The Jacklings

On 11 August 1909, Lucy Jackling, wife of Percival Jackling, gave birth to her first child, a son, David. Nearly four years later on 10 May 1913, he was joined by a brother, Roger. The boys grew up to be talented and capable men like their father and all had a strong sense of philanthropy.

In 1909, Percy (as he was always known) and Lucy Jackling were living at ‘Lloyd’s Bank House’ at 148 (now 15) High Street Hythe. They were, in fact, living ‘over the shop’ in the accommodation provided upstairs from the bank where Percy was the manager. When Roger was still a baby, war broke out and Percy served as a captain in the Machine Gun Corps. He also helped to establish the regiment’s Prisoner of War Relief Fund of which, as a banker, he naturally became the honorary treasurer. He was awarded the CBE in 1920 for his work in the organisation.

The original site of Lloyd’s Bank in Hythe High Street

After the war, he became treasurer of the Hythe Ex-servicemen’s Association. When that was wound up in 1921, Percy made himself useful as vice-president of the Hythe British Legion and led fundraising to provide a bungalow for a severely disabled ex-serviceman.

Meanwhile, his sons were being educated locally at Seabrook Lodge Preparatory School and in 1922, the family moved up the hill to 70 North Road, Hythe. Lloyd’s Bank was moving from its premises into larger, rather grander accommodation at 62 High Street, where it remained until its closure in 2018. Percy stayed with them and also managed a sub-branch at Dymchurch. By way of leisure, he was a member of both Hythe Cricket Club and the Bowls Club and was on the committee of the Hythe Institute.

Lloyd’s Bank Hythe 1922-2018

Roger attended Felsted School and perhaps David did, too. David was articled to a firm of Folkestone solicitors and having qualified, went to work for ‘a well-known city firm’. Roger meanwhile went to London University where he achieved a Diploma in Public Administration and took part in amateur dramatic productions. Later, he passed the Law Society’s book-keeping examination.

David married his childhood sweetheart, Eileen Edwards, known as Betty in 1933. It is unclear what Roger’s occupation was, but it involved transatlantic travel and by 1938 he was living in New York where he met and married a British-Candian RADA-trained actor and journalist, Joan Tustin.

Joan Tustin

War broke out again and the brothers served their country in different ways. David joined the Coldstream Guards, eventually reaching the rank of Colonel. He was Chief of the Plans and Operations Division at Allied Forces HQ from September 1943 to July 1945  and also worked on relief programmes for Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece. Later, he worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Germany and he was awarded the OBE and the US Legion of Merit in 1947.

Roger, meanwhile, had joined the British diplomatic service in 1939 as acting vice-consul in the British consulate in New York.  His abilities and energy were soon recognised – he became known as ‘crackerjackling’ – and after a brief spell in Ecuador he was posted to the embassy at Washington DC, where he remained until 1947.

After the war, David, who had a strong dislike of socialism, stood as Conservative candidate for North Kensington, but stood down before the General Election ‘for health and other reasons’. He and Betty divorced, and in 1948, he married Margaret Beyfus.

Roger was also back in the UK, working for the cabinet secretariat of Prime Minister Clement Atlee. From there he went to The Hague and to Bonn, then the capital of West Germany, as economic adviser and later minister.

He then spent some time in London working for the cabinet secretariat of Clement Atlee and went from there to The Hague and back to Bonn.

Percy died in 1954 in Patrixbourne, near Canterbury, where he had retired.  During these last years, he devoted much time to the Friends of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.  David, too, was involved in helping hospital patients, in his case those of the Princess Louise Hospital for Children in Kensington for whom he arranged a permanent holiday home in Littlehampton.

David worked as a business consultant during the 1950s and lived in Lymington, Hampshire. On 26 May 1960 he drove to Lymington Police Station, parked his car outside and shot himself in the head, dying instantly. He left five notes to family members and it appears that he had money worries. His brother told the inquest that these could easily have been resolved if only David had told him.

David Jackling in 1940

By then, Roger was once again based in the USA, as Assistant Under-Secretary in Washington.  In 1965, the year in which he was knighted, he was President of the Security Council. He returned to Bonn as Ambassador in 1968 and over the next four years held negotiations with the other allies, resulting in the Four Powers Agreement in 1971. He led the UK delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea from its inception in 1973 until he retired in 1976.

Sir Roger Jackling

Sir Roger retired to America, where he died in 1986.

 

A Titanic Memorial in Hythe

In dear memory of Edward Pomeroy Colley/ Born 15 April 1875, Entered into Eternal/Life 15 April 1912 through the sinking/of the Steamship “Titanic”/Whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it

Hythe Civic Society Elizabeth Bowen (writer) lived here 1965-1973

Two memorials, two names: Edward Colley and Elizabeth Bowen, one inside St Leonard’s church, Hythe, the other just yards away on the wall of a house on Church Hill. What is the connection?

Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen was born on 7 June 1899 in Dublin, the daughter of barrister Henry Bowen and his wife Florence nee Colley. Both families were part of the extensive network of Irish gentry and her father owned Bowen Court in County Cork, where Elizabeth spent her summers.  Her father became mentally ill in 1907 and her mother took her to live in England. They lived for a while in Lyminge, near the church, but eventually settled in ‘Clyne House’, in North Road, Hythe.

Florence Isabella Bowen nee Colley

They were probably the first tenants after the house had been ravaged by fire in January 1911. The owner, Frederick Butler, was called away from a Town Council meeting when a candle in the nursery set the curtains on fire.  Mrs Butler rescued the children, but the roof and top storey were destroyed.

Cline House after the fire….

… and in its later years

Florence already had family living in England and one sister, Constance, had become a medical doctor there. However, Constance became ill, probably with TB and in 1911 was in a sanatorium in Henley. By 1912, about the time that Florence and Elizabeth moved to Hythe, Constance was in Folkestone, possibly for the sea air. If so, it was ineffective, and she died in the town on 15 February 1912. She was buried in Folkestone (Cheriton Road) cemetery.

Dr Constance Colley’s grave in Folkestone

On 6 April that year, the youngest brother of Constance and Florence, Edward Pomeroy Colley, visited ‘Clyne House’.  A university-educated civil servant in his mid-thirties, he had, during the Klondike Gold Rush, opened a successful mining brokerage firm in Vancouver. Now he had business interests on both sides of the Atlantic and frequently travelled between Dublin and a home in Vancouver.  He had been in Ireland for Christmas 1911, and was planning to return to Canada to work as a consultant to the industrialist and politician James Dunsmuir.

