Jeanne Rathbone

Duval suffrage family of Lavender Sweep

Posted in Duval Suffrage Family of Lavender Sweep, Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on April 19, 2019

Elsie and Family at 97 Lavender sweepThis is the Duval family who lived at 97 Lavender Sweep when this was taken. The back garden is the same as ours now that we have knocked down our air-raid shelter.

97 Lavender Sweep

I only recently discovered that the Duval family lived here and it is where Elsie was born. The usual address for the family was given as 37 Park Road which was renamed Elsynge Road. Elsie is sat at the front. I only found out when the suggestions for the next Wandsworth green plaque had her on the short list. Elsie is the more high profile of them with more information on her.  She was born in 1892 and I checked the electoral register in Battersea Heritage library and found Ernest Duval, her father,  was listed but, of course, it did not include his wife Emily who went on to become an active suffragette and Battersea Councillor in 1919.

Ernest and Emily Duval had six children, four girls and two boys. They,   with their children, were keen suffragists. Elsie  joined the Women’s Social & Political Union in 1907, the year after her mother. Unlike her mother, however, she did not leave the organisation to join the Women’s Freedom League when the Pankhursts changed the constitution, but the mother and daughter did work together for three years in the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement which Victor Diederichs Duval (1885–1945), Elsie’s brother, founded. Norah, Barbara and Winifred were the other three daughters who were also suffragettes. Their father Ernest was a member and regular speaker for The Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage. Tragically, of these six children four died young. Elsie, Winifred and Barbara from the devastating influenza pandemic after the WW1, and Ernest had died in 1904 aged 22.

I have been contacted by norah’s grandson Adrian.  He writes, Elsie has the reputation of a martyr which diverts attention from the contributions of other members of the family. The grounds for that reputation are a bit shaky, I think, because there is reason to believe that she was not strong anyway; the “old mitral stenosis” mentioned on her death certificate suggests rheumatic fever in childhood, an ailment which almost certainly led to the early death of her older brother Ernest Edward, in 1904 at the age of 22. Battersea in those times was not a healthy place to raise a family.

The Duval family through marriage were connedted to two other committed women’s suffrage families as Victor married Una Dugdale and Elsie marrried Hugh Franklin.

The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A reference Guide 1866-1928 By Elizabeth Crawford has entries on Emily, Elsie and Hugh and Victor and Una are in  Rise Up Women by Diane Atkinson.

I will give separate accounts of Emily, Elsie and Hugh and Victor and Una.

Emily Duval

Suffragette Emily Hayes Duval, a prisoner at Holloway Prison in London, in prison uniform and sewing mail bags, circa 1908. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Emily Duval 1861-1924 had joined the WSPU in 1906 but left for the Women’s Freedom League and became Chair of the Battersea Branch. I assume that she was, at that stage influenced by Charlotte Despard and loyal to her local suffrage activists who also left the WSPU to join the WFL which had Charlotte as it’s President. By the spring of 1909 Emily had served two prison sentences for her part in WFL protests. In October 1908 Emily and her seventeen year old daughter Barbara were arrested when Muriel Matters chained herself to the grille in the House of Commons. Emily paid her fine and Barbara was released after promising to refrain from further militancy until  she was twenty-one. Mrs Duval was accused in court of being ‘a lady agitator who was bringing up her daughter to be a lady agitator’ In February 1909 she served six weeks in Holloway, almost all in the hospital wing suffering from acute neuritus.

She rejoined the WSPU in 1911 thus ending her four year membership of the WFL because she thought they were not militant enough and wnet on to break windows at the Local Government Board and was sent to bprison for two weeks and Victor was sentenced to five weeks at Pentonville prison at the same time. Four members of the Duval family went on a deputation to Parliament Emily, Elsie, Barbara and Victor.. This was after the tenth ‘Women’s Parliament’ was called to Caxton Hall which was wherethey left from at the start of each Parliament when the WSPU would march to the House of commons and try to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister.

When Emily was sentenced to six months, in Winston Green Prison for breaking two windows in Regent Street, she told the magistrate that she had been ‘brutally knocked about and thrown on her back’.  She referred to the large numbers of young women who were driven into prostitution by poverty , she addressed the court ‘I should like to say that I shattered the glass because I wish the government to come to their senses, and money can replace broken glass, but it cannot replace the innocence of girls who are outraged daily…. I am prepared to die for Votes for Women ‘ Four months into her sentence Emily went on hunger strike and was force-fed over a two week period.

