Herbert George Wells 1921 Census

In summer 1921 H.G. Wells was living at Little Easton, Little Canfield, Essex

He had a very interesting international household of visitors (ones to explore this weekend) and some new servants, not the familiar names found in the 1911 Census.

WW1 and the Spanish flu pandemic had happened over the last ten years.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/03/07/the-dread-broom-and-the-swish-of-skirts-jessie-allen-brooks-part-of-the-h-g-wells-household-floor-games-and-little-wars/

A little disappointed that my Find My Past subscription only seems to give me a small discount on transcripts and separate charges for the census scan page.

Read more about H G Wells, Little Wars and Floor Games –

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/h-g-wells-little-wars-floor-games-toy-theatres-and-magic-cities/

Blog posted by Man of TIN blog, 1921 Census release day, 6 January 2022

What will 2022 bring?

Anyone else made any foolish unachievable resolutions for this year’s gaming?

Battling Bronte Sisters (Bad Squiddo 28mm Little Wolves Amazons) meet 25mm Prince August Homecast cavemen boggarts. As close as I will get to Silver Bayonet?

*

It’s that time of the year when New Year’s Resolutions are optimistically made … but maybe not in this house.

My New Gaming Year’s Irresolutions for 2021 were kept deliberately vague …

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/new-gaming-year-irresolutions-2021/

but even then my vaguest plans for New Gaming Year NGY 2021 often went awry, mostly due to COVID.

The local village Spring Flower and Craft show 2021 never happened so no #FEMBruary figures from Bad Squiddo painted as planned but I did paint some later in the year – The Battling Bronte sisters.

Thanks to Covid levels, I never made it to the Woking 2021 54mm Little Wars Revisited Games Day when it finally happened. Covid dependent of course, but hopefully I might make it in 2022 with my Boy Scouts and snowball fighters who need more gaming time https://littlewarsrevisited.boards.net/thread/847/woking-games-saturday-march-correct.

My local history research project talk on WW2 in my local area (as a fundraiser) was postponed by COVID from autumn 2021 to late May 2022.

I think the NGY Irresolutions 2020 will still stand after a year or two interrupted but who knows what might happen in 2022?

New Gaming Year’s Irresolutions 2022

In no particular order

1. Cataloguing Peter Laing 15mm figures as part of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the now out-of-production Peter Laing figures, possibly the first 15mm figures when they launched in October 1972.

https://collectingpeterlaing15mmfigures.wordpress.com

As well as cataloguing what I have over the next ten months, fellow members of the Peter Laing collectors circle on MeWe have been helping me identify figures and supplying photos of figures I don’t have. Then there’s painting and basing more of my unpainted Laing figure stash and getting in some more 15mm skirmish games?

Peter Laing 15mm Chasseurs d’Alpins (WW1 Range) complete with walking sticks!

2. England or Cornwall invaded – Variations on Operation Sealion / Leon Marino

Still playing around with skirmish ideas as part of my Look Duck and Varnish Blog ongoing Operation Sealion Home Guard games, but also found out more about the WW1 ‘Gorgeous Wrecks’ or Volunteer Training Corps, good for future VTC Wide Games and Victorian / Edwardian / WW1 era ‘what if’ games.

Arma-Dads Army! 1590s Home Guard Elizabethan Muster of conversions and ECW figures against the Spanish Fury, Chintoys Conquistadors and pound store Pirates …

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/arma-dads-army-elizabethan-home-guard-1580s-1590s-operacion-leon-marino/

3. More Close Little Wars forest skirmishes and Close Little Space Wars Games in 54mm … I didn’t get a backyard garden galaxy game in this year.

My lovely Bold Frontiers cardboard trees didn’t get enough of an outing in 2021…

Two Britain’s Ltd. broken Scots charging – a favourite pose – with part repaired rifles, two more figures from the Waifs and Strays group of figures 2021 – “Waifs and Strays” sounds like it should be a Victorian Regimental nickname.

4. I look forward to some more enjoyable tinkering with 54mm repairs of broken lead figures to add to various units. Over the years I have been stashing away battered and broken figures from various donations – cowboys, Indians, redcoats, Scots and Khaki figures – along with the odd intriguing figure bought online.

Arrived last year and put away for Christmas – some very heavy, solid lead and fairly paint distressed Terraton 54mm-ish German semiflats to repair and rebase. Indians, redcoats, trees and farm animals …

5. What else might happen?

Weather permitting maybe will even get some more home casting done outdoors?

Pound Store Plastic figures, Early War Miniatures 1940 Range (for Svenmarck invaded!) and vintage Airfix OOHO figures to restore or rebase for some skirmish games.

More time for Bronte ImagiNations?

My Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Snowball Games need attention!

My skateboarders could do with painting!

Not going to run out of fun things to do …

What are your New Gaming Year plans?

I hope that your gaming plans for 2022 go agreeably awry as well.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, NYE 31 December 2021 / 1st January 2022

“Girls of the better sort, and by a few rare and gifted women …”

These words struck me whilst rereading Little Wars as being a lesser noticed quote than the oft quoted title and subtitle:

Little Wars (A Game for Boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books) by H.G. Wells.

How had I not noticed these words?

“LITTLE WARS” is the game of kings—for players in an inferior social position. It can be played by boys of every age from twelve to one hundred and fifty—and even later if the limbs remain sufficiently supple — by girls of the better sort, and by a few rare and gifted women.”

“And in all ages a certain barbaric warfare has been waged with soldiers of tin and lead and wood, with the weapons of the wild, with the catapult, the elastic circular garter, the peashooter, the rubber ball, and such-like appliances—a mere setting up and knocking down of men. Tin murder. The advance of civilisation has swept such rude contests altogether from the playroom. We know them no more….”

Chapter 1 of Little Wars by H.G. Wells

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3691/3691-h/3691-h.ht

There in a few jovial lines by Wells you have glimpses of the inequalities of the Late Victorian, Edwardian or pre-WW1 Class system, unenfranchised labour and gender of those of ‘an inferior social position’ to Kings, Empire and ‘Civilisation’.

Peter Dennis’ superb colourful artwork for this Paper Boys Little Wars volumes but where are the better sort of girls?

I have yet to find any historical evidence of who these “rare and gifted women” who played Little Wars may have been, if in fact they really existed.

Maybe they were Wells’ hopeful prediction for the future, that there would be female gamers one day in the future?

Wells was intelligent and interested enough in the lives of women (no snickering at the back!) to have understood maybe a little more than most men of the time the frustrations and restrictions of Victorian and Edwardian women’s lives and aspirations, ones that would be briefly brought to light by women’s work in the First World War.

Cropped close up on the Girl Scouts attending the Crystal Place rally 4 September 1909 – a much reproduced photo

But which ‘sort’ of girl? I am reminded of the ‘girls of the better sort‘ of early pioneering Edwardian Girl Scouts that spontaneously and enthusiastically set up their own scout patrols in response to Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys publications, before they were reorganised into the slightly more passive and socially acceptable Girl Guides. but that’s another story …

John Ramage Sinclair’s spirited line illustrations in Floor Games of the dread destructive sweeping up of play.

I have researched or uncovered a little of the hidden biography or family history behind Wells’ servants in my blog post: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/03/07/the-dread-broom-and-the-swish-of-skirts-jessie-allen-brooks-part-of-the-h-g-wells-household-floor-games-and-little-wars/

The lives of his wives and female friends are much better known: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/the-invisible-men-and-women-behind-h-g-wells-little-wars-and-floor-games/

That was the turn of this year’s blog posts back in December January and FEMbruary.

