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    130412 heritage tales 130412 heritage tales Document Transcript

    • HERITAGE TALES 52 STORIES OF WIMBLEDON Compiled by Tony Matthews on behalf ofThe Wimbledon Society
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    • HERITAGE TALES 52 STORIES OF WIMBLEDON Compiled by Tony Matthews on behalf ofThe Wimbledon Society 3
    • The Wimbledon Society, Registered Charity (No 269478),was founded in 1903 and has had its present name since1982. (Originally the John Evelyn Club, it was known as theJohn Evelyn Society from 1949-82.) Its main objectives areto preserve Wimbledon’s amenities and natural beauty, studyits history, and ascertain that urban development issympathetic and orderly.Published by the Wimbledon Society Museum Press.Sales and distribution: Museum of Wimbledon, 22 Ridgway,London, SW19 4QN. Open 2.30-5.00 pm Saturday andSunday. Admission free.Go to www.wimbledonmuseum.org.uk to purchase online.Copyright: The Wimbledon Society 2013Text and design: Tony Matthews 2013All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be repro-duced, stored in a retrieval system, copied or transmitted inany form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photo-copying, recording or otherwise without the prior writtenpermission of the copyright owner. A catalogue record forthis book is available from the British Library.ISBN 978-0-9576151-0-6Printed and bound in Great Britain by Intype Libra Ltd,Units 3-4 Elm Grove Industrial Estate, Wimbledon, London,SW19 4HE (www.intypelibra.co.uk).Covers: Wimbledon Village Green (early 19th century). 4
    • CONTENTSINTRODUCTION…………………………………….81. The Last Headmaster of Eagle House……. ………102. Wimbledon’s Long Links with Dolls……………...133. Was the real Robinson Crusoe from Wimbledon?.............................................................164. Farewell to The Firs………………………………..185. Lost Forever -The Priceless Ceiling of Lauriston House………………………………...206. From Thebes to Wimbledon Common - The Tale of Howard Carter………………………237. Murray and the Lions of Wimbledon Lodge………268. Hundredth Pantomime Opens at Wimbledon Theatre………………………………..299. The Last Link with Merton Grove Disappears…………………………………3210. A Century of Christmas Greetings……………….3511. The Day Harry Lauder Left the Gloaming to Come to Wimbledon……………………..........3712. The Wimbledon Journalist who Sank with The Titanic……………………………4013. Wimbledon’s Dickensians…………………..........4314. Hillside Was Transformed in Just a Few Years……………………….…………4615. Wimbledon Schoolboy Founded Record-Breaking Radio Show……………............4916. Historic Watercolours Launch New Exhibition Gallery………………….………5217. Copse Hill Loses its Last Hospital after 140 Years……………………………………55 5
    • 18. Oliver Reed - Wimbledon’s Wildest Rebel………5819. The World Famous Viola Player of Marryat Road………………………………….6120. Colourful Story of Cannizaro Gets Another Hearing…………………………….6421. Wimbledon’s Most Successful Publishing Family………………………………..6722. The Wimbledon Radical who Rivalled Doctor Johnson……………………........7023. From London’s Sewers to the Fresh Air of Wimbledon………………………….7424. Wimbledon’s First Garden Centre…………..........7825. Music Hall Singing Star Hetty King Lived in Wimbledon………………………….......8126. Wimbledon’s Worst Vandalism…………….........8327. The Triumph and Tragedy of Wimbledon’s Own Sandy Denny………………..8628. Wimbledon Home was London’s First with Electricity and a Telephone………………...9029. The Stop/Start Story of Wimbledon’s Trams…….9430. From Wimbledon to The Stars……………….......9831. When Trains First Arrived at Wimbledon………10132. Miss Marple was a Wimbledonian………...........10433. The Last Time Wimbledon Celebrated a Diamond Jubilee………………………………10734. Why the Man who Overthrew Russia’s Last Tsar has a Wimbledon Grave……………..11035. The Engineer Who Completed Brunel’s Dream………………………………….11436. Inventor of Penicillin Settled in Wimbledon……117 6
    • 37. The African Emperor Who Found Refuge in Wimbledon…………………………..12038. The Sad Fate and Priceless Legacy of Joseph Toynbee……………………………...12339. When Archery Was All the Rage………….........12740. The Poet Who Took a Grave View of Wimbledon Life……………………………..13041. Merton’s 2012 Olympics Contrast with Earlier London Games……………………..13342. When the Greatest Defender of French Justice Sought Exile in Wimbledon…………….13643. Captain Marryat - The Wimbledonian Who Never Was…………………………………14044. Georgette Heyer - Wimbledon Novelist Extraordinaire……………………...……………14445. Epstein’s Peaceful Grave and Controversial Life…………………………........14846. Paradise Lost -Wimbledon Common Wildlife We May Never See Again……………..15147. The Wartime Minister Whose Wimbledon Hideaway was Bombed………………………...15448. Frequent Change in Wimbledon’s Century of Cinemas……………………….........15749. Satisfaction Guaranteed on the Commons………16150. Vesta Tilly -Truly a MajorStar………………….16551. Wimbledon’s Swedish Nightingale……… …….16852. The First Lady Went to School in Wimbledon…........171ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS………………………....174INDEX…………………………………………...….175 7
    • INTRODUCTIONEvery year has its contemporary events as well asanniversaries and commemorations of those long past -some of course much more significant than others. Thesmaller a geographical area of concentration, the fewerreally memorable years there are likely to be. Wimbledon,a small part of London, surely has its limits. But occasionally a year arrives bringing so manyimportant events and anniversaries that it demandsspecial recognition of its own. The year 2012 was such a year for Britain as a whole.Staging the Olympics and Paralympics, celebrating theQueen’s Diamond Jubilee, commemorating the sinkingof the Titanic, the 200th birthday of Charles Dickensand so on. No-one can possibly have missed them all. However, for Wimbledon, the year had even greaterresonance. Not only did each of these national eventshave special local significance, they also happened alongsidea whole string of other notable anniversaries. Wimbledon’s local history is as rich and diverse asthat of any town in the country. Originally its naturalattractions as well as its proximity to London made it afavourite venue for settlement by the wealthy and powerful.The past two centuries have seen that popularity extendto a much wider segment of society as urbanisationtransformed its identity and a small rural populationgrew into a large suburban residential one. In 2012 anniversaries came thick and fast of thebirths, deaths or significant activities of famous peoplelinked with Wimbledon. Those concerned were associated 8
    • with just about every imaginable field from the arts,sciences, archaeology, architecture, entertainment andsport to education, politics, health, warfare and evencrime. In most cases they were figures of national orglobal reputation who happened to live in Wimbledonitself or have their final resting places beside the Common. Equally notable were anniversaries of developments orchange - some gained for the area such as the first trains,trams, theatres and cinemas, others lost such as the oldhospitals, schools or pubs. The flow of history means, ofcourse, that such anniversaries will continue to be notedas long as civilization exists and in the case of Wimbledon,as long as it is a recognised entity within London. Many - but not all - of these events were captured bythe Wimbledon Society for a weekly Heritage series in theonline version of the Wimbledon Guardian newspaper.All of those that appeared in the first full year of thisseries are included in this book. It reads as it did whenpublished on each occasion by the newspaper, using thepresent tense where relevant rather than a generic pastas in a conventional history book. If you didn’t see each story then, you can do so now.I do hope you enjoy the experience. Tony Matthews, April 2013 9
    • 1. THE LAST HEADMASTER OF EAGLE HOUSE21 October, 2011: The second oldest building in Wimbledon,the 400-year-old Eagle House, has been empty for twoand half years and its future remains unknown. But theWimbledon Society has just acquired a photograph of thelast headmaster from the days when the building was aprestigious private school for boys. Dr Arthur Malan succeeded his father-in-law asheadmaster in 1874. Said to have a “magnetic” influenceon the pupils, he taught classics, mathematics, science,drawing and religion, coached them in cricket and foot-ball, and wrote stories for the popular journal, The Boy’sOwn Paper, in his spare time. His picture will now beadded to the extensive collection of the Museum ofWimbledon at 22 Ridgway which is run by theWimbledon Society. In his day, the school prepared pupils for entry toEton, Harrow and other top public schools. It had beenknown as Eagle House only since 1860 when an existingschool of that name moved there. But it had been takingpupils since 1790 when a local parson and formerschoolmaster, Thomas Lancaster, had bought the building. Originally known as Wimbledon School for YoungNoblemen and Gentlemen, it had been renamed NelsonHouse School after a visit by Lord Nelson in 1805,shortly before the Battle of Trafalgar. In the 1840s it hadbecome a Military Academy for future army officers headingfor Sandhurst. Then in 1860, Dr Malan’s father-in-law, 10
    • Dr Arthur Malan 11
    • the Rev Edward Huntingford, had moved Eagle HouseSchool there from its former home in Hammersmith. In 1886, at the end of the summer term, Dr Malanannounced the school was moving once more, this timefrom Wimbledon to Camberley. Although Eagle HouseSchool has continued to the present day elsewhere, thebuilding in Wimbledon Village has never again beenused for this purpose. It was saved from demolition after the school’sdeparture and restored as a family home by the architectSir Thomas Jackson. After the Second World War it wasused for offices and from 1988-2009 was an Islamic Heri-tage and Cultural Centre. Since that too moved else-where, Eagle House has been awaiting the next phase inits ever colourful history. 12
    • 2. WIMBLEDON’S LONG LINKS WITH DOLLS28 October, 2011: There’s little evidence today in localtoy shops but Wimbledon has longstanding links withdolls. Lucy Peck, one of the country’s top manufacturersof wax dolls in Victorian days, lived here and her great-grandson still does. Today he is proud owner of Rebeccaand Lucy, among the last remaining dolls she produced.Each has flowing christening robes and real Titian hair. Lucy Peck was uniquely skilled in fashioning angelicdolls from wax moulds. From the 1890s until the 1920sshe ran the Dolls Warehouse and then the Dolls’ Homeshop in London’s West End. One of her best knowncreations was the Princess Victoria Doll, based on apicture of the young Queen by the artist Mary Gow,now in the Royal Collection at Windsor. The originaldoll is thought to be one now displayed at the NationalTrust’s Museum of Childhood in Derbyshire. Lucy’s notebooks containing the recipes for her waxmodels and her sculpting tools are in the Bethnal GreenMuseum of Childhood. As the popularity of wax dollswaned, replaced by bisque, she switched to makingmannequins of real people - debutantes and titled ladies.She lived in Mansel Road, Wimbledon, and spent herfinal years in Kingston, attending Kingston Art Collegewhere she continued to sculpt and model in clay. But Wimbledon’s links with dolls continued. TheMuseum of London has one whose head was replaced atthe Dolls Hospital and Pram Shop at 138-140 MertonRoad. The owners Bailey and Bennett were described as“doll factors” and later as “baby carriage specialists” 13
    • in the 1930s. A family bought the business from Miss Bailey in theearly 1950s and continued running the shops as beforebut added more toys, renaming the place the DollsHospital and Toy Shop. This sold prams, pushchairs andwooden nursery furniture. It continued until the early 1960s when importedplastic dolls made in Hong Kong took over the market.With moving limbs, closing eyes and rooted hair, theywere unbreakable and much cheaper than the breakableones Lucy Peck had manufactured. Gradually the hospitalwork reduced and the business closed in 1969. But that was not entirely the end of the story. Thedigital doll, Lara Croft, star of computer games whoseTomb Raider adventures involve finding hidden relics,solving mind-numbing puzzles, scaling cliffs, jumpingcrevasses, and beating fearsome beasts, was created bythe team at Eidos Interactive, based at Hartfield Road inWimbledon town centre. She is said to have been bornin Wimbledon and to have attended Wimbledon HighSchool where she acquired her “authoritative, but sexy,cut-glass vowels”. 14
    • 15Rebecca and Lucy – two of the last remaining Victorian dolls made by Lucy Peck.
    • 3. WAS THE REAL ROBINSON CRUSOE FROM WIMBLEDON?4 November, 2011: The classic tale of Robinson Crusoe,stranded for years on a desert island, is usually thoughtto have been inspired by the real life castaway AlexanderSelkirk, who was similarly marooned in the Pacificduring the 17th century. But now it seems the actual inspiration for authorDaniel Defoe may have been a Wimbledon land-owner, one Robert Knox who was held captive for 19years in what today is Sri Lanka. Knox, a resident ofWimbledon Village who also owned land in today’sColliers Wood, finally escaped and wrote a best-sellingbook about his adventures entitled An HistoricalRelation Of The Island Ceylon, In The East-Indies:Together With An Account Of The Detaining In CaptivityOf The Author And Divers Other Englishmen NowLiving There, And Of The Authors Miraculous Escape. Some of his descriptions bear an uncanny resem-blance to Defoe’s story of Robinson Crusoe, publishedin 1719, and as Defoe would have read the book beforewriting his own, it may be more than a coincidence. Modern writer Katherine Frank will reveal all atWimbledon Village Hall on Saturday, 12 November(2pm) when she gives a talk on her new book Crusoe:Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of a Myth.Her Richard Milward Memorial Lecture will mark thefifth anniversary of the death of the Wimbledon historianwho first confirmed Robert Knox’s local links but with-out any reference to Crusoe. Knox (1642-1720) was asea captain working for Britain’s East India Company. 16
    • He was captured by Rajasingha, a Sinhalese despot,while visiting the country to repair his ship’s masts. In his book published in 1681, Knox wrote aboutleaving misleading footprints in the sand by walkingbackwards, also an important part of the RobinsonCrusoe story. It was Defoe who made the first mentionof Ceylon in English fiction. Katherine Frank spottedthis when researching a biography on him and believesshe has found the true origins of Robinson Crusoe afternearly 300 years. 17
    • The Firs where the classic novel Tom Brown’sSchooldays was written in 1857. 4. FAREWELL TO THE FIRS11 November, 2011: After more than eight years ofstanding derelict, the staff accommodation blocks at theformer Atkinson Morley’s Hospital in Copse Hill, WestWimbledon, were demolished last week to make wayfor new housing. The three blocks were known as The Firs and will bereplaced by eight smart new houses as part of a muchbigger re-development of the hospital site by BerkeleyHomes which bought the 23 acres last year. AlthoughThe Firs were regarded as setting a national standard forresidential provision when they went up in 1967 andincreased the available accommodation for doctors,nurses and other staff, they had long become an eyesoreand will not be missed. Ironically, that probably would not have been true 18
    • had their predecessor on the same site still been theretoday. The hospital blocks took their name from TheFirs, a single large house built in 1854 as an experimentin communal living for the families of two young barristers.The families kept open house and famous visitors in-cluded prolific authors Charles Kingsley (1819-75) whowrote The Water-Babies (1863), Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell(1810-65) who penned Cranford (1853) and The Life ofCharlotte Bronte (1857), and Alexander Macmillan whofounded one of Britain’s best known publishing companies. Moreover, one of the two barristers was himself theauthor Thomas Hughes (1822-96), who wrote TomBrown’s Schooldays (1857) while living at The Firs.The book was inspired by his own son’s experiences ata public school. Sadly the boy, Maurice, died aged 11and his parents left The Firs soon afterwards because ofits tragic associations for them. Atkinson Morley’s Hospital bought the house in1950 for £5000 and used it to accommodate juniormedical staff until the blocks went up 17 years later. Itwas also used as a sports pavilion in the late 1950s andas an outpatient clinic. House is demolished in 1967 to make way for nurses’ flats. 19
    • 5. LOST FOREVER - THE PRICELESS CEILING OF LAURISTON HOUSE18 November, 2011: A large new residence is going upon the site of one of Wimbledon’s most historic homes,Lauriston House off Southside, Wimbledon Common.When this was demolished in 1957, a priceless ceilingpainted by the famous Swiss Neoclassical artist AngelicaKauffmann (1741-1807) was lost forever. The househad also been the home of the anti-slavery campaignerWilliam Wilberforce. Originally known as Laurel Grove, Lauriston Housewas built in 1724 for William Jackson. It was set inthree acres and next to four cottages pre-dating 1684which became the stable block. Jackson’s widow soldthe house in 1752 to Wilberforce’s uncle. He commis-sioned Kauffman to paint magnificent murals for themain stairwell and in 1782 his famous nephew moved into enjoy them. Wilberforce’s friend, William Pitt the Younger, wasthen Chancellor of the Exchequer and about to be-come Prime Minister. He became a regular visitor andhe and Wilberforce became known for their drinkingsessions there. One morning the flower beds were foundto have been sown with fragments of a guest’s dress hat.Wilberforce left the house in 1786 and launched hislong anti-slavery campaign the next year but Pitt continuedto visit Wimbledon regularly as his Cabinet colleaguesRichard Grenville and Henry Dundas also lived nearbyin what later became Eagle House and CannizaroHouse respectively. Laurel Grove was renamed Lauriston House in the 20
    • Lauriston House in 1913 when known for its familyconcerts and parties. Priceless Angelica Kauffmannmurals, commissioned by William Wilberforce’suncle were still in place at the time. 21
    • 1870s. It had many subsequent owners and at one pointwhen it was run as a school for girls, the Kauffmannmurals were covered up because of the nudity of somefigures. In 1902, the house was bought by Sir ArthurFell, a wealthy solicitor and international businessmanwho had earlier lived first in Worple Road and thenRidgway Place. As MP for Great Yarmouth from 1906-21, he became an early campaigner for a Channel Tunnel.He was also a painter and Lauriston House was be-decked with his works. It became known too for musicalparties where two orchestras performed classical anddance pieces. Fell died suddenly in 1934 while cashing a cheque atBarclays Bank in the Village. When his widow died 23years later, Lauriston House was demolished and thegarden sold for housing development. All that remaintoday are the adjacent Lauriston Cottage and the nameLauriston Road. Neoclassical artist Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) 22
    • 6. FROM THEBES TO WIMBLEDON COMMON – THE TALE OF HOWARD CARTER25 November, 2011: Exactly 89 years ago this weekend,one of the world’s most famous archaeologists made adiscovery that would inspire millions right up to thepresent day. Howard Carter himself now lies buried besideWimbledon Common in Putney Vale Cemetery. But on26 November 1922 after many years of searching onbehalf of his private financier, the Earl of Carnarvon, he 23
    • finally reached seals guarding the 3245-year-old tombof King Tutankhamen of Egypt (pictured on Page 23). The young monarch had died aged around 18 and hisburial chamber remained intact for thousands of yearsbeneath the tomb of a later king. Beyond the seals,Carter found an antechamber leading to the burial chamberitself. It contained a huge quantity of gold and hundredsof antiquities – so many that it would take anotherdecade to unearth and catalogue them all. Carter had originally suspected the existence ofTutankhamen’s tomb at the turn of the century whensupervising excavations at Thebes in the Valley of theKings on behalf of Egypt’s government antiquitiesdepartment. Since 1914 he had been working for LordCarnarvon but years of searching for the tomb hadpassed without success. Finally Carnarvon, having lost agreat deal of money, suggested they give up but Carterpersuaded him to hold out for one more season. On 4 November 1922 he found the entrance to atomb but was not yet sure of the identity. He telegraphedCarnarvon to come at once as he dared not enter withouthis patron. On 26 November, with Carnarvon behindhim, he breached the doorway and by candlelight sawthe gold and ebony hoard with two statues guardingthe entrance to the burial chamber itself. He had toawait permission from the Egyptian authorities beforeentering but on 16 February 1923, he and Carnarvonopened the doorway and found the sarcophagus ofTutankhamen. There was worldwide press coverage and rumoursarose of a curse on those who had disturbed the boyking. Lord Carnarvon’s untimely death and those 24
    • of others reinforced them. Many books and films aboutthe curse of the mummy’s tomb followed and for awhile Carter gave illustrated lectures on his discoveries.Eventually he retired to an isolated life of failing healthand collecting antiquities until dying of cancer in 1939. Carter’s own grave beside Wimbledon Common hasno golden artefacts but the stone contains the inscription:“May your spirit live, May you spend millions of years,You who love Thebes, Sitting with your face to thenorth wind, Your eyes beholding happiness.” The golden sarcophagus of Tutankhamen remainsone of the world’s greatest museum attractions. Howard Carter 25
