Striking shadows on the solemn morning of the Queen’s Funeral …
Crossposted from my Man Of TIN Two (progression) blog:
Striking shadows on the solemn morning of the Queen’s Funeral …
Crossposted from my Man Of TIN Two (progression) blog:
Late arrivals on parade! See more of my eclectic Guards collection here in part 2 of my Platinum Jubbly Parade:
Crossposted by Mark Man Of TIN Platinum Jubilee weekend, 2-3 June 2022
Panorama shot of my Platinum Jubilee Parade for Queen Elizabeth II
A chaotic mix of old lead and plastic Guards, Marching bands and cavalry,
See more at:
Blog posted by Mark Man Of TIN 2 June 2022.
The mystery of some tiny Khaki infantry solved … and next week’s Tankette Tuesday contender.
Skybirds, Crescent Infantry 20-25mm and Tiny Trojans, heading back to the birth of the plastic OO or HO wargames figures of the 1960s.
Read more at:
Crossposted from my Man of TIN Blog Two, Tankette Tuesday 22 02 2022
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 …
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.
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 …
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
Some more interesting Peter Laing figures to be IDentified and added to my online catalogue of my collection.
This is all part of the countdown to the 50th anniversary next year 2022 of the first Peter Laing figures produced in October 1972 and the birth of a new scale, arguably first 15mm figures?
Blog post by Mark Man of TIN 9 November 2021 –
also to be crossposted to the MeWe Peter Laing figure collectors community forum page.
I was pleased to find a tiny surprise parcel from the Duchy of Tradgardland last week.
Alan the Tradgardmastre had sent me some spare surplus home cast 40mm figures that he had picked up along the way. I quickly filed the bases flat, cleaned up the mould lines and got them based on MDF tuppenny 2p from Warbases, ready for painting.
I recognised these figures, as I have a small collection of them acquired at random in an online job lot about five to ten years ago. I was probably being lazy at the time, acquiring some secondhand precast home castings (especially painted ones) instead of casting them myself.
Somewhere I’m sure I still have a silicon mould for the standing and kneeling firing infantryman amongst my randomly acquired moulds collection.
They are old Zinn Brigade moulds 40mm figures still available or reissued from Schildcrot https://www.zinnfigur.com/en/Casting/Moulds/Schildkroet-oxid/2-Infantrymen-firing.html
One of Alan’s suggestions was that these figures could be useful for “creative uniform design and tailoring …I thought you might enjoy coming up with some toy soldier uniforms for these fellows.”
This creative colour choice is already part chosen for me as the painted figures I have are in dark blue Prussian uniforms, so I have an Army Dark Blue skirmish unit of infantry, cavalry and gunners already.
They could stand in for several dark blue coated nations who adopted the Prussian style spiked helmet from US Marines in late 19th century dress uniforms through to Portuguese 1890s, several South American and colonial units.
Norway, Portugal, Chile, Brazil, colourful Argentina … lots of late 19th century spiked helmets which my Army Blue could be used as, if you want a change from Prussian 1870.
Wikipedia has some interesting photos and snippets of useful history https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickelhaube#
“From the second half of the 19th century onwards, the armies of a number of nations besides Russia (including Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and Venezuela) adopted the Pickelhaube or something very similar. The popularity of this headdress in Latin America arose from a period during the early 20th century when military missions from Imperial Germany were widely employed to train and organize national armies.”
One easy colour scheme solutions for the new unpainted figures would be the late 19th Century red coated British Infantry with spiked helmet.
However looking through my uniform books, I have found several other historical nations with spiked helmets or ones that could also double as ImagiNations uniforms.
Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour gives a few ideas.
I am rather taken with the light blue uniform with yellow facings of the Baden dragoons 1870 FPW, although this could be mistaken for the French uniforms. Army Light Blue ?
Mixed in with my old painted joblot of Zinn figures were some semi-flat French figures, some of which almost from a distance on the table match the Zinn Brigade / Schildcrot figures.
Amongst the castings was a cheery note from the Tradgardmastre himself, apologising for the lack of horses for the rider figures. Fortunately these horse moulds are available from Zinnfigur.com, although I read on many blogs that postage costs from Europe to the UK post-Brexit is causing issues for some people and firms.
I also already have some Holger Erickson unsaddled horse moulds in 40mm from Prince August, which may prove suitable.
Thankfully I have some pre-painted dark blue cavalry, along with small hollow-cast cavalry.
The unpainted rider castings from Tradgardland are these Zinnfigur / Schildcrot officer ones
These cheap hollow-cast cavalry from bits and bobs box seem a good match or opposition, once repaired. These come originally in red paint … hmmm. Thinks.
I also have amongst my random figures selection some suitable officer figures, standard bearers, fife players and artillery crews from the Schildcrot range with a few Meisterzinn origin 18th Century limbers, horses and guns.
A strange combination of periods but that is the joy of the Job Lot ImagiNation!
Some colourful old 40mm guns and limbers from Meisterzinn.
With the addition of the new unpainted figures from Alan, this should be good for a small balanced force of a gun or two, a few cavalry and some infantry for skirmishes.
So lots of ideas but still undecided what colour the new figures from Tradgardmastre should be.
Whilst I think about the new army uniform colour, I have been busy repairing and basing the original blue Prussian painted figures from my past joblot.
Army Dark Blue 40mm figures in my collection. Some rifles broken or short-cast to repair. I will post pictures when finished …
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN / ZINN, 18 August 2021
Inspiration for ImagiNations units comes from very odd and whimsical sources such as this slightly Sergeant Pepper ceramic toy soldier by Wade, glimpsed recently on Etsy.
My starting materials would be these vintage Airfix French Napoleonics:
These were a gift of some battered Airfix OOHO French Napoleonic Artillery and other figures from Alan Gruber (The Duchy of Tradgardland blog).
Having no intention of starting proper historical Napoleonic gaming, this gave me leave to experiment with colour and ImagiNations using these familiar vintage figures.
I searched and found some side and back views as well again from Etsy:
Although not exactly the same, the Wade figure having a longer tail coat and no gaiters, it gave me an idea of how to develop these spare random Artillery figures and a future use for any stray French shako troops that I might find whilst sorting.
The first attempt painting involved a multi racial unit but somehow the ones painted with darker skin tones worked better (Revell Aquacolor Acrylic Dark Earth colour).
An attempt at a flag colour. Blue sky, sandy beach?
One of my family said they thought the figures had a Caribbean look to the bright uniforms.
Equally they might suit the Bronte ImagiNations islands Gaaldine and Gondal set in the South or North Pacific.
Borrowed a couple of Esci French Napoleonic Artillery pieces that I painted in the 1980s
I have painted a few Airfix Waterloo Napoleonic French Infantry (including some chewed up or melted ones) from the same gift to join with firelock troops from the Napoleonic Artillery set.
A colourful ImagiNations unit to play with.
Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN June 2021
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1911 Census – as above, in 17 Church Row / Road, Hampstead – Jessie is working for the Wells family.
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.
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
H G Wells (1866-1946) in his lengthy Experiment in Autobiography (1934) mentions Little Wars (1913) only once:
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.
“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.”
“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.
 ”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 …
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.
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).”
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
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