Why go back to this? I was taken back afresh to the Little Wars text source by a recent link to one of my blog posts on my New Machiavelli H.G. Wells post.

The link to my blogpost was from an interesting article by Cynthia Chung on the Rising Tide Foundation website, exploring Wells, science, sci-fi apocalypse fictions and game theory:

https://risingtidefoundation.net/2021/10/30/the-sleep-of-reason-produces-monsters/

Women and Class in H.G. Wells’ The New Machiavelli 1911 – more swish of skirts!

I find Wells’ playful tones sometimes difficult to pin down. Here you have Wells writing as a boy character and father at a play room view level:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/h-g-wells-the-new-machiavelli-1911-toy-soldiers-floor-games-and-little-wars/

Important to remember that this is not autobiography, this is not H.G. Wells speaking as himself, it is the words of the fictional main narrator Dick recalling childhood.

Note: I have put notable or interesting servant, class and gender words in bold:

“I find this empire of the floor much more vivid and detailed in my memory now than many of the owners of the skirts and legs and boots that went gingerly across its territories.

Occasionally, alas! they stooped to scrub, abolishing in one universal destruction the slow growth of whole days of civilised development. I still remember the hatred and disgust of these catastrophes.

Like Noah I was given warnings. Did I disregard them, coarse red hands would descend, plucking garrisons from fortresses and sailors from ships, jumbling them up in their wrong boxes, clumsily so that their rifles and swords were broken, sweeping the splendid curves of the Imperial Road into heaps of ruins, casting the jungle growth of Zululand into the fire.

Well, Master Dick,” the voice of this cosmic calamity would say, “you ought to have put them away last night. No! I can’t wait until you’ve sailed them all away in ships. I got my work to do, and do it I will.”

And in no time all my continents and lands were swirling water and swiping strokes of house-flannel.

That was the worst of my giant visitants, but my mother too, dear lady, was something of a terror to this microcosm. She wore spring-sided boots, a kind of boot now vanished, I believe, from the world, with dull bodies and shiny toes, and a silk dress with flounces that were very destructive to the more hazardous viaducts of the Imperial Road.

She was always, I seem to remember, fetching me; fetching me for a meal, fetching me for a walk or, detestable absurdity! fetching me for a wash and brush up, and she never seemed to understand anything whatever of the political Systems across which she came to me.

Also she forbade all toys on Sundays except the bricks for church-building and the soldiers for church parade, or a Scriptural use of the remains of the Noah’s Ark mixed up with a wooden Swiss dairy farm …

My mother did not understand my games, but my father did …”

Quoted from H.G. Wells, The New Machiavelli, 1911

Again this is Wells’ main narrator character Dick speaking, not Wells directly himself.

Men can be destructive too! Illustration in Floor Games.

Apocalyptic destruction happens not just in sci-fi War of the Worlds but also in the playroom.

Little Wars and Floor Games have a more autobiographical feel, mixed with Wells’ multiple personas as the eternal boy, Good Uncle, understanding parent (or father), comic writer and social satirist. There is an echo of giants and tiny men from Gulliver’s Travels. There is the social scientist or science teacher Wells with his “Microcosm”.

Both books are such a rich and interesting read.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 30/31 October 2021

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

Interesting to compare Wellsian Floor Games with those of his acquaintance and contemporary author Edith Nesbit or E. Nesbit who I was posting about last Janaury:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/30/i-never-thought-of-building-magic-cities-till-the-indian-soldiers-came/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/22/and-girls-did-play-too-e-nesbits-version-of-h-g-wells-floor-games-wings-and-the-child-1911/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/24/the-poor-childs-city-e-nesbit-on-teachers-schools-and-making-magic-cities-in-wings-and-the-child-1913/

The dread broom and the swish of skirts: Jessie Allen Brooks, part of the H.G. Wells’ household, Floor Games and Little Wars

My FEMBruary last post to mark International Women’s Day March 8th and Women’s History Month in the UK and USA.

One of the background presences in Little Wars and Floor Games is the swish of skirts of women of the Wells’ household.

Part I – Boys and Girls, Floor Games and Little Wars

Women crop up somewhat comically in Floor Games and Little Wars as interrupters, destroyers or dismissive of these mostly boy’s games. The rare “more intelligent sort of girl who likes boy’s games and books” of the title, preface or dedication seems to have left little trace from the time.

Little Wars, Part I: “can be played by boys of every age from twelve to one hundred and fifty—and even later if the limbs remain sufficiently supple—by girls of the better sort, and by a few rare and gifted women.”

Little Wars, Part II : “Primitive attempts to realise the dream were interrupted by a great rustle and chattering of lady visitors. They regarded the objects upon the floor with the empty disdain of their sex for all imaginative things.”

Little Wars, Part II: “First there was the development of the Country. The soldiers did not stand well on an ordinary carpet, the Encyclopedia made clumsy cliff-like “cover”, and more particularly the room in which the game had its beginnings was subject to the invasion of callers, alien souls, trampling skirt-swishers, chatterers, creatures unfavourably impressed by the spectacle of two middle-aged men playing with “toy soldiers” on the floor, and very heated and excited about it.”

On a practical basis, any child or adult of us with no set-aside games room or table who has tried Garden or Floor Games knows the frustration of destructive feet, mealtimes or animals.

Wells recommends ideally playing “in no highway to other rooms” and maintains for some of the book an even and equal approach to male and female involvement.

Floor Games, Part I: “The jolliest indoor games for boys and girls demand a floor, and the home that has no floor upon which games may be played falls so far short of happiness.

“It must be a floor covered with linoleum or cork carpet, so that toy soldiers and such-like will stand up upon it, and of a color and surface that will take and show chalk marks; the common green-colored cork carpet without a pattern is the best of all. It must be no highway to other rooms, and well lit and airy. Occasionally, alas! it must be scrubbed—and then a truce to Floor Games.”

“Upon such a floor may be made an infinitude of imaginative games, not only keeping boys and girls happy for days together, but building up a framework of spacious and inspiring ideas in them for after life. The men of tomorrow will gain new strength from nursery floors. I am going to tell of some of these games and what is most needed to play them; I have tried them all and a score of others like them with my sons, and all of the games here illustrated have been set out by us. I am going to tell of them here because I think what we have done will interest other fathers and mothers, …

Lots of boys and girls seem to be quite without planks and boards at all, and there is no regular trade in them. ”

What of the women of tomorrow? I wonder what Wells’ acquaintance E. Nesbit, mother of sons, writer and creator of Wings and the Child or the Building of Magic Cities (1913) and children’s books would have made of all this “boyhood” stuff? https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/30/i-never-thought-of-building-magic-cities-till-the-indian-soldiers-came/

Floor Games, IV: “I will now glance rather more shortly at some other very good uses of the floor, the boards, the bricks, the soldiers, and the railway system—that pentagram for exorcising the evil spirit of dulness from the lives of little boys and girls.”

Little Wars seems a little less inclusive in its language:

Little Wars: “Every boy who has ever put together model villages knows how to do these things, and the attentive reader will find them edifyingly represented in our photographic illustrations.”

As Alan Gruber in his Duchy of Tradgardland blog proves, girls can happily create model villages as well as any boy! http://tradgardland.blogspot.com/2017/07/breakfast-biscuits-little-wars-house.html

Part 2 – The Women of the Wells’ Household

Centre of the household was Wells’ second wife ‘Jane’ (Amy Catherine) Wells, (1872-1927), the same age as Jessie Allen Brooks. She typed Wells’ work, ran the household and as A.C.W, the War Correspondent, took (some of?) the photographs for the original magazine articles and the book. She also would have been the one who typed up and proofread Wells’ manuscripts for Little Wars and Floor Games.

