I’ve been hunting down the local people who worked tirelessly to support the town’s Belgian guests and have put up some new pages about the two committeees looked at so far – that for Clayton’s Farmhouse, Ashurst, and the Mayor’s Borough Committee. Some members of the former also sat on the latter. The research (and writing up) is ongoing. Some great stories.
It is notable that most of them were women. Many of them were working in VAD hospitals, at least one as Commandant and several as nurses, others were Poor Law Guardians, all were wealthy and influential, and many were related to each other either by blood or marriage.
I’ve found links to J.M. Barrie, Edward Lear, and Alfred Tennyson, to a writer of well-known hymns, to the theatre director Tyrone Guthrie, to the women’s suffrage – and anti-suffrage – movements.
Too many tangents off on which to go!
Revenons à nos moutons…
The small committee to manage arrangements at Clayton’s Farmhouse was set up by Mr and Mrs JOHNSTONE of Burrswood, Groombridge in early September 1914. Clayton’s closed as refugee accommodation in December 1915, as all the residents had either returned home to Belgium, or taken up work in other parts of the UK.
Later in September 1914, the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells set up the Borough Committee (the which worked until all the refugees had returned home in May 1919.
Several members of the Mayor’s Committee were awarded the Ordre de la Reine Elisabeth for humanitarian work by the King of the Belgians :Nora GUTHRIE, Annette WILSON, Susan POWER, Anna McCLEAN, Amelia SCOTT, Gabrielle LeJEUNE, and Alice BURTON..
Amelia SCOTT, Mayor EMSON, and W.C. CRIPPS were awarded the Palmes d’Or de l’Ordre de la Couronne.
Well now, I’m supposed to be concentrating on our visitors – to be honest, I’ve so much material, I don’t know where to start. I’ll take the plunge in the next few days.