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by Evelyn Parsons
Evelyn nee Watton was the mother of Martin Parsons
My Wedding and Honeymoon
Whether by accident or design, Evelyn began her 'Recollections' with her marriage to William Parsons, so virtually continuing the story of his life which he wrote in his 'Reminiscences'. William made no mention of his meeting with Evelyn, the second daughter of his first vicar, Revd Timothy Watton of St. Jude's, Birmingham, but we gather from what follows that the couple were engaged a year after William's arrival as curate. She was then 21, and he was 26. They were engaged for a year when the Wattons moved away to Richard's Castle, a country parish near Ludlow. Although less than an hour's drive today, the distance must have been a trial for the couple. William moved to another curacy in Birmingham, at St Martin's in the Bull-Ring. They waited, hoping that William could become a vicar and so have a secure financial position before they married. Eventually they decided to wait no longer.
1896 August 11th: Married at Richard's Castle 3 in afternoon.
Mr Salway, then churchwarden of my father's country Parish was also squire; he was very nice, had his workmen put up a beautiful archway over the gate of the drive to our beautiful Rectory. (My father was then 54 years of age.) Also all the day school children were at the church to throw flowers as we came out. The church was decorated; the last wedding before ours was Miss Foster married to Lord Tuchiquin.
So I was driven to church with a beating heart at the age of 26 after 5 years' engagement - and there was my dear one waiting and looking for me. I had 6 bridesmaids (fashions alter), sisters May, Jess, Floss, Win, Kate Parsons and Gertrude Gell cousin. Canon Wilkinson & Tom Tirebuck married us. My father brought me up the church. I wore white satin, very stiff & tight high puff sleeves, tight high neck and waist, veil & orange blossom. I am sure as I look back that I did look my very best that day & my husband looked charming, so good looking, very dark shining eyes.
(Can you not understand how happy I was after 5 years of ups and downs, sorrows and joys wondering sometimes if we ever should come to live together. What patience we had to exercise waiting for a living, working for our little home, putting things in my bottom drawer & still no living came & even when we decided on marriage he was still curate of St Martin's, B'ham & chaplain to the eye hospital.)
The wedding over, we drove to the Rectory where many friends assembled. Mr. Foster, Lady Tuchiquin (looking tired - she was expecting her first baby; she was 28), Miss Horton who afterwards was godmother to my first, Connie & her two eldest, Ethel & Eileen.
At 4 o'clock we drove away, I in a fawn & green dress & funny little cream straw hat. We went that first night to Cardiff & crossed by sea in the morning to Ilfracombe (I was very sick) & repented going that way but Willie liked the idea & I did love him to be happy. All our life I studied his happiness.
We spent the rest of our month's holiday in Ilfracombe, he took me drives & we went to small entertainments & we met a friend of his who was very nice to me (a bachelor). We stayed in rooms. I can't remember buying food but I expect we did so.
Our first home
Before the month was finished I was longing to see my home in Claremont Rd., Birmingham. We had already taken this small house near the Rectory - a house with dining room, Drawing Room, study, 3 bed-rooms, bath - all for £26 a year.
And so the day came to return to our work at St Martin's. We found our house all wonderfully arranged with our furniture & wedding presents - all done by Tom Tirebuck, Connie and Mother. I did not realize how much they had done for me till I was older - what a pity - for they had been good; and yet I don't suppose I appeared very grateful. I was so proud of our possessions, our very own home, very slightly furnished, costing less than £200. Wedding presents were indeed a great help, and Mother gave me her piano, which helped to furnish the drawing room.
I had one maid (a very nice Kitchen). She stayed with me till after my first baby & we had moved to London. She had £7 a year, wore a servant cap & apron washed all her own clothes too. I can't remember her name. She was a Richard's Castle girl - she was later confirmed at St James' Hatcham under Rev E.J. Kennedy.
September passed quietly and happily, I getting experience in house-keeping (£1 a week at first); and very soon I knew that God was going to give us a precious gift. By early October I could not think what was wrong, I felt so sick & ill. I cried & went to see my sister Connie who by the way lived quite near; she already had 4 children She laughed and said I must not mind. All was well. So I tried, but I fear I was not so very brave in those days. I was specially upset by smells. The carpets, the curtains, everything smelt nasty to me.