Windsor Magazine, Dec 1912 part II Battle of Hook’s Farm – the magazine photographs by ‘Jane’ or Amy Catherine Wells, his second wife are rougher than the summer 1913 book published ones.

.

The retouched photo of Fig. 4 of Hook’s Farm – every leaf and branch is the same, so these are not reshot specially for the book.

As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, listed in the Wells household in the 1911 Census for Hampstead there was also

Mathilde Meyer the Swiss Governess, 28

and two domestic servants –

Jessie Allen Brooks, 38, Cook – Domestic, b. Richmond, Surrey

Mary Ellen Shinnick, 27, Housemaid – Domest, b. Coppingerstown, Cork, Ireland

These are the ladies behind the dreaded broom shown or illustrated in Floor Games:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/the-invisible-men-and-women-behind-h-g-wells-little-wars-and-floor-games/

John Ramage Sinclair’s spirited line illustrations of the dread destructive sweeping up of play

https://archive.org/details/floorgames00well

Part 3 – More Boys, Less Girls?

Interesting how girls do still get occasional references in Floor Games at least and mostly omitted from Little Wars. Alongside the Battle of Hook’s Farm, the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ was hotting up in Edwardian Britain with the rise of Women’s Suffrage.

Within the towns in Floor Games, III: “You can make picture-galleries—great fun for small boys who can draw; you can make factories; you can plan out flower-gardens—which appeals very strongly to intelligent little girls.”

Mostly in Floor Games, Wells remembers to be inclusive of boys and girls, fathers and mothers. This is less so in Little Wars, I: “This priceless gift to boyhood appeared somewhen towards the end of the last century, a gun capable of hitting a toy soldier nine times out of ten at a distance of nine yards.”

Interesting to think that at this same time, enterprising girls in this Edwardian period were joining or rivalling their brothers by setting up their own Baden Powell Girl Scout groups in response to Scouting for Boys (1907/08), quickly officially channeled into BP Girl Guides. The Suffragette movement in Britain was moving into its most active and aggressive phase as well.

Boy Scouts were quickly produced by Britain’s in 1909 and many other hollow-cast manufacturers but did not produce Girl Scouts. USA Girl Guides were first produced by Britain’s in 1926 and British ones not until 1934! The Boy Scouts crop up from time to time in J.R. Sinclair’s charming line illustrations.

I have written in another post about Mathilde Meyer, the Swiss Governess who took over the care of the Wells’ two children Frank (b.1903) and Gip (b.1901) from Jessie Allen Brooks who had been partly their nurse.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/21/little-wars-some-more-from-the-memoir-of-mathilde-meyer-governess-to-h-g-wells-children/

Mathilde Meyer in her memoir H.G. Wells and his Family (1955):

“But Mrs. Wells , who had been looking on highly amused! Intervened at that moment, saying that there was no time now for battles, that it was the night when the floor had to be scrubbed, and soldiers and bricks to be put back into their boxes, before bedtime.

Both boys protested wildly: “Oh, Mummy, Mummy!” They shouted, “not to-night, please, not to-night!” But Mummy was firm.

This was the worst about Floor games. The linoleum, on which they were set out, alas, had to be washed periodically. An armistice had to be declared. The battlefield had to disappear completely; the boards had to be out against the wall, and twigs that looked already looked a little wilted, burnt with the paper flags.

I wished my new pupils good-night, wondering what kind of inspiration I had made on them. It was not until weeks later that Jessie told me what their verdict had been. “Stupid – but quite nice.”

The fate of many Floor Games – blundering adults, all in this case male. No skirt swishers here!

So who were these washers and scrubbers of linoleum?

I find Jessie Allen Brooks an intriguing figure, as her age and working class background is similar to H.G. Wells but her life was so different. Wells’ mother Sarah remained in domestic service on and off before and after marriage, depending on the family income including time in service at Uppark, living in accompanied by Wells as an ailing child

The Epsom and Ewell History Society have a good potted history of Wells’ family life https://eehe.org.uk/?p=24117

I will deal with Mary Ellen Shinnick the family’s Irish domestic servant in 1911 in another post.

Jessie was Nurse to the Wells’ boys before Mathilde arrived in 1908. She continued to play an important role as Cook and Nurse in their lives during the time that Mathilde was their Governess until 1913, almost until the two boys departed for Oundle School in Autumn 1914.

In the final year or two, male tutors Mr. Classey and the Pomeranian / German Kurt or Karl Butow played more and more of a role in shaping the boys’ education in preparation for an all boy’s boarding school like Oundle. Mathilde Meyer kept in touch by letter with the boys over the years, well into the 1950s.

Jessie Allen Brooks is a large but largely hidden behind the scene presence in the lives of the two Wells boys and the Wells household. But for Meyer’s memoir and the 1911 Census, she would be another Invisible Woman in the Floor Games and Little Wars world of H.G. Wells.

Jessie was Nurse to the two boys in the absence of their mother, she is their Cook for nursery teas, with or without their mother, and she is the mistress of the dread bed and bath time as an end to the day’s imaginative games.

No doubt she would also, with the other Wells’ servant Mary Ellen Shinnick, have been a scrubber and washer of chalk outlines of “the country” on floors, burner of paper flags and wilting twig tress, sweepers up and accidental destroyer of toys and games left out beyond their time.

Jessie Allen Brooks – destroyer of worlds! – to misquote Robert Oppenheimer.

I have no photograph yet of Jessie Allen Brooks but we do have an affectionate pen portrait (looking back in her memoir H.G. Wells and his Family from 1955) of Jessie from Mathilde Meyer on her arrival at Spade House in 1908. Mrs Wells says they will all “have tea with the boys, and Jessie the nurse …”

“Jessie, the nurse, was introduced to me next. She was, as I found out later, a very efficient nurse, and devoted to her charges. Middle-aged, tall and gaunt, she seemed almost severe in looks, and naturally I wondered how I would get on with her.”

Compare this to her description of the first servant she meets at the door, quite anonymous, so probably not Jessie’s younger sister Mabel who worked with Jessie at Sandgate for the Wells’ household (1901 Census): “A maid in a white cap and apron appeared at the door … Presently the maid came back to tell me Mrs. Wells was busy in the garden …”

Mathilde’s bag is carried to her cleaned room, hot water is already there for washing – all the busy work of keeping a middle class Edwardian household goes on mostly unseen.

Mathilde Meyer notes in her memoir that: “I looked no doubt somewhat scared when [Mrs. Wells] told me that, because she tried to assure me by saying that Jessie would still be in the house, although no longer in her capacity as a nurse, but as a cook, and that I could therefore always rely on her to help me if either of the boys were ill and wanted extra attention and care. I felt reassured. “

A Governess, especially a foreign one, held a slightly odd, more elevated social position above stairs compared to a domestic servant like Jessie Brooks.

After a battle of the Floor Game or Little Wars by Wells and his two boys, Mathilde Meyer notes after the game and repair of broken figures that:

“Then suddenly the schoolroom door opened, and there stood Jessie, gaunt and serious. “Bath time for you, Frank,” she announced curtly and Frank, without a murmur, followed her out of the room…”

There is a transition period when Jessie fills the new younger arrival Mathilde in with quirky details on how the Sandgate seaside Wells household runs and the character of the Wells family and boys including the “prickly” H.G. Wells, the unconventional dining outside where possible, not always dressing for dinner and Wells’ bohemian habits of walking around the garden in bare feet.

Later that night, Jessie on her way to bed, came to my room to enquire …”

Further glimpses of Jessie occur throughout Mathilde Meyer’s memoir, but as the transition of roles continues, we read less and less of Jessie’s work.