Edward Pomeroy Colley

After a short stay in Hythe, he travelled to London and from there to Southampton, where he boarded the Titanic. He died on his thirty-seventh birthday.

More tragedy was to follow. In September 1912, Florence Bowen died of cancer aged forty-eight at ‘Clyne House’.  She is buried in Saltwood churchyard.

Florence Bowen’s grave, the stone identical to that of her sister

Elizabeth went to live in Harpenden with her aunt Laura Colley, who was housekeeper to her brother, the Rev’d. Wingfield Colley, curate in charge of St John’s Church in the town.

Elizabeth’s career as a novelist is well documented elsewhere as are her mariage blanc and her lovers. Later in life, now widowed, she returned to Hythe. On the face of it, it was an odd decision. Her short time in the town as a child must have been associated with the loss of her mother, aunt and uncle and she chose to live in a house, ‘Carbery’, only a stone’s throw from ‘Clyne House’, just around the corner.  Her old home was then still standing, though it was later demolished and replaced by a block of flats.

Elizabeth Bowen

It was in Hythe that Elizabeth wrote her last novel, ‘Eva Trout’, published in 1969. The protagonist experiences, as Elizabeth did as a child, the shock of relocation from Ireland to the Kent seaside, although she settles in Broadstairs rather than Hythe. But the flat, windswept hinterland of Thanet is not dissimilar to the Romney Marsh and the estate agent who sells Eva Trout her house is Mr Denge. It is a name with a local flavour:  Denge Marsh lies between Lydd and Dungeness.

Elizabeth also arranged for the brass wall plaque in St Leonard’s in memory of her uncle. He has another in the church at Harpenden, where Elizabeth passed her teenage years.

In 1972, Elizabeth spent Christmas in Ireland with friends, but became unwell and was hospitalised on her return. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and died at University College Hospital on 22 February 1973, aged 73. She is buried with her husband in St Colman’s churchyard in Farahy, near the site of Bowen’s Court, which had been demolished in 1960. 

Elizabeth is buried with her husband, Alan Charles Cameron

Thanks to Iris Pearce for the information about Clyne House and to Rita Weisz for finding Florence Bowen’s grave

The Best of Black Dogs

Many thanks to Robert Melrose who did much of the research for this post 

 

In the garden of Eastbridge Court in Hythe is a small stone cross.  It bears the inscription:

Ici repose Tippo, le meilleur des chiens noirs; le jour de sa mort son ami Chamant a gagner les Deux Milles Guinees a Newmarket, 12 Mai 1877

In English:

Here lies Tippo, the best of black dogs; on the day of his death his friend Chamant won the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, 12 May 1877

Originally located under the shade of a mulberry tree in the grounds of what was then Eastbridge House, it was moved, perhaps when the tree was cut down.

The clue to Tippo’s origins lies in the mention of ‘his friend Chamant’ who won the 2000 Guineas. Chamant was a French-bred racehorse, jointly owned by Charles-Joachim Lefèvre and Count Frederick la Grange. The horse had been brought to Newmarket the previous year to be trained by Tom Jennings and his first year of racing made him the third most successful horse of 1876 in Britain. As a three-year-old in 1877 he won the 2000 Guineas ‘with consummate ease’ but sustained an injury which ultimately ended his racing career. He spent the rest of his life at the German Imperial Stud, siring many more winners and dying in 1898.

His owner, Lefèvre, was a very wealthy, flamboyant character and significantly successful in the horse-racing world, winning no fewer than seven English classics.  His portrait was painted in London by a French artist, Jean-Leon Gerôme, who had fled the Franco-Prussian war.

Lefèvre was married to Marie-Anne D’Escoubleau de Sordis, considered a beauty. She, too, was painted by Gerôme at about the time of her marriage. Her husband’s portrait can be seen reflected in the mirror behind her.

More importantly for our purposes, she is holding a small black dog. It has been identified as a Griffon Bruxellois and surely, this must be Tippo.

Unfortunately, there is no record of either M. or Mme, Lefevre staying in Hythe.  They did, however, have a daughter, Marie-Jeanne, baptised in London in 1872., The gravestone for Tippo and its language seem just the sort of thing which might be made to comfort a little girl grieving for her pet, ‘the best of black dogs’.

As a postscript, this is not the only doggy grave marker in Hythe. This little plaque was in the wall of a garden:

Fido Dec’r 9th 1811

The name of his bereaved owner is sadly illegible, and Fido was probably not as well-connected as Tippo, but undoubtedly as dearly loved.

Four Daughters

The father of the family, Absalom Pelue, settled in Hythe after he left the army in 1877. He was a long way from his original home. He had been born in St Erth in Cornwall in about 1833 one of the seven children of a copper miner. This was the occupation he and his brothers turned to as well, until in 1856 he joined the Scots Fusiliers in Aberdare. The Rhondda is a long way from Cornwall and it is possible he had travelled there to take work as a coal miner, but thought better of it. From his army records, we know that Absalom was a big man for the time: five feet eleven inches tall with a forty-inch chest.

He spent most of his service in England, but was posted to Canada for just over two years in the 1860s, There he married Bridget Creed, who had been born in Montreal in 1844. When he brought her home, it was to the School of Musketry in Hythe, to which he transferred in 1865. It had only been set up a dozen years earlier, but now had an established staff.

Hythe in the 19th century

The couple’s four daughters were Catherine Margaret (or sometimes Margaret Catherine) born 1865, Frances Ann Jemima , 1867; Emily, 1869; and Isabella Mary (or Mary Isabella), 1871. Perhaps because of their father’s military career, two of the women married soldiers themselves and five of Absalom’s grandsons joined the armed forces.

After leaving the army, Absalom worked as a labourer and the family lived in St Leonard’s Road and later Park Road in Hythe. He died in 1896 and is buried in St Leonard’s churchyard. Bridget took work as a sick nurse with Mrs Constantine nee Finnis, a widow.

Catherine Margaret married Charles William Middleton, a house painter,  in Farnborough in January 1893. He was only twenty and the bride lopped four years off her age. They went back to Hythe and lived in Chapel St and had three sons and two daughters. Later they moved to Market Street, now Dymchurch Road.