My sister Connie and her bereavement
Then came October. I used to go almost every day to see Connie and the babies Ethel (4), Ellen (3), Gertrude (3) & Tom (8 months). What a handful! but how I loved them all, dear wee things, all so pretty.
And then, O tragedy! On Oct 22nd I ran in to them to take Ethel, just 4, a birthday present of a brush & comb all to herself. A charwoman met me at the door & said "Mr. Tirebuck is dead." It was enough to give me a miscarriage; the shock was so sudden. I fled upstairs to my poor sister. Words were not needed. We just cried together. He had overworked himself and had died from heart-failure at the age of 36.
Imagine all those children left, no money saved. A small insurance. The Living gone, the mother not able to earn her living with 4 tiny children. What could be done? My father came to the rescue & took them all to his home. He was then only 55 - and there they lived till the home was broken up years later.
The clergy and some rich laity were so touched by the tragedy that they collected £1,000 for the widow and children. The shock was great, but still I was well and strong and my dear one took such care of me. In December Will had a call to his father who was very ill. He was too late to see him alive. I think he felt it very much. He died on January 1st 1897 and was buried on January 5th. I fear at that time I did not realize how much he loved his father & felt his loss. We make many mistakes when we are young, and yet I loved him so much.
1897 Now we settled down to our quiet life in the Parish of St Martin's, Birmingham. The old Rector was an old man, so Willie did a lot of the work as senior curate, but the old man would preach himself though getting past it. The people would have liked to have the senior curate oftener. He was greatly respected and loved, only 33 years old.
In March came a change. The Rector decided to resign and retire. This put us at first sight in a fix. We had our house by the year.
St James' Hatcham
I was 7 months on the way for a child, but all turned out for the very best, before we could even make any plans, Willie received an offer from a London Vicar, E.J. Kennedy, offering him the senior curacy at St James' Hatcham with a Mission Church and a house rent free. We both went to London to see round, and we accepted the curacy after seeing the excellent vicar. It was the best thing we ever did, and it was not our choice but God's direct leading, as the future proved. So in April 1897 we left Birmingham for New Cross, Hatcham, London S.E. We saw our luggage off, swept up the little House, our 1st home together, and off we went, staying one first night at Charing Cross Hotel.
(The Congregation were sad at our going and presented Willie with a communion service and £50 to help our expenses).
In the morning we hurried off from Charing Cross by underground (steam and smoke and very dirty in those days) to our little house in New Cross close to our Mission Church and directly opposite a pawn-shop. We were surrounded by railways and railwaymen and very poor people and I used to sit at my window and watch the people on Saturday nights going in and out of pawn shop. I have seen free fighting in the street, once two women. It was an awful sight.
We arrived much too soon and could not even get into our house - no key. So, being very weary - nearly time for my baby - I sat on the doorstep till a kind woman brought a chair, and Willie went off to find the keys. The churchwarden then came, [and] the furniture, and we started work. I brought my maid with me, I must have been strong for I did things that most women would fear to do in my condition. I must have looked funny - no lovely dresses, like girls now; just a large cape.
So we settle in very quickly, put up pretty lace curtains and everything looked very nice. The curtains were black in less than a month. The silver all bright on the sideboard turned yellow.
The birth of Victor, 22 May 1897
And now it was May, and all the walking I could do was round the house and five minutes to the little church. I had a silly old nurse from Birmingham. My doctor was a young man and clever. So arrived May 21st 10 p.m. when I began to wonder. I walked about all night (no nurse arrived till next day). No friend near. All was strange, but nothing mattered. I had my husband.
At 7 o'clock on May 22nd my first darling baby was put into my arms. I am now 68, but I can still remember the thrill of joy - and Willie came in and kissed me and of course I cried. All was well.
The baby thrived, and I quickly got well in one month, but such a hot May we had. Baby Victor got diarrhea and was very ill. No food suited. We struggled on till August, when we were able to go for a holiday. We could not afford to go away alone, so went to Richard's Castle, my old home. My father and mother were very glad to have us; from that time baby improved and soon became a very beautiful, happy baby. We called him Victor George. His godparents were Miss Horton and George Watton.
Our holiday over, we returned to Hatcham. Victor grew fast. He had long fair curls, could walk at 13 months, and at 16 months he would drive about with our doctor.
