Bible Stories

Bible pic

“On their departure, they were presented with a Bible, a prayer book and a copy of Dr Wilson’s Treatise on the Sacraments.” Polished Cornerstones, p 241.

This relates specifically to the first pupils to leave the school c 1795. Dr Wilson’s Treatise was seemingly widely read in the eighteenth century. However, it started a pattern which continued throughout the School’s history until last year. Whilst religious tracts were intended to ensure that ‘the lessons they have here been taught’ continued to hold them in good stead in the outside world, there were also practical considerations. As they approached school-leaving age (never less than 15), discreet enquiries were made as to whether the family was able to resume its care for their daughter. All the girls had been received into the School as daughters of indigent Freemasons, the School taking on full responsibility for their clothing, welfare and education. Sometimes the families had not recovered from whatever caused the indigence and, in many cases, there was no longer any family left. But if  the family were able to resume their care, four guineas was spent on ‘Plain Cloathing’ and the girl was delivered back to them. The phrase makes her sound rather like a parcel or a piece of luggage but it was just the phrasing used at the time. The column in the register was headed ‘How disposed of’ which is even worse but it is just the way language use has changed. If she could not be returned to her family, an apprenticeship would be found and all the fees thereto would be met by the School. In either case, a Bible was also presented to her on her departure.

In an age when fewer people owned books, this was clearly cherished by the former pupils who have handed down their bibles through the generations of their own family. A will dated 1845 was the starting point for this posting.

Will whole
The will of Isabella Window 1845

The relevant portion of the will is “I give to my sister Matilda Window of 22 Star Road Edgware Road my silver watch and my School Bible also the School Prayer Book”

Isabella Window became a pupil at RMIG in 1826. Born in Nottingham in 1818, she was baptised in St Mary’s church there on 22 Feb 1818. Also known as St Mary’s in the Lace Market, the church is one of five Grade I listed buildings in Nottingham and the largest mediaeval building in the city.

Notts church
St Mary. Nottingham

The vicar at the time was George Wilkins and during one of his sermons, a loud cracking noise was heard, clearly emanating from the masonry. There was a rapid exodus of the congregation as it was thought that the tower was about to collapse. Perhaps because George’s brother was an architect (William Wilkins), he was in a better position to know what to do and it is attributed to his action that the church survives today rather than it being taken down and rebuilt.

“[He] summoned the architect Lewis Nockalls Cottingham to survey the fabric, and Cottingham implemented a scheme to prop up the tower with scaffolding while the tower piers were repaired.” (Wikipedia citing Allen, Frank J, 1932, The Great Church Towers of England. Chiefly of the Perpendicular Period Cambridge University Press)

The church of St Mary is mentioned in D H Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

“They threaded through the throng of church-people. The organ was still sounding in St. Mary’s. Dark figures came through the lighted doors; people were coming down the steps. The large coloured windows glowed up in the night. The church was like a great lantern suspended.”

Isabella had become eligible to be a pupil through her father’s membership of Newstead Lodge where he is described as a ‘Taylor’. He had married Isabella’s mother, Isabella, in 1805 in Greasley, Nottingham and it seems highly likely that she is the Isabella Window listed in 1828 Pigot’s directory as a widow and listed under Tailors & Habit makers in Goose Gate, Nottingham.

City centre
Nottingham 1830

Isabella had four sisters and two brothers but, as was the ruling at the time, only one daughter came to the School. We do not know where the other children were educated but we do know that three of the sisters were living in London in 1845 as their addresses are recorded in Isabella’s will. Perhaps they attended similar schools and then made their lives in London.

Isabella left School on 31 July 1833 ‘delivered to her mother’ from which we might make the assumption that she returned to Nottingham. However, she is listed in 1841 in a Westminster Rate book as living at 22 Star Street – presumably the Star Road referred to in her will.

She died in the year the will is dated and is buried in another St Mary’s but this one is in Paddington Green where the burial record of 21 June 1845 confirms her address as Star Street. Even in an age when life expectancy was less, her death aged 27 would still be regarded as being very young.

St Mary and graves
St Mary, Paddington Green & reburial plaque

Image of church by Libby Norman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Image of plaque by Forscher scs – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The graveyard was converted to a public park in 1966 but some of Isabella’s ‘neighbours’ have included: William Chandless (1829 – 1896), Amazon explorer [the river not the website]; Arthur Roberts (1852 – 1933), comedian; Leonard Charles Wyon (1826 – 1891), engraver and coin-designer; Sir Stephen Spender (1909 – 1995), poet; Joseph Nollekens (1737 – 1823), sculptor and his father, Joseph Francis Nollekens, artist; Emma Paterson (1846 – 1886), feminist and unionist and Sarah Siddons (1755 – 1831), actress.

Perhaps, somewhat appropriately, another grave is for Rev Alexander Geddes (1737 – 1802), Biblical scholar on which note we can return to the school bibles.

Another pupil presented with a bible when she left was Agnes Ruspini, the granddaughter of the Chevalier Ruspini credited with starting the School. She arrived at the School the year before Isabella left. When she, in her turn, left she was apprenticed to a dressmaker, taking her Bible with her.

Agnes Ruspini
Presentation details

It says something for the School that, after Agnes had completed her apprenticeship and having presumably nowhere else to go, she came back to the School. That this was a little unexpected may be shown by the minutes which state in 1847 that “the Matron’s conduct in receiving Agnes Ruspini again as an inmate on the completion of her apprenticeship was approved” but that the House Committee must be the body that “receives into the School any person”. After a while, Agnes was apprenticed again and in 1851 she appears in the census as a tailoress. From then on, traces of her are fleeting and uncertain. It is possible that she married twice but in neither case is all the information correct. For example, on her 2nd marriage (assuming this really is her), she gives her father’s name as William Bladen Ruspini, dentist – which is wrong if she is ‘our’ Agnes whose father was James Bladen Ruspini. If she did marry, hers is probably the death of 1888 in Poplar. Whenever it was she died, the bible with which she was presented came back to the School in her memory.

Agnes’ presentation was handwritten – as we do not have isabella’s we cannot say whether hers was – but by 1873 the School was using printed presentation labels and the Bibles were splendidly bound with a clasp.

bible label
Bible and the label inside

Ada Maria Reeds, to whom this was presented, was recommended by Miss Davis (Head Governess) as a pupil teacher in one of the Government schools. In 1881, the census gives her occupation as Assistant School Mistress at Fir Tree Road Kensington so we assume the recommendation was carried out.

By 1902, the Bibles are now carrying a coat of arms although the eagle-eyed among you may notice that the motto is that used by the Boys’ School: aude, vidi, taci.

Bradley's Bible
Bible presented to Rose Bradley

The Bible was presented back to the School by her daughter after Rose’s death in 1963.

