Section 5. Brief Profiles of Former Residents
This folder contains profiles of the former residents listed below. To access any particular profile click on the name of the resident. If Wikipedia is shown as a source and if required, please consult Wikipedia for the original reference sources.
Florence Stafford and Percy Boggis – Dede Cottage
In 1927 the property known previously as “Hebron” and “Pats Cottage” was sold to Florence Boggis, who owned it until 1933. Florence changed the name of the property to Dede Cottage.
The sisters Ada, Florence and Pauline Stafford, were a family of serpentine dancers. (Serpentine dancers portrayed movement and light cast from different angles on chiffon or gauze which, when waved around, revealed the inside form). Florence danced professionally as “De dio” (Dede) with her sisters (Ada) as “La Pia” and (Pauline) as “Mlle Nero”. Their brothers included Harry Stafford (comedian) and Ernest Stafford (electrician and projectionist).
De Dio married Percy Boggis, a maestro of electrical effects in June 1896. Boggis had worked as one of a team of electricians touring with Loie Fuller (an early free dancing practitioner, who had performed at the Folies Bergere).(1) The best of the “copycat” acts that followed is the act of the Stafford sisters. With this experience added (no doubt, to his own ingenuity) Boggis masterminded the technical aspects of the sisters’ individual acts (he was later a pioneer in the use of UV lighting for stage effects). La Pia appeared in the Royal Command Music Hall Performance, at the Palace Theatre, London and the Hippodrome, London in 1912 with her Spirit of the Waves and Fire Dance. (2)
(2) The Variety Theatres.” Times (London, England) 8 Jan. 1912. The Times Digital Archive.
Doreen Mary Carwithen – Underhill
Doreen Carwithen (15 November 1922 – 5 January 2003) was a British composer of classical and film music. She was also known as Mary Alwyn.
Doreen Carwithen was born in Haddenham, Bucks on 15 November 1922. As a child she had her first music lessons from her mother, a music teacher, starting both piano and violin with her at age 4. At age 16 she began composing by setting Wordswoth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” for voice and piano.
In 1941 she entered the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) and played the cello in a string quartet and with orchestras. She was a member of the harmony class of William Alwyn, who began to teach her composition. Her overture ODTAA (One Damn Thing After Another) was premiered at Covent Garden by Adrian Boult in 1947. The same year she was selected by the Royal Academy to train as composer of film music.
In 1961 she became William Alwyn’s devoted secretary and amanuensis, becoming his second wife in 1975, (1) adopting Mary Alwyn as her married name, as she disliked the name Doreen and Mary was her middle name. She later worked as a Sub Professor of Composition at the RAM. After her husband’s death in 1985, she founded the William Alwyn Archive and William Alwyn Foundation to promote his music and facilitate related research projects.
She then also resumed interest in her own music. In 1999 a stroke left her paralysed on one side. She died in Forncett St Peter, near Norwich, on 5 January 2003.
Doreen Carwithen wrote scores for over 30 films, including Harvest from the Wilderness (1948), Boys in Brown (1950) Mantrap (1952) (released in the U.S. as Man in Hiding) and East Anglian Holiday (1954). She also scored Elizabeth Is Queen, the official film of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She composed some orchestral music.
(1) Burton-Page, Piers (2004). “Alwyn, William (1905–1985)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Online ed.). Oxford University
Frank Job Chambers and Eric Holland Chambers – Up The Lane
Frank Job Chambers was born in August 1855. He trained as an architect in his father’s practice and qualified in 1881. He married Charlotte Margaret Holland in 1888, whilst living in London. In 1903 he purchased Up-The-Lane and in 1919 he further acquired Barn Cottage and Bakers Cottage in Whiteleaf. He was involved with the golf Club in its early days. The Chambers’ had three children, only one of which survived; Eric Chambers, who was born in 1890.
According to the Civil Divorce records, F. J. Chambers and his wife appear to have had a stormy relationship as Charlotte petitioned for divorce in October 1903 on the grounds of cruelty “by reason of his ill temper and bad language” and claimed that he had “also assaulted her by throwing a mustard pot at her and later a glass of whisky”. That petition does not appear to have been granted, however they separated in 1908. A divorce was eventually granted in 1918 on the ground of adultery. F. J.Chambers died in June 1937, having moved back to London.
Eric Holland Chambers was a more colourful character. Born in 1890, he emigrated to the USA in July 1912 and resided for eight or so years in Portland, Oregon. He first married in 1916 and was described as an automobile mechanic. Although he received a call up for the American War Service in 1917/18 he was not then an American citizen and had a family to support. He became a naturalised American in September 1922.
Although an automobile mechanic and lumberjack, Eric was also interested in radio. In May 1923 a station called KGN suspended operations and the apparatus was sold to Chambers’ company “The Radio Bungalow”. In March 1924, the new station, KFOH, began broadcasting music, market reports and general entertainment, but closed in May of that year when the licence expired. Chambers also ran a retail radio shop called the Radio Doctor.
At some point Eric must have divorced his first wife as he married Sylva Isenhour Montaigne in October 1926 in Seattle. By 1928 they were living in Whiteleaf. Eric was a keen amateur golfer, having played in several championships at St. Andrews, representing the USA and the Beaconsfield and Ashridge Golf Clubs. He became a member of Whiteleaf Golf Club in August 1929 and was awarded a scratch handicap.
Perhaps his oddest achievement was to build an aeroplane in a shed of the garden of Up- The-Lane. The “Flea” (plane) was about 20 feet long and had a wingspan of 12 feet 6 inches and took about 6 months to build. The wings could be folded up for towing and Chambers took the plane down to Ramsgate aerodrome to fly. He had never flown before but reported to the Bucks Advertiser that he “took off first day although I had never handled a plane before”. He rose four feet, but owing to inexperience had to come down. Chambers taught himself to fly and achieved a flying certificate in 1936. See also article and picture – click here.
Chambers also purchased in the early 1950s an old air sea rescue launch, which had featured in Dunkirk and transported it to Whiteleaf. He renovated the launch in the front garden of Up-The-Lane and in May 1952 it was taken back to Ramsgate. See article from the Bucks Herald May 1952 – click here.
