140 years ago, Ifield Road – the road that runs up the eastern side of Brompton Cemetery, connecting with Finborough Road, and one half of the fork in the road where the Finborough Theatre stands – was the scene of a terrifying outbreak of smallpox.
Smallpox was a scourge of humanity for 3000 years. Killing a third of those it infected, it is estimated that 300 million people died of smallpox in the 20th Century alone. Those who survived were often left disfigured by terrible scars or blinded. It was also the first disease for which there was a successful vaccine, discovered by Edward Jenner in 1796 when he observed that milkmaids who previously had caught cowpox did not catch smallpox.
The Ifield Road outbreak began on 27th January 1881 when a young girl called Alice C. was taken ill at number 96 (incidentally, the same house where my great-great-great-great grand aunt died in 1876). Over the next seven months, smallpox ripped through the tightly packed houses of Ifield Road. By July, there had been 41 cases in 26 houses (but only 6 cases in Finborough Road – and only in houses backing on to Ifield Road).
Overcrowding and social deprivation were the major causes for the severity of the outbreak. Although Ifield Road had only been built ten years before, its houses had become almost entirely tenement houses for the poor – probably because the more affluent did not wish to live so close to a busy working cemetery. It was estimated that the street was “one of the most overcrowded streets in Kensington” with over 2000 people lodging there at the time of the outbreak. The poverty of the inhabitants also meant that many smallpox cases were kept hidden from the authorities, because a stay in hospital meant the stigma of pauperism, and expense they could ill afford.
Some cases were traced to not disinfecting furniture and bedding properly. At number 72, Maria C. was taken to the Fulham Smallpox Hospital where she died. Two months after Maria C’s death, her sister in law Catherine C. “came to town to keep house”, only to catch the disease herself. She also died.
The disease was also spread by asymptomatic carriers. Two children were thought to have had chicken pox, and it was only once their contacts were traced that it was clear they had been suffering from smallpox and had spread the disease. A little boy called Walter W. was “able to be about nearly all the time of his trifling illness” and spread the disease to one of his friends. However, his friend’s “father, an anti-vaccinator, would not let the boy go to hospital, and the result was he himself fell ill, and few days afterwards his wife fell ill, and subsequently another boy fell ill.“ It would doubtless have pained the “anti-vaccinator” to know that “the attacks were most numerous amongst the unvaccinated. The mortality was very low amongst the vaccinated. It was very high amongst the unvaccinated.”
We know so much about the Ifield Road outbreak for two reasons – Dr Thomas Orme Dudfield, and Ifield Road’s location as the nearest residential street to the Fulham Smallpox Hospital.
Dr Thomas Orme Dudfield was Kensington’s Medical Officer of Health for 37 years – from 1871 until his death in 1908. He was a local resident, living at 8 Upper Phillimore Gardens, and later 14 Ashburn Place. He lies buried in Brompton Cemetery, and was so well thought of by the Royal Borough of Kensington that they erected a tablet to his memory in St Mary Abbott’s Church. His tireless efforts did much to improve the health of the borough – although he was not popular in Notting Dale where he required a police escort to inspect the infamous piggeries, while fending off the customary greetings of bricks and pig dung that greeted all officials.
Dr Dudfield’s testimony to the Royal Commission on Smallpox and Fever Hospitals in 1882 proved that – contrary to local conspiracy theories – the outbreak in Ifield Road was not caused by the hospital, except in a few cases when patients had been discharged too early. He also disproved the myth that smallpox was spread by bad air and the direction of the wind. But public pressure proved too much for the government, and from 1883, smallpox patients in the capital were quarantined on hospital ships on the river near Dartford. The Fulham Smallpox Hospital was renamed the Western Hospital, and became well known for its treatment of Polio during the terrifying outbreaks of the twentieth century, until Jonas Salk’s discovery of the Polio vaccine made it obsolete. It closed in 1979.
The story of Smallpox does have a happy ending – and it was a local resident who played an essential part, saving literally millions of lives. Sir Sydney Monckton Copeman lived at 57 Redcliffe Gardens from 1903 to 1909. His research in the 1890s made the manufacture of smallpox vaccine safe, so it could be stored for long periods and transported internationally. In 1980, following an international vaccination drive (unsurpassed at least until 2020), the World Health Organisation was able to declare “the world and all its people” had “won freedom from smallpox…”. It remains the only human infectious disease ever to have been completely eradicated.
With thanks to Dr Andrea Tanner, author of Thomas Orme Dudfield: The Model Medical Officer of Health, published in the Journal of Medical Biography 1998
The Finborough Arms was built by William Corbett and Alexander McClymont in 1868 as part of their Redcliffe Estate development. The building was designed by architect, playwright, journalist and editor of The Builder Magazine, George Godwin (28 January 1813 – 27 January 1888), alongside his brother Henry (1831-1917).
The Finborough Arms building stands on one of the most important lay-lines in the UK. Known as The Secondary Triangle, it forms an equilateral triangle (internal angles 60° and sides equal) with the key points of Boudicca’s Mound on Hampstead Heath, the Tower of London and Brompton Cemetery. The base of this triangle links the Tower, Southwark Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and the Brompton Cemetery plus a number of other key sites, some of which have now disappeared.
The Redcliffe Estate included five pubs, all built between 1865 and 1868 – the Finborough Arms, the Ifield Arms on Ifield Road, the Redcliffe Arms in Fulham Road, the Hollywood Arms in Hollywood Road, and the Coleherne Arms (now The Pembroke) in Old Brompton Road. Originally, they had also intended to build a sixth pub – the Harcourt Arms at 26 and 28 Redcliffe Mews. Only three still remain as pubs – the Ifield Arms is now flats, and the Redcliffe Arms is now a supermarket.
Built when the local area was largely made up of farms and market gardens, the Finborough Arms building stands on a former gravel pit.
The original ground floor design featured three entrances to separate snuggeries (drinking rooms), intended to keep the various social classes separate.
The first floor has over the years been a restaurant, a Masonic Lodge, a billiards hall, a sitting room for the pub staff, and, from 1980, a theatre.
Although the pub was built in 1868, the pub did not open until 1871.
John Dee (Born South Molton, Devon, 1833 – died Anerley, Surrey, 1880) purchased a 90 year lease of the new building for £5000 in 1869. At the time of purchase, he ran The Gladstone pub in Bishopsgate in the City of London. However, the pub could not open immediately as he had a considerable battle to be granted his alcohol licence. The licence was first refused in March 1869. On 2 April 1870, a licence was granted to the nearby Ifield Arms, but refused for the Finborough Arms. The licence was finally granted on 22 March 1871.
By September 1874, the pub had been taken over by the Finch family who ran it until 1921. The lease they purchased was for 90 years, but it is unclear who held the freehold.
William Finch was born in St George Hanover Square on 4 September 1838. His father, William Finch (born Clapham 1811, died at The County Arms 1862) , was the landlord of The County Arms, Wandsworth Common, for many years.
Mary Ann Lydia Shrimpton’s family were also in the licensed trade. She was born on 9 February 1847 in The Good Man pub, Bolsover Street, Marylebone, where her father was landlord. As Mary Ann was later to do after the death of William Finch, her mother continued as landlady in her own right after the death of Mary Ann’s father. Mary Ann’s stepfather, William Gooderham, was also in the trade, and was landlord of The Goat, Buckingham Palace Road, when he died in 1875. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, along with Mary Ann’s mother.
William and Mary Ann married on 17 May 1867 at St Peter’s, Pimlico, and ran the Bee Hive pub in Holloway, from at least May 1870 to January 1873.
The couple had ten children: William Joseph Finch. Born in The County Arms, Wandsworth, in 1878. He disappears from the records, and likely died in infancy. Fanny Lydia Finch. Born in The County Arms, Wandsworth, in May 1869. She died three weeks later, and was buried at St Mary’s, Battersea, on 25 June 1869. Mary Ann Ada Finch. Born in the Bee Hive, Holloway, on 15 May 1870. Florence Catherine Finch. Born in the Bee Hive, Holloway, on 16 October 1871. Alice Elizabeth Finch. Born in the Finborough Arms on 21 September 1874. Edith Eliza Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 25 March 1876. Emily Bray Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms in October 1877. Marion Emma Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 7 January 1879. Ernest Shrimpton Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 23 November 1880. Fanny Elsie Finch. Born in The Finborough Arms on 26 August 1886.
Their staff in residence on the census night of 31 March 1881 were: Fanny Bridges. Age 22. Born about 1859 in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Occupation – Servant. Annie Brown. Age 24. Born about 1857 in Sandhurst, Berkshire. Occupation – Barmaid. Ruth Channer. Age 29. Born in Penn, Buckinghamshire, in 1851. Occupation – Servant. Ruth Channer moved with the Finch family from their previous pub in Holloway. She married Thomas Hooke King in 1883, and died at 37 Frances Street, Battersea, in 1888. She is buried in Brompton Cemetery. Rebecca White. Age 64. Born about 1817 in Isleham, Cambridgeshire. Occupation – Nurse.
One of the Finborough Arms’ most regular customers in this period was sanitary pioneer Thomas Crapper (1836-1910). The manufacturer of sanitary goods and improver of the Water Waste Preventer (the syphon fitted in British cisterns) who promoted plumbed bathroom fittings and brought them out of the closet. He founded Thomas Crapper & Co. in 1861 who were based, successively, in Robert Street, Draycott Avenue and the King’s Road, and the firm still exists today. He and his brother, George, would regularly begin their working day in the Finborough Arms with a bottle of champagne.
In residence on census night, 31 March 1891, were the Finch family and their staff: Kate Gould. Age 22. Born about 1869 in Notting Hill, London, England. Occupation – Servant. Mary Annie Jones. Age 37. Born about 1854 in Newbridge, Radnorshire, Wales. Occupation – Barmaid. and still in service with the family, Rebecca White. Age 74. A widow, born about 1817 in Isleham, Cambridgeshire. Occupation – Nurse. Rebecca died at the Finborough Arms on 9 March 1898.
The Manager for William Finch in 1896 was William Henry Deacon, born in Middlesex in 1834. Buried in Brompton Cemetery, his sudden demise was reported in the West London Observer on Saturday, June 27 1896:
“SUDDEN DEATH AT FINBOROUGH ROAD At the Kensington Town Hall, on Monday, Mr C. Luxmoore Drew held an inquest on the body of William Henry Deacon, the manager to Mr William Finch, a licensed victualler, of the Finborough Arms, Finborough-road, Earl’s-court. On Friday night last [19 June 1896], the deceased left his place of employment as usual to return to his home at 109 Finborough-road. He was then apparently quite well, but as he did not go to work the next morning Mr Finch went to the house, and finding his door locked, and unable to get any answer to his repeated calls, he procured another key and on entering the room found him dead in bed. The police, and Dr. Haines, the divisional surgeon of police were called. The latter attributed death to fatty degeneration of the heart and disease of the kidneys, accelerated by alcoholism. The jury returned a verdict to this effect.”
William Finch and his family moved to a more spacious house at ‘Cosham’, 2 Leopold Road, Ealing Common, after 1891, but remained as landlords of the Finborough Arms until 1921.
William Finch died at 2 Leopold Road on 11 February 1907.
Emily Bray Finch died in Ealing on 26 February 1929, aged 51.
