29 September 1939 – National Registration Day

Eighty years ago on 29th September, in the first month of the Second World War, every one in the country was recorded on a form, issued and completed to each household, and the data was used to create National Identity cards. The form recorded the address, first and last name, gender, marital status, date of birth, and occupation.

The completed records give us a snapshot of who was living in the villages at the beginning of the war and often mentions what war work they undertook, although anyone who is still living has their record blacked out.

There is a “Cosy Tea Rooms” near Gostelow’s Butchers, and at Ship Meadows (where Longmarsh View was constructed after the war), had a group of showmen and their families staying on it along with several public works contractors.

At St John’s Jerusalem, Sir Stephen’s wife Lady Bridget and their daughter Miranda were at home, with a parlourmaid, housemaid, kitchenmaid and cook, and some other visitors including children. Sir Stephen himself is recorded as being at the BBC at Langham Place, alongwith four other colleagues, and was described as Controller BBC (Public Relations).

Strangely there is another entry for St John’s, after Cedar Lawn, which shows Miranda again as well as 15 blanked out entries. At Cedar Lawn, which is where Cedar Drive was built, the owner, Miss Russell, formerly of St John’s, had two ladies living with her who were described as “Official Helpers for Evacuated Children”.

At the top of Devon Road, at Hill Cottage, there are 28 blacked out records, so presumably there were 28 evacuees billeted at the house (which is boggling as the house is not that big….), and other houses in Devon Road do have large numbers of blanked out entries, which may mean that there were a large number of evacuees billeted with residents,

In Hawley, the Bull Hotel (now the Hawley Kitchen) had a number of fitters (armament workers) staying, and at Hawley Manor Mrs Mabel Temple Johnson, described as an invalid lived with her daughter Rosemary Wright, a maid, a lady’s maid as well as two more Official Helpers with Evacuated Children, although apparently not a large number of evacuated children.

The Vicar Caryl Sampson, was living at the Vicarage with his housekeeper, and was also described as Billeting Officer for Sutton at Hone, and seems to have had some evacuees living with him.

1912 – Two September weddings but only one actually happened

On Wednesday 4th September 1912, at the Dartford Wesleyan Church, Miss Ellen May Squire of Tyneholme, Hawley, got married. Whilst Ellen (or Helen according to the 1911 census) was born in Erith, her father Thomas Firth Squire was born in Gateshead, and his wife Jane was born in Northumberland, The family had been living in Lewisham in 1901, so had not lived in the parish for very long.

In the same edition of the Dartford Express, on Friday 6th September, there was this item

The following week there appeared this letter in the Dartford Express

So village gossip could spread far and wide. It seems likely that the author of the letter is Fanny Taylor, who was 24 at the time, and was probably thought to be the intended bride.

Re-numbering the Main Road in 1962

Looking through the Times Archive, I came across a letter on the 4th May, 1962 from Mrs Pemberton-Piggott (nee Miranda Tallents) who was complaining that the Dartford Rural Council had decreed that the address of St John’s Jerusalem was now to be known as 79 Main Road, and the Number was to be marked on the property within a week of the notification, otherwise there would be a fine of 40s.

Mrs Pemberton-Pigott felt that this move was indicative of the creeping suburbanisation of the Darent Valley,

The following day another letter was published from another Sutton at Hone resident, Martin May of the Hollies, who expressed his sympathy to Mrs Pemberton-Pigott.

However he pointed out that St John’s had been given just the No. 79 for the entire property, although the house next to his, Homefield, described as having a “fairly ample frontage” was given the numbers 68 – 78.

From the perspective of 2019, the numbering methodology seems illogical, as the frontage of St John’s is probably five times that of Homefield at that time. Homefield was demolished in the 1970s and Dairy Close was built on the site.

Where to go for Easter – 1914

April 1914 – where shall we visit this Easter?

If you had some money, it was possible to go to the Continent for your Easter holidays, with a 3rd class return to Boulogne costing 14s for 3 days, or you could have a 15 day trip to Brussels via Ostend for 20s 3d.

Where you could visit locally

If you did not have the holiday or budget for continental travel, then a day trip to the seaside was possible, and Herne Bay was the cheapest destination with a 3rd class ticket costing 7s.

The following newspaper article explained the travel options in more details.

From the Dartford Express, 3rd April 1914

A Sutton man in Chicago

George Haydon was born in 8th March, 1889 at 1 Ship Lane, Sutton at Hone, and was baptised at St John’s on 26th May 1899, and was the son of Ernest and his wife Elizabeth (nee House). The couple had moved to Sutton at Hone from Berkshire in 1880, and lived at 1 Ship Lane with their children, and Edward was described as working in the paper mill in 1881

George and his siblings would have attended Sutton at Hone school, and what he did after school is unclear. His passage to America has not been traced but seems to have been before the 1911 census. His sister Alice would follow him and arrived in Boston in August 1911.

George and his brother Cecil both served during World War 1 as they are listed on the Absent Voters list for Sutton at Hone. George was listed as being a Private in 8th (Res) Grenadiers, and Cecil was a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery.

In June 1919 after discharge from the army, George sailed back to Chicago, and on his papers he is described as being single and a chef. It seems he stayed in the US.