    • 7. MURRAY AND THE LIONS OF WIMBLEDON LODGE2 December, 2011: Pet-owners using the Stone Lionveterinary surgery in High Street, Wimbledon Villagewill notice the two stone lions outside which give thepractice its name. They have nothing to do with pets.They were acquired from the front of WimbledonLodge, a Greek Revival style mansion which stoodon Southside, Wimbledon Common, from around 1792until 1905. Its grounds ran right down to the Ridgwayand also included a field further down the hill. The house was built for a French Huguenot’s son,Gerard de Visme, who died in 1797 and was buried at StMary’s Church in the Village. The house was left to hisdaughter Emily and her husband, Major-General SirHenry Murray (1784-1860), son of the Earl of Mans-field. He fought against Napoleon in Egypt and Spainand rode his horse, St Patrick, in a heroic cavalry chargeat Waterloo in 1815. A drawing from 1806 shows thehouse had Egyptian sphinxes on the roof and a statueabove the porch as well as the stone lions on each side. With his military career behind him, Sir Henry becamea notable figure in local Wimbledon affairs and was activein the Vestry, the local authority of the day. He stronglyopposed the banning of Wimbledon’s annual Easter fairin 1840, calling it one of the few festivals “the labouringclasses have the opportunity of enjoying”. He andEmily had five children, including Arthur, a soldier sonkilled fighting the Boers in South Africa in 1848, and adaughter named Gertrude. After Sir Henry’s death, thefamily donated heavily to the new St John’s Church 26
    • In 1806, the lions could be seen on plinths on each side of the porch.The lions were gone 99 years later when this picture was taken. Now they stand outside the veterinary surgery in Wimbledon Village. 27
    • when it was built in the 1870s. Gertrude lived to the age of 90 and never left thehouse. She died in 1904 and it was pulled down and thegrounds sold for development. Murray Road now coversthe site but the original semi-circular drive which onceled up to the entrance remains at the junction withSouthside. The two stone lions somehow made their way to theveterinary practice where they used to stand immedi-ately outside the front door. When a new extension tothe surgery opened in the 1990s at the rear, they weremoved around the side and can now be seen in front ofthe present entrance. Two new lions replaced them outside the old frontdoor on the High Street itself. In Sir Henry Murray’s daythe British lion was frequently used to represent nationalpride. Best known were those in Trafalgar Square. Sir Henry Murray 28
    • 8. HUNDREDTH PANTOMIME OPENS AT WIMBLEDON THEATRE9 December, 2011: When the stars of this year’s pantomimeat Wimbledon Theatre walk on stage for the first timetoday, they will be the 100th cast to do so. Pantomimes have been performed every year bar twosince the theatre opened its doors for the first time onBoxing Day 1910. Only the winters of 1941-2 and2003-4 saw no performances as a result, respectively, ofwar and refurbishment. This year’s pantomime starring Barry Humphries asDame Edna Everage will be the 12th time that DickWhittington has been performed. Once more the legendaryfortune seeker will be “turning again” towards his destinyas Mayor of London, accompanied of course by his cat. It is nine years since Whittington’s last appearancewhen comedian Russ Abbott headed the cast. The previousten times before that began in 1932 with Patrick Colbertand continued every few years until 1997 when the castincluded John Nettles and Lesley Joseph. Between thosecame an extraordinary assortment of Dick Whittingtonstars including Jon Pertwee in 1949, Adam Faith in1960, Norman Vaughan and Jack Douglas in 1971,Jimmy Tarbuck in 1975, Eric Sykes and Roy Kinnear in1981, and Les Dawson in 1991, appearing alongsideJohn Nettles the first time round. Only two other pantomime favourites have outnum-bered Dick Whittington over the past century: an impressive19 productions of Cinderella and 14 of Aladdin. Clearly,Wimbledon audiences have taken well to the Ugly Sistersand Widow Twanky. Today’s generation of pantomime 29
    • An earlier production of Dick Whittington over 50 years ago. 30
    • fans have even been treated to two productions each ofthese since the theatre reopened in 2004. They have alsohad two Peter Pan productions, although the perennial flyingyouth and his fairy accomplice have only ever appearedfour times in Wimbledon, the first as recently as 1988with Lulu. Jack and the Beanstalk has made it a more respectableeight times, the Babes in the Wood six times and MotherGoose five. Also-rans have included four Little RedRiding Hoods and two productions each of Goldilocksand the Three Bears, Humpty Dumpty and Puss inBoots. By contrast, Robinson Crusoe has been a compara-tive favourite with six productions since 1913 and mostrecently in 1987 with Dennis Waterman and Rula Lenska.Whether the recent Wimbledon Society lecture whichsuggested a special link between Wimbledon and thefictional castaway will make any impact on planning offuture productions remains to be seen. However it maybe worth noting that earlier Crusoes included the Goon,Michael Bentine, in 1953. Ugly Sisters have appeared in no fewer than 19 productions of Cinderella. 31
    • The Grove Hotel as it was known c 1910. 9. THE LAST LINK WITH MERTON GROVE TO DISAPPEAR16 December, 2011: Yet another local pub, The Grove,on the corner of Morden Road and Kingston Road atSouth Wimbledon, is currently under threat of closure.In recent times we have lost many of our local pubs andeach time we do so we lose another little bit of localhistory. Already gone recently is the Emma Hamiltonat Wimbledon Chase, recalling the time when she andLord Nelson lived nearby until his death at the Battle ofTrafalgar in 1805. The Grove has been there since 1865 and was namedafter Merton Grove, the estate which stood on the oppositecorner bounded by Merton Road, Kingston Road, Mon-tague Road and Pelham Road. This estate was owned by Sir Richard Hotham, theprevious occupant of nearby Merton Place before Nelson’s 32
    • time there with Lady Hamilton. Merton Grove was builtin 1792 and had a large orchard, grapery, paddocks,coach house, stables and pleasure grounds. Sir Richard Hotham was a colourful character whowas involved in local affairs, stood as an MP and wasknighted by King George III in 1769. He was alsoresponsible for turning Bognor from a small fishingvillage into what he hoped would be a fashionableresort, like Brighton, to attract dignitaries and royalty.He had originally wanted to call the town Hothampton.(Its official royal link had to wait until a 20th centuryvisit by King George V after which it became known asBognor Regis.) After Hotham’s death Merton Grove went throughseveral hands before finally being demolished in 1896.Merton Place in 1803. It was Sir Richard Hotham’sresidence before he moved to the neighbouringMerton Grove. 33
    • When South Wimbledon tube station was built 30 yearslater in 1926, one of the names considered for it wasMerton Grove. Curiously, “Merton” Grove was actuallyin what was then the borough of Wimbledon while whatbecame South Wimbledon station was actually in Merton!The anomaly continued until the present Borough ofMerton was created in 1965, merging Wimbledonwith its neighbour. If the Grove pub is closed down the last remainingconnection with what was once Merton Grove will belost. True, there is a Hotham Road off Merton HighStreet which commemorates Sir Richard but there willbe no remaining direct link with what was once describedas “a rural spot with shady groves and views over freshunbroken country.” Every time we lose a pub we lose much more thanjust a place to drink.FOOTNOTE: The Grove did close finally during 2012. 34
    • 10.A CENTURY OF CHRISTMAS GREETINGS23 December, 2012: The season of goodwill is one ofthe few aspects of Wimbledon life that has remainedbasically the same for the past 100 years. Back in the early years of the 20th century, WimbledonVillage Club produced a sepia Christmas card showingthe Village Hall entrance in Lingfield Road. It is shownabove. Since 1916. the building has also hosted whatwas originally called the Wimbledon Museum of theJohn Evelyn Club. Today it is simply the Museum ofWimbledon with its entrance at 22 Ridgway. Run byWimbledon Society volunteers, it opens free of chargeevery Saturday and Sunday. The Museum of Wimbledon produces Christmascards every year, now of course in glorious colour ratherthan sepia. This year’s card depicts children playing in 35
    • snow at West Place on Wimbledon Common, paintedby local artist John Field. It is shown below. Christmas decorations too date back a long way inWimbledon. But today’s electric lights have succeededthe bunting that bedecked the streets a century ago. Thephoto below shows the Christmas scene around 1908when a carriage driven by Santa Claus and advertisingTeddy Bears passed the old Wimbledon Town Hall. 36
    • 11. THE DAY HARRY LAUDER LEFT THEGLOAMING TO COME TO WIMBLEDON30 December, 2011: As Hogmanay approaches onceagain, it is worth remembering the day 101 years agowhen one of the country’s most famous Scotsmen, themusic hall entertainer Harry Lauder, made a star appear-ance before a crowd in Wimbledon. The later Sir Harry Lauder (1870-1950) was thensynonymous with the image of Scotland, singing songslike Roaming in the Gloaming and Keep Right on to theEnd of the Road before audiences in Britain and aroundthe Empire. He performed before royalty and would stirpatriotic hearts during both world wars. The Museum of Wimbledon recently received a photograph of the day in late 1910 when he appeared in the town. He was invited to the formal opening of the Wimbledon Hippodrome, a new cinema (known as an “electric theatre”) and skating rink opposite Ely’s store in Worple Road where the Bath Store stands today. Sir Harry Lauder at the height of his fame 37
    • The cinema showed silent films, of course, and theskating rink was designed to meet a new craze at thetime for roller skating. Lauder’s son happened to belongto a local hockey club so he was conveniently nearby toattend the opening. He told the Wimbledon crowd that he had personallyresisted the lure of roller skates until his son hadpersuaded him to put on a pair in his billiard room. Hehad careered across the room, crashed into the fireplace,and never worn them again. After commenting on thepresence of a large group of ladies, he sang a few linesof the song Goodbye Till We Meet Again and left toloud applause. His departure in his motor car was filmedand later shown at the cinema. But as it happened, despite the great man’s rousinglaunch, the Hippodrome did not prove successful. It hadreplaced a similar establishment on the same site calledWimbledon Olympia Ltd which had lasted less than ayear before being wound up, owing £10,461 9s. 9d. TheHippodrome didn’t even make it that long. It closedafter just five months. Local entrepreneur Alfred Hewitt Smith of 10 HomePark Road had achieved a triumph in getting HarryLauder to open the place. It was his only success in acareer of continued business failure which eventuallysaw him go bankrupt. 38
    • Harry Lauder stands with his hands on his hips atthe opening of the Wimbledon Hippodrome inDecember 1910. Also in this photo of the day are hiswife and, standing on the right, local businessmanAlfred Hewitt Smith whose only career success wasarranging the star’s appearance on that day. 39
    • William T. Stead, journalist, spiritualist, and victim of the last century’s most notorious tragedy at sea.J Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line survived the Titanic sinking and was never forgiven for it. 40
    • 12. THE WIMBLEDON JOURNALIST WHO SANK WITH THE TITANIC6 January, 2012: Journalist W.T. Stead, one of the bestknown victims of the Titanic disaster exactly 100 yearsago in April this year, was also one of Wimbledon’smost famous residents. William Thomas Stead (1849-1912) lived atCambridge House, Wimbledon Park Road South (nowpart of Church Road). At 2.20am, 15 April 1912 he wason the world’s most famous ship as it sank into theNorth Atlantic after striking an iceberg. An ardent spiritualist as well as editor of The PallMall Gazette, he seems to have foretold the disaster. In1886 he had written a story about the sinking of anocean liner and how lives were lost because of aninsufficient number of lifeboats. At the end he warnedthat this would really happen. Later, in December 1892 he had written anotherstory entitled From the Old World to the New in theReview of Reviews in which a ship sank in the NorthAtlantic after striking an iceberg. The White Star linerMajestic saved some survivors and was commanded byEdward J. Smith. Twenty years later the same manreally was captain of the White Star liner, Titanic. The Titanic disaster ended a career that had madeStead a household name many years earlier. Son of aCongegationalist minister, he wrote for the NorthernEcho, Darlington, before coming south to The Pall MallGazette in 1880, becoming editor in 1883. He turned itinto a “lively, amusing and newsy” populist campaigning 41
    • newspaper. In 1884 he interviewed General CharlesGordon shortly before his notorious murder by Jihadistsin the Sudan and in 1885 he launched a campaign to opposechild prostitution in London and raise the age of consentat the time from 12. Stead’s campaign put him in prison. To publicise theplight of child prostitutes, he arranged to buy a youngvirgin for £5 and then tell the tale. Helped by RebeccaJarrett, a former prostitute, he convinced the mother of13-year-old Eliza Armstrong that the girl would just go intodomestic service. Eliza was taken to a house in PolandStreet, chloroformed and taken away to Paris whileStead published a story said to “set London and thewhole country in a blaze of indignation”. But while securing massive newspaper sales, he waswidely criticised for publishing obscene material. Themissing Eliza was eventually discovered in Stead’sWimbledon garden and he was convicted of havingfraudulently taken her from her parents. He spent threemonths in Holloway Prison (not then all-female) but hiscampaign was vindicated when the Criminal LawAmendment Act raised the age of consent from 12 to 16,banning procurement of minors. To mark the Act, Steadwould henceforth travel by train from Wimbledon toWaterloo in his prison garb every 10 November. Stead’s remains now lie beneath the North Atlantic butthe Titanic story has another permanent local link. JosephBruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, was alsoon board and afterwards criticised for escaping in a life-boat while 1500 people drowned. His career was ruinedbut when he died on 17 October 1937, he was buried atPutney Vale cemetery, next to Wimbledon Common. 42
    • Charles Dickens and his son, Henry Fielding Dickens, in youth. 13. WIMBLEDON’S DICKENSIANS13 January, 2012: Charles Dickens may never havelived in Wimbledon but he sent four of his seven sons toschool here and a link remains to the present day. Britain’s greatest novelist, whose birth bicentenary fallsnext month on 7th February, selected Wimbledon Schoolfor his sons Walter, Alfred, Edward and Henry. Whenthe first two arrived in the 1850s, the school was basedat what was to become Eagle House in the Village butin 1860 it moved to specially built premises in Edge Hillwhich was where the younger two sons started. It had a reputation for training future military entrants toSandhurst and Walter went on to a brief but successfularmy career in India before dying suddenly aged just 22.Neither Alfred nor Edward proved able to follow him 43
    • into the military and both later sought new lives inAustralia, but Henry was well regarded by the headmasterwho recommended him for Cambridge. He went on to along and highly distinguished career and is now buriedbeside the Common at Putney Vale Cemetery, alongwith his wife and one of his own sons. Sir Henry Fielding Dickens, the writer’s last survivingchild, was born exactly 163 years ago this week on 16thJanuary 1849. Charles and Catherine Dickens had tenchildren in all and Henry Fielding – named after one ofthe writer’s own favourite novelists - was their sixth son(Edward was the seventh). He lived to the age of 84 anddied on 21 December 1933, two weeks after being hit bya motorcycle on Chelsea Embankment. He was brought up at Dickens’s home in Gad’s Hill,Kent, and was also educated at other schools in Rochesterand Boulogne. At Wimbledon he did well and achievedthe position of Head Censor. However, in view of hisbrothers’ records on admission to the army, his fatherplanned to enter him for the Indian Civil Service insteaduntil the headmaster recommended him for CambridgeUniversity. He duly went on to Trinity Hall. There hethrilled the great novelist by winning the college’s bestscholarship for mathematics. But sadly he was still atthe university when Charles Dickens died in 1870 andnever saw his father alive again. After graduating he switched to law, was called tothe bar in 1873, appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1892,became a Bencher of the Inner Temple in 1899, and wasa Recorder in Kent for some years before his appoint-ment as Common Sergeant of the City of London in1917. In that post until his retirement in 1932, he 44
    • presided over many criminal cases at the Old Bailey. Hewas knighted in 1922. Although he didn’t inherit his father’s genius as awriter, he was a great impressionist and started at a veryyoung age, performing the role of Tom Thumb along-side his father and sisters at a school production whenjust four. In later life at family gatherings he would imitatehis father’s famous reading performances, wearing ageranium in his buttonhole and leaning on the same velvet-covered reading stand the novelist had used on histours. He celebrated his 80th birthday by reading thewhole of A Christmas Carol perfectly. He also per-formed for charity, raising funds for the Red Cross andwas Life President of the Dickens Fellowship. Sir Henry Fielding Dickens and his French wifeMarie were married for 57 years and she joined him atPutney Vale when she died in 1940. They had sevenchildren and one of their sons, Philip Charles Dickens,is also buried there. Sir Henry Fielding Dickens in later life as an Old Bailey judge. 45
    • 14. HILLSIDE WAS TRANSFORMED IN A FEW YEARS20 January, 2012: New building developments arehappening all the time these days and no-one alive nowremembers when Wimbledon’s long hillside slopingdown from the Ridgway to the railway line into Londonconsisted entirely of market gardens and pasture forlivestock. The fields had names such as Little LadiesClose and Cater Gutters. Yet the change to today’sresidential slopes was made within a very short spaceof time. At the top of the hill, the Ridgway stretches fromWimbledon Village to Copse Hill while at the bottom,the railway line beside Worple Road links the towncentre and Raynes Park. In the 1820s a few cottageswere built in South Place behind today’s Thornton Hilland by 1855 a beer shop stood on the present site of TheSwan pub in the Ridgway. But these apart, the entirehillside consisted largely of fields in 1858 when the firsthouses appeared at the top end of Ridgway Place andHillside. Within a year or so, houses were built in ThorntonRoad, named after the wealthiest man in Britain andlocal landowner, Richard Thornton. By 1860, modelcottages and other houses had arisen in South Road –later renamed Denmark Road - with more in what becameSt John’s Road. The Ridgway’s other shops appearedtoo during this period. It was the wedding of Edward, Prince of Wales, toPrincess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863 that broughtthat country’s name to Wimbledon, remembered today 46
    • Watercolours painted before the disappearance of rural Wimbledon.Shown above is the view from the topof Thornton Hill in1873. Seen right is Worple Road at the bottom of the same hill a year later. It was a typical Surrey scene.by the Princess Alexandra pub in the town centre.Building began at that time on the lower part of the hill.It would give rise to Denmark Avenue and at the sametime Thornton Road was extended to become ThorntonHill. St John’s Church was built in 1873-5 and its roadwidened. The first houses in Spencer Hill were built in 47
    • 1879, as was Berkeley Place on land owned by oneEdward Berkeley Philipps. In just a few years the rural atmosphere had gone.Not long afterwards virtually the entire hillside had beentransformed into a suburban area but there were still afew patches of greenery left. Gertrude Murray of Wimbledon Lodge, beside theCommon (see page 28), owned a nearby field whichwas developed into Murray Road South immediatelyafter her death in 1904. As late as the 1920s the lowerpart of Ridgway Place was still a wildflower meadowbut it eventually went under the bulldozer too. Finally, a century after it all started, Savona Closeand Thackeray Close went up in the late 1960s, thelatter named after the famous novelist whose daughterhad lived in Berkeley Place. 48
    • 15. WIMBLEDON SCHOOLBOYFOUNDED RECORD-BREAKING RADIO SHOW27 January, 2012: Today marks the 70th anniversary ofthe world’s second longest running radio show, inventedby a former pupil of King’s College School, Wimbledon. Exceeded only by the Grand Ole Opry in America,BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, brain-child ofbroadcaster Roy Plomley (1914-85), was first recordedon 27 January 1942 and aired two days later. Nearly2900 programmes in the series have been heard sincethen, of which Plomley presented the first 1784 himselfover 43 years. Roy Plomley lived with his parents in Trinity Road,Wimbledon. He left the area after his school days butthe link remains to this day, as when he died he was buriedin Putney Vale Cemetery beside Wimbledon Common.The son of a pharmacist, after King’s he worked for anestate agent, an advertising agency, a publisher and asan actor before joining a commercial radio station inFrance as an announcer in 1936. Escaping the Germans in 1940, he returned to Englandand in 1941 wrote to the BBC with the idea for a weeklyprogramme in which a well known guest was askedwhich eight records they would like with them if castaway on a desert island. The first castaway ever was VicOliver, a Viennese comedian, actor and musician who alsohappened to be the son-in-law of Winston Churchill. Hisfirst choice was a piece by Chopin. Desert Island Discs proved an immediate success thanks 49
    • One of BBC Radio 4’s best-loved programmes. BySean Magee, published by Bantam Press. Used bypermission of The Random House Group Limited. 50
    • to Plomley’s skill as an interviewer and meticulous research on each interviewee. A few months later he became the castaway himself for one show, interviewed by the head of popular programmes. Eventually, each guest was also asked to choose one book and one luxury item for the is- land. However, as everyone askedfor either the Bible or Shakespeare’s plays, thesewere assumed to be awaiting them on their arrival andanother work had to be named. Over 43 years Plomley interviewees included amongothers 842 stage, screen or radio stars, 469 musicians,367 writers, 117 sports champions, 75 art or fashiondesigners, 66 politicians or public servants, 60 academics,and four royals, including Princess Margaret and PrincessGrace of Monaco. He continued to present the programme until hisdeath in 1985. He was succeeded by Michael Parkinson. SueLawley took over in 1988 and Kirsty Young in 2006. 51