It is not absolutely clear if Jessie transferred in Spring 1912 with Mathilde and the Wells household to Easton Glebe (Rectory) in Dunmow in Essex when they moved from Hampstead (London) to the country. A “lively dark haired Irish parlourid” is noted there, who could be Mary Ellen Shinnick.

Jessie Allen Brookes – Early life and family

1881 Census

The 9 year old Jessie Allen Brooks is at school. The family are living in 2 Elm Cottages, Princes Road, Richmond, Surrey.

Son of a labourer, Jessie’s father William Allen Brooks (b. Chelsfield, Kent 1842-1931) was working as a gardener, like H.G. Wells’ father Joseph.

In 1871 he was a gardener working in Plaistow, Bromley. (Born in 1866 in Bromley in Kent, H.G. Wells would have been about 5 at this time).

Her mother Mary Ann Sills (b. Maidstone, Kent 1845-1923) was from Maidstone, Kent. She married William Allen Brooks in 1867. Her father John was a quarryman (1851 Census).

Jessie’s family was made up of her mother, father and 3 brothers and 2 sisters:

William Stephen Sills Brooks, (b. Plaistow, Kent 1868 – d. 1931, Guildford, Surrey) – according to the 1911 Census, he became a Gardener like his father in Woking Surrey

Jessie Allen Brooks, (b. Richmond, Surrey 1872 – 1938, Surrey)

George John Brooks, (b. 1875 – 1955) who became a drapery manager, married and had a family.

Rose Elizabeth Brooks (b. Richmond, Surrey 1877, – 1955)

Mabel Offord Brooks, (b. 1880 – 1970)

Born after the 1881 Census:

Ada Mary Brooks (b. 1882 – 1888) Princes Road, Richmond

Albert (‘Bert’) Richard Brooks, (b. 1886, Gunnersbury, Middlesex, d. 1929 Cobham, Surrey) who became a Grocer in Cobham, married and had a family.

1891 Census

In 1891 the 18 year old Jessie Allen Brooks was working alongside her sister Rose Elizabeth Brooks (1877-1945) in 5 Shaa Road, Acton (London, now W3) for Susan Boddy, head of a family of Wells children born all over the Empire.

Her sister Rose E Brooks is on the next page of the 1891 Census

Presumably the Wells / Boddy family were a military, trade or civil service family, Susan has remarried a Mr. Boddy, who is absent from home on the 1891 Census day. Adelaide or Adalaide M Wells and siblings – one to follow up in another post.

5 Shaa Road, Acton, London as it is today on Streetview, the Boddy /Wells family house, an impressive Victorian semi-detached house to keep clean for the Brooks girls!

I can’t work out if this Shaa Road Boddy / Wells family connection is coincidence or how and whether these Wells might be related to H.G. Wells. He came from a big family of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles.

Domestic servants and their siblings were often referred (on good character or reference) from one previous family employer to another branch of the employer’s family or friends. It is not uncommon to find sisters working together in domestic service.

1901 Census:

Going back to the 1901 census, 28 year old Jessie Allen Brooks (b. 1872-1938) is working as a Cook- Domestic for the Wells family at Spade House, Sandgate, Kent, along with her sister Mabel Offord Brooks (1880-1970), then aged 21 – Housemaid Domestic.

Ancestry UK family history source: Spade House Sandgate where Jessie and Mabel Brooks worked for the Wells family (1901 Census)

1911 Census – as above, in 17 Church Row / Road, Hampstead – Jessie is working for the Wells family.

https://www.london-walking-tours.co.uk/17-church-row-hampstead-hgwells.htm

An interesting house with interesting residents http://www.shadyoldlady.com/location.php?loc=540

So there is a mini history of the Wells household, the houses where Little Games and Floor Wars were created and played, and where Jessie Allen Brooks and her sisters worked hard behind the scenes.

What happened next to Jessie and her family?

After working with Jessie in 1901 for the Wells family at Spade House, Sandgate in Kent, sister Mabel Offord Brooks may have travelled 2nd Class as a domestic to New York in 1909 from Liverpool aboard the White Star liner Baltic. By 1911 she was back in Woking in domestic service for the family of bank clerk Bernard Blagden family.

Jessie’s mother Mary Ann died in 1923. Younger brother Albert died in 1929, aged 42. Her father William Allen Brooks died in 1931 aged 89, when she was 58; the same year her older brother William also died, aged 62.

In 1927, Wells’ second wife ‘Jane’ (Amy Catherine) Wells died at Easton Glebe, Dunmow, Essex.

Some women of property were given the vote in 1918, the rest in 1928. We start to pick up traces in the Electoral Register in the 1930s.

In 1934 Jessie Allen Brooks is living with her sister Rose in a shared house with the Collins family Woodfield, Goldsworth, Woking (Electoral Register). By 1937, Rose, Jessie and Mabel Brooks are living together again.

In 1938, Jessie Allen Brooks died, aged around 65.

In 1939, Mabel and Rose Brooks are living together now in 25 Kingsway, Woking (near Horsell Moor of War of the Worlds fame). Aged 59, Mabel is still working in paid domestic service!

Sister Rose Brooks died in 1945, aged 68. Her and Jessie’s former employer H.G. Wells died in 1946. Mabel is still living there through the 1950s into the mid Sixties.

Mabel Offord Brooks died in Northwest Surrey in 1970, the longest surviving of the Brooks siblings.

Until the 1921 census appears in 2022, it will be difficult to say how long the ageing Jessie Allen Brooks stayed in service with the family. Sadly there is no surviving 1931 or 1941 Census.

Jessie’s brother Albert, a grocer in Cobham, Surrey died in 1929. Jessie, now 56 and her unmarried sisters Rose and Mabel attended, along with her father and Brother William.

She died aged c.65 in 1938, appears never to have married and lived in her later years with her spinster sisters, who also had careers in domestic service.

Jessie Allen Brooks – a woman from a very similar background to Wells himself but whose life was very different. Importantly she kept the Wells family clean and well fed throughout many years!

I shall finish with Peter Dennis’ lovely 2019 image of Wells for his Little Wars book (Paperboys / Helion) featuring a skirt swisher in the background:

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, March 2021

The real Hook’s Farm on old maps

Following up my blog post about H.G. Wells’ childhood battles in his head in the late 1860s and early 1870s across the wild spaces of Bromley, recaptured in his Little Wars floor games and garden games of the Battle of Hook’s Farm,

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/27/the-battles-of-hooks-farm-and-st-martins-hill-h-g-wells-experiment-in-autobiography-and-little-wars/

“The land was still mainly used for farming, divided up principally between Hook Farm to the west of Bromley Common, situated in the location of what is today the car park of Norman Park, and Turpington Farm to the east, close to the junction of Crown Lane and Turpington Lane.

Hook Farm was owned by the Norman family of The Rookery, and Turpington Farm belonged to the Wells family of Southborough Lodge (both of these residences are now destroyed).”

https://thehistoryofchattertonvillage.wordpress.com/bromley-common-in-the-early-1800s/

I have looked through more maps of the real Hook’s Farm in Bromley. Firely Church still eludes me.

Close up shows the Hook’s Farm terrain, ridges and higher ground more clearly – 1857.

This 1857 map is from the Longbourne Collection, Bromley Borough Local History Society

https://www.bblhs.org.uk/longbourne-2#&gid=1270181636&pid=1

There are other mapping programmes or websites that allow you get an idea of the lie of the land as H.G. Wells saw it as an imaginative child General H.G.W. and as you can see it now.

Although the Bromley Local History site maps are placed online, it is worth pointing out that I do not own the copyright of any of these maps – I am sharing screen shots for research purposes, not commercial gain.