Eric Chambers was also a keen bridge player and hosted the Bridge Olympic in 1935 at Up-The-Lane, when the event was moved from Whitecross Hall. The Olympic was an opportunity for bridge players of all grades to play identical hands with others of all nations, around the world simultaneously.
It is possible that Chambers introduced Christmas lights to Princes Risborough, bringing the American tradition home with him. A newspaper reported in 1935 about travellers along the Risborough to Aylesbury road admiring the “charming effect created by floodlighting Up-The-Lane. Mr. Chambers created a beautiful Christmas card effect which was enhanced by a wreath of holly electrically lit hanging on the front door and two little trees similarly lit on each side of the door”.
Notes compiled by Chris Kingham of Princes Risborough Heritage Society.
Bucks Herald 2, May, 1952.
Elizabeth Craig – The Other Cottage
Elizabeth Josephine Craig, MBE, FRSA (16 February 1883 – 7 June 1980) was a Scottish journalist, home economist and one of the most notable British writers on cookery of the twentieth century, whose career lasted some sixty years.
Elizabeth Craig was born in Linlithgowshire and was one of eight children. Her father was a minister of the Free Church of Scotland.(1) She married American war correspondent and broadcaster Arthur Mann of Washington, D.C. (2)
Craig’s writing career began in Dundee where she studied journalism. (3) She first published a cookery feature in the Daily Express in 1920, following comments from the Daily Mail’s then film editor who declared she was “the only woman in Fleet Street who could cook”.(4) Craig was a founding member of the International P.E.N. (a worldwide association of writers) and at the request of the founder, Catharine Dawson Scott, attended the first meeting of the Association at the Florence Restaurant in London where John Galsworthy was elected its first president. (5)
Craig started to cook when she was six years old and began collecting recipes from age 12. (6) She began publishing cookery books after the end of World War I and proceeded through World War II and into the 1980s. She began writing in times when food was scarce and rationing was heavily relied upon and her career ended when the majority of households had a refrigerator and an opportunity to access a much wider variety of foods. This can be observed in her writing as more diverse dishes appear in her later books.
Her contribution to English culinary literature comprises a very large corpus of traditional British recipes, although not only this, since included are also a considerable collection of recipes from other countries which she liked to collect during visits abroad. (8)
A full list of the books written by Elizabeth Craig can be found on Wikipedia.
(1) BBC Archives – Elizabeth Craig’s appearance on Parkinson
(2) The Times, “Forthcoming Marriages”, 11 August 1919.
(3) The Times, “The Times Diary – Campari and pie with the chaps”, 14 February 1973.
(4) Eastern Evening News, “Kathleen Burke’s View – Elizabeth Craig’s new book”, 5 June 1968
(5) Obituary for Elizabeth Craig, The Times, 25 June 1980
(6) As note 2, above
(8) Craig, Elizabeth Cooking with Elizabeth Craig, ed. 1949. London: Collins; p.3
Kevin John William Crossley-Holland – Woodside
Kevin Crossley-Holland (born 7 February 1941) is an English translator, children’s author and poet. His best known work may now be the Arthur Trilogy, published around age sixty (2000–2003), (1) for which he won the Guardian Prize(2) and other recognition.
Crossley-Holland and his 1985 novella Storm won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. (3) For the 70th anniversary of the Medal in 2007 it was named one of the top ten winning works. (4)
Born in Mursley, North Bucks, Crossley-Holland grew up in Whiteleaf and attended Bryanston School in Dorset, followed by St Edmund Hall at Oxford. After failing his first exams he discovered a passion for Anglo-Saxon literature. After graduating he became the Gregory Fellow in Poetry at the University of Leeds and from 1972 to 1977, he lectured in Anglo-Saxon for the Tufts University London program. He also undertook teaching assignments in the mid-western United States.
His writing career began when he began working as a poetry, fiction and children’s book editor for Macmillan Publishers. He later became editorial director at Victor Gollancz, Limited. He is known for poetry, novels, story collections, and translations, including three editions of the Anglo-Saxon classic Beowulf. (5) (6) (7) Some of his books, including the Arthur trilogy, reinterpret medieval legends. He also writes definitive collections of Norse Myths (The Penguin Book of Norse Myths) and British and Irish folk tales (The Magic Lands: Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland). Bracelet of Bones, the first of his Viking sagas, was published in 2011, as was The Mountains of Norfolk: New and Selected Poems. He has edited and translated the riddles included in the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book. (8)
Crossley-Holland has also written the libretti for two operas by Nicola LeFanu, The Green Children (1966) and The Wildman (1976) and for a chamber opera about Nelson, Haydn and Emma Hamilton. He has collaborated several times with composers Sir Arthur Bliss and William Mathias and he has written a stage play, The Wuffings (1999).
Crossley-Holland now lives on the North Norfolk coast, where he spent some of his childhood. His autobiography, The Hidden Roads: A Memoir of Childhood, was published in 2009. (9) In 2012 he took up the honorary post of President of the School Library Association. (10)
(1) Kevin Crossley-Holland at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.
(2) Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2001 (top page). Guardian.co.uk.
(3) (Carnegie Winner 1985). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners.
(4) “70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens”. The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards.
(5) Illustrations by Brigitte Hanff; introduction by Bruce Mitchell. London: Macmillan, 1968.
(6) Illustrations by Virgil Burnett; introduction by Bruce Mitchell. London: Folio Society, 1973. ISBN 0-85067-066-7
(7) Edited by Heather O’Donoghue. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-19-283320-4
(8) Crossley-Holland, Kevin (2008). The Exeter Book Riddles. London: Enitharmon Press. ISBN 978-1-904634-46-1.
(9) Crossley-Holland, Kevin (2009). The Hidden Roads: A Memoir of Childhood. London: Quercus. ISBN 978-1-84724-736-0.
(10) Enitharmon Press: Kevin Crossley-Holland to become SLA President in 2012
Eric Fitch Daglish – Brambledown
Eric Fitch Daglish (1892–1966) was a British engraver and author. He illustrated classics by Izaak Walton, Henry David Thoreau, Gilbert White and W. H. Hudson with exquisite wood engravings. (1) Daglish also authored a number of natural history and wildlife/countryside books. Many of his books are now out of print but the originals are sold over the Internet.