Emily gave an account of being force -fed in a statement she dictated at Birmingham WSPU office. In the hospital wing the doctor had listened to her heart and begged her to take the feeding cup rather than been fed by the nasal tube, but she told him that hse would rather have her head cut off than do such a thing. They covered her with towels and held her head back and the tube was pushed up her nose,’which was most agonising – my nerves seemed to prick all the passages of my nose and some in my throat . I did not know  how to breathe , I did not struggle or flinch, just gripped the wardresses’ hand very tight’  When they finished feeding her and she got her breath back , she told them ‘Mr McKenna deserves shooting.’  The next morning the prison doctor urged her to eat bt Emily refused and was force-fed once again. The tube was forced down her throat which was ‘agonising’, it seemed as though I was being suffocated. I could not breath it was simply horrible’. She was helped back to her cell where her throat bled and she vomited’all over the place’. She was force-fed several more times and released on 25th June before her sentence was complete and went  to  a nursing home to convalesce. (From her statement 30th June 1912 which is in a private collection.)

Emily Duval was elected Battersea Councillor  in 1919 along with Caroline Ganley who became MP in 1945 and Mrs Jessie Hockley who was secretary of the Battersea Railway Women’s League. Emily died in 1924. It was so sad that three of her daughter did not live to vote as they died in the awful influenza epidemic.

 There is not much information on Norah but she too was imprisoned.         “On 1 March 1912, Mrs Duval was arrested again along with her daughter Norah, this time for smashing windows in Regent Street.  Norah, was sentenced to four months imprisonment at the Newington Sessions on 13 March 1912, for window smashing. She told the court, ‘I wish to say that what I did I did entirely on my own responsibility, and not, as the jury would infer, as the dupe of others. I did it because I want the same political tights as my brothers enjoy today. When asked by the judge whether she would be willing to give up breaking the law, Norah Duval replied, ‘No, certainly not. It is the only thing we can do. We cannot get redress in any other way”.

We also know that Norah stayed with the Rutters in Leeds.  Frank Rutter was an art critic and and founder member of the MPU. Their home became a sanctuary for for suffragettes to recuperate from hunger striking. There is an occasion when a baker delivery van drew up outside their home and Norah was disguised as the delivery boy while the driver dressed as a man was Leonora Cohen when Lilian Lenton 1891-1972 walked out of the house as the delivery boy to be driven off. Lilian continued to evade recapture by continuing to dress as a boy or as an old women becoming the Elusive Pimpernel she went on to lead an active life.

Elsie DElsie Duval 1892-1919 was the most active suffragette of Emily’s daughters.  There is more information on Elsie available as she fell in love with and married Hugh Franklin who was very active in the Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement which he had joined on 22 Feb 1910 which had been founded by her brother.

Elsie and Hugh’s archive which is part of the National Archive is kept at the Women’s Library at the LSE .                      

Elsie and dog

Hugh was the fourth of six siblings and had three brothers and two sisters Alice, Hugh, Helen and Ellis, along with their mother, turned from the Liberal Party tradition of the family and took the path set by Caroline’s sister Henrietta who had set up the Jewish League for Women’s Suffrage.

Alice, a staunch socialist, would later become a leader of the Townwomen’s Guild  ; Helen became forewoman at the Royal Arsenal, where she was forced to resign for supporting female workers and attempting to form a trade union, and Ellis became vice-principal of the Working Men’s College. Through Ellis, Hugh was also the uncle of the famous crystallographer Roasalind Franklin.

Hugh Frankin, the son of Arthur Franklin, the senior partner in a banking firm, was born in 1889. His mother, Caroline Franklin, was a member of the National Union of Suffrage Societies  He was educated at  Clifton College and in 1908 went to Caius College to study engineering. After hearing the Pankhursts at the Queen’s Hall he become committed to the cause of  women’s suffrage and joined Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.

The paper written by June Marion Balshaw gives an account of political couples and chapter six is about Elsie and Hugh and their families.