Hook’s Farm is where the Norman Park car park can now be found – mid centre of the map.

Norman Park the site of Hook’s Farm has a Google Street View panorama

and scanning around such Street View images I spot a distant spire – Firely Church? I can’t pinpoint it on a modern map or know if it was there in late Victorian times but here is a church, visible just the same roughly from where Hook’s Farm was located.

Screen shot of a Google Street View panorama showing a spire – Firely Church?

Norman Park also has a Wikipedia entry

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Park,_Bromley

and a photograph by Mike Quinn of a modern wooden bridge over the Ravensbourne stream, surely a contested military objective?

see also https://www.geograph.org.uk/stuff/list.php?title=The+River+Ravensbourne+in+Norman+Park+&gridref=TQ4167

I have yet to find a photograph of the old Hook’s Farm. Here is what it really looks like inside H.G. Well’s head and house in Little Wars 1913 wooden block form, Firely Church to the left, Hook’s Farm on the right ridge. The Ravensbourne stream is not marked.

Hooks Farm is now ‘Norman Park‘ and the demolished Farm is now a parking area. The restaging of Hooks Farm or a Little Wars centenary game in 2013 that was fought on the lawns of Sandhurst might have been a very different affair on a commandeered Bromley car park.

You can see in the wider Google satellite map how the Martin’s Hill site of many imaginary battles is still part of a green slice or wedge off to the South of Bromley through to the Norman Park Hook’s Farm site and on to Bromley Common and off the map, Keston Fish Ponds or Pool, mentioned in Wells’ battle narrative.

Nice to know from the Google maps overlay of businesses that not only the old Hook’s Farm site is now a place of leisure and hopefully imaginative play and Wide Games but that on the corner of Hook’s Farm Road is a nursery, hopefully full of imaginative play with wooden blocks and small world figures.

One excellent site is the National Library of Scotland website https://maps.nls.uk/which allows you to look at the same place or grid reference on a range of maps over time – it works for your home, where you grew up and for looking up places like Hook’s Farm.

Thanks to Bromley Common and the other Bromley parks there is still a leafy edge that the young H.G. Wells might recognise, despite 150 years of building and suburban infill. The Ravensbourne Stream can be clearly seen.

https://maps.nls.uk/view/102343480#zoom=6&lat=8025&lon=1801&layers=BT

The Battle of Hook’s Farm – where geography meets ImagiNations?

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 28 February 2021

The Battles of Hook’s Farm and St Martins Hill – H. G. Wells’ Experiment in Autobiography and Little Wars

H G Wells (1866-1946) in his lengthy Experiment in Autobiography (1934) mentions Little Wars (1913) only once:

https://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/wellshg-autobiography/wellshg-autobiography-00-h-dir/wellshg-autobiography-00-h.html#Page_76

Here we get a glimpse of Little Wars and the Battle of Hooks Farm in his boyhood imagination forty years earlier, The Battles of Martin’s Hills, Bromley, Kent.

Page 74: “I had reveries—I indulged a great deal in reverie until I was fifteen or sixteen, because my active imagination was not sufficiently employed—and I liked especially to dream that I was a great military dictator like Cromwell, a great republican like George Washington or like Napoleon in his earlier phases.

I used to fight battles whenever I went for a walk alone. I used to walk about Bromley, a small rather undernourished boy, meanly clad and whistling detestably between his teeth, and no one suspected that a phantom staff pranced about me and phantom orderlies galloped at my commands, to shift the guns and concentrate fire on those houses below, to launch the final attack upon yonder distant ridge.

The citizens of Bromley town go out to take the air on Martin’s Hill and look towards Shortland across the fields where once meandered the now dried-up and vanished Ravensbourne, with never a suspicion of the orgies of bloodshed I once conducted there.

https://bromleytownparks.wordpress.com

“Martin’s Hill indeed is one of the great battlegrounds of history. Scores of times the enemy skirmishers have come across those levels, followed by the successive waves of the infantry attack, while I, outnumbered five to one, manœuvred my guns round, the guns I had refrained so grimly from using too soon in spite of the threat to my centre, to enfilade them suddenly from the curving slopes towards Beckenham.”

St Martins Hill in Bromley – image source: Bromleytownparks.wordpress.com – Who walking there today could imagine the epic battles that once were waged there in HGW’s young head?

“Crash,” came the first shell, and then crash and crash. They were mown [p. 75] down by the thousand. They straggled up the steep slopes wavering. And then came the shattering counter attack, and I and my cavalry swept the broken masses away towards Croydon, pressed them ruthlessly through a night of slaughter on to the pitiful surrender of the remnant at dawn by Keston Fish Ponds.

And I entered conquered, or rescued, towns riding at the head of my troops, with my cousins and my schoolfellows recognizing me with surprise from the windows. And kings and presidents, and the great of the earth, came to salute my saving wisdom. I was simple even in victory. I made wise and firm decisions, about morals and customs and particularly about those Civil Service Stores which had done so much to bankrupt my [shopkeeper] father. With inveterate enemies, monarchists, Roman Catholics, non-Aryans and the like I was grimly just. Stern work—but my duty….

In fact Adolf Hitler is nothing more than one of my thirteen year old reveries come real. A whole generation of Germans has failed to grow up.

My head teemed with such stuff in those days. But it is interesting to remark that while my mind was full of international conflicts, alliances, battleships and guns, I was blankly ignorant about money or any of the machinery of economic life. I never dreamed of making dams, opening ship canals, irrigating deserts or flying. I had no inkling of the problem of ways and means; I knew nothing and, therefore, I cared nothing of how houses were built, commodities got and the like.

I think that was because nothing existed to catch and turn my imagination in that direction. There was no literature to enhance all that. I think there is no natural bias towards bloodshed in imaginative youngsters, but the only vivid and inspiring things that history fed me with were campaigns and conquests. In Soviet Russia they tell me they have altered all that.

[76] ”For many years my adult life was haunted by the fading memories of those early war fantasies. Up to 1914, I found a lively interest in playing a war game, with toy soldiers and guns, that recalled the peculiar quality and pleasure of those early reveries.”

“It was quite an amusing model warfare and I have given its primary rules in a small book “for boys and girls of all ages” Little Wars.”

“I have met men in responsible positions, L. S. Amery for example, Winston Churchill, George Trevelyan, C. F. G. Masterman, whose imaginations were manifestly built upon a similar framework and who remained puerile in their political outlook because of its persistence.”

“I like to think I grew up out of that stage somewhen between 1916 and 1920 and began to think about war as a responsible adult should.”

H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography, 1934

A gathering of Generals and Staff Officers (Little Wars illustration by J.R. Sinclair)

It is easy to gain a sense of Wells the adult writer trying to recapture the world of Wells the imaginative child (in his hindsight autobiography) yet you can see elements in his recreation of childhood fantasies in his War of the Worlds and other such late Victorian and Edwardian Invasion Literature.

I am also sensing some thing a little bit similar to the Brontes’ warlike ImagiNations juvenile fiction in their Little Books – explored in my blog page / posts here https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/gaming-the-bronte-family-imaginations-of-glasstown-angria-gondal-and-gaaldine/

To be honest who amongst us, like H. G. Wells, has not as a child in their Wide Games over parks, woods and gardens had such imaginary battles as knights, cowboys, backwoodsman and troops, especially to relieve the monotony of repeated walks? It is what Baden Powell / Gilcraft in Scouting Wide Games (1933) called the Cloak of Romance. Puck of Pook’s Hill, Treasure Island …

STS Little Britons & BP’s Cloak of Romance reading list for imaginative Scouting Wide Games

I used, like Wells, on my several mile walks to school as a tweenager / teenager, especially if late, be marching uphill as head of a flying column or parade to get the pace up (music in your head, no Walkmans allowed in school then) before knocking on others doors to collect them and keep going. I had seen Star Wars but had not then seen the film Billy Liar. Thankfully I did not too often have to do the trumpet fanfare running March (of the Italian Bersaglieri) to avoid being late for school.