Daglish was born in Islington London in 1892, the son of James William Daglish and Kate Annie Fitch. The family was originally from Whickham in County Durham but moved to London in the mid 19th century and established a cabinet making and upholstery business.
Daglish studied at Hereford County College and the University of London and went to Bonn, Germany to study science before World War I. (2) During the war he served in the Middlesex Imperial Yeomanry and the Royal Field Artillery in Ireland, Flanders and France. After the war he continued serving the army, becoming an education officer for the Woolwich Garrison. He went on to become a professional naturalist lecturing on zoology at Toynbee Hall and became a member of the Society of Wood Engravers and was taught wood engraving by close friend and fellow member Paul Nash. (2) In 1920 he exhibited three wood engravings at the opening exhibition of the Society. (2)
In 1922, Daglish left London and moved to Bucks, where he sought to pursue his lifelong ambition to write about the countryside and natural history. Just a year later, in 1923, he published his first book. He developed an interest in engraving and joined the Society of Wood Engravers and become close friends with other members aside from Paul and John Nash such as Eric Gill who lived in his area. As his skills in wood engravings developed, he illustrated many of his books, mostly in black and white. However, his Birds Of The British Isles (1948) was in colour with a total of 48 engravings, 25 in colour and the cover of the book had a coloured wood engraving of goldfinches. (3) He also illustrated books by other authors, classics by Izaak Walton such as The Compleat Angler and the works of Henry David Thoreau and also engraved the works of the naturalists Gilbert White and W. H. Hudson with high quality engravings. Daglish was also a keen painter and painted many pictures, notably of birds such as parrots.
Today Daglish’s engravings are owned by the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, (2) art galleries in Liverpool, Manchester, and the Metropolitan Museum of New York, Boston and Philadelphia.
Daglish was also a noted dog enthusiast and judged at many dog shows, including Crufts. He authored several successful handbooks on various dog breeds such as The Dog Breeder’s Manual in 1951. (4)
He died in 1966. He is survived by two sons (twins) and one daughter from his first marriage to Alice Archer and by one daughter and a son from his second marriage to Esther Lena Rutland.
(1) Hutchinson Encyclopedia 8th Edition. George Philip & Son Ltd. 1988. p. 342.
(2) Horne, Alan. The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: 162-163.
(3) Daglish, Eric Finch (1948). Birds of the British Isles. Dent, J. M.
(4) Daglish, Eric Fitch (1951). The dog breeder’s manual. Illustrated with diagrams and … photographs.
Major Thomas Gerard Davidson – Pipers Loft
An architect who designed a number of houses in the Risborough district, Major Thomas Gerard Davidson, of Pipers Loft, Whiteleaf, died at Amersham Genera1 Hospital on 12th November 1956. Major Davidson was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a member of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and a member of
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He lived at Whiteleaf since 1920.
Major Davidson was interested in local activities and particularly in Whiteleaf Golf Club, of which he was made a life member. He captained the club for two years. He had an office in London for many years, but latterly worked from home.
In the, First World War he served with the Durham Light Infantry and was very badly gassed in 1918. Major Davidson did a lot of work for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and this work took him all over the country.
Source: Newspaper Obituary
MR. A. G. GARDINER – “ALPHA OF THE PLOUGH”– The Spinney
Mr. A. G. Gardiner, journalist and author, died at Princes Risborough in March 1946. From 1902 to 1919 he was editor of the Daily News and he wrote much under the pen-name of “Alpha of the Plough.”
Alfred G. Gardiner, son of Henry James Gardiner, was born at Chelmsford in 1865. All his early experience of journalism was in the provinces. At the age of little more than 30 he became editor of a small daily paper in Blackburn, whose proprietor, Mr. Ritzema, became manager of the Daily News shortly after that journal had been acquired by the Cadbury family. Impressed by Gardiner’s versatility and enterprise, Ritzema introduced him to George Cadbury, who took the bold step (in 1902) of inviting him to become editor of the Daily News. It was at a critical moment in the history of that Journal. Great as was its reputation it had suffered severely from the policy it had adopted in the South African War, and like all other One Penny dailies had to face the new challenge of the Half Penny papers. It had had a succession of distinguished editors and when Gardiner arrived from the provinces to take charge it had on its staff experienced and distinguished journalists (among them H. W. Massingham and Harold Spender).
At first it was thought that this young man from Lancashire, with so narrow a range of experience, would prove hopelessly inadequate for the twofold task of guiding a team of lions and extricating the Daily News from its embarrassments. But Gardiner had qualities unsuspected by any but a few. He was prudent, if a little diffident, in handling talented senior staff and did not miss opportunities of introducing new talent. He encouraged the escapades of G. K. Chesterton, who was only then beginning to be known, and brought in the most brilliant of the young hopefuls of the Liberal Party, Charles F. G. Masterman, first as literary editor, afterwards as leader writer; and subsequently he appointed J. L. Hammond, H. W. Nevinson, H. N. Brailsford and R. C. K. Ensor as leader-writers. Under his editorship the paper continued to play its traditional part in supporting the Radical wing of the Libelal Party and gave more attention to literature and the arts than it had ever done before.
Gardiner gave much time to writing. His knowledge of politics at the start was inconsiderable, but he felt his way and” soon knew the situation from within. In the days before 1914, he had an unqualified admiration for Lloyd-George, but he was among those who parted company from him after 1916. He won considerable reputation by his sketches of prominent persons of the time, published in book form under the title “Prophets, Priests and Kings” and this vein he continued to exploit. Though his interest was always in serious subjects, he could handle them in a popular way and it was perhaps this quality which made him a suitable person to be in charge of the Daily News when it became a half-penny paper, though he was not perfectly at ease when it was amalgamated with the Morning Leader in 1911 and with new colleagues he was called upon to carry further the process of producing a paper which should address its appeal to the widest public. However, he remained editor till 1919, and continued to write for the Cadbury papers after that date, sometimes under the signature “Alpha of the Plough.” Four of the “Alpha” volumes, Pebbles on the Shore, Leaves in the Wind, Windfalls and Many Furrows all have a bucolic sound. Besides his portrait sketches of public persons he wrote a number of books, among them lives of Sir William Harcourt and George Cadbury, and a study of “John Benn and the Progressive Movement.”