Hugh Franklin

CHAPTER SIX.     More than just ‘a sporting couple’: the militancy of Elsie Duval and Hugh Franklin                                                                                                             

This chapter will consider the political partnership of Elsie Duval and Hugh Franklin who were both involved in the suffrage campaigns of the early twentieth century and yet the level and extent of their commitment has not been acknowledged in subsequent histories and accounts of suffrage.’ I will first examine their individual activities and motivation for becoming involved in the suffrage campaign and the ways in which this both created and reinforced their continuing separate identities. I shall also consider the extremities of their actions, the ways inwhich they were represented and how this subsequently affected both their personal and political activities. By taking this approach, a good insight is provided into the changing nature of the relationship between the WSPU and the MPU as militancy escalated as well as enabling a discussion of suffrage and judaism to be included .Finally, I shall explore the impact of suffrage on Hugh Franklin’s political and personal life after Elsie Duval’s premature death. Hugh Franklin and Elsie Duval were born in 1889 and 1892 respectively, making them among the younger supporters of votes for women. They were both arrested several times between 1910 and 1913 and Hugh Franklin was imprisoned on three occasions whilst Elsie Duval experienced Holloway prison twice.

Their militant activities were extreme and included alleged arson attacks on a house, a railway station and a train.  They met through Victor Duval, Elsie’s brother, and although they did not many until 1915, their romantic involvement had begun several years earlier.3 Nevertheless, throughout the period of suffrage militancy they continued to conduct their militant activities separately, creating very distinct identities and effectively put the personal side of their relationship ‘on hold’  choosing instead to focus on their individual political endeavours. In this sense,their commitment to the cause cannot be questioned but why they chose to function in this way warrants further discussion.There are a number of factors that determined their political activity which also reveal the complexities of being involved in the suffrage movement at this time. Membership of the MPU and the WSPU was segregated by gender and, as ‘will be seen, the evolving nature of the relationship between these two organisations and their policies would not have enabled Hugh Franklin and Elsie Duval to function as a political partnership in the same way as the Pethick-Lawrences. As relative ‘late-corners’ to the cause, not least because of their ages,their introduction to the suffrage campaigns was influenced, and to an extent dictated by, family alliances

Elsie Duval was arrested on the 23 Nov 1911 for obstructing the police. After this event, she was officially accepted by the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) as a militant protest volunteer. Whilst on remand, Elsie had her “state of mind inquired into” writing “They have got it into their heads that I am sixteen years of age. You know I refuse to give my age.”

On 27 Jun 1912, Elsie was arrested for smashing a Clapham Post Office window. Subsequently she was remanded for one week in custody ‘for the state of her mind to be enquired into’, and then sentenced to one month in the third division at Holloway, during which time she was forcibly fed nine times before being released on the 3 Aug 1912. She was arrested again in Apr 1913 for loitering with intent (with Phyllis Brady) and was again sent to prison for a month. She was forcibly fed during both remand and whilst serving her sentence, being seriously ill throughout and often resisting strenuously. Her prison diary for this year refers to ‘pain at the heart’ after one of these incidents.

Elsie letter

She was released under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act, 1913, (commonly known as the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act) which allowed for prisoners to return to prison on recovery. Duval was the first prisoner released from Holloway under the Act and the second to be released (Hugh Franklin was the first) from any prison. During her last imprisonment (according to Hugh Franklin’s biographical notes) a charge was being prepared for burning Lady White’s house at Egham, with ‘Phyllis Brady’, (Olive Beamish) for which the latter received five years’ imprisonment. Duval  also burnt Sanderstead station and other places, before her arrest, together with ‘Phyllis Brady’.

At the time of the attack, no-one was arrested. However, on the 12th April 1913 Phyllis Brady (real name Olive Beamish) and Millicent Dean (Elsie Duval) were approached by a police officer whilst walking in Croydon at 1.45am. They were both carrying leather travelling cases and claimed they were returning from holiday. They were followed by the policeman and decided to drop their cases and run but were caught and arrested for being found with inflammable material with the intention of committing a felony. According to some sources, both women had been responsible for burning Sanderstead station and other unnamed targets. They were also suspected of the burning of Trevethan house, and a case was being built against them.

