Suffer the little children


Arthur Charles Bailey was baptised at St. Saviour’s church, Valley End, on March 31st 1907.

He was the first child of James and Eliza Bailey. His sister Margaret arrived a few years later.

The family lived in Apple Tree Cottage on the Chertsey Road, opposite Ribsden. This was convenient, because James had been trained as a gardener in Berkshire, and was working as head gardener on the Ribsden estate.

Then in 1912, Arthur fell ill with diphtheria.

In many ways life was safer than it had been in the 19th century. The terrible epidemics such as cholera had been contained by public health initiatives.

But diseases spread by droplet infection, (coughing, sneezing,) such as diphtheria, measles, whooping cough and chicken pox could not be controlled.

Of all these, diphtheria had the highest mortality rate, and was especially dangerous for young children. It was not until after 1939 that immunisation against this disease became widespread.

Arthur was desperately sick. An antitoxin serum for diphtheria had been discovered in 1894, but this had to be administered within the first few days of the illness, when the symptoms may not have been obvious. Was he given it, or was it too late?

Arthur Bailey died on 17th April 1912. He had just turned 5 years old.

His family was grief stricken. They took him to be buried at St. Saviour’s.

The people who met them at the church were afraid. They knew diphtheria was a killer, and they knew it was contagious. But they did not understand how it was spread.

Because of this ignorance and fear of infection, the funeral party was not allowed inside the church.

The burial service took place outside, and Arthur was buried in a quiet corner of the churchyard.

His mother never recovered from the loss of her son. The day of his death nearly coincided with the sinking of the Titanic, and for years every mention of the shipwreck reminded Eliza of her lost child.

Arthur Bailey lies to the right as you enter the churchyard. His headstone reads;

In loving memory of Arthur Charles Bailey who died April 17th 1912 Aged 5 years.

“Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

It was some years before his mother felt able to add another inscription. The final words were;

“Thy will be done.”


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Arthur Bailey’s grave at St. Saviour’s.


If you would like to find out more about diphtheria ;

If you would like to find out more about vaccination for diphtheria;


“A history of English public health 1834 – 1934.” M. Frazer. London, 1950.

“The people’s health. 1830 – 1910.” E. B. Smith. London 1979.

With many thanks to Helene Parris.


Below Stairs

“If it had not been for the big houses in this neighbourhood – Hyams, Chobham Place and a few others, this church would never have been built.

“In one of those big houses alone there were over 40 servants. Those were the days when the gentry went to church – mainly Matins – in the morning and the servants to Evensong. It is said that when they returned home in the evening they had to report on the Vicar’s sermon. Poor Vicar!”

The Rev Roney Ackworth, speaking at the centenary of St. Saviour’s, identified with the Vicar. I feel for the maids, sitting in the pews and trying to sum up the address in a few words.

The large houses in Valley End were major employers. In 1901 there were 27 people resident at Highams, including 15 servants and their families. The staff came from Scotland and Wales as well as from the south of England.


Ribsden – one of the “big houses.” (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.) 

This is no surprise, as in Victorian and Edwardian England a huge number of people were employed as domestic servants. It was the main employment for women.

The work could be strenuous. Mrs. Beeton recommended that a Cook should rise at 6am, (7 in winter,) light the kitchen fire, brush the range, clean the hearth, rinse the kettle, clean the kitchen, sweep the kitchen stairs, sweep the hall, shake the hall mats, prepare the breakfast room – and then cook breakfast.

Servants could be vulnerable to ill-treatment. One tragic case is that of Emily Jane Popejoy of Bagshot, who went to work as a maid in Kensington in 1898. She died within a year of the ill treatment that she received from her mistress.

So what was it like working in the mansions of Valley End?

Joan Weymouth can remember her parents and grandparents talking about life in the big houses.