The birth of Winnie, 25 September 1898
By this time my second was born on September 25th, a sweet little dark girl. We had been to Ilfracombe in August for our holiday. Jessie came back with us and stayed to help. I did very well, and the baby was very strong and healthy. Such a lovely little pigeon pair; they were a picture. Living in the slums did not hurt them.
Our people were so good, and loved us all very much, and made a great deal of our children. Daddy, we shall now call him, adored them, and Victor was his constant companion in all his spare time.
I had by this time two maids, rather young, and so I still had most of the responsibility, but was able to take up my work: Mothers' Meeting, Women's Bible Class.
St Matthias, Upper Tulse Hill
We were at St Michael's House, New Cross, for 3 years till on January 16 1900 we received the offer of our first living, St Matthias, Upper Tulse Hill. How happy we were! How proud I was of my husband!
It was a beautiful church with very little income, but we set out in faith, willing for hard work to build up a congregation. There were crowds of people all around. We had no vicarage, so we both went house-hunting and found a small house, one of a row. Here we started the third stage of our lives, still in London, which Willie loved. He was able to go to all important meetings; he was also able to get many renowned preachers at his church.
We moved about the end of January. Victor and Winnie stayed with a friend who was very fond of them. Victor was 27 or 28 months, Winnie 1 year 10 months old. When they came back to us they were delighted. Victor ran all over the house looking into every corner. Winnie ran to me and said: "O my dear Muvver!"
I had two good maids then and we started in our own parish very happily. Dad had many good friends; our lasting friends were Mr and Mrs King, and also Mr and Mrs Robinson, but they died first. Mrs King was always my great friend, and lived to the age of 75.
The birth of Stanley, 11 August 1900
I soon discovered another baby was coming and Stanley was born in August 1900. Dear little Victor was growing such a lovely boy, but full of mischief. He would cut holes in the down quilt, and hide things away. He was with me a great deal and at the age of 3 we sent him to a kindergarten school on Brixton Hill. His energies needed it. It gave him occupation and little friends.
Winnie went too, a little later. What a picture she was, standing at drill among all the other little children, with her soft brown curls and very dark eyes, and I remember a little liberty green dress, trimmed with white braid, which I made; little white socks and brown shoes. Victor and she both loved the dancing class and skipping. Victor was very good and most graceful. He was tall, and Winnie very small. Mrs King loved to have them to tea and she would bring them home herself. Poor dear, she had one baby which she lost at 9 months old. She never forgot.
Dr Reeves (still alive) was my doctor when Stanley was born at 1 o'clock on a Saturday morning. All went very well. Winnie was so pleased to see a new baby. Stan was baptized at Richard's Castle. As soon as we could all of us went for a holiday there. What a good Father and Mother to take us all in, and we never paid a penny.
I had an old-fashioned nurse, Mrs Hull, the same as I had for Winnie. She came over from New Cross. Now our house was pretty full with 3 children and 2 maids, so soon we looked for another house after 4 years, but had we known how soon we were to leave London, I think we should not have moved. However we did not know, and we took a very nice house in Upper Tulse Hill. We had a lovely nursery with windows back and front; we covered it with really good oil-cloth. I bought, I remember, a rock-horse for Victor and Winnie loved it. They had lots of nice toys and a very good nurse. Stanley was now two and a half.
The birth of Howard, 7 February 1903
That February, when Howard was born, I had the same monthly nurse, Mrs Hull, a motherly old dear - and she did not quarrel with the servants. My good nurse was very pleased to have a new baby to look after. She managed all four children but Victor and Winnie went to Kindergarten every morning.
Howard was born of a Saturday, Feb 1903. We spent most of our holidays at Richard's Castle, but before Howard came we spent a month, August 1902, at Lowestoft. This was grand. The three children were small and no trouble. Dad loved them at this age. Our troubles had not begun.
How difficult to train rightly three children all so different. How many mistakes we make. Dear little ones given to us by God to train. How unheedingly the years rolled by, opportunities missed, mistakes made; and yet we did pray for them and I do believe God will overrule our mistakes and bring them all to himself. In this year 1939 I will still pray in faith and will trust Him.
Building up the Church
1903. 1904. I cannot remember any special events. We worked in our parish at Tulse Hill. The church soon filled. The Parish Room was built. Willie was very much loved and respected. He helped the younger men very much, two or three in the choir specially, being always interested in his church choir. Some of these boys were killed in the Great War.