Throughout his career Gardiner was always deeply interested in the welfare of the working journalist and he was the senior past president of the Institute of Journalists, a position which he filled with much distinction in 1915- 16. One of his last acts as a member of the institute was to sign a letter which was circulated to all members protesting against the proposed dissolution of the Institute and the National Union of Journalists to be followed by the creation of a single body, the National Association of Journalists. He married Ada, daughter of Peter Claydon, of Witham and had two sons and four daughters.
Source: The Times (London, England), Monday, Mar 04,1946; pg. 6; Issue 50391.
Rumer Godden – Pollards
Rumer Godden(10 December 1907 – 8 November 1998) was an English author of more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books written under the name of Rumer Godden. A few of her works were co-written with her older sister, novelist Jon Godden, including Two Under the Indian Sun, a memoir of the Goddens’ childhood in a region of India, now part of Bangladesh.
Godden was born in Sussex, England. She grew up with her three sisters in Narayanganj, colonial India (now in Bangladesh) where her shipping company executive father worked for the Brahmaputra Steam Navigation Company. (1) Her parents sent the girls to England for schooling, as was the custom of the time, but returned them to Narayanganj when the First World War began. Godden returned to the United Kingdom with her sisters to continue her interrupted schooling in 1920, spending time at Moira House Girls School and eventually training as a dance teacher. She went back to Calcutta in 1925 and opened a dance school for English and Indian children. Godden ran the school for 20 years with the help of her sister Nancy. During this time she published her first best-seller, the 1939 novel Black Narcissus.
After eight years in an unhappy marriage, she moved with her two daughters to Kashmir(1) in 1924, living first on a houseboat and then in a rented house where she started a farm. After a mysterious incident in which it appeared that an attempt had been made to poison both her and her daughters she returned to Calcutta in 1944; the novel Kingfishers Catch Fire was based on her time in Kashmir. She returned to the United Kingdom in 1945 to concentrate on her writing, moving house frequently but living mostly in Sussex and London, and was divorced in 1948. (1) After returning from America to oversee the script for the movie of her book The River, Godden married civil servant James Haynes Dixon on November 26, 1949.
In the early 1950s Godden became interested in the Catholic Church (2) and several of her later novels contain sympathetic portrayals of Catholic priests and nuns. Besides “Black Narcissus,” two of her books deal with the subject of women in religious communities. In Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy and In This House of Brede she acutely examined the balance between the mystical, spiritual aspects of religion and the practical, human realities of religious life.
A number of Godden’s novels are set in India, the atmosphere of which she evokes through all the senses; her writing is vivid with detail of smells, textures, light, flowers, noises and tactile experiences. Her books for children, especially her several doll stories, strongly convey the secret thoughts, confusions and disappointments and aspirations of childhood. Her plots often involve unusual young people not recognized for their talents by ordinary lower or middle-class people but supported by the educated, rich, and upper-class, to the anger, resentment, and puzzlement of their relatives. She won a 1972 Whitbread award for The Diddakoi, a young adult novel about Gypsies, televised by the BBC as Kizzy. (1)
In 1968 she took the tenancy of Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex, where she lived until the death of her husband in 1973. She moved to Moniaive in Dumfriesshire in 1978 when she was 70 to be near her daughter Jane. (1) She was appointed an OBE in 1993. She visited India once more, in 1994, returning to Kashmir for the filming of a BBC Bookmark documentary about her life and books.
Rumer Godden died on 8 November 1998 at the age of 90, after a series of strokes; her ashes were buried with her second husband’s in Rye. (1)
A full list of Rumer Godden’s books can be found on Wikipedia
(1) Chisholm, Anne (2004), “Godden, (Margaret) Rumer (1907–1998)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press.
(2) Tickle, Phyllis (2005), Introduction to In This House of Brede, Loyola Classics
Thomas Hookham – Cadsden House
The Hookham family were booksellers and publishers in London in the 18th-19th centuries. Thomas Hookham (born 1739 – to distinguish from subsequent Thomas Hookhams) issued works by Charlotte de Bournon, John Hassell, Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Nougaret, Anne Radcliffe, Clara Reeve, and others.
As part of his business he ran a circulating library, established in 1764 and by the 1800s one of “the two largest in London.” In addition, about 1794 he opened the Literary Assembly subscription reading rooms stocked with periodicals and reference books.
After the death of his first wife Thomas remarried to a Louisa Bonnet in 1775. The marriage had a somewhat difficult start as in February 1776 Thomas appears in a list of bankrupts. He re-appears in 1781 having revived the bookselling business.
His sons, Thomas Hookham, (1786-1867 – resident in Cadsden House) and Edward T. Hookham also worked as publishers and booksellers in London. A third generation, Thomas Hookham and Henry Hookham, continued in the business into the mid 19th century. The library continued on Bond Street until it was acquired by Mudie’s c.1871.
Source: My Dear Brother – The Letters of Thomas and Henry Hookham 1830 – 1899 by Sandy Macfarlane
William Lancaster – De De Cottage
Captain William Newton “Bill” Lancaster (14 February 1898 – 20 April 1933, was a pioneering British aviator. He was born in England but immigrated to Australia where he joined the Australian flying corps in 1916. He returned to England and joined the RAF after World War One, marrying Annie Maude Besant in 1919 and serving in India during the 1920s. (1) In 1927 Lancaster transferred to the RAF reserves and continued to hold a commission until 1930. (3) (4) He appears to have started up the Red Rose Garage in Wendover in 1923.