However, they were not charged for this offence but instead were remanded in custody and then sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment in Holloway jail. Both went on hunger strike and were forcibly fed. While they were in prison ‘The Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act 1913’ came into force. Commonly known as the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’, this allowed prisoners who were in danger of dying to be released and then taken back into prison shortly after when they had recovered a little. Elsie and Olive were the first prisoners to have been released under the act on the 28th April 1913. Both absconded after they had been released and did not return to prison.

Churchill was Home Secretary and he was widely blamed for the police excesses on display. Hugh was angered by what he had seen, began to follow Churchill to heckle him at public meetings. On the train back from a meeting in Bristol,  Hugh met Churchill and set on him with a dog whip , shouting “Take this, you cur, for the treatment of the suffragists!”

The attack was widely reported, even reaching the headlines of The Times and for the Franklin family, it was a great embarrassment. He was imprisoned for six weeks and dismissed as Sir Nathan’s secretary. In March 1911, he was sentenced for another month for throwing rocks at Churchill’s house. Hugh took part in the hunger strikes that were then being waged by the suffragettes, and was force-fed repeatedly during his imprisonment. The force feeding turned him into an activist for penal reform.

Elsie and Hugh left for France to avoid the re-imprisonment that her terms of temporary release had demanded. She spent several months working as ‘Eveline Dukes’ in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland armed with false testimonials provided by friends.

In Europe, Elsie went under the alias Eveline Dukes and had many fake references allowing her to get employed in various different countries. Using the several character references she had, all provided by people who knew her such as her brother Victor- who  she got a job in Germany as a governess for 10 months. She then spent three months in Brussels learning  French and doing office work, followed by two months in Switzerland. At first she believed she may have been able to travel with Hugh but actress and fellow suffragist Winifred Mayo warned against this. In March 1914, during her time abroad, she received a letter from Jessie Kenney writing under the alias C. Burrows which said: ‘Miss Pankhurst thinks it would be better for you to stay where you are for the time being and until you get stronger’. But when World War One began in 1914 Elsie and Hugh returned to the UK after a general amnesty was granted to the suffragettes. After this she became active in the war work of the WSPU.

She and Hugh Franklin were finally married in a Jewish ceremony at the London Synagogue in September 1915. She had converted to Judaism. Hugh’s  mother attended the wedding but not her father.  Elsie had asked Emmeline Pankhurst to be one of their witnesses but she wasn’t well enough at that time.  Two years later, she joined the Pankhursts’ Women’s Party.

Sadly Elsie died on the 1 Jan 1919 of heart failure, a victim of the influenza epidemic. She had, undoubtedly, been weakened by her treatment in prison when she was force-fed.

Victor Duval

Victor Duval

Victor Duval 1885-1945 had been the secretary of the Clapham League of the Young Liberals. He resigned from it after seeing a woman thrown out of one of John Burn’s meetings- the one time socialist of Battersea was now very much seen as a renegade once he joined the Liberal Government, especially by our suffragette Charlotte Despard.

In 1909 Victor helped Marion Dunlop to stencil her petition on the walls of St Stephen’s Hall in the House of Commons and in October 1910 he had co-founded the MPU

MPUThe Men’s Political Union for Women’s Enfranchisement was based at number 13 Buckingham Street. The MPU had been founded at a meeting held at the Eustace Miles Restaurant (just the other side of the Strand) in 1910. One of the founders – and the hon. organising secretary of the MPU – was Victor Duval. The premises were also, I think, the offices of his family firm, Duval & Co. Victor’s mother, Emily Duval, had been one of those who transferred allegiance from the WSPU to the WFL and would doubtless have been a regular visitor to number 18 on the other side of the street.

Duval’s book ‘An Appeal to Men’, criticises the ongoing reliance on politics as a driver for change, his reasoning being due to the ineffectiveness of the “fourteen Woman Suffrage Bills…introduced into Parliament since 1870. This saw Duval respond by provoking an urgency for radical action, with his ‘Men’s Political Union for Women’s Suffrage’ personifying this aim, being described as ‘The national bastion for male militancy   I liked the descrition of their role in the WSPU 1911 Christmas Fair, where they ran the ‘Fun of the Fair’ section of the event that included a Roundabout, Hoopla, and a Shooting Gallery. This Shooting Gallery was run jointly with the Croydon branch of the WSPU and was advertised as where “Suffragists and Anti-Suffragists alike can try their skill with an air-gun” so that participants “will realise that muscular force is not the basis of all Government or even of all fights… but that skill and determination have to be taken into account.” The entertainments also included Suffrage Shies, a Suffrage Punch and Judy show written by Inez Bensusan, a member of the Actresses’ Franchise League.