Torrey Alexander Mission 1904. How well I remember when Victor was 7. We lived on Brixton Hill and went many times to Brixton Hall where a great Mission was held. One afternoon it was for children and young people. My darling Victor only listened with great attention, and sang the hymns, especially that one :-
"Oh that will be glory for me"
Mr Alexander had a lovely voice; he always sang and conducted. A most sincere and holy man. The Mission was a great help to many. Once he and his wife came and had tea with us. We lived in Upper Tulse Hill at that time. It was a great honour to have them. He was very quiet, I remember. In my book-shelf I have a book of his life which is well worth reading, dear children.
Servant problems and illnesses
The children had the usual complaints - measles, chickenpox and whooping cough. We loved our big house. My nice nurse had to leave because she was so delicate. I then had a lady for a time, Miss Fry. I think she had had a love affair and came just for a change. She did not stay. My very good maid for the house, the best worker ever, turned out a thief also. She was secretly married, and her black husband I found came in by back door (downstairs kitchen) and took food etc. I lost many things, and being busy with parish and children I never noticed till later.
In 1905 my little Howard, only 2 years old, caught a chill in June and fell ill with pneumonia which lasted some weeks. Every day the temp. was 102 and it was difficult to give him milk. He just lay very quiet. I never once realised he was dangerously ill, until he was over the worst. He was so patient. But when he began to sit up, then was the danger of heart failure. He could not stand, and his little legs were very thin.
Farewell to Upper Tulse Hill
And that time, July, we now had the offer of Swanage, so when we went in August we left Howard with a trained nurse while we moved. Later Mrs King came with nurse and Howard. Miss Bland was now helping me. She was sent on the Swanage with the three other children to rooms. What a business, but we were still young; I was 34 and Dad was just under 40.
Our people again were very sorry to part with us and they gave us nice presents of money etc. I had a gold chain bracelet, very much used in those days.
Looking back on Tulse Hill days
At Tulse Hill I fear I did not do much entertaining. So many children took up a great deal of time, even with a good nurse. Always Mrs King was my dear friend. Of course I had the usual Mother's Meetings and working parties, but looking back I see how many things were left undone. Perhaps my thoughts were mostly in my home, for my darling children and husband. I loved our house too. The drawing room was the prettiest I have ever had, a long room with a large window at both ends, looking on to Tulse Hill and into the garden; a pretty brown carpet bought in London, and quite lightly furnished, but every one said how pretty.
I shall never forget Tulse Hill. Our four children were little - 7, 6, 5 and 2 and very loveable, no trouble. Every evening after tea they all came to the drawing room for games or reading, and nurse would take them one by one for bath.
1905 August we moved to Swanage, and settled there for three years only - and yet why did we leave? Dad got on so well, and all went happily, but he could not like the winters and feeling himself cut off from London.
The first year we had many calls to pay and people to know. The summer was such a delight to Victor and Winnie, who learnt to swim and used to bathe sometimes twice a day.
Victor and Winnie
Victor was a strong, athletic boy, could swim well. We sent him to Mrs Hickson who had started a mixed school. He learnt music from Mrs Hickson. He loved his life. We soon sent Winnie too. She was a sweet pretty thing, very strong willed - I fear received too much notice. Boys specially liked her, which perhaps was not too good for her. Oh that I had prayed more earnestly for my darling and been wiser; it might have saved much trouble, for she really has a sweet nature and has good brains. But here again I know we are but frail humans, and God knows I wanted to do my duty. He will overrule our mistakes and my little Winnie will come out on top one day. God bless her. She loved her school too.
(More memories of Swanage. Winnie 6 years. I made her pretty little frocks; she always wore the same, cream nun's veiling with frill at bottom of skirt edged with torchion lace - washed easily, and very pretty. She loved dancing, learnt at Kindergarten and Miss Goldie's. It was all very difficult as Dad did not like it. As I look back and think, we should have let her alone. She would then have loved her home and stayed more with us and married young. But there again I pray God overrule our mistakes. Indeed He has done in many ways. After many sad times I believe she is now happy with a good husband. I hope yet she will be a happy mother. May God grant this.)