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The staff at Ribsden, having tea in the garden. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

“A lot of girls went into service. Well, they had to, because you didn’t get a bigger house, if you got more children, and girls grew up, and they kept the boys at home to work and it’s what happened. And you got a lot from Wales. But then it was a home, you had to get somewhere.” Servants were given accommodation. Ribsden had 10 servants living in.

There are stories of mothers searching for a place to employ their daughters, and deciding on the the furthest – so that the girls couldn’t run away home. There were happier reasons for a servant to move.  Staff could travel long distances to find a good place.

A good employer was someone to keep. When the Christies came down to Ribsden, some of their staff chose to move with them, and to live the rest of their lives in this area.

“My grandfather, Harry Carnell, came down in the late 1800s and he came down from Matlock in Derbyshire with Mr. and Mrs. Christie to Ribsden. He came down as a coachman.

“My Mum’s mother’s side, they came down from Northamptonshire. My Mum had 2 aunts (in service at Ribsden) and her mother was ladies maid to Mrs Christie. My grandmother was the ladies maid there, and her sister was the housekeeper, my Auntie Annie.


Annie Foster, Housekeeper at Ribsden, and her sister Louisa. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

“And that’s how they met their wives, the other people in the house.”

Harry Carnell, the coachman at Ribsden, met Mary Foster, the ladies maid, and they were married in 1898.


Harry Carnell and Mary Foster on their wedding day. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

The big houses enjoyed a friendly competition. “There was rivalry between the big houses – but not nasty, it was just that you wanted the best. I can remember my Granddad saying that our carriage went faster than that one. But they were all friends.”

St Saviour’s Church was decorated with floral displays for the big festivals, and old photos show incredible arrangements of plants and flowers. They were put up by the head gardeners of the big houses, vying with each other.

Joan’s family had good memories of Ribsden, and Mrs Christie.

“Mrs Christie looked after her staff. She sent my grandmother, because she had a bad heart, down to Brighton for a month.

“If you got a good employer, you were made.”



With thanks to Joan Weymouth. All quotes by Joan Weymouth.

“Time will tell,” sermon by Rev. Ackworth on the 100th anniversary of St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End. In Chobham Parish Magazine, July 12th. 1967.


There were some large mansions near Valley End. Some of the owners, such as Julia Seymour Bathurst or Henry Pige Leschalles, were philanthropists, supporting ventures that ranged from building a new church to establishing a cricket club. They employed a large number of staff, which swelled the local population.

One of these influential houses was Ribsden.

Looking back to the history of Ribsden, Chertsey Road in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By Sally Clark.


Ribsden House was originally built for Henry Rothery, a lawyer and botanical collector, in the late 1870s. The land sold on which the house was built, north of the present Chertsey Road, formed part of the Fuel Allotments to the poor in the Enclosure Act of 1814, where they were allowed to carry away “turves, furze, fern or other fuel.” The money raised from the sale to Henry Rothery was used, until a few years ago, “for the distribution of the “Ribsden Coals” at Christmas, mainly to senior citizens or to other needy persons in the village.” The Ribsden Coal Charity has now been incorporated into The Poor Allotments Charity, covering Bagshot, Lightwater and Windlesham (an article in respect of which appeared in the December 2013 edition of the Windlesham Magazine.)


Ribsden House. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

In 1867 Rothery was appointed by the Government as their Commissioner enquiring into maritime losses and casualties, which enabled him to travel extensively to Australia, British Guiana, Dominica and Madagascar and pursue his keen interest in botany, particularly ferns, at the same time. He died at Ribsden on 2nd August 1888 but was survived by his wife Madelaine Rothery who continued to live at Ribsden until her death in October 1891.

The Surrey Heath Museum retains Mr Rothery’s accounts book for 1879 / 1880 and an entry in 1879 shows the following costs recorded:

“Coal and Wood 2 shillings; Help and luggage to the station 4 shillings 6 pence; Stable broom 2 shilings 6 pence; Telegram 1 shiling.”

A second notebook records various remedies for the horses, including how to make a poultice for wounds of the joints or tendons:

“sal-ammoniac powder – 4oz; sugar of lead – 4oz; vinegar – 3 pints water – 3 pints.