Catherine & Charles lived in part of this building  in Market Street

On 6 September 1885, at St Leonard’s church Hythe, Frances, or ‘Fanny Annie; as she signed herself, married a twenty-six-year-old soldier. He was Theophilus William Turner from Bristol. Theophilus gave his residence as Aldershot where his regiment was now based. The previous year, it had been at Shorncliffe, but when the order came to decamp to  Aldershot, Theophilus had deserted. Perhaps it was for love of Fanny. ‘Fanny Annie’ sounds like the affectionate  name her family, or perhaps just Theophilus, used.

The wedding was a matter of some urgency as Fanny was pregnant – with twins as it turned out. Francis Theophilus and William James were baptised in St Leonard’s in  April 1886. By then, Theophilus had left the army, but was still on the reserve list. The next year, Frances Theresa was born, then Isabella Katherine Alice in 1889. Shortly afterwards, the family moved to Plaistow. Another daughter, Lilley was born,  Edith Marie followed in 1894 but died aged two.

Theophilus had now become a house painter, like his brother-in-law Charles Middleton and joined the Amalgamated Society of House Decorators and Painters. In fact, he became the treasurer of the Plaistow branch. One day in July 1896, he stole the branch’s funds of £10.5s.8d and got on a train to Bristol. He said later ‘It was all through the drink. I did not know where I  was until I got to Bath’.  He travelled on to Bristol and having spent the entire amount handed himself in at a  police station in August. Meanwhile, his frantic wife had reported him missing.

A police officer from Limehouse travelled down to arrest him. Theophilus said he was very sorry and had never been in trouble before (forgetting his desertion, presumably). In court, he offered no defence and it was reported that he was previously of a very good character. His Union said it was prosecuting with reluctance. Theophilus was sentenced to twenty-one days hard labour.

We don’t know if drink was an ongoing problem or if this was a momentary aberration, but by 1899 the family had separated.  Frances had returned to live in Hythe  with her children. Her father had died, but her mother and sister still lived in the town.

Frances lived in a tiny house in Theatre Street, where she took in washing. She now had another child, George Robert, born after her return to the town. The house was not big enough for all the children: Francis (Frank) lodged with his aunt Catherine and her family in nearby Chapel Street and worked as a groom at the School of Musketry;  His twin, William, lived with their grandmother, Bridget Pelue, in Park Road and worked as a gardener; their sister, Frances junior, went into service at the Wilberforce Temperance Hotel in Hythe High Street – she was only thirteen.

The Wilberforce Temperance Hotel

The twins, aged fifteen, joined the army as soon as they could, signing up to the 1st Battalion, the Scots Guards, in  November 1901.

In April 1904, Frances sent George, her youngest, off to school for the afternoon after his dinner break at home. At about 5.30pm, her neighbour called round to ask if he was back yet. A child had fallen into the Royal Military Canal,  she said.  George’s body was recovered from under Scanlon’s Bridge. He had been playing at fishing with a friend and slipped into the water. Desperate attempts were made by Dr Arthur Randall Davis to resuscitate him, without avail. The banks were not fenced and at the inquest, a recommendation was made that there should be some sort of barrier to prevent a recurrence. Frances was devastated by the death, sobbing throughout the inquest. The boy is buried with his grandfather, Absalom Pelue, in St Leonard’s churchyard, Hythe.

The canal in Hythe in the early twentieth century

Frances later moved to a larger house in Frampton Road and hired herself out as a nurse, an occupation her mother had followed.

In 1911, the twins Frank and William were serving as drummers in Egypt. The regiment returned home in 1913, but in 1914, formed part of the British Expeditionary Force. By then, Frank was a Lance-Corporal. He embarked from Southampton on 13 August 1914 and was reported missing during the first Battle of Ypres. He had in fact been taken prisoner. He died of wounds and ‘traumatic tetanus’ in Reserve Hospital, Halberstadt, Germany on 17 November 1914 and is buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery. His twin survived the war.

Frank Turner

Frank’s grandmother, Bridget Pelue, collected his medals in 1922 – the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914  Star. It was also she who arranged for a brass plaque in his memory to be erected in St Leonard’s church.

The memorial to Frank in St Leonard’s church

Bridget spent her last years in St Bartholomew’s Hospital in Hythe and died in 1926.

Bridget’s last home, St Bartholomew’s Hospital in Hythe

Her third daughter, Isabella Mary had married in September 1890, George Robert Hackford in St Leonard’s church. He was a sergeant in the Lincolnshire Regiment  based at Shorncliffe. A son, another George, was born later that year. A daughter,  Caroline followed a year later,  then a son Charles born in Aldershot,  a daughter  Isabella Mary in Malta, a son Frank (who died as a baby) in Cairo, and another son Robert in Lincoln. George senior, now a sergeant-major  took his discharge in 1906 and went to live in Derbyshire. His wife Isabella died two years later in 1908, perhaps while visiting Hythe, as her address was given as 4 Windmill Street in the town. George later re-married and ran a working men’s club in Chesterfield where his niece, Lilley Turner, worked for him. All three of his sons joined the armed forces, the eldest dying of pneumonia in India aged nineteen.

The youngest Pelue daughter married Filmer Thomas Shaw, a labourer, in St Leonard’s church on 27 July 1903. Their only child died young. They lived in Albert Road, Hythe. Filmer died in 923, Emily in 1942.

I thought when I started this how easy it would be to research the name ‘Pelue’ as it is so unusual. How foolish of me. The family’s name has turned up being spelt or transcribed as ‘Pellow’, ‘Pellew’, ‘Pillow’ ‘Peliewe’,  ‘Pelve’ and ‘Pelne’.  

 

 

 

 

The Strongman

In February 1949, Alfred Woollaston died in the County Hospital in Ashford. A sixty-nine year old widower, he had lived in North Road in Hythe since just after the war. He was now past his prime and the war years had not been kind to him, but at the turn of the century, launching his career in the music hall, he had been described as ‘a most beautifully proportioned athlete’ .

His stage name was ‘Monte Saldo – The Young Hercules’.

 

Alfred Woollaston aka Monte Saldo

He was born Alfred Montague Woollaston in Holloway, London, on 23 December 1879, the fourth child of George Frederick Woollaston, a boot maker, and his wife Adelaide. He  became interested in body building in his teens, but his first job, which he started in 1895 was more prosaic: he worked as a booking clerk for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway at their office in Brighton‘s Grand Hotel.

The job only lasted a couple of years before he was taken on by Eugene Sandow, a German strongman who specialised in ‘muscle display performances’ and included both Alfred and his younger brother Frank in his touring show. They were now known as Monte and Frank Saldo.