During the First World War, such printed extravagances may have been thought unpatriotic so the presentation bibles came inside a printed slip cover.

1916 cover
Bible slip cover

A Bible presented in 1921 had a little adventure all of its own! It was presented to Eleanor Hill, one half of the duo known as the Titanic Twins as their father died on the ill-fated vessel. This presentation Bible has the coat of arms in colour and no longer has the Boys’ motto but the School did not as yet have its own coat of arms. (That was to come in 1936.)

Titanic Bible
1921 Bible presented to Eleanor A Hill

In 2013, the School was contacted by an antiquarian book seller in Ireland to say he had found this Bible amongst a box of other books and would we like it returned? We did and it was!

The most ‘recent’ presentation Bible held by the School is not one that was presented to a pupil and later returned by families but one that was presented to the School itself. When RMIG moved from Clapham (shown in the presentation label above) in 1934, there were many splendid gifts donated to mark this major change in the School’s history. Amongst the gifts was a Bible for the lectern in the Chapel.

Big bible
Lectern Bible

The picture doesn’t really demonstrate its size. It is probably about 15 centimetre (or 6 inches in old money) in depth and now in a rather fragile state. It was presented to the School on a momentous occasion by someone who was having a somewhat momentous occasion of her own.

Bridges label
Bible presentation label

Isabella Window’s short life has given us an interesting slant on the School’s history. It seems appropriate then to quote Sir Stephen Spender who happens to be buried in the same place as she was:

Spender quote
Sir Stephen Spender’s words

‘The uncertain glory of an April day’

Two anniversaries share one April day: 23rd April, and as one of them belongs to William Shakespeare, the quotation from Two Gentlemen of Verona seems apt.

“Shakespeare’s favourite month would seem to be April … No other month is mentioned half as often in his works as showery, windy, sometimes unforgettably exquisite April.” (Germaine Greer   The New Yorker, April 11, 2013)

23rd April is long ascribed to be the day on which William Shakespeare was born although there is no specific record of it. He was baptised on 26 April 1564 and it is generally assumed that, as was the custom at the time, the infant was born about three days earlier. He definitely died on this date 52 years later so it is convenient to use the date to apply to both events.

Saint and playwright

St George, patron saint of England as well as of Germany, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Palestine, Ethiopa, Serbia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Portugal, Malta and Montenegro, has his saint’s day on 23rd April.

The two come together in Shakespeare’s Henry V when the king, at the Battle of Agincourt, rallies his troops with the stirring “Cry God for Harry, England and St George.”

It was a good bit of propaganda for George who, despite being the English patron saint, never actually set foot in the place.

The original patron saint had been Edmund (“Cry God for Harry, England and – er – St Edmund” – doesn’t really cut it, does it?) and he had been patron saint since the 9th century. His shrine, housed in an abbey built by King Canute, was at Bury St Edmunds.

Eddy;s tomb
Shrine of St Edmund

The shrine depicted above was destroyed in 1539. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, his remains were spirited away to France to keep them safe. It obviously worked because in 1911 they came home again and now they are in Arundel castle.

‘Such was the influence of St Edmund that on St Edmund’s Day in 1214 rebel English barons held a secret meeting here before going to confront King John with the Charter of Liberties, the forerunner to Magna Carta which he signed a year later. This event is reflected in the motto of Bury St Edmunds: ‘Shrine of a King, Cradle of the Law’.’ [In Latin Sacrarium Regis Cunabula legis]

Suffolk crest
Bury St Edmunds coat of arms

In 1199, Edmund was unceremoniously dumped by Richard I who had visited the site of St George’s tomb in Lod (modern day Israel) and then the following day won a battle.

where geo lies
Tomb of St George

Image of tomb By OneArmedMan – Own work, Public Domain,

Whether he genuinely believed that his triumph had been brought about by the saint or he was quick to see the opportunities of renaming the patron saint we will never know. Richard I, nicknamed the Lionheart, has himself had an historical makeover. He comes down through history as a great King of England but he spent so little time in this country during his reign, largely limited to visits to wring out more money by taxation to fund his crusading, that it is perhaps very appropriate he selected a patron saint who had spent even less time here.

google image
St George’s Day Google doodle

The final coup de grace for St Edmund came in 1348 when Edward III founded the Knights of the Garter and selected St George as its patron. From then on, the flag of St Edmund was superseded by the flag of St George when troops went into battle.

St George lived in the 3rd century. For part of his life, he was in Lydda (now in Israel) but it is uncertain whether he was born here or in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey). Wherever it was, it was to wealthy Greek parents. He was a soldier as his father had been – probably another reason for Richard to adopt him – but despite being in the Roman army, he was a Christian and reputedly refused to give up his faith even when asked by Emperor Diocletian. Probably not a good career move to oppose your boss and George was executed, after being subjected to torture, on 23rd April 303 AD.

Our William, on the other hand, is undisputedly English, born and died in Stratford upon Avon. Conveniently neat, you have to give him that. Made his career in London but scholars argue about where he was during his ‘missing years’. Was he a schoolmaster, a travelling player, a poacher – or all three and more? And where was he – in this country or not?

A pub in Kenilworth is convinced that the premises was patronised ‘by none other than William Shakespeare’  ( though it offers no evidence to support this view. The Famous Virgins and Castle (the word famous is part of the title) is in the High Street in the older part of Kenilworth.

The pub
The Famous Virgins & castle, Kenilworth

Image courtesy of Google Earth Street View

Virgins & castle
Pub sign

Inn sign courtesy of

The premises is old enough to have been known to Shakespeare. It actually appears to date from the year before his birth and there is a story that Shakespeare may have visited Kenilworth when Elizabeth I visited in 1575.

Castle and grounds
Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden

Image of Kenilworth Castle and the newly restored garden courtesy of

David Schajer in his blog posits the idea that perhaps John Shakespeare, a glove maker, might have seized the opportunity of making a pair of gloves for Elizabeth and presenting them to her on her visit. It would be a good publicity ploy particularly since we know that, very shortly after this, the family fortunes dipped quite dramatically. It is quite feasible it was a last ditch attempt to stave off financial collapse.

But as Schajer neatly puts it:

‘There is no proof that Shakespeare was there. There is no proof that he was not there. It is impossible to know, based on the evidence that we possess today. Perhaps we may eventually discover documents or letters that put Shakespeare at Kenilworth, or not, and until that time we cannot know one way or the other’

If Shakespeare were there in 1575, he would only be 11 so presumably not frequenting the pub known then as The Two Virgins. But it does seem possible that James Burbage, of whose acting company Shakespeare was later a part, was at Kenilworth and perhaps this lends some credence to the pub’s claim.