Death of Connie
While at Swanage, March 1906, my eldest sister Connie died in Birmingham from an operation, nasal and meregitis (?). Very unexpected. I left the 4 children with Dad and a friend and went to Birmingham too late. How I left home I don't know, and how they got on without me. But they did. I came back after funeral and brought with me Ethel, Ellen and Gertrude aged 13, 12 and 10. They stayed till we all went to Richard's Castle at Easter. What a house-full! Dad was very good to them. Ethel was confirmed there too. I gave her a white dress. She was my godchild.
The birth of Martin, 4 August 1907
In our second year at Swanage Martin was born 1907 August, on Sunday evening (only 7 hours ill) just as our beautiful bells 8 pealed out before church service. We were indeed all rejoicing. Dad always wanted boys, I never could see why. This one was destined to be after his father's own heart.
Victor goes to boarding school
Victor was now 10 years old. He had been a term at St Lawrence's College, Ramsgate, as boarder, but was now home on holiday. Dear Victor! Had I known the future I would never have let him go from home at 10 years. He loved Swanage, the old barn, the rambling garden with plenty of old trees to climb, lovely old house. He loved us and his home. But he soon got used to school and was made head of the Junior School before he joined the big school. A good cricketer.
Martin as a baby
Martin had a lady nurse for the first month. She was excellent. In those days, 30 years ago, babies were carried out for walks, not put in prams, and nurse carried him at one week old to the beach and the C.S.S.M. children's service; his first introduction. It was very hot.
I got well very quickly but I could not feed baby, so he had Allenbury's Food. This was excellent, and he grew strong and quickly; a lovely boy, very dark. Winnie was very interested. She was not 8 years.
Sorry to leave Swanage
We stayed on one year more at Swanage, and then Dad had the opportunity to change to Tunbridge Wells with Mr Eardley. I hated moving, and leaving so pretty a vicarage and garden for a much smaller house and town garden - no apples or much fruit. At Swanage we had a huge walnut tree, under which we often had tea, mulberry tree, apples in abundance, heaps of vegetables, a good gardener, quince tree, all the old-fashioned trees, medlar tree, tennis court. There Dad had three curates, three churches and a district some miles off. Also he was patron of one living. I was happy there and disliked the idea of making new friends all over again. But it was Dad's work and he must choose. So in 1908, Martin one year old, we went to Tunbridge Wells.
Farewell to Swanage September 27th 1908. They gave us a small gift of money and a silver teapot. I was given a silver card case from the working party always held in the Vicarage.
People could not understand why we were leaving; we had only been there three years. I was very sorry. There was plenty of work to be done and in the summer it was a lovely place for the children. But there it was, we left and went to Tunbridge Wells in October. That term we placed Winnie, now 9 years old, with Mrs Pitcairn, a woman full of character, at Monkton Combe, while we settled down and I found a good nurse to go with us to take care of Martin. Dear Winnie, why did I not let her be useful and help with baby Martin. I found in later years she was very fond of children and good with them.
St John's, Tunbridge Wells
Tunbridge Wells vicarage was much smaller than Swanage but we had a very nice drawing room very sunny with three windows looking out on garden. We made a large nursery for the babies upstairs and there were 5 bedrooms and 2 attics. I had three maids, nurse, housemaid, cook, all very good; and a good thing, too; for when we first went we had nearly 400 callers, mostly our congregations, nearly all well-to-do people, and all these had to be returned at least once. We had a curate.
Hard work in the parish
Dad was always ready to visit any of the sick people among the poorer section of the parish. This is all he had time for, what with sermons every Sunday and other parochial work. He worked very hard all the 17 years, and many times he nearly broke down; his nerves would get very bad. He never seemed able to cope with the children as they grew older. I don't think he understood them really; but he never failed to pray for them and he would have been happy if they all would have wished to follow in his steps - but only Martin followed.
The children at school
In October 1908, our first year, Victor was a St Lawrence's College, Ramsgate; Stanley went to a little boys' school (Miss Griffiths - two old ladies) and Winnie came at Christmas and went in January to Miss Goldies - Hamilton House. Gradually Howard got old enough for Miss Griffiths. They wore little striped blue and white blazers and caps. Martin too went for a little while and them to Skinners till he was old enough for Tonbridge, where he did very well and at 18 he went to Cambridge.
The turning point in his life seemed to be when we had a Crusaders' week and I put up for the week Commander Panter. He seemed to change after that and became serious about spiritual things; just the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart. All things work together for good. I do not know what prompted me to put up a speaker. I was very busy and Dad thought it would be too much.
