Irene May (Maydie) Swann, VAD nurse.

The Schwann family came from Germany in the early 1800s and married English families. Maydie was born in Westminster, London in 1897 to Henry Sigismund (a stockbroker) and Torfrida Lois Acantha Schwann (née Huddart, born in Ballarat, Australia, the daughter of a prominent ship-owner).  In 1903 the family moved to Hangerfield, Church Lane, Witley buying it from long rerm resident Lt. Col. H J Crawfurd.  Like many families with German names, Henry changed the family name to Swann during the war due to anti-German sentiment.  The Swann children were Maydie, Gerald, Edric, Hugh, Harry and Robert.


Maydie was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, finishing around 1914/15. She was well known locally for her work for the St. Nicholas Crippled Children’s Society, Farnham.  Later on in the war, she became a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, serving between 3rd July 1916 and 19th January 1919 at Hilders Military Hospital, Shottermill which catered mainly for Canadians and received a long service stripe.  After the war, Maydie continued her work for the St. Nicholas Crippled Children’s Society.  Maydie married H J Hayman Joyce (a captain in The Border Regiment at the time) on 6th May 1923 at All Saints Church, Witley.  They had three children, Jillian, Ann and John.  She died in Taunton, Somerset on 7th December 1977.


Maydie’s father Henry and brother Edric served in The Royal Navy, her brother Gerald joined The Royal Flying Corps and was killed in action on 18th October 1917; he is buried at Varennes in France (see their stories on this web-site).


The Swann’s chauffeur, George Mann died in 1919 whilst with the RASC, see his story on this web-site.

George Hughes – a Nutfield Lad

George Hughes was born in Hascombe, Surrey, in October 1887, the second child of James and Eliza Hughes, nee Hammond, the brother of my Nan, Ada.  Other children of the family were William, born 1889, and Thomas, born 1891, both in Hascombe, and James, born 1894, and Leonard, born 1897, both in Dunsfold. The family are recorded in the census of 1901 as living in East Horsley and George is described as a ‘Farm Boy’.  James Snr was a woodman and the family lived at The Hermitage, a workman’s cottage on the Horsley Towers Estate. By the 1911 census the family had moved to Nutfield and the last child, Mabel Ellen, was born there in 1907.  They lived at Werks Cottages but George is recorded as a ‘Wagonner’ on a farm living in the household of George Illman at 2 Spicer’s Villas, Charlwood, Surrey (an Illman family were later to be connected to this family).

George was a member of the Nutfield Church Lads’ Brigade and was one of many who enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1914. George’s service papers show that he enlisted on 17 September 1914 at the age of 26, giving his occupation as a ‘Carman’. No address is recorded. He was 5’3″ tall, weighed 130lbs (about 9 stone) with a chest of 37″, fully expanded to 39″. During his service he is recorded as being ‘Unshaven on Parade’, for which he received 2 days confined to barracks, ‘Slack on Parade’, and as AWOL (absent without leave) from 11 p.m. on 20 December 1914 to 6.15 a.m. on 21 December 1914.

George served in the 16th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He died on 15 July 1916 in the High Wood Campaign, the Somme. He is commemorated in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France. The memorial/grave reference is IV.E.8.  George is also on both memorials at Nutfield; in the church the men are recorded in the order that they fell, and in the village in alphabetical order.

In 1919 James Snr completed a form stating all the living blood relatives of his son George. Here we see recorded:

James and Eliza, his parents; William aged 29 living at 34 Charman, Redhill; Thomas (27) living at Churchill Cottages, Nutfield; Leonard aged 22 at 5 Lepold Street, Oxford.  His sisters Mrs Coppard (Ada) and Mabel living at Sunflower Cottages, Chessington [Mabel aged 12 came to live with Ada’s family to help with the children as by this time Ada’s husband, Herbert Ambrose Coppard, had not returned home having been a POW].  Nephews and niece (Bert aged 6, Hilda [my mother] aged 4 and Victor aged 2). Uncle and Aunt by blood: John Hammond at 42 High Street, Cheam, and Ellen Hammond c/o Mrs Rucks, South Nutfield [the rest of this large family are not listed].

This little man, one of my Nan’s brothers who was lost in the Great War, is my new Hero.

Christine Clode, great-niece.

Click here for further information on the Nutfield Church Lads’ Brigade and a further photograph of George Hughes.