And the connection to RMSG? (You were wondering where that fitted in weren’t you?) Well the parents of Marjorie Slingsby, former pupil, ran the pub in the late nineteenth century. Thomas Chapman Slinsgby, b 1865, was a grocer’s manager before he transferred to the drinks trade. He died in 1901 and his probate places him at Virgin’s Inn, Kenilworh. His estate was valued at probate as £16 15s which, although in modern terms is worth £722, it is hardly a living wage. Marjorie’s mother became the licensee in 1901 but by the next census is given as a boarding house keeper, not at the pub but in Waverley St, Kenilworth. Both Marjorie and her sister were working in clerical jobs.

Marjorie came to the School after her father’s death and left it in 1909. Given as a shorthand typist in 1911, we can probably assume she learned those skills at school. In 1912, Marjorie visited the School again. It seems feasible that this was for the first Old Girls’ Day since the foundation of the Old Girls’ Association (OMGA). There had been Ex-Pupils’ Days before then but the Association started in 1912. It may have been this reason or it may have been because she was planning the leave the country and wanted to see her alma mater for probably the last time. In 1913, Marjorie, her mother, her sister Kathleen and younger brother George travelled to Wellington, New Zealand on the Tainui. By 1916, she gives her address as Whataupoko, Gisburn, New Zealand.


Images of Whataupoko from

On 12 Dec 1923, she married Roy Fellows Baird the date being given in Who’s Who in New Zealand and the Western Pacific, 1925. Roy was a Solicitor and District Land Registrar who made an extensive study of Polynesia. His research notes are now held by Canterbury Museum. By 1932, the Bairds were living at 2a Selwyn Rd, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand where Marjorie remained a member of OMGA. Sadly just six years later, she died, aged only 45. It is possible that this is the property today listed as 2 Selwyn Rd, Hospital Hill, Napier which was sold in October 2015 although there is no certainty about this.

Baird home?
Napier property

Rather like the uncertainty about whether Shakespeare was, or wasn’t in Kenilworth; was or wasn’t a frequenter of The Two Virgins; whether St George was, or wasn’t born in Israel or Turkey, the was or wasn’t of New Zealand real estate is up to you.

But April 23rd is definitely celebrated as St George’s Day and as Shakespeare’s birthday.

“Oh, the lovely fickleness of an April day!”

April is a month noted for two things particularly: April Fool’s Day (“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year” – Mark Twain) and April showers. Who can forget the song from Bambi ‘Drip drip drop little April showers’?


[You’ll probably regret reading that. It’ll be an ear worm you’ll have in your head all day!]

Chaucer may not have had doe-eyed fawns in mind when he wrote: ‘Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote/ The droghte of March hath perced to the roote …’ in the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales but he summed up neatly the gentle little showers that are supposed to fall in April. It was probably those that Robert Browning had in mind when, in Home Thoughts from Abroad, he wished he was in England ‘now that April’s there’.

April in schools often brings the start of the summer term with the delicious thought of the ‘long summer hols’ to come. Fortunately for the sanity of teachers, April 1st is fleetingly brief and doesn’t always fall on a school day but most people can probably recall an April Fool’s trick perpetrated successfully on schoolchums. Sadly, it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t get recorded in the annals.

One particularly famous hoax, however, albeit not in a school, was the spaghetti tree Panorama report on April 1st 1957. Ignoring the ‘rule’ that tricks played after 12 midday don’t count, the television programme broadcast a spoof report from the Swiss canton of Ticino about harvesting spaghetti. Of course, at the time, this was not a dish many had tried at home. It wouldn’t work today!

“The last two weeks of March are an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer. There’s always the chance of a late frost which, while not entirely ruining the crop, generally impairs the flavour and makes it difficult to obtain top prices.”

The report was given greater authenticity with a discussion about the horrors inflicted on the crop by the spaghetti weevil – a dastardly little blighter which had wreaked havoc on crops in the past. Richard Dimbleby, who fronted the report, lent gravitas to the spoof which probably caused more viewers to be fooled than might otherwise have been, such was his authority. He concluded his report by declaring that ‘there’s nothing like real homegrown spaghetti.’ Following the programme, the BBC received many phone calls asking from where it might be possible to obtain their own spaghetti trees. The BBC gave up trying to explain and settled instead for telling them to take a sprig from an existing tree and plant it in a can of tomato paste.

And the connection to the School’s history? Well, it’s nothing if not contrived! Let us jump back in time a little to a young girl born just before the turn of the century. Marie Victoria Adams was born in 1897 and was always known in her family as Queenie. The family home at this time was 24 Selbourne Rd, then in Handsworth but now classed as Birmingham.

Adams home
Selbourne Rd, Handsworth

24 Selbourne Rd, courtesy of Google Earth Street View

After her father, a brass nail manufacturer in Birmingham, died, Queenie became a pupil at RMIG. We know she left the School in 1913 and, on average, pupils stayed for about 5-6 years so she probably arrived in about 1907. Unlike the school leaving age in National schools (which was 12-14), RMIG has always had a minimum leaving age of 15, which often became 16 and, at Head Governess’ request, might be 17. Queenie would have been 16 in 1913.

We don’t know exactly what she did after leaving school. The only certain occupation recorded for her is in 1939 when she is given as a shorthand typist. Both shorthand and typing lessons were undertaken at the School at this time but we can’t directly link Queenie to them. Obviously she must have learned shorthand somewhere and it might have been at school.

However, there is also the tantalising reference in her family history – and here’s the connection to the April Fool stunt – “she told me that she had been a nanny in the Dimbleby household when they lived in Teddington.” (The words of a family historian who knew her.) The opportunity when Any Questions was recorded at the School to ask Jonathan Dimbleby if he could confirm this was too great to resist. He could not recall Queenie but her family historian was unsure whether it was before or after Queenie’s marriage: i.e. before 1926 or after. The mention of Teddington, where Richard Dimbleby grew up, perhaps makes it a possibility that it was the older Dimbleby generation rather than the younger. Between 1913 and 1926 we have no specific trace of Queenie so perhaps she was indeed working as a nanny. Fast forward to 1932, and we can link Queenie to Teddington as she gave the address c/o Mrs Spencer Phillips, Denbigh House, Hampton Wick, in her OMGA membership. The fact that it is a ‘c/o’ address might suggest that Mrs Phillips was her employer but that is not known for certain. This house was completely rebuilt in 1936 by Mrs Phillips so the image of it may not be the same as the one Queenie knew. Today it is known as Denbigh Lodge.

Denbigh House

So often in these pen portraits of past pupils, we know little of the personalities. We are fortunate in having a first-hand account by someone who actually knew her. Queenie, she recalled, had auburn hair, naturally wavy and thick.

“Grandma told me of the time the three girls, May, Queenie and Gran, went to the theatre and someone cut off Queenie’s plait which was hanging over the seat. Presumably they had a good price for it…”

Queenie also had a quick ear for music and played the piano – possibly something else she had learned at school although being able to play ‘by ear’ is a talent rather than a learned quality.