By 1940, the long-widowed Mary Ann and her six surviving unmarried daughters had lived at 2 Leopold Road, Ealing, for nearly fifty than forty years. On 18 October 1940, a single high explosive bomb destroyed the house so completely that their rescuers were recommended for three gallantry medals for digging the family out of the rubble. Florence Catherine Finch, aged 69, and her sister Mary Ann Ada Finch, aged 70, died at the scene. The matriarch of the family, Mary Ann Lydia Finch, died of her injuries in hospital two days later. She was 93 years old.
Ernest Shrimpton Finch married Minnie Crapper (1880-1976), the great-niece of Thomas Crapper (see above), in 1906. The couple emigrated to Canada in 1911 and settled in Alberta, where they had two daughters – Muriel Emma (1907-1927) who died in childbirth, and Joan Ada (1915-1991). Ernest died in Red Deer, Alberta, on 8 October 1954.
The surviving sisters moved to Wokingham in Berkshire: Alice Elizabeth Finch died in Beaufort House Nursing Home, Grange Park, Ealing, on 2 February 1942. Marion Emma Finch died in Wokingham Hospital on 27 September 1958. Edith Eliza Finch died in Wokingham on 26 February 1962. Fanny Elsie Finch died in Wokingham on 14 January 1970.
Under the Finch management, the pub continued to be run by resident staff:
Present on census night, 31 March 1901: Martha Stephenson, Public House Manageress. She was 25 and born in Battersea. Percy Frank Hunt, Public House Manager. He was 24 and born in Leamington, Warwickshire. Alice Hagg. A 20 year old barmaid from Norwich, Norfolk. Lottie Cook. Another 20 year old barmaid, from Kilburn, London. Matilda Page. A 26 year old “Cook General (Domestic)” from Lambeth, London.
By 1911, Percy Hunt was running the Blantyre Arms in Blantyre Street with his wife, Georgina Emma Hunt, He died in 1947 in Battersea; and Martha Stephenson was a single servant, resident at The Chelsea Potter at 119 King’s Road.
Following the death of William Finch in February 1907, the lease was auctioned on 16 May 1907 at a profit rental of £103 per annum, with 58 years left to run on the lease. It is unclear if the lease was actually sold as Mrs Finch continued as landlady until 1921, but this may have been when Whitbread Brewery (who owned the building until 2000) purchased the lease.
Present on census night, 2 April 1911: George Edward Uwins. Manager. A 29 year old single man from Reigate, Surrey. Licensed for the bar trade in Victoria. (See below) Hilda Louise Ball. Manageress. A 39 year old widow from Cork, Ireland. Licensed for the bar trade in Victoria. Jane Ann Duff. Servant, Cook and Domestic. Born on 4 March 1864 in Perthshire, Scotland. She died in Wigton, Cumberland, on 28 December 1950. Margaret Bowen. Barmaid. A 30 year old single woman from Mill End, London Constance May Giles. Barmaid. A 22 year old single woman from Battersea, London
George Edward Uwins (1881-1931) was manager of The Finborough Arms between 1909-1910 to sometime between 1917 and 1919. George Edward Uwins was born in Reigate, Surrey, in 1881. He married Ada Sharp (1883-1966) at St. Paul’s, Bow Common, on 26 August 1914. In 1901, George was employed as a barman, living at The Magpie and Punch Bowl Pub, 58 Bishopsgate Street in the City of London. George and Ada’s first two children were born at The Finborough Arms – George Thomas on 15 July 1915, and Ada Frances on 15 February 1917. George died at the age of 11 in Thanet, Kent, in April 1927; Ada known as Ann, married Reginald Miles in Fulham in 1943, and died in Hertfordshire on 1 April 2001. George and Ada’s third child Sidney Leonard was born at 493 Fulham Road on 1 May 1918, when George was described as a Licensed Victualler’s manager, but no place of business was given. (Sidney died in Lampeter, Wales, on 11 October 1994). By 1920, George was the licensee of The Latimer Arms, 13 Norland Road, Notting Hill, where his three remaining children were born. George Uwins died of alcohol-related disease (fatty degeneration of heart, cirrhosis of liver and chronic gastritis) on 6 March 1931 in Ducane Hospital, Ducane Road, Hammersmith.
The manager of The Finborough Arms in 1919 was Ernest Edward Levitt (born Woolwich in 1874 – died Enfield in 1939). He went on to run The Goat in Ponder’s End for many years.
On Christmas Eve 1919, Ada Roberts, cook at the Finborough Arms, committed suicide. The story is taken from two local newspaper reports:
“A COOK’S SUICIDE EMBITTERED AGAINST ALL. Mr. H. R. Oswald held an inquest on Ada Roberts, 55, cook at the “Finborough Arms.” Kensington. She left her situation suddenly, took oxalic acid in the street, and went into the receiving ward of Kensington Workhouse, where she expired a few minutes after. Ernest Livett, of the “Finborough Arms” said she was naturally a very morbid woman. She had been brought up in Chelsea Workhouse for 14 years, and was embittered against everything. She never appreciated a kind word. She very often threatened to take her own life. She disappeared on December 23rd and he informed the police. May Brown, receiving wards-woman at Kensington Infirmary, said the deceased came there at 8p.m. on Christmas Eve with a relieving officer’s order. A few minutes later she appeared to be ill and said she had taken poison. Witness sent for the doctor. Mrs. Warnes, an attendant, said she gave an emetic when she said, “I have taken spirits of salts.” In her handbag she found a cup and a small bottle. Dr. Remington Hobbs said the woman died as he arrived. Death was due to poisoning by salts of lemon. A verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity” was returned.”
The West London Observer reported on 3 September 1920:
“SCENE IN A CELLAR. John Edmonds, 45, labourer, of 127, Glanville Road, Kilburn, was charged with stealing and receiving a quantity of port wine, worth 12s., belonging to Ernest Edward Livett, licensed victualler, of the “Finborough Arms,” Finborough Road, South Kensington. He was further charged with assaulting P.c. Plowright, 612B, by kicking him on the ankle and striking him in the stomach. P.c. Plowright did not attend the Court, and was stated to be on the sick list. Mr. Livett said he did not wish to go on with the charge of stealing the port wine. In reply to the Magistrate, he stated that prisoner and other men were engaged on re-flooring the cellar. On Friday afternoon he went down to the cellar and found the prisoner and another man there. Prisoner was slightly under the influence of drink, and there were some cups there which had contained port wine. He discovered that a lot of port wine was missing – the wine could have been got by a tap from a barrel. Prisoner: You punched me in the face and knocked me senseless on the floor. Mr. Levitt denied that, and said he never laid hands on the prisoner, except to help him up the stairs. P.c. Woodger, 487B, stated that he heard a police whistle and went to Finborough Road, where he saw the prisoner struggling with P.c. Plowright. He saw him kick P.c. Plowright, who fell to the ground. Witness arrested prisoner, who was taken to the police station on the police ambulance: P.c. Plowright was so badly injured that he had to be taken to the station in a motor car. Edmonds was sentenced to two months’ hard labour.
In the 1921 edition of the London and Suburbs Hughes Directory, the pub was still registered to M. A. L. Finch – Mary Ann Lydia Finch. On 11 October 1921, the pub was leased by Whitbread to The Improved Public House Company Limited who held it on seven year leases, renewed in 1928 and 1935 at a rent of £100 per annum. The Improved Public House Company was the brainchild of Whitbread director Sir Sydney Oswald Neville (1873-1969) and was founded in 1920 to assume responsibility for the management of its new large outlets. Its purpose was to develop and refurbish public houses to make them appeal to a wider public with an emphasis on “fewer and better” pubs, centred around larger, “improved” premises, run by salaried managers instead of independent tenants. By 1939, the company owned 17 pubs and managed a further 32.
The building was approved for alterations in February 1922 and again in April 1931, but it is not known what alterations were made.
On 9 January 1925, the licence was transferred from William Alfred Charles Denny and William Worwood, to Alfred Ernest Warr and William Worwood. Uner the management of the Improved Public House Company, it seems that the pub licence was held in the name of the actual landlord of the pub, and the Company Secretary of the Improved Public House Company. In this case, Worwood was the landlord, and Denny and Warr worked for the Improved Public House Company. William Denny had previously been licensee of the Grove Tavern, Beauchamp Place, and the Walmer Castle, Ledbury Road, and went to run the Fox and Hounds Hotel, 167 Upper Richmond Road, Putney. Alfred Warr (born Camberwell 1865 – died Worthing, Sussex, 1936) was the licensee of The White Horse in Lambeth from 1895 to 1911. William Worwood’s wife Edith was assaulted by John James Markham in 1925. His trial was delayed when he was discovered unconscious on his bed at 24 Redcliffe Mews suffering from gas poisoning. After he was released from hospital, he was charged and tried with attempted suicide. He was acquitted after admitting that he was the “worse for drink” and “If I had meant to commit suicide, I wouldn’t have left the window and the door open.” He promised to abstain from intoxicants in the future.
At the end of July 1925, the licence was transferred again from Warr and Worwood to Warr and Edwin Albert Jennings King (born at the Spread Eagle Pub, Hackney, 1884 – died Lambeth 1954).
The landlord from the early 1930s to 1939 was Henry Charles Beale. In October 1936, the licence was renewed by Finborough Arms landlord Henry Charles Beale, and Albert James Wainwright of the Improved Public House Company.
Present on the 29 September 1939: Henry C. Beale. Born 11 November 1900. Publican. Married. Irene R. Beale. Born 26th October 1899. Publican. Married. June A. Beale. Born 1929. Child. Annie R. Lush. Born 18 May 1874. Barmaid. Widowed. [Mother of Irene], William S. James. Born 11 February 1870. Barman. Divorced. Thomas Conway. Born 12 April 1913. Barman. Single.
Henry Charles Beale, always known as Harry, was born 11 November 1900 in Leeds, Yorkshire. He married Irene Rosina Lush in Christchurch, Hampshire, in 1925. He died on 8 January 1944 of tuberculosis at Cooks Ferry Inn, Edmonton, at the age of 43. They had one child, June, born in 1929. He was landlord of the Finborough Arms until late 1939. Other pubs Harry Beale ran included The Black Raven, Bishopsgate, which like the Finborough Arms, was also owned by Improved Public House Co Ltd. From 1940, he ran The Lion Hotel, North Road, Caledonian Market, which the family had to leave when a bomb broke all of the windows (although the building survived), and later the Cooks Ferry Inn, Edmonton. Irene Rosina Lush was born 26 October 1899 in Parkstone, Dorset. She died in Poole, Dorset, in 1962. Her mother, Annie Rosina Lush nee Gibbons, was born in Turnham Green, London, on 18 May 1874. She died in June 1951 in Bournemouth, Dorset. Their daughter, June Annette Beale, was born in July 1929 at the The Black Raven Pub, Bishopsgate. She married George Inskip (1923-2003). She died on 26 February 2020 at the Zetland Court Care Home, Bournemouth, Dorset. Other residents in the late 1930s included Harry Beale’s nephew, Brian Beale (1928-2016) together with his mother Edna (1907-1988) who both lived there for several months.
A barmaid in July 1934 was a Miss Lucy May Page (born Hackney 1901 – died Bristol 1980) who left to get married.