Noeline Baker

Born on Christmas Day 1878, in Christchurch, New Zealand, Noeline was one of five surviving children. Following the death of her father, along with her immediate family, she emigrated to England. There, she trained at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Her connection with Surrey began in 1905 when the family moved to Guildford. It was there that she became involved in the campaign for female suffrage.  This was at a time when a number of women campaigners were resorting to adopting illegal tactics as a way of attracting attention to the cause. Noeline joined the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), and was a founder member of its Guildford branch in 1910.

At the outbreak  of war in 1914, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) called an end to illegal tactics and encouraged women to participate in supporting the war effort on the Home Front.  Exhibiting a flair for organisation, Noeline was to play a key role in the direction of Surrey women towards the vital task of food production. The importance of enrolling women in this task was enhanced by a number of key events in the widening and deepening conflict of World War One.  Firstly, the introduction and extension of conscription into the armed forces for men from January 1916 exacerbated the labour shortage faced by farms at a time when demand was high.  A second factor was the decision by the German Imperial Government to introduce a policy of Unrestricted U boat Warfare on February 1 1917.  This meant that any ship in the Atlantic and seas around Britain was at risk of attack by German submarines.  The following day, the Women’s Land Army was created.  An organisation which required recruitment, mobilisation, training and relocation of women farm workers provided further opportunity for Noeline to deploy her skills.  She became the organising secretary of the Women’s Land Army for Surrey, a role which attracted the attention of the local press, especially as she became involved in a propaganda role on the Home Front, addressing rallies.

Noeline’s contribution to the war effort was judged of sufficient note for her to be awarded an MBE in 1920.  Having returned to her native New Zealand after the war, Noeline came back to England in 1939 and was briefly reappointed to her previous role as secretary to the Land Army for Surrey before returning once more to the country of her birth. There, she achieved further recognition for her work as a botanist. In New Zealand, she is remembered in perpetuity through the naming of the Noeline Glacier and Baker Saddle, both in the Southern Alps.

For further reading about her life and achievements, there is an excellent biography of her life and work written by Leah Taylor and published in the New Zealand Dictionary of Biography in 1998.


Dictionary of New Zealand Biography  There is a photograph of her, five years before her death.

Land Army    The Land Army, popularly known as the ‘Land Girls’, had 23000 members by the war’s end.  Disbanded in 1918, it reformed in 1939 and was a much larger organisation.  At the time, it was a significant boost to female emancipation; its members wore uniforms which included breeches which gave the wearer much greater freedom of movement.  Furthermore, it gave women an opportunity to live away on the farms where they were based.

Shields Daily News’ 25/08/1958: ‘Started land Girls, dies at 79.’

The Surrey Advertser, 29/10/1916: ‘SURREY’S LAND ARMY OF WOMEN.’  This is a reference to a rally of the Land Army in Surrey at Guildford of which Noeline was secretary.

Surrey Mirror, 18/10/1916:’ WOMEN AND THE LAND.’ A report on a meeting  of the Surrey Committee for Women’s Farm Labourers at the Theatre Royal, Guildford, which she attended as honorary Secretary.



Corisande Hart – VAD at Boulogne Railway Station

Corisande Hart was born in Clapton, London, in 1873 to Samuel H Hart, Leather Manufacturer, and Frances M Hart. She had five brothers and one sister. When she was around 6 years old the family moved to Mulgrave Road in Sutton, where they lived up to and throughout the First Word War.

Shortly after the start of WW1 Corisande, then aged 41, joined the Red Cross VAD as an Assistant Quartermaster, and was deployed at the No 1 VAD Unit at Boulogne Railway Station until June 1915. As such she would have been jointly responsible for the receipt, custody and issue of articles in the provision store where she was stationed. By 1918 she had become Detachment Commander of the Surrey 102 detachment, and was on the Committee of the Red Cross Hospital at Benfleet Hall in Sutton.

Nothing further is known of her life until her death in Eastbourne in Sussex, in 1955 aged 81.

In 1915 she was photographed by David Knights-Whittome, a photographer based in Sutton and Epsom.  To find out more about the projects by Sutton archives based on the Knights-Whittome collection see: Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times.


The Surrey County Committee for the Prevention and Relief of War Distress

On 20 August 1914, under the authority of the Cabinet Committee and Local Government Board, Surrey established the County Committee for the Prevention and Relief of War Distress. The government, fearing a rise in unemployment triggered by the war, took steps to prevent and alleviate the suffering it may cause. They feared industry could fail from the lack of new capital, raw materials or simply a lack of manpower, which would have a knock-on effect for employment. The County Committee would coordinate Surrey’s response to this anticipated problem. Files held at the Surrey History Centre (SHC) document this response, and in doing so, provide an interesting insight into the role of civilians, especially women, on the home front.