    • Copse Hill, Wimbledon, 1931 by Kate Sidford. The Salon at Wimbledon House, Parkside, c1815 by Maria Marryat.52
    • 16. HISTORIC WATERCOLOURS LAUNCH NEW EXHIBITION GALLERY3 February, 2012: Some 55 historic watercolours ofWimbledon, painted over two centuries between 1780and 1985, will go on display in the first ever exhibitionat the brand new Village Hall Trust Gallery, openingtomorrow Saturday, 4 February. The show, entitled Town and Country Wimbledon, isthe first opportunity to see many of the works collectedby the Museum of Wimbledon since its foundation 96years ago in 1916. The paintings have been acquiredthrough donations, bequests and works by new localartists. The new gallery provides an extension to theMuseum itself at 22 Ridgway and entry to this exhibition isvia the Museum’s Perry Room on weekend afternoons. The watercolours depict Wimbledon’s rural and urbanheritage through works by local painters over 200 years.The earliest painting, by John Melchior Barralet, depictsSt Mary’s Church c1780. It is the collection’s onlycontemporary drawing of the medieval church and wasmade shortly before its rebuilding in 1788. A tithe barnshown was dismantled in the 1860s to allow for anextension to the churchyard. Other very early works include Maria Marryat’s TheSalon at Wimbledon House, Parkside, c1815 and JohnChessell Buckler’s monochrome of Eagle House in1827. Wimbledon House Parkside, which had one of theregion’s finest gardens stretching over 100 acres, wasdemolished at the start of the 20th century but EagleHouse, still standing in the High Street, is Wimbledon’ssecond oldest building, dating back to 1613. 53
    • By contrast, other works in the exhibition include arural Copse Hill as recently as 1931, Croft’s TimberYard at West Place in 1910, and scenes from the annualNational Rifle Association camp on the Common in the1870s. Public art exhibitions in Wimbledon date back to1876 when the Wimbledon Art & Benevolent Societystaged its first charity fund-raising show of oils andwater-colours in the Village Hall. This became an annualevent and gradually diversified to include photographs,wood carving, sculpture, book binding and needlework. The Art & Benevolent Society changed its name in1906 to the Wimbledon Arts and Crafts Society. In thatyear, Richardson Evans, then a recent founder of whatlater became the Wimbledon Society, appealed to localartists to lend pictures for an exhibition illustrating “Oldand Picturesque Wimbledon” before it disappeared for-ever. Many of the pictures loaned became permanentand helped create a collection for the Museum after itwas established at the Village Hall during the FirstWorld War. Future Museum of Wimbledon exhibitions in thenew gallery will feature the hundreds of other imagesfrom the collection, which also includes photographs,topographical engravings, sketches, 19th century steelengravings and newsprint, original drawings and etchings.Town and Country Wimbledon runs until 25 April 2012.After that, until the next exhibition by the Museum it-self, the gallery will be used by local artists and schoolswith access via the Village Hall entrance in LingfieldRoad. 54
    • Atkinson Morley’s Convalescent Hospital opens in 1869. 17. COPSE HILL LOSES ITS LAST HOSPITAL AFTER 140 YEARS10 February, 2012: Next month’s closure of the 32-bedWolfson Neurorehabilitation Centre will mark the endof 143 years of hospitals at Copse Hill, West Wimbledon.Not that long ago there were three of them - AtkinsonMorley’s, Wimbledon Hospital, and the Wolfson itself. The first hospital building work started in 1867 onwhat had previously been part of the 300-acre estate ofthe late Lord Cottenham, Lord Chancellor. Two yearslater, Atkinson Morleys Convalescent Hospital took inits first patients for the recovery process following treat-ment at St George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner. It was 55
    • named after Atkinson Morley, a governor of StGeorge’s, who had bequeathed £150,000 specifically forconstruction of a peaceful convalescent home. Thebuilding in rural Wimbledon was the first purpose-builtfacility of its kind associated with an inner city hospital. The following year, 1870, saw opening of WimbledonCottage Hospital just across the lane from AtkinsonMorley’s. Among its founders was the Chancery barrister,Edward Thurston Holland whose name lives on todaythrough Thurston Road. It was rebuilt in 1912 and re-opened with 37 beds, simply named Wimbledon Hospital. For more than a century the two hospitals operatedon each side of the road. A sixth of all St George’spatients from Hyde Park Corner convalesced at AtkinsonMorley’s, with patients and laundry transported toWimbledon at first in horse-drawn carriages and after1888 in an omnibus. Wimbledon Hospital, on the otherhand, was primarily for local patients, although bothestablishments were used by wounded servicemen duringthe First World War and Wimbledon Hospital in particulartreated over 500 men, with marquees in the groundscomplementing its capacity. Both hospitals were upgraded during the SecondWorld War with much greater bed numbers and bothhad their own homes for staff on site. In 1942 AtkinsonMorley’s original convalescent role was permanentlychanged when its surgical wards were taken over forneurosurgery, and after the war this became its primaryrole. It specialised in head injuries, attaining an interna-tional reputation for excellence. Wimbledon Hospital, meanwhile, joined the NHS in1948 with 84 beds under the control of the South-West 56
    • Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. In 1949 departments of psychiatry and neuroradiologywere established at Atkinson Morley’s Hospital and by1954 it had 44 neurosurgical beds, 16 neurological and50 psychiatric, with 14 beds available for continuity andrecovery. Then, in 1967, exactly 100 years after the firstbuilding work on site, the Wolfson NeurorehabilitationCentre opened next door as Britain’s first facility dedicatedto neurological recovery. It provided rehabilitation forpatients needing intensive therapy for physical or psy-chological disabilities following brain or spinal cordinjuries. But only 14 years later Copse Hill’s association withhospitals suffered its first hit. In 1981 it was decided toclose Wimbledon Hospital and move its services else-where. This finally happened in 1983 when servicesmoved to the Nelson at Merton Park and the hospitalwas demolished the following year to be replaced by ahousing estate. Nearly 20 years later in 2003, AtkinsonMorley’s also closed and its services were transferred toSt George’s Hospital, now in Tooting since beingmoved from Hyde Park Corner in 1980. Closure of the Wolfson in March 2012 will set thefinal seal for Copse Hill as its beds are also moved, firstto St George’s in Tooting and later to Queen Mary’s atRoehampton. Some 147 patients had been treated inthe last year when the closure announcement was madepublic. More new housing is expected to replace it.FOOTNOTE: The site has since been renamedWimbledon Hill Park by the developer. 57
    • Oliver Reed told his own story in this paperback published by Coronet Books in 1981. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton. 58
    • 18. OLIVER REED – WIMBLEDON’S WILDEST REBEL17 February 2012: The Wimbledon-born screen actorOliver Reed would have celebrated his 74th birthday thisweek on Monday, 13 February. As it was, after appearingin well over 60 films, he died suddenly on 2 May 1999while making his last one, Gladiator. It was completedwithout him - using special effects. Reed’s whole life was a special effect. Born at No 9Durrington Park Road, near Raynes Park, his familybackground was spectacular. He was a grandson of thefamous Victorian actor-producer Sir Herbert BeerbohmTree by his mistress Beatrice May Pinney. She changedher name to Reed because she felt she was “a brokenreed at the foot of the mighty Tree”. In later life shelived at 12 Lingfield Road, Wimbledon Village, and twoof her illegitimate children were Oliver Reed’s father, Peter,a well known sports journalist, and the film director SirCarol Reed. After being expelled from 13 other schools, OliverReed succeeded in becoming captain of athletics andjunior cross-country champion at Ewell Castle School.He left age 17 and worked as a strip club bouncer, fair-ground boxer and mortuary attendant before NationalService where he was rejected for an officer’s commis-sion while serving in the Army Medical Corps. Afterwards he drifted into acting as a film extra in1958. Carol Reed offered him a small part and advisedhim to enrol at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art buthe refused to work for his uncle before achieving starstatus. He rejected RADA too - curious perhaps, as his 59
    • grandfather had been its founder in 1904. In 1959, Oliver Reed married his first wife, Katie. Helived in various Wimbledon flats in Marryat Road,Woodside, Homefield Road and Arterberry Road but bythe late 1960s had become one of Britains highest paidactors and moved into a large house in Ellerton Road,off Copse Hill. He became a keen horse-rider on theCommon and the lounge was said to resemble that of acountry squire with military and hunting prints, a guncollection, and of course a well stocked bar. He was alsowell known at the Hand in Hand pub and developed areputation for drinking with companions on a monu-mental scale as well as chasing women. Not surprisinglyhe and Katie were divorced in 1969. He had already appeared in several Hammer horrorfilms and many other pictures before playing Bill Sykesin the musical Oliver in 1968 which made him an inter-national star. In 1971 he left Wimbledon for good, movingto a gigantic house in Dorking. He became even more ofa household name by starring in several of director KenRussell’s most controversial films including Women inLove, The Devils and Tommy. From then on his career was always associated withan off-screen lifestyle as wild as that of anyone in showbusiness. He was 61 when – fittingly enough – his lastrole was in a film about fighting. The night before hesuffered a fatal heart attack he was drinking heavily asusual and arm wrestling five sailors. Russell Crowe wasthe star of the film but Gladiator was dedicated to Reed.He was posthumously nominated for two screen awards. 60
    • Lionel Tertis 19. THE WORLD FAMOUS VIOLA PLAYER OF MARRYAT ROAD24 February, 2012: This week marked the 37th anniversaryof the death of Lionel Tertis of Marryat Road,Wimbledon, said to have been the greatest viola playerof the 20th century. Tertis, who died age 98, is commemorated by thetriennial Lionel Tertis International Viola Festival& Competition, known throughout the musical worldand involving young players of any nationality agedunder 30. Participants from more than 30 countriestook part last time and the next one, the 11th, will be 61
    • held at the Erin Arts Centre on the Isle of Man from16-23 March 2013. Lionel Tertis was born in 1876 in West Hartlepool. Bythe time that he and his professional cellist wife Lillianmoved into Flat One at 42 Marryat Road in 1961, hehad been playing the viola for around 66 years. Hecontinued to perform in public until 1963 and then gaveprivate recitals in the garden. Tertis is said to have revolutionised the viola as asolo instrument. Although he studied piano at TrinityCollege, London, before switching to the violin at LeipzigConservatoire, he took up the viola at the age of 19 toplay in a string quartet. In 1901 he became Professor ofviola at the Royal Academy of Music and was laterdirector of the ensemble class there from 1924-29,teaching many distinguished players. As well as playing with various orchestras and stringquartets and touring Europe and the US as a soloist, Tertisarranged and edited many works for the viola, includingthe Elgar Cello Concerto, Delius violin sonatas andBrahms clarinet sonatas. He composed some workshimself and may have influenced William Walton in thewriting of his own viola concerto. Tertis attracted theattention of many other great composers includingVaughan-Williams, Britten, Bartók, and Shostakovich.He gave first performances of many works for the violathat had been written especially for him and he wasawarded the CBE in 1950. Back in 1924 he had bought a 1727 vintageMontagnana instrument from a Paris dealer althoughit was said to be in an unplayable condition, without abridge, strings, fingerboard or case. It was also very big 62
    • and it was only possible to bring it back to Londonby his then wife wrapping it in her waterproof coat toget it across the English Channel. The large violaprovided an especially rich tone and Tertis went on tocreate his own model instrument to achieve the tonaladvantages he sought. The large house at 42 Marryat Road, Wimbledon,had been converted into three flats in 1953, and Tertis,Lillian, and her elderly mother moved into one of themwhen he was already in his mid eighties. After his deathon 22 February 1975, Lillian, who was much younger,remained at the flat alone until 2005 when she movedinto a nursing home in Kingston, dying there in 2009aged 94. The Lionel Tertis International Viola Festival& Competition was founded in 1980, five years afterthe performer’s death and in February 2007 the violistRoger Chase initiated The Tertis Project, a series ofconcerts of works that had been composed for him.Chase performs on the same vintage instrument thatLionel and his wife brought from Paris in 1924. 63
    • Frances, Count St Antonio, later Duke of Cannizzaro, (centre profile) with a dance partner20. COLOURFUL STORY OF CANNIZARO GETS ANOTHER HEARING2 March, 2012: The controversies and scandals thatbeset Cannizaro House during its first two centuries willfeature in this week’s free Wimbledon Society illustratedlecture at the Mansel Road Centre (Saturday 7 March,starting 8.15pm) when writer Tony Matthews will talkabout the subject of his book Cannizaro Beyond theGates. Known originally as Warren House, it was the countryhome of many rich, high profile figures with interests inthe City and politics. William Browne, the merchant whobuilt it around 1705, was sued for defaming the local vicarand excommunicated from the church. His successor,Thomas Walker, was said to be a notorious usurer whoused political links with Prime Minister Robert Walpoleand others to amass a vast fortune. Lyde Browne, directorof the Bank of England, established a huge collection of 64
    • classical sculptures at the house but was cheated of halfthe value when he sold it to Empress Catherine theGreat of Russia whose agent went bust. Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville, was a seniorgovernment minister under William Pitt and the placebecame known for their lengthy drinking sessions.(See Page 20). Dundas won plaudits from King GeorgeIII during royal visits to Wimbledon but he later becameembroiled in a corruption scandal which destroyedhis career. His private life was disastrous too. But most scandalous of all were the Duke and Duchessof Cannizzaro whose residence there between 1817 and1841 was marked by many years of critical and satiricalpress coverage of their various infidelities and financialpeccadilloes. Both had scandal-ridden backgrounds butwere constantly in the public eye as they mixed in thehighest echelons of society. Even though they separatedin 1826, she continued to bankroll him until her death in1841 when he casually returned to claim her fortune,sold her treasured library, and died himself shortly afterwards. Subsequent residents of Cannizaro House included thehighly controversial Maharajah Duleep Singh, just deposedas ruler of the Punjab, and later Mrs Mary Schuster,whose massive garden parties and musical soireeswere famed for including royalty and literary giantssuch as Lord Tennyson and Oscar Wilde among theguests. The last of the great controversies happened in 1900when Cannizaro House was largely destroyed by firebecause an inadequate water supply hampered efforts bythe fire brigade to put the flames out quickly. Thedamage was catastrophic but it heralded a new era 20 65
    • years later when the rebuilt house would becomefamous for its magnificent gardens, the forerunner oftoday’s Cannizaro Park.FOOTNOTE: The last private owner of the estate, theCountess of Munster, sold it to Wimbledon Corporationin 1948 and the park opened in 1949. Unlike the 18thand 19th centuries, Cannizaro has seen no significantscandals in the 20th and 21st centuries. Sophia, Duchess of Cannizzaro 66
    • Three generations of John Murrays at the family home, Newstead, in 1890. Photo used with permission of The Murray Collection.21. WIMBLEDON’S MOST SUCCESSFUL PUBLISHING FAMILY9 March, 2012: Exactly 200 years ago tomorrow on 10March 1812, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, the book thatmade poet Lord Byron a household name, was pub-lished by John Murray II (1778-1843), second head ofthe publishing family that began in the 18th century andcontinued right into the 21st. The book sold out in justfive days and Murray, whose family was probably themost successful in publishing ever to live in Wimbledon,had as much reason to celebrate as the poet himself. 67
    • The firm’s list of published writers since then is dazzling.Byron’s contemporaries included novelists Sir WalterScott and Jane Austen. In time they were followed byCharles Darwin’s Origin of Species, David Livingstone’sMissionary Travels, the letters of Queen Victoria, WilliamGladstone’s most famous book on the church and thestate, Murray’s Handbook for Travellers (first of allmodern travel guides), the travel writings of Freya Starkand Patrick Leigh Fermor, the poems of Sir John Betjeman,the cartoons of Osbert Lancaster, and jointly with theBBC, Kenneth Clark’s Civilization. Although the John Murray firm has always beenassociated with its headquarters at 50 Albemarle Street,Mayfair, members of the family lived in Wimbledon onand off for around a century, from the days when JohnMurray II was working with Byron until after the FirstWorld War. John Murray II had “a little cottage” in Wimbledon atthe time he published Lord Byron’s controversial poemon Don Juan in 1819. It appeared without their namesbut still attracted a mob outside Albemarle Street protestingabout its “bawdy” contents. Lady Caroline Lamb, apassionate fan of Byron, wrote to Murray asking to meethim at the cottage, which was serving as his boltholefrom the London crowd. Byron himself was away inItaly at the time. Murray’s son, John Murray III (1808–1892), boughtfour acres of land off Parkside and built a villa atSomerset Road on the brow of a hill with a lake. Hecalled it Newstead after Lord Byron’s seat, NewsteadAbbey in Nottinghamshire. The house became amansion with around 20 bedrooms. Every day, John 68
    • Newstead in the 1890s.Murray III would walk the mile and a half down toWimbledon Station and could be seen correcting proofson the train into central London. When he died in1892 he was buried in the family tomb at St Mary’sChurch in Wimbledon Village. Within a year, Sir John Murray IV (1851–1928)moved back to Albemarle Street with his wife and son -later Sir John Murray V (1884–1967). However, hisbrother, Alexander Henry Hallam Murray (1854-1934),a designer and illustrator for the family firm until 1908,stayed at Newstead until selling it after 1918. The firmcontinued under successive John Murrays until JohnMurray VII sold it in 2002. The family archive from1768 to 1920 was sold to the National Library ofScotland. 69
    • 22. THE WIMBLEDON RADICAL WHO RIVALLED DR JOHNSON16 March, 2012: One of the 18 th century’s mostcontroversial radical politicians died at his home besideWimbledon Common exactly 200 years ago this weekend. John Horne Tooke (1736-1812) retired to ChesterHouse on Westside Common towards the end of an un-conventional career which included being imprisoned inthe Tower of London, antagonizing both sides inParliament, libelling the Speaker, and successfullycampaigning for the public right to see printed accountsof Parliamentary debates. He was also a noted philologist and is said to haverivalled Dr Samuel Johnson in his conversational andwriting powers. His sayings were published after hisdeath. Born simply John Horne on 25 June 1736 in Westminster,he was the son of a poultry merchant who insisted that hebecome a clergyman. Reluctantly he did so and retained anincome from the Church until 1773 when he formallyresigned. However, for years before that, he wasinvolved in radical politics, supporting the notoriousdemagogue John Wilkes and getting him elected toParliament. In 1769, Horne and Wilkes founded The Society forSupporting the Bill of Rights but the two rowed and themembership split into opposing camps in 1771. In thesame year Horne obtained a Masters degree at Cambridgeand successfully achieved the publication of Parliamentarydebates as a matter of public right. 70
    • Chester House is seen above c1810 when John Horne Tooke lived there.The manhimself is shown right. 71
    • After switching from the Church to study law andphilology, he became embroiled in a controversy overland ownership between a friend, William Tooke, and aneighbour. Following many disputes, the neighbour’sfriends in Parliament tried to force through a Bill thatwould enhance his interests at Tooke’s expense. Horne drew public attention to the case by libelling theSpeaker of the House and although he was taken intocustody by the sergeant-at-arms, the clauses harmful toTooke were dropped. Tooke was so grateful he madeHorne the heir to his fortune. In return, Horne added“Tooke” to his name in 1782. In 1777 he was jailed for a year for soliciting sub-scriptions in support of Americans killed by Britishforces during the American War of Independence. Afterwardsrejected by the Bar, he tried farming and wrote politicaltreatises demanding reform. He was an unsuccessful Parlia-mentary candidate twice in the 1790s and was arrested fortreason in 1794 for opposing the clampdown on dissent inEngland during the French Revolution. Imprisoned inthe Tower for some months he was then acquitted. Ironically for a radical reformer, he eventually secured aParliamentary seat in 1801 by being returned for thepocket borough of Old Sarum rather than being electedby a large number of voters. Even then his career in theHouse was truncated after his opponents introduced aBill banning anyone in religious orders from sitting inthe Commons. His previous role as a clergyman, althoughlong over, was held as a reason for his exclusion. At home in Wimbledon he hosted Sunday parties forpoliticians and men of letters which were known fortheir witty discussions. He suffered serious illness from 72