Victor was was imprisoned for a week for a disturbance after he addressed Lloyd George outside City Temple. Heserved on the committee of the International Women’s Franchise Clubs. He published two pamphlets the other was ‘Why I went to prison’. H espent two years of the war in Salonika serving with the Royal Engineers. He rejoined the Liberal Party and stood unsuccessfuly at three elections.

Una Duval

Una Dugdale, suffragette and marriage reformer, was educated at College before studying in Hanover and Paris. Una was a debutante daughter of Commander Edward Stratford Dugdale and his wife, who were supporters of the suffrage movement. Una was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, and later in Hanover and Paris where she studied singing She was niece of  Arthur Peel 1st Viscount Peel, Speaker of the House of Commons. Apparently, her parents household had five servants and they had a holiday home near Aberdeen. Her sisters Daisy and Joan were  also active suffragettes. Joan wrote a play 10 Clowning Street.

In 1907, after hearing Christabel Pankhurst speak in Hyde Park, Una joined the Women’s Social and Political Union. Una worked alongside Emmeline Pankhurst to campaign for women’s rights and the vote in Scotland as she accompanied her on her Scottish tours.

She was part of confrontational direct actions undertaken by suffragettes and, in 1909, was arrested and imprisoned for a month following her involvement in the raid on the House of Commons. Una was the co-founder and treasurer of the Suffragette Fellowships. I found this wonderful BBC radio recording Of Una Duval. Please do listen.

Una and Daisy Dugdale

Una and Daisy Dugdale

Una met Victor when he acted as best man at Frank Rutter’s  wedding on 13 January, 1912,  at the Savoy Chapel. She scandalised society by refusing to include the word obey in her vows. She saw marriage as an equal partnership,She was advised that if she did not, the marriage would not be legal. However, at the wedding, she did not repeat obey after the clergyman spoke. He said that he hoped there would be an amended form of the service created. Her father accompanies her down the aisle but did not ‘hand her over’ to her husband to be. Christabel Pankhurst, Constance Lytton and the Pethick-Lawrences attended dressed in WSPU colours. The Mirror ran the headline, ‘The Bride Who would Not Promise to Obey.’

I found newspaper references to it in international newspapers like the Chicago Examiner and the New York Herald Jan 13th 1912. I discovered – the joys of the internet- that Victor’s best man was an actor called Ernest Thesiger (I also found out that Ernest  was an expert embroiderer and written a book on it. and that he was Dr Septimus Pretorius in The Bride of Frankenstein with our own Notable Woman of Lavender Hill Elsa Lanchester)

It was so good to discover that the Duval famous suffrage family and their extended families lived down the road and thrilled to find the photo of them in their backyard. I had known about them but then just had to blog an account of them as they were now going to be included in my Notable Women of Lavender Hill walk.

I am due to give a talk via Zoom to the Battersea W1 on 16th June 2020.  The number of notable women included has grown since I first started doing the walks. Jeanie Nassau Senior 1828-1877, first woman civil servant at Battersea Town Hall, Olive Morris Black activist, Catherine Gurney OBE 1843-1930 Police Welfare provider, Normanby House Lavender Hill (demolished),  Charlotte Despard 1844-1939 suffragette, socialist and Sinn Feiner, at 177 Lavender Hill,  Caroline Ganley CBE MP 1945-1951 lived at  5 Thirsk Road , Ethel Mannin1900-1984 prolific author lived at 28 Garfield Road,  Deaconess Isabella Gilmore 1842-1923, 113 Clapham Common Northside, Marie Spartali 1844-1927 Pre-Raphaelite artist lived at The Shrubbery Lavender Gardens, Laura Barker 1819-1905 composer Lavender Sweep House, Emily, Norah, Elsie, Winifred and Barbara  Duval Suffragettes  97 Lavender Sweep, Biddy 1871-1966 socialist/feminist and Elsa Lanchester, 1902-1986 Hollywood actress – The Bride of Frankenstein – who lived at 27 Leathwaite Road, Violet Piercy first British female marathon runner 21 Leathwaithe Road  Penelope Fitzgerald 1916-2000 author and booker prize winner for Offshore 1979 lived at 25 Almeric Road  and Pamela Hansford Johnson CBE 1912-1971 novelist lived at 53 Battersea Rise, Farrago restaurant.