The files show that the Local Government Board (LGB), which oversaw the public health and local government responsibilities of the Home Office, issued very detailed instructions on the role and responsibilities of the County Committees, right down to providing templates and documentation to support their establishment. At the county level, the County Committee was to ‘act as a distributing agency for the transmission of funds (derived from the Prince of Wales’ National Fund and the Lord Lieutenant’s County Fund)’ to areas within the county to supplement local efforts to address ‘distress arising in consequence of the War for which funds derived from other sources may be found to be insufficient’. Edward, Prince of Wales, had established a fund to relieve ‘industrial distress’, and within a week his appeals had raised £1 million. The Lord Lieutenant’s Fund was subsequently established to raise funds for Edward’s National Fund. Beneath the main County Committee were several sub-committees dealing with employment, distress relief, and female employment. This structure was frequently mirrored at the local level.

The LGB directed that committees were to be formed in all areas except the ‘autonomous areas’ of the boroughs of Guildford, Kingston, Reigate, Richmond and Wimbledon, and the Urban Districts of Barnes, Sutton and Woking. By 19 February 1915, some ‘100 Local Committees have been constituted in the County area’. These local committees were to be highly regulated.

For example, SHC file CC7/1/1 holds form C.W.D. 3: Appointment of Local Committees which contains documentation for the appointment of local committees: constitution, duties, resources and methods of work of the County Committee for the Prevention and Relief of War Distress. Furthermore, the Board was very clear about the role of the local committees in that ‘…the distribution of Relief arising from unemployment directly due to the War in their own areas… by endeavouring to induce employers to abstain from dismissing their employees, and by seeking to obtain employment for those who have lost employment solely through the War’.

The Local Government Board also called for cooperation across various agencies and sought to represent other organisations and committees in the county including: Board of Trade Labour Exchanges, representatives of Poor Law Guardians, the Clergy, other charitable and philanthropic agencies, representatives of the Trades Unions and Friendly Societies’. Many committees reflected local parish council or urban district council structures, and often were one and the same. In addition to these organisations and the predictable sprinkling of ‘gentry’, there were representatives from the business community. For example, Lingfield’s committee listed grocers, bakers, fishmongers, innkeepers, drapers, plumbers, and the local blacksmith amongst its members.

Interestingly, the Local Government Board also actively called for women ‘who have the time and possess the knowledge to deal with cases of distress’. While women were yet to get the vote, for some considerable time before the war they had been playing a key role in local public services and education, such as holding senior posts on local poor law and school boards. Now their involvement in the new distress committees was actively sought. Farnham and District Committee notes how women were well represented and that ‘…a sub-committee of ladies has been appointed to deal with the unemployment of women’. A flyer by the Godstone South Ward for a Public Meeting on Wednesday, September 2, 1914, announced that ‘Ladies are Cordially Invited to Attend’. On 26 August 1914, a letter to the County Council from Miss J.M. Ross of Redhill, Surrey, contains her thoughts on using women to gather the harvest ‘as they did before the invention of machines… [they] …could bind the sheaves where necessary… and do other light work’. In late 1914, the committees were asked to send the name and details of members (see SHC file CC7/1/1: Form C.W.D. 3: Appointment of Local Committees), and of the 90 committees from across the county that responded, of the 2,069 names provided, some 548 were women.

SHC file CC7/1/4 (Administrative file for the County Committee) includes memos from the Central Committee on Women’s Employment, which was established to rising female unemployment in late 1914. The committee invited women ‘whose experience and advice would be of special value in this connection’. Subsequently, a ‘Memorandum on Training and Instruction in connection with Schemes of Work for Women and Girls’ recommended, somewhat predictably for the age, ‘Specimen Schemes’ such as cooking and domestic economy, skilled trades (e.g. typists), and sick-room helps.

By 1915 the Committees were in their stride. Minutes of a County Committee meeting dated 19 February 1915 (SHC CC7/1/4) provides an excellent update on some of the trials and tribulations of the county and its local branches. It lists discussions around the lack of support to local professional classes, misallocation of funds, the difficulties of distributing gifts from the U.S. to children in the county, monitoring women’s employment, dealing with Belgian refugees. The plight of the professional classes was a recurrent problem. For example, one memo discusses a ‘…family of a race-horse trainer at Epsom arising from the stoppage of racing there…’.