“Marie (Queenie to me) was my grandma’s cousin, younger by about 5 years. All the cousins seemed to have a close relationship. Queenie’s older sister May was Grandma’s best friend and eventually lived in the same road, as did Queenie’s mother and brother Ormsby (who emigrated to Canada) and Dorothy, known as Dolly, to whom Queenie was very close. They lived at 18 Windermere Rd Handsworth and Grandma lived at 25, with May eventually at 33!”

2 views of Windermere
Windermere Rd

Views of Windermere Rd, from Google Earth street view.

18 Windermere was sold last in 2011 for £132,000.

Queenie married on 23 December 1926 at West Bromwich Registry Office. Sadly the marriage did not last and it may well be that her husband, who was a widower, really just wanted a live-in housekeeper and someone to look after his children. We will never know the truth as it was something Queenie never discussed. By 1932 Queenie was [back] in Teddington and her name is recorded in OMGA membership as Adams and not under her married name. It was almost as if she wished to draw a veil over it.

In 1939 she was living at 25 Windermere Rd. During the war, despite the danger from air raids, “she wouldn’t go in the shelter, maintaining that if you looked at all the bombed houses the stairs were still there so that was her little shelter – under the stairs.”

houses bombed
Blitz damage

In the 1950s, she went to live in Antrobus Rd and had a bedsit there.

Bedsit street
Antrobus Rd

Antrobus Rd, courtesy of Google Earth Street View

“The last time I heard from her was in 1974, 5 years before she died. She was in a home [for the elderly] in Somerset Rd Handsworth, her sight was failing, she was doing a lot of baby knitting and had frequent visitors of nieces and nephews.”

Care Home
Somerset Rd

Somerset Rd courtesy of Google Earth Street View

Despite her advancing years, we still capture something of her personality in her comments: she complained about ‘dear England going to ruin with … all the nitwits in Parliament’ and she ‘just liked to think of happy times 50 years ago’.

Marie Victoria White died in Dudley Rd Hospital on 6th April 1979 aged 82. Causes of death included cardiac failure, bronchitis, emphysema and coronary atheroma – in short, a tired body simply shutting down. Our family historian correspondent said of her

“She was a lovely lady and I remember her with great affection and wish I had known more about her but when you are young you just don’t ask those sort of questions which could be so relevant today.”

We don’t know what her view of the spaghetti tree hoax was but “she had a good sense of humour”.

I bet she roared with laughter!

Panorama 1957
Spaghetti harvest–day–best-april-fools-pranks-ever-160640356.html

(Quotation in title from William Hamilton Gibson was an American illustrator, author and naturalist.)

She’s Leaving Home

In today’s boarding school world, where there is frequent leave of absence for boarders, the notion of a girl going to a boarding school and not going home again for five years must seem very strange. However, when RMIG (or the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School as it was then) first started it was thought important that a girl’s time at school was not interfered with at all. Parents were actively discouraged from contacting their daughters. In fact ‘visiting time’ was limited to Thursday afternoons only and, even then, by appointment. As the school was in London, anyone living outside the capital would have found it very difficult indeed to visit. If parents insisted on contacting their daughters, they might be told to take them away again and be given a bill for their education to boot. Added to this, the phrase used to note the outcome of a girl’s education was the rather chilling one of ‘How disposed of’ – which to modern ears sounds like the prelude to a murder mystery.

Once a girl left the School, she could be returned to her parents, or surviving parent, or to her Friends (i.e. whoever was acting as a guardian) or be apprenticed in some way. In the early days, this was almost invariably into domestic service rather than a trade but later it often became training for nursing or teaching, some of which training may actually have taken place at the School before further training elsewhere. Some girls did go home to parents and the parents placed them in work/training but it is remarkable how many girls left home to attend the School and never really went home again. They probably visited family but, having left the family home as children, they often went into the world of employment away from home and made their new post-school lives from there.

One such is Gwendoline Hammersley Warrillow who became eligible for a place in the School upon the death of her father (see Cheaper by the Dozen) and left the School in May 1894. The Head Governess had this to say of her:

[she] “has been a good girl and has done well generally but hardly as well as she might; consequently she has not succeeded in gaining any prize; she passed College of Preceptors exam P Class III Div II”. Library & Museum of Freemasonry GBR 1991 RMIG 1/2/2/4/1-4 A11943 – A11946

Hmm, hardly a ringing endorsement but actually better than some. Sarah Louisa Davies, the Head Governess, did not often mince her words!

Gwendoline’s story began on 3 May 1878 and she was baptised at St John’s, Hanley 27 days later.

St Johns church
Hanley St John

Image of St Johns is drawing by Neville Malkin and reproduced from an out of print book.

At this time, the Warrillows were living at Grove Lodge, Snow Hill, so named because it was originally a deep cutting with unpaved roads frequently blocked by snow in winter. Presumably the lodge was that for Grove House which was described thus:

“Grove House, altered and enlarged by Charles Meigh c. 1840 and at that time containing a fine collection of pictures, stood near the junction of Snow Hill and Bedford Road.”

“The main road was formerly known as Snow Hill only between the present Cutts St. and Wood Terrace and as Broad St. from Wood Terrace to Victoria Sq.; it then continued as High St. up to the junction with Marsh St.: Hargreaves, Map of Staffs. Potteries.”

A much magnified image from Thomas Hargreaves’ map of 1832 may show the lodge, although this is by no means certain.

Grove Lodge
Hargreaves’ map magnified

A much later resident of Snow Hill – long after the Warrillows had departed – was Clarice Cliff. The image of houses in Snow Hill today perhaps reflects the quality of the housing stock once although most of these are now sub-divided (and sub-sub-divided) into flats.

Snow hill housing
Snow Hill today captured from Google Earth

Having left school, we catch up with Gwendoline in the 1901 census – in Tadcaster, Yorkshire. This is so far removed from her previous sphere as to suggest that the School played a part in placing her there as governess to the Pickering family. We don’t know that for certain of course but, however she arrived at this situation, it certainly changed her life for ever. Four years later she married the son of the family, the marriage being announced in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 05 September 1905.

Marriage announcement
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 05 September 1905.

The banns were read in St Mary’s, Garforth and in Stone, Staffordshire – a nod to her Staffordshire roots. Just to clarify the situation, it should be pointed out that John Herbert Pickering was some six years Gwendoline’s senior so most decidedly not one of her charges!

Six years later, the 1911 census places the couple, now with their two children, in Station Rd, Garforth. John Herbert Pickering was continuing the family business as a cattle dealer and butcher. Station Rd today has modern houses which appear to date from much later than 1911 so it seems likely that the area was redeveloped after the Pickerings had left it for pastures new. The next recorded address for the family is Coney Springs, Robin Hood Road, Ravenscar where, sadly, their daughter’s death was announced in 1936.