I will, in due course, be applying for an English Heritage plaque for the Duval family. There is a dearth of  English Heritage plaques commemorating women. There are sixteen EH/LCC plaues in Battersea but none to women. Now there are three plaques of these Notable Women of Lavender Hill. They are Caroline Ganley CBE MP 1945-51 at 5 Thirsk Road, Charlotte Despard 1844-1939 socialist, suffragette and Irish nationalist on 177 Lavender Hill Labour Party HQ since 1923 and funded by her and  Pamela Hansford Johnson 1912- 1981 novelist and critic at 53 Battersea Rise.

Tom Taylor 1817-1880, dramatist and editor of Punch

NPG Ax7534; Tom Taylor by Southwell Brothers

by Southwell Brothers, albumen carte-de-visite, 1863

I was intrigued to learn that the house opposite ours, at 84 Lavender Sweep, contains a fanlight over the door which came from the demolition in 1880 of the house which had been owned by Tom Taylor and it had been called Lavender Sweep. Tom Taylor had quite a CV. He was a playwright, critic, editor of Punch, Professor of English Literature at London University, a barrister, a civil servant and friend to many writers and theatrical people who visited him in Lavender Sweep.  He was a busy man.

I would like to see a Battersea Society commemorative plaque on the house that was home to Tom and his wife Laura who was a musician and composer before she met  and married Tom in 1955.

I think we should commemorate Laura Barker composer and her husband Tom Taylor. She didn’t compose very much after they married except for the occasional piece to accompany one of his plays. She published again after she was widowed. She features as one of my Notable Women of Lavender Hill.

Probably his most famous play was Our American Cousin being the play Abraham Lincoln was watching the night he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre, Washington D.C by  actor and Confederate  sympathizer John Wilkes Booth on April 14th 1865. He also injured our namesake Major Henry Rathbone who had accompanied the President and his wife.

Taylor, who previously satirised Lincoln in PUNCH wrote a poem  about the assassination  in tribute to him, perhaps an element of guilt..

Abraham Lincoln foully assassinated

You lay a wreath on a murdered Lincoln’s bier,
You, who with mocking pencil wont to trace,
Broad for the self-complacent British sneer,
His length of shambling limb, his furrowed face,

His gaunt, gnarled hands, his unkempt, bristling hair,
His garb uncouth, his bearing ill at ease,
His lack of all we prize as debonair,
Of power or will to shine, of art to please;

You, whose smart pen backed up the pencil’s laugh,
Judging each step as though the way were plain;
Reckless, so it could point its paragraph
Of chief’s perplexity, or people’s pain:

Beside this corpse, that bears for winding-sheet
The Stars and Stripes he lived to rear anew,
Between the mourners at his head and feet,
Say, scurrile jester, is there room for you?

Yes: he had lived to shame me from my sneer,
To lame my pencil, and confute my pen; —
To make me own this hind of princes peer,
This rail-splitter a true-born king of men.

My shallow judgement I had learned to rue,
Noting how to occasion’s height he rose;
How his quaint wit made home-truth seem more true;
How, iron-like, his temper grew by blows.

How humble, yet how hopeful he could be:
How in good fortune and in ill, the same:
Nor bitter in success, nor boastful he,
Thirsty for gold, nor feverish for fame.

He went about his work, — such work as few
ever had laid on head and heart and hand, —
As one who knows, where there’s a task to do,
Man’s honest will must Heaven’s good grace command;

Who trusts the strength will with the burden grow,
That God makes instruments to work his will,
If but that will we can arrive to know,
Nor tamper with the weights of good and ill.