    • Horne Tooke suffering on a couch at Chester House.1810 and planned to be buried in the Chester House garden.However this was rejected after his death on 18 March1812 and he was interred instead alongside his mother inEaling. 73
    • 23. FROM LONDON’S SEWERS TO THE FRESH AIR OF WIMBLEDON23 March 2012: Sir Joseph William Bazalgette (1819-1891), the man who created London’s sewerage systemas well as the Thames Embankment and three majorLondon Bridges, died at his Wimbledon home 121 yearsago last week. Only today, some 150 years after his sewers cameinto use, is Thames Water having to plan a major up-grade to meet modern demands. It is a mark of just howmuch Londoners owe this 19th century engineering giant. Bazalgette came to Wimbledon in 1873 with his wifeand ten children, moving into St Mary’s House, ArthurRoad. They had previously lived for a time in what wasthen the Surrey countryside at Morden. Before that theirhome was in St John’s Wood. A former railway specialist, Bazalgette served asChief Engineer on London’s Metropolitan Board ofWorks from 1856 until 1889. In the preceding yearsthousands of Londoners had died of cholera epidemicscaused by contaminated water. As all drains emptiedtheir contents into the Thames and the streets sometimesflowed with raw sewage, it is easy to understand why.However at the time, bad air rather than contaminatedwater was blamed for the disease. By 1858 the river had become so badly polluted thatair conditions were unbearable and a Parliamentaryselect committee was appointed to seek a solution.Bazalgette proposed the construction of hundreds ofmiles of underground brick sewers to intercept sewageoutflows and keep it from the streets. By improving the 74
    • Sir Joseph William Bazalgette (1819-1891).Source: Men of Eminence, Vol 6, edited by Edward Walford. London, 1867. Courtesy of Saffron Walden Town Library. 75
    • air it was assumed that cholera would decline. It did -but only later was it understood why. He secured thefunds to go ahead and as well as building the tunnels,the scheme involved major pumping stations at certainpoints on both sides of the Thames. The system wasopened by the Prince of Wales in 1865 but work continuedfor another decade as further pumping stations were added. Between 1865 and 1870, Bazalgette also directed theconstruction of Victoria Embankment. This wasprompted both by the new sewerage system and theneed to relieve traffic congestion in Fleet Street and TheStrand. It involved building out on to the river foreshorewith a cut and cover tunnel for what is now the DistrictLine, and roofing this over for the new roadway. Oncethe work was done, two public gardens were laid out,giving a welcome green space between the governmentbuildings of Whitehall and the river. From his Wimbledon home, Bazalgette was knightedfor his efforts in 1875 and elected President of theInstitution of Civil Engineers in 1883. His historiccontributions to London continued with designs for newbridges across the Thames which opened at Putney in1886 and Hammersmith in 1887. He also went on todesign Battersea Bridge which formally opened in 1890. Bazalgette’s son Norman played a major role inWimbledon’s own history, campaigning for the first freepublic library from 1880 onwards until it finally openedat the bottom of Wimbledon Hill Road in 1887. WhenSir Joseph himself died five years later he was buried ina family mausoleum at the parish church opposite theirhouse. A century later this was decaying badly and theWimbledon Society raised funds towards its restoration. 76
    • Memorial to Sir Joseph William Bazalgette on Victoria Embankment.FOOTNOTE: The television producer Peter Bazalgette,great-great-grandson of Sir Joseph, was also knighted in2012 and named as the next Chairman of Arts CouncilEngland in September 2012. 77
    • 24. WIMBLEDON’S FIRST GARDEN CENTRE30 March, 2012: Wimbledon gardeners have to travelslightly further nowadays to stock up for spring andsummer planting but their Victorian forebears couldsimply shop at Thomson’s Nurseries at the bottom ofWimbledon Hill Road, formerly the Lord of theManor’s kitchen garden. Scotsman David Thomson (1816-1905) worked as agardener for Lord of the Manor Earl Spencer from 1838until the Wimbledon Park estate was sold off in 1846.Much local freehold land belonged to the ChurchCommissioners but in 1852 Thomson leased some 12acres between what is now St Mark’s Place and Wood-side, and established a nursery and landscape gardeningbusiness to serve the growing number of fine housesbeing built on the Earl’s former estate and nearby. He soon secured an excellent reputation for integrityand professionalism and by 1871 was employing 12people. Thomson himself lived with his wife and sixchildren opposite the end of Hothouse Lane (later StMary’s Road). The nursery entrance was through a conservatorycontaining palm trees and seasonal flowers. There were30 greenhouses with geraniums, begonias, importedJapanese aspidistras, vast numbers of chrysanthemumsand hundreds of climbing roses in pots. Outdoors weremany other plants and trees. However the 30-year-lease ran out in the early 1880sand the Church Commissioners sold part of the land forfurther development, including what would become the 78
    • Thomson’s Nurseries shownabove in 1907. On the right, David Thomson.town’s first free public libraryin 1887. Thomson retainedonly his shop and land imme-diately below Woodside forthe greenhouses. As a result he bought thefreehold of an additional 50acres of land south of the rail-way, west of Merton Hall Road and established a secondbase, the Branch Nursery. There he stocked a furtherhuge range of trees, shrubs and hardy perennials. A gardening publication describing the Branch Nurserylater listed phlox, iris, lobelia, Michaelmas daisies, alpines,masses of strawberries, roses producing 18,000 buds ayear, apple trees, plums, pears, cherries, peaches, hollies,sycamores, planes, elms, birch and mountain ash and limes. 79
    • David Thomson remained active in his nurseriesright up to the age of 87 and died after a short illness athis home in 1905. The rest of the original nursery atWimbledon Hill Road was sold in 1894 and Worcesterand Compton Roads were built on the site. By 1929houses extended all along Woodside and only a flowershop remained on the corner of Alwyne Road. Thomson’s sons continued in the business at theBranch Nursery but this too was compulsorily purchasedby the council for housing in 1920 and the ToynbeeRoad area constructed.David Thomson’s cottage on the old Spencer estate. 80
    • 25. MUSIC HALL SINGING STAR HETTY KING LIVED IN WIMBLEDON6 April, 2012: On 8 November 2010, the Music HallGuild of Great Britain and America erected a com-memorative blue plaque at No 17 Palmerston Road,Wimbledon. It was the last home of old time singer andactress Hetty King (1883-1972) who lived there fromthe 1950s with her sister Olive Edwards. Hetty, whose 129th birthday fell this Wednesday, wasone of Britain’s most successful male impersonators,starting her career in music hall in 1897. She toppedbills all over the world dressed in men’s costumes includingtop hat and tails and military uniforms, the last especiallyduring the two world wars. Known particularly for herrenditions and recordings of All the Nice Girls Love aSailor, Tell Me the Old, Old Story, and Piccadilly, shewas a favourite for principal boy roles in pantomimesbut continued working in variety and summer showsright into very old age in a career that lasted for morethan 70 years. Born Winifred Emms King in New Brighton, Cheshire,she was the daughter of William Emms (1856–1954), awell known music hall comedian who had adopted thestage name King. Always known professionally asHetty King, she first appeared on stage with him whenonly six years old and performed at seaside showsalongside minstrels. She adopted the debonair man-about-town role for the first time in 1905, quicklyachieving fame and star bookings. During the First World War she would performSongs the Soldiers Sing, a sanitized version of those 81
    • Sheet music cover from 1907 shown right. Hetty King appears below in uniform.from the trenches, and was back with similar renditionsin the Second World War. In 1954 she appeared in thefilm Lilacs In The Spring with Errol Flynn and AnnaNeagle. In later life she toured with the show Thanks forthe Memory and finally appeared in a film entitled HettyKing – Performer aged 87. She married actor and writer Ernie Lotinga (1876–1951), another music hall comedian, singer and theatreproprietor who also appeared in films in the 1920s and30s, often as the comic character PC Jimmy Josser.However her real married name was Winifred Lamond. Her sister and fellow Wimbledonian, Olive, was alsoan actress and her brother Harold wrote many of hersongs with his wife. Hetty died on 28 September 1972aged 89 and was cremated at Golders Green. 82
    • 26. WIMBLEDON’S WORST VANDALISM13 April 2012: Perhaps the worst vandalism everinflicted on Wimbledon outside wartime happened exactly137 years ago. The culprits were a builder calledDixon and a Member of Parliament, the local land-owner John Samuel Sawbridge-Erle-Drax. In April 1875, with Drax’s support, Dixon destroyed theprehistoric Iron Age fort on Wimbledon Common datingback to 700 BC or earlier. Known today as Caesar’sCamp, the fort had included circular ramparts nearly 20feet high, topped with mature oak trees and surroundedby a 12 feet deep, 30 feet wide ditch, enclosing some12 acres of relatively flat land with a view of EpsomDowns. Its archaeological significance was incalculable,its precise origins unknown to this day. Drax, who became owner of land stretching fromBeverley Brook to Westside Common through his wife’sinheritance, leased some fields to Dixon who then builtthree large houses in Camp Road and moved on to thearea of the fort itself. Bricks and scaffolding for morehouses arrived on site, the trees were felled, the rampartsleveled and the ditch filled. Drax could have saved the fort by selling the land to thecampaigners who had successfully achieved Parlia-mentary protection of Wimbledon Common four yearsearlier. However he hated being thwarted and refusedto sell. Although the Commons Conservators stoppedany further action by securing a court order forbiddinguse of Camp Road for anything other than agriculturalpurposes, it was too late to save the fort. Since 1907 it has simply served as part of the Royal 83
    • Wimbledon Golf Course. Only from the air could theoriginal circular shape of the fort still be made out,barely possible today. The name Caesar’s Camp was adopted in the 1820son the assumption that Julius Caesar might have builtthe fort after invading Britain. However, there was neverany evidence for this and the structure had actually beenknown locally for centuries as The Rounds. It was notuntil 1937 that its possible age was discovered when theMetropolitan Water Board decided to build a new mainacross the site and allowed archaeologists to watch as atrench was dug. Although restricted, they were able toassess the age and possible purpose of the site in moredetail than ever before. The fort had once had a palisade to defend occupantsagainst attack. Unearthed pottery suggested a date of250 BC. But further studies have since concluded that itwas much older and possibly a trading base. Either way,the sad remains are now a protected ancient monument. Vandal and landowner,John Samuel Sawbridge- Erle-Drax (1800-1887). 84
    • Caesar’s Camp is shown above in July 1865, paintedby F C Nightingale ten years before its destruction.An aerial view taken in 1923 showed the circularshape of the fort, still visible after it was lost forever. 85
    • 27. THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF WIMBLEDON’S OWN SANDY DENNY20 April 2012: Sandy Denny (1947-78), the Wimbledonsongstress who became Britain’s most pre-eminent folk/rock singer-songwriter in the 1970s, died exactly 34years ago tomorrow, aged just 31. Born Alexandra Elene Maclean Denny on 6 January1947 at the Nelson Hospital, Merton Park, she performedwith The Strawbs, Fairport Convention, Fotheringayand even Led Zeppelin before becoming a soloist from1971-77 when she released four albums. Trained as a classical pianist, Sandy Denny startedsinging as a child. A pupil at Coombe Girls School inKingston, she trained afterwards as a nurse at the RoyalBrompton Hospital before taking up a place in 1965 atwhat was then Kingston College of Art, joining thecampus folk club, and beginning a singing career onLondon’s folk club circuit. Her repertoire included bothtraditional British and American songs. She first performed at Cecil Sharp House, home oftraditional folk music, in December 1966 for a BBCprogramme. A few months later she signed with SagaRecords and dropped her art studies in favour of a full-time musical career. At the well known TroubadourClub she met a member of The Strawbs and soon joinedthe band but the following year became lead singer withFairport Convention, encouraging them to combinetraditional folk music with electric rock. She left in 1969 to develop her own songwritingcareer and formed the band, Fotheringay. Having re-turned to the piano as her main instrument, in both 1970 86
    • Edna and Neil Denny, Sandy’s parents, appear above at their home in Arthur Road, Wimbledon. Sandy Denny, The Lady, is shown left. Photos: Eric Hayes Universal Music.87
    • and 1971 she was voted Best British Female Singer byreaders of the leading musical paper Melody Maker. In 1973 she married her boyfriend and producer andrecorded a third solo album. Despite her huge success, hersongs now stressed sad private preoccupations, possiblydue to problems with drink and drugs. Nevertheless,between 1974 and 1975 they performed together withFairport Convention and enjoyed a highly successfulworld tour. In 1977 she recorded her last album and embarkedon a final UK tour, ending 27 November at London’sRoyalty Theatre. That year she also gave birth to adaughter, her only child. Then, tragically, while on holidaywith her parents and baby in Cornwall in March 1978,she suffered a head injury in a fall from a staircase. Sherecovered briefly but on 17 April collapsed at a friendshome and died four days later in Atkinson Morley’sHospital at Copse Hill (see Page 57). She was buried on27 April at Putney Vale Cemetery beside WimbledonCommon. Her headstone describes her as “The Lady” and whenthe second of two tribute concerts was held in 2008 atthe Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank, to mark the 30thanniversary of her death, it was entitled The Lady: ATribute to Sandy Denny. There have been many musicaltributes to her over the years with members of both TheStrawbs and Fairport Convention recording songs in hermemory and many other artists performing her ownsongs including Judy Collins, Kate Bush and the lateNina Simone. The picture with her parents on Page 87 appeared on thealbum cover of Fairport Conventions LP Unhalfbricking. 88
    • Sandy is shown above, relaxing with other members ofFairport Convention in her parents’ Wimbledon garden.The title arose from the word-game Ghosts, played bythe band while travelling to and from concerts. Its ob-ject was to avoid completing a real word and“unhalfbricking” was Sandys own creation. The album also marked her maturity as a singer andsongwriter, including Who Knows Where the TimeGoes?, a song covered by many other performers andnow regarded as a classic. The only traditional song onthe album, A Sailors Life, is seen as pivotal in thedevelopment of English folk-rock music. 89
    • 28. WIMBLEDON HOME WAS LONDON’S FIRST WITH ELECTRICITY AND A TELEPHONE27 April 2012: Electric street lighting in Wimbledondates back to 1899 when a brand new power stationopened in Durnsford Road. The designer was ArthurPreece but it was his father, the famous engineer SirWilliam Henry Preece (1834-1913), whom we shouldreally thank for the replacement of dingy Victorianstreet oil lamps by modern electricity. Not just that – healso introduced London’s first home telephone. William Henry Preece lived with his family at GothicLodge in Woodhayes Road, near Wimbledon Common,from 1874 until his death in November 1913. Exactly114 years ago this month in 1898, he became Presidentof the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was knightedthe following year after retiring from a long engineeringcareer with the Post Office. Both moves were recognitionof his extraordinary contribution to technological progressin Britain as a whole and he continued as an advisor tothe Government for some years later. Preece, who came from Caernarvon in Wales, waseducated at Kings College School when it was stilllocated in The Strand, long before its move to Wimbledonin the 1890s. He later graduated from university in electricalengineering after studying under the famous physicist,Michael Faraday. His career had begun at sea when he was chiefengineer with the Electric and International TelegraphCompany, repairing telegraph cables to the Channel Islands. 90
    • The watercolour above depicts Gothic Lodge from near the Crooked Billet Sir William Henry Preece is shown right. 91
    • From 1870 he worked with the Post Office telegraphicsystem, eventually becoming its chief engineer and con-tributing his own inventions and those of others to thesystem. In 1877 he demonstrated the first of AlexanderGraham Bell’s new telephones at the year’s BritishAssociation for the Advancement of Science gatheringin Plymouth. However, at the time he felt no need tohave one in his own home. There were plenty of humanmessengers around who could be employed to runeveryday communications. In 1880 he became President of the Society ofTelegraph Engineers and in 1884, by detecting electro-magnetic radiation from buried telephone cables, cameup with the idea of wireless telegraphy. In 1889 he carriedout a successful experiment by transmitting and receivingMorse radio signals over a distance of about a mileacross Coniston Water in the Lake District. So he was already a longstanding pioneer in telecom-munications when he befriended the young GuglielmoMarconi in the 1890s and secured funding from the PostOffice for his practical experiments in wireless telegraphy.Marconi often visited Preece in Wimbledon and establisheda transmitter in the back garden of Gothic Lodge tosend messages to the Post Office in central London.This time Preece changed his mind about a home phoneand Gothic Lodge became London’s first with its owntelephone. He didn’t stop there. The house also became the firstwith electricity installed for lighting, heating hot waterand supplying an iron. Eager to apply this experience for thewider public good, in 1890 he urged the local authorityto build a power station to supply electric street lighting 92
    • for everyone. Amazingly with hindsight, the idea wasrejected. The authority preferred to rely on gas or oiland as Wimbledon’s many new streets had no gasmains, residents had to make do with oil lamps. The Corporation of London was more imaginativeas far as Wimbledon’s interests were concerned. In1894 it asked Preece to demonstrate the effectiveness ofpublic electric lighting and for three months he had 76electric lamps suspended in Wimbledon High Street. Yet although this was a great success it was anotherfive years before Preece’s son Arthur could convince thenew Wimbledon Urban District Council to support aParliamentary bill permitting it to create a local electricitystation. Eventually, the new station in Durnsford Roadwas able to generate its first electricity on 17 July 1899.Thanks to the Preeces, father and son, Wimbledon hadthe public street lighting it deserved.The rear of Gothic Lodge where Marconi set up hisfirst wireless transmitter in London. 93
    • 29. THE STOP/START STORY OF WIMBLEDON’S TRAMS4 May 2012: For the second half of the 20th century theydidn’t even exist, yet Wimbledon’s trams are now reallyback in fashion. New cars have just been introduced,route extensions are planned and there is talk of a seconddedicated platform at Wimbledon Station. Curiously, each time trams have got under way inWimbledon it has happened in May - albeit 93 yearsapart - on 2 May 1907 and 29 May 2000. Today’s Tramlink between Wimbledon and ElmersEnd via Croydon celebrates 12 years of operations thismonth. But it was back in 1902 when London UnitedTramways first received permission to extend its linefrom Tooting to Wimbledon, en route to Kingston andHampton Court. What’s more, unlike today, earliertrams would also be taking passengers the other wayright into central London. It took five years from 1902 to complete the necessaryroad widening before the first local service could start.Shop frontages in Worple Road, Wimbledon, were drasticallycut back to make room for tracks in each direction. AtRaynes Park an avenue of 100 elm trees had to be felledto double the width for trams travelling along BurlingtonRoad and West Barnes Lane from Kingston via Malden.The first tram finally arrived at Ely’s Corner on a trialrun in August 1906 and the service itself began on 2May 1907. The trams ran every ten minutes with a fare of 4d -less than two pence - between Hampton Court and 94
    • Trams collect passengers at Worple Road in theearly days of the service (top) and approach theirdemise (above) in 1950. They wouldn’t be back forhalf a century.Tooting via Wimbledon. The London County Councilwas already running trams onwards from Tooting intocentral London and in 1922 its service was extended toWimbledon. This used the existing track between Tooting 95
    • and a terminus by the Mansel Road/Woodside junctionat the foot of Wimbledon Hill Road. From then on,commuters to the City and West End would board thenumbers 2 and 4 every day as District Line travellers dotoday. The trams went all the way to Victoria Embankment viaTooting, Balham, Clapham, Stockwell and Kenningtonwhere it split into two routes, one over WestminsterBridge, the other over Blackfriars Bridge via Elephantand Castle. Cheap mid-day fares into central Londoncost 2d - under a penny today. This applied from 10amuntil 4pm. Children paid half fare. Two large double-decker trams would often wait sideby side in the centre of Wimbledon. They stopped in themiddle of the road so pedestrians had to dodge traffic inorder to board them. Traffic also had difficulty gettingpast them. Eventually in 1932 the terminus was movedto outside the old town hall, now part of Centre Court. Despite the inconveniences, the trams were certainlypopular in the days before most people had cars. Butjust ten years after the service began from Wimbledoninto central London there were already moves to replacethem with diesel-driven buses and trolley-buses whichused overhead cables but not tracks on the road. The last trams disappeared from Kingston in theearly 1930s. Wimbledon was now the final stop on theTooting line into town. Furthermore, when the LondonPassenger Transport Board took over the remaining net-work in 1933, it opted not to replace the vehicles, tracksor ancillary equipment. Tram transportation lookeddoomed but the Second World War interrupted the re-placement programme. 96