On 13 July 1934, the Westminster and Pimlico News reported that “A jujitsu encounter in a public-house had a sequel at the West London Police Court yesterday (Thursday), when Leonard Skinner (27), fruiterer, 88 Munster-road, Fulham, appeared before Mr. Marshall on a remanded charge of causing grievous bodily harm to Williams Shields, club secretary, 3 Cathcart-road, West Brompton, by striking him on the face with his fist. The hearing had be adjourned from May 31 for the attendance of the prosecutor, who had been detained in hospital with a fractured jaw. The accused was represented by Mr. Hankins. The prosecutor, giving evidence, said that on the evening of May 30 he was in the Finborough Arms public-house, playing a game of “shoveha’penny,” when the defendant, whom he had known for a considerable time, came in and called for a drink. Witness turned round and nodded to him, and then they “had a few words.” In cross-examination, witness agreed that a day or two before, he had given another man a black eye, and that when the defendant entered the bar, he smiled at him and some reference was made to the incident. Mr. Hawkins: I think you have some knowledge of the art of jujitsu? Witness: Yes. And probably you know that a hold by the lapels of the coat near the neck is calculated to throw a man off his balance? – Yes. You caught hold of the defendant in that way? – Yes. I suggest that he lost his balance and fell against the counter. Then, on the rebound, his flat caught you on the chin? –Yes. There was no further evidence and the magistrate dismissed the charge.”
A barman from 1934 to 1935 was Arthur Corr (born c. 1914). In May 1935, Corr (who lived at 128 Ifield Road) pleaded guilty to stealing £54 10s. belonging to the pub landlord, Henry Charles Beale. The Westminster and Pimlico News reported that: “Detective Scaddan said that on May 15 the prisoner was given the money, which was partly in cash and partly in cheques and postal orders, to take to the bank, but disappeared. Arrested the next day he had only £19 left, and he explained that he had used the remainder to pay gambling debts. He had been employed by the prosecutor about 14 months and had hitherto been satisfactory, but it appeared that he had got into difficulties with book-makers. He had once before been charged. In 1932 he was bound over for stealing.” Corr was sentenced to three months imprisonment.
The licensee from January 1940 until at least 1951 was Richard William Edward Featherstone, who was born in Marylebone on 26 July 1905, and died in Southwark in April 1969. He ran the pub with his wife, Ivy Maud Emily Featherstone, nee Foote, born in Fulham on 28 August 1909, who died in Southwark on 20 August 1987; and his mother-in-law, Ellen Bubb, born 22 December 1881, who died in Bromley in 1958, who lived at the Finborough Arms on and off between 1945 and 1951.
From the West London Advertiser, 19 December 1941: “LICENSEE AND CUSTOMERS FINED Late Drinks at the Finborough Arms Before Mr. Paul Bennett at West London Police Court on Tuesday, Richard William Edward Featherstone, the Finborough Arms public house, 118 Finborough Road, Fulham Road, was summoned for unlawfully selling supplying intoxicating liquor during other than permitted hours. Ernest Newton, 24 Slaidburn Street, Chelsea, Sydney George Price, 74 Gladesmore Road, South Tottenham, Cecilia Berry and Alexander Mitchell Berry, both of 4 Westgate Terrace, Kensington, were summoned for consuming intoxicating liquor during other than permitted hours at The Finborough Arms. All defendants admitted the summonses. The prosecuting solicitor said the summons against Mr Featherstone for supplying the liquor would not be proceeded with in view of the fact that he had pleaded guilty to the summons for selling liquor. A police inspector saw a light shining inside The Finborough Arms on October 18 at 10.50 pm. Closing time was 10 pm. He heard noises inside the public house and the sounds of money being handled. knocked on the door just after 11 pm and the lights inside were turned down and people were heard moving about inside the bar. The door was eventually opened but none of defendants was in the bar. At first the licensee denied there was anybody there but when the inspector said he was not satisfied he said “I give up. I may as well tell the truth.” Defendants were then seen upstairs. They each had a half pint glass containing beer. The glasses were found on the stairs and each defendant admitted that they were their drinks. The licensee said Mr and Mrs Berry were friends but he did not know their address. He added, “I should have known better because I have been connected with this trade for 14 years.” There were no convictions against him. Price told the magistrate he spent Christmas with Mr Featherstone in 1939. Mr Berry said he was a friend of Mr Featherstone.
“Desert Surrounded by An Oasis” Mr Leslie Smith, who defended Mr Featherstone, said all four of the other defendants had been customers in the public house of which Mr Featherstone was licensee. Mr and Mrs Berry were old friends and the other two were just customers with whom Mr Featherstone had become friendly. “Although Featherstone has made an ass of himself.” said Mr Smith “he has been man enough to attend court and tell the truth. Perhaps it is my fault that these houses have to close at 10 o’clock because I made applications for a change from 10 to 11 o’clock and I have not succeeded. Kensington is like a desert surrounded by an oasis of houses open until 11 o’clock at night, whereas we have to close at 10 o’clock.” Mr Smith and said Mr Featherstone had been the licensee for 2 1/2 years. He had been in the trade for 17 years. The business was a small one run by himself, his wife and mother-in-law. He also did stretcher party duties in the A.R.P. service. The licensee was fined £5 with £3 3s costs. The other defendants were each fined 20s.”
The landlord in 1954 was Reginald Walter Pond (born Barnet, Hertfordshire, 1908 – died Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, 1982) and his wife, Teresa May (nee Reilly) (born Portsmouth, Hampshire 1918 – died Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, 2006). In April 1954, Reg Pond made the national papers with The Daily Mirror running an article on him being arrested for being drunk in charge of his own pub. The West London Observer reported in more detail: “A 45-year-old licensed victualler, Reginald Walter Pond, of the Finborough Arms, Finborough Road, Chelsea, was at West London on Monday fined 7/6d. and ordered to pay £5 5s. costs for being drunk and incapable of taking care of himself in his own public house. Sgt. Edward Oram said he was outside the public house at 10.11p.m. when the licensee came out of the saloon bar. He nearly fell and put his arm against the wall. He then staggered over to the officer and when asked about money that had been reported stolen he replied, “It’s all right. I found it was in my safe.” The sergeant formed the opinion that the licensee was drunk. Sgt. Oram added that after returning to the bar, Pond went upstairs to a room in which there where about 60 people. Several of them surrounded the licensee who began shouting and waving his arms about. When arrested, he replied, “I have had a few.” A police surgeon said the licensee performed various tests reasonably well. He said he had been drinking fairly steadily since about 11a.m. and was alleged to have estimated drinking about 19 light ales. The doctor agreed that it was possible to be under the influence of drink without being drunk. Denying the charge, Pond said he had been working since 6a.m. on this day because of a double wedding party at his public house. He had no time for breakfast or lunch, but did have a sandwich at about 5p.m. The only alcohol he had consumed had been a number of light ales. He was paid £30 by the wedding organisers and put the money, with other notes, in his wallet. He later put the wallet in his safe, but forgot that fact when he suddenly discovered it was not in his pocket. He told his wife, who unfortunately telephoned for the police. In the meantime, he had found the wallet in the safe. Replying to his counsel, Pond said he did not think his gait was unsteady. It was possible he had put his arm on the police officer’s shoulder but it was not because he needed any support. He was busily engaged in calling “time” and turning his customers out when he was arrested. He had not been serious when he told the doctor he had had 19 light ales. “I did not admit being drunk,” added the licensee. “I was under the influence of drink, but I was not drunk.” Convicting Pond, the magistrate (Mr. E. R. Guest) said that whatever “drunk” might mean, he was quite satisfied the licensee was overcome by alcohol and was totally incapable of looking after himself.”
The landlord in April 1958 was Victor James Southwick (born Wandsworth 1915 – died Lewes, Sussex 1988), and his wife, Jean (born 1921 – died Appledore, Kent, 1984). After spending eighteen years working with the NAAFI providing food and drink for the armed forces, Vic spent just two months at the Finborough Arms. He left as he was picked to be the landlord of a “genuine” English pub, The Britannia Inn, at the 1958 Brussels World Fair, assisted by two English barmaids. By 1959, Vic and his wife were running The Gilbert and Sullivan pub in John Adam Street off the Strand where he displayed his extensive Gilbert and Sullivan memorabilia collection. Shutterstock image library has a collection of photographs of Vic and Jean photographed in the Finborough Arms in February 1958, viewable here
The publicans in May 1970 were Bill Cummins (born County Offaly, Ireland) and his wife Eve, assisted by Tammy, the Jack Russell terrier.
In that month, the Kensington Post reported that: “Upstairs the ceilings are high, the seats comfortable, the carpets soft underfoot and the food at the bar extremely good. Bill hails from County Ofley [sic] in the middle of Ireland and on Thursdays they put on a very special Irish bacon and cabbage dish. This is a traditional Irish dish the thought of which makes my mouth water; with gammon and cabbage cooked together and potatoes in their jackets flavoured by the juices. They also serve other good things as well, like shepherds pie, steak and kidney pudding, pasties and sausages; and Eve will make up a fresh salad exactly to your taste. The maximum price of a Bar Lunch here is 5s. Extremely good value for money. Downstairs is a new Cellar Bar, with alcoves to settle down in a plenty of room to manoeuvre if you go with a party! One interesting feature of the Cellar Bar is the alcove on the left as you go downstairs. This used to be the place where the beer was delivered and now an ancient wooden barrel – a species becoming rare – is displayed behind some fine iron gates. In the evening there are snacks at both the upstairs bar and in the cellar bar. Sauerkraut, frankfurters, hamburgers and toasted sandwiches as well as sausage rolls and sausages.”
The Finborough Theatre opened in 1980.
In April 1989, the pub was advertising itself as a new wine bar with live music on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and fine homemade cuisine.