In March 1915, it was becoming apparent that war was having a positive effect on unemployment; dropping for both males and females. The expected rise in unemployment in some industries caused by the war was offset by demand for workers in others.  Despite this the committee system continued to operate throughout the war, and by 1919, they were dealing with the distress caused by soldiers leaving the services and failing to find work or recover the businesses they had owned pre-enlistment.

By August 1920, the County Committee was responding to local committees informing them that they had disbanded ‘some months past’, but felt it not necessary to inform the local committees of this!

After the initial rush of 1914/1915, the files provide interesting insight into the types of issues the committee dealt with:

  • 19 October 1914: Belgian war refugees were approaching the local branches across the county. Guidance was given that ‘offers of hospitality’ should be made.
  • 21 November 1914: the Local Government Board asked the Committees to help distribute Christmas gifts sent by the children of the United States to children of soldiers killed-in-action, missing or serving abroad, and the children of Belgian refugees. After consultation within the county it was found that some 4,000 gifts would be required. However, a few days before Christmas, the Local Government Board informed Surrey that it could only provide 450 to 500 gifts, which would only cover those children of men from the county that had been killed in action. Some measure of the sacrifice Surrey had already made.
  • 22 June 1915: A series of memos describes a case of two brothers who left Canada, along with their families, to join the army in the UK. They were on the Lusitania when it was sunk.  One of the brothers, Basil Wickings-Smith, was killed causing the family hardship when they finally arrived in England. The wife of the dead man appealed for help. A representative of the Committee visited her and supported her application as her ‘nerve… is entirely broken’. She was awarded £5 (CC28/267(A))
  • 31 January 1916: High Clandon branch dealt with a case of a woman whose husband was killed in France. As he was killed in an accident she did not receive a war widow’s pension (CC28/267(A))
  • 3 December 1917: a claim was made for ‘Air-raid Injury’, including medical care and damage to clothing. George G. Straham from Egham died as a result of an air-raid in London. A Mr E.M. Newman from the county claimed for shock caused by an air-raid on London on 17 July 1917.


CC7/1/1: Form C.W.D. 3: Appointment of Local Committee: list of local committees, constitution, duties, resources and methods of work of the County Committee for the Prevention and Relief of War Distress. Primarily contains documentation for the appointment of local committees.

CC7/1/2: ‘Correspondence File as to Appointment of Local Committees’, August 1914 to October 1914: deals with notifying Ramsey Nares, Honourable Secretary General Purposes Committee of the of the Surrey County Committee for the Prevention and Relief of War Distress.

CC7/1/3: administrative file for the County Committee, e.g. minutes, official paperwork. Very detailed guidance on roles and responsibilities across those supporting both servicemen’s families, and those affected by the war, including provision of children’s meals, unemployment.

For the military historian there are interesting breakdowns of the administrative support for regiments and corps, breakdown by unit of county reserve, territorial and yeomanry regiments. Furthermore, it contains further interesting information such as lists of the leadership of Surrey’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association,

CC7/1/4: Administrative file for the County Committee. Dated August 1914 to February 1915, but appears to go beyond that, well into 1915.

Includes: Central Committee on Women’s Employment: Memorandum on Training and Instruction in connection with Schemes of Work for Women and Girls temporarily unemployed owing to the War.  Specimen Schemes: Cooking and Domestic Economy; Skilled Trades; Sick-Room Helps.

CC7/1/5: ‘Surrey County Council Letter Book’: register for letters coming into the council and copies of correspondence sent out from 15 August 1914-21 February 1921. Administrative, concerning the establishment of committees, invites to attend, minutes, movements of cash etc. From June 1915, individuals appealing for relief and support takes up much of the correspondence.

CC28/267(A) – A series of four files relating to administration, guidance and minutes of County Committee meetings.  (C) file of the series deals with claims for relief and the responses from across the county.

For further information see: The Home Front in Surrey in the First World War, a Guide to Sources at Surrey History Centre, Part 7. Financing the War, relieving Hardship

A list of those who served on this and associated committees, and more information about them, can be found by clicking on Surrey County Committee for the Prevention and Relief of War Distress (the same information about these people can be found by searching for their name via the search box at the top of this webpage).

Margaret Bell – Headmistress of Sutton High School for Girls

Researched and written by Sue James for the Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives.