So he went forth to battle, on the side
That he felt clear was Liberty’s and Right’s,
As in his peasant boyhood he had plied
His warfare with rude Nature’s thwarting mights,—

The uncleared forest, the unbroken soil,
The iron-bark, that turns the lumberer’s axe,
The rapid, that o’erbears the boatman’s toil,
The prairie, hiding the mazed wanderer’s tracks,

The ambushed Indian, and the prowling bear; —
Such were the deeds that helped his youth to train:
Rough culture, — but such trees large fruit may bear,
If but their stocks be of right girth and grain.

So he grew up, a destined work to do,
And lived to do it: four long-suffering years’
Ill-fate, ill-feeling, ill-report, lived through,
And then he heard the hisses change to cheers,

The taunts to tribute, the abuse to praise,
And took both with the same unwavering mood:
Till, as he came on light, from darkling days,
And seemed to touch the goal from where he stood,

A felon hand, between the goal and him,
Reached from behind his back, a trigger prest,—
And those perplexed and patient eyes were dim,
Those gaunt, long-laboring limbs were laid to rest!

The words of mercy were upon his lips,
Forgiveness in his heart and on his pen,
When this vile murderer brought swift eclipse
To thoughts of peace on earth, good-will to men.

The Old World and the New, from sea to sea,
Utter one voice of sympathy and shame!
Sore heart, so stopped when it at last beat high;
Sad life, cut short just as its triumph came.

A deed accurst! Strokes have been struck before
By the assassin’s hand, whereof men doubt
If more of horror or disgrace they bore;
But thy foul crime, like Cain’s, stands darkly out.

Vile hand, that brandest murder on a strife,
Whate’er its grounds, stoutly and nobly striven;
And with the martyr’s crown crownest a life
With much to praise, little to be forgiven.

NPG Ax30385; Tom Taylor by John & Charles Watkins

Tom Taylor 1864 by John and Charles Watkins

Tom Taylor dramatist and editor of ‘Punch,’ was born at Bishop-Wearmouth, a suburb of Sunderland, on 19 Oct. 1817. His father, Thomas   was self-educated, having begun life in early boyhood as a labourer on a small farm in Cumberland. By thrift, industry, and intelligence he became  head partner in a flourishing brewery firm at Durham, and, on that city being incorporated, was one in the first batch of aldermen in the new municipality. Tom’s mother Maria Josephina, though born in Durham, was of German origin.

Tom was educated first at Grange school in Sunderland, and afterwards at the university of Glasgow, where he carried off three gold medals. Finally, in 1837, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. There he graduated B.A. in 1840 in mathematics and in classics.  In 1842 he was elected a fellow of Trinity, and proceeded M.A. in 1843. For the next two years Taylor pursued the career of a ‘coach’ at Cambridge, and met with great success. In the interests of his younger brothers he declined the ample annual allowance hitherto placed at his command by his father, and resolved thenceforth to support himself on his fees as tutor and upon the income of his fellowship.

During 1842, Taylor, together with his Cambridge friends Frederick Ponsonby who was Earl of Bessborough. (Fred Ponsonby, a Battersea Labour Party member was the fourth Baron but is now a life peer. He sings with the Festival Chorus that Dave sings in), Charles G. Taylor and William Bolland, formed the Old Stagers, which is recognised as the oldest amateur drama society still performing.


He left Cambridge in 1845 and was appointed professor of English literature and the English language in the London University. He held the post for two years. Meanwhile, having kept his terms as a law student at the Inner Temple, he was called to the bar in  November 1846. For a while he went the northern circuit. But a new opening was offered him in 1850, when, consequent on the passing of the Public Health Act, the board of health was called into existence, and Taylor was appointed assistant secretary under the presidency of Sir Benjamin Hall.

He married,  Laura, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Barker, vicar of Thirkleby in Yorkshire on 19 June 1855. She had a musical career before they met. She had played violin with Paganini and Louis Spohr and had published various compositions and contributed the original overture and entr’acte to her husband’s ‘Joan of Arc. They had two children Lucy and Wycliffe, who became an artist.

In August 1854 he was promoted to the position of secretary. When the Board of Health was absorbed in the Local Government Board his post became that of secretary to the sanitary department. He eventually retired 1871, when his office was abolished. Apparently, he often walked from Lavender Sweep to work at Whitehall.