In August 1994, Tim Harrison of the Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush Gazette reported that: “Neo-nazi skinheads chanting fascist slogans ambushed Chelsea fans in their local pub on the first day of the soccer season, smashing windows, bottles and glasses in a pitched battle which left four supporters in hospital with head wounds. Police believe the attack was a planned retaliation for an incident six months ago in which a group of far right extremists were barred from the Finborough Arms, at the Brompton end of Finborough Road, for trying to sell racist newspapers. Members of Combat 18, an offshoot of the British National Party which is through to have links with the notorious East London football hooligan gang the Inter-City Firm, are believed to be behind the incident. Dozens of members of the Chelsea Independent Supporters Association (CISA) had spent lunchtime in the Finborough Arms before strolling to Stamford Bridge for their club’s first match of the new season. Buoyed by Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Norwich, they returned to the all-day-opening pub shortly after 5pm. “The pub was packed; I was on the door, and by 5.15pm we couldn’t get any more in,” said landlord Philip Morgan, who has run the pub without any trouble for the past 16 months. Then all hell broke loose. “A tidal wave of skinheads moved through the pub chanting ‘Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!’, and smashing everything; glasses, bottles, pool cues, leaded partition windows. It was a minute of sheer mayhem, then they ran; some heading to Fulham, others to Earls Court.” Ross Fraser, chairman of the CISA, was one of the Chelsea fans injured in the attack, which began after several of the skinheads began picking on a girl known as ‘Commie Kim’, from Vauxhall, who was wearing an Anti-Nazi League badge. The thugs called her a ‘slag’ and then slapped her round the face, causing swelling and reddening. It seemed to be the signal the other thugs had been waiting for, because 15 skinheads wearing Doc Marten boots got to their feet and began overturning tables and smashing everything in sight. Customers dived over the bar to escape the mayhem. The gang had drifted into the pub in ones and twos while the nearby football match was in progress, so as not to attract publican Philip Morgan’s attention. Ross Fraser was one of three people taken to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for treatment to head wounds caused by broken glasses and bottles. He is lucky to still have the sight in one eye. “A table flew towards my head, and I put my arm up. U vaguely saw one person standing on the pool table throwing pool balls. I can remember seeing the expression on the face of an eight-year-old boy – screaming in terror,” he said. Ross needed six stitched in cuts to his face and head from glass. One shard scratched his cornea, and he only escaped being blinded in one eye by half an inch. A second victim needed stitches in a neck gash which nicked his jugular, while a third man had 12 stitches in a gash to the back of his head, possibly caused by a bottle. A fourth man who was struck on the temple by a pool ball was taken to Charing Cross Hospital for treatment. The CISA has a strong anti-racist reputation, and articles published in the fanzine it sells on home matchdays have in the past prompted letters addressed to the ‘n****r-loving’ editor. There are fears that the attack may have been an attempt to blacken the name of Chelsea fans in their first season back in European competition for two decades. “It was pre-planned violence,” added Mr Morgan. “they came here for one purpose, and one purpose alone.”” Later in 1994, the incident featured in a World In Action episode for ITV about football hooliganism and racism about the attack.
Other staff and managers of The Finborough Arms have included: 1991-1992 – John Gibson. 1993-1994 – Philip Morgan. 1995 – Sarah and Mark, who announced in the local press a reopening event on Thursday, 23 February 1995. 1996 – Sheila English. 1998-2001 – David Teakel. 2001-2002 – Jay Hindmarsh.
The pub was owned by Whitbread brewery until 2000, when it was purchased by Enterprise Inns who owned it until 2012. From 2012 until 2021, the building was owned by the late Dr Shelley Chopra (1970 – 2020).
The pub was closed from June 2002 to April 2003 for a major refurbishment including the removal of asbestos from the building.
Renamed ‘The Finborough’ 2002-2006 – Joshua Reid
The pub lost its licence in 2006. From the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Licensing Update: “The Finborough Arms, SW10, applied for licences to allow it to serve customers until midnight, except on 15 occasions a year when its permitted hours could be extended by an hour with the consent of the police. In March this year an application to review the licence was made by the police after it was reported that the pub was operating beyond permitted hours. Many of these reports came from residents. Police visited the pub in May and found music, dancing and the sale of alcohol going on beyond permitted hours. As there was little or no control of customers, a closure notice was issued. The matter was taken to the West London Magistrates’ Court two days after the police inspection and the Deputy District Judge ordered the pub to remain closed until the Licensing Authority (the Council) held a review hearing. Both reviews were heard on 22 May and resulted in the pub’s licences being revoked and the Designated Premises Supervisor being removed from the licence.”
With the exception of a few months in 2007 when it was run by Andrew Fay, the pub was then closed from May 2006 to February 2008.
Renamed ‘The Finborough Road Brasserie’ 2008-2010 – Tracey Coles
The pub was closed for two months in the Summer of 2009, and then again from Summer to Autumn 2010.
Renamed ‘The Finborough Wine Cafe’ November 2010-21 September 2012 – Rob Malcolm and Monique Ziervogel
The pub was then closed from September 2012 to February 2014.
The name reverted back to The Finborough Arms February 2014 – 27 May 2015 – Jeffrey John Bell, also landlord of The Gunmakers Arms, 13 Eyre Street Hill, Clerkenwell, London.
This article originally appeared on the Finborough Theatre website. Compiled with thanks to Kevan at PubWiki, the late June Inskip, Nick Beale, Nick Hanham, and George Edward Uwins’s great-nephew, Cliff Uwins.
Founded in 1980, the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre presents plays and music theatre, concentrated exclusively on vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Our programme is unique – we never present work that has been seen anywhere in London during the last 25 years. Behind the scenes, we continue to discover and develop a new generation of theatre makers – most notably through our invitation-only Finborough Forum monthly meetings.
Despite remaining completely unsubsidised, the Finborough Theatre has an unparalleled track record for attracting the finest talent who go on to become leading voices in British theatre. Under Artistic Director Neil McPherson, it has discovered some of the UK’s most exciting new playwrights including Laura Wade, James Graham, Mike Bartlett, Jack Thorne, Alexandra Wood, Nicholas de Jongh and Anders Lustgarten, and directors including Tamara Harvey, Robert Hastie, Blanche McIntyre, Kate Wasserberg and Sam Yates.
Artists working at the theatre in the 1980s included Clive Barker, Rory Bremner, Nica Burns, Kathy Burke, Ken Campbell, Jane Horrocks and Claire Dowie. In the 1990s, the Finborough Theatre first became known for new writing including Naomi Wallace’s first play The War Boys,Rachel Weisz in David Farr’s Neville Southall’s Washbag, four plays by Anthony Neilson including Penetrator and The Censor, both of which transferred to the Royal CourtTheatre, and new plays by Richard Bean, Lucinda Coxon, David Eldridge, Tony Marchant and Mark Ravenhill. New writing development included the premieres of modern classics such as Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping and F***king, Conor McPherson’s This Lime Tree Bower,Naomi Wallace’s Slaughter City and Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman.
Since 2000, new British plays have included Laura Wade’s London debut Young Emma, commissioned for the Finborough Theatre, two one-woman shows by Miranda Hart, James Graham’s Albert’s Boy with Victor Spinetti, Sarah Grochala’s S27, Athena Stevens’ Schism which was nominated for an Olivier Award, and West End transfers for Joy Wilkinson’s Fair, Nicholas de Jongh’s Plague Over England, Jack Thorne’s Fanny and Faggot, Neil McPherson’s Olivier Award nominated It Is Easy To Be Dead, and Dawn King’s Foxfinder.
UK premieres of foreign plays have included plays by Brad Fraser, Lanford Wilson, Larry Kramer, Tennessee Williams, the English premiere of Robert McLellan’s Scots language classic, Jamie the Saxt, and West End transfers for Frank McGuinness’ Gates of Gold with William Gaunt and John Bennett, and Craig Higginson’s Dream of the Dog with Dame Janet Suzman.
Rediscoveries of neglected work – most commissioned by the Finborough Theatre – have included the first London revivals of Rolf Hochhuth’s Soldiers and The Representative, both parts of Keith Dewhurst’s Lark Rise to Candleford, The Women’s War, an evening of original suffragette plays, Etta Jenks with Clarke Peters and Daniela Nardini, Noël Coward’s first play The Rat Trap, Emlyn Williams’ Accolade, Lennox Robinson’s Drama at Inish with Celia Imrie and Paul O’Grady, John Van Druten’s London Wall which transferred to St James’ Theatre, and J. B. Priestley’s Cornelius which transferred to a sell out Off Broadway run in New York City.
Music Theatre has included the new (premieres from Grant Olding, Charles Miller, Michael John LaChuisa, Adam Guettel, Andrew Lippa, Paul Scott Goodman, and Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days which transferred to the West End) and the old (the UK premiere of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair which also transferred to the West End), and the acclaimed ‘Celebrating British Music Theatre’ series.
The Finborough Theatre won The Stage Fringe Theatre of the Year Award in 2011, London Theatre Reviews’ Empty Space Peter Brook Award in 2010 and 2012, swept the board with eight awards at the 2012 OffWestEnd Awards, and was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2017 and 2019. Artistic Director Neil McPherson was awarded the Critics’ Circle Special Award for Services to Theatre in 2019. It is the only unsubsidised theatre ever to be awarded the Channel 4 Playwrights Scheme bursary eleven times.
For a complete archive of all previous Finborough Theatre productions, please click here
Ifield Road was originally known as Honey Lane, a name that still survives as the name of a building across the road from the Finborough Arms. The name Ifield comes from the village of Ifield in Sussex, possibly because Corbett and McClymont’s solictor’s brother was the vicar there. Until 1909, the section of Ifield Road north of Adrian Mews was known as Adrian Terrace. Ifield Road was, to some extent, the poor relation of the Redcliffe development in that it was the only street with predominantly working and lower middle class residents, possibly because the upper classes did not wish to live so close to the cemetery.
Ifield Road was the scene of a smallpox epidemic in 1881. The outbreak had important epidemiological consequences, due to the detailed case studies made under the direction of Thomas Orme Dudfield, Medical Officer for Kensington from 1871 to 1908, which went some way to proving that the spread of the disease was not caused by the proximity of the Fulham Smallpox Hospital, built in 1876-77.
No 16 First World War – Harry George and Mary Ann Porter. Their son Private Henry Walter Porter of D Company, 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, was killed in action on 28 March 1915 at the age of 20. He is buried at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Left: Henry George Darbyshire (1885-1915), Credit Jan Moloney.
No 18 First World War – Henry George (1858-1918) and Mary Darbyshire (1862-1940), of 18, Ifield Road, Kensington. Their son, Private Henry George Darbyshire, was born in Chelsea in 1885. He was a Private in the 3rd Dragoon Guards (Prince of Wales’ Own) when he died on 13 May 1915 at Ypres at the age of 30. He married Susannah Joan Petch (1887-1967) on 24 April 1908, and had two children. He lived at 19 Ewald Road, New Kings Road, Fulham. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres.
No 22 First World War – Serjeant W. J. Smith, MM [Military Medal], Lincolnshire Regiment. Son of Alfred Smith, of 22, Ifield Road, South Kensington; and husband of F. C. M. Smith, of 12, Hereward St., Rasen Lane, Lincoln. He died on 11 April 1917 and is buried in Wancourt British Cemetery, Arras.
No 38 – Actress Dame Diana Rigg (1939-2020).
No 40 First World War – Mrs. F. E. Noble, of 40, Ifield Road, Fulham Road, South Kensington. Her brother Private Frederick J. Eastwood of the Middlesex Regiment was killed on 8 August 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, France.
No 44 in 1971-1972 – The first Sivananda Vedanta yoga ashram in the UK opened. The classes grew from two students to overflowing capacity within six weeks. In 1972, the ashram moved to 16b Wharfedale Street with its main teaching space at 175 Finborough Road.
No 50 First World War – Mr F. Wise. His son Rifleman Edward Charles Wise of the London Regiment (London Irish Rifles) was killed in action on 11 May 1915 at the age of 21. He is buried at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France.
No 51 First World War – George and Louisa James, of 51, Ifield Road, West Brompton, London. Their son Private George Francis James of the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) died at the age of 20 on 7 November 1918. He is buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.
No 60 First World War – Mrs. E. Roberts. Her son Private W. C. Roberts of the 22nd (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers died on 17 September 1918. He is buried in Cambrin Military Cemetery, France.
No 75 First World War – George and Mary Bird. Their son Lance Corporal Percy G. W. Bird of Unit: No. 1 Special Company, Royal Engineers, died of wounds on 23 August 1917 at the age of 19. He is buried in Ramscappelle Road Military Cemetery, Belgium. His inscription reads “In fond memory of our dear son Percy.”