Margaret Bell was born in Uppingham in Rutland, the eldest of six children of a local surgeon and physician. She attended a convent school in East Grinstead from where she progressed to the University of London where she gained a B.A., which was remarkable in itself as degrees had only been awarded to women at the university from 1880. In 1888 she was employed as a teacher and taught Mathematics at St Stephen’s High School in Clewer, Windsor until 1891.

In May 1891 Miss Bell was appointed as a Mathematics teacher at Sutton High School for Girls. Although her main subject was Maths, she was also described as “a capital tennis player” and was a keen participant in and director of, various dramatic productions. She was promoted to the position of second mistress in September 1894 and remained in this post until 1903 when the headmistress, Miss Duirs, fell critically ill with tuberculosis and had to leave school midway through the year, dying soon afterwards. Margaret was appointed as her successor in the October of the same year which engendered cheers from the students, an indication of her popularity. The fact that she, as a teacher at the school, was promoted internally was also considered remarkable at the time.

We know from the description of Miss Bell in her early years at the school that she was “tall and stately with golden hair coiled close to her head”. Her personality was described variously as “kind”, “reserved”, “sympathetic”, “dignified”; she was “a stern moral judge” whose pet hates included “slouching, slovenly manners, slang, shingling and (we fear) smoking in women”.  Her pupils were expected to walk in the corridors with their hands behind their back; a direction she once made to a member of staff who was swinging her arms on her way into school! Miss Bell was strict but she was not without a sense of fun.   In 1911 she opened a larger kindergarten at Fernwood, a house on the corner of Cheam Road and Robin Hood Lane and she was often to be seen stopping on her way to the Senior School so that she could talk to the young children. One of the boys remembered her playing games of ‘cat’s cradle’ with him. One of her staff referred to her as “a Victorian with an open mind” which sums her up quite well.

The Great War was probably the greatest challenge that Miss Bell faced in her 20 years as headmistress. When the students started the school year in 1914 the war had been going on for a month and the need for the population to raise funds was soon apparent.  As soon as the girls came back she organised them into great fund-raisers for over 40 different charities. In addition, they sent parcels to lonely soldiers and sailors, collected waste paper and silk worms for sale plus they dug up the school grounds to provide vegetables for the fleet. Miss Bell gained quite a reputation for knitting mufflers, hats and socks for the troops. She insisted that all the girls should learn to knit too and also that they should sew hospital bags as a response to the Lady Smith-Dorrien appeal to help wounded soldiers. Miss Bell instituted an element of inter-form competition in this which no doubt helped to achieve the total of nearly 3,000 bags by the end of the war.

During the war hundreds of large, local houses were taken over to be transformed into hospitals. There was one such hospital, Benfleet Hall, in Benhilton where many of the Old Girls of the school volunteered as VADs. In 1916 40 wounded soldiers were invited down to the school where they were given afternoon tea, played games such as ‘bumble puppy’ and sang a number of popular songs of the time. One Old Girl remarked: “Imagine Tommies smoking, or otherwise, filling up the gallery at the far end of the hall, and in a free and easy manner chorusing their favourite songs, unawed apparently by the air of educational sanctity which must hover over the place”.

In 1915 Miss Bell decided to stand for the Sutton Council and she was returned for South Ward, unopposed. She, plus two others, became the first women to serve on the Council. She wrote down her reasons for going into public life:  “Until a few months ago, I regarded myself as a most unsuitable person for municipal work. I have not come forward now without much consideration ; and I am quite certain, though I can never prove it, that had life continued for us on the old normal easy lines, I should not have been standing before you to-night as a councillor-elect of your next Urban District Council. But the 4th of last August changed, for all of us, the outlook of our lives. We have had to reconsider many things, and to decide whether we would remain in our own groove or whether we would take up other service. And this has meant much serious looking forward, and an attempt to realise what the aftermath of this awful war will be. We cannot fail to recognise that, in a few years’ time, there will be a great shortage of men of the age when men generally come forward to do public work. A time must come when the vast majority of Englishmen will be either old men who do not want the additional burden of public work, or young men who are too inexperienced to undertake it. And unless the women of England are ready to come forward to help with public work, much that is of vital importance to the welfare of the nation will be done either badly or not at all. And when the time comes it will not be sufficient that the women should be willing, they must also have been trained and have had experience in public work.”