A fellow performer was Italian bodybuilder Ronco; together he and Alfred devised their own strongman stage act, ‘Ronco & Monte’.  They toured Europe and had a six month contract at the Royal Aquarium in London. Then Alfred got together with Frank and another brother, Edwin, to form a new act, ‘The Montague Brothers’. They appeared at the London Hippodrome and in Europe.

One routine was a great crowd-puller. A Darracq car, complete with passengers, was driven onto the stage, up a ramp and onto a bridge. The ramp and supports were removed leaving Alfred, underneath a section of the bridge, supporting the entire weight of the vehicle and its contents. In 1906 they introduced an ‘artistic’ routine ‘The Sculptor’s Dream’ which involved Frank and Alfred acting as mirror images of a statue and Edwin taking the part of the dozing sculptor.

The brothers’ joint enterprise was short-lived: Frank became a successful lyricist and Edwin ran a café. Alfred opened the Apollo-Saldo Academy in London, together with William Bankier, a wrestling promoter known professionally ‘Apollo the Scottish Hercules’. He next, in 1909, got together with German strongman Max Sick (Maxick) to develop what they called the  Maxaldo system of exercise and muscle control. Maxick was interned at the start of World War One and the business arrangement came to an end. Alfred for a time carried on alone.

Maxick

Then  he joined forces with one Mark Lemon, changed the name of the system to Maxalding and took offices in Golders Green Their method, they claimed ‘makes Men more Virile, Magnetic, Courageous, and Successful. makes Women more Attractive, Beautiful and Magnetic’. The advertising must have worked as in 1923 they took premises in London’s Pall Mall. This was a step too far and was too expensive. In 1926 they were declared bankrupt.  Although undoubtedly a fine athlete, Alfred was perhaps a less than astute businessman. 

Alfred continued to advertise the system until his death and to describe himself as a teacher of physical culture. In 1937 he published a book, How to Excel at Games and Athletics. He left London, moving the family to Shepherdswell, near Dover. His son Frederick (later known as Court Saldo)  visited Folkestone during this time. However, the family was in London in 1941 when Alfred’s wife was killed during a bombing raid and Alfred himself was badly injured. His younger son was killed in action in 1944.

The older son, Frederick, seems to have taken on what was left of his father’s business and continued promoting Maxalding until the 1970s.

 

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Charles Latham, Farmer-Knight

Charles George Latham was born at the Coastguard station in Hythe on 26 January 1882, the sixth child of Thomas Latham, a coastguard and his wife Isabella. Both his parents were Irish; his father had joined  the Royal Navy a Boy Sailor, and transferred to the Coastguard in 1873. Thereafter, he served in Cork and Dymchurch before arriving in Hythe.  Although not yet forty, he took his pension in 1883, perhaps through ill health, as he died in July the next year.  Isabella, widowed with eight children seems to have moved to London, where she died herself in 1889. Charles was just seven.

The next year, the four youngest children were sent to Australia – Sarah, aged ten; Violet, nine, Charles and little Alfred aged only five.  The older children were either already there or arrived soon afterwards. They settled in Hay, sited approximately midway between Sydney and Adelaide.  Although there is much scandal around the transportation of orphans to Australia in the nineteenth century, the Latham children seem to have thrived and Charles certainly went to school in Hay. All the children eventually married and had families of their own.  Charles himself married Marie Louisa von Allwörden on 24 June 1903 , in Hay

The couple moved to Western Australia to take up 1,000 acres of land east of Perth. Farming here was difficult and not helped by a severe drought in 1914. Charles cleared salmon gum, gimlet and morrell by chopping and burning and battled the drought by carting water. He shot the kangaroos which ate his first crops and put up fences against rabbits; and he carted supplies fifty miles from the railhead. Eventually he had a successful wheat farm.

The vast tracts of wheat land around Narembeen, where Charles settled

His later military records tell us that Charles was a tall, well-built man,  standing six feet tall and weighting a hundred and eighty pounds.

When war broke out. Charles joined up as a volunteer in the First Australian Imperial Force in March 1916. He was assigned to the 16th battalion and in October sailed from Fremantle. He arrived in Plymouth on 2 December.  From there, he was sent to Tidworth Camp, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, where he qualified as an instructor at the Bombing School and was promoted to Corporal. Then he travelled to Folkestone, only five miles from his birthplace in Hythe. In March 1918, he was back in England, having been wounded by gunshot and admitted to the Fort Pitt Military Hospital in Chatham, before returning to France in September 1918.  During his long convalescence, was he able to revisit his boyhood haunts? Perhaps.

His older brother Thomas, serving with the same Force, was killed in action in 1917. His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Villiers-Bretonneux memorial.

Charles ended his war as a sergeant and returned to Western Australia, where he soon doubled his land holding. Even before the war, he had started to take an interest in politics, and in 1920 joined the newly-formed Country Party. The next year he became its Member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. The party’s general position on social matters was centre-right, but it favoured socialist economic policies for agriculture,  including support for farmers through government grants and subsidies or through community appeals.

Charles George Latham

In 1930 Charles became the parliamentary leader of the Country Party and continued his crusade for farmers’ rights. Later that year, under his leadership, the party joined with the National Party and he served as deputy Premier of Western Australia from from 1930 to 1933. From 1933 to 1942 he was the Leader of the Opposition. At that point, he resigned to fill a vacancy in the Senate, but lost the 1943 election.

He was back in Parliament in 1946 and served as Minister for Agriculture in 1952-3, finally retiring at the age of of seventy-eight in 1960.

Charles in later life

Throughout his political career, Charles was pro-British. In a speech in 1942 he said:  I am an Englishman, and proud of it. No matter what Australia does, we can never repay the Old Country for what it has done for us. Not afraid of hard work himself, and proud of his achievements since he arrived in Australia  as an eight-year-old orphan, he had little sympathy for the unemployed. During the Depression of the 1930s he suggested to Premier James Mitchell that a fire hose be turned upon a large crowd demonstrating outside the Treasury Building. His advice was not taken.

He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1948. This Order was founded by George III in 1818 and is awarded to British subjects who have rendered extraordinary and important services abroad or in the Commonwealth.

A widower since 1946, Charles died on 26 August 1968, survived by his two sons and their families.

 

The Professor

‘Rags to riches’ (and sometimes back to rags) stories are not uncommon in this blog, but this man’s journey was probably the most extraordinary of them all.

