Researched and written by Safiyya Beere
Rupert Darnley Anderson was born on the 29 of April 1859 in Liverpool, Lancashire, to Thomas Darnley Anderson, a cotton merchant and land-owner, and Dorothy Anderson. He was the second oldest of six children. The Anderson family were big contributors to the Farnham community, providing the funds to open the Tilford Institute in 1893: a total of around £1000 (£89,840.91 in today’s money) (http://www.tilfordinstitute.co.uk/).
Amy Anderson, born Amy Douglas Knyveton Harland, was born on the 9 December 1867 in Colwich, Lichfield, as the second daughter of reverend Edward Harland, the vicar of Colwich for 38 years.
Rupert Anderson was educated at Eton 1873 – 1878 and then Cambridge. In his youth he was an avid footballer, playing with the Old Etonians as well as being a goalie for the English national side, one of only four teenagers at the time to have done so. He made his first and only appearance for the England team, as goalkeeper, in 1879, playing against Wales: the match was hindered by severely snowy conditions, but England won 2 – 1.
On the 3 January 1889, Amy and Rupert married at St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Colwich. For the first year of the marriage, Rupert was hardly home as he was based abroad in Florida as a fruit broker, and had only returned home in order to marry Amy. Thus Amy raised her first child for a year in England alone. However, once their first child was a year old Amy Anderson joined Rupert in Florida in 1890 and they lived there for a while, as shown by the New York Passenger Lists, 1820 – 1957.
On their return to England several years later they lived at Ravenhill, Rugeley, then moving to Squire’s Hill, Tilford, Surrey. The Andersons lived here until the death in 1893 – 94 of Rupert’s mother and then brother, Charles Rupert Anderson (in whose memory the Tilford Institute erected). With his brother’s death Rupert succeeded into the Waverley Abbey Estate and thus the Anderson family moved in.
By 1901, Amy and Rupert were happily living with their five children: one son and four daughters, the oldest of whom was 11 at the time. Rupert was now a retired fruit broker aged 42 and Amy was a housewife.
Amy became the Commandant of Red Cross Detachment No. 56 in Surrey Division before the war. During the war, the family gave up Waverley Abbey the family home to the government for it to become the Waverley Abbey Military Hospital. It opened in September 1914, thus becoming one of the first country houses to be converted into a military hospital. Amy was appointed as Commandant of the hospital, with her daughters becoming nurses: Misses Amy, Elizabeth, Anne and Margaret. Miss Amy went on to work at the Astoria Hospital in Paris in 1916 until the end of the war. Miss Elizabeth was awarded the Royal Red Cross, 2nd class, for her nursing service during the war. The Andersons’ son fought in WW1 becoming Second-Lieutenant Rupert Darnley Switheen Anderson and, by 1934, a Lieutenant-Colonel.
The Anderson family saw more than 1,000 wounded soldiers each year that the military hospital was open, seeing around 5,000 soldiers throughout the entirety of the war. They were visited by royalty in 1916, 1917 and 1918.
Whilst Amy was Commandant of Waverley Abbey, Rupert fought in and survived the war. He served as a Major in the 5th Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment and also in the Royal Air Force during the end of the war. He was awarded an O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in WW1 for his services to the Territorial Army and the Air Force. In January 1918, towards the end of the war, Amy Anderson was also appointed an O.B.E for her help in the upkeep of Waverley Abbey and for her service towards the soldiers that stayed there.
In 1919, when the war had ended, Waverley Abbey Hospital was closed. It had been open for 4 and a half years under the care of the Anderson family and to celebrate, they hosted a farewell dinner for the hospital staff.
Later that year, Rupert conveyed a part of the Waverley estate to Horace Trimmer (SHC reference: 5263/5/17), downscaling due to most of his daughters (and his son) marrying and leaving home. By 1931 Amy and Rupert had downscaled even more, expressing in a letter to Lord Farrer of Abinger that ‘one cannot afford that kind of amusement’ and that they were not ‘justified with a large family’ any more (SHC reference: 2572/1/91).
Throughout his time in Waverley Abbey, Rupert became integral to the Farnham community. He was the President of the Tilford Institute, Chairman of the managers of the Church of England School, Vicar’s warden and he founded Loyal Rupert Anderson Lodge of Oddfellows.
Amy Anderson was also at the forefront of town affairs becoming chairwoman of a committee advocating the use of Farnham castle for the Bishop of the Diocese in 1930 (Surrey Mirror – Friday 4 July 1930, page 8).
On the 2 January 1939 Rupert and Amy celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Below is a rare photo of Major Anderson (seated bottom right): the picture, from the Surrey Advertiser, Saturday 7 January 1939, shows ‘Major and Mrs Anderson (seated), with Mrs Stroud, Capt. Craig and Dr. Ealand’. The ‘silver fire gilt coffee set’ in the foreground was one of the gifts given to them on their special day, this one gifted ‘by 600 friends in the district’.
Major Rupert Darnley Anderson died on the 23 December 1944, aged 85, from natural causes. He was cremated and his ashes were buried in Tilford churchyard. Mrs Amy Anderson followed on the 25h August 1951, aged 84. They were both beloved by their community and did great service towards their country throughout their lives.
Surrey History Centre Archives
www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/waverley-abbey-hospital/ – accessed 20 July 2016
www.englishfootballonline.com/TeanPlyrs/Bios/PlayersA/BioAndersonRD.html – accessed 20 August 2016
http://www.tilfordinstitute.co.uk/?page_id=82 – accessed 22 August 2016
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205379842 – accessed 23 August 2016
http://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/pageturner.cfm?id=90178841&mode=transcription–accessed 23 August 2016
www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk – last accessed 23 August 2016
Douglas Lamming, An English Football Internationalist’s Who’s Who (Hatton Press, 1990), p. 11.
Read more about Waverley Abbey hospital here.