Ravenscar property
Coney Springs, Ravenscar

Captured from Google Earth

At what point the Pickerings moved from Garforth to Ravenscar is not known and they could have been elsewhere in between. It is also worth noting that death notices for both Gwendoline and John give them as ‘of Garforth and Ravenscar’, rather as if they possibly lived in both places.

Ravenscar is in itself an interesting place.

“Standing on the fringes of the rugged North Yorkshire Moors and perched on the top of 600 foot high cliffs overlooking the North Sea sits the village of Ravenscar, the ‘town that never was’, or the Victorian dream that failed.”

In the heyday of Victorian railways, the idea of developing a seaside town, purpose-built to be served by a new railway line, where not only holiday makers would flock but so too would hordes of people clamouring to buy one of the 1500 plots made available and having a house built. Unfortunately, it was one of those ideas that looks good on the drawing board or on a flat map but which never quite takes in the reality of the geography. A place with stunning sea views it may be but there is the small matter of a 600 foot cliff separating this ideal location from the shoreline – which was not even a sandy beach anyway.

Ravenscar cliffs
Map of Ravenscar 1937

The map above shows clearly the steepness of the cliffs. This is from FindMyPast showing where the Pickerings lived in 1939 (although mistakenly interpreted as Casey Springs).

“Access by train proved to be difficult with trains often struggling to overcome the steep gradient of the newly built line. With Ravenscar’s exposed cliff top location often at the mercy of the wind and rain, a rocky shoreline hundreds of feet below with difficult access and no proper sandy beach this particular Victorian ‘new seaside town’ failed.”

Instead of Ravenscar becoming a thriving seaside destination to rival Whitby or Scarborough (between which two places it lies), it remains today something of a ghost town with roads laid out and a station platform built to offload the hordes of trippers who never arrived and a few scattered houses. Two of these, Coney Springs and Broom Rise, were occupied in turn by the Pickerings. In the 1950s, Broom Rise was their given address. Ravenscar still has stunning sea views as shown in this picture from Antony Waller’s blog.

views across the bay
Sea views from Ravenscar

The station closed in 1965 and the tracks have since been lifted although the ‘up’ platform is still there.

2 period station
Images from

The death notices referred to above show that, at the end of their lives, both Gwendoline and John died in Leeds. The address, Weetwood Lane, was the home of their son. They died just a year apart with John being described as a dearly loved husband in the newspaper’s announcement. Both of them left their estates to their remaining child, Thomas Warrillow Pickering, who was continuing the family business of being a butcher. Perhaps following the death of his father or perhaps because his mother was aging and he was concerned about her living in a relatively remote place where neighbours were probably at least a field away, Thomas may have insisted that his mother come to Leeds. We are not party to that discussion. The fact remains, however, that the following year when Gwendoline died in St James’ Hospital (‘Jimmy’s’), her address was given as Weetwood Lane. So, even in her death, Gwendoline Hammersley Pickering, nee Warrillow had ‘left home’. Her burial place is not given in the public records but as her daughter and her husband were both buried in Ravenscar parish church, it seem likely that Gwendoline was too.

Ravenscar church
St Hilda’s, Ravenscar

My thanks in this posting and the last to SuBar who, to mimic the old Heineken ad, reaches parts of the research others can’t reach!

Curious Connections

Undertaking historical research work into early pupils of the School is like unravelling the best detective story!

Sampler names
1838 sampler

Researching the names of pupils embroidered on a sampler listing pupils in 1838, E Zurhorst (marked) turned out to be Eliza Clarissa Zurhorst. As she was not listed at the School in the 1841 census, it meant that she had left school by then which gave her a birth date of around 1823. The name was unusual enough to be fairly sure that the Eliza who was baptised at Hackney St John in August of that year was the right one. The parents were Frederick William and Ann Judith Zurhorst.

The early registers[1] of the School then revealed another Zurhorst, this time Rosina Matilda born in 1815. The register confirmed the names of both parents so even if the baptismal record for Eliza had any doubt attached, the school register clarified the connection.

Register name
Extract from school register

It was unusual for two sisters to attend the School. Indeed the rules had been very clear that only one daughter was to be granted a place. Furthermore, both parents were alive throughout the time their daughters were pupils and for some time afterwards. There was no rule that the father must be deceased before a girl could be admitted to the School but there was a clear rule about indigence so, if Frederick was still alive during and after his daughters being at the School, his indigence must be in terms of income or family circumstances. As the layers of the Zurhorst story began to peel away, it revealed another connection with the School that was rather unexpected.

Eliza and Rosina were two of the 18 children of Frederick and Judith. Yes, you did read that correctly. Eighteen!

Zurhorst children

It is not known where the Zurhorst name originated. Frederick William was born in Ireland and his father Hermann had arrived there from Rotterdam but it is not known if he was actually Dutch. It would appear, however, that Frederick William spent the majority of his life in Britain. He married Ann Judith Williams on 12 Oct 1801 at St Botolphs, Aldgate where he gave his residence as Portsoken. This is an area of London next to the parishes of Spitalfields, Stepney, and St. George’s in the east, its name suggesting that it was originally a trading post by the gates to the City. Ann Judith lived in Spitalfields. That the Zurhorsts continued to live in this area is shown by the baptismal place for their many offspring and also that Frederick William was granted the freedom of the City in 1815.

Portsoken Ward

Image of Portsoken Ward from[2]

He was a member of the Lodge of Peace and Harmony as was the father of Patience Smith (previous posting, which also featured St Botolphs). His trade was given variously as a shipping agent or a broker. He is listed in London trade directories of the time which might suggest a growing prosperity. More unusually, Ann Judith was also in business as she traded in ready-made linen. This might suggest an entrepreneurial couple but for that rule at the School about indigence which gives a different slant. Of course, it is possible that simply because of their very large number of siblings the girls, Eliza and Rosina, became eligible for Masonic support.

Other documents indicated that Fredrick was in business with his wife. The evidence suggested that the pair probably ran a linen warehouse on the banks of the Thames.[3]

The ‘other documents’ are not identified in the article. This might suggest an entrepreneurial couple but for that rule at the School about indigence which gives a different slant. Perhaps Frederick William became involved in the linen warehouse because his ship brokering business was not bringing in the income it once had. Of course, it is possible that simply because of their very large number of siblings the girls, Eliza and Rosina, became eligible for Masonic support.

The reference to the programme Who Do You Think You Are, and specifically to the Sheila Hancock episode is the first half of the curious connection but let us look at the stories of Eliza and Rosina first.

Eliza was born in the year that Rosina entered the School – 1823. Baptised at St John’s, Hackney, she will have come to the School probably after her older sister had left it although it is just possible that they were both there for a brief time together.