Laurence Dyer was a great friend of Martin's. They would spend Christmas together and act together and dance; but after that Crusaders' Mission he gave it up. I think Martin had the best chance of all the children. We did not interfere much with him and had we been the same with Stanley, Win and Howard it might have been better. We were over-conscious, forgetting sometimes "to cast all our care upon Him" "who is able to do for us so much better than we can do. O God, please overrule my many mistakes and bring all my dear children into the fold." "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep."
An earnest appeal to my children
Dear children, if you read these few pages after I have passed on to the better world, think seriously and pray to God from your heart and give yourselves to Him if you have not already done so. This has been my prayer through life. God gave me five lovely children, all strong and perfect in limb; one He took away and I believe Victor is in his loving care. All of you must meet me again in the far better land. We know not what it is, but we do know there is a loving Father who gave us life and therefore he loves us and he wants us to love Him. Trust, my dears, and follow in the footsteps of your Saviour Jesus Christ. It is true, perfectly true. Some of our greatest men are true believers and followers of Jesus Christ their Saviour and ours.
And so life went on. Soon Stanley joined Victor at St Lawrence Junior School. Howard went to Rose Hill - Mr H.H.H. Hockey - very good too. Winnie stayed at Hamilton House till 15 years. Then she went to St Mary's Hall for 2 years and then to Hamilton House domestic side and learned dress-making, cooking and so on. This brought us to the year of the Great War, 1914. And now began a very difficult time.
The First World War
The war time from 1914 was terrible. Victor thinking he must join up. Winnie 17 and susceptible, and all the present surrounding crowds of soldiers and officers coming to the town, and we parents not at all ready for all the pitfalls coming to our young ones. Stanley still at school at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, which soon had to move because of bad air raids - children killed in the streets. When the school moved we put Stanley at Tonbridge and later he had a tutor to coach for army; but 1918 saw the end of war; he did not go on. Howard and Martin were little boys.
1915 We kept on hearing of boys killed whom we knew. Geoff Ward was one. Victor left school and went to Sandhurst. Only a short period was allowed then. I don't think he really liked it, and I am sure he never wanted to fight. He was only 18. He joined Royal Irish (a great mistake, so General Hay said) and he was very, very homesick in Ireland. He lost his nerve and came out of it and home and for a time rest on account of ill health. Then he found a nice job in a private school. Here he was greatly loved. I wish he had stayed, but he thought he ought to be in army, so joined motor cyclists in Dover. How my heart ached. Win and I went and spent a few days in Dover to see him in 1916, and when I left him I was more sad than ever in my life. I never saw him again. Is there not some instinct in a mother that foretells sorrow?
The death of Victor
In May 1916 an air raid was over Dover, and returning after to the Castle my dear Victor came in contact with a motor lorry and he was thrown. His friends took him to hospital, unconscious and bleeding from ears and nose. Shall I ever forget? Poor Dad! The shock was awful to him. He had to go at once to Dover, having received a telegram in early morning of May 21st. I was in bed with an illness. (Victor's life written by his father in separate book) Miscarriage; I was 46. Poor Dad. He arrived only to hear that Victor was dead. He had to identify him at the hospital mortuary.
He came home after making arrangements, and he came at once to me in bed. Oh that meeting! We could not speak. My head was very bad. Something seemed to snap. For a long time Dad could not speak to people he met. Victor was his eldest and more a companion to him. When I had the others to look after, they would go holidays together too.
The funeral was at Tunbridge Wells. He was laid in our church all night. I had to forget my illness. I got up, no doctor could stop me. My poor children looked so miserable to see me sad, so God gave me strength to forget myself and help them. Jess came over. She was always with me in trouble; a good sort, say what people may. I always found her sympathetic, as you shall see later on year 1935.
A crowded vicarage
During the War, after 1917, my mother and May had to come and live with us for a time. It was rather difficult as our house in Tunbridge Wells was not large. Afterwards when Dad got ill and nervy, they had to take rooms in Queen's Road.
An anxious time
In that time Howard returned from New Zealand. He was 21 and out of work for some months. Stanley was preparing to go out to India for the Mercantile Bank, and just as he was going, I had to take Dad away to Brighton; his head was so bad. The worries at that time were very heavy. Winnie trained for secretarial work at Mrs Hosters; it cost us £90 and railway fares and then London work. Altogether things were too much for Dad, with his parish to care for too. I was at my wits' end, and but for prayer and the knowledge that God overrules all, I would have gone under.