    • Peacetime brought the end closer again. In 1950 theLondon Transport Executive announced what it called“Operation Tramaway” and the service finally disap-peared from Wimbledon in January 1951. The capital’s verylast tram left service at New Cross, south-east London,the following year. Three years after the end of Wimbledon’s trams, alocal press report in 1954 said road accidents involvingpublic service vehicles had dropped by nearly a thirdsince the trams had been replaced. Fewer pedestrianswere killed trying to board them and buses free of tracksfound it easier to avoid collisions with other vehicles.However crashes between private cars and commercialvehicles were on the rise. For 50 years trams were just a memory. Then theyreturned, using former railway lines in Wimbledon butnot in Croydon where they are now part of the streetscene once more. They are popular again. Passenger usagehas risen dramatically and there are plans for furtherexpansion. 97
    • 30. FROM WIMBLEDON TO THE STARS11 May 2012: When Wimbledon Village Club wasfounded in the Ridgway in 1858, its first secretary, civilservant Norman Lockyer, had just moved into his home atNo 14 Hillside with his new wife, Winifred. Another com-mittee member suggested studying the stars as a hobbyand Lockyer bought a 6¼ inch telescope to do so in hisgarden. It was a significant move. Lockyer (1836-1920), whowas born 176 years ago this week, would become one ofthe founders of modern astronomy and the man who dis-covered helium gas. He would also establish what wasto become the Science Museum and would found andedit the magazine Nature, still among the most influentialof all scientific publications today. For the next seven years while living in Hillside,Lockyer went to the British Museum every morningbefore 9am to study before starting work at the WarOffice. At the end of the day he would return home toread or observe the stars until the early hours. In 1863his first scientific paper on the planet Mars was publishedand he also wrote scientific articles for another magazinelinked to the Village Club. By 1865, when he and Winifred left Wimbledon tolive in West Hampstead, continuing his astronomicalstudies from his new home, he was well on the way tostardom himself. He started analyzing the sun’s lightspectrum and saw electromagnetic spectroscopy as ameans of determining the composition of astral bodies.His studies, together with those of French scientistPierre Janssen, led to the discovery of an element hitherto 98
    • Two images of Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer, Wimbledon’s greatest astronomer.unknown to sciencewhich he named heliumafter the Greek wordfor sun, helios. In 1869he was elected a Fellowof the Royal Society and 99
    • founded Nature in order to encourage the exchange ofideas between scientific disciplines. He continued as itseditor until shortly before his death over 50 years laterat the age of 84. Lockyer was among the first people to recognise alink between solar activity and terrestrial weather andover many years also led eight expeditions as far awayas India to observe solar eclipses. In 1875 the Solar Physics Observatory was established inSouth Kensington and Lockyer became its director.Now a highly prolific writer of articles and books, hestarted a loan collection which later became the ScienceMuseum. In 1876 he left London to live at SalcombeRegis in Devon and it became his home for the rest ofhis life. In 1897 he received the ultimate recognition,becoming Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer. Although stillediting Nature, he retired in 1911 and established anobservatory near his home which was renamed theNorman Lockyer Observatory after his death. Today two craters on the moon and Mars are namedLockyer in honour of the one-time Wimbledon residentwho helped change perceptions of the solar system. 100
    • 31. WHEN TRAINS FIRST ARRIVED AT WIMBLEDON18 May 2012: Passenger trains have been operating toand from Wimbledon for exactly 174 years this week. The first Wimbledon & Merton Station opened a fewyards south of the present site on 21 May 1838 when theLondon and South Western Railway ran its first steamtrain – an engine with just a few coaches – on a 30 mphjourney from Nine Elms, Battersea, to Woking. Itmarked the start of train services between London andSouthampton every two to three hours. The railway line had to be built on flat ground southof Wimbledon Village. The first trains ran through openfields but a high embankment had to be created to keepthe gradient level and bridges and tunnels had to be builtin order to preserve old rights of way. In 1845 about 100 passengers a day were using thenew station. The train services made travel into Londonmuch easier, raised land values and rapidly broughtdevelopment of the area around the station. Wimbledon’s open space attracted wealthy familieseager to buy new houses large enough to accommodatethemselves and their domestic staffs. In turn, this meantdemand for trade and so shops and suppliers arrived too.From the early 1850s the building boom was really underway and Wimbledon would become a London suburbduring the next few decades. Wimbledon Station gradually became part of a widernetwork with the line to West Croydon via Mitcham openingin 1855 and a different company opening the line toTooting in 1868. Development brought the occasional 101
    • Two northward views of Wimbledon Bridge fromthe station in 1920. The station is on the right andthere are no buildings on the bridge itself as today. 102
    • unwelcome side. In January 1861 an express train fromWaterloo plunged down a steep embankment near thelocation of today’s Raynes Park Station. There wereseveral injuries and one fatality, Queen Victoria’s doctor,William Baly (1814-1861). His demise robbed theQueen and Prince Albert of their most trusted physicianand may even have contributed towards Albert’s owndeath from typhoid later in the year. Connection with the London Underground came on 3June 1889 when the Metropolitan District Railwayoperated its first service on an extension from PutneyBridge. That was when Wimbledon Station was rebuilton its current site. The line itself was owned by theSouth Western railway and had been built throughWimbledon Park and Southfields to avoid the Common. The District Line’s arrival brought massive develop-ment of the former Wimbledon Park estate with the newstreets of “The Grid”. Trains were now running thatway into London every half hour and the first electricservices began on 27 August 1905. In the late 1920s, the Southern Railway rebuiltWimbledon Station with its current Portland stone entrancewhile constructing a new line which opened on 7 July1929 to South Merton and on to Sutton on 5 January1930. A separate agreement established the area’s secondlink to the London Underground by extending theNorthern Line through South Wimbledon to Morden. By the 1960s, diesel engines had replaced steam,themselves later replaced by electric. Another milestonewas reached on 2 June 1997 when the line to WestCroydon dating back to 1855 closed. It became a tramline and has been used by Tramlink since May 2000. 103
    • 32. MISS MARPLE WAS AWIMBLEDONIAN25 May 2012: The character actress Dame MargaretRutherford (1892-1972), best known for her big screenportrayals of Agatha Christie’s detective Miss Marple,died 40 years ago this week. She grew up in Wimbledon, wasone of the most famous former pupils of the HighSchool for Girls, acted in amateur dramatics, and rodeeverywhere on her bicycle. She taught elocution before making her professionalacting debut at the Old Vic age 33 in 1925. In the 1940sshe became a big stage star after appearing in OscarWilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and then NoelCoward’s Blithe Spirit among other productions. Screenversions of both of these plays as well as some of thegreat British films of the post-war years such as Pass-port to Pimlico, The Happiest Days of Your Life, andlater The Smallest Show on Earth and I’m All RightJack, all made her a national treasure. She first played Miss Marple at the age of 70, starring inthat role in four films based on Agatha Christie’s books.But she also won awards for her eccentric role in TheVIPs with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, andappeared in Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight andCharlie Chaplin’s A Countess from Hong Kong. She re-ceived an OBE age 71 and became a Dame at 75. But her private life was less happy than her popularpublic image suggested. Born in Balham, she was theonly child of William Rutherford Benn and his secondwife Florence. Years earlier her father, mentally ill, hadmurdered his own father and spent years in Broadmoor.He was eventually released, remarried and moved with 104
    • Dotty and funny as she is remembered. MargaretRutherford: Dreadnought with Good Manners byAndy Merriman (2010). Published with permissionof Aurum Press. 105
    • his second wife and infant daughter to India. Howeverthey returned when Margaret was three and she came toWimbledon to live with her aunt, Bessie Nicholson, agoverness, after her mother had committed suicide. Herfather was later returned to Broadmoor. Margaret andher aunt were resident at No 4 Berkeley Place, off theRidgway, until 1920 and later moved to St John’s Road. She attended Wimbledon High School whose ethosrecognised the importance of extracurricular activitiessuch as drama. Her time there is recalled today by theRutherford Centre for the Performing Arts whichopened in 2007. She also attended boarding school inSeaford and is listed there on the 1911 census. Returning toWimbledon, she remained until her aunt’s death andthen left in 1925. She was already in her fifties when she married theactor Stringer Davis and they appeared together in manyproductions. He was also her private secretary andnursed her through periods of illness. They lived inBuckinghamshire until her death on 22 May 1972. Hedied the following year and they are buried together atSt Jamess Church in Gerrard’s Cross. Although she had no children, Margaret Rutherford hadsome notable relatives. Her fathers brother was theProgressive Party London County Councillor Sir JohnBenn (1850-1922), 1st Baronet, grandfather of Labourpolitician Tony Benn. On her mother’s side, her firstcousin was the engineer Professor Graham FranklinNicholson (1894-1981), who also lived in Wimbledon atEdge Hill and Woodside House. Great nephew of theArctic explorer Sir John Franklin, he taught members ofthe Royal family at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. 106
    • 33. THE LAST TIME WIMBLEDON CELEBRATED A DIAMOND JUBILEE1 June 2012: This weekend marks the second time thatWimbledon has celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of areigning Queen. Back in March 1897 when Queen Victoria was onthe throne, a committee of leading local residents raisedfunds and planned events. They included Colonel ThomasMitchell of Cannizaro House who said at least £1000would be needed and donated £25 himself. So did theMember of Parliament, Cosmo Bonsor. Others includedGertrude Murray of Wimbledon Lodge, Laundy Walters,Francis Fox the engineer, Mrs Miland, donor of two localalmshouses, and Alfred Halfhide, founder of the jewellerybusiness still found in Wimbledon Hill Road. The celebrations included a tea for 4000 childrenfrom elementary and Sunday schools and a dinner foraround 200 elderly folk aged over 70. Those who couldnot attend were given money for a meal at home. Enter-tainment on Wimbledon Common included fireworks,roundabouts, swings, performing dogs, Punch & Judy, a“burlesque” performing donkey, a clown, brass bands,and a hot air balloon. There were also plans to usecelebration funds for an extension to Wimbledon CottageHospital at Copse Hill (see Page 56). As you might expect, commemorative mugs wereproduced to celebrate Queen Victoria’s long reign since1837. Two of these can still be seen today at theMuseum of Wimbledon, one with the proud inscription 107
    • A commemorative mug and medal from the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Both are among memorabilia shown at the Museum of Wimbledon in 22 Ridgway.108
    • The Empire on which the Sun Never Sets. The Museumalso has two brass celebratory medals A more lasting jubilee memento was the building ofVictoria Crescent in the town centre between TheBroadway and Hartfield Road. Rebuilt over 100 yearslater in 2001 simply as The Crescent, this now runsbetween Morrison’s supermarket and the Odeon Cinemaleading to the Piazza. Back in 1897 a builder’s yard atNo 20 The Broadway was demolished to make way forit and the new crescent opened on 8 June 1898, a yearafter the jubilee itself. It later contained one of Wimbledon’sfirst ever charity shops, the Wimbledon Women’s Social &Political Union which sold soap and other items in supportof the Suffragettes. Another, rather more short-lived, means of celebrating theQueen’s 60 years on the throne was to name little girlsin her honour. Records show that vast numbers of girlswere christened Victoria but ten were actually namedDiamond Jubilee. One notable child born in nearbyWandsworth was even called Diamond Jubilee Victoria.She married Harry Field, came to live at CromwellRoad in Wimbledon, and ran the tea bar on the platformat Wimbledon Station. 109
    • 34. WHY THE MAN WHO OVERTHREW RUSSIA’S LAST TSAR HAS A WIMBLEDON GRAVE8 June 2012: The only democratic ruler of Russia beforethe days of Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and supposedlyVladimir Putin is buried beside Wimbledon Common.Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970), who died exactly 42years ago this week, was brought from exile in NewYork to a grave at Putney Vale Cemetery after beingrefused a Russian Orthodox funeral in America. The extraordinary story of one of Wimbledon’s mostunexpected deceased residents was concluded by histwo sons who both lived in Britain. In life, Kerenskywas hated both by the Communist regime which hadoverthrown him in Russia in October 1917, and by theémigré Russian Orthodox Church in America whichblamed him for overthrowing the last Tsar a few monthsearlier. To provide a permanent resting place, his sonsOleg (1905-1984) and Gleb (1907-1980) had his bodyflown to London and buried at the non-denominationalPutney Vale. Kerensky was the son of a secondary school head-master whose pupils included the young Vladimir Ulyanov- better known later as Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union.Members of the Kerensky and Ulyanov familes werefriends. However, as Alexander Kerensky was about tograduate in law from St Petersburg University, Lenin,who had earlier done the same, was plotting the over-throw of capitalism from exile in London and elsewhereoutside Russia. Kerensky soon gained a reputation for defending 110
    • Alexander Kerenskymilitant opponents of the despotic Tsar and was himselfjailed for a short while. However, he was elected to theRussian Duma (Parliament) in 1912. When the Tsarabdicated in February 1917 amid the chaos of the FirstWorld War, Kerensky became Minister of Justice in the 111
    • new Provisional Government, then War Minister andeventually Minister-President, declaring Russia a democraticrepublic. He was criticised by the military for his liberal policies,including supporting soldier committees against officersand abolishing the death penalty. It did him no good. Hisforces were defeated by Lenin’s Bolsheviks in October.After months spent in hiding, he escaped to London in1918 and soon moved on to Paris. He was already separated from his first wife Olga(1886-1975), who came from a distinguished family ofacademics and soldiers. She and their sons escaped toLondon in 1921 with false passports. There she eventuallybecame secretary to Frank Soskice, Attorney Generalunder the Labour Government of Clement Attlee. The boys both took degrees in engineering, graduating in1927. Oleg became a renowned builder of bridges andhelped construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge inAustralia in 1932. A CBE in 1964, he was elected Fellowof the Royal Society in 1970 and won the Gold Medal ofthe Institution of Structural Engineers in 1977. Gleb wasa distinguished hydroelectric engineer who served in theRoyal Engineers in the Second World War. From Paris, Alexander Kerensky campaigned againstthe Communist regime in Moscow until 1940 when theNazi invasion of France forced him to flee once again,this time to the US where he remained for most of therest of his life. During the Second World War he madebroadcasts in Russian in support of the embattled Sovietpopulation. His second wife, an Australian journalist, died in1946. After that he settled in New York but also taughtgraduate classes in Russian history at Stanford University, 112
    • California, as well as writing and broadcasting extensivelyon Russian politics. The last drama followed his death at a New Yorkhospital on 11 June 1970. Neither the Russian nor theSerbian Orthodox churches would agree to a religiousfuneral for the man who had overthrown the Tsar. Healso remained persona non grata in the Soviet Union. Sohis grave can now be seen beside Wimbledon Common. 113
    • Jacomb’s triumph: the SS Great Eastern 35. THE ENGINEER WHO COMPLETED BRUNEL’S DREAM15 June, 2012: The great Victorian engineer IsambardKingdom Brunel died just months before completing hisultimate dream – to design and launch the world’slargest ship. It fell to his chief assistant and laterWimbledon resident William Jacomb (1832-1887), tocomplete the job. Exactly 152 years ago this week on 17 June 1860,the SS Great Eastern set off on her true maiden voyagefrom Southampton to New York, designed by Brunelbut finished under Jacomb’s supervision at Milwall onthe Thames. Brunel himself – creator of the Great Western Railway andBristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge as well as othersteamships - had died suddenly aged 53, worn out byyears of financial as well as technical difficulties withthe ship. Earlier attempts to launch it had been disastrous.It had actually sailed for the first time the previousSeptember but an onboard explosion off Dungeness had 114
    • killed five men and Brunel himself had expired just sixdays later. Jacomb had been entrusted with supervising the entireconstruction of the ship when in his mid twenties. Bornin Marylebone, he was articled to Brunel as a pupil agedjust 19 after completing his university education andengineering training. He was only 28 when the SS GreatEastern finally sailed for New York but three yearslater he settled with his wife Eliza Marion and theirbaby son, William at 10 Ridgway Place, Wimbledon(later renumbered 57). Their daughter Mabel was bornanother three years on. In 1874 the family moved toBardon Lodge on Westside Common, neighbouringCannizaro House. Jacomb spent the rest of his life there. Brunel had dreamed of building a ship capable ofcarrying 4000 passengers. The SS Great Eastern,equipped with side paddle wheels, screw propellers, fivefunnels, and six masts, was by far the largest ship afloatin 1860. At 688 feet long, she had a 12,000-tonne hull,top speed of 15 knots and an innovative steering engine.Although there were only 43 passengers and 418 crewon that first successful voyage, she went on to operateon both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, laying and re-pairing telegraph cables for 14 years. But her fate might have broken Brunel’s heart had helived to see it. In 1874 she was mothballed, supersededby newer ship designs. It was not until 1886 that shewas used briefly as a floating fair and later broken up in1889. Jacomb too died before that final endgame. He hadset up his own business in Westminster after Brunel’sdeath. In the 1860s he helped to construct the Metropolitan 115
    • Railway and made his lasting contribution to Wimbledonby designing the Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon Rail-way. In 1870 he became Chief Resident Engineer of theLondon and South Western Railway, designing andbuilding Putney Railway Bridge among other projects.He was in that post when he died suddenly from apoplexyon 26 May 1887 at his office in Waterloo Station. His death at 55 shocked his colleagues as well as hisfamily. His obituary read: “Mr Jacombs intimate ac-quaintance with professional details, his organizingpower, his ability in combining constructive perfectionwith true economy, and his rigid integrity and determi-nation to protect the interests of his employers, secureda standing in the profession which few men have attained inso short a time. His early and sudden death - literally inharness - was a severe blow to the Directors and officersof the Company, by whom he was valued, not only as acapable adviser and coadjutor in all departments of rail-way administration, but as a personal friend who couldill be spared and with difficulty replaced.” It continued: “His genial and engaging mannersmade him a universal favourite with all whom he met,either in business or in society, and materially aided insmoothing away difficulties which invariably arise indealing officially with public bodies and private interestson behalf of a large and powerful corporation.” A huge cortege attended his funeral at Gap RoadCemetery with crowds lining the streets. 116
    • Sir Ernst Chain 36. INVENTOR OF PENICILLIN SETTLED IN WIMBLEDON22 June 2012: Yesterday marked the 106th anniversaryof the birth of Sir Ernst Chain (1906-1979), the NobelPrize-winning biochemist whose pioneering work onantibiotics has saved countless lives since the 1940s. Helived in Wimbledon during his last years. The development of penicillin brought Sir Ernst theNobel Prize in 1945 along with Sir Alexander Fleming andthe Australian-born pathologist Sir Howard Florey.Chain spent his last years living both in Wimbledon andIreland. He was resident at 9 North View, WimbledonCommon, for six years after his retirement from 1973until his death in 1979. An English Heritage blue plaquehas been in place at North View since 2003. 117