He decided to make a name for himself by flying from England to Australia and made this flight in an Avro Avian called “Red Rose” with an Australian female flyer, Jessie “Chubbie” Miller who helped to finance the flight to Australia. (5) It was at the time one of the longest flights made in such a small aircraft (although they were overtaken en route by Bert Hinkler in another Avian and the first England-Australia flight by a woman). (6) A huge crowd greeted them on arrival in Darwin and on their subsequent tour around Australia. (7)
Lancaster and Miller both moved to the USA in 1928 on the promise of a Hollywood film which was never made. Lancaster then made a living selling British aero engines. (1)
A tempestuous relationship ensued (not without scandal, since Lancaster was already married). In 1932, Lancaster had been in Mexico looking for work. At the same time, Haden Clarke, a male American writer, had been living in Lancaster and Miller’s Florida home in order to assist Miller’s writing of her autobiography. Clarke and Miller had developed a relationship in Lancaster’s absence and Clarke convinced Miller to leave Lancaster and marry him instead. Upon receipt of this news, Lancaster returned promptly to Florida.
On 20 April, Clarke was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. (1) Despite the facts that the gun was Lancaster’s and that he admitted forging suicide notes found at the scene (one addressed to Lancaster and another to Miller) forensic evidence provided by the prosecution was confusing to the jury. Lancaster was acquitted of murder in just short of 5 hours deliberation. Although the evidence was in doubt, a main factor in Lancaster’s acquittal was his calm, straightforward, gentlemanly demeanour in the courtroom. Public opinion may also have played its part in influencing the jury; indeed, at one point the behaviour of those in gallery became so unruly (cheering for Lancaster) that Judge Atkinson interrupted with a firm, “This is not a vaudeville show! (5) (10)
After the trial, Lancaster and Miller returned to England. Broke and friendless, Lancaster decided to attempt the hotly contested England-to-South Africa speed record. Purchasing the Avro Avian Southern Cross Minor, he departed England on 11 April 1933. As the Avian was considerably slower than other aircraft of the time, Lancaster would have to make very short stops and get very little sleep to have any hope of achieving the record. (1) (5)
Having become lost several times, having not slept for 30 hours and being ten hours behind his intended time, Lancaster departed from Reggane on the evening of 12 April to make a 750 mi night crossing of the Sahara. The Avian’s engine failed after less than an hour’s flying and he crash-landed in the desert far north of his expected flight path. Relatively uninjured and occasionally firing flares he awaited rescue. Searches by aircraft however were too far to the south and a car searching from Reggane was also unsuccessful. He died eight days later, on 20 April 1933. The crash site was discovered by French troops on 12 February 1962. Lancaster’s body had been mummified, and his diary and personal effects had survived intact. The diary was returned to Miller, who allowed it to be published. (5)
(1) Terry Gwynn-Jones Aviation History January 2000 – Online at
(2) The London Gazette: . 17 May 1921.
(3) The London Gazette: . 27 April 1926.
(4) The London Gazette: . 20 May 1930.
(5) Love is in the Air – Times Online Records Territory
(6) Photo of crowd in Canberra, National Archives of Australia
(7) History of American Women’s Aviation Feats – 1929 Women’s Air Race: Aviation (8) History: Wings Over Kansas.
(9) Evans, Colin (2003). A Question of Evidence: The Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies, from Napoleon to O.J. p. 67. ISBN 0-471-44014-0.
(10) Great American Trials Vol 1
Clara Ellaline Hope Leighton – Four Hedges
Clare Leighton (sometimes Clare Veronica Hope Leighton) (12 April 1898 – 4 November 1989) was an English/American artist, writer and illustrator, best known for her wood engravings.
Clare Leighton was born in London on 12 April 1898, (1) the daughter of Robert Leighton (1858-1934) and Marie Connor Leighton (1865-1941), both authors. Her early efforts at painting were encouraged by her parents and her uncle Jack Leighton, an artist and illustrator. In 1915, she began formal studies at the Brighton College of Art and later trained at the Slade School of Fine Art (1921–23), and the Central School of Arts and Crafts, where she studied wood engraving under Noel Rooke.
After completing her studies, Leighton took time to travel through Europe; among her stops were Italy, France and the Balkans. Through her sketching of the landscapes and lower class workers, she developed her affinity for the portrayal of rural life. (2)
During the late 1920s and 1930s, Leighton visited the United States on a number of lecture tours. In 1939, at the conclusion of a lengthy relationship with the radical journalist Henry Brailsford, (1) she emigrated to the US and became a naturalised citizen in 1945. In 1945 she was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1949.
Over the course of a long and prolific career, she wrote and illustrated numerous books praising the virtues of the countryside and the people who worked the land. During the 1920s and 1930s, as the world around her became increasingly technological, industrial, and urban, Leighton portrayed rural working men and women. In the 1950s she created designs for Steuben Glass, Wedgwood plates, several stained glass windows for churches in New England and for the transept windows of Worcester Cathedral, England. (1)
Leighton had two brothers, Roland and Evelyn. The older brother Roland Leighton, immortalised in Vera Brittain’s memoir, Testament of Youth, was killed in action, December 1915. Evelyn became a captain in the Royal Navy and died in 1969.
The best known of her books are The Farmer’s Year (1933; a calendar of English husbandry), Four Hedges – A Gardener’s Chronicle (1935; the development of a garden from a meadow she had bought in the Chilterns) and Tempestuous Petticoat; The story of an invincible Edwardian (1948; describing her childhood and her bohemian mother). Autobiographical text and illustrations are available in Clare Leighton: the growth and shaping of an artist-writer, published 2009.
Clare Leighton died 4 November 1989 and her ashes are buried in a cemetery in Waterbury, Connecticut. (1)
(1) Colin Campbell, ‘Leighton, Clara Ellaline Hope (1898–1989)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
(2) NMWA biography
DR. James Joseph Mallon 1874 – 1961 – Pannells and Maytree Cottage
Dr. James Joseph Mallon, of “Pannells”, Whiteleaf, died in a London hospital in April 1961. He came to live at Whiteleaf in 1954 when he retired after being Warden of Toynbee Hall, London, for 35 years! Dr. Mallon was 86, and had been in ill health for some time and so had been unable to take part in the life of the village. He was an eminent social organiser and had been called’ ‘the most popular man east of Aldgate Pump”, because he was the personal friend of many of London’s working people. He was born in Manchester, and after graduating as an M.A. from Manchester University he joined the staff of the Ancoats Settlement, devoted to the poor of Manchester.