Victor was killed in 1916.
I was just before that expecting a baby. I was 45. But instead, a miscarriage, and then Victor's death. Never can it be forgotten.
Worries with Winnie
Winnie had many admirers 1917 and 1918. It was very difficult for her and for us. She wanted to do war work. Did not like nursing, so first she did house work at a small V.A.D. hospital in our parish (Tunbridge Wells). Then went farming, then Food Office, for which she received pay. Afterwards she trained as secretary at Mrs Hosters, London, going up every day. Stanley was also going every day to office of Mercantile Bank for two years. He after that went out to Calcutta. Then Winnie lived in London at G.F.S. Hostel. This I now believe was a mistake. Her associates were not the best. My heart was always aching. I could not feel she was safe. I did not trust or pray with enough faith. God forgive me. Then she fell in with a man we did not like at all. I sent her for a holiday to Switzerland. It took much of my small savings. I did it to try and make her forget this man, who was in no way desirable - never straight.
Stanley, Howard and Winnie go abroad. Winnie's marriage.
In 1923 Stan first left home for the East. What a pang! It was our first parting since Victor's death. He was 23. He was now in the Mercantile Bank of India. Winnie needed brothers to help her, but they went abroad, and not till much later could they be any use. I did not see Stanley for 6 years. Next we parted with Howard, letting him go to New Zealand at the early age of 17. This I think was another mistake; for 10 years I was anxious for him. He was not fit at that time to be on his own. I thought at the time farming would do him good, but no; he did not get robust. In three years he returned home, then Hong Kong - New Zealand - Home - New Zealand with Winnie - lost money - Win went on to Singapore to Stanley and married - this is where the brothers proved useful.
Martin went to Tonbridge till he was 18. He did well, being head of day house. He was always steady and reliable, a good swimmer; he won many cups (all lost in Warsaw except rose bowl which is here); he had a good school record. From there he went to Queens', Cambridge and took his degree at 21. I went one week with Winnie to see him. My only visit to Cambridge.
Martin cost £1,000. We were greatly helped by Miss Fitch. Mrs Fremlin and Mrs Parton helped us with money when Howard had to come home. We had very kind friends and true ones. Our income was good, but our expenses were heavy - education, servants; Win cost £90 at Mrs Hosters Training College, also railway travelling. Stan had three terms at Cambridge before going to the Bank of India, and then there was travelling to London every day and dinners. We were very glad of help now and then.
William cannot go on
Before we left Tunbridge Wells we had many serious troubles, and after 17 years of hard work Willie could not go on. It made him terribly sad when his children did not do as well as he wished, and he felt he must leave Tunbridge Wells and get fresh surroundings.
So we went to Tiverton in the year 1925, after a really generous send-off by our people at St John's. The presentation was grand. The Byng Hall full of our friends. They gave us two large armchairs and 250 guineas. My heart was nearly breaking. Seventeen years, and to leave all our dear friends: Miss Holmes, Miss Fowell (two of my nicest) and the dear people of my Mothers' Meeting. At last it was over. we went home. I prepared for the great move, and in October 1925 we went to Devon, almost alone, Dad and I. Martin had gone to Cambridge, Winnie in London, Stanley in Malaya, Howard in Hong Kong. It was all overwhelming and sad.
St George's, Tiverton
Willie was very depressed at first when we got to Tiverton. It was all so different, the natives hard to understand. But he struggled on and at last made good headway and succeeded in keeping St George's a live church. At the age of 56 I had whooping cough rather badly, and never went to church for six weeks. As far as I remember, no one seemed to know I was ill, and I did feel very ill. Mother came to live with us in 1927, and she died there.
Stanley, Winnie and Howard are married
We had our days of joy. Martin returned for the vacations. Stanley came home and was married [to Lydie] from our Vicarage. Howard returned to us, but he and Win went again to New Zealand, and my heart nearly broke again. Then after a while Winnie went to Singapore to Stanley. She was there when Peter [Stanley and Lydie's first child] was born, and soon was herself married [to Tom Macdowell, a banker]. This to me was a cause for a little bit of joy and thankfulness. With a good man to help her and look after her, I felt she was safe.