As soon as the War was over, Miss Bell started to extend the school by adding new classrooms in order to meet the growing waiting list for places.  By 1923 she was suffering from ill-health and decided to retire at the early age of 58.  The school was devastated at her resignation as her tenure at the school had spanned over 30 years.  One student remarked that “she has been here for so many years that we cannot imagine the school without her.”  The Sutton Advertiser of Friday April 13th, 1923, included an account of a presentation which was made to Miss Bell at Sutton Public Hall. She is described as having “doubled the popularity of the school and (with) trebling its high reputation.” Having retired she travelled to Italy for many months over several years to indulge her love of art.  Her last visit to the school was in 1946 when delayed Jubilee celebrations were held for the school’s 160th birthday. She passed away in Etchingham in East Sussex on January 27th 1949; she was 83.


All research carried out of behalf of the HLF funded Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives is the work of volunteer researchers and is unverified by the Sutton Archives team. All sources have been credited where possible.  If you notice any errors or discrepancies in this work, or can add to the research, please contact [email protected].


Thomas Hendra

Surrey in the Great War                                                                                                                                                  Jenny Mukerji

Thomas HENDRA (1889-1972)

Soldier and Woking Photographer

Thomas was born in Truro, Cornwall on 4 November 1889, the son of Henry HENDRA (1863-1894) and his wife Elizabeth, nee CLEMENS. He was the youngest of their four children. Henry HENDRA was a watchmaker and jeweller and after his death, aged 31, his widow married Philip Henry TONKIN in 1899. Philip TONKIN was a game dealer and seed merchant and he helped Elizabeth to raise her four sons at their home in Union Place, Truro.

Thomas’s disembarkation papers dated 20 November 1910 when he arrived at Ellis Island (United States) off the SS Carmania (out of Liverpool), tells us quite a number of things about him. He was 20 years old and a store man. He could read and write and was English speaking. His contact in England was his mother Mrs P H TONKIN of 11 Truro View Terrace, Truro. He was 5ft 8 inches tall and of a fresh complexion, dark hair and brown eyes. In 1908 he had visited the US before, this time going to Baltimore. In 1910 he was to visit a friend Miss E ELLERY* of 320 19th, Sacramento, California. However, giving his occupation as store man, he was wealthy enough to buy his own ticket and to hold the required $50 (to cover any costs so that he would not be a burden on the State).

Henry does not appear to have returned to England in time to be included in the 1911 Census but the next time he is found is when he enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s) on 18 November 1914. This was a battalion of volunteers in the Second (Kitchener’s) New Army and had been formed in Taunton on 13 September 1914. They then moved to Woking as part of the 61st Brigade of the 20th Division. They then moved to Witley, near Godalming. In March 1915 they moved to Amesbury and then to Larkhill, near Salisbury. Henry was definitely with them when they were mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 24 July 1915. The battalion was given trench familiarization and training in the Fleurbaix area before engaging with the enemy at the Battle of Sorrel (Hill 62) at the beginning of June. Henry may have been with the battalion at the start of the Battle of the Somme (1 July 1916), fighting in the area of Delville Wood. As he was discharged from the Army and awarded his Silver War Badge on 7 September 1916 due to sickness, the extent of his participation in the battalion’s later action is not clear; nor is it known why he should be considered unfit for further military service.

It may have been during his original time in Woking in 1914 or as a possible patient in a Woking Military Hospital, that he met the Woking photographer Marguerite REED (1884-1969). She was, as Margaret Emma REED, the youngest of the three daughters of postal worker Thomas REED (1855-1924) and his wife Elizabeth, nee WILSON (c1856-1929) of Stone House, 2 Sandy Lane, Maybury, Woking. Marguerite had taken over the Studio, formerly run by Alfred WILDMAN (1867-1916) at 88 Maybury Road, Woking in April 1917. On Saturday 2 June 1917 Thomas and Marguerite were married at the Guildford Registry Office. Their professions were given as Army Pensioner and Photographer respectively. Both gave their age as 28.

Marguerite had left the 88 Maybury Road studio by 1924 when Sidney FRANCIS took it over. The 1939 Register lists Thomas and Marguerite living at Stone House and both of them are photographers. Thomas was also an ARP Warden. Marguerite continued her business at Stone House and died in 1969. Thomas was still at Stone House when he died on 9 March 1972.