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Ribsden House. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

Ribsden was subesquently bought by Richard Coply Christie and his wife Mary Helen in circa 1891 / 1892. Educated at Oxford, Richard Christie was called to the bar in Lincoln’s Inn in 1857 and in 1872 he became chancellor of the diocese of Manchester, a post he retained until 1893. He was appointed trustee of the Estate of the industrialist, Sir Joseph Whitworth. Funds from this estate were used to build a home for people with cancer – and was renamed the Christie Hospital in their honour. Confronted with new diseases such as mule spinners’ cancer and chimney sweeps’ cancer, doctors started to look for possible links to machine oils and airborne soot. The first use of x-rays in 1901 and radium in 1905 were developed at this hospital.

On moving to Windlesham the Christies brought with them their groom, Harry Carnell, who was the grandfather of local resident, Joan Weymouth.


The library at Ribsden. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

In 1901 Harry Carnell is recorded as living in accommodation above the stables and coach house at Ribsden with his wife, sister-in-law and daughter Ellen of 2 years, and employed in the position of groom and coachman.

Richard Christie died on 9 January 1901 at Ribsden and in honour of his memory Mary Helen Christie donated funds to the Windlesham Institute, which were used to develop the building to include a stage to enable concerts and theatre performances. The entrance door to the theatre bears a plaque “1901.”

On 1 February 1911 Mary Helen Christie died at Ribsden leaving no issue. Her estate was held in trust, one of the trustees being her father, Samuel Fletcher MP and subsequently sold by public auction. At the time Harry Carnell was still employed as their coachman and is recorded on the census in 1911 as living at Ribsden Cottage with his family. A second daughter Lillian, the mother of Joan Weymouth, has now been born.


First published in the Windlesham Magazine, Feb. 2014.

With thanks to Sally Clark and the Windlesham Magazine.



A Home for the London Mothers

“Mrs Miller seems to have enjoyed herself immensely and the Doctor was much pleased with her improvement.

Another satisfied customer of the London Mother’s Convalescent Home!

The Home stood on Chobham Road, in the north of Valley End parish. It was founded by the Hon. Mrs Charles Hay, (Arabella Augusta Hay,) in 1889.


The London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

The Home was intended for married women. They could visit with babies aged between 3 weeks and 3 months, and could stay for a fortnight. Many were from poor areas, with large families, living in 1 or 2 rooms.

Mrs Hay was right to be concerned for their health. Even by 1905 the infant mortality rate for Notting Dale, a poor area in Kensington, was 432 out of 1,000.*

The Home was run by the Clewer Sisters, an Anglican order of Nuns, founded in 1852 to support the poor in Windsor. Mrs Hay had been connected to them for many years, and so it was natural that when she founded her charity she invited the Clewer Sisters to run it.


The London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

The Home seems to have been skilled at raising funds. There was a list of subscribers, and an annual Pound Day, when they received goods in money and in kind. The contributors were listed; “Mrs Walter Forsyth, sweets; HM the King – 20 pheasants.”

The Pound Day had speeches. In 1929 they were praised for the “care of both mother and child… helping them to take their true part in the future of the Empire.”

The women and babies benefited from their stay, and returned home refreshed. Local ladies enjoyed taking the girls out for treats, or inviting them to tea. It was a popular and successful local charity.

In 1899 Mrs. Hay was succeeded at her death by her daughter, Miss Maud Hay – Drummond. Then in 1941, Maud died. As she had always intended, she left the Home to the Clewer Sisters.

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The Chapel in the London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

But the situation had changed. The building had been bombed, and needed repair, and the Sisters would have had to pay the death duties. The Order was also starting to cut back on their activities. They seem to have declined the legacy.