John Fryer came into the world in Hythe in on 6 August 1839. His father, another John, had married Mary Ann Wiles, originally of Kingston, near Canterbury, the  previous year.  John senior worked with his own father in the family grocery in Hythe  High Street. They  seem to have been prosperous at that time and owned the premises from which they traded, but the business failed in 1852 and everything was auctioned to pay the debts,  including a barrel organ ‘with three barrels set for sacred music’. Although John Fryer senior is sometimes claimed to have been a Methodist minister, there are no records of this, though there are a few of him preaching – aided no doubt, by the barrel organ.

He and Mary Ann had a long-standing fascination for all things Chinese, to the extent that Mary Ann made rice ‘a substantial part of her diet’. John  junior,  who shared their interest,  was educated at Prospect House academy in Hythe, where he was nicknamed ‘Chin Chong’. He earned part of his school fees by working at Mackeson’s brewery in Hythe. He then took an apprenticeship as a pupil teacher at St James in Bristol, a ‘ragged school”. This qualified him to attend Highbury teacher training college to which he won a scholarship.

On graduating, John accepted the position of headmaster at St Paul’s college in Hong Kong.  The post he took on is better described as ‘only master’ as the school, set up to teach English to Chinese boys with an interest in Christian ministry,  had then just thirty-odd pupils (today it has two thousand). He sailed for the Far East via the Cape of Good Hope, a journey which took a hundred and forty two days. He was homesick and did not care for his fellow passengers. and wrote in his diary:

It is with a combination of curious feelings that this journal is commenced. There is a mingled hope and fear, gloom and light; anticipations of a bright future, and occasional forebodings of ill
John Fryer
St Paul’s College Hong Kong in  the 19th century

He stayed at St Paul’s for two years before taking a post as an English teacher in Beijing, with the intention of learning Mandarin. Here he met other teachers and politicians and mingled with the diplomatic corps. The job was sponsored by the Church Missionary Society and they agreed to pay the passage to China for John’s fiancée, Anna Roleston of Chudleigh, Devon.

The long-awaited reunion was a disaster. When Anna arrived in Beijing, she was pregnant, apparently by the captain of the ship on which she had sailed. Their relationship had continued throughout the voyage. John later said that the man had somehow administered to her a strong aphrodisiac. This seems unlikely, a story invented by either Anna or John to excuse her behaviour. It also bears a remarkable resemblance (sea voyage, love potion, betrayed groom) to the legend of Tristan and Isolde.

John did the decent thing and quickly married Anna, but the scandal was so great that she was obliged to return to England with her child, Willie. The Church Missionary Society was appalled and wrote:

It is quite impossible that we should retain as an  accredited Agent of the Society one whose wife is under such a cloud. 

John had taken Anna to Shanghai to join her ship home and now, without funds, found himself stranded there. However, another school teaching post was offered, which he had little choice but to accept. He applied to the American Mission for work, but was rejected, again because of the scandal. In 1868, he finally managed to secure employment with the Chinese government at the Kiangban Arsenal  as secretary and interpreter.

He wrote:

It is a great relief to feel settled and able to get on quietly with one’s work. Indeed I may say I was never more happy in my life than I am in my new situation of Translator of Scientific Books for the Chinese Government. It is an honourable and useful position as well as being respectable, and with a salary of £800 a year

The Fryer’s house at Shanghai

He stayed for twenty-eight years, brought Anna back out and started a family. Anne, born at the end of 1871, was followed quickly by John, Charles and George . At some point after the birth of George in 1878, Anna took them back to England, perhaps on a visit to family or to arrange education. She died there at her home town of Chudleigh in 1879. The children were sent to Kent and boarded for a while in Canterbury and nearby Blean. Her first child, Willie,  appears in the 1871 census for Chudleigh, living with his Roleston grandparents, but is then untraceable

Anna’s grave in Chudleigh.

In Memory of Anna, the Beloved Wife of John Fryer of Shanghai China, who Entered Into Her Rest on the 20th October 1879, aged 41 Years. After a Long and Severe Illness Her End Was Peace.

On 8 June  1882 John married again, to an American, (Anne} Eliza Nelson. The following year, they set out for England to arrange the futures of John’s children. They travelled via New York, Eliza’s home town. Here, Eliza was taken ill and John travelled on to Hythe alone for the reunion with his parents and children. Eliza joined them later at the house John had rented for them and apparently enjoyed visiting all the ‘historic curiosities’ of Hythe, including St Leonard’s church and Saltwood Castle. She stayed until January 1885, though John soon returned to China. When she re-joined him, she took the oldest child, Anne, and the youngest, George, with her. John  junior and Charles were to attend Prospect House Academy in Hythe, as their father had done.

In 1888 the family were on the move again. Leaving George in China, but taking Anne with them, John and Eliza collected the other boys from Hythe and took them to New York. Anne and John junior were to study at Alfred University, Eliza’s alma mater, while Charles went back to China with them.

Four years later, Charles and George were uprooted from China again and taken by Eliza to California. It was intended that they would all study eventually at the State University at Berkeley. Their father came to visit their new home and had an interview with the President of the University, who happened to mention funding for a Chair in Oriental Languages and Literature

During his time in Shanghai, John had translated over eighty Western scientific works, collaborating with scientists and mathematicians. He also established the Shanghai Polytechnic Institution and Reading Rooms in 1876 and taught there himself. Eventually, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate. He also acquired a  Chinese name, Fu Lanya. But now it was time to move on.

Fu Lanya………………………………………and his second wife

In 1896, John left China to become the University of California’s first Professor of Oriental Language and Literature.  Apart from two long trips back to China, in 1900 and 1908, John worked at Berkeley until his retirement in 1913.  when he became Professor Emeritus. Towards the end of his life, was described as ‘a man of rare intellectuality, much learning and strong moral fibre’.

The Fryer family at their California home

His daughter Anne married; John junior took on his father’s post in Shanghai, but died of typhoid in 1896; Charles also married and became a professor at McGill University in Montreal; and George joined a shipping firm in Shanghai.

John & Eliza Fryer in later life

Eliza Fryer died in 1910 and John in 1920

The grave of John and his wife in Oakland, California

Sources:

Fred Daganais,  John Fryer’s Early Years in China, Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 36 (1996), pp. 129-149.