No 75 in 1934 – Thomas William Kimpton, a valet, born in Portsea, Portsmouth, in 1864. He married twice – to Ann Hamblin at St James Church, Milton, Portsmouth, in 1889, and, following her death, to Amy Louisa Flood in 1918. He was knocked down by a car and killed in Cromwell Road. He was buried in Brompton Cemetery.
No 78 First World War – George Barsby and his wife, Ethel May Barsby. Able Seaman George Barsby died at the age of 29 on HMS Cressy on 22 September 1914. The Action of 22 September 1914 was an attack by the German U-boat U-9 which sunk three obsolete Royal Navy cruisers – Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy – of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, manned mainly by reservists and sometimes referred to as the Live Bait Squadron, in the southern North Sea. George Barsby is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
No 88 in the 1950s and 1960s – The site of Nick’s Diner, one of the most fashionable haunts of Swinging London. Fay Maschler (born 1945), food critic of the Evening Standard for more than 50 years, worked there in the evenings in the 1960s. She wrote “It was one of the few little bistros that was run by someone who had actually been to France.”
No 91 First World War – Thomas Frederick Horne and Eliza Horne. The Horne family lost two sons in the same year of the First World War – Stoker 2nd Class George Horne, Royal Navy, of HMS Princess Irene was killed on 27 May 1915 at the age of 20 when his ship blew up in the Medway Estuary; and Rifleman Henry James Horne of the 12th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, was killed in action on 25 September 1915 at the age of 28, probably at the Battle of Loos. He is buried in Aubers Ridge British Cemetery, Aubers, France.
No 91 First World War – George Richards. His son, George Henry Richards, a theological student, enlisted in the Australian Army in September 1915 as an ambulance driver. He survived the war and returned to Australia in March 1918.
No 92 basement flat in 1975 – Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the UK 1997-2007, in a flatshare with Charles Falconer, Baron Falconer of Thoroton, future Lord Chancellor and later the first Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.
No 93 First World War – Henry Russell Barton and his wife Elizabeth. Serjeant Henry Russell Barton of the Royal Field Artillery served in the Boer War. He died on 18 June 1916 at the age of 29, and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.
No 96 in 1876 – Mrs Maria Strong (nee Thumwood) died at 96 Ifield Road in July 1876, aged 35, the mother of seven children. She was buried in a common grave in Brompton Cemetery. She was the great-great-great-great grand-aunt of Neil McPherson, author of this website, and a current resident of Ifield Road.
No 99 First World War – Mr. J. Collins, of 99, Ifield Road, Fulham Road, London. His nephew Rifleman George Thomas King of “D” Coy. 1st/18th Battalion of the London Regiment (London Irish Rifles) died on 23 August 1918 at the age of 21. He is commemorated on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, France.
No 105 First World War – E. C. Wood and his wife Gertrude Annie Wood. Private E. C. Wood of the 10th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), died on 26 November 1917, aged 33. He is buried in Guildford (Stoke) Old Cemetery, Surrey, England.
No 109 on 15 June 1884 – Frank William Auton Eveleigh, licensed victualler (i.e. probably a pub landlord), died at age 45. Newspaper report of inquest in West London Observer, 21 June 1884: “Wife mentioned but not by name, she said they had only moved there the day before the death after he had disposed of his business in Westminster. Friends paid for the removal of the body so possible money problems, he was said to be a drinker.”
No 113 on 2 April 1911 – The census return for 1911 provides a good indication of the type of residents in Ifield Road at that time: Martha Ingham Cram. A 62 year old widow from Newcastle Upon Tyne was the Lodging House Keeper. And her lodgers: Henry Edwin Thomas Sims. A 43 year old widower, occupied as a Postman, born in Hammersmith, London. And his children: Dorothy Grace Sims. Age 16. No Occupation. Born Chelsea, London. Arthur Edwin Ernest Sims. A 14 year old schoolboy. Born Chelsea, London. Mabel Emily Sims. A 11 year old schoolgirl. Born Chelsea, London. Henry Jack Sims. A 10 year old schoolboy. Born Chelsea, London. and Thomas Young. A 45 year old General Packer, born in Birmingham.His wife, Louisa Young, age 49, born in Portsmouth, Hampshire. And their son, Thomas Henry Young, a 16 year old clerk, born in Chelsea, London and Maurice Edwin Ross Jewell. A 28 year old restaurant chef, born in Stratton, Cornwall. His wife, Bessie Kate Jewell, a 26 year old housewife from Weymouth, Dorset. His mother, Mrs Elizabeth Ann Jewell, aged 64 of no occupation, born in Holsworthy, Dover, Kent. And a visitor – Arthur Warner, a 29 year old male nurse-valet, born in Bennington, Nottinghamshire.
No 114 First World War – Mrs. Florence Phillips. Her son Private Henry William Phillips M.M. of the 9th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment was killed in action on 7 July 1916 during the attack on Contalmaison (itself part of the Battle of the Somme) at the age of 20. He lived in Wales at Glanwern, Felinfach, before the war, and enlisted at Aberystwyth. He took part in the opening day of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915, and his Division fought continuously for the entire first week of the Battle of the Somme – being in the second wave of the attack on Ovillers-La Boiselle, capturing the village at heavy cost, on the 1 July 1916. He was awarded the Military Medal.
No 115 First World War – Frederick Charles Ridler and his wife Lily Josephine Ridler (1889-1973), and their child Joan Elsie M. Ridler (1918-2010). Lance Serjeant Frederick Charles Ridler of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) was born in South Kensington in 1886. In 1911, he lived at 181-183 Cromwell Road and worked as a waiter. He enlisted in September 1914, and was wounded in action a number of times in 1916. He was posted as missing, presumed killed, on 26 March 1918 at the age of 32. He is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, France.
No 126 on 12 October 1940 – The five houses that originally stood on the existing playground were destroyed by a bomb during the Blitz on 12 October 1940. At 126 Ifield Road, 84-year-old Henry Jennings (a retired Naval Pensioner who was working for Vickers as a Master Gunner in 1911), his 63-year-old wife Edith, and his disabled sister-in-law 59-year-old Gertrude Urban were killed.
No 128 – Arthur Corr (born c. 1914), barman of The Finborough Arms pub, who was sentenced to three months imprisonment for stealing the takings from the Finborough Arms.
No 138 First World War – Frederick and Catherine Cooke. Their son, Lance Corporal C. Cooke of 1st Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) died on 24 March 1915 at the age of 27. He is buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France.
No 142 pre-First World War to 1943 – Edward Peter Jury (born Wittersham, Kent, 4 May 1844 – died 142 Ifield Road 16 December 1937) and his wife, Selina (nee Greentree) (born Stepney 15 November 1856 – died St Mary Abbots Hospital, Kensington, 18 February 1943). Both are buried in Brompton Cemetery. Their son Serjeant Frederick Thomas David Jury of “A” Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on 31 July 1917 at the start of the Third Battle of Ypres at the age of 29. He was born on 11 April 1888 in Chelsea, and originally enlisted in the army in December 1908. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres, Belgium. and No 142 in the 1960s-1970s – Jonathan Cecil (1939-2011), his wife actress Lorna Heilbron (born 1944) and, for five years during the early 1970s, their lodger, actor Christopher Biggins.
No 170 in 1965 – Bob Guccione (1930-2010) founded adult magazine Penthouse and ran it from number 170. Journalist and novelist Lynn Barber (born 1944) worked for Penthouse for seven years until 1974. She was successively editorial assistant, literary editor, features editor and deputy editor.
Other residents of Ifield Road have included: Germaine Greer. John Kasmin (born 1934), art dealer and collector. Henry and Mary Wilson whose son Private J. H. Wilson of the 24th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele on 6 November 1917 at the age of 22. He is buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium. 1972-1974 – Aung San Suu Kyi (1945- ), State Counsellor of Myanmar (a position equivalent to prime minister). She played a vital role in Myanmar’s transition from military junta to partial democracy for which she won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. Her leadership though has come to be defined by the treatment of the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority. She resided in Ifield Road with her husband, historian Michael Aris (1946-1999), during which she gave birth to to their first child, Alexander Aris (1973- ).
This article originally appeared on the Finborough Theatre website.
Finborough Road derives its name from the Pettiward family who also owned several properties in the local area. Finborough Hall in the village of Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, was their country seat in Suffolk.
The word Finborough is Anglo-Saxon, thought to have derived either from Fynbarow, meaning a burial barrow in the Fens, or fineborga, meaning Fenn as a marsh and Burgh or Borg as a small town, ie. the town of the Fen, or Fentown. More prosaically, the word Brompton is derived from Broom Farm.
No 1 – Charles William Sherborn (1831-1912), etcher and engraver, died at 1 Finborough Road on 10 February 1912. The National Portrait Gallery has a large archive of his work. He was particularly known for his designs for bookplates.
No 2 from 1869-77 – Arthur Hughes (1832-1915), the first occupier of the house. Pre-Raphaelite painter and the original illustrator of (among other books) Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
The family were also friends with the Reverend Charles L. Dodgson, better known as the creator of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll. These are some letters Dodgson wrote to Hughes’ young daughters:
“My dear Agnes,–You lazy thing! What? I’m to divide the kisses myself, am I? Indeed I won’t take the trouble to do anything of the sort! But I’ll tell you how to do it. First, you must take four of the kisses, and–and that reminds me of a very curious thing that happened to me at half-past four yesterday. Three visitors came knocking at my door, begging me to let them in. And when I opened the door, who do you think they were? You’ll never guess. Why, they were three cats! Wasn’t it curious? However, they all looked so cross and disagreeable that I took up the first thing I could lay my hand on (which happened to be the rolling-pin) and knocked them all down as flat as pan-cakes! “If you come knocking at my door,” I said, “I shall come knocking at your heads.” That was fair, wasn’t it? Yours affectionately, Lewis Carroll.”
“My dear Agnes,–About the cats, you know. Of course I didn’t leave them lying flat on the ground like dried flowers: no, I picked them up, and I was as kind as I could be to them. I lent them the portfolio for a bed–they wouldn’t have been comfortable in a real bed, you know: they were too thin—but they were quite happy between the sheets of blotting-paper–and each of them had a pen-wiper for a pillow. Well, then I went to bed: but first I lent them the three dinner-bells, to ring if they wanted anything in the night. You know I have three dinner-bells–the first (which is the largest) is rung when dinner is nearly ready; the second (which is rather larger) is rung when it is quite ready; and the third (which is as large as the other two put together) is rung all the time I am at dinner. Well, I told them they might ring if they happened to want anything–and, as they rang all the bells all night, I suppose they did want something or other, only I was too sleepy to attend to them. In the morning I gave them some rat-tail jelly and buttered mice for breakfast, and they were as discontented as they could be. They wanted some boiled pelican, but of course I knew it wouldn’t be good for them. So all I said was “Go to Number Two, Finborough Road, and ask for Agnes Hughes, and if it’s really good for you, she’ll give you some.” Then I shook hands with them all, and wished them all goodbye, and drove them up the chimney. They seemed very sorry to go, and they took the bells and the portfolio with them. I didn’t find this out till after they had gone, and then I was sorry too, and wished for them back again. What do I mean by “them”? Never mind. How are Arthur, and Amy, and Emily? Do they still go up and down Finborough Road, and teach the cats to be kind to mice? I’m very fond of all the cats in Finborough Road. Give them my love. Who do I mean by “them”? Never mind. Your affectionate friend, Lewis Carroll.”
