Further to my recent post about Stuart Low’s Orchid Nursery in Jarvis Brook, Crowborough, I have received the following via Facebook from Glenn Standell who worked there :
I worked there in 1970 and it was pretty run down then. Miss LOW was very old so I would say it probably closed in the 70’s. But someone may know differently.
Miss LOW lived in a large house on the end of the driveway opposite Jack DE COENE and his wife on the opposite side.
I worked with Bert JOHNS the head grower at that time. They apparently grew carnations on one part of the site, but that was derelict when I worked there.
I knew Jack (De Coene) very well with his wit (usually at my expense) and his blue eyes which were quite stunning! I only worked there for 9 months then trained to be an electrician. But I do remember going to an auction at Caxton Hall in London to sell the plants which were mainly Cattleyas.
Still on Facebook, Wendy Rowe today posted a newspaper article about the sale of the land for £62,500 in, she thought, 1972, which directly led to my finding for sale ads in the Kent & Sussex Courier of May/June/July 1972, culminating in this from 28th July 1972 :
The for sale ads mentioned Orchid Lodge, “a modern detached house with 3 bedrooms”, and Brookhurst “an eight-roomed detached Victorian residence for modernisation”, in addition to a paddock, a field, glasshouses, and building plots with outline planning consent for 2 detached dwellings.
I think the Miss LOW mentioned by Glenn above may well have been the aunt of Keith LOW, Miss Winifred LOW who lived at Flat 2, Brookhurst and died on 26th March 1971 .
So there we are. The Nurseries closed in 1971/2. Thank you to everyone who helped. Maybe one day we’ll also establish exactly when they opened…
There I learnt that Mrs FENWICK, her husband and son (born 1864, and suffering from some sort of disability) were originally from Yorkshire, had lived first in Tonbridge, and then, from about 1887, at Cintra House.
She and her son converted to Catholicism, and in 1899, after the deaths of both her son and her husband, Mrs FENWICK made generous donations to St Augustine’s Church, and to the Roman Catholic community in Tonbridge for the establishment of Corpus Christi Church, in return for which she would receive an annuity and also have Masses said for her and her family in perpetuity.
“Her offer was quickly accepted” writes John Cunningham, “since no one thought for one moment that she would live for another 16 years. Her unexpected longevity would largely wipe out any benefit from her offer……In all, Mrs Fenwick gave £8,500 and received back about £7,450 in annuities, as well as at least 2,475 Masses for the repose of her soul and those of her family.”
A mixed blessing indeed!
The parish sold Cintra House in 1918 for £763-8s-0d.
Mrs Fenwick was born Mary Hannah HALLEWELL the oldest of 8 children (6 girls, 2 boys) born to Wine Merchant Benjamin HALLEWELL and his wife Hannah of Leeds, Yorkshire, non-Conformists. She was 38 when she married Yorkshire farmer William FENWICK, 7 years her junior, in 1862. Their son Walter was born in Kirkby Moorside 2 years later.
In 1871 the family was still in Yorkshire, but by 1881 they had moved to Dry Hill Park, Tonbridge, to a house called Heather Bank. Walter died at the age of 22 in early 1886, and it was perhaps after that that his parents moved from Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells. In 1887 they paid for a classroom to be made in the crypt of St Augustine’s Church in his memory (Kent and Sussex Courier 15 July 1887).
William FENWICK died on 19 September 1890 and was buried in the FENWICK family grave at All Saints Church, Kirkby Moorside. His widow lived on at Cintra House for another 15 years or so, moving in around 1905 to Gensing Lodge Convent in St Leonards on Sea, a home for elderly Catholic ladies run by Augustinian Sisters from France (1).
There she lived until her death on 5 September 1915. Canon James KEATINGE, parish priest of St Augustine’s, was executor of her will.
However, that was in 1915. She must already have left Cintra House in the care of Canon KEATINGE when she moved to St Leonards, as it was in October 1914 that the Belgian refugee families moved in.
In the 1911 Census the house was the home of widow Charlotte Georgiana MORRIS from London, but in Kelly’s Directory for 1914, 32 Upper Grosvenor Road has no entry – presumably it was by then one of the many empty houses in Tunbridge Wells.
Among the Belgians who lived there was Prosper DEBERGH from Dendermonde, the subject of an earlier blog post, and also Miss Adele VAN OBBERGEN from Louvain who escaped a fine under the Lighting Order in early 1916, the Mayor reminding her when she appeared before the bench that she was “living in a house which was being kept up by people in the town” and asking her “and the other guests to see that the lights were properly shaded” (Kent & Sussex Courier, 14 February 1916).
So there it is, some of the story of Cintra House.
Thank you to Caroline Auckland for the photos of the house as it is today.
(1) I think I am right in saying that the building on Upper Maze Hill is now part of St Michael’s Hospice – please correct me if I’m wrong.
On Monday morning I received a Birth Certificate through the post – always a very exciting moment, and an excellent start to the week.
Paula Caroline Alphonsine DEBERGH born at Elisabethville, Birtley, Co. Durham, on 26 January 1917
The trail had started a couple of years ago when I was at London’s Imperial War Museum consulting the private papers of Lady Matthews, wife of Tunbridge Wells JP Sir John Bromhead MATTHEWS, KC.
In her entry for Sunday 21st February 1915, Lady MATTHEWS wrote : “I went to a Belgian soiree last night, run on money I have received from an unknown American Friend. About 80, all ages and classes, were crammed together in a stuffy annex, & listening with joy to the music. Afterwards they would have buns and coffee.