As a result I find it interesting to see the evolution of the boyhood imaginary heroic man “General H.G.W.” of the young child and early teenage days on St Martins Hill back into the equally imaginative adult “General H.G.W.” of Little Wars in 1913.

In his 1934 Experiment in Autobiography, his teenage ImagiNations now have to compete with the disillusion of WW1, his Shape of Things To Come (1933, later filmed) and the then topical modern world of the 1930s, of Hitler and Soviet Russia, the disillusion of their future crimes still then unknown.

Maybe our own modern War Games and Role Playing Games are a way to recapture these Wellsian “early reveries” and “fading memories of these early War fantasies” of our own ImagiNations, yard games and garden war games.

Not having sisters or daughters, I presume that, akin to or alongside my schoolboy heroic fantasies, that girls had their own versions.

The charm of Wells’ Little Wars were brought to an end by WW1. The Falklands and the Gulf Wars brought some more such gritty reality to our view of things for my generation.

https://archive.org/details/littlewarsgamefo00well/page/62/mode/2up.

Wells wrote more about his often quarrelsome relationship with Frank and his brothers

Later on I grew up to my brothers, so to speak, and had great talks with them. With Frank, the eldest, indeed, I developed a considerable companionship in my teens and we had some great holiday walks together. But at the time of which I am writing all that had still to come.

Our home was not one of those where general ideas are discussed at table. My mother’s ready orthodox formulæ were very effective in suppressing any such talk. So my mind developed almost as if I were an only child.

My childish relations with my brothers varied between vindictive resentment and clamorous aggression. I made a terrific fuss if my toys or games were touched and I displayed great vigour in acquiring their more attractive possessions.

I bit and scratched my brothers and I kicked their shins, because I was a sturdy little boy who had to defend himself; but they had to go very easily with me because I was a delicate little fellow who might easily be injured and was certain to yell. On one occasion, I quite forget now what the occasion was, I threw a fork across the dinner table at Frank, and I can still remember very vividly the missile sticking in his forehead where it left three little scars for a year or so and did no other harm; and I have an equally clear memory of a smashed window behind the head of my brother Freddy, the inrush of cold air and dismay, after I had flung a wooden horse at him.

Finally they hit upon an effectual method of at once silencing me and punishing me. They would capture me in our attic and suffocate me with pillows. I couldn’t cry out and I had to give in. I can still feel the stress of that suffocation. Why they did not suffocate me for good and all I do not know. They had no way of checking what was going on under the pillow until they took it off and looked.

A little later Wells mentions another of these Billy Liar-type fantasy moments to relieve boredom when a young teenage apprentice in a draper’s shop:

Part 4 First Start in Life—Windsor (Summer 1880)

…. The one bright moment during the day was when the Guards fifes and drums went past the shop and up to the Castle. These fifes and drums swirled me away campaigning again.

Dispatch riders came headlong from dreamland, brooking no denial from the shop-walker. “Is General Bert Wells here? The Prussians have landed!”

He refers back to his Hitleresque (based in the word Chaplinesque) fantasies once gain later (Part 5 p. 533?)

Sadly Martin’s Hill now has its own war memorial, proving the point of Wells’ last chapter in Little Wars about the perils of the Great Wars that occurred merely one year later and a quarter of a century later https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1116976

For a glimpse of Old Bromley in Wells’ childhood you can buy repro maps of 1861 from https://www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/kent0716.htm in case you wish to recreate the Battles of St. Martin’s Hill for yourself as a Little Wars gaming scenario (a change from Hook’s Farm?)

Is Hook’s Farm a real place?

Intriguingly maps of Wells’ imaginative battle areas in 1860s 1870s Bromley feature an area called Hook and Hooks Farm Road (road name still there) . Just as wells wrote about people he knew under different names, maybe he recycled and wrote about real places under other names too?

“The land was still mainly used for farming, divided up principally between Hook Farm to the west of Bromley Common, situated in the location of what is today the car park of Norman Park, and Turpington Farm to the east, close to the junction of Crown Lane and Turpington Lane.

Hook Farm was owned by the Norman family of The Rookery, and Turpington Farm belonged to the Wells family of Southborough Lodge (both of these residences are now destroyed).”

https://thehistoryofchattertonvillage.wordpress.com/bromley-common-in-the-early-1800s/

The Wells family of Southborough Lodge – any relation I wonder to H.G. Wells? He came from a large family, as did his his father Joseph Wells.

Firely (Church) does not seem to exist but there is the exotically named Farwig!

Free historic maps can be found at the Bromley Local History Society https://www.bblhs.org.uk/maps

https://www.bblhs.org.uk/bromley-common#&gid=1189361799&pid=6

One to explore on the old maps for future gaming scenarios and wide games maps.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, February / March 2021

Two more players of Little Wars, November 9th 1912

Three more early players of the Floor Games at Easton Glebe, November 9th, 1912 identified by Mathilde Meyer, Swiss Governess to H.G. Wells’ two sons Frank and Gip:

“On our return home we found Mr Reginald Turner, Mr Byng and Mr Wells playing the ‘Floor Game’ in the schoolroom.”

[Image Source: Wikipedia. A table crying out for toy soldiers and a spring loaded gun?]

Reginald Turner

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reginald_Turner

Reginald “Reggie” Turner (1869 – 1938) was a friend of H.G. Wells, also an English author, aesthete and a member of the circle of Oscar Wilde.

He worked as a journalist, wrote twelve novels, and his correspondence has been published. However Reggie is best known as one of the few friends who remained loyal to Oscar Wilde when he was imprisoned, and who supported him after his release.

Interestingly R Thurston Hopkins, another accidental witness to Little Wars wrote literary studies about both Wells and Wilde. Wells also knew Robert Ross, another of Wilde’s circle.

Along with the Byng brothers, Reginald Turner is not amongst the more well known literary figures like Wells as signatories of the Authors Declaration supporting the war https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/05/three-more-players-of-h-g-wells-floor-game-little-wars-1913/

Mr Byng

Two possible candidates – both brothers, both friends of Wells mentioned by Mathilde Meyer in H. G. Wells and his Family

Hugh Edward Cranmer-Byng

Hugh Byng (centre) next to Gip Wells on the left

Or maybe the player that day was his brother Launcelot A. Cranmer Byng.

Both brothers were writers or playwrights, fellow Dunmow or Essex residents, so in Wells’ Easton Glebe neighbourhood and ‘scions of the “Torrington Baronetcy”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viscount_Torrington

as well as part of Daisy Countess of Warwick’s circle at Easton.

Hugh Byng (1873-1949)

Hugh Edward Cranmer Cranmer-Byng was born on 12 December 1873. He was the son of Lt.-Col. Alfred Molyneux Cranmer-Byng and Caroline Mary Tufnell. He married Kathleen West, daughter of George Edward West of Dunmow on 24 October 1916. He gained the rank of Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery in WW1. He died on 20 September 1949 at age 75. Source: http://www.thepeerage.com/p59516.html

A selection of Hugh Byng’s books

A Pageant for Saffron Walden written by Hugh, Lyrics by brother Launcelot, 1910

A Romance of the Fair and other writings, Hugh and Launcelot Cranmer Byng 1897?