Edward lived in the village for the rest of his life, dying at 7 Ship Lane in 1941, and Elizabeth had died in 1924.

A Village Midwife

April 1914 – Dartford Express

When I spotted this advert in the Dartford Express, I did not initially take much notice of the term Certified Midwife, but it was quite significant. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the medical establishment was keen regulate the training and practise of midwifery, and the 1902 Midwives Act outlawed uncertified and untrained midwives, although it was possible to be certified without formal training. It’s unclear what form of training Eliza Robey had, but she would not have been able to advertise for work without the certification. The fee of 10/6d may well have been beyond the means of some of the villagers, but perhaps she accepted payment in installments.

Eliza Robey and her husband James first appeared in the district in the 1871 census. Eliza was born in Oxford in about 1848, and her husband James was born in 1843 at Discot, and worked at the railway as a pumping engine driver. By the 1891 census, the couple had moved to 22 St John’s Terrace, Sutton at Hone. In the 1911 census, the couple are described as living at The Street (now Main Road), and Eliza states that she is a Certified Midwife. The 1918 electoral roll showed that the couple still lived at Andrus Cottage.

James Robey died in May 1919, and was buried in St John’s churchyard, and Eliza moved away to Lambeth at some point, and she died there in November 1927, but was buried with her husband in the churchyard. The couple had no children.

Christmas 1912 – Dartford’s shops advertise their wares

The Dartford Express carried advertisements from a large number of local businesses, and although many businesses did not have special advertising at Christmas, some of them did, and they give an interesting insight in to what their customers bought at Christmas.

Turners Grocery Store
Note the comment about opening Cash Railway – some of us still remember Kerr’s and its cash railway mechanism
Alcohol has always been important
This is the local Panto, with an interesting note about buses for patrons.
Phillips Toy Shop was a big feature of my childhood, and I loved looking in their windows, especially at the dolls prams
Horrell & Goff – an interesting combination of businesses
G.M. Hare seems to be offering Xmas trees to their customers
Note the emphasis on both ‘home’ and colonial meat, the development of refrigerated ships meant that meat could be imported from across the world.

Women Vote! – 14th December 1918

A General Election was called on the 14th November, three days after the Armistice, and this was to be the first election since the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed, which enabled all men over the age of 21 to vote and all women over the age of 30 to vote.

Before this Act was passed, many poorer men were excluded from voting as they had not owned land or rented property of a certain value in their constituency.  

On Saturday 14th December, the local polling station opened, and voting took place.  This was the first election when the voting took place on a single day, but the result was not declared until 28th December.  This delay was caused by the need for the votes of the men overseas on military service to be included for each constituency.  

The electoral voters lists for this election are invaluable for local historians, especially those researching the men who served in the Great War.  All the constituencies had to compile “Absent Voter” lists which name all the local men who were away, giving their full names, addresses, as well as the name of their regiment (or ship), and service number.

Sutton at Hone’s ward, which covered Sutton, Hawley, Clement Street and Button Street, had 966 voters in total and there were 197 absent voters.  Oddly, Sutton was not in the same parliamentary constituency as Dartford, instead it was in the Chislehurst constituency.

1916 – Hawley’s disabled soldier – Frank Wynn Chapman

The Dartford Express – November 10th 1916

This article appeared in the Dartford Express on 10th November 1916, but unfortunately I have not yet managed to work out the identity of the soldier.  The Myrtles, which is now 2 semi detached houses, seems to have had a number of lodgers, as John Tingle, who is commemorated on the Sutton at Hone War Memorial and in the Farningham Homes for Little Boys Roll of Honour, also lived at the Myrtles.

Rood Ashton House was the family home of the Long family, near West Ashton, Wiltshire.  During the Great War it was a convalescent home for wounded soldiers and sailors.

The Myrtles today

Update:

Thanks to Malcolm Scott looking further back in the census records than I had done, the Chapman family has been found in the 1891 census, living at the Myrtles.

Charles and his (blind) wife Ellen, were living at The Myrtles with their son William, but they had two other sons, Charles (who died in 1900), and Frank Winn, our disabled soldier.

Frank Winn was born on 10th August 1874, and joined the Welsh Fusiliers in January 1890, and served 21 years with the regiment, serving in Crete, Malta, Egypt, China and India, and finally left in April 1911.

On 29th August 1914, Frank having been working as a messenger, re-enlisted on 29th August 1914 in London, and served briefly on the Western Front before being taken prisoner, and then repatriated back to England in a prisoner exchange. Frank was discharged from the army as being unfit for military service on 28th June 1915. His wounds were described as being a gun shot wound to his right leg, and his right arm and his left hand had been amputated. In December 1916 he was awarded a Silver War Badge.

His bride was Ellen Elizabeth Braithwaite, and they married in late 1916. After spending time in Wiltshire, the couple moved to Birkbeck Avenue, Ealing, and Frank died there in 1949.

The brother who was working at Eynsford Paper Mill, was William Michael, who had married Ellen Sarah Gibson at St John’s in 1899. The couple had a daughter, Violet Kathleen, who married in 1930 to Cecil Roberts, and the couple were living in the High Street, Dartford, where Cecil ran a hairdresser’s salon.