Thursday, 31 May 2018

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

Now I went looking for number 13 Rectory Place yesterday which was home to Miss Edith Townley in 1917.

Writing to Edith in 1917
It is there on the old maps of the area, along with the street directories and looks to have been a grand property.

In fact walking up Rectory Place towards St Mary’s Street I reckon I might well have felt quite out of place.

But there is no crime in walking past and looking at a posh house, except that none of them are there now.

Instead there are some blocks of flats which is all a bit of a shame.
Along Rectory Place in 1872
But then Miss Townley also seems to be lost to history.

According to this wartime postcard Fred was expecting to be home on leave and was so confident of Christmas in Woolwich that he told her not to send the parcel.

The problem is simply that I can’t find her anywhere in Woolwich for 1917, and that nu 13 had been the residence of the Rev Charles E Dove as late as 1914 but he was also in the habit of changing his address and can be found at one time or another living in several addresses both in Woolwich and further afield.

Added to which there were a lot of Townley’s living in both London and serving in the armed forces.

"Dear Edith .........."
All of which might seem to make this a bit of a non story but I think not.

There will be someone who can help me with when those blocks of flat went up, replacing the grander properties which included nu 13 and with a bit more patience I might be lucky and identify Fred and in turn come closer to finding Edith.

In the meantime I have to say I have discovered a bit of Woolwich I never knew existed and might get to know more about the postcard which set me off on the search.

It belongs to my old friend David Harrop who recently purchased it as part of a batch he found on eBay.

Miss Edith Townley
I look forward to seeing it and getting to know the picture on the front, which may not help me discover anything more about either of them but will perhaps give me a clue to the type of photograph Fred liked and thought Edith might enjoy.

We shall see.

Location; Woolwich, London

Pictures; postcard, December 1917, from the collection of David Harrop, and detail of Rectory Place, from the OS for London, 1862-72, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

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