Yang Chu’s Garden of Plaesure (extensive introduction? to Alfred Forke’s translation, co-edited by Launcelot Cranmer Byng 1912)

https://archive.org/details/yangchusgardenof00yang/

Essex Speech and Humour (Benson, reprinted newspaper pieces, not dated)

Dialect and Songs of Essex (Benson, not dated )

He also wrote a number of comic plays, often in the Essex dialect. Along with Herbert Goldstein (musician/ composer) and his lyricist brother Launcelot, they were part of the Edwardian Vaughan Williams / Cecil Sharp generation of the English Folk Song Society collectors; Hugh and Herbert (according to The Sketch Sept 14, 1910) collected and so “rescued from threatened oblivion a delightful collection, not yet published, of old Essex folk songs.”

The Essex tales or topographical books again put him into the same 1910s 1920s genre as R. Thurston Hopkins who was writing about Sussex and elsewhere.

Whilst Wells was busy with his writing and government propaganda work during WW1, 41 to 42 year old Hugh Byng joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Anti Aircraft unit in London in May 1915, then in July 1916 the Royal Garrison Artillery. He appears to have served on ‘home service only’.

If Hugh is the Mr Byng noted as a player of Little Wars, then his experience of artillery changes from Spring loaded cannons of Little Wars 1913 to the full size artillery of the Great War, including against Zeppelins or the “aerial menace” that Wells wrote about.

Hugh Byng’s service record, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve RNVR Anti Aircraft section London

The Gazette – 1916 Hugh Byng’s transfer and promotion to the RGA

Hugh survived the war and went in to serve in the ARP in WW2, according to the 1939 Register.

The West family were the relatives or parents of his wife, Kathleen West. Appropriately for the daughter of a comic playwright and amateur actor, Hugh Byng’s daughter Roselean is registered in the 1939 Register as an actress.

Essex Chronicle September 23rd 1949

Hugh Byng was also Lord of the Manor of Glencarn in Cumberland (now Cumbria / The Lake District). In August 1912 Mr and Mrs Wells motored up there by car with Hugh Byng and R.D. Blumenfeld (editor of the Daily Express). Hugh Byng had a motor accident on the way home.

De Vere Stacpoole’s obituary from the Penrith Observer 17 April 1951

Launcelot Cranmer Byng (1872-1945)

See above for parent information. Like Hugh, Launcelot was interested in China – sinology – and wrote or edited a number of books of translations of Chinese writing as editor of the Wisdom from the East series.

ed.: The Book of Odes (Shi-King) (London: John Murray

ed.: A Feast of Lanterns (London: John Murray, 1916)

ed.: A Lute of Jade: Selections from the Classical Poets of China

List of books available online: http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Cranmer-Byng%2C%20L.%20(Launcelot)%2C%201872-1945

Many of these books can be read online at Archive.org

https://archive.org/search.php?query=Launcelot%20Cranmer%20Byng

Launcelot the lyricist was also a friend of the composer Granville Bantock and may even have been a Welsh bard? r For an artistic chap who edited Oriental verse and wrote poems in the 1890s including Poems of Paganism 1895 published under the pseudonym ‘Paganus’, Captain Launcelot A. Cranmer Byng also had quite a long military connection in the Territorial Force and Officer’s General Reserve.

By 1902 he was a Lieutenant in the 3rd (Cambridgeshire) Volunteer Battalion, the Suffolk Regiment and rose to Captain. It is not clear if he served with them in the South African War.

His first wife died in 1913, he remarried one Daisy Elaine Beach twenty years his junior in 1916 during his service in WW1. They had one son.

He became Captain, Adjutant and Quarter Master (London Gazette, 1917). When discharged at the end of the war in 1919, he retained the rank of Captain. His officer records at the National Archives are sadly not available online (not yet digitised) but his Cambridge Alumni listing gives an idea of what he did on the General List in WW1:

Capetian, General List (Territorial Force Reserve) Commandant Prisoner of War Camp, WW1

By 1939 he listed his past military experience on the 1939 Register

Another Byng Barontecy That Wells knew?

Mathilde Meyer, the Wells family Swiss Governess, was helped to find a new position at Capheaton Hall by Evelyn Lady Byng, of ice hockey trophy fame (1870-1949). She was wife of Julian, Lord Byng, General Byng or Viscount Byng of Vimy Ridge (1862-1935), WW1 General and from 1921 Governor General of Canada. In 1910 they lived at Newton Hall, Dunmow, Essex. General Byng was a cousin to Hugh and Launcelot Byng.

Evelyn Lady Byng and General / Viscount Byng of Vimy Ridge. Source: Wikipedia.

*********

What a distinguished group of gentry and soldiers, artists and aesthetes surrounded the Wells family and its Little Wars ‘Floor Game’, united by clever talk of literature and politics as well as indoor and outdoor games.

Not a bad social circle for the son of a gardener, which is what I will explore in my next post about Jessie Allen Brookes, the Wells’ long-serving Nurse / Cook Domestic throughout the Little Wars period, whose father was also a gardener. I think this is what they now call “social mobility”.

Easton Glebe, November 9th, 1912: Mathilde Meyer’s memoir –

“On our return home we found Mr Reginald Turner, Mr Byng and Mr Wells playing the ‘Floor Game’ in the schoolroom.”

Finally, an interesting article from the Essex Chronicle Friday 25 July 1941 looking back on the Wells family at Easton Glebe in the Little Wars period 27 years earlier, noting how many of this Wells and Warwick Circle had moved on and had begun to pass away.

It is suggested that Wells in Mr. Britling Sees It Through, his satirical or mildly wartime 1916 novel written during WW1, uses several of his Easton circle as thinly disguised characters in his book.

“Where are they now, the old figures in the book, whom Mr. Wells so vehemently denied as being copies of the originals?” asks the columnist “An Essex Man”

RDB is R.D. Blumenfeld, editor of the Daily Express, a neighbour of Wells

Karl Butow was the languages tutor for the growing Wells boys; he replaced Mathilde Meyer in 1913, before the boys went to school. A year or so later he would have returned to Germany on the outbreak of the WW1.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 26 February 2021

Little Wars – some more from the memoir of Mathilde Meyer, Governess to H G Wells’ children

There are tantalising glimpses of the Floor Game that became Little Wars in the memoir of Mathilde Meyer, H. G. Wells and his Family (1955).

She arrived for work at teatime at the Wells’ seaside house, Spade House, Sandgate, Kent on October 22, 1908 when she first meet Frank (b. 1901)and his younger brother Gip (b.1903):

At the far end of the room I saw two little boys squatting among numerous wooden bricks and boards of various sizes, with toy soldiers, and cannons in ambush ready to do battle.

Mrs. Wells asked her two sons to leave their game to come forward and greet me, which they did with the greatest reluctance.

Both Gip and Frank – my new pupils – were dressed alike. They wore navy-blue serge suits with white sailor collars and cuffs, brown shoes and white socks.

Gip, the elder boy, who had brown hair, a small snub nose and intelligent eyes, looked at me critically for a moment, while his brother, a very pretty fair-haired little fellow, showed plainly that he was not interested.

After tea, Gip (the future zoologist) shows his new governess his pet mouse.

“Please come and have a look at my soldiers,” said Frank, taking me by the hand and leading me to the battleground in miniature set out on the linoleum on the floor. Little did I realise then that I was gazing upon one of those early ‘floor games’ which before long became the favourite pastime of distinguished visitors to Spade House and elsewhere.

The battleground had been carefully chalk marked, and divided in two, by a river. On either side of the imaginary river were houses and huts made of wooden bricks, with brown ribbed paper as thatched roofs. There were woods made of twigs from trees and bushes, taken from the garden, and grotesque monuments of plasticine.

