Julienne Elodie MONIN – a Five Ashes connection, and a guest blog post

During my most recent visit to the Belgian Archives in Brussels, I searched on behalf of Catherine Plowden for any documents concerning her Belgian grandmother, Julienne MONIN, and found that Julienne had spent some time in Five Ashes, just up the road from where I now live, and less than 10 miles from Tunbridge Wells. I like to think she would have at the very least have attended some of the events at the ‘Club Albert’ on Calverley Road!  Catherine very kindly agreed to write about her grandmother and her article is below.

What I found

From October 1917, Julienne MONIN was governess with a family living at The Quarry in Five Ashes, a substantial 11-roomed property on the Mayfield side of Five Ashes.  I believe the family were Ernest and Mary JORGENSEN and their daughter Mary Winifred (b.25th December 1910 [i]), who were listed at this address in the 1911 census and in fact still there in 1939 according to the 1939 England and Wales Register (on Ancestry.co.uk). [ii]

Ernest Stuart Lyon JORGENSEN, son of a Danish corn merchant, married Tunbridge Wells-born Agnes Mary AIRD in 1909, and was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2/11th London Regiment (“Finsbury Rifles” I think) during the war – Territorials, who, if I understand correctly, initially guarded railway stations, but in 1917 were sent to the Western Front. [iii]

A search in the British Newspaper Archive turned up this ad for “a children’s maid” placed by, I assume, Mrs JORGENSEN (“J.”) in the Eastbourne Gazette of 3rd October 1917:

Was this the role Mademoiselle MONIN took on?  The registration documents held in the Archives in Brussels show that she moved to The Quarry 3 weeks later, on 24th October 1917, and stayed there until 17th June the following year when she left to take up employment as a “child’s companion” in Holland Park, London [iv].

Registration document (change of address) for Juliette MONIN
(Ref I 420/862)

Julienne had come to Five Ashes from Abinger Hammer near Dorking having also spent time in Shere near Guildford.  I wonder how she came to take up the post? Did she or the Dorking Refugees’ Committee see the ad in the Eastbourne Gazette?  Was there some connection with the JORGENSEN family?  Or was there a central “database” of domestic employment for which Belgian refugees would be suitable?  Or possibly, quite simply, it was word of mouth amongst “society” folk of Surrey and Sussex…

Julienne’s granddaughter, Catherine Plowden, writes :

I always knew that my grandmother – Julienne Elodie Monin – was a Belgian refugee and had arrived in England sometime during World War I, but I didn’t know anything about her arrival or where she had stayed.

I had been told that she had fled Belgium in a hurry, and alone; one of her sisters had even escaped to Brazil. Apparently, Grandma had left all of her possessions behind, and come with little else other than the clothes she stood up in. I always wanted to know more.

Julie Elodie Monin in her 20s (family photo)

Grandma had been a major figure in my childhood. We saw a lot of her – even though she lived 300 miles away – and apart from everything else, I shall never forget her distinctive accent, her incredible knitting skills and the strong bitter coffee she made with chicory. But although she didn’t die until I was about 18, I had never been brave enough to ask about her life. I knew she had been through some of the horrors of World War I, and that she had also lost one of her children in a tragic incident at school. She had clearly had some highly traumatic experiences.         

She married my late grandfather, Thomas STAINTON, at Rudgwick in Sussex in November 1919. Shortly afterwards, they settled at Kendal in the Lake District, and went on to have four children. Grandma was one of the small number of Belgian refugees who stayed in England, and didn’t go home.

I had managed to find her birth detailed in the Brussels records for July 1890 – which revealed the names of her parents – so at least I knew more about her family, but I still didn’t have any information about her arrival in England. Although I am a professional genealogist, I am ashamed to say that I had never got round to searching for her refugee papers in the archives. So when Alison very kindly offered to look her up for me in the Central Register of Belgian Refugees[1] on a recent visit to the Belgian Archives in Brussels, I was delighted.

After only a short while, Alison contacted me with the wonderful news that she had found my grandmother’s records. I was thrilled; I now had the information I had been looking for, and a bit more….

I was amazed to discover that Grandma had stayed for some months at Five Ashes, near Mayfield in Sussex during 1917 – 18. This is where my elderly father-in-law has owned a holiday home for nearly 60 years!

Catherine Plowden, Devon Family History Research www.devonfamilyhistoryresearch.co.uk

[1] The full inventory title is “Inventaris van het archief van “The Central Register of War Refugees. The Central Register of Belgian Refugees” 1914-1919. B. Symoens”
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  • [i] Ancestry.com, 1939 England and Wales Register (Lehi, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018), Ancestry.com, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/2560A. Record for Ernest S L Jorgensen. http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=61596&h=3943749&indiv=try.

  • [ii] Ernest JORGENSEN’s sister Beryl was married to Hugh Thomas MANN who lived in and owned Trulls Hatch at Argos Hill, Rotherfield, and (according to his will quoted in the Kent and Sussex Courier of 31 March 1922) also owned The Quarry at Five Ashes, and a house in Eastbourne called “Cheltenham”.  The family were brewers: Mann, Crossman & Paulin (of the Albion Brewery, Whitechapel), Watney Mann from 1958.  (Interestingly, it seems that 3 MANN siblings married 3 JORGENSEN siblings.)  

  • [iii] https://friendsofim.com/2017/05/03/the-finsbury-rifles-our-local-regiment/

  • [iv] The full address was 64 Holland Park, a substantial detached house, and I believe that Julienne may have been employed there by widow Alice HUGHES as a companion to her 6 year old daughter, Alice Mary. Mrs Hughes’s husband, John James HUGHES, had died the previous year, on 26 June 1917, at their home in Cornwall, and there is evidence that a “Mrs HUGHES” was living at 64 Holland Park by 1920 (Source: London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; London City Directories), information confirmed in 1923 when Alice HUGHES’s eldest daughter Gladys’s engagement was announced in The Western Mail (6th February 1923). Discovery of this family sent me off on yet another fascinating tangent as John James HUGHES’s obituary in The Times (28th June 1917) revealed that he was the son of Welshman John HUGHES who had founded the town of Hughesovka (later Stalino, now Donetsk) in Ukraine in 1870. More here https://biography.wales/article/s-HUGH-JOH-1814  – and do follow the links – it’s a fascinating story!

  • “Deaths.” Times, 28 June 1917, p. 1. The Times Digital Archive, http://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/9zNP53. Accessed 10 May 2019.