    • Chain was born in Berlin to a Russian Jewish industrialistfather and a German mother. A talented pianist, hemight have had a career in music but a cousin convinced himthat science would be more rewarding. Although hetook lessons in conducting, he graduated from Friedrich-Wilhelm University in 1930 with a degree in chemistryand physiology. He worked on enzyme research for three years at theCharité Hospital, Berlin, before moving to Britain in1933 following the Nazi takeover of Germany. He firststudied phospholipids at Cambridge University and thenswitched to Oxford to lecture in pathology. His researchwork also covered subjects ranging from snake venom,tumours and lysozymes to the invention and developmentof methods for biochemical micro-analysis techniques. During World War 2 he worked alongside HowardFlorey on natural bacterial agents that were produced bymicro-organisms. Chain found notes written by AlexanderFleming in 1928 when Fleming had first discovered thePenicillium notatum mold in his laboratory. Together with Florey, Chain investigated ways topurify it. As a result, he was instrumental in creatingpenicillin as the world’s first antibiotic drug, savingmillions of people from infections ever since. For their collective work, Chain, Florey, and Fleminghimself were recognized by the Nobel Prize board at theend of the war. Chain’s subsequent research covereddiverse areas including the carbohydrate-amino acidrelationship in nervous tissue, the action of insulin, fermen-tation technology, lysergic acid production in submergedculture, and isolation of new fungal metabolites. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1949 118
    • and would go on to hold honorary degrees and awardsfrom scientific institutions in many countries of Europeand the Americas. Chain lost his own family in the Holocaust but re-turned to continental Europe after the war to work inRome as scientific director of the International ResearchCentre for Chemical Microbiology. In 1948, he marriedAnne Beloff, sister of Nora Beloff, the Observer news-paper’s famous political correspondent, and Sir MaxBeloff, founder of the University of Buckingham. Anne was a fellow biochemist who assisted him withhis research. The couple had three children. In 1954Chain became a governor of the Weizmann Institute ofScience in Israel. Returning to Britain, he held the post of Professor ofBiochemistry at Imperial College, London University,from 1961 until retirement in 1973 and was knighted in1969. He continued to lecture and always stressed theimportance of biochemistry to medical research. He stillplayed the piano too. He was away from his Wimbledon home staying atMulranny in the west of Ireland when taken ill anddied at Mayo General Hospital on 12 August 1979. Blue plaque marking Chain’s residence at North View, Wimbledon Common. 119
    • 37. THE AFRICAN EMPEROR WHO FOUND REFUGE IN WIMBLEDON29 June 2012: Exactly 76 years ago this week in June1936, the exiled Emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975) ofEthiopia - then known as Abyssinia - stood before theLeague of Nations to appeal for international supportagainst the Italian Fascist conquest of his country. A few weeks earlier, he and his family had taken refugein Wimbledon with a sympathetic family living in Park-side. After a while, they moved on for a longer period inBath but his stay at Lincoln House, opposite WimbledonCommon, marked one of the town’s most remarkableevents and is still recalled by a statue in Cannizaro Park.It was five years before he would return to Ethiopia in1941, supported by British forces fighting in the SecondWorld War. The Emperor’s hosts that summer, Dr Richard Seligmanand his wife Hilda, were very happy to accommodate theimperial retinue at their home with its five acres ofgrounds. Richard Seligman was a leading metallurgistand entrepreneur in Wandsworth. Hilda and a group ofsupporters including Sylvia Pankhurst, the former Suffragette,were leading campaigners against Britain’s pre-warappeasement of the dictators Mussolini and Hitler. Yearslater when the war was over, Hilda herself became wellknown in Ethiopia for her humanitarian work. Her threesons, Adrian, Peter and Madron, all made their ownmarks in adulthood. An amateur sculptor, Hilda took advantage of HaileSelassie’s presence at her house to create the bust nowfound in Cannizaro Park. It originally stood in the grounds 120
    • of Lincoln House until the building was demolished in1957, making way for the roads and houses now on thatsite. Wimbledon Council was given ownership of thestatue and it was moved to Cannizaro Park’s rose gardenbeside Camp Road. In the 1980s it was transferred againto its present position in the former Tennis Garden amidrhododendrons behind the aviary. Over the years the bust deteriorated and in 2004,Hilda’s daughter-in-law, Nancy-Joan Seligman (widowof Madron), offered what was now Merton Council andthe Friends of Cannizaro Park some funding towards itsrestoration. Eventually, Mertons arts development officerpersuaded the Council to carry out the project, supportedby the Friends. Haile Selassie himself was assassinated following acoup in Ethiopia in August 1975. However, followinghis exile in the 1930s, he had become an inspirationalAfrican leader known as the Lion of Judah to followersof the Rastafarian faith. So when the restored bust wasHaile Selassie meets 1930s Wimbledon society. 121
    • Hilda Seligman has a cup of tea with Haile Selassie,accompanied by a daughter-in-law and grandson.formally unveiled by the Mayor of Merton on 22 October2005, the ceremony was attended by a remarkable mixof Rastafarians, members of the Seligman family,relatives of the late Emperor himself - now exiled oncemore - and Friends of Cannizaro Park. Sir Peter Seligman and his two sisters-in-law, Nancy-Joan and Rosemary, all recalled the Emperor’s time atLincoln House. Rosemary, still a Wimbledon residentherself, also recalled visiting Haile Selassie at his palacein Ethiopia in the early 1970s, shortly before his finaloverthrow. For Africa’s last true Emperor, 225th in a line tracedback to the Queen of Sheba, holding a unique status hadits ups and downs. 122
    • 38. THE SAD FATE AND PRICELESS LEGACY OF JOSEPH TOYNBEE6 July 2012: Joseph Toynbee (1815-1866), the renownedVictorian surgeon and philanthropist who campaignedto preserve the Wimbledon we still know today, diedexactly 146 years ago tomorrow on 7 July 1866. Still recalled by Toynbee Road and the memorialdrinking fountain at the top of Wimbledon Hill Road,Joseph was also father of the Toynbee dynasty of writers.He and his wife Harriet had nine children in all, includingthe philosopher and economist Arnold Toynbee (1852-1883) and Harry Valpy Toynbee, father of the famoushistorian Arnold J Toynbee (1889-1975). The writerPhilip Toynbee was Arnold J Toynbee’s son and hisdaughter is The Guardian columnist and broadcasterPolly Toynbee. Joseph, a surgical ear specialist who cured QueenVictoria of deafness by syringing her ears, was a founderof the Wimbledon Village Club and inspired the presentday Museum of Wimbledon. He lived at Beech Holme,49 Parkside, now the site of a cancer clinic. The landhad become available following the break up of thehuge Wimbledon park estate formerly owned by EarlSpencer, Lord of the Manor. The inn-keeper of the Dogand Fox Inn in the High Street had bought the site southof Somerset Road but then sold it to Joseph, who hadBeech Holme built especially for his family and livedthere from 1854. Born just after the Battle of Waterloo, Joseph Toynbeewas one of 15 children of a wealthy Lincolnshirefarmer. He trained as a surgeon in London and 123
    • Joseph Toynbee 124
    • headed the first ear and throat disease department at StMary’s Hospital, Paddington. The Queen was amonghis patients. Beech Holme, a large Italianate building, was in easycommuting distance of Paddington. He would walkdown the hill to Wimbledon Station, often accompaniedby some of his children. It was a very comfortable homewith a large garden, stables, coach-house, and wonder-ful view across the Common towards the Windmill. Active within the local community, in 1859 Joseph wasa founder of the Village Club at 22 Ridgway. A major newfacility for the people, it had a reading room, library, andhall for fortnightly lectures and “penny readings” of poemsand stories. Joseph became treasurer of a committeeaiming to establish a museum for Wimbledon but thevillage and the newly developed town had to wait 50years after his death before it became a reality in 1916,sharing the building with the Village Club. Joseph was also a keen conservationist who stronglyopposed Earl Spencer’s plan to enclose the Common inthe 1860s but he died five years before the 1871 Act ofParliament that has protected it ever since. His untimely death came when he was only 50.Tragically, he was found dead in his consulting roomafter accidentally inhaling prussic acid and chloroformin what is thought to have been a scientific experimentto test a remedy for tinnitus. He was buried at the nearby St Mary’s Church. Thedrinking fountain at the top of Wimbledon Hill Roadwas erected as a memorial to him in 1868. The familysold Beech Holme and moved into a smaller house fartherup Somerset Road. Joseph’s son Arnold became a famous 125
    • lecturer on the Industrial Revolution but died evenyounger than his father, aged just 30. Beech Holme’s later owners included magazine pro-prietor Fred Poke, publisher of The Connoisseur andTitbits. He arrived in 1939 and bought 48 Parkside too.After his death both properties fell into disrepair, squattersmoved in and fire damaged part of the former Toynbeehome. Developers bought both houses in the 1980s andnumber 48 was demolished. Despite the Toynbee connection,Beech Holme was refused English Heritage listing andearmarked for offices. A new wing was added and for awhile it was occupied by the Dominion Insurance Company. In 2000 there were new plans to convert it into a cancertreatment centre and the Toynbees’ former garden disap-peared in an £18 million redevelopment. The buildingopened as the Parkside Oncology Clinic in 2003. However,an English Heritage blue plaque now commemoratesboth Joseph and his son Arnold. English Heritage plaque outside the former Beech Holme. 126
    • 39. WHEN ARCHERY WAS ALL THE RAGE14 July 2012: Andy Murray’s historic match at lastweek’s final reinforced Wimbledon’s name worldwidefor tennis. Moreover, thanks to AFC Wimbledon, itsfootball reputation has been rising as well. But whoknows today that this was once a major centre forarchery, also known as toxophily? Exactly 112 years ago this week in 1900, FlorenceBardswell, star performer with the Wimbledon Archersat no less than 104 championships, seems to have appearedfor the last time at the annual competition of the RoyalToxophilite Society. It was held in the grounds ofWoodhayes, an estate beside today’s Woodhayes Road. Back in the 16th century all able-bodied men agedbetween 16 and 60 had had to practise archery weekly todefend their country. In Wimbledon after 1554 therewere regular complaints about the state of the butts andin 1595 the parish was fined 3s/4d for not maintainingthem. But as firearms replaced the bow for both militaryand hunting purposes, its use declined. Then in the late19th century, archery revived among the middle and upperclasses as both sexes saw the attraction of genteel butcompetitive target practice. Florence Bardswell’s reputation dated as far back as1877 when she competed with the Wimbledon Archers at acontest in Crystal Palace. She travelled nationwide withother ladies from Wimbledon, scoring highly. On 8 July1883 the newspaper The Graphic reported another meetingat Crystal Palace saying: “Miss Bardswell (Wimbledon 127
    • Florence Bardswell, star of no fewer than 104 champion- ships with her bow.asked to present the prizes at major events. It was saidthat nine out of ten archers, on going to a meeting,would ask: “Is Florence Bardswell here?” In both 1899 and 1900 the Royal Toxophilite Societycontest took place at Woodhayes, home of a Mr LaundyWalters (see Page 107). Competitors included MissMary Preece of the neighbouring Gothic Lodge, daughterof Sir William Preece (see Page 90). Mary was clearlyanother talented archer. At the earlier contest in 1894she had “made three golds at one end and was the happyrecipient of a shilling from each archer on the ground”, 128
    • according to the press report of the day in Hearth &Home. On that occasion she scored 274 against FlorenceBardswell’s 277. Florence and her sister Emily lived at 7 CrescentRoad, Wimbledon in the 1890s. Florence, who died in1909, was not the only talented member of the family.The Museum of Wimbledon at 22 Ridgway has a paintingby Emily of the archery field at Mount Ararat, anotherlarge estate at that time which was subsequently brokenup and replaced by today’s Pepys Road. Their nephew Gerald was also a leading amateurbatsman at cricket. Emily was a keen cricket supporterand wrote a 60-page novel, Played On, published in1898. Recently reprinted in a limited edition of 50 copies,it was offered for sale at £150. Still more noteworthywas her practice of taking a bat to each game whereGerald was playing, and collecting signatures from teammembers, including on one occasion W.G. Grace. Atauction in 2006, one of the bats fetched a whopping£9600. Wimbledon archers in the 1870s. 129
    • 40. THE POET WHO TOOK A GRAVE VIEW OF WIMBLEDON LIFE20 July 2012: Robert Graves (1895-1985), once described asEnglands “greatest living poet”, was born exactly 117years ago this week at his parents’ home in No 1 LauristonRoad, Wimbledon. A prolific writer who produced more than 140 worksin his 90 years – including 55 collections of poetry, 15novels, 10 translations, and over 40 works of non-fiction, autobiography, and literary essays - he wasespecially known for his classical translations and inter-pretations of Greek and Latin mythology and history. His books I Claudius! and Claudius the God weredramatized for a hugely successful TV series in the1970s. He was also the only surviving First World Warpoet to be included when a stone was unveiled at Poets’Corner in Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1985,commemorating that generation of war writers. He diedthree weeks later. Born on 24 July 1895, Graves was the third of fivechildren. His father was a school inspector and hismother came from a well-to-do German family. He didnot enjoy his Wimbledon childhood and nearly died ofpneumonia age seven. He went to King’s College School beside the Commonamong other places before winning a scholarship toCharterhouse School in Godalming. There he began towrite poetry, sang in the choir and - surprisingly for a poet- became a champion boxer. In his final year he wonentry to St John’s Oxford but this was delayed until afterthe First World War. 130
    • Robert Graves Enlisting in August 1914, he was commissioned inthe Royal Welch Fusiliers and nearly killed on theSomme but recovered in England. He published his firstvolume of poems in 1916, an early description of thereality of frontline conflict. Like his close friend, thepoet Siegfried Sassoon, he suffered from shell shock butreturned to the front. Wilfred Owen, another poet friend,attended Graves’ wedding before returning to be killedas the war was ending. Graves himself nearly died yetagain, this time of Spanish flu in 1918. He finally took his place at Oxford in October 1919,studying language and literature as well as classics whilehis wife Nancy had their four children. His most notable 131
    • Oxford companion was Lawrence of Arabia. The legendaryT.E.Lawrence was a Fellow of All Souls at the timeand Graves published his extraordinary biography in 1927. By that time he had broken up with Nancy and moved toMajorca with an American poetess, Laura Riding. In1929 he alienated many people with his autobiographyGood-Bye to All That in which he criticized not just thewar in the trenches but also the social conventions inBritain and his own family background. It was not at allkind to middle class Wimbledon. He left Majorca during the Spanish Civil War,moved to the US and then returned to Britain during theSecond World War where he began a relationship withBeryl, the wife of a colleague. They married and in1946 returned to Majorca where Graves had four morechildren and spent the rest of his life apart from a periodfrom 1961-66 when he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford.In 1962, it was the poet W H. Auden who described himas Englands greatest living poet. In 1968, he receivedthe Queens Gold Medal for Poetry. He died on 7 December 1985 and was buried near hisMajorca home. Beryl died in 2003 and their house isnow a museum. An English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled by two ofhis children, Lucia and William Graves, at 1 LauristonRoad on 12 July 1995 to mark his centenary. They wereaccompanied by local dignitaries and supporters. Amessage was read out from the Queen and a receptionheld in Queens Road near Wimbledon town centre. 132
    • 41. MERTON’S 2012 OLYMPICS CONTRAST WITH EARLIER LONDON GAMES27 July 2012: The significance of the third LondonOlympics for today’s Borough of Merton contrastssharply with the Games staged in 1908 and 1948. As in 1908 of course Wimbledon is hosting theOlympic tennis tournaments but back then the AllEngland Club was located in Worple Road rather thanWimbledon Park and British players dominated thesport. Tennis had been a fixture since the revival of themodern Olympic Games in 1896 and the overall Britishmedals tally in 1908 included many won on the tenniscourts, indoors as well as outdoors. There were just ninecompeting nations. The men’s outdoors singles gold medallist wasM.J.G Ritchie who narrowly beat Otto Froitzheim ofGermany. Press coverage reflected the image of Germansbefore the First World War: “Everything the Germandid he did easily….. the absence of the over-anxiety andimpetuosity usually so characteristic of the Continentalplayer stamped him as much above the ordinary….hewas not in the least disturbed by the passing trains.” Dorothea Lambert Chambers, a multiple champion insuccessive Wimbledon fortnights, won the women’sOlympic gold medal in the outdoors singles finals, beatingfellow Briton Dora Boothby. All round sportsmanGeorge Hillyard, secretary of the All England Club itself,and R F Doherty took the Olympic men’s doubles gold. By contrast, the London Olympics of 1948 featured no 133
    • The July 1908 Olympics at Wimbledon drew fewerspectators than the annual championships, as can beseen by the lack of spectators watching the finalbetween Britain’s M. J. G. Ritchie and GermanysOtto Froitzheim. Only 11 players took part in the coveredcourt event at The Queen’s Club, Worple Road.Photo from the collection of ROBERT FULLER,Wimbledon Society member.tennis at all so Wimbledon didn’t get a look in. Butthere was local interest of a different kind. Athlete Dorothy Tyler came from nearby Mitcham,trained at the local running track there and had alreadywon fame as high jump silver medalist in the BerlinOlympics of 1936 under her maiden name of Odam.Having first jumped 5ft at the age of 15, she was only16 when competing in Berlin. By 1948 she was a highlyexperienced 28-year-old, married with children. London’s post-war Olympics provided an excitingopportunity to repeat her former triumph and she dulydid so, taking silver once more and becoming the onlywoman to win Olympic athletics medals both before andafter the Second World War. She would have done evenbetter had the 1936 high jump count-back rules not been 134
    • changed by 1948. If the 1948 rulebook had applied in1936, she would have won the gold in Berlin. On theother hand if the 1936 rules had applied in 1948 shewould have been Britain’s only athletics gold medallistof those Games. As it was, thanks to the British Empire Games, shecould still claim gold medals in Sydney in 1938 andAuckland in 1950 as well as silver yet again in Vancouverin 1954. She also continued to represent Britain at theHelsinki Olympics in 1952 and Melbourne in 1956. Forlocal interest, 2012 has a lot to live up to. Dorothy Tyler of Mitcham in high jump action. 135
    • 42. WHEN THE GREATEST DEFENDEROF FRENCH JUSTICE SOUGHT EXILE IN WIMBLEDON3 August 2012: Émile Zola (1840-1902), the greatFrench writer and literary critic who risked his life bydefending an innocent man against anti-semitism,considered settling in Wimbledon after escaping hereexactly 114 years ago. He changed his mind becausetoo many people recognised him. Zola was internationally famous when he first visitedLondon in September 1893 to be feted and given astanding ovation by thousands of guests at The Guild-hall. At a dinner in his honour at the Crystal Palace hisprofile and name were illuminated in a firework display.But less than five years later he returned as an exileunder an assumed name, shunning virtually all visitors. He had alienated powerful forces within the Frenchestablishment by accusing them of a flagrant miscar-riage of justice. An army officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus,had been convicted of treason without evidence andimprisoned for life - simply for being Jewish. Anotherofficer was acquitted although proven guilty of passingmilitary secrets to Germany. Zola, outraged, wrote a letter of complaint to theFrench President and this was published in the press,causing national uproar. He intended to be prosecutedfor libel so that he could present evidence clearingDreyfus. But in the event, he was himself convicted ofcriminal libel and faced potential imprisonment. He escaped to London on 19 July 1898, calling himself 136
    • Emile Zola 137
    • Monsieur Pascal. His translator, Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, livedin Wimbledon where it was thought that Zola might beable to avoid any French government spies and thepress while the hunt for him extended across Europe.Vizetelly’s solicitor, Frederick Wareham, lived in Prince’sRoad and Zola stayed at his house while his bodyguard,Fernand Desmoulin, stayed at 20 Alexandra Road,Wareham’s office. On their first evening, Zola and Desmoulin wereentertained at what was then Wimbledon town’s onlyrestaurant. The proprietor, Mr Genoni, although“foreign”, was trusted to be discreet but as one of thewaiters was French-speaking, they were advised to bereticent. After dinner they adjourned to Warehamshome and discussed a suitable location for Zola’s exile. Zola was very impressed by Wimbledon, praising theshops, pubs and the library in Hill Road, the Broadwayand Worple Road, and told his hosts they were farsuperior to what you would find in a French town ofcorresponding size and similar distance from the capital.He was also very taken with Wimbledon Village, theCommon, the Windmill, the ponds and Caesars Camp. He decided to rent a house locally. The next day,accompanied by Vizetelly and Wareham in a hiredlandau, he visited house agents and explored the areawhere large houses were available from four guineas aweek (£4.20). He wanted one with lots of foliage andscreened from passers-by. He was not keen on lowgarden fences or semi-detached villas with flimsy partywalls but he liked some interiors and trim gardens. He found one he particularly liked on the hillsidebetween the Ridgway and Worple Road. On his behalf 138