“The red-coated soldiers are mine,” explained Gip, who was squatting on his side of the river.

“Yes, and all the other coloured men are mine,” added Frank.

“Is that the town hall, or the post office, Frank?” I asked, pointing to an extra large building bearing a gay paper flag on a pin.

“Oh no,” he replied, “that is the British Museum, but what you can’t see what’s in it unless you come down here where I am.”

I squatted down beside the fair little fellow and looked through an opening in the museum.

“Oh!” I exclaimed amused, “your museum is full of soldiers with cannons and all! How terrifying!”

“Ssh! Ssh! You shouldn’t have said that,” whispered Frank, frowning. “Now Gip knows where most of my soldiers are hidden.”

Alas, yes, I had made a major gaffe. I had given away important military secrets, and the leader of the Red Coats was chuckling quietly to himself on the other side of the chalk lines.

I apologised for my stupid mistake and offered the leader of the Khaki soldiers my help in removing everything from the museum to another place before the next battle.

But Mrs. Wells , who had been looking on highly amused! Intervened at that moment , saying that there was no time now for battles, that it was the nipght when the floor had to be scrubbed, and soldiers and bricks to be put back into their boxes, before bedtime.

Both boys protested wildly:

“Oh, Mummy, Mummy!” They shouted, “not to-night, please, not to-night!” But Mummy was firm.

This was the worst about Floor games. The linoleum, on which they were set out, alas, had to be washed periodically. An armistice had to be declared. The battlefield had to disappear completely; the boards had to be out against the wall, and twigs that looked already looked a little wilted, burnt with the paper flags.

I wished my new pupils good-night, wondering what kind of inspiration I had made on them. It was not until weeks later that Jessie told me what their verdict had been. “Stupid – but quite nice.”

A few pages later, we get another glimpse from Mathilde Meyer of the Floor Game:

My little pupils and I slipped softly upstairs, and were soon ready for tea, which Jessie had prepared for us in the schoolroom.

The boys had brought in from the garden fresh bay twigs and other greenery, and after tea they set out a new battleground on the well scrubbed linoleum. Newly enrolled soldiers with movable arms * were to take part in the forthcoming battle, and new paper flags had to be made. The armistice was called off, and before long the two young generals were firing their toy cannons from opposite sides, and the peaceful life of the schoolroom was once more overshadowed.

Seeing how engrossed my pupils were in waging war, I left the schoolroom for a while. When I returned, the battle was raging fiercer than ever. Guns were now in action in three corners of the battleground, because a third war-lord – a mighty one – had suddenly appeared on them scene. Mr. Wells, relaxing from his work in the study, was lying fully outstretched on the linoleum and aiming a toy cannon with devastating accuracy at his son’s red and khaki clad soldiers. Ah, yes, to be sure, it was a very serious affair, this floor game.

After the battle the wounded were taken to hospital, for, alas, even in toyland, there are always some casualties. Hopelessly damaged soldiers were melted down in an iron spoon on the schoolroom fire, and others had a new head fixed to the body by means of a match and liquid lead.

Then suddenly the schoolroom door opened, and there stood Jessie, gaunt and serious. ‘Bath-time for you, Frank,” she announced curtly, and a Frank without a murmur, followed her out of the room …

Spade House Chapter 1 / Part 1, Mathilde Meyer, H.G. Wells and his Family (1955)

It is good to see that Jessie their former nurse maintained her relationship with the boys, even though Mathilde has arrived formally as governess.

Interesting that Mathilde mentions “soldiers with moveable arms” as prior to William Britain’s Ltd, this was not the norm. This makes them different from the Germanic flat toy soldier. Britain’s soon had competition from other British based firms also producing toy soldiers with moveable arms.

When Floor Games was published in 1911, Mathilde made a mistake in allowing The Daily Graphic to photograph the boys, thinking Wells had agreed and arranged it. Mr Wells was not pleased but allowed the photograph to be published in the Daily Graphic.

If her recollection is correct, this press photo is not the one on the cover of Floor Games. I have so far failed to find a copy of this Daily Graphic December 1911 photograph.

I have identified two more literary players of the Floor Games in November, 1912, both suitable for a future blog post. Finally for today, a link to a past blog post about three friends of the Wells family, well known Edwardians, that Mathilde Meyer mentioned who also played the ‘Floor Game’ at Easton Glebe c. 1912/13:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/05/three-more-players-of-h-g-wells-floor-game-little-wars-1913/

In another blog post I will feature more about Jessie Allen Brooks (b. 1873, Richmond, Surrey) the nurse to the Wells children until 1908 who then reverted to more general household duties (‘cook – domestic’) when Mathilde Mary Meyer arrived:

Mathilde Mary Meyer, Governess, 28, single, born Switzerland Lucerne

Jessie Allen Brooks, 38, single, cook (domestic) born Richmond, Surrey.

They were previously briefly mentioned on my blog post here:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/the-invisible-men-and-women-behind-h-g-wells-little-wars-and-floor-games/

The other household employee, most probably the wielder of the dread mop and scrubbing brush, interruptor of Floor Games and Little Wars, burner of wilted twigs and paper flags, was in Hampstead in 1911 one Mary Ellen Shinnick.

Mary Ellen Shinnick, 27, single, housemaid (domestic) , born in Ireland (Co. Cork, Coppingerstown)

Again another incidental character to research. Jessie Allen Brooks gets mentioned by name in Mathilde’s memoirs, the other domestic (Mary) doesn’t. This suggests that one is more permanent than the other or that Jessie has more of a working ‘handover’ relationship with Mathilde as their former nurse.

For Wells’ health, the Wells household also had before Church Row Hampstead a seaside home at Spade House, Sandgate, Kent. After time at the Hampstead (London) house, the Wells family moved their main residence from Spring 1912 to a new Wells country bolthole on the Countess of Warwick’s estate at Little Easton Rectory which Wells renamed Easton Glebe, Dunmow, Essex. Here Wells’ second wife ‘Jane’ (Amy Catherine) Wells died in 1927.

Part of the Warwick Circle with the Wells family from Mathilde’s memoir

This is the only photograph (below) that I have found of Mathilde Meyer, taken from her memoir H G Wells and his family.

Mathilde Meyer (left?) and the wife (right?) of the other tutor Mr Classey

This lawn may be where the famous photographs of Wells’ outdoors playing Little Wars on the lawn were taken. It is also where the only photo I have found of Mathilde Meyer from her book seems to be taken.

I’m not yet sure if these same household servants travelled with the Wells family from place to place, house to house, as the cook and housemaids were often part of the emotional stability of a young middle class Edwardian child’s life (before boarding school).

A young tutor Mr Classey arrived and after five years as governess teaching the boys French and German, Mathilde Meyer moved to another post in late 1913, around the time that Little Wars was published July or August. A year later both boys went as boarders to Oundle School in Northamptonshire throughout WWI. Gip was about twelve, Frank ten years old.

Mathilde Meyer moved on to tutor another child, the only daughter of Lady Swinburne at Capheaton, Northumberland, the area where she stayed during WW1. This child may possibly have been Joan Mary Browne-Swinburne (1906 -2012).

It is nice to know that Mathilde Meyer kept in touch with the Wells children well in to the 1950s when, with their permission, she wrote her memoir in 1955 in her late sixties / early seventies. H. G. Wells had died in 1946. It is a highly complementary memoir towards the Wells family. Wells offered her the promise of support ‘like a distant brother’ throughout the rest of his life. Frank helpfully wrote the preface to the book.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 February 2021.