pleasant Association for their thought in providing bunches of flowers in every hotel bedroom for each lady on arrival. The number of letters that went by the special Congress post totalled 9,275 and 185 registered letters”.

Those who collect postage stamps, in many cases, enjoy collecting “First Day Covers” which to the layman are an envelope upon which special wording and images have been printed to commemorate and denote a certain event and upon which is affixed a postage stamp cancelled by a special cancellation mark. These First Day Covers could be purchased at the event and most people who collect them prefer to write/print their name and mailing address on them. My father has several in his collection.

The Philatelic Congress of Great Britain Year Book of 1950 was edited by E.F. Higen and J.C. Cartwright and upon the front cover of it is printed “ Issued on the occasion of the Thirty Second Congress meeting from the 16th to the 19th May, 1950, at the invitation of The Tunbridge Wels Philatelic Society”. Inside this publication was an image of “The Priory, Tunbridge Wells” (shown above).

Shown here are a complete set of First Day Covers issued for the event in the colours of blue, green,brown,orange and yellow.

To celebrate the event a company by the name of “Porters Warehouse,The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells” published a set of six postcard views of the town. The name of the image was given on the front and on the back was the publishers name and in blue across the bottom was “ Thirty Second Philatelic Congress of Great Britain Tunbridge Wells 16th-19th May 1950”. Shown opposite is an image showing all 6 cards in the set and the sales card at the top by Porter’s Warehouse advertising them for sale at the price of 9d each with their business address given on The Pantiles. The cards in the set were identified as;

(1)    Pantiles 1748

(2)    Bird’s Eye View of Tunbridge Wells 1800

(3)    Bath House 1827

(4)    Bath House, Library 1827

(5)    King Charles Chapel 1830

(6)    The Theatre 1840

A search for information about Porter’s Warehouse did not reveal much but there was a 1937 and 1938 listing for Porter’s Toyland at 12/16 the Pantiles and no doubt the family and both businesses are related. It is somewhat strange that a “warehouse” would be publishing postcards and I could not find any other examples of postcards by Porter’s Warehouse. It would have been understandable for a stationers shop to have sold these postcards as was their custom at the time.

Shown here is a partial set of four postcards as described above which also show on the back the postage stamp and special Congress postmark  with mailing addresses. It is interesting to note the destinations to which these cards were mailed. These postcards could be purchased at the Spa Hotel throughout the event and perhaps at Porters as well.


This society was established in 1945. Today they hold their meetings at Christ Church, Crabb Hall, High Street, Tunbridge Wells on the 2nd Thursday of the month and on the 3rd Thursday of the month they meet at The Spread Eagle public house on Forest road, Hawkenbury, Tunbridge Wells.

The aim of the society is to promote philately, primarily on a local basis, and to provide a varied, interesting, and entertaining programme of activities and events for its members.

In 1995 the Society celebrated its 50th anniversary by having  made the special cover shown opposite.

KentPex 2010 was a special philatelic show arranged to be held on July 10,2010 which was presented by the Kent Federation of Philatelic Societies and The Royal Tunbridge Wells Philatelic Society. The event featured stamp dealers, competitions, stamp displays, advice, stamp valuations and much more. The event was a well -attended and a great success. It had been held in the town of Tonbridge.


The Newland Road Society ran from 1953-to 1967 at a time when children, like myself, took an active interest in collecting postage stamps. Although I never belonged to a stamp club as a boy many children in Tunbridge Wells did. This all junior stamp club was run entirely by the boys and girls who lived in Newland Road and nearby roads. Though membership did extend to other places in later years., including London, Grimsby,Dublin and Paris. The club was started in 1963 by Chris Phillips and a few others and was never run by adults, but many adults were invited to give talks, including many famous people of the time. Unfortunatley it closed in 1967. Shown opposite is a First Day Cover  of the club from 1963. Further information about this club will the subject of a future article.


Dr Colin Attridge, in responding to my inquiry to the Royal Tunbridge Wells Philatelic Society, had this to say “ As a youngster born in 1941 I can remember being told that my old school King Charles in Lower Cumberland Walk had a stamp club that was well attended during the days of the 1930’s while under the headmastership of Nobby Clark. It is also possible that this club was started long before the 1930’s, but I know it closed after the WW II as so many of the young collectors died in battle, and Nobby Clark retired in the early 1950’s. Also from my recollections I seem to remember that all the private schools had well run stamp clubs, the Skinners School certainly did, and I suppose there was not a need for outside clubs until after the WW II.”

Steve Clark,the President of the RTWPS 2012 - 14. wrote the following in reply to my inquiry. “ I have spoken to one of our more senior members today and he is positive that there was a philatelic society in the T.Wells area prior to 1945. The name of the society was 'Tunbridge Wells Pioneer(ing) Philatelic Society', which most likely had some military connection. I do not have the date when this 'pioneer' society was founded. It must also have been in existence when RTWPS was founded in 1945, as there was subsequent discussion about the merging of the 2 societies. That event did not occur, however, and the 'Pioneer' society closed. Members from the pioneer society then (apparently) joined RTWPS or some other local society e.g. Sevenoaks.Unfortunately I can't guarantee or verify the accuracy of this data, but will continue to explore your query.”

On this note I end my coverage of stamp collecting in Tunbridge Wells. Perhaps one day someone will write a book on the topic. I will be one of the first to buy a copy.


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