By 1971 the house, now renamed Drummond House, had been redeveloped as flats. The author Hilary Mantel lived there for a while. “We were living in Sunningdale in a ramshackle flat converted from a former mother and baby home, which had been run by nuns…The big rooms were gracelessly partitioned, and there were crucifixes and Latin mottoes in unexpected places.”**

The building has recently been redeveloped. It still stands on the Chobham Road, just before the railway bridge in Sunningdale. On the front there is a carving of a mother and baby, a reminder of the London Mother’s Convalescent Home.

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Stamp from the London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Image courtesy J. End.)

  • Quoted in “Love and toil; motherhood in outcast London 1870 – 1918.” Ellen Ross. OUP 1993.

** Hilary Mantel. “Giving up the ghost: a memoir.” Fourth estate. 2010. p.234.



Berkshire Record Office. D/EX  1675/1/12/9/1-44

Living in Sparrow Row

What would it have been like to live in Sparrow Row 100 years ago?

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Living in Sparrow Row; by Sophie Stevens, 1891 – 1978.


I was born at Ripley in a little old cottage over on the Green, it has been pulled down now, we had to get out. My mother’s mother came from West End and she found us a cottage at Penny Pot where my brother was born. We moved to 5 Sparrow Row and lived there till my brother, who never married, died in 1969.

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5, Sparrow Row. With thanks to Surrey Heath Museum. (Image courtesy J. End.)

It was lovely up there always sunny and dry and Valley End school was very good. There were 5 cottages and only one well in no 2’s garden but there were good wells over on the Common.


Granny Beetle outside her cottage in Sparrow Row. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

My father he did any odd jobs and when he got older he took the Allotment (now the property called One Tree Hill) on the common and grew vegetables. He had a donkey and cart and sold them round Sunningdale, he grew beautiful celery, huge big sticks they were.

We used to go to Valley End church every Sunday and I was confirmed. I went to work in service when I was 14 but when mother had twins I came home to help her. Mother fed one baby and father bought a milking Nanny for the other one. They were lovely babies but the one I looked after died at nine months, she cut too many teeth the Doctor said and it turned her brain. We were very sad and we carried her little coffin to Valley End church.


Valley End Church. (Photo courtesy St. Lawrence and St. Saviour Chobham.)

Many years back a Pedlar was coming down the old lane at the other side of the cottages and he was drunk and riding his donkey, a branch got caught in his neckerchief and he was hanged and he used to haunt the old lane our dog saw him and howled, the dog would never go down the lane at night after that.

One of my sisters she got burnt alive on the Common. She was driving the donkey and cart full of bracken and she wanted a smoke she went to light a match they were in her apron pocket and she set light to the whole box and she was burnt to death.

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Sparrow Row today.


(Original text in Surrey Heath Museum.)



With thanks to Surrey Heath Museum.


The Wrecked Cabin of Brick Hill.

On the 5th September 1908 19-year-old Henry Taylor and his brother in law Albert Lee unloaded a cartload of furniture at his father’s house, Geranium Cottage, Brick Hill. It was a small place, barely more than a cabin.

After a long day, presumably spent moving in, the two went to bed. Just before midnight, Henry was woken by noisy shouting, which he thought it was a wedding party.

This begs the question as to what Valley End weddings must have been like then, because suddenly a large pole used as an impromptu battering ram broke down the back door, the bedroom door was smashed off its hinges, and the pole landed on the bed where they were sleeping.


The Wrecked Cabin, Valley End. By Bill Stevens, the Brick Hill photographer. (Photo courtesy of D. Hizzey.)

Henry Taylor jumped up and hurriedly begun to dress, but when the window crashed into the room, complete with frame, he wisely jumped out of the window instead. Barely had he landed when someone hit him, “slightly”, with an axe. He escaped, and ran off to summon the Police.

Albert Lee was left, desperately dressing, and listening to the men being urged on by two women to demolish the house around him.

The attacking party were highly excited. They had brought gallon jars of beer with them, and tackled the house with huge determination. It was all but razed to the ground. The doors were broken down, and walls were pushed in. Furniture was dragged outside and destroyed

This was in fact a midnight visit from a couple of their aunties and a selection of friends and relations. They were fuelled by beer and indignation, due to a family dispute over a will.

