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.

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If you would like to find out more about diphtheria ; http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diphtheria/pages/introduction.aspx

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

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diphtheria/Pages/Prevention.aspx

Sources;

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Sources.

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.

“That family has meant very much to this place” – Joan Weymouth and Valley End Church.

In the 1890s, a wealthy family called the Christies moved to Ribsden House in Windlesham.

Harry Carnell, their groom and coachman, left his native Derbyshire and came with them.

He spent the rest of his life in this area. His descendants still live in Valley End today.

Joan Weymouth, née Millard,remembers Harry Carnell well. She used to cycle to church with him on Sunday. He was her granddad.

“My grandfather, he never bowed and scraped. But you know, he left school at 13, and he just was so educated. He taught himself. He was treasurer of Valley End for all those years.”

Harry Carnell married Mary Grace Foster, who was also from, Ribsden, in 1898 in St. Saviour’s. They had two children, Ellen Mary and Lilian Annie.

Ellen married Francis Gear in 1925. This was Colonel Gear, Joan’s uncle, who was treasurer of Chobham and Valley End churches for 25 years. I’ve heard him praised as a formidable fundraiser, but as Joan says, “He gave a lot of money of his own” too.

Lilian Carnell went to Valley End School, and joined the church choir. That was where she learned to smoke at 10 years old! Her path would have crossed with that of Reg Millard.

Reg was the nephew of George Vass, who was Parish Clerk for 43 years. When he retired 118 parishioners and friends had a collection and presentation to thank him. An illuminated scroll with all their names is hanging in the church.

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Illuminated document in St. Saviour’s Church.

Reg Millard had been brought up by his uncle and his aunt Georgina. “But my Dad was so lucky to go to them, because they thought the world of him. He used to take my Dad to church, and Winn Smithers could remember Mr Vass coming down to the front, ‘cause there was the choir, and fetching my Dad because they weren’t behaving.”

Lilian Carnell married Reg Millard in 1926, and they remained involved with the church.

They were both in the choir. “My Dad was a tenor, and he used to sing in the crucifixion at Chobham on Good Friday from Valley End, with Mr Rolph and Percy Mumford.”

He used to collect subscriptions for healthcare. “My Dad did the Slate Club. You used to pay that at the Vicarage every Monday. And that is because you didn’t pay for a Doctor if you paid into it.”

Lilian was busy at St. Saviour’s as well. “My mother was on the PCC, she was the last churchwarden. She was the first woman churchwarden too.”

She was a very thoughtful person. “Mum was a Girl Guide and she was Brown Owl of the Brownies, and she had this little girl from Dr Barnardo’s, who wasn’t treated very well, and Mum, well if you’d known my Mum, she was special. She used to take this little girl to Valley End Church. When she grew up this girl left £30,000 to Valley End Church, that was just through Mum being so kind to her.”

This legacy went towards the heating in St. Saviour’s. If you are warm during the services at Valley End, this is solely due to Lilian Millard’s caring nature.

Lilian and Reg’s daughter, Joan, followed in their footsteps.

She went to Sunday School in St. Saviour’s. “Mr Rolph used to play the carillon, the bells, at Westcroft Park at the time we were in Sunday School at half past 3.”

Joan sang too. “I was in the choir. The choir stalls were up behind the organ, so the choirmaster could see you.”

She remembers all the vicars, right back to Mr. Edmonds. “Mr Edmonds was vicar but he had a wig. He went and saw Mrs Blackett, and she’d got a flypaper, where flies get stuck to it. I didn’t see it, but evidently his wig got stuck to the flypaper.”

Later, “I was on the PCC for years. When my uncle died Timothy Thornton came up here to get me to go on the PCC, and I said no.

He said, “Joan, you’d really be good there.”

“No,” I said, “Honestly, I’m not a clever person, I’m not like my mother.”

He said, “Joan, we don’t want too many clever people on the PCC.”

I thought well, that lets me in then.”

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Joan Weymouth In St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End.

In his sermon for the 100th anniversary of St Saviour’s in 1967 the Rev. Roney Ackworth mentioned the Vass family, and Reg Millard, of that family, who had just read the second lesson.

Then Ackworth spoke of “Harry Carnell, who perhaps did more for this church than any other single person. He was treasurer for 50 years, and his daughter and son-in-law are treasurers to this day. He was a sidesman for 12 years and churchwarden for 38 years. And when he had been churchwarden his daughter carried on as the succeeding churchwarden. His great grandchildren are still in our Church School.

“So that family has meant very much to this place.”

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Sources.

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.

“ A pleasant occasion.” (The presentation to George Vass.)  In the Parish Magazine for Long Cross, Botleys and Lyne, and Valley End. September 1930.

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St. Saviour’s Church

In April 1866, Chobham Church opened again after being closed for restoration.

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Charles Cracklow. St Lawrence, Chobham, before the restoration of 1866.

Julia Bathurst was present and may well have compared the newly spacious ancient building, now unencumbered by galleries, and opened to the north by a new aisle, with the church she was planning at Valley End.

The differences in style must have been striking.

Julia had chosen a well-established architect, George Frederick Bodley, for her church.

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Photo of George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907), English architect and poet.

Bodley is known as one of Victorian England’s Gothic Revival architects.

One of the features of this style is the use of colour. For example, when Pugin designed the Drummond Chapel at St. Peter and Paul, Albury, he covered the walls with painting. And when St. Peter, Hascombe, was rebuilt in 1866 – a year before Valley End – the interior was richly decorated.

St. Saviour’s opened in 1867. At first sight it seems to lack the colour of other Victorian Gothic buildings. The stained glass over the altar sheds light into the chancel, and the organ pipes are strikingly ornamented.  The texture and colour of the building comes mainly from the warm hues of the brick.

But a careful search shows remnants of lost paint and decoration.

The pews were trimmed with red and green along the top. The sides still show bright red detail.

The sconces for the lamps were coloured red and green, although this has faded. So are the iron tie-rods.

But it is old photographs that give some concept of the dazzling display that was once in St. Saviour’s. They show the back wall, covered with a design of fleurs de lys, a pattern repeated behind the pulpit, and inside the ceiling arches. The stone behind the pulpit on the left is outlined. There is no clue to the colour, but I would imagine they repeated the theme of red and green.

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St. Saviour’s Valley End, showing the old decoration. date unknown; possibly about 1900.

The furnishings in the chancel were beautiful. The graceful globes of the lamps shine on the gleaming cross, and two ornate candelabras stand beside the altar.

The few photographs we have of the old interior were taken on special occasions, such as Easter, when the church was overflowing with lilies, and greenery framed the chancel arch. The gardeners from the local big houses decorated the church for special occasions, and maybe there was  an element of competition to their work.

When the air was heavy with the scent of flowers, the church glowed with bright colour from the pews and the metalwork, and the east walls shone with fleurs de lys, it must have been stunning.

St. Saviour’s opened in 1867. Julia Bathurst, sitting there in her pew, may well have compared it to St. Lawrence. She may have privately thought that Chobham had the Norman arches; but that Valley End would have the colour.

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St. Saviour’s Valley End as it is today.The painting on the walls has been lost.

 

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Sources.

Coventry Standard. 18th May 1866.

With thanks to Chobham Church for the old photograph of St. Saviour’s Valley End. The illustration of St. Lawrence is by Charles Cracklow, and from  ‘Views of the Churches and Chapels of Ease in the County of Surrey, 1827.’

Photo of George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907), English architect and poet – from http://www.stdavidscathedralhobart.org/history/

For more information and illustrations of St. Lawrence see Chobham, Architecture

 

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