Thursday, 22 June 2017

Miss Edith Townley of Woolwich and a story of Rectory Place

Now Miss Edith Townley of 13 Rectory Place Woolwich remains a mystery.

Miss Edith, 1917
And that is after my friend Tricia joined in the hunt.

I first came across Miss Edith on a postcard dated 1917 which had just been acquired by David Harrop who knowing my links with Woolwich passed it onto me and I couldn’t resist attempting to find her.*

Tricia also took up the search.

Her grandmother and great grandmother had lived in Rectory Place and so like me there was a connection as she says  “looking at Vincent’s book of Woolwich it states that Rectory Place and the streets to the north of it were built on the Glebe or Rectory land in the 1820's. 

A G.F.S., charirty stall, 1928
The rectory itself was built in the midst of 3 acres of garden, orchard and pasture which has since been considerably curtailed. The remainder of the glebe was advertised to be let.

The first Woolwich bank of which there is any mention was a private concern known as Noaks & Ward and then later as Budgen Ward & Co, and was held in a house in Rectory Place, later occupied by Mr T H Jones and known as Glebe House.

I have tried to search for your Edith Townley on the Electoral Roll but have had no luck. There was no electoral roll books for 1916 & 1917 and of course woman did not finally get the vote until about 1928 and then only if they were over 21. Some women got the vote in 1918 but only if they were over 30 and a home owner.

A church garden party, date unknown
The address for Edith states GFS Lodge which is a Girls Friendly Society which I am guessing is some sort of safe haven for young girls like Edith. Strangely enough I could not find anything for her on the census either.”

Now I had come across the GFS **in connection with some stories I wrote about a Miss Wright who ran a branch of the organisation here in Chorlton-cum-Hardy and the history of the society is well worth a read.***

And a fresh look at the organisation may well bring us closer to Miss Edith.

But for now I will close with another even more personal link between Tricia and Rectory Place because Tricia sent me a picture of “my great uncle known to us as blind uncle Bill although he was baptized as Henry Bertie Schofield Holmes.

He lived with his parents Henry William & Ellen Holmes ( my gt grandparent)  at 31 Rectory Place from early 1900's - 1950ish.

Mr Holmes, date unknown
He used to sit on a chair in St Mary's Passage reading a braille bible and I think passers by would give him money. He wasn't born blind but became blind when he was a young boy after playing cricket in the sun without wearing a hat and apparently got sun stroke.

Whether that was true or not I don't know. My mum said he was a lovely man that was popular with everyone.”

Location; Woolwich, London

Research by Tricia Leslie, 2016

Pictures; postcard to Miss Edith Townley, 1917 courtesy of David Harrop, GFS and Guides’ Stall from the 1928 St Clements’s Bazaar Hand Book courtesy of Ida Bradshaw,  pictures of a garden party organised by the church, date unknown, and picture of Mr Holmes, date unknown from the collection of Tricia Leslie

*So who was Miss Edith Townley of 13 Rectory Place in Woolwich and how did she spend the Christmas of 1917?

**The Girls Friendly Society,

**The Girls Friendly Society,

*** *Girls Friendly Society,

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