David Wright, John Fryer and the Shanghais Polytechnic: Making Space for Science in Nineteenth Century China, Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009

Theodore Huter, Bringing the World Home: Appropriating the West in Late Qing and Early Republican China,  2005
Nellie Blessing Eyster, A Beautiful Life: Memoir of Mrs Eliza Nelson Fryer, 1847-1910, Lack Bros, Berkeley, date unknown

The Man Who Built a Railway

At the Hythe terminus of the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, in the booking office window, is a small sign bearing the words ‘Greenly Coffee Shop’. It is rather an odd way to remember the engineer without whom there would be none of the iconic locomotives and stations that RHDR  passengers have come to love.

Henry Greenly had an early connection with the railways. His father was a train guard in Birkenhead, where Henry was born on 3 June 1876, the first of five children, The family moved to west London when Henry was eleven. He won a London County Council scholarship, took up a place at a Science School and  eventually won a scholarship to the Regent Street Polytechnic. 

In 1897, he started work in the drawing-office of the Metropolitan Railway Company at its Neasden works, but he did not stay long, despite the security of employment the position offered.  Two years earlier, he had started a lifetime’s contributions to engineering  debates in a letter  to the Engineer about early Great Western locomotives. He was not afraid to take the great engineers of the day to task over technical issues, and he soon became both well known and respected. As a result, on 15 October 1896, he was appointed to a subcommittee at the Science Museum alongside twenty-five distinguished engineers, with the objective of establishing a permanent railway museum.  

While on the board, he was invited to join the staff of the Model Engineer and Amateur Electrician’ periodical, a position he acceptedThat same year, 1901, he married Lilley Maria Richardson, daughter of a London businessman. They had a daughter and two sons. 

One of the many callers to his magazine’s offices was Wenman Basset-Lowke, a pioneer in making scale models, with whom Henry formed a long-lasting friendship. He often acted as a consultant to Bassett-Lowke’s world famous model engineering concern in Northampton.    

Henry in 1906

Henry was a prolific publisher on the subject of model railways. His first book, The Model Locomotive,  was issued in 1904 and was followed by many others, Model Electric Locomotives and Railways (1921) becoming the ‘bible’ for the model railway world. He founded, in 1908, the Models Railways and Locomotives magazine which became a platform from which he could share his knowledge and expertise with others.

Henry’s first book………………………………….and his magazine

The last two decades of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth saw a small craze for miniature passenger-carrying railways. Henry worked with Basset-Lowke on one 15 inch gauge railway at Blackpool. another in Rhyl and one in Geneva. 

Rhyl Miniature Railway, opened 1911, still running today

The First World War called a halt to such activities and Henry spent the duration in the Drawing Office of the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough.  In peacetime, his first venture was the design and construction of a scenic miniature railway at ‘Dreamland’ in Margate which operated until 1979

The Dreamland Railway

He next worked on a narrow gauge railway in Cumberland,  from Ravenglass up to the village of Boot, where haematite iron ore was mined and which was a favourite starting point for hikers. 

His work there brought him to the attention of two very rich racing drivers and miniature railway enthusiasts, Count Louis Zborowski and Captain John Howey. Both had dreams of creating their own railway line and had hoped to buy the Ravenglass line and extend it. Thwarted in this ambition, they nevertheless, with no site or permission to build, commissioned Henry to design two locomotives in 1924. 

Captain John Howey                                      Count Louis Zborowski 

Later that year,  Zborowski was killed while racing in the Italian Grand Prix.  Howey decided to carry on alone and in 1925 charged Henry with finding a place to build his railway.  Henry settled on New Romney, where there was no existing railway connection and where the surrounding land was flat enough to allow trains to run at speed. There were of course, various legal hoops to be jumped through and objections to be overcome, but Henry dealt with them all and brought the first locomotive, Green Goddess,  down to the Romney Marsh. Finally, in May 1926, a Light Railway Order was signed.

Green Goddess (Loco 1) today on the turntable at Hythe Station

Northern Chief (Loco 2)

Howey now started spending seriously. Green Goddess was joined by Northern Chief and then by Southern Maid, Samson, Hercules, Typhoon and Hurricane, all still in service today . The original plan had been for a single track line as far as Dymchurch. Now Howey decided on double track all the way to Hythe. This delayed the opening, but Howey had the good fortune to receive a royal visit from the Duke of York (later George VI). The Duke took a ride with Howey on Northern Chief, which the invited press duly recorded, providing invaluable publicity. Henry, however, was left out in the cold. Seldom more than a few feet away from the Duke during the visit, he was not introduced. Was Old Etonian millionaire embarrassed to acknowledge his scholarship boy Chief Engineer? Or did he just forget his manners? Whatever the case, Henry was angry and the relationship soured. 

With the completion of the line to Hythe, the railway was opened to the public on 17 July 1927. The first train left New Romney at 0630, arriving at Hythe forty-five minutes later, with three interim stops. 

The approach to Hythe station

The line was extended to Dungeness in 1928, to a station designed by Henry, as all the others had been. Howey then departed for Australia via Canada for one of his regular long holidays. In his absence, Henry and the General Manager of the RHDR, a Mr Bellamy had a major falling-out. It concerned drawings for new locomotives with better protection for the drivers. The designs were based, apparently without his permission, on Henry’s originals. One evening in January 1929, Henry went to the office, took them away and burnt the lot. Mr Bellamy called the police who arrested Henry and took him to Lydd Police Station. Nothing could be proved against him and he was released and received compensation. But the adventure was over.  Henry promptly left New Romney, where he and his family had lived for some years, and never returned. 

Henry in later life

The family moved to Heston, Isleworth and Henry continued to design scale models, as busy as ever. One of his creations, in 1938,  was a seven-and-a-quarter inch gauge locomotive for the Saltwood miniature railway owned by Frank and Alexander Schwab.  Called the Maid of Kent, she ran until 1975. 

The Saltwood miniature railway

Henry was invited to the twentieth anniversary celebrations for the RHDR, but was too ill to attend and to meet the guests of honour, Laurel and Hardy. He died at his home, on 4 March 1947 and was buried at Heston parish church. He was survived by his wife, who when she died in 1967 was buried beside him.

Captain Howey died in 1963. He had a diesel locomotive named for him by RHDR. Henry Greenly did not.

Note

Two books were used to research this post. The first,  The Miniature World of Henry Greenly  was written by Henry’s daughter and her husband and is naturally biased in favour of Henry. The other was One Man’s Railway: J.E.P. Howey and the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway  by J.B. Snell. The title says it all. 