“A young wounded soldier & a Flemish dressmaker sat, the cynosure of all eyes. They wore white flowers, & were stiff with new garments. They had been married at the Registrar’s at 8 a.m. that day. I do not know what they had to marry on save the English Government grant of 5/6 each a week.” (1)
A quick search, and another order fulfilled by the General Register Office, had revealed that on Saturday 20th February 1915, 25 year old Prosper Leopold DEBERGH married 26 year old Marie RAVIJTS at St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church, Tunbridge Wells.
I then lost track of them until my visit earlier this year to the National Archives in Brussels to consult the refugee registration documents held there, where I found evidence that the DEBERGHs had moved on to the Birtley munitions factory in 1916 and had had a daughter.
In 1918 Prosper DEBERGH’s repatriation document only mentions him and his daughter, and I haven’t (yet?) found a document for his wife, though I would have expected her to be on the same one.
In my article for the RTW Civic Society publication, I’d hoped they’d returned to Belgium and enjoyed a long and happy married life together. Now I fear this may not have been the case – the search continues…
Their story so far :
Prosper Leopold DEBERGH was born in Zele near Dendermonde/Termonde on 1 January 1890, the son of ‘concierge’ Theophile Debergh. When war was declared in August 1914, Prosper Debergh was a clerk in the Justice Ministry in the town. He joined the ’22e linie'(2) and was wounded: all I know is that by late October 1914 he was in hospital in England, at the Sandgate Royal Military Hospital near Folkestone (Het Volk, 31 October 1914). He was invalided out of the army, and eventually found his way to Tunbridge Wells where accommodation was found for him at 32 Upper Grosvenor Road, a house provided by the local RC church.
At the time of their marriage, his future wife, dressmaker Marie RAVIJTS, the daughter of a ‘cabaretier’, was living at 47 Upper Grosvenor Road, a former ‘Blessed Sacrament’ Convent which became known as ‘the Belgian Hostel’ (rental cost covered by the Misses McClean and Power, members of the Mayor’s Refugee Committee). Her home was also Dendermonde, her address Brusselsestraat 2 rue de Bruxelles.
On Saturday 20th February 1915 they were married in St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church, then on the corner of Hanover and Grosvenor Roads, by the local Catholic priest, Fr. James KEATINGE, and Registrar Arthur S. WISEMAN. One of the witnesses was R. Van HAWEGHEM, another Belgian ‘soldat réformé‘ but of the ‘2e linie'(1) – more of him in a future post…
I wonder – did Prosper and Marie know each other back home in Dendermonde? Or did they meet in Tunbridge Wells, drawn together by the common experience of exile?
In April 1916, according to his refugee registration documentation, Prosper DEBERGH (and presumably his wife Marie though she is not mentioned) was living at 37 Culverden Down, another of the houses rented by the Committee, and they were still in Tunbridge Wells in July of that year when they both signed the album given to the Misses SCOTT on 22 July 1916 by the grateful Belgian Community (subject of a future post, or even a page…).
Some time after that, and before the birth of their daughter in January 1917, they moved to Birtley where M. DEBERGH worked in the munitions factory. Paula was born on 26th January 1917, and baptised the same day at St Michael’s Catholic Church in Elisabethville, the Belgian Catholic church (3).
In August 1918 Prosper and his daughter are confirmed as living at Hutments D.6.A. in Elisabethville, but no sign of their wife and mother, Marie.
In 1924, at the unveiling of the War Memorial in Dendermonde, one of the speakers was Prosper De Bergh, President of the local War Invalids’ Association (Bond der Oorlogsinvaliden), and he still held that post in 1938 when a statue was erected in memory of Princess Astrid. (Thank you Google!). Has to be him…doesn’t it?
PS I’m intrigued that on Paula’s birth certificate, her father gives his Belgian address as 71 rue Jef Lambeaux, Kiel, Antwerp, when everywhere else it is Gerechtshof, Dendermonde / Place de la Justice, Termonde…
(1) According to the 1919 Report on the work of the Tunbridge Wells Refugees Committee, ‘each individual Belgian in cases in which accommodation was provided [received] – adults 9/- per week, children 6/- per week.’ These rates were set under guidance from the Local Government Board (Wikipedia link), based on the “separation allowance” received by members of serving soldiers, and taking into account a refugee’s social class and particular needs.
In Tunbridge Wells, thanks to generous donations from the public, the Committee was able to support the refugees without any assistance from the London Committee until December 1915. After that and until mid-1917, the London Committee contributed one half of the cost of maintenance, and from mid-1917 the whole cost. The everage weekly expenditure of the Local Committee over the whole period was £50.
Neither the refugees nor the Belgian goverment were required to repay the monies received.
(2) The ‘2e linie’, based in Ghent, and the ’22e linie’ (reservists) regiments, plus a group of artillery, were brought together to create the ‘2e gemengde brigade’ (the 2nd Mixed Brigade). They had their ‘baptism of fire’, suffering many casualties, on 18th August 1914 at St-Margriete-Houtem, and continued to be involved in the fighting from Antwerp to Nieuwpoort until, on 29 October, reduced to just 14 officers and 513 men, the 22e linie was disbanded.
As you can tell, I’m no military historian – a good overview here though (in Dutch).
(3) I am indebted to Bill Lawrence for his assistance with research in the Birtley records.