Samuel Taylor had left Geranium Cottage to his wife. It was planned that after her death it would be sold, and the money divided between their children. It appears that this did not happen, and this triggered a bitter family dispute as to who owned the cottage.

Samuel’s son John Taylor had sent Henry and Albert to move in. His two sisters, Ellen Mossman and Amanda Brown, had turned up at midnight with 5 other family members to oppose this.

When the case was heard at the Surrey Sessions, it was pointed out that nearly everyone involved was related. The women claimed that they had a right to a share in the house by the terms of their father’s will. They were found guilty, but the jury recommended clemency. The men were fined £5, but the women, who had urged the men on, were fined £10 – significant sums in those days.

This story caught the public imagination and articles about it were published as far afield as Scotland, Nottingham, Gloucester and Cornwall. It’s not surprising; after all, family arguments rarely bring the house down.


Site of the Wrecked Cabin. (Photo by J. End, reproduced courtesy of J.End.)


Nottingham Evening Post. 8th Sept. 1908.“Country cottage stormed.”

Dundee Courier. 10th Sept. 1908. “Family feud.”

Gloucestershire Echo. 10th Sept. 1908. “Night attack on cottage.”

Gloucestershire Echo. 22nd Oct. 1908. “Midnight house wrecking.”

Cornish Telegraph. 29th Oct. 1908. “Wrecking a cottage; a family feud.”


The Northern point.

The parish boundary of Valley End used to reach as far north as the junction of Broomhall Lane Sunningdale and the London Road, the A30.


Noakes Corner, London Road. (The corner of Broomhall Lane and the London Road, looking towards the station.) Photograph by William End. (Photo courtesy of J. End.)

The London Road used to be the Great West Road, one of the major routes from London.

By the 18th century it had become a Turnpike Road, with tolls at Egham and Bagshot. The road surface was improved, and milestones added along the route. We have one at Sunningdale, facing Waitrose, announcing that it is 23 miles from Hyde Park Corner.


The milestone at Sunningdale.


The milestone at Sunningdale, at the junction of Ridgemount Road and the London Road.

Before the advent of the motorcar, the road was quiet, with only horse drawn traffic.


The Post Office on the London Road. Photograph by William End. (Photo courtesy of J. End)

It began to be developed. A parade of shops was built on the corner of the London Road and Chobham Road.


Parade of shops on the London Road. (Photo courtesy of J. End.)

30 years later traffic had increased, although it seems peaceful compared to 2017.


Sunningdale, 1960. (Photo courtesy of J. End.)

The scatter of houses to the west of Chobham Road, just before it joins the A30, was known as the North End.

Frederick Charles Hodder was born in Sunningdale in 1871, and remembered his childhood roaming in the area. When he described Chobham Road and the Common, he was remembering what was then Valley End.

He wrote about mixed memories of industry, the military, and gypsies, set against the background of the common.


Chobham Common, Spring 2006. (Image Wikimedia Commons.)

“Passing up the Chobham Road we came to Dagwell House, occupied by Mr. Joseph Norris, and his builder’s yard and workshops adjoining, then three or four cottages and the brickfields, with a brick kiln and a few more cottages connected with the brick works, and then the open common, with Titlark’s Farm cut out of it.

“One could go for miles over the heath without meeting a soul, unless the common had troops encamped upon it or carrying out manoeuvres, as frequently happened in the summer months.

“What a glorious place it was for a picnic, what a refuge for birds, rabbits and hares! And what a place for gipsy encampments!”


Chobham Common, Spring 2006. (Image Wikimedia Commons.)

The common remains a refuge for wildlife, and an open space to be explored; but  the London Road  has changed out of all recognition.



“A short history of Sunningdale with some notes on Wentworth.” F. C. Hodder. Foreword by R. S. Brewer. London, Saint Catherine Press, 1937.