“My dear Amy,–How are you getting on, I wonder, with guessing those puzzles from “Wonderland”? If you think you’ve found out any of the answers, you may send them to me; and if they’re wrong, I won’t tell you they’re right! You asked me after those three cats. Ah! The dear creatures! Do you know, ever since that night they first came, they have never left me? Isn’t it kind of them? Tell Agnes this. She will be interested to hear it. And they are so kind and thoughtful! Do you know, when I had gone out for a walk the other day, they got all my books out of the bookcase, and opened them on the floor, to be ready for me to read. They opened them all at page 50, because they thought that would be a nice useful page to begin at. It was rather unfortunate, though: because they took my bottle of gum, and tried to gum pictures upon the ceiling (which they thought would please me), and by accident they spilt a quantity of it all over the books. So when they were shut up and put by, the leaves all stuck together, and I can never read page 50 again in any of them!However, they meant it very kindly, so I wasn’t angry. I gave them each a spoonful of ink as a treat; but they were ungrateful for that, and made dreadful faces. But, of course, as it was given them as a treat, they had to drink it. One of them has turned black since: it was a white cat to begin with. Give my love to any children you happen to meet. Also I send two kisses and a half, for you to divide with Agnes, Emily, and Godfrey. Mind you divide them fairly. Yours affectionately, C.L. Dodgson.”
No 2 from 1870-1877 (and later No 3) – Albert Goodwin (1845-1932), English painter. He studied with Arthur Hughes and Ford Madox Brown in the early 1860s, who predicted that his pupil would become “one of the greatest landscape painters of the age”. He painted many works at 2 and at No 3 Finborough Road. A catalogue of his work is available here
No 4 First World War – Frederick Augustus Brown. Husband of Elizabeth Brown, of 4, Finborough Road., West Brompton, London. Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Brown. A private in the Royal Fusiliers, he was killed in action at the age of 21 on 27 July 1916 on the Somme. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
Left: Richard Doyle.
No 7 from 1875-83 – Richard Doyle (1824-1883), one of the finest artists of Punch until he resigned in 1850 in protest at their treatment of Roman Catholics. A regular guest at his home in Finborough Road was his young nephew, Arthur – the future Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.
No 7 in 1892 – Tone’ Hippolyte Paul Bayetto was born on 28 May 1892 at 7 FInborough Road, the son of Hippolyte and Rosalie Lemair Bayetto. The family then moved out of London to Eastcote, Middlesex. He worked as a racing driver and motor engineer for Fiat, and also worked in India. He started flying in 1913 and joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915, fighting in France with 66 Squadron. During an exhibition flight on 28 September 1918, the wings of his Sopwith Dolphin folded back at 200 feet and he dived into the ground at 750mph, dying instantly. He was 26 years old. He is buried in Ruislip Parish Church, alongside his mother and father.
No 10 First World War – Stephen Henry Ball. Son of Florence Ball, of 10, Finborough Road., Fulham, London, and the late Stephen Henry Ball. He was a Private in the Hampshire Regiment and was killed in action at the age of 21 on 28 March 1918. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
No 13, upstairs flat in 1907 – Ruby Young, witness to the Camden Town murder of 1907.
No 13a (basement flat) in 1922 – Gertrude Yates also known as Olive Young, murder victim.
No 17 in ?? – Mary Eliza Bakewell Gaunt (1861-1942). Born in Indigo, Victoria, Australia, where her father worked as a magistrate in the gold fields, Gaunt was a self-supporting writer of fiction and non-fiction who insisted on an image of female independence. She was one of the first women to enrol at the University of Melbourne in 1881. She made her first voyage to England and India in 1890, an occasion which encouraged her to turn some of her life experiences into fiction. Her first novel, Dave’s Sweetheart, was published in 1894 in London, the year she also married Dr. Hubert Miller, who encouraged her writing. During the next few years she published several more romances set in Australia and gained a popular following in that nation. But when Dr. Miller died unexpectedly in 1900, leaving Gaunt childless and with only a small inheritance, she turned to writing to support herself, moving to London where she lodged at first in two rooms in a ‘dull and stony street’ in Kensington. Her subsequent books included a number of romances and adventures, and tales of her travels including Alone in West Africa and A Woman Alone in China.
No 17, first floor flat in 1948 – George Epson, murderer.
No 20 First World War – Henry William Abbott and his wife Rosa H. Abbott. Stoker 1st Class Henry William Abbott, H.M.S. Vanguard, Royal Navy, was killed on on Monday, 9 July 1917 at the age of 27 when H.M.S. Vanguard suddenly blew up in Scapa Flow, taking over 800 of her crew down with her. He is commemorated at Chatham Naval Memorial. Two other members of the parish – Robert Chessex and Oscar Gait – were also killed in the same disaster.
No 21 in 1887 – Actor Lionel d’Aragon (Born Paris, France, 1863, died Camberwell, London, 1941). He worked extensively in silent films.
No 29A First World War – E. Mitchell. Husband of B. M. Mitchell, of 29A, Finborough Road., Kensington, London. He was a Private in the Machine Gun Corps and was killed at the age of 32 on 20 September 1918. He is buried in Tourgeville Military Cemetery.
No 31 in 1930 – G. E. Trevelyan (1903-1941) was an English novelist. She was the first woman to be awarded the Newdigate Prize.
No 40 First World War – William Herbert Smith. Son of William and Christina Smith, of 40, Finborough Road, South Kensington, London. He was a Rifleman in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps when he died of wounds at the age of 20 on 20 October 1918. He likely died in either the 5th, 47th or 61st Casualty Clearing Stations at Bihecourt. He is buried nearby in Vadencourt British Cemetery, Maissemy.
No 41 in 1912 – Ernest James Moore, First Wireless Operator of the RMS Olympic. A sister ship to the Titanic, Olympic was the largest passenger ship in the world from 1911 to 1913, except for the brief life of the Titanic. The Olympic received a distress call from the Titanic as she sank, but was 500 miles away and unable to assist. Moore’s diary including details of the distress call from the Titanic was auctioned and signed ” E J Moore, 41 Finborough Rd South Kensington”.
No 44 from 1876 to 1877 – Ellen Terry (1847-1928), arguably the greatest actress of her generation, and her children, theatre practitioner and theorist Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966) and director, costume designer and suffragist Edith Craig (1869-1947). The family subsequently moved to Longridge Road and Barkston Gardens.
No 48 First World War – H. S. Smith. Husband of Amy Gertrude Smith, of 48, Finborough Road., South Kensington, London. Son of Samuel and Helen Smith, of Holborn, London. He was a Rifleman in the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince Of Wales’s Own) when he died at the age of 24 on 4 November 1917. He is buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.
No 51 from 1873-93 – Algernon Graves (1845-1922), art historian. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery.
No 52 in 1881 – Edward Onslow Ford (1852-1901) was an English sculptor. In 1881, he wrote to Bram Stoker (best known as the author of Dracula, but also stage manager for actor-manager Sir Henry Irving) recommending his brother-in-law for a job conducting at Irving’s Lyceum Theatre.
No 53 – Early 1960s-1970s – Hazel Adair, television writer and creator of Crossroads. She bought the house with her Crossroads co-creator, Peter Ling. Currently, the house is occupied by author Clare Hastings. She has written The House in Little Chelsea, a vivid blend of history and fiction, telling the story of number 53 and its inhabitants from 1873 when it was ‘topped out’, to the 1920s.
No 56a – David Toguri (1933-1997), dancer, choreographer and theatre director.
No 58 – Robert Arthur Wilson (1884-1979), artist, was born in Co. Durham and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. He then studied at the Academie Julian in Paris. He showed at the Royal Academy, Paris Salon and with the Society of Graphic Artists. He had a number of solo exhibitions. The British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum hold examples of his work.
No 60 from ? to 1906- Farnham Maxwell-Lyte FRSC (1828-1906) was an English chemist, photographer, and the pioneer of a number of techniques in photographic processing. He was the fifth and last child of Henry Francis Lyte, the author of the hymn Abide With Me. He died suddenly at his residence at 60 Finborough Road. He is buried in St Mary the Boltons.
No 73 1939-1940 – Michael Battiscombe, a 29 year old portrait painter, writer and opera singer; his 29 year old wife Patricia (nee Wright); and their one year old baby son, Giovanni Raphael Paul, were killed here by a bomb on 18 October 1940 during the Blitz. They are buried together in St Katherine New Churchyard, Merstham, Surrey. Michael’s father was the Reverend J. W. H. Battiscombe, of Ashcombe, Bushetts Grove, Merstham, Surrey.
No 85 First World War – James Payne. Husband of Winifred K. Payne, of 85, Finborough Road, South Kensington, London. He was a Private in the North Staffordshire Regiment when he died at the age of 32 on 4 December 1917. He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery. His gravestone reads “A Dear One Sadly Missed But Not Forgotten Thy Will Be Done”.
No 86 in 1899 – Amy and John Hopkins, husband and wife, appeared at West London Police Court on 15 August 1899 charged with running a brothel from their home. John was arraigned on charges of living off immoral earnings, despite having a full time job as a supervisor at the Earl’s Court Exhibition. The couple were found guilty and sentenced to six weeks imprisonment or £15 fine for Amy and three months’ hard labour for John. Three young child prostitutes were rescued from the house and sent to industrial schools.
No 92 First World War – Lance Corporal Thomas William King of the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), son of Edward and Emily King of 92 Finborough Road, was killed in action on 26 September 1915 at the Battle of Loos. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.
No 109 in 1896 – William Henry Deacon, Manager of the Finborough Arms, was found dead in his bed on 19 June 1896. See The Finborough Arms History here.
No 114 in 1901 – David Mitchell and his family. He was employed in 1901 as an Assistant Verger and Gardener, but also had a conviction for stealing for which he was convicted in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in 1872. “David Mitchell of Cheltenham, Coachman. Age 40. Cause of Commitment: Stealing a horse rug, one strap & 2 chains the property of Rob Chapman his master at Prestbury on the 30th April 1872. Also stealing four bottles of ale, a Can and two pounds weight of Sugar, the property of one Stephens Bartholomew his master at Cheltenham on 15th of September 1872. Tried 16th October 1872. Event of Trial: Guilty. Sentence passed: One month hard labour.”
No 115-119 Finborough Road post-war – The original houses on this site were destroyed in the Blitz 1940-41. Honey Lane House which now stands on the site is named after the old cart road where Ifield Road now stands.
No 118 – The Finborough Arms (the building including the Finborough Theatre). See The Finborough Arms.