* Further research has uncovered the ELLERY family with whom Thomas planned to stay. William ELLERY (1848-1936) was a ship’s carpenter in 1871 and he was the son of James ELLERY. He married Mary Jane LLOYD, daughter of John LLOYD of Birmingham in May 1880 in England. William had already been to the United States in 1878 and in all the couple had five children of whom only 2 were still alive in 1910. They were 28 years-old Mary Elsie Ellery (born in England) and 14 years-old Lloyd (born in California – in 1930 he was an accountant at the Customs House). The two Marys had arrived in the US in 1884. William, his wife Mary and daughter Mary had all become Americans in 1888. In 1910 William and his family were living at 320 Sacramento, California and he was now a house carpenter, owning his own home. In 1930 William, Mary and Lloyd were living in Oakland City, Alameda County, California. William and Mary Jane ELLERY are buried together in Sacramento. Children Winifred and Cyril are in the same plot. Winifred Selwyn ELLERY was born in Truro in 1881 and died 13 July 1885. Cyril William, born 1887 and died on 26 January 1891.

Dorothy Senior Dean

Researched and written by volunteers of the Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives.

Dorothy Senior Dean was born in Forest Hill in 1885. Her parents were William Senior Dean, an official at the Bank of England and his wife Edith Frances Dean (née Bridges). In 1901 her family were living at Shirley House, Brighton Road, Sutton. She was a pupil at Sutton High School and in 1904 went up to Girton College, Cambridge. In 1907 she took the first part of the Cambridge Mathematics Tripos and gained a Third Class grade.

In this photograph taken in January 1908 she is wearing a Dublin Bachelor’s degree gown and hood. It’s possible that Dorothy was a ‘Steamboat Lady’. It’s hard to believe today, but women were not formally awarded degrees at Cambridge until 1948 (Oxford changed their rules in 1920). Even though they studied there, sat the examinations, were graded and listed (separately from the men) there was no formal recognition for them. For a short while between 1904 and December 1907 Trinity College Dublin allowed students who had completed degree courses elsewhere to pay a fee and claim an ‘ad eundem’ degree  which meant that they were admitted to the same degree but at another university.  Groups of women mainly from Oxford and Cambridge would take the boat to Dublin and stay overnight at Trinity College before having their degrees conferred on them.

In 1911 Dorothy was boarding at 74 Trumpington Street, Cambridge according to her diary for that year which is held in the University Library Archive. At the time of the census she was visiting the family of Dora Black in Sutton who were then living at Shirley House.

In 1913 she became the Commandant of the Suffolk 52 VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment). During World War 1 she served at Suffolk Hospital and at HQ in Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds, her role being assistant secretary.

She was private secretary to the mistress of Girton College from 1917 to 1920. She was also Mathematical Mistress at Croydon High School for two terms.

In 1922 she married Harold Ince, a master tailor from Clare, Suffolk, at the Church of St Peter, Croydon.  They lived in Cavendish, Suffolk and had one son. She was the County Organiser for the West Suffolk Federation of Women’s Institutes and President of Cavendish Women’s Institute. She died in December 1963 aged 78.


Sources: Sutton High School Magazine (; Sutton High School Jubilee Book; Ancestry: Church of England Marriage Records, England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index 1916-2007, UK Census Collection; Google

All research carried out of behalf of the HLF funded Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives is the work of volunteer researchers and is unverified by the Sutton Archives team. All sources have been credited where possible.  If you notice any errors or discrepancies in this work, or can add to the research, please contact [email protected].


Reigate County School – Dorothy Hobley, Her Experiences of Picking Fruit

Dorothy Hobley was born in Paddington on 31st July 1898, the daughter of Edgar  Frank Hobley and Lucy. She had a brother Leonard.  The family moved to Dorking, and Dorothy won a scholarship to Reigate County School from 1910-1915. Like many of the students at the school (which had its origins in a pupil/teacher centre), she went on to study at Goldsmiths College, London. It was during a summer vacation there that Dorothy and two students volunteered to pick fruit in Bexley. She wrote in the school magazine about her experiences. Dorothy married Edgar Dewhirst in 1932, and they had 3 children. She died in 1987.

 “At the top of the rows stood a formidable looking, though decidedly ragged man, who we presumed was the overseer. In his hand was a long stick, and I began to have visions of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, and wonder vaguely what would happen to me if I ‘slacked’!

When the farmer appeared with the baskets, we began and picked, except for a break at lunch-time, until 4.30…. The work was extremely tiring, and after a day or two, we began to wonder if we would ever stand upright again…..