Howard came home again later and was without work for twelve months. I got him to help me a little in the home, but it was a difficult time. At last we felt we must take the only opportunity that seemed to offer, and we put him with Mr Anderson to learn brewing. This he liked, and at last after two years' training he was in a good job, and in 1936 was second brewer. He married in May 1937.
Retirement in Weston super Mare
Willie retired after nine years in Tiverton. He was not strong enough to go on, and we felt it best to retire on a pension of £200. With some difficulty we had managed to save in all the 40 years of our married life.
Words from the heart
My dear children, a little saved each year mounts up, and your dear father foresaw that unless we could do this, and without insurance to help, I should be left in poverty; and so we helped each other, and yet educated our five children to the best of our ability. God knows how many mistakes we made, but He overrules our mistakes and brings us safely through. Our daily prayers were for our dear ones, that all should be saved and that we might meet again in the next existence.
For about three years we were in Weston super Mare and were happy in our own house. but my dear one would work, and it was bad for his heart. At last he gave up, was in bed for six weeks and then got better, but never did any more work.
[Martin was married to Emily Wynne in Warsaw, 17 April 1936.]
My dear William's death
We moved to 12 Clarence Grove Road on April 5th 1937, and he died suddenly there on Sunday morning July 11th 1937. Tired he was, and often in discomfort, but never in great pain. A lovely passing for him, but what a shock for those left.
What we thrustMy dear Martin came all the way from Warsaw. I had also Winnie and Tom and Howard. Poor Stanley felt very much being so far away in Singapore.
Dad tried to save a little so that I should not be left penniless if he died. It was not easy to save. But we did do it, and now that he has gone I am able to live without being a burden to my children. He left me a house to live in and a sufficient income, unless war comes and increases expenses. Then I should still have a house and must take in pay guests or something. I am not afraid. God has never yet forsaken us. "Sufficient unto the day". I passed through the year 1938 without debt and was able also to give and have my children to visit me.
1938 was a busy and memorable one. Martin returned from Warsaw with wife and baby David in April and stayed here 6 weeks. He going from time to time preaching. He was not well: he had boils. Then in August I went one month to Criccieth.
And so I lived alone, till Mrs Booth took my rooms upstairs. She was there for two years.
The Second World War Years
Another Chapter Mrs Booth after two years left me and went to Burnham again, just as war came in 1939. So now the flat had to be put in order, costing £20, as it was rather dirty after two years of Mrs Booth.
My sister Flossie took the rooms upstairs and came in October 1939. Before this I had five little boy evacuees, all about seven years old; all clean and nice, also Miss Archer came with them so it was not quite so difficult. It is good to be busy and I loved it. After five days I only had one left and Archer.
The work proved a little too much and I began to be ill with heart strain. We could not blame the children; it was the result of three years' shock and hard work. Now I rest very much October onwards, and now it is June 1940. Flossie proved very kind. I stayed with her upstairs till I got better, and in November I went for four weeks to Annadale, and left Floss and Rosa to themselves. It was better so, though I felt leaving my own house. Still I could not work, so I let my part of the house for eight weeks. After that I was strong enough to return and have my own again. I engaged a small maid, 14 1/2, to wait on me; she is still with me in June.
Winnie and Tom (Macdowell) come when they can from London, always kind and thoughtful and generous. I love to have them. The war is too big a thing to speak of - past understanding. And now I look forward to July when Win and Tom will D.V. come again. Howard and Gwen came for two weeks in June - their holiday. They must enjoy it to the full.
Warsaw (Here the MS ends)
Evelyn lived in 12 Clarence Grove Road, Weston-super-mare, until her death on 17 January 1964. Howard and his second wife Margaret came to live not far away, and Hilary was born after the war. Stanley and his wife Lydie, with Peter, Joan and Anne,who had escaped from Singapore and spent the war years in Australia, came to visit immediately after the war, and Martin and David came over from Ireland to visit at the same time. Evelyn visited Martin and his family in Ireland soon afterwards. Evelyn's grandsons Peter, David and Robert, all went to school in Monkton Combe near Bath, and enjoyed visiting her in Weston at Half Term holiday - there were no opportunities to get away from boarding school at other times in those days. Evelyn was a well known member of Emmanuel Church in Weston.