In 1906 he was appointed secretary to the National League to Establish a Minimum Wage, he served on the Whitley Committee and was honorary secretary to the Trade Boards Advisory Council. He moved to Toynbee Hall in 1906 and became a member of the executive of the Workers’ Educational Association. During the First World War he was a member of various committees under the Profiteering Act. In October, 1919, he was appointed Warden of Toynbee Hall, and under his guidance it became known as “the poor man’s university”. He was largely responsible for the founding of the Toynbee Hall Theatre, the Workers’ Travel Association and the John Benn club for working boys.
Dr. Mallon served on the Royal Commission on Licensing, the executive committee, of the League of Nations Union and many other important committees connected with social work. He was governor of the B.B.C. from 1937 to 1939 and again from 1941 to 1946. In 1939 he was created Companion of Honour and in 1940 was appointed adviser on the provision of food and refreshment in London, air raid shelters.
On his retirement he went to live permanently at Whiteleaf where he had had a country cottage since 1911. He wrote his autobiography to replace an almost completed manuscript which was destroyed during the bombing of London. In 1955 he was awarded the Margaret McMillan Medal.
Source: Bucks Herald 25th April 1961 and The Times 13th April 1961John Nash
John Nash – The Other Cottage
John Northcote Nash, CBE RA (11 April 1893 – 23 September 1977) was a British painter of landscapes and still lifes, and a wood engraver and illustrator, particularly of botanic works. He was the younger brother of Paul Nash, his sister Barbara Nash became a gardener and lived in a house in the Holloway, Whiteleaf (known as Yellow House).
Nash was born in London, the younger son of lawyer William Harry Nash who served as recorder of Abingdon. His mother came from a family with a naval tradition; she was mentally unstable and died in a mental asylum in 1910. (1) In 1901 the family moved to Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. Nash was educated at Langley Place in Slough and afterwards at Wellington College, Berkshire. He particularly enjoyed botany, but was unsure which career path to take. In 1910 he worked as a newspaper reporter for the Middlesex and Berkshire Gazette.
His brother became a student at the Slade School of Art the same year and through his brother, Paul met Claughton Pellew and Dora Carrington. John Nash had no formal art training, but was encouraged by his brother to develop his abilities as a draughtsman. His early work was in watercolour and included Biblical scenes, comic drawings and landscapes. A joint exhibition with Paul at the Dorien Leigh Gallery, London, in 1913 was successful and John was invited to become a founder-member of the London Group in 1914. He was an important influence on the work of the artist Dora Carrington (with whom he was in love) and some of her works have been mistaken for his in the past.
In 1915, Nash joined Harold Gilman in Robert Bevan’s Cumberland Market Group and in May of that year exhibited with Gilman, Charles Ginner and Robert Bevan at the Goupil Gallery. Nash’s health initially prevented him enlisting at the outbreak of the First World War but from November 1916 to January 1918 he served in the Artists Rifles (the unit that his brother had joined in 1914 before taking a commission in the Hampshire Regiment). He served as a sergeant at the Battle of Passchendaele and at the battle of Cambrai. On the recommendation of his brother, Paul worked as an official war artist from 1918.
In 1914 Nash began painting in oils with the encouragement of Harold Gilman, whose meticulous craftsmanship influenced his finest landscapes. Nash’s most famous painting is Over the Top (oil on canvas, 79.4 x 107.3 cm) now hanging in the Imperial War Museum. It is an image of the counter-attack at Welsh Ridge on 30 December 1917, during which the 1st Battalion Artists’ Rifles left their trenches and pushed towards Marcoing near Cambrai. Of the eighty men, sixty-eight were killed or wounded during the first few minutes. Nash was one of the twelve spared by the shell-fire and painted this picture three months later. (2) The Cornfield, held by the Tate Gallery, was the first painting Nash completed that did not depict the theme of war. The picture with its ordered view of the landscape and geometric treatment of the corn stooks prefigures his brother Paul’s Equivalents for the Megaliths. John said that he and Paul used to paint for their own pleasure only after six o’clock, when their work as war artists was over for the day. Hence the long shadows cast by the evening sun across the middle of the painting.
Nash married Carrington’s friend Dorothy Christine Kühlenthal in May 1918. She was the daughter of a German chemist who had settled in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, and had studied at the Slade. Their only child, William, was born in 1930; he was killed in a car accident in 1935, aged 4.
From 1918 to 1921, Nash lived at Gerrard’s Cross, with summer expeditions to the Chiltern Hills and Gloucestershire. In 1919 he became a member of the New English Art Club and in 1921 he became the first art critic for The London Mercury. (3) He moved to Meadle, near Princes Risborough, in Buckinghamshire, in 1921, which remained his permanent home until 1944. He frequently visited the valley of the River Stour in Essex and Suffolk, where he bought a summer cottage.
After World War I, Nash’s efforts went mainly into painting landscapes. Emotions, however, concerning the war continued to linger for many years; and this was depicted in his landscape painting. This is particularly evident in The Moat, Grange Farm, Kimble, oil on canvas, exhibited in 1922. In this brooding landscape the trees and their tendril-like branches envelope the entire picture plane. The dark subtle colours and evening light give the painting a claustrophobic atmosphere. This painting, completed a few years after the war, is characterised by a sense of bleak desolation that suggests the profound introspection that for many followed the devastation of the war. Although he had a great love of nature Nash often used natural subjects to convey powerful and sensitive thoughts concerning the human condition. (4) He was close friends with the writer Ronald Blythe, who dedicated his best-selling book Akenfield to the artist.
In 1923 Nash became a member of the Modern English Water-colour Society. In 1923 he worked in Dorset and in 1924 in Bath and Bristol. From 1924 to 1929 he taught at The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art (Oxford). In 1927, he wrote and illustrated a book on Poisonous Plants. From 1934 to 1940 he taught at the Royal College of Art in London, working on wood engravings and lithographs. (3) In 1939 he visited the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea, the first of many visits to Gower and other parts of Wales.