    • Vizetelly asked the lady owner about plate, linen, gardenproduce and the servants who would be available. Allwent well until the lady suddenly turned to Zola andaddressed him in fluent French. Taken aback, he respondedpolitely but as they drove away he said her French hadbeen too good and she would soon discover his identity. She was not alone. Nearby Wimbledon College hadboth French staff and pupils, several French families livednearby, and the community included many literary people,journalists, and others who knew all about the Dreyfuscase. Zola was soon recognised and decided to move onto Weybridge and then Norwood. There he stayed at a hotel, writing and taking photographsuntil June 1899 when the Dreyfus case was reopenedand it became safe for him to return to France. His lastingcontribution towards the liberalisation of French societywas confirmed. Captain Dreyfus was pardoned and freed but to saveface for the French military, he was not exonerated until1906. Four years earlier in September 1902, Zola, hischampion, had died of carbon monoxide poisoningcaused by a stopped chimney. His enemies were blamedfor his death because of previous attempts on his life butnothing could be proved. With the agreement of Zola’swidow, Dreyfus was among the thousands who attended hisfuneral. Frederick Wareham’s firm of solicitors, Gregsons,was a century old when Zola stayed in Wimbledon. Itretained the office at Alexandra Road until 1926 when itmoved to 57 St George’s Road and subsequently in1988 to Tabor Grove, off Worple Road. Emile Zolaremains among its most interesting former clients. 139
    • Wimbledon House, Parkside, in 182643. CAPTAIN MARRYAT – WIMBLEDONIAN WHO NEVER WAS10 August 2012: Captain Frederick Marryat (1792-1848), naval hero, inventor, writer of classic Englishnovels, and associated with two of Wimbledon’s bestknown houses - yet never really a resident - died exactly164 years ago yesterday. His name lives on today in Marryat Road, off Parkside.Across the Common, a blue plaque in Woodhayes Roadrecalls his supposed residence at Gothic Lodge. Yet thecaptain was 20 years old and far away at sea in theNapoleonic Wars when his parents first moved to the100-acre estate of Wimbledon House, Parkside, in 1812.He was never more than an occasional visitor. More-over, although he leased Gothic Lodge for his wife andchildren between 1820 and 1827, he spent little time 140
    • Captain Frederick Marryat, RN CB. Engraved bypermission from adrawing by William Bennes. (National Maritime Museum) Charlotte Marryat, mother of the Captain, was a far more active resident of Wimbledon. 141
    • there himself as his career took him far away for virtuallythe entire period. Despite this, Captain Marryat has always been soassociated with Wimbledon that in 1922 the biggestknown collection of his written works – 700 strong -was donated to the local museum. There it remained for27 years from 1922 until 1949 when most of it wastransferred to the British Museum. Frederick Marryat was actually born in Great GeorgeStreet, Westminster, on 10 July 1792, a second son andone of 15 children. His father, Joseph Marryat, chair-man of Lloyds and MP for Sandwich, was descendedfrom French Huguenots. His mother Charlotte was anAmerican from Boston. Frederick was sent to school atPonders End, Enfield, and having tried to run away tosea as a boy, joined the Royal Navy in 1806 as a mid-shipman. Serving in the Caribbean in 1811, he risked his lifefor his ship when it was severely damaged in a storm.On five occasions he would distinguish himself byjumping into the sea to rescue seamen lost overboard.After action against the Americans he was promotedto Lieutenant in 1812, the same year his family movedto Wimbledon. He reached the rank of Commander in 1815. He then worked to expand and improve the Navy’ssystem of maritime flag signals. Having created theInternational Code of Signals used for generations after-wards, he earned himself membership of the Royal Societyin 1817. In 1818 he invented a lifeboat and was awardedthe Gold Medal of the Royal Humane Society. In 1819he married Catharine, daughter of Britain’s Consul-General in Russia. They had 11 children and it was for 142
    • them that he leased Gothic Lodge in 1820 but in 1821he was away commanding the ship that announced thedeath of the exiled Napoleon on St Helena. His naval career continued for another nine yearsbefore he resigned to become a full time writer. His bestknown novels, published from 1836 onwards, were theclassics Mr Midshipman Easy, Masterman Ready andThe Children of the New Forest. After travelling exten-sively, he eventually settled with his family at Langhamin Norfolk on an estate ten times the size of his parents’property in Wimbledon. His father died suddenly in 1824 but his mother re-mained at Parkside until her own death in 1854. Unlikeher famous son, Charlotte Marryat became very much atrue Wimbledonian, carrying out good works for thecommunity. She was also a noted horticulturalist. Theestate’s greenhouses were used to cultivate many speciesof plant never before grown in England. One of herdaughters married Henry Lindsay, Vicar of St Marys,and the churchyard still contains a Marryat family tombwith eight family members buried there. Frederick is not among them. His health had beenaffected permanently by malaria in his youth and in1847 he stayed briefly at Parkside while consulting Londondoctors but they could do little for him. He returned toLangham where he died on 9 August 1848. Two of hischildren also became writers. Marryat Road was created after the breakup of theWimbledon House estate in 1899. Although named afterJoseph and Charlotte rather than their son, the associationwas inevitable. 143
    • 44. GEORGETTE HEYER - WIMBLEDON NOVELIST EXTRAORDINAIRE17 August 2012: Yesterday would have been the 110thbirthday of Georgette Heyer (1902-1974), one of Britain’s -and undoubtedly Wimbledon’s - most successful womennovelists, who was born in her parents’ bedroom at No 103Woodside on 16 August 1902. A worldwide library favourite for over 90 years, herRegency period romances and more modern detectivethrillers have been continuously borrowed, rebound andreprinted ever since her first novel, Black Moth, waspublished in 1921 when she was just 19. Her book saleswere still exceeding a million between 2003 and 2010. Georgette’s early life was spent mainly in Wimbledonwhere she was educated at home. Her father, GeorgeHeyer, taught French at King’s College School, just upthe hill from Woodside. The family moved to Putney in1911 but returned to No 119 Ridgway in 1913. For ashort period they moved to Paris but returned early afterthe start of the First World War. When her father enlisted for the army, Georgettewent to Oakhill Academy at No 9 Ridgway Place. It washer first school at the age of 13. The family soon movedhome again to No 19 Homefield Road and after a spellliving in Bognor, returned in 1918 to No 11 in the samestreet. Finishing at Oakhill, she transferred to The Study,Wimbledon’s most prestigious school for girls. Her father returned from the war in 1919 and soonafterwards Georgette became part of a literary circlewhich set her on the way to a professional future. By the time the family moved to Weybridge in 1920 144
    • From Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller byJennifer Kloester, published by William Heinemann.Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited. 145
    • she was writing her first novel which had already beenaccepted by a publisher, Constable, and earned reviewson both sides of the Atlantic. Her second work TheGreat Roxhythe was published by Hutchinson in 1922and then in the US. By 1923 when her third novel waspublished by Mills & Boon – she subsequently movedon to other publishers - the family was back in Wimbledononce again, this time at No 5 Ridgway Place, two doorsaway from her old school. (Now No 67.) Just two months after her father’s sudden death in1925 she married George Ronald Rougier, a miningengineer, at St Mary’s, the parish church, and the couplemoved to Kensington and then overseas. Her mothersold the Wimbledon house and the family’s local linkscame to an end. Georgette spent the rest of her life elsewherebut never forgot her Wimbledon origins. At least two ofher novels, Pastel and Behold, Here’s Poison, are bothclearly set here without saying so. She has been credited with personally establishingthe genre of historical romance and had to contend withcases of plagiarism during her career. Her real specialitywas the Regency period and she was meticulous in herdescriptions of life at that time in the early 19th century.But she also wrote about other historical periods such asthe 17th century and the time of William the Conqueror. By 1926, when her novel These Old Shades was pub-lished, she was so successful that it sold 190,000 copieswithout any newspaper coverage, reviews, or advertisingas a result of the General Strike. From 1932 onwards she produced one romanticnovel and one thriller every year. Ronald often providedbasic outlines for the thriller plots while she developed 146
    • the characters and dialogue. She was still writing at thetime of her death from lung cancer in July 1974 when48 of her novels were still in print and her last book, MyLord John, appeared posthumously. She always avoided personal publicity and shunnedall interviews during her lifetime, telling a friend: “Myprivate life concerns no one but myself and my family.”A decade after her death, writer Jane Aiken Hodgeproduced a biography about her entitled The PrivateWorld of Georgette Heyer. However in the 21st century, the Australian writerJennifer Kloester, a devoted fan, spent ten years re-searching Georgette Heyer’s life in detail, culminatingin the biography Georgette Heyer, Biography of a Best-seller which was published last year. It was launchedat the 2011 Wimbledon Bookfest. One of Georgette Heyer’s various Wimbledon Homes. This one is in Ridgway Place. 147
    • 45. EPSTEIN’S PEACEFUL GRAVE AND CONTROVERSIAL LIFE24 August 2012: The funeral of Sir Jacob Epstein(1880-1959), contender for greatest sculptor of the 20thcentury, was held at Putney Vale Cemetery besideWimbledon Common exactly 53 years ago today. Although born and trained in New York, Epsteinmoved to France in 1902 to study at the École desBeaux-Arts and settled in London three years later. Hemarried Margaret Dunlop in 1907, became a Britishcitizen in 1911, served in the 38th Battalion of theRoyal Fusiliers during World War 1, and secured aknighthood some 40 years later in 1954. Settling first in Sussex, he created many of his worksat his two successive homes in Loughton, Essex. Famedfor several of the most familiar 20th century sculpturesin public locations, his particular interests includedEgyptology so perhaps it was fitting that his finalresting place beside Wimbledon Common should benear that of Howard Carter, the discoverer ofTutankhamen’s tomb (see Page 23). Epstein’s famous creations include the Oscar WildeMemorial at Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris (1911),the statue of General Jan Smuts in London’s ParliamentSquare (1956) and St Michaels Victory over the Deviloutside the newly rebuilt Coventry Cathedral (1958).But he was always a portraitist and among his out-standing works were busts of the Polish writer Joseph Conrad(1924), the African-American bass singer Paul Robeson(1928), the scientist Albert Einstein (1933) (whom helater described as resembling “the ageing Rembrandt”), 148
    • Two leading Epstein works - the originalThe Rock Drill (now lost) and Dolores. and the British government minister Ernest Bevin (1943). A leading pioneer of modern sculpture, Epstein was often a controversial artist whose work challenged attitudes to accept- ability. Oscar Wilde’s Memorial caused such a storm for its supposed indecency when it was unveiled that the police covered it with a tarpaulin for a while. It must have been a feather in Epstein’s cap whenSir Jacob Epstein he met Picasso, Brancusi and Modigliani at the time. 149
    • Soon afterwards he created The Rock Drill, a uniquerepresentation of the modern world influenced by bothCubism and Futurism. A jagged piece integrating a robot-like figure with an actual drill, the piece expressedexhilaration for the rapidly developing technologicalworld of the day. At the time Epstein was interested in the potentialthis offered for human progress. However, after seeingwhat it actually amounted to during World War 1 helater created a second version of the work, devoid of itslegs and drill and presenting simply a nightmarishimage of the future with its potential for devastation. Epstein was also known for his many bronze sculpturesof women, including his wife, mistress and many othermodels, among them the mysterious “Dolores” whocame to live with them for a while. Her bronze bust issaid to have an Egyptian look and was made soon afterCarter’s discovery of the Tutankhamen tomb. However,Epstein also made many sculptures of friends, casualacquaintances, and even strangers brought into his studioalmost at random and he worked until the day he died inAugust 1959. He is said to have influenced both of Britain’s otherleading 20th century sculptors, Henry Moore and BarbaraHepworth, befriending Moore in the 1920s and sharingwith both his interest in the non-western art collec-tions in the British Museum. Among his five children, his daughter Kitty wasmarried for a time to another iconic artist, Lucian Freudwho died last year. 150
    • 46. PARADISE LOST - WIMBLEDON COMMON WILDLIFE WE MAY NEVER SEE AGAIN31 August 2012: Exactly a century ago, a leadinggeologist called Walter Johnson wrote about the wildlifeand vegetation then found on Wimbledon Common. Ata time when the land was far less wooded than today,the views stretched as far as Epsom Downs and HarrowWeald. The wildlife was also far more varied. Local animals included the brown hare which livedon the open spaces of heath and grassland. Unlike thestill familiar burrowing rabbits, hares lived aboveground, resting in a slight depression known as aform. As woodland encroached and people with dogsbrought more disturbance the hares died out. Red squirrels were last seen in the late 1940s. Greysquirrels, introduced from America, had brought withthem the squirrel pox virus. They were immune but itproved fatal to the reds, one of several possible explana-tions for their demise. Water voles, still known through Ratty in The Wind InThe Willows, were living on Beverley Brook, althougheven then declining owing to disturbance and lack ofwaterside vegetation. They are long gone now andshould not be confused with brown rats which are goodswimmers and still present. Stoats have not been seen for many years. Moleswere very active 100 years ago and were hunted for theirskins. They are thought to be extinct on the Common nowafter a very rapid decline within the past few decades. 151
    • Clockwise: brown hare, red squirrel, skylark andwater vole. All gone from the Common. Hedgehogs are very rarely seen today as a result ofpesticides and chemicals in nearby gardens, althoughneither toxins are used on the Common itself. Johnson described bats as plentiful back in 1912.While new technology has increased knowledge of thevarious species that do exist, it is thought there are probablyfew actual bat roosts on the Common these days withthe possible exception of the Windmill complex. Most 152
    • of the individuals that do turn up – over Queensmere,for example - have flown in from outlying areas. The range of birds on the Common too has droppeddramatically over the past century. Regularly seen inthose days were pheasants, skylarks, tree pipits,meadow pipits, willow warblers, linnets, bullfinches andyellowhammers. All are now gone. The reasons for theselosses are varied and many have also declined nationally. A major factor could be predation by those speciesthat are still around on the Common such as foxes, greysquirrels and weasels as well as birds of prey, crows,magpies and so on. Grass cutting and removal of scruband trees, while essential, can also impact adversely onbirds that would otherwise have bred in areas affected. But the biggest problem is the Common’s popularityitself. Ever more visitors have brought increased disturbance,especially when accompanied by free-running dogs. Asa result, 2011 was the first year since records began in1974 when there were no ground-nesting birds breedingon the Common at all. That alone accounted for sevenlost species. The Commons Conservators have been trying to en-courage skylarks back by asking dog walkers to controltheir pets during the summer months. It nearly workedthis summer but despite co-operation by some owners,an uncontrolled dog eventually frightened off the onenesting pair that had returned. The Conservators will be trying again next year.Those species that are left on the Common are nowmore precious than ever. 153
    • 47. THE WARTIME MINISTER WHOSEWIMBLEDON HIDEAWAY WAS BOMBED7 September 2012: Today would have been the 119thbirthday of Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha, 1st Baron ofDevonport (1893-1957), the controversial TransportMinister who championed the cause of road safety in the1930s, was sacked as War Minister by Premier NevilleChamberlain early in the Second World War, and wasthe last resident of Old Warren Farm to stock dairycattle beside Wimbledon Common. Mainly remembered today for having introduced theBelisha beacon at pedestrian crossings and introducing30mph speed restrictions on Britain’s roads during the1930s, Hore-Belisha bought part of Old Warren Farmfrom landowner Admiral Drax in 1938, shortly after hispromotion to the War Office. He leased the rest of the 14 acres of paddock andwoodland from Wimbledon Council and lived there untilhis death in 1957. For most of those years it was apeaceful haven, remote from the nearest neighbours butuseful for discreet meetings with national and interna-tional leaders, especially in the early years when it alsohad a direct phone line to Whitehall. Hore-Belishamodernized the farm buildings – which dated back to the17th century – and sold milk to a local dairyman. Wimbledon really was a haven for a man whose politicalcareer was as stormy as it could get. A former Liberal,he was nevertheless promoted by the Conservative NevilleChamberlain but soon alienated senior military figuresby introducing major reforms for the benefit of ordinarytroops. Having been mentioned in dispatches during 154
    • Warren Farm before Hore-Belisha moved in.the First World War and reached the rank of major, he wellunderstood their plight. He then annoyed Chamberlain byintroducing conscription in April 1939, when the Premier wasstill trying to appease Hitler. After the start of World War 2, he warned that theBaron Hore-Belisha and one of his beacons. 155
    • British expeditionary force in France was inadequately pre-pared to meet the advancing Germans. He was soon provedright as the troops only narrowly escaped from Dunkirkand the Blitz began. As he was Jewish, Hore-Belisha was subjected toanti-semitic propaganda by the Nazis, both through theradio broadcasts of the traitor “Lord Haw-Haw” andfraudulent press coverage purported to come from FleetStreet. But he also suffered prejudiced comments fromwithin the British establishment where anti-semitism wasstill common. In January 1940 he was forced to resign. The Nazis knew of his Wimbledon hideaway andLord Haw-Haw promised to bomb it. In November 1940an incendiary bomb fell nearby, causing little damage butin June 1944 when RAF pilots shot down two flyingbombs, the second one hit the farm, landing on Hore-Belisha’s bed. Then on 19 July, a V1 rocket damagedmost of the buildings. He and his wife Cynthia wereaway at the time. The farm was rebuilt but the cattle hadto be sold and never returned. Hore-Belisha failed to rebuild his career under WinstonChurchill and in 1945 was defeated in his Devonportseat by the future Labour leader, Michael Foot. Afterthe war he was elected to Westminster City Council andhad rooms at 16 Stafford Place, SW1, but remained livingat Old Warren Farm, riding on the Common and playinggolf in his spare time. Cynthia shopped in the town. In 1954 he became Baron Hore-Belisha of Devonportbut died suddenly age 63 in February 1957 while leading aBritish parliamentary delegation to France. Cynthia re-married Major Ian Victor Major. She and Hore-Belishahad had no children so the title died with him. 156
    • 48. FREQUENT CHANGE IN WIMBLEDON’S CENTURY OF CINEMAS14 September 2012: Wimbledon is lucky to have twomulti-screen cinemas today, the Odeon and the HMVCurzon. Unlike many other towns which now have nocinemas at all, local residents have been able to enjoythe silver screen virtually uninterrupted for more than acentury. But there have been many changes since the first cinema –the Kings Palace Theatre - opened in the Broadway on18 October 1910 next to Wimbledon Theatre. Onememorable event occurred exactly 48 years ago thisweek on 12 September 1964 when Alderman A EAyres, Wimbledon’s last Mayor before the creation ofMerton Borough, gathered alongside a group of filmstars at the formal re-opening of the nearby Elite PicturePalace under its new name, the ABC Wimbledon. Located in the Broadway near today’s YMCA building,the Elite had opened originally on 7 February 1920 with1005 seats and a small organ to accompany silent films.Its name was inscribed in stone at the top of the building.After various improvements, it was bought by the giantABC cinema chain in October 1935 and nearly 30 yearslater underwent major structural alterations betweenMarch 1964 and the re-opening ceremony. Seating was nowprovided for 1030. On that day, Alderman Ayres was accompanied bytrumpeters of the Royal Military School of Music atKneller Hall and stars who put in appearances includedCharles Hawtrey, Ronald Fraser, Jess Conrad, Melvyn 157