St John's
Hackney St John

St John’s Hackney image from Wikipedia attributed to K B Thompson

Of her time at the School there is no information but she left between 1838 and 1841 and the first reference to her after school is with her parents in St Peter Port, Guernsey in 1841. No address is cited in 1841 but in 1851, by which time Ann Judith had died, it was given as 4 Mount Row, St Peter Port.

House in Mount Row
Mount Row with house

The aerial view above is courtesy of Google Earth and the image of a house in Mount Row is from an online property sale. It is probably not No 4 but gives an idea of perhaps the sort of house they occupied.

Thereafter Eliza disappears from the records until we find her death in 1896 in West Ham. The probate adds a curious note as it lists her as ‘Zurhorst otherwise Harris’ but records her as a spinster of 69 Chichester Rd, Leytonstone who died on 2nd November 1896. It is unclear from this why she should have the two surnames but there is a fleeting glimpse of an Eliza C Harris of the right age as a visitor to a house in Jamaica Street, Mile End Old Town. The probate was granted to Lemprière Hughes Renouf, civil servant. [Nope – no idea!] The name may suggest a continuing association with the Channel Islands and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that, much later and entirely unconnected, there is another Renouf association with the School!

Rosina, on the other hand, perhaps because she stayed on the mainland, is more easily traced.

She had joined the School in 1823 when the family residence was Down Terrace, Hackney.

Smaller houses called Down Terrace, some occupied by tradespeople, lined part of Back Lane (later Clarence Road) by 1821.[4]

A report in 2013[5] gave the information that this terrace, renamed Amhurst Terrace, was having to be demolished as cracks in the building had been reported by members of the public.

Gibbobs Building
Amhurst Terrace formerly Down Terrace

Image from courtesy of Nick Perry.

Rosina left School on 23rd September 1830, ‘delivered to her mother’ at 13 Retreat Place, Homerton. Although Retreat Place still exists, it comprises C20th blocks of flats today. In 1830 it was an area which, once respectable, was beginning to slide downhill in terms of gentrification.

Rosina married John Butter Petrie, a dock clerk at the West India docks, on 31 Oct 1837 at St Mary Stratford Bow and between 1839, when their firstborn arrived, and 1878, when John died, they lived in the Bethnal Green/Hackney/St George in the East/Poplar district at various addresses. In 1881 the widowed Rosina was living with one married daughter (Jane, who married Alfred Zurhorst, her cousin and son of Hamnet – see 5 paragraphs further on!) and another married daughter (Clementine) was also there with her son. The names of the daughters were all from John’s side of the family. His mother had been Helen Butter before she married and Helen Ann Petrie (the firstborn) in 1851 is living at the home of Clementine Anderson, her aunt. Jane Zurhorst nee Petrie, also called her own daughter Clementine as did older sister Helen who had married Harry G Montiguani in Scotland. (And you thought quadratic equations were difficult!)

After John’s death, Rosina found life more challenging and in 1889 was admitted to Bromley House, part of the Workhouse, described as ‘destitute, widow of John; admitted from Poplar’. In 1891 she is listed as a patient in Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum, the buildings of which were finally demolished in 2008. [For more information about the Workhouse see This fabulous website is the work of Peter Higginbotham on the workhouses of Britain and contains a wealth of information.]

The Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
The Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum, Bromley-by-Bow: the street facade. Wood engraving, (c.1870?).
1870 after: Arthur Harston and Christopher HarstonPublished: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0
Asylum map
Map giving outline shape of Asylum

It seems very likely that a death record of 1894 is that of Rose Matilda although the second forename is given as Martha. No further records for her are traced after this date. There is no probate but that is hardly surprising if she were destitute.

So the story of two Zurhorst daughters is encompassed by the nineteenth century and might have stayed there but for the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are. The episode featuring the Zurhorsts was that for Sheila Hancock who had in her possession a portrait known as Madam Zurhorst.

Madam Zurhorst
Ann Judith Zurhorst nee Williams

The story outline of Sheila’s ancestry can be read on or which establishes her as great-great grandniece of Eliza and Rosina – her direct ancestor was the girls’ brother Hamnet whose son Rosina’s daughter married. So Sheila Hancock connects to the School through her ancestors – but also, because she was married to John Thaw, there is a further curious connection.

Married actors
Sheila Hancock and John Thaw

Image from

In 1991, John Thaw was at the School filming an episode of Inspector Morse, during which time two other pupils, Shezel and Mandy, interviewed him for the School magazine, which means that four pupils are involved in this story!

Morse being made
John Thaw filming Inspector Morse at the School 1991

Images from School magazine Machio

So from Rotterdam, via Ireland, London, the Channel Islands and Scotland and finally to Hertfordshire, the story of the Zurhorsts, Eliza and Rosina in particular, has some very curious connections between the nineteenth and twentieth century worlds and the School!

[1] GBR 1991 RMIG 3/2/1 Library & Museum of Freemasonry

[2] John Noorthouck, ‘Book 2, Ch. 25: Portsoken Ward’, in A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark (London, 1773), pp. 663-665. British History Online [accessed 13 January 2017].


[4] ‘Hackney: Clapton’, in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney, ed. T F T Baker (London, 1995), pp. 44-51. British History Online [accessed 17 January 2017].


By Jeeves, it’s Wooster (playing Cupid!)

It is unlikely that many girls’ schools include matchmaking in their curriculum but the number of former pupils of RMSG who married a schoolfriend’s brother is legion. Perhaps the first of these was Patience Smith who later married the brother of Elizabeth Wooster. Both girls arrived at the School on October 21st 1819, two of the five pupils admitted at that time. (Another was the redoubtable Eliza Waterman Jarwood who was written about in the Matron posts.) Although Elizabeth was born in Gateshead in 1810 and Patience in London in 1809 in fact only a month separated their birthdates and when admitted to the School both had London addresses. Patience resided at 13 Holywell St, Shoreditch and Elizabeth at 5 Red Lion Court, Charterhouse Lane. 13 Holywell St still exists today (image from Google Earth) and is currently occupied by Biscuit Filmworks founded in 2000.

Holywell map
Holywell St and modern map of same

Image from Google Earth and map from

Charterhouse Lane no longer exists although part of it is now Charterhouse Street (‘Charterhouse Square area: Charterhouse Street and other streets‘, in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, ed. Philip Temple (London, 2008), pp. 265-279. British History Online [accessed 24 December 2016].) Red Lion Court has long since gone but was probably the one described as: ’East out of Shoe Lane at No.42, in Farringdon Ward Without {Lockie, 1816-Elmes, 1831)’ although there were several Red Lion Courts in London. In 1845, Thomas Groutage, a baker, is given in a court record as residing at No 1 Little Red Lion Court Charter House Lane, Middlesex which suggests it was still in existence then.