Altogether we picked raspberries, blackcurrants, beans and apples. Apple-picking was by far the most fun, and the most highly paid. The rate for raspberries was 1/2d per lb. and the utmost we could pick was 24 lbs. a day, which made the earnings only 2s each. For picking a sackful of beans (scarlet runners) we received 2s and were paid about a half a crown a day for apples and blackcurrants…..

We discovered that the (man’s) stick was for lifting the lower boughs from the ground, and not for the purpose of inflicting personal torture!

When we got to know the’tricks of the trade’. He told us that it was quite a regular custom for professional pickers to take their baskets of raspberries when full into a quiet corner of the field and lay them lightly in an empty basket. They would then shake up the remaining fruit and carry to the farmer two apparently full baskets. In order to make the beans weigh more, the farmer told us they are frequently soaked in water before being sold. When blackcurrant picking, he advised us to put in as many stalks as possible, whether they contained berries or not, as it is they that take up the room!

One very funny custom I noticed amongst the pickers. The women and children, even the dots of three and four, call the men by their Christian name – the farmer was always known as ‘Joey’, the women on the other hand were always ‘Missus’!”

Dorothy gave this advice to novices: –

“1. Don’t mind shocking people.

  1. Don’t be alarmed by your appetite if it is rather big –it will probably not be diabetes.
  2. Take i) Strong boots and plenty of old clothes
  3. ii) Lots of soap!
  4. Be prepared to work hard.

From Reigate County School Magazine 1918, pages 43-45. (Copy held by Surrey History Centre ref.3155/7/14)


Rowley Snowden – life saved by hip flask

Rowley Chaplin Snowden is remembered in St John the Baptist Church, Windlesham, on the St Albans* memorial board in the south porch there. Both he and his wife, Elsie (Elizabeth) are buried in the churchyard.  Rowley died in 1931 and Elizabeth in 1946.

Rowley Snowden (also known as ‘Chips’) and Elsie (née Fletcher) married on 24th October 1907 in the Parish of Eastham near Chester. Residents of Windlesham for many years, they moved there probably in 1908 shortly after their marriage. The 1911 census shows that they lived in Windlesham Cottage, London Road, with their three sons, Arthur Chaplin, Geoffrey and Raymond. The house remained in the family until 1986 when Chaplin (Chappie), who lived there with his wife, died.

Rowley Snowden - Windlesham Cottage (800x486)

Title: Rowley Snowden - Windlesham Cottage (800x486)
Description: By permission of the Snowden family by-nc

When war was declared, Rowley was working as a Member at Lloyds. He was a Liveryman of the Worshipful  Company of Saddlers (as were his children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren). He joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps on 8th March 1915 and was discharged from there to his commission as a Second Lieutenant in 3/5th Bedfordshires (attached Royal Warwickshire) on 25th August  1915. His application form confirms him to be in good health and he was declared fit for service.

Rowley Snowden (669x800)

Title: Rowley Snowden (669x800)
Description: By permission of the Snowden family. by-nc

He was sent to France on 16th July 1916 but had to leave his unit on August 27th 1916 when he was wounded, in the fighting for Mouquet Farm, part of the Battle of Pozières (23rd July-3rd September 1916). Family records show that, when he was shot, he was somewhere between Constance and Skyline Trenches. His life was saved by his hip flask (still held by the family complete with bullet indentation).

Rowley Snowden hipflask rear

Title: Rowley Snowden hipflask rear
Description: By permission of the Snowden family. by-nc

Although he relinquished his commission on 4th August 1917, he continued to attend medical boards until April 1918 when he was discharged on the grounds of disability. The Board noted the causes to be, firstly, a gunshot wound to the left elbow and, secondly, pulmonary tuberculosis.

Rowley returned to Windlesham Cottage where he was to live for the rest of his life. His family report ‘he never recovered his full strength but was happy being in a place he loved’.

During the period of Rowley’s service overseas, Elsie became part of the VAD. Red Cross archives show that she carried out 192 hours of pantry duties in Windlesham Auxiliary Hospital over 1916-1917.

Elizabeth Snowden

Title: Elizabeth Snowden
Description: By permission of the Snowden family by-nc

*St Albans was a chapel of ease on London Road, Windlesham.

My thanks to the family of Rowley and Elizabeth Snowden (Annabel Lang, Janie Deyong and David Snowden) for providing photos and information about their grandparents.


National Archive WO374/64041

British Red Cross WW1 personnel  index card

Windlesham PCC Burial  Records