And finally, here is a video of Green Goddess arriving at New Romney station at nearly a hundred years old

From Mad Minute to the Pacific: the Wallingfords

Jesse Alfred Wallingford was born on 25 January 1871, the second of ten children of Frederick Wallingford, a sergeant in the Rifle Brigade, and his wife Phoebe.  His childhood was peripatetic, as the family moved from Woolwich to Dover to India and Winchester. Jesse joined his father’s Regiment in 1885 and showed early promise in marksmanship. At the age of seventeen he took up competitive shooting and ‘showed his keenness by expending most of his pay in buying ammunition’. After service in India, in 1894 he joined the School of Musketry in Hythe as a third class instructor and started winning national and international prizes for his shooting. The Book of the Rifle  published in 1901 had as its frontispiece a portrait of Jesse with the title ‘The Best Shot in the British Army’.  At the 1908 London Olympics he  won a bronze medal in the team pistol event.

Jesse at the School of Musketry and below with the 1909 Shooting Team (Hythe Museum)

More importantly for his military career, he had achieved a remarkable record in the ‘Mad Minute’ taught and demonstrated at the School of Musketry. Introduced in 1909, the training required soldiers to fire fifteen aimed rounds from a rifle in sixty seconds from three hundred feet. The technique was also a regular demonstration by instructors to show officer trainees the maximum rate of accurate fire that could be achieved by an expert. The top expert was, of course, Jesse, who managed  thirty-six hits on a forty-eight-inch target.

He was by now a sergeant-major and a family man. He had married a Hythe woman, Alice Bishopp, daughter of a labourer, and five children had been born, though one died in infancy.

Then in 1911, after seventeen years in Hythe, and despite having been given permission to extend his service for more than twenty-one years, he left the British Army to take up a post with the New Zealand Defence Force. On 12 September, he and his family sailed to Wellington.

Captain Wallingford in New Zealand

Jesse was soon commissioned and as Captain Wallingford introduced courses of instruction in the use of the machine gun. During this time, he suggested the tactic of ‘brigading’ machine guns into a single unit under the direct command of the senior officer present.  After the outbreak of war, he supervised the rifle training of the NZ expeditionary force. This soon merged with its Australian counterpart into the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).  Although he was now forty-two, Jesse volunteered for overseas service and was sent to Gallipoli.

Jesse and his men landed at what became known as Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915.  Here he earned his Military Cross. The citation notes his ‘conspicuous coolness and resource on several critical occasions’. Turkish resistance had been fierce and thousands of his comrades had been killed or wounded . Jesse had re-constituted a force from what uninjured men he could gather, put a disabled machine-gun back into action and directed its fire for four hours.  A contemporary wrote of him that he was ‘the strongest, most capable, coolest officer on Walker’s Ridge’.

 

His marksmanship became legendary and unconfirmed press reports say that he killed seven hundred enemy soldiers. The stress of his situation led to hospitalisation at the end of June with ‘cardiac insufficiency’, but his stay was short and he was back in action in August. A relapse at the end of the month led to him being invalided out to the Wandsworth General Hospital in England. While convalescing, he was able to visit Hythe for the weekend and took an aeroplane flight over the town. Then he travelled home to New Zealand. However, his innovative idea of brigading was used during the August offensive and helped secure its success.

After a period of training troops again, he was declared medically fit in early 1917, but his days of active service were over. He was promoted to Major early in 1919 and remained engaged in both the military sphere and the shooting world. He finally retired from the army after fifty-two years service in 1927.

He became Superintendent of a Veterans Home, a JP and, of course, continued to shoot. He died on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

Meanwhile, his elder son, Sidney, was having military successes of his own.

Born at the School of Musketry in Hythe on 12 July 1898 and baptised in St Leonard’s church, where his parents had married, he went to New Zealand with the family just after his thirteenth birthday. Perhaps he did not want to go or became homesick, but at the first opportunity, when he was eighteen, he joined the merchant navy so that he could work his passage back to England.

On his arrival, he joined up with the Artists Rifles regiment (whose members were no longer exclusively artistic)  then joined the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, which fought in Salonika. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corp in March 1918, three weeks before it became the Royal Air Force and he qualified to wear wings in August. He flew in Palestine before the war ended and stayed in the Middle East until spring of 1919, before leaving the service the next year.

For the next two or three years he tried farming in New Zealand and working for the Fijian Police, but was soon back in England with the RAF and in 1927-8 twice became the RAF rifle champion at Bisley, winning the coveted Queen Mary prize.

Then in 1929, it was back to New Zealand, to become the first adjutant of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and to marry his sweetheart, Kathleen Jamieson.

As Adjutant, Sidney’s role was to assist the commanding officer, but within a few months he was on his way to Samoa to assist in quelling unrest among the Mau, a political group who were agitating for Samoan independence.  In early 1930, he was flying reconnaissance missions in Samoa in a de Havilland Moth fitted with floats. Then there was more work flying supplies and medical equipment into Napier, which was devastated by an earthquake in 1931 and ferrying out some of the thousands of casualties.

Sidney Wallingford (right)

A few years later, in 1935, Sidney became an overnight hero when he landed a Fairey IIIF seaplane on the water at Karekare beach on the West Coast, saving the life of a young woman who’d been swept out to sea.

Sidney & his seaplane

The next year, together with his family, Sidney went back to England to attend

the RAF Staff College. Later, with the rank of Squadron Leader, he was appointed NZ Liaison Officer with the Air Ministry.  In1939 he was living in Ealing with his younger brother Roland, who had also returned to the UK, married and was working as a ‘tea propagandist’.  However, Sidney’s son later remembered that the family actually had a home in Hythe, where they remained until the town was effectively evacuated in 1940.

Sidney’s war saw him move from the Air Ministry to the Pacific, where he became the Senior RNZAF Officer co-operating with the American Forces there and then Commander of the Number One Island Group, in charge of all RNZAF personnel fighting the Japanese. In 1943 he was awarded the US Legion of Honour, citing his ‘ready cooperation, unflagging efforts and inspiring leadership’ and in  1944 his British CBE citation read  ‘…he showed himself to be an officer of ability, resource and initiative.’

Sidney in the Pacific

In 1945, he was posted back to NZ and finally retired in 1954 to devote himself to gardening.

With thanks to Kevin Bailey, Curator of Hythe Museum

 

 

 

 

 

‘Hythe’s Greatest Benefactor’

Wakefield Walk in Hythe is a delightful formal promenade alongside the sports field. Another, more prosaic, residential street, Wakefield Way is not far away. There is a Wakefield  function room at the Hythe Imperial Hotel and a Wakefield of Hythe Chapter of the local Freemasons. A charity, the Wakefield Bequest, supports ‘persons in need’ in Hythe. All are named for Charles Cheers Wakefield.