Map Red
Contemporary map showing Red Lion Court

Patience’s father was (helpfully for research!) called John Smith; however, because he was a Freemason, it is more possible to pin him down and it seems likely to be one of two (although they could in fact be the same person), a member of the Lodge of Peace and Harmony. In one record he is given as a victualler of Long Alley, Moorfields, born in 1757. In another record, he is given as a waiter of White Horse, 32 Friday Street, perhaps not coincidentally a meeting place for the Lodge of Peace & Harmony.

Google Friday
Image cropped from Google Earth

Given that the presiding rule for admission to the School was indigence, it is feasible that the victualler had become the waiter as a downturn in his prospects. The White Horse survived until 1931 before being demolished. An application for building works there dated 1904 [‘Proposed rebuilding. Ground floor, basement, first-fourth floor plans, elevations to Friday Street.’] suggests that it was a building of a fair size.

Long Alley may have become Appold St today but later in Patience’s life, her address was given as Long Lane, Aldersgate which could be the same place.

Patience was baptised at St Leonards, Shoreditch on 26 December 1809 at 21 days old.

St Lens
Images of St Leonards

Image of church dated July 4th, 1816

Modern image St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch High Street, Hackney, London. 28 January 2006. Photographer: Fin Fahey.

We know the baptismal date of Elizabeth (11 July 1810) but not the church in Gateshead (not given in record). Her parents, John & Esther, had been married at St Magnus the Martyr in London and the combination of references [Gateshead & London] suggest that the family moved to and from the two places although this is not certain. It would certainly have been a journey and a half at that time!

Of the girls’ days at the School, we know nothing except to say that they would have resided there for the duration of their schooling (holidays were then unheard of) until they came of age to leave. In the case of Patience, this was December 23rd 1824 when she was apprenticed to William Henry White. Elizabeth stayed another month before leaving on January 20th 1825 when she was ‘returned to her mother’. The phrase suggests that her father had died and this may have been the reason for her admission to the School in the first place.

For how long Patience would have been apprenticed is uncertain although the usual period was four years. She would probably have been a domestic servant rather than learning a trade of any kind. In 1831, she married Jeremiah Challenger Wooster, a widower and brother of her schoolfriend. This suggests that the girls had remained friends after their schooldays and, indeed, Elizabeth is a witness to Patience’s marriage at ‘St Leonard Foster Lane’. Actually, this church did not physically exist as it had been destroyed in the Great Fire and not rebuilt. However the parish united with Christ Church, Greyfriars Newgate Street so this is the actual building in which the wedding took place albeit the record is still given as St Leonard’s.

St Len Foster
St Leonard Foster Lane

Image on Wikipedia taken from March 22, 1845 issue of The Illustrated London News. Copyright expired.

Image of St leonards from

A little over a year later, 3 November 1832 at St Botolph Bishopsgate, Elizabeth married Charles Helme.

St Bot times two
Double image of St Botolph

Painting by Alexander Poole Moore, 1796–moore-alexander-poole-act-1778-st-botolph-s-bishopsgate-londo-999569.htm

Image William Pearson, Old Houses on the North West Corner of the Minories and Aldgate. 1810. British Museum, Binyon 22, Crace XXIII.92. © Trustees of the British Museum. Used on

The church stood outside the medieval city walls, near the Bishop’s Gate, and its title is often written as ‘St Botolph’s without Bishopsgate’ to show that it was outside the jurisdiction of the City. The church was founded circa 1200 but the building shown dates from 1725.

Both brides continued to live in London and are found there in the 1851 census although Patience and Jeremiah had moved to Cambridgeshire by 1861. In 1841, Jeremiah (then a cabinet maker) clearly indicated where he lived in a court case of 1st February 1841:

Court case

The 1841 census then gives him as J C Wooster (but, oddly, with a wife Sarah!) as a cabinet maker in Red Lion Yard. Given the two pieces of information, it seems likely to be the right family although there are discrepancies that are unexplained.

In 1851, Patience Wooster was still in Long Lane, Aldersgate although Jeremiah, by then a Baptist minister, was at the Manor House in Swavesey. Clearly Patience was continuing to run the business in London as there were eight apprentices there in 1851. Unfortunately, one of these apprentices was ‘a bad lot’ and he was later convicted of stealing writing desks from the business. Patience was a witness in the case. In her testimony we learn that as well as residing on the premises there was also a shop in which Patience served the customers: “I generally serve in the shop” ( Clearly as well as creating writing desks, the Woosters were also selling them from the premises. Nor was this the first time the Woosters had had problems with an apprentice stealing from them. Charles Buckingham, aged 17, was found guilty in 1844 of stealing from his master, for which he received two month’s imprisonment.

The writing desks they were manufacturing were not like we might imagine of a writing desk today – a piece of freestanding furniture – but a more portable unit which would be placed on a small table to use and which had sections to store inks, pens and paper and often a lid that acted as a writing surface.

writing desks pics
Images of writing desks

Long Lane is a literal description of a street which goes from Aldersgate (A1) to Farringdon St. The map (Google Earth) shows its proximity to Charterhouse St. [The business labelled Ask for Janice, in case you were wondering, is a restaurant!] Today the original Georgian buildings are mostly above commercial premises.

Long Lane
Google Earth map of Long Lane today

Jeremiah and Patience were together in Swavesey, Cambs in 1861. The address was given as High St but later as Middle Watch. In fact one becomes the other so it is possible that it was always the same address. The issue is further clouded by the fact that it would appear that Swavesey Baptists were a schismatic group, branching off and reforming so it is unclear whether Jeremiah was minister of the Bethel Chapel or with the Particular Baptist movement or the Baptist Unitarian. There were two Baptist Chapels and both were in Middle Watch!

Middle Watch from Google Earth street view

The image above shows the type of property likely to have been there at the time. Much of the area is now more modern houses with a few scattered older properties of which this is one. Jeremiah died in 1872 but Patience continued to live in Swavesey for the rest of her life. She died in 1893.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, remained in London. In 1851, the census places her at 49 Aldersgate St – this is now very short and blends into St Martin le Grand; it has no old properties and even the London City Presbyterian Church there is post war. She was still at the same address in 1861 but after her husband died in 1866, she went to live with her daughter at 8 St Paul’s Place, St Paul’s Rd, Canonbury where she appears in the 1871 census.

paul place
8 St Paul’s Place from Google Earth street view

She died on 16 March 1879, her probate recording that she was late of St Paul’s Place but that she had died at 61 Albion Rd, Stoke Newington. Possibly this was the residence of another of her children.

albion today
61 Albion Rd from Google Earth street view

Thus a fifty year friendship came to a natural end: two little schoolgirls, sisters in law and both then widows, whose lives were entwined from at least 1819, the one playing cupid for the other. Perhaps the motto of Swavesey village is a fitting descriptor of their relationship: Steadfast in Work and Play.