    • Opening programme of the Elite Picture Palace in February 1920.Hayes, Richard O’Sullivan, Stefanie Powers, Julia Foster(mother of TV personality Ben Fogle) and Wimbledon’sown Oliver Reed (see Page 58). Cliff Richard and TheShadows starred in the opening film, Wonderful Life. But despite the fanfare, the ABC Wimbledon lastedless than 20 years. On 26 February 1983, after showingRichard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, the curtainclosed for the last time. The building was boarded upand demolished two years later. A similar fate befell all of Wimbledon’s other earliercinemas. The Kings Palace Theatre was expanded in1914, closed briefly during World War 2 and then re-opened from 1942 until 1955. It became an arcade witha collection of market stalls and closed in 1982 afterthree fires. The site is now Wimbledon Theatre’s car park. Others had opened in the era of silent films. Theyincluded the Apollo, the Princes (next to the LabourHall), and Wimbledon Picture Playhouse in HartfieldRoad (lasting only from 1911-1914). The Queens PictureTheatre on the corner of Worple Mews, now Swan Court, at11 Worple Road, opened in 1911. It burned down in 1930, 158
    • The re-opened ABC Wimbledon in 1964. It was goneless than 20 years laterwas rebuilt and re-opened as the Savoy, closed again in1933 and was demolished in 1935. A year later, a newly built 1501-seat Odeon Theatreopened at 19 Worple Road, opposite Ely’s. This lasteduntil November 1960, ending with Donald Sinden inThe Seige of Sydney Street. 159
    • At the other end of Worple Road, the Raynes ParkCinema opened in 1921 and 12 years later was renamedthe Rialto. Film-goers were offered “dainty teas” servedat their seats during performances. Although expandedin 1955 with a new Cinemascope screen, it closed in1978 and was demolished. Today’s 12-screen Odeon in the Piazza opened inDecember 2002, replacing the earlier Odeon which hadstood directly opposite the ABC down the Broadwaysince November 1933. Older Wimbledon residents re-member that as first the Regal and then the Gaumontfrom 1949. It became the Odeon on 9 September 1962following the Worple Road Odeon’s closure two yearsbefore. Designed in Art Deco style, it seated 2000 people,had a café, and boasted 12 dressing rooms from the dayswhen live variety acts complemented the films programme. Between 1972 and its closure 30 years later, theOdeon saw various expansions to meet changingaudience demands. It was finally demolished in summer2003 to be replaced by the Chartered Institute ofPersonnel & Development building. When the three-screen HMV Curzon opened on 23October 2009, showing art films as well as blockbusters, itmarked another major step forward for Wimbledon cinema-goers who now enjoy live opera from New York by satelliteand other special events unimaginable on AldermanAyres’ big day in 1964.FOOTNOTE: When HMV subsequently went intoadministration in late 2012, the Curzon was said to be safefrom closure. 160
    • 49. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED ON THE COMMONS21 September 2012: Wimbledon Common and PutneyHeath were once favoured locations if you wanted tochallenge someone to a duel near London. Commonlands south of the river were sufficiently remote to avoidbeing interrupted and also convenient for an escape shouldeither party be killed. Exactly 203 years ago today on 21 September 1809,two of the most senior Cabinet Ministers in the BritishGovernment sought satisfaction by firing at each otheron the heath, even though it was illegal. ViscountCastlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies,wounded George Canning, the Foreign Secretary, in thethigh. Canning, a novice with firearms, missed his mark.Honour had been met. Their argument concerned the deployment of Britishtroops during the Napoleonic War. Castlereagh hadignored Canning’s commitment to Portugal and sentthem elsewhere. Canning tried to have him sacked andwas challenged to the duel as a result. Both men werewidely criticized and though they each continued tohold high office they were never reconciled. Local duelling dated back more than 150 years at thetime. In May 1652, George Brydges, Baron Chandos, hadkilled Colonel Henry Compton in a duel on the heath.He was convicted of manslaughter and died in prison.Other meetings usually ended less seriously. On 26 May 1789 the Duke of York, second son ofKing George III, faced Lieutenant-Colonel Charles 161
    • Three of the best known duelists. Left: The Earl of Cardigan who shot his opponent and later ordered the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War. Below left: Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte who faced a Bow Street magistrate instead of shooting his adversary. Below: Frederick Duke of York. His opponent survived.162
    • Lennox, later Duke of Richmond, at Wimbledon Common.The Royal Duke had accused Lennox of uttering“expressions unworthy of a gentleman”. These weredenied and as Lennox’s demands for a retraction wererefused he demanded satisfaction. The duel was re-ported in The Times. Lennox was said to have fired and“grazed His Royal Highnesses curl” but the Duke firedin the air, declaring satisfaction given and the matterclosed. On 27 May 1798, Tory Prime Minister William Pittfaced George Tierney, Whig MP for Southwark, on theheath after accusing him of being unpatriotic. No-onewas injured. On 21 March 1829, another Tory Prime Minister,the Duke of Wellington, met the Earl of Winchilsea afterbeing accused of infringing English liberties by grantingcivil rights to Roman Catholics. The Duke aimed wideand the Earl didn’t fire at all and later apologised. The most popular venue for duels during the 1830swas near Wimbledon Windmill. Although most endedwithout injury, in 1838 a man was killed and the localauthority appointed the miller, Thomas Dann, as specialconstable to stop any further incidents. Two years lateranother confrontation really hit the headlines and Dannwas unable to pre-empt it. On 12 September 1840, James Brudenell, Earl ofCardigan, Colonel of the 11th Hussars, faced the youngCaptain Harvey Tuckett. Cardigan’s relations with hisown officers were poor and he had court-martialled onefor placing what he considered the wrong sort of winebottle on the regimental table. Headlined The Black BottleAffair, a newspaper published a series of anonymous 163
    • letters attacking him. He discovered Captain Tuckett asthe author and demanded satisfaction. Having shot the junior officer in the chest he wassubsequently tried by the House of Lords for attemptedmurder but denied the charge and was acquitted. Hisreputation, already in tatters, would only get worsewhen years later he ordered his men into the disastrousCharge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea, blaming hissuperiors, Lord Raglan and Lord Lucan. The last notable duel on the Common came in thesame year when the exiled French Prince Louis NapoleonBonaparte - the future Emperor Napoleon III - challengedhis cousin, Comte Leon, to a combat. Having arrived tofight it out they started arguing about the weapons to beused. This wasted so much time that the police wereable to arrive at the scene, arrest them both and bringthem before Bow Street magistrates who bound themover to keep the peace. The days of duelling onWimbledon Common were over. 164
    • 50. VESTATILLEY – TRULYA MAJOR STAR28 September 2012: Wimbledon’s links with the oldtime music hall will be given another public airingtomorrow, Saturday, when former Prime Minister andone-time Rutlish schoolboy Sir John Major tells anaudience at the Polka Theatre about his father’s stagecareer. But successful as he was, Tom Major-Ball nevermatched the fame of another star with a local link. Vesta Tilley (1864-1952), one of the country’s highestpaid music hall stars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,died 60 years ago this month and is buried at Putney ValeCemetery beside Wimbledon Common. Her real namewas Matilda Powles and while Tilley became her stagesurname, she took a brand of safety matches as herChristian name for public performances. Like Hetty King who lived locally in PalmerstonRoad (see Page 81), Vesta Tilley was famous as a maleimpersonator and singer. She was born into a theatricalfamily and first appeared on stage herself at the age ofthree, making her debut in boys’ clothing three yearslater and using the stage name that made her famousfrom the age of 11. By the time she was 14 in 1878 she was performingin two different music halls every evening and soontopped the bill at theatres both in Britain and the UnitedStates. In 1890 she married the man who composedsome of her songs, Walter de Flece. Her biggest hitsincluded The Piccadilly Johnny with the Little GlassEye and Following in Father’s Footsteps. She was at the pinnacle of her career during the FirstWorld War when she and Walter joined other music hall 165
    • artists in encouraging the national recruitment effort forthe Services. Dressed in military uniform, she wouldinvite members of the audience to sign on as part of heract, becoming known as the country’s best recruitingsergeant. As well as performing rousing songs like TheArmy of Todays All Right, she poked gentle fun at thosewho returned wounded from the trenches with the songIve Got a Bit of a Blighty One in which the protagonistis relieved to escape his dugout and get back to Britain.In 1916 she played a character called Vesta Beaumontin the film The Girl who Loves a Soldier. After performing in hospitals and selling war bondsduring the hostilities, she retired from the stage in 1920.She and Walter, recently knighted for his own warservices, went to live in Monte Carlo and she washenceforth known as Lady de Frece. Her autobiographywas published in 1934 and she returned to Britain afterWalter’s death the following year. She died aged 88 on16 September 1952. Vesta Tilley is mentioned in Sir John Major’s newbook My Old Man, A Personal History of Music Hallwhich features in this year’s Bookfest literary festival.Sir John’s talk tomorrow is sponsored by the WimbledonSociety ahead of the rest of the festival. 166
    • Vesta Tilley, one of the greatest of all the old time music hall entertainers, who is buried beside Wimbledon Common.167
    • 51. WIMBLEDON’S SWEDISH NIGHTINGALE5 October 2012: Jenny Lind (1820-1887), one of history’smost famous international opera stars, settled for manyyears near Wimbledon after taking the world by storm inthe mid-19th century. A pub in Inner Park Road whichopened in 1959 is still named after her today and what isnow the cancer treatment centre on Parkside (see Page126) was known as Jenny Lind House for some years. Later known as “the Swedish Nightingale”, JennyLind was born exactly 192 years ago tomorrow on 6 October1820 to a single mother schoolteacher in Stockholm.Heard at the age of nine singing through an open window,she was taken up by Swedens Royal Opera. At 17, hercareer as a soprano was launched with a performance ofVon Webers Der Freischütz (The Marksman), leadingto triumphs first in Sweden and then abroad. From 1840, she was a member of the Royal SwedishAcademy of Music. Said to have shared a romance withthe composer Felix Mendelssohn, she neverthelessmaintained a strictly respectable image and often per-formed concerts for charity. Jenny Lind made her debut in London in May 1847 atHer Majesty’s Theatre in front of Queen Victoria, stunningthe audience with her extraordinary voice. That July shetook a leading role there as Verdi conducted the worldpremière of his latest opera, I masnadieri. Mendelssohndied prematurely a few months later and the followingyear Jenny Lind performed a part he had written for her,raising money for a musical scholarship in his memory.The first recipient was the young Arthur Sullivan, laterof operetta fame, whose budding career she encouraged. 168
    • She became a big celebrity in Britain and her picture appeared on consumer goods from chocolate to snuff- boxes and handkerchiefs. However, she became con- cerned about the less than respectable image associated with female stage performers and from 1850 onwards she restricted her performances to concerts and oratorio. That year the American showman Phineas T Barnum arranged an extraordinary US tour for her. She insisted he deposit a vast sum of money in a London bank before the start. It proved highly profit- able for both of them. A crowd of 30,000 turned out to meet her ship on arrival at New York. They surrounded her hotel and tickets for her concerts were auctioned,Top: Jenny Lind in fetching unheard of prices.1850. Above: a Jenny Jenny Lind mania in AmericaLind porcelain doll, a even exceeded that in Britaintypical example of the as products ranging frommerchandise associated the “Jenny Lind crib” (awith her. baby’s cot) to soup and cheese 169
    • sold like hot cakes. Furniture, clothes and pianos wereassociated with her brand and music shops were filledwith compositions named after her. In 1851, after 93 performances, Barnum moved onbut Jenny Lind continued her American concert tour,donating the proceeds to charities. A German musician,Otto Goldschmidt, became her accompanist and conductorand they were married in February 1852, returning toEurope in May. They settled in Dresden where their firstson was born but moved to London in 1855 where theyhad two more children. She continued to perform overthe next two decades. They lived at various addresses near Wimbledon -first at Laurel House in Putney High Street until 1858,then Roehampton Lodge until 1859, Argyle Lodge onParkside until 1864, and Oak Lea in Victoria Road (nowVictoria Drive) until 1874 when they moved to SouthKensington. From 1882, Jenny Lind was Professor ofSinging at the Royal College of Music. Her final publicperformance was in 1883. In her last years they movedto the Malvern Hills where she died of cancer in 1887. Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt is commemorated at Poets’Corner in Westminster Abbey. Her widower was joinedby members of the Royal Family and Sir Arthur Sullivanat the memorials unveiling ceremony on 20 April 1894. 170
    • Pupils in the garden at Allenswood Academy. 52. WHEN A ‘FIRST LADY OF THE WORLD’ WENT TO SCHOOL NEAR WIMBLEDON PARK12 October 2012: Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), oneof the most influential wives of any American Presidentin her own right, spent three years as a pupil at theexclusive Allenswood Academy finishing school forgirls in what was then Albert Road and is now AlbertDrive, near Wimbledon Park. Born 128 years ago yesterday on 11 October 1884,Eleanor, a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, hadbeen tutored privately in New York. However, aged 15,her family decided that Allenswood would prepare herfor life in intellectual society. She would be educated 171
    • exclusively in French alongside girls of various othernationalities from well-to-do, high-ranking families withwell-known names such as Lloyd-George, Chamberlain,Strachey and Webb. The school had been started in France in 1864 byMlle Marie Souvestre and then recreated in England atAllenswood, a large house on the former estate of EarlSpencer. The pupils were given a good grounding in thearts. English, French, German, Italian, and music weretaught, along with domestic science, dancing and fencing. The girls wore long skirts, usually black, white ruffledblouses, a striped school tie, and boaters when outside.They made their own beds, had to empty their plates atevery meal, and went out on to the Common every dayafter breakfast, whatever the weather, before returningfor classes. After lunch, they had to lie on the floor for an hourand a half and fix their minds on a single thought whichwould then be discussed at tea-time. They had exerciseevery afternoon, then more classes. A bell rang to tellthem to dress for dinner. After that, Mlle Souvestre wouldembrace those most favoured, kiss others, and extendher hand graciously to the rest. Eleanor was well regarded at the school and became MlleSouvestre’s favourite pupil, even joining her on anoverseas tour of France and Italy. But at 17 in 1902she returned to the US and became a debutante. She wasoverwhelmed when her cousin Franklin D Rooseveltshowed interest in her and they courted for two yearsbefore becoming engaged. Her uncle, the President,gave her away at their wedding in 1905. Mlle Souvestre telegraphed her love and good wishes 172
    • Eleanor Roosevelt at the time of her schooling near Wimbledon Park.from England but died just a fortnight later aged 69. TheAcademy was continued by her deputy, the Italianteacher Pauline Samia, a close friend and probably herlover, together with Florence Boyce, the English teacher. Eleanor’s “liberal” education may have developed hersocial conscience. When her husband became President in1933 she strongly supported his New Deal economicpolicies and was a fervent advocate of civil rights. Afterhe died in 1945, she continued as an international author,speaker, politician, and activist, working to enhance thestatus of women. She was a delegate to the United Nationsfrom 1945-52, chairing the committee that drafted andapproved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.President Harry Truman called her the “First Lady ofthe World”. Back at Allenswood, another Frenchwoman, JeanneDozat, succeeded Misses Samia and Boyce in chargeand then Enid Michell ran it until the school closed inthe early 1950s. The house was later demolished and ablock of flats, also called Allenswood, built on the site. 173
    • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe author wishes to thank all those whose vital contributionsto this book or earlier work have made this publicationpossible. First among these are Charles Toase, chairmanof the Wimbledon Society Museum and also the LocalHistory Group, who both researched and wrote a numberof articles for original use in the Wimbledon SocietyNewsletter. These formed the basis of several of thetales published here. Additional thanks are due to himfor his careful and accurate perusal of the book at its draftstage, adding essential facts and corrections where necessary. Thanks also to Alan Elliot, whose earlier researchprovided several of the tales; Michael Norman-Smithfor two of the stories; Tony Drakeford for his usual highquality assistance on the wildlife of Wimbledon Common;Clive Whichelow for the tale of The Grove pub; andMonica Ellison whose assistance made possible the talesof W.T. Stead, the John Murray family, Robert Knoxand Georgette Heyer. Behind many of the stories lies the late historianRichard Milward whose numerous books on Wimbledonprovided a wealth of background material. I am alsograteful to a number of others whose suggestions andassistance helped provide individual tales. Finally,belated thanks to all those distinguished people whosefinal resting place is Putney Vale Cemetery, next toWimbledon Common. Full thanks are also due of course to Omar Oakes ofthe Wimbledon Guardian who organised publication ofevery story online throughout the year 2011-12. 174
    • INDEXAlexandra, Princess of Denmark 46Atkinson Morley’s Hospital, 18, 55-57Ayres, Alderman A.E. 157Bardswell, Florence 127-129Baly, William 103Bazalgette, Sir Joseph William 74-77Benn, Tony 106Bonaparte, Louis Napoleon 162Bonsor, Cosmo 107Brown, Lyde 64Browne, William 64Brunel, Isambard Kingdom 114Byron, Lord 67Canning, George 161Cannizzaro, Duke of 64-65Cannizaro, Duchess of 65-66Cardigan, Earl of 162-164Carter, Howard 23-25, 148, 150Castlereagh, Viscount 161Chain, Sir Ernst 117-119Chamberlain, Neville 154Chambers, Dorothea Lambert 133Cottenham, Lord 55Croft, Lara 14Crusoe, Robinson 16-17, 31Defoe, Daniel 16Denny, Sandy 86-89Dickens, Charles 43Dickens, Sir Henry Fielding 43-45 175
    • Drax, John Samuel 83-84Drax, Admiral Sir Reginald 154Dundas, Henry Viscount Melville 20, 65Eagle House 10-12, 20, 43, 53Epstein, Sir Jacob 148-150Fell, Sir Arthur 22Field, John 36Fleming, Sir Alexander 117Florey, Sir Howard 117Foot, Michael 156Frank, Katherine 16George III, King 33, 65, 161Graves, Robert 130-132Gregsons (solicitors) 139Haile Selassie, Emperor 120-122Halfhide, Alfred 107Hamilton, Emma 32Heyer, Georgette 144-147Hore-Belisha, Isaac Leslie, 154-156Hotham, Sir Richard 32-33Hughes, Thomas 19Ismay, J Bruce 40,42Jacomb, William 114-116Johnson, Dr Samuel 70Johnson, Walter 151-153Kauffman, Angelica 20-22Kerensky, Alexander 110-113King, Hetty 81-82Kloester, Jennifer 145,147Knox, Robert 16Lauder, Sir Harry 37-39Lawrence of Arabia, 132 176
    • Lenin (Vladimir Ulyanov) 110Lind, Jenny 168-170Lockyer, Sir Joseph Norman 98-100Major, Sir John 165Malan, Arthur 10Marconi, Guglielmo 92Marryat, Charlotte, 140Marryat, Frederick, 140-143Mendelssohn, Felix 168Murray, Gertrude 26, 107Murray, Sir Henry 26-28Murray, John II 67-68Murray, John III 68-69Nelson, Admiral Lord Horatio 32Nicholson, Graham Franklin 106Peck, Lucy 13-15Pitt, William 20, 65, 163Plomley, Roy 49-51Poke, Fred 126Preece, Arthur 90, 93Preece, Mary 128Preece, Sir William 90-93, 128Reed, Oliver, 58-60, 157Richmond, Duke of 163Ritchie, M.J.G. 133Roosevelt, Eleanor 171-173Roosevelt, Theodor 171Roosevelt, Franklin 172Rutherford, Dame Margaret 104-106Seligman, Hilda 120Smith, Alfred Hewitt 38Souvestre, Marie 172 177
    • Spencer, Earl 78,123Stead, William Thomas 40-42Sullivan, Sir Arthur 168Tertis, Lionel 61-63Thomson, David 78-80Tilley, Vesta 165-167Tooke, John Horne 70-73Toynbee, Arnold 123Toynbee, Arnold J 123Toynbee, Joseph 123-126Toynbee, Polly 123Truman, Harry 173Tyler (nee Odam), Dorothy 134-135Victoria, Queen 13, 103, 107Walker, Thomas 64Walters, Laundy 107, 128Wellington, Duke of 163Wilberforce, William 20Wilkes, John 70Wimbledon Theatre 29-31York, Duke of 161-163Zola, Emile 136-139 178
    • 179
    • The year 2012 was more significant than usual interms of anniversaries and commemorations. Britain asa whole marked the Olympics and Paralympics,celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, commemoratedthe sinking of the Titanic, the 200th birthday ofCharles Dickens and many more. For Wimbledon,each of these national events had a special localsignificance but they also happened alongside awhole string of other notable dates. Many famous people have been linked withWimbledon. They have been associated with everyimaginable field from the arts, sciences, archaeology,architecture, entertainment and sport to education,politics, health, warfare and even crime. Everyonein this book had an anniversary of some sort in 2012.But the year also marked developments such as thefirst trains, trams, theatres and cinemas or the lossof old hospitals, schools or pubs. Such events werecaptured by the Wimbledon Society for a weeklyHeritage series in the online version of the WimbledonGuardian newspaper. All of those that appeared inthe first full year of this series are included here. £7.00 ISBN 978-0-9576151-0-6 180 Wimbledon Society Museum Press