His  career is well chronicled elsewhere: the rise from office boy in Liverpool to manager of an American petroleum company; the creation of his own business, Castrol; the knighthood; the Mayoralty of London; the baronetcy and the CBE; and finally the title Viscount Wakefield of Hythe.  Along the way there were many excursions into other interests, charities and, his passion, aviation.

But what of the Hythe connection?

In 1912,  Charles and his wife Sarah bought land next to the golf club off Blackhouse Hill in Hythe, with panoramic views across the town to the Romney Marsh and the sea. They proceeded to construct what the local press described as ‘a palatial mansion’, which, it was estimated, cost between £15,000 and £16,000 to build. Charles bought, to furnish it, the contents of a demolished house in Botolph’s Lane, London, which was reputed to have been owned by Sir Christopher Wren. These included a staircase, wood panelling, doorways with carved pediments and fine mouldings and an elaborate landing. The new house was called ‘The Links’.  During the ensuing war, it was placed at the disposal of the military but when the couple regained it after 1918, they found it suitable for entertaining but too grand for everyday life and usually spent their time in Hythe in the nearby ‘White Cottage’.

It was during the war, in 1916, that Charles was appointed Lord Mayor of London and soon afterwards entertained the members of Hythe Town Council to luncheon at his official residence, Mansion House.

Charles Wakefield as Lord Mayor of London

In peacetime, Charles’s concern was for the men who came home. In 1922 he opened the Hythe British Legion club and donated £200 towards it. He also supported the Hythe Association of ex-Servicemen.  His attention then turned to Toc H. Founded by Rev. Phillip ‘Tubby’ Clayton in 1915, the social club and rest hostel for all ranks opened at Talbot House in Poperinge in a former hop merchant’s residence.  After the end of hostilities, the merchant reclaimed his home, but in 1929 put it on the market. Charles bought it for £9,200 and donated it to the Talbot House Association. It is now a visitor centre and houses a permanent exhibition. This link between Hythe and Poperinge was later cemented by a formal twinning arrangement and the Poperinge Saint Cecilia Band often visits Hythe to play at festivals and festivities.

Talbot House in Poperinge

[Incidentally, at this point it is worth noting that while Rev. Clayton’s name ‘Tubby’ was a soubriquet, Charles’s name ‘Cheers’ was not. It was his mother’s maiden name]

Charles also liked to encourage sport. He was president of Hythe Football Club, attended home matches whenever he could and always bought the ball after the cup final. He donated prizes to the lawn tennis, golf and bowls clubs (on one occasion a pair of gold cufflinks). Other recipients of his largesse included the local St John’s Ambulance Brigade, the Hythe Cancer Clinic Fund and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone, to whom he gave a brand new motor cycle as a tombola prize.

Later in the 1920s, the vicar of St Leonard’s church in Hythe made an appeal to his parishioners for funds to recast and re-hang the church bells. Within days, Charles had donated the full amount. The local salvation Army benefitted, too, when in 1937. he provided new instruments for their band.

That was the year of the coronation of George VI. To mark the occasion, Charles presented the town of Hythe with a new recreation ground, off Horn Street at the eastern end of the borough. It is still in use today.

The Horn Street recreation ground today

Possibly his most significant gift was that of a new lifeboat for Hythe. Named for his wife the Viscountess Wakefield was launched in 1934, equipped with a ‘tiny’ (ie 18 inches by 12 inches) wireless set made by four local amateurs. Unfortunately, the lifeboat was too big to fit in the lifeboat station, so another was hastily constructed and remains in situ today, though it now houses a fishmonger and beach restaurant.  Sadly, the Viscountess Wakefield was lost at Dunkirk in 1940, under controversial circumstances – but that is another story.  She was Hythe’s last lifeboat.

The ‘Viscountess Wakefield’….

…and her lifeboat station

Charles was made a Freeman of Hythe in 1930 and invited to become Mayor, but declined as he could not devote the necessary time to the job. Probably his last act of generosity to the town was made at the end of 1940, when he made a donation to the town council to send to each head teacher the money to provide boots and clothing for needy schoolchildren evacuated to Wales.

He died on 15 January 1941. A funeral service, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury,  was held at St Leonard’s church, Hythe and he was buried in Spring Lane cemetery – St Leonard’s churchyard had been closed for burials for many years.  It was snowing during the burial and ‘Tubby’ Clayton reportedly said that each snowflake was a ‘thank you’ from a London child  – the two men had worked together to relieve poverty in the East End

Charles’s grave                                                             www.findagrave.com

His wife, Sarah, outlived him by nine years, dying in Hythe in February 1950

In her will, she left £100,000 to her bank, to be distributed according to instructions she had put in a letter. Hythe Town Council received £10,000 to set up a charity for ‘persons in need’. It still operates today.

Sarah, Viscountess Wakefield with her only child, Freda

Then in 1957, Mackeson’s Brewery and Kent Newspapers Ltd  decided to inaugurate an annual ‘Wakefield Day’ to celebrate the life of the town’s benefactor. There was a great deal of civic ceremonial on the planned first day, 6 May. The Lord Mayor of London arrived by special train and the other Cinque Port mayors came too. There was a procession through the town; an assembly in the town hall, a luncheon at the Hotel Imperial and a service in St Leonard’s church. There were a lot of speeches and the ATC, the Girl Guides, the Boy Scouts and soldiers from the School of Musketry were drafted in to line the streets.  The event was never repeated, despite a few attempts to revive it right up until the 1990s. The interest was just not there.

The official programme for Wakefield Day 1957

Charles had, by 1957, been dead for sixteen years and memories were short.  If Wakefield Day had concentrated more on ordinary people rather than civic dignitaries, it might have survived. As it was, the local press was more excited that film stars John Mills and Richard Attenborough were at nearby Camber Sands making  a motion picture, ‘Dunkirk’

Today, even the Wakefields’ grand house is gone. ‘The Links’ became the headquarters of Portex, manufacturers of single-use medical equipment and was re-named Bassett House. It was accidentally burnt to the ground in 1960

But one tradition remains. Each year at the town’s Mayor Making, a few moments of silence are observed in the Town Hall as the new Mayor hangs a wreath by the portrait of Charles, 1st Viscount Wakefield of Hythe.