No 119 on 30 September 1887 – The following article appeared in The Standard on 1 October 1887:
“FIRE AT WEST BROMPTON Early yesterday morning a fire broke out at the private residence of Mr. J. Williams, 119, Finborough Road, West Brompton. A constable run to the Redcliffe-square fire box, where a fire escape is situated, and awakened the man, H. Girault, who was in charge of the escape. He rang the alarm attached to his box, and ran off with his escape to the fire. Meanwhile the flames had obtained a complete hold of the premises. There were three persons in the house at the time of the outbreak – Mr Williams and his family being out of town- Jane Williams, 48, Donna Beaumont, 28, and Nettie Harris, 20. Miss Beaumont, opening her bedroom door, was met with a suffocating burst of dense smoke. She succeeded however, in making her way to the rooms of the two other women, and awakened them. They made their way down to the next floor, and then found that the staircase was on fire. They threw open the second-floor windows at the front, and screamed for help, while the fire was quickly gaining upon them, and they could feel the hear of the flames. They would have jumped out, but the railings were immediately beneath. The crowd shouted that the escape was coming. The smoke was rolling out of the windows which they had opened when Girault ran up with his escape. Soon after it was pitched he was seen, through the dense smoke, descending with a woman in his arms. Again and again he ascended, each time bringing down a woman, amidst cheering by the crowd. Subsequently a manual engine arrived from Fulham, and the deliveries from a standpipe were immediately got to work, though more aid had to be called. Captain Shaw’s official report is as follows: – “Called at 1.10 am to 119, Finborough Road, West Brompton, S.W., to the premise owned and occupied by J. Williams, private; damage -two back rooms in basement and on ground and first floor, and back and front rooms on second floor, and contents, burnt out; stairs from basement to second floor destroyed; rest of house and contents damaged by fire, heat and water. No.121, ditto, H. M. Trollope, private, contents and building slightly damaged by smoke; 117, ditto, J. Wandell, private, ceilings in front and back rooms on ground floor damaged by water, and contents by removal.”
No 121 – Antonia de Sancha. (Born September 14, 1961). An actress best known for her affair with Heritage Minister and Conservative Member of Parliament David Mellor, mainly conducted from her Finborough Road flat. She subsequently sold the story of her affair with Mellor for £30,000. Mellor resigned from the government in September 1992 as a result.
Left: Wynne Odyerne Hulm (1888-1915).
No 124 First World War – Ernest Philip Fryer. Husband of G. Fryer, of 124, Finborough Road, Earl’s Court. He was born in Chelsea, the son of Daniel and Ellen Fryer. A gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, he died on 6 April 1918. He is buried at Hedauville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme.
No 124 First World War – Wynne Odyerne Hulm. Son of Wynne Patrick Hulm and Elizabeth Hulm, of 124, Finborough Road, West Brompton, London. He was a Lieutenant in the Devonshire Regiment when he died of wounds at the age of 27 at the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. He is buried at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery.
No 131 in 1879 – Sir Alfred Scott Scott-Gatty KCVO KCVO, KJStJ, FSA (1847-1918), Composer and Garter King-of Arms, and organiser of various major Royal cermonial events including the coronoation of King George V. His sister was Juliana Horatia Ewing (nee Gatty) (1841-1885), who also lived here, prior to her marriage and again in the 1880’s, who was an extremely popular children’s author. Many of her books are available free online.
No 138 in the 1860’s, and No 158 in 1881 – Kenyon Charles Shiercliffe Parker (1841-1904), barrister. He was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn on 18 January 1860, and was called to the Bar as a Barrister-at-Law on 17 November 1862. He was a member of chambers at 13 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, WC. He was appointed an examiner of the High Court of Justice in February 1884.
140 Finborough Road post-war – The original houses on this site were destroyed in the Blitz 1940-41, and the current house stands on the site.
No 149 First World War – William F. Perryman. Son of Mrs. K. Perryman, of 149, Finborough Road, Kensington, London, and the late Mr. Perryman. He was a Private in the Royal Scots Fusiliers when he died at the age of 19 on 16 June 1915. He is commemorated in Ypres on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.
No 162 in 1896 – Orlando Barnett actor (died 1927).
No 173 in 1897 – Actor Haidee Wright. Born in London on 3 January 1867 as Ada Wright, she began acting as a child in 1878. She came from a family of actors and had a long career in the UK and on Broadway work with occasional parts in films. One of her brothers was Huntley Wright (1868-1941) , a leading actor in Edwardian musical comedy. She died on 29 January 1943.
From Arnold Bennett’s diary: “Friday, October 29th., London. Haidee Wright, Vernon and the Alec Reas, for dinner. Haidee very like the 3rd act of Milestones [Bennett’s play in which she appeared], and exactly like the 2nd act. Depressed and captious about the world generally, though much pleased with an alleged renaissance which she has observed in English acting. A strong, ‘vibrant’ (as they say) personality, always interesting. You can see all the time why Haidee Wright is a great actress. Something is always oozing out of her. She is very shy and nervous and diffident, yet well aware, somewhere within herself, that she is a person of considerable importance in the artistic world.”
No 178 in ?? – Jack Cox (1914-2007), British artist.
No 188 from 1877-1907 – Rev. Nathaniel Liberty (1828-1907), chaplain at the Cancer Hospital and Brompton Cemetery. Conducted the service for the novelist George Borrow’s funeral in Brompton Cemetery in 1881. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery himself.
No 192 during the 2000’s – Mohammmed Ramzi, one of the London bombers of 21 July 2005.
Other sometime residents of the Finborough Road included: Emily Steel, Olive Young’s maid at the time of her murder in 1922. Jane Leeves, actress, best known for playing Daphne on TV’s Frasier. Actress Michelle Collins. Toranoske Masayas Nishigawa, “Analytical Chemist of the City of Hiroshima, in the Empire of Japan, but at present of Finborough Road in the county of Middlesex” who was granted a British patent on August 31st 1876 for his “Invention of improvements in machinery or apparatus for manufacturing ice.” In 1936 – Colin MacInnes (1914-1976), jornalist and novelist dealing with social, cultural and race issues such as his often-adapted novel, Absolute Beginners, set against the background of the Notting Hill Riots. He was born in The Boltons, and later lived in Pembroke Gardens with relatives. He lived here “in a sinister old slum where the ground-floor tenant was a cordial prostitute.”
This article appeared in the Western Mail, Perth, Australia, on 23 February 1928, but gives no address: “Going on to the balcony of her home to see the Old Year Out and the New Year In, Mrs. Harriet Frazer, aged 46, of Finborough-road, South Kensington, England, overbalanced and fell 30ft. on to the snow below and was killed. She fell close to a man clearing away the snow in front of the house.”
Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel (born 1952) was the bass guitarist of the Stranglers. He has written on the Earl’s Court related tracks (Hanging Around and Choosey Susie) on the Stranglers first album, Rattus Norvegicus, released in 1977. “Hugh [Cornwell] came up with the actual ‘hanging around’ lyric but I did most of the verses. I wrote it when I was staying with Choosey Susie in Finborough Road in Earl’s Court, when she was doing her nursing training.
This article originally appeared on the Finborough Theatre website, with thanks to The Arnold Bennett Blog.
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.” – Quote attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Republic of Turkey, at Ari Burnu Memorial, Gallipoli, 1934.
The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 was an attempt to break the attritional deadlock of the Western Front, capture Constantinople and knock the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) out of the First World War.
Following a failed attempt by the Allied fleet to force the Dardanelles in February 1915, an amphibious landing was made on the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915. In January 1916, after eight months’ fighting, with approximately 250,000 casualties on each side, the land campaign was abandoned and the invasion force withdrawn. It was a costly and wasteful defeat for the Allies.
Gallipoli, though, was a defining moment in the history of Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. In Turkey, the campaign was considered a great Ottoman victory, and made a national hero of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who would go on to create the modern Turkish republic. In Australia and New Zealand, 25 April, the anniversary of the landings, is known as Anzac Day, the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in the two countries, surpassing Armistice Day in the UK. It is often cited as the beginning of Australia and New Zealand’s national consciousness as nations in their own right.
The first Earl’s Court resident to become a casualty of the campaign was Able Seaman Charles F. Hardwick, Anson Battalion, Royal Naval Division, who was killed in action on 25 April 1915, the very first day of the campaign, during the landing at ‘V’ beach. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.
Following the landings, the troops spent the next few months trying to break out of their beachheads, and the campaign disintegrated into much the same sort of war of attrition that was seen on the Western Front.
Earl’s Court resident Lieutenant John Frederick Philip Richard Meade of the 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs, Indian Army, was killed in action on 4 June 1915 at the Third Battle of Krithia, the last in a series of Allied attacks aimed at achieving the original objectives of the opening day, and another costly failure for the Allies.
The HQ 29th Indian Infantry Brigade diary recorded the day: “On the 4th June the 14th Sikhs were to assault on the first of the two formidable trenches facing the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade by taking it in flank. The leading parties of the 14th Sikhs came under machine gun fire from hidden positions on both sides of the ravine soon after leaving our own line of trenches, and suffered very heavily, losing 4 British Officers and 25% of their number almost at once. Rushes forward were made under gallant leaders to reach the spot where the two Companies of the first line had been ordered to take the enemy’s trench to the West in flank and it was reached but to little purpose as the frontal attack had failed. Some dead ground here and a narrow gorge most gallantly carried, enabled a lodgement in the ravine to be effected through a great further loss. On the West of the ravine, two Companies went forward with the assault. When the main attack failed they would not retire with it but held on to the ravine edge all day losing all their British Officers and 75% of their numbers. The Battalion moved out of its trenches on the 4th June numbering 15 British Officers, 14 Indian Officers, and 514 Rank & File. The remnants collected next morning unwounded were 3 British Officers, 3 Indian Officers and 134 Rank & File. In spite of these tremendous losses there was not a sign of wavering all day. Not an inch of ground gained was given up and not a single straggler came back. The brave men of the 1st Bn Lancashire Fusiliers who held on with the Sikhs on the left and the 4th Bn Worcestershire Regt whom they fought alongside on the right of the ravine were full of admiration for the gallantry of their Indian comrades. The defence of the point gained in the ravine itself with an enemy entrenched on both sides above it speaks for itself and is a very fine example of the character the Sikh bears as a stubborn fighting man. The enemy’s trenches leading into the ravine were blocked with Turks and Sikhs who died fighting at close quarters, and the slope is thickly dotted with the bodies of these fine soldiers all lying on their faces as they fell in their steady advance on their enemy. The history of the Sikhs affords many instances of their value as solders, but it may be safely asserted that nothing finer than the grim valour and steady discipline displayed by the 14th Sikhs on June 4th has ever been done by soldiers of the Khalsa. Their devotion to duty and their splendid loyalty to their orders and to their leaders makes a record their nation should look back upon with pride for many generations.”
Richard Meade was educated at Victoria College, Jersey, who commemorated him in their Great War Book of Remembrance: “Richard John Frederick Philip Meade, born 20th June 1892, was a son of Colonel J. W. B. Meade and grandson of General Sir Richard Meade who raised Meade’s Horse at the time of the Mutiny. He was at College from 1906 to 1910, and had an exceptionally distinguished career, alike in work and games. He took the King’s Gold Medal for Mathematics, and was in the Football XI for two years and the Cricket XI for five, being the best slow bowler the College has ever produced. He passed second into and second out of Sandhurst, where he secured his cricket colours in an extraordinarily good year. From Sandhurst he received his commission in the 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs. He distinguished himself in the repulse of the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal on 1st February, 1915, and was mentioned in Sir John Maxwell’s despatches. A Special Order was issued at the time. His regiment proceeded to Gallipoli in April 1915. Meade was wounded on 22nd May, 1915 and killed in action on 4th June, 1915, when 10 British officers of his regiment were killed, while there were 23 casualties among British and native officers and 380 in the rank and file. His Commanding Officer wrote: “General Cox, Commanding our Brigade, wrote to me soon after your son was killed and asked me to tell you that he had never met a finer specimen of the young British Officer – gallant, level-headed, and a splendid scout and leader, and with it all quiet and modest.” He added, “I liked him very much, as did all who came in contact with him. If he had lived he would have received and earned special recognition for his gallant work on many occasions during the last three weeks.” He was twice recommended for the Victoria Cross and mentioned in despatches a second time.”