John Nash was also an accomplished printmaker. He was a founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers in 1920. He produced woodcuts and wood engravings first as illustrations to literary periodicals and then increasingly as illustrations for books produced by the private presses; these include Jonathan Swift’s Directions to Servants (Golden Cockerel Press, 1925) and Edmund Spenser’s The Shepheard’s Calendar (Cresset Press, 1930). His interest in botanical subjects is shown by his illustrations to Gathorne-Hardy’s Wild Flowers in Britain (Batsford 1938). (5)
At the beginning of World War II Nash served in the Observer Corps, moving to the Admiralty in 1940 as an official war artist with the rank of Captain in the Royal Marines. He was promoted Acting Major in 1943. He relinquished his commission in November 1944.
After the war, Nash lived at Wormingford in Essex. He joined the staff of the Royal College of Art in 1945 and continued to teach there and later at the Flatford Mill field studies centre. When in Essex, Nash taught at Colchester Art School and became one of the founders of Colchester Art Society and later the Society’s President. Nash bequeathed his personal library and several of his paintings and engravings to The Minories, Colchester, who later sold most of the material to the Tate. (6) (7) Nash became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1940 and a full member in 1951. He became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1964. His retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1967 was the first for a living painter. Nash suffered from severe arthritis in later years. His wife died in 1976; they had been married for over 58 years. Nash died on 23 September 1977, in Colchester. (8) They are both buried at St Andrew’s, Wormingford, Essex.
Many of Nash’s paintings can be seen on the Tate website.
(1) David Boyd Haycock (2009). A Crisis of Brilliance: Five Young British Artists and the Great War. Old Street Publishing (London). ISBN 978-1-905847-84-6.
(2) Barry Gregory. A History of The Artists Rifles. Pen & Sword. 2006. p.176.
(3) Tate. “Artist biography: John Nash”. Tate.
(4) John Nash 1893-1977 Published in The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London, 1964,11 by Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin.
(5) Sir John Rothenstein, John Nash, London:MacDonald, 1983
(6) “Biography”. The Victor Batte-Lay Trust Collection.
(7) “What about its history?” The Friends of the Minories Art Gallery.
Frederick Gymer Parsons – Orchard Cross 1926 – 1939/40.
Frederick Gymer Parsons was born in 1863 and was a leading figure in British Anatomy. His academic life was spent entirely at St. Thomas’s Hospital Medical School, obtaining DSc London, FRCS, FSA. Parsons started his career as lecturer in Biology at St. Thomas’s and was lecturer and Professor of Anatomy there from 1886 to 1929. He was also Lecturer at London School of Medicine for Women; Hunterian Professor at Royal College of Surgeons; Senior Warden, Apothecaries’ Hall; Examiner at the University of Oxford, Cambridge, Aberdeen, London, Birmingham, National University of Ireland, University of Wales, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Surgeons, Apothecaries Hall, and other bodies; President Anatomical Society; Vice-Pres. Royal Anthropological Institute; President Section H British Association. He was appointed Research Fellow in Anthropology at St Thomas’s Hospital; late Professor of Anatomy, University of London; Lecturer at St Thomas’s Hospital and at Bethlem Royal Hospital.
His earliest scientific work was in the field of comparative anatomy and he first achieved distinction by his studies of comparative myology. He was a meticulous observer of human anatomy and published many papers dealing with the topography of soft tissues. Later he made a systematic study of the skeletal remains of the early Anglo-Saxon population of England, which was regarded as a particularly important basis of reference. Parsons was also editor of the St Thomas Hospital Gazette.
After he retired and settled in Whiteleaf he continued his antiquarian interests by local archaeological studies, which led to the publication of his “Old Records of Monks Risborough.” He married Mary Parker, who died in an accident in London, in 1915). He died on 11 March 1943.
Publications: The History of St. Thomas’s Hospital, Methuen & Co: London, 1932-1936.
The Earlier Inhabitants of London, Cecil Palmer, London 1927
Old Records of Monks Risborough.
Source: Kings College London College Achives
Samuel Kerkham Ratcliffe – Pollards
Samuel Kerkham Ratcliffe (1868-1958) was an English journalist and lecturer. Ratcliffe’s father owned a King’s Lynn flour mill, but moved to work as a railway clerk in Manchester when that business failed. Samuel was sent to be live with an aunt and attend school in London. He started working as a journalist for The Echo, edited by John Passmore Edwards, eventually rising to be leader-writer. (1)
In May 1902 Ratcliffe joined the Indian English-language newspaper The Statesman as its assistant editor under Paul Knight. Later that year he met Sister Nivedita, who would become a lifelong friend. In 1903 Ratcliffe became the acting editor of The Statesman, and continued with the newspaper until 1907 when he was forced to resign for espousing Indian nationalism. (2) Returning to London, he worked for the Daily News under A. G. Gardiner, as well as writing for the Manchester Guardian, The Spectator, the Nation and the Contemporary Review. (3) Ratcliffe was editor of the Sociological Review from 1910 to 1917.(4)
Ratcliffe began lecturing for the South Place Ethical Society in 1912. (1) In 1913 he delivered a series of lectures to the League of Political Education in New York. For the next three decades he spent the winter months lecturing across the United States: “It is probable”, suggested his Manchester Guardian obituarist, “that no Englishman ever travelled so many miles in America or was heard by so many thousands of people there as he.” (3) He also continued lecturing in England, where he became a member of the South Place Ethical Society’s panel in 1915 and in the 1930s was the society’s most regular lecturer.(1)
Ratcliffe’s son was the scientist Francis Ratcliffe, (3) and one of his two daughters married the neurophysiologist W. Grey Walter.
(1) I. D. MacKillop, The British Ethical Societies, Cambridge, 1986, pp.66-7, 70, 76.
(2) Udit Bhanu Dasgupta, Samuel Ratcliffe: a friend of Sister Nivedita, accessed 28 Sept. 2011
(3) ‘Obituary: S. K. Ratcliffe’, The Manchester Guardian, 2 September 1958, p.12
(4) Mary Lago, India’s prisoner: a biography of Edward John Thompson, 1886-1946, p.342
Philip Reece. – Orchard Cross 1955 – 1993
Phillip Oliver Reece C.Eng., O.B.E., M.I.C.E., F.I.Struct.E., F,I. W.Sc., who was Director of the Timber Development Association (TDA) from 1948 to 1961, died in 1993 at the age of 89.