Over to Dover

In the last posting (Could do better?), we considered the somewhat poor school report of an early twentieth century pupil. It would, however, be unfair to look at this in isolation: the pupils attended the School in the first place as the daughters of indigent Freemasons and frequently this was as the result of the death of the father, as was the case of Adrianne Harvey.

Adrianne’s parents, Arthur Edward Harvey and Kate Harvey nee Thorpe, had married on 28 Jan 1909 in Dover’s Holy Trinity Church and Adrianne was born on 11 January 1916 in Dover.

Dover Holy Trinity church

Image of church from Date for the photograph is given as circa 1900.

Kate was a Dover girl by birth and from ‘a long established Dover family‘ (Dover Express, 10 Feb 1911). Kate’s father, Henry William Thorpe, was a councillor and a magistrate. His father, William Thorpe, had opened a business in Dover at the beginning of the nineteenth century so the Thorpes were well established as a Dover family by the time Adrianne was born.

death notice
Announcement of death of Councillor Thorpe

 Dover Express 10 February 1911

Adrianne’s grandfather had been a town councillor for many years and may well have been appointed Mayor in 1902 but for the fact that his wife had died during the election. He had ’felt the loss keenly’ the Dover Express stated and, although he served the town as councillor, he did not contest the mayoralty. He had been appointed magistrate in 1892 and he was also Chairman of the Dover Overseers, a Director of Dover Gas Company, a sidesman at St Mary’s Church (where he was later buried) and Chairman of the Dover Promenade Pier Company, so he was fully involved in Dover life.

The Express then goes into quite extraordinary detail of his funeral, not just listing the mourners but describing the vault in which he was buried alongside his wife and the coffin (polished 1½ inch English oak) and the flowers and the tributes and the undertaker … From which we can assume that he was indeed held in high regard.

His son in law, Arthur Harvey, was listed as one of the Chief Mourners. His daughter is not listed but neither were any other females named. It is unclear from this whether they were present and not named or whether they did not attend the funeral. states that

Although expected to mourn, women were generally advised against attending funerals, especially for those nearest and dearest to them.

Arthur Harvey did not hail from Dover himself. He had been born in Bristol and was in Dover because he was the manager of the Lord Warden Hotel. However he too became involved in Dover’s affairs becoming a Councillor in 1920. Quite possibly he might have gone on to serve longer had not illness intervened. The Dover Express in 1924 reports his death in Felixstowe, where he had gone in the hope of improving his health, and indicated that his illness had been of some six months’ duration.

Curiously, although still acting as town councillor in Dover, the newspaper notes that he left Dover in about 1921 and managed a hotel in Bexhill before then going on to successfully run the University Arms Hotel, Cambridge.

University Arms, Cambridge

Image from

The University Arms hotel was opened in 1834 and is considered to be Cambridge’s oldest hotel. It has been recently restored – having been damaged by fire in 2013, dramatic pictures of which can be found at – and continues to operate as a hotel.

But he was associated most with the Lord Warden Hotel. carries a splendid history of the hotel written by Lorraine Senicle.

Designed by the leading theatre architect, Samuel Beazley (1786-1851), the remit was that the hotel was to look ‘magnificent from the sea, the barracks (on Western Heights and the Castle) and for passengers coming by rail.’

Rather like the University Arms, Cambridge, the hotel was clearly intended to attract the wealthier customers, in Dover to cross the Channel and for onward travel on the Continent. For their convenience, there was a covered walkway from the first floor of the hotel to the train station. The hotel had been named after the Duke of Wellington, who had also been the Lord Warden. John Birmingham was its first manager.

Among the many renowned guests was Napoleon III, the nephew of Wellington’s opponent at Waterloo. The Dover Society placed a blue plaque on the building to commemorate this.

Blue plaque
Dover Society Blue Plaque

Image from

Another noted guest was Charles Dickens. It is amazing how often this man crops up in stories about the School’s history! It is thought that the streets surrounding Dover Pier District may have been the inspiration for the area of Tom-All-Alone’s in Bleak House.

As well as its connection to rail travel, two other hotel guests connect the Lord Warden Hotel with flight. Louis Bleriot celebrated there in 1908 after his solo flight across the Channel. Just four years later, Harriet Quimby was a guest on 16 April 1912 before becoming the first woman to fly across the Channel.

Louis Bleriot & Harriet Quimby

Image of Harriet Quimby from; Image of Bleriot from

For the funeral of Queen Victoria (1901) and the coronation of Edward VII (1902), the European monarchs and nobility crossed the Channel and stayed at the Lord Warden en route to Windsor. By 1911, the hotel was of sufficient size and/or prestige to have 35 servants listed in the census. In June of that year came the coronation of George V and it is thought that virtually every room (about 100) was occupied by royalty or members of their entourages.

Arthur Harvey
Dover Express

In the announcement of Arthur Harvey’s death, it states that he served with the RAF. This was only formed in 1918 from the Royal Flying Corps and as the hotel was closed in 1917 because of the war, it seems likely that Arthur at this point enlisted with the RFC, later going on to the RAF.

The Admiralty commandeered the hotel in 1917 and handed it back in 1919. It was refurbished by its owners and re-opened for business in 1920. Arthur, on leaving the RAF, probably moved on to the Bexhill hotel and then the Cambridge Hotel and never went back to the Lord Warden. Further refurbishment took place in 1924 but Arthur was not alive to see it.

In World War II, the hotel was once again requisitioned and in 1940 became ‘the headquarters of the Coastal Force Base, HMS Wasp’ which ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ once famously announced had been torpedoed in the Channel!

The hotel survived the war, despite being shelled, and a plaque had been installed on the building after the war but mysteriously disappeared. In 2010 another plaque was placed on the building.

Dover Society plaque to HMS Waspe

Image of plaque

Although it was intended to re-open it as a hotel, by this stage it was somewhat battered and battle-scarred and the money needed to refurbish it just wasn’t available. It had been renamed Southern House and was used as offices. In 1990 Stena shipping group acquired the building as part of a wider franchise and when Roy Hattersley, in a 1992 Guardian article, was less than flattering about its decayed state, they perhaps felt stung into carrying out some exterior refurbishment. By 2007 it had been given a listed status and subsequently underwent more extensive repair work costing three quarters of a million pounds but it remains as offices today albeit its original name being partially restored as Lord Warden House.

former hotel
Lord Warden House today

Image above from

Adrianne would only have been a baby when the hotel was closed in 1917 although she may have been more aware of the University Arms hotel as this was presumably her home whilst her father was its manager. After leaving the School in 1932, she lived for a while in London. By 1939 she was in Salisbury and in Eastbourne by 1957. She died in Cheltenham in 1999 never having married and thus her story stops here.