His Commanding Officer wrote home to his parents to let them know that “his body was recovered a few days afterwards, and was buried by an Army Chaplain near the spot where he was killed.” He is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles, Turkey.
Other Casualties at the Third Battle of Krithia included William Denis Browne (1888-1915), composer, and friend of war poet Rupert Brooke (who had died of blood poisoning en route to Gallipoli); and my own great-uncle, Corporal Frederick Bernard Wilson of the Hampshire Regiment (1890-1915).
With the campaign a bloody stalemate, a new plan was put into action in August 1915 which included substantial reinforcements, and a new amphibious landing at Suvla Bay. It was another appallingly-led disaster. Four more Earl’s Court residents would die, including two residents of Redcliffe Square.
At the start of the new campaign, a diversionary attack was made by the Australian 1st Infantry Brigade at Lone Pine. Two former residents of Redcliffe Square were involved.
John and Rosabel Caroline Gell lived at number 58 Redcliffe Square. Their son, John Gell, was born in Castletown, Isle of Man, and emigrated to Australia around 1911, working as a motor driver in Sydney before enlisting in September 1914 with the 4th Battalion, Australian Infantry, Australian Imperial Force. He was killed in action at Lone Pine sometime between 6–9 August 1915, a testament to the confused nature of the fighting. He was 27 years old. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial. In 2018, the Isle of Man issued a set of stamps to commemorate the six Manxmen who joined the ANZACs – including John Gell.
Frederick Charles and Anna Sasse lived at number 32 Redcliffe Square. By August 1915, they had already lost one son – Frederick Hugh Sasse of the East Yorkshire Regiment died at 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, on 8 May 1915 from wounds received in the Second Battle of Ypres two days before. His body was repatriated, and he is buried in Brompton Cemetery. They would also lose their son-in-law at Gallipoli, but another of their sons, Cecil Duncan Sasse, became an Australian war hero.
Cecil Sasse was born in Kensington in 1886, and emigrated to Australia where he worked as a wool broker in Sydney. He enlisted as a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914, embarking in October 1914. He was promoted to Major in August 1915 and Lieutenant-Colonel in April 1918.
A pivotal trench section at Lone Pine was named after him – “Sappe’s Sap” – and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his actions –
“For conspicuous gallantry and determination during the attack on Lone Pine, Gallipoli Peninsula, on the 6th-7th August, 1915, when he led several bayonet charges on trenches occupied by the enemy, resulting in substantial gains. Captain Sasse was wounded three times, but remained on duty.”
On 9 August, he played a major role in the action which led to his comrade Captain Alfred Shout (1882-1915) being awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross:
“The 1st Battalion had relieved the 7th on the morning of 9 August, at a section known as Sasse’s Sap. Captain Cecil Duncan Sasse (later Lieutenant Colonel) DSO & Bar., of the 4th Battalion had captured a section of the enemy’s trench, but when the 1st arrived the enemy had reoccupied a large area of the captured trench. Shout and Sasse enlisted the aid of eight volunteers and following Sasse’s plan of attack that had previously been successful they charged down the trench with Shout bombing and Sasse shooting. The eight volunteers then built a barricade as each section of trench was secured; all went well and Shout – who was reportedly enjoying the fight – was preparing for the final dash of the day to capture just one more section of the trench. Lighting three bombs, Shout set off down the trench and had hurled two before the third went off prematurely blowing off his hand and severely injuring his face and body. Shout continued to direct the attack, then murmured “good old First Brigade, well done!” before he lost consciousness through loss of blood, and died from his wounds at sea onboard HMHS Neuralia on 11 August, 1915.”
Later in the war, Sasse was awarded a bar to his DSO –
“For conspicuous gallantry in the attack on Chuignolles and Chuignes on 23rd August, 1918. In face of exceedingly heavy fire he brought his battalion through to the final objective with extraordinarily few casualties, and succeeded in capturing several hundred prisoners, and some field guns. He then advanced an additional mile, captured Fontaine les Cappy, and skilfully protected his new position. The brilliant success of his battalion was due to his splendid leadership”.
Cecil Sasse survived the war, and died in Australia in 1934.
On 6 August, Captain Robert Stuart Maclaine Hare, 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment, was posted as missing in action, presumed killed. Educated at Dulwich College, he was commemorated in their Roll of Honour –
“Born on February 12th 1889, Robert was the youngest child of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Powel Hare, of the Royal Artillery, and his wife, Christine. He joined the College at the start of 1903, several years after his elder brother, Richard, had moved on from Dulwich, and was a pupil for just over three years, leaving in the spring of 1906. Two years after leaving, in 1908, he joined Sandhurst, and was subsequently granted a commission in the Essex Regiment in September 1909, being promoted to Lieutenant in 1911. In the summer of 1914 Robert was stationed in Mauritius but was called back to England on the declaration of war, and subsequently spent several months in camp at Banbury. In March 1915 he and his battalion set sail for Gallipoli, and, on August 6th, he was killed in action there, being buried in Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery.”
As well as Earl’s Court, “Captain Hare was well known in Oban, Argyll, Scotland, where he was a frequent visitor.” He is commemorated in St John’s Episcopal Cathedral, Oban. Through his mother, Hare was closely related to Kenneth Douglas Lorne Maclaine (22nd Maclaine of Lochbuie) (1885-1935), the chief of the clan Maclaine, and the only Scottish chieftain ever to appear on the music hall stage which he did with the hope of earning enough money to pay off the mortgages on his estates.
A few days later, Cecil Sasse’s brother-in-law and also a resident of 32 Redcliffe Square, Gilbert George Downes died of wounds. A Lieutenant in the 6th Lincolnshire Regiment, Gilbert Downes was born in Upottery, Devon, on 12 April, 1890. He was educated at the Royal Masonic School who commemorated him as follows:
“Gilbert George Downes was the son of the late Daniel George Downes and Frances Ellen, his wife. At school he was a voracious reader of the best English literature, and had a special leaning towards poetry. His own efforts in lyric poetry were of considerable merit. He was a member of the Sixth and was Head Boy in his last year. He passed the London Inter–Arts in 1909. On leaving he proceeded to University College, Reading, where he took his London B.A. degree with Second-class Honours in Modern Languages in 1912. He was a good hockey player, at one time playing for the Berkshire County Hockey Club. In 1914 he accepted an excellent post in the Egyptian Ministry of Education, but on the outbreak of war he applied for and received a commission in the 6th Lincolns…He trained in camp till 30 June, 1915, when his regiment moved to Gallipoli. He was at first in a good deal of fighting around the Krithia district, but on 5 August he moved up with his regiment to Suvla Bay. Here he was noticed by the General and his staff on several occasions, and on 7 August he was recommended for his captaincy. In the early morning of 9 August he was shot in his right side during an attack, and would have been burnt to death, as the scrub caught fire, had not the adjutant and four others removed some of the wounded, amongst whom was Downes. He was taken on board the Hospital Ship Soudan, and was thence transferred on 10 August to the Hospital-carrier Andania, to be taken to the shore hospital at Mudros. But he died on board ship during the night of 11 August and was buried on the 12th by the Rev. E. Raymond, C.F., at Mudros Cemetery [on the Greek island of Lemnos].”
Downes married Cecil Sasse’s sister Valentine Joan Sasse (1885-1973) at St Jude’s South Kensington, on 29 October 1914. She gave birth to his daughter Mary Valentine Gilbert Downes on 22 November 1915. She did not remarry. Mary Downes (1915-2005) subsequently married John Manners, first-class cricketer and decorated Royal Navy officer, who died on 7 March 2020 at the age of 105.
Earl’s Court’s last Gallipoli casualty lived at number 5 Harley Gardens.
Sir William Lennox Napier was born in Montreal, Canada on 12 October 1867. He was a grandson of the late Sir Joseph Napier, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and succeeded his father as third baronet in 1884. He was educated at Uppingham and Jesus College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, he took an active part in College life including Common Room debates. At one of which, he declared that he “looked forward to the time when women would be educated to be more than a “walking dressmaker’s pattern.” In 1894 he was called to the Bar. For some time Lieutenant-Colonel of the 7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, he retired in 1912, but at the outbreak of war rejoined the service as Major in the 4th South Wales Borderers. Sir Lennox married in 1890 Mabel Edith Geraldine, daughter of the Rev. C.T. Forster, and had five children.”
Napier was killed by a sniper on 13 August, aged 47. His eldest son, Sir Joseph William Lennox Napier (1895-1986), was also in the 4th South Wales Borderers, and was one of the first to reach his father after he was shot.
Sir William Napier is buried in 7th Field Ambulance Cemetery, Turkey.
No 4 from 1901-1905 – The Korean Legation to the UK. On 12 May 1905, Yi Han-eung (1874-1905), Korea’s acting diplomatic minister to the UK, committed suicide here in protest of Japan’s takeover of Korean sovereignty. His suicide note read: “With my people’s rights being taken away, along with the sovereignty of my country, any negotiation [I hold as a diplomat] brings me deep disgrace. If anyone has a sense of justice, how can he withstand this and live through a day?… Ending everything here will be better than living with humiliation.” Yi came to the United Kingdom in 1901 and became the acting diplomatic minister in 1904, tasked with trying to influence the provisions of a UK-Japan treaty which would recognise Japan’s interests on the Korean peninsula. Five years after Yi’s suicide, Korea’s 600 year old Joseon Dynasty was annexed to Imperial Japan, which ruled Korea as a colony for 36 years until 1945. In 1962, 57 years after Yi’s death, the Korean government posthumously awarded Yi the Medal of Merit for National Foundation for his sacrifice to the country. A staute of him is on display at the Korean Embassy, London.
Left: Roland Vaughan Williams. Image Vanity Fair.
No 6 from ? to 1920s – Sir Roland Lomax Bowdler Vaughan Williams (1838-1916), lawyer and judge. He was a Lord Justice of the Court of Appeal from 1897 to 1914. He was an authority on the laws of bankruptcy, and wrote a book that remained the standard work on the subject for many years. He was the uncle of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).
58 Kensington Mansions – Horace Donisthorpe (1870-1951) was an eccentric myrmecologist and coleopterist, memorable in part for his enthusiastic championing of the renaming of the genus Lasius after him as Donisthorpea, and for his many claims of discovering new species of beetles and ants.
No 22 in the late 1920s – Agatha Christie (1890-1976), detective story writer, creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, and the author of the world’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap. Her time living here is believed to have inspired her short story Murder in the Mews, published in 1937. A blue plaque marks the house.