Phillip Reece came to timber from a background of municipal engineering in Birkenhead and Wembley. During the war he was seconded to the Ministry of Works where he worked on a wide range of structural engineering projects that included the use of timber in prefabricated buildings. Timber at the time was mainly used in a traditional manner and Reece was quick to realise that savings could be made by the application of design methods well established by competitive structural engineering materials such as steel and reinforced concrete.
The shortage of timber continued in the immediate post war years and when Reece joined TDA in 1946 as Director of Constructional Research, a priority was to save timber and at the same time widen its use as a structural engineering material. He introduced standardised designs for timber roof trusses, the most successful of which was the TDA house roof truss, and encouraged the use of well established North American Timber Engineering methods based on stress graded timber, split-ring connectors, glued laminated timber and structural plywood.
It was Reece’s appreciation of the need for up to date design data generated by research on the engineering properties of timber that lead to the opening of TDA’s Research Laboratories in 1955 at Tylers Green. The research staff worked closely with an expanded TDA Design Service and exciting projects using shell roof construction, and curved glued laminated arches and frames became commonplace.
The 1960s was the decade which saw the trussed rafter develop from a novel form of roof structure to the automatic choice of, if not all builders, then certainly that of the major builders. During this decade Reece moved to Powell Duffryn Timber Holdings as Director of Industrialisation: finally he joined the trussed plate manufacturer Hydro-Air International, where he remained until his retirement in 1979.
Phillip Reece’s influential contribution to the timber industry was recognised in 1978 by the award of the OBE; in 1974-5 he received the Lewis Kent Award of the Institution of Structural Engineers for his services to the profession. Both honours were richly deserved.
Source: The Journal of the Institute of Wood Science
Ernest Percival and Grace Rhys – Undercross
Ernest Rhys (17 July 1859 – 25 May 1946) was a Welsh-English writer, best known for his role as founding editor of the Everyman’s Library series of affordable classics. He wrote essays, stories, poetry, novels and plays. (1) He was born in London and brought up in Carmarthen and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
After working in the coal industry, he was employed doing editorial work on the Camelot series of 65 reprints and translations from 1886, for five years, while he turned to writing as a profession. He was a founder member in 1890 of the Rhymer’s Club in London, and a contributor to The Book of the Rhymers’ Club(1893).
In 1906, he persuaded J. M. Dent, the publisher, for whom he was working on The Lyric Poets series, to start out on the ambitious Everyman project, aiming to publish 1000 titles; the idea was to put out ten at a time. The target was eventually reached, ten years after Rhys died.
A list of his works can be found on Wikipedia.
(1) “RHYS, Ernest“. The International Who’s Who in the World: p. 893. 1912
Grace Rhys (née Little, 1865–1929) was an Irish writer brought up in Boyle, County Roscommon. Joseph Bennet Little, her landowner father, lost his money through gambling and, after receiving a good education from governesses, she and her sisters had to move to London as adults to earn a living.
She was both wife and literary companion to Ernest Percival Rhys whom she met at a garden party given by Yeats. They married in 1891 and sometimes worked side by side in the British Museum. Her first novel, Mary Dominic, was published in 1898. Several of her stories have an Irish setting, including The Charming of Estercel (1904) set in Elizabethan Ireland, which was illustrated by Howard Pyle in Harper’s Magazine.
Her other work includes The Wooing of Sheila (1901), The Bride (1909), and Five Beads on a String (1907), a book of essays. She also wrote poetry and books for children, and had a son and two daughters of her own.
The Rhys were known for entertaining writers and critics at their London home on Sunday afternoons. Grace died in Washington DC while accompanying her husband on an American lecture tour.
Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction 1900-14: New Voices in the Age of Uncertainty, ed.Kemp, Mitchell, Trotter (OUP 1997)
Katharine Chubbuck, Ernest Percival Rhys in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)
Anne and Gerald Thursfield – Whiteleaf Lodge
In 1931 the property known previously as “Chinnor View” (now Whiteleaf View) was sold to Gerald and Anne Thursfield, who owned it until 1946. Gerald was a mechanical engineer in his own right. His wife Anne was a major soprano singer. As a widely read musician she was equally at home singing German liederand French chansons. (1)
Anne Thursfield (born 28th March, 1885 (New York) died 5th June, 1945) at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. As Mezzo-Soprano she made a number of recordings with piano accompaniment by Gerald Moore, with HMV during her lifetime. (2)
Ms. Thursfield sang soprano at many Proms concerts, notably; in 1919 (No. 03) 1928 (No. 40) 1929 (No. 34) and 1929 (No. 49) the last night of the Proms. (3) She appeared at the Wigmore hall in May 1919 and 1920 when her repertoire included a varied selection of classical Italian arias, old French and English songs and modern ones, among the French songs performed were Faure’s Clair de lune and Debussy’s Fantoches. (4)
(1) “Obituary” Times (London, England) 21 June 1945. The Times Digital Archive.
(2) His Masters Voice Records (advertisement extract) circa 1929
(3) BBC.co.uk proms archive 1919
(4) Press article (source unknown) 1915
Francis Unwin – The Other Cottage
Francis Unwin was a draughtsman, etcher and lithographer of landscape and architectural subjects. He was born 11 February 1885 at Stalbridge, Dorset and studied at Winchester School of Art and at the Slade School 1902–5.
He travelled in Holland, France and Italy and spent the winter of 1908 in Egypt drawing the interior of tombs for an archaeological expedition. He settled in London 1909, was a member of the N.E.A.C. 1913 and held his first exhibition with Randolph Schwabe at the Carfax Gallery 1915.
The Decorative Arts in the Service of the Church was published in 1912. He began suffering from consumption in 1916 and visited Switzerland for his health in 1920 and 1921. His late drawings and etchings of mountains show Post-Impressionist influence. He died 26 November 1925 at Mundesley-on-Sea, Norfolk. Memorial exhibition at the St George’s Gallery 1926.
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II
Source: Extract from the Tate.org.