But Tom Taylor owed his fame and the greater part of his income to other occupations. From his first settling in London he had engaged in journalism working on the ‘Morning Chronicle’ and the ‘Daily News’ as a leader-writer. He had also started his lifelong connection with ‘Punch,’ and until 1874 he was an active member of the staff becoming editor in that year he succeeded Shirley Brooks as editor, and he held that office till his death six years later.


Caricature of Tom Taylor by Sir Leslie Ward

For many years he was art critic for the ‘Times’ and the ‘Graphic.’ He also edited ‘Charles Robert Leslie’s Autobiographical Recollections’, completed Leslie’s ‘Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ and edited as ‘Pen Sketches by a Vanished Hand’ (1879) the essays of his friend Mortimer Collins. He had already translated ‘Ballads and Songs of Brittany’ from the Barsaz-Breiz of Hersart de la Villemarqué, and in 1874 he published an entertaining volume called ‘Leicester Square: its Associations and its Worthies’ .

NPG x18489; The Green Room by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company

The Green Room cast signed copy. Tom is seated right.

However, he found his true vocation as a playwright. From his early boyhood he had written and acted plays, and as soon as he settled in London he worked assiduously for the theatre. A self-confessed populist, his intention was to create plays his audiences would enjoy, and many of his works were adaptations of existing French plays, or dramatisations of the novels of Charles Dickens or other popular novels of the time. He was also a prolific writer of dramatic works and in thirty-five years he supplied more than seventy plays to the principal theatres of London. He was fond of theatrical life in all its aspects. He played several parts as an actor, and is said to have been successful as Adam in a performance of ‘As you like it’ at Manchester.

The first piece of Taylor’s that signally attracted the public was ‘To Parents and Guardians,’ a farce at the Lyceum.  ‘The Fool’s Revenge,’ an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s ‘Le Roi s’amuse,’ ‘’Twixt Axe and Crown,’  ‘Joan of Arc’ ,‘Lady Clancarty,’ and ‘Anne Boleyn,’ which was produced at the Haymarket in March 1875, and was Taylor’s penultimate piece and only complete failure. Other successful plays by Taylor ‘Diogenes and his Lantern’, ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’ , ‘The Philosopher’s Stone.’, ‘Our Clerks’, ‘Wittikind and his Brothers,’ ‘Plot and Passion’  ‘A Nice Firm’,‘Two Loves and a Life,’ in conjunction with Charles Reade,‘The King’s Rival.’  ‘Helping Hands’, ‘Retribution,’ from Bernard’s ‘Loi du Talion’,’Going to the Bad’ . ‘Barefaced Impostors’, ‘Nine Points of the Law,’ ‘Up at the Hills’, ‘The Babes in the Wood’  ‘Sense and Sensation’ , ‘Henry Dunbar,’ ‘The Sister’s Penance’  ‘The Hidden Hand’,‘Settling Day’  A collection of his early pieces appeared in 1854. He published a collected edition of his historical dramas in 1877.

Much of his archive material is now housed in the V and A collection in Blythe House thanks to Jack Reading (1916-2004)  who pursued an interest in theatre history. It includes original working drafts and final drafts of play-texts, notebooks, sketchbooks, images and scrapbooks and personal ephemera. Jack was a founder member of the Society for Theatre Research a and  became a trustee of the Theatre Museum Association.

I  found his handwriting in his many letters to Laura very difficult to read. I was amused by letters his parents , including the ones about money.

Tom and Laura Taylor’s home was one of four grand houses with a grand carriageway called Lavender Sweep and was between Lavender Hill and Battersea Rise with a lodge at either end. Lavender Sweep lodgeIt features in the Survey of London and there are descriptions of how the house was extended over time. The back of the house seems so much larger than the front.The house had been expanded much by the time the Taylors bought it.

Lavender Sweep House from the back

There had been a a billiard room on its north-west side, 30ft by 20ft, built by Reading Watts of Belgravia, and joined to the conservatory by an unusual flight of steps within a glazed, sloping passageway. A magnificent detached 42ft conservatory to the north-west of the house, with semi-circular ends rather in the manner of Richard Turner’s Palm House at Kew, reached by a tiled and glazed passage were added when the Tayors moved in in 1858 when it was sold the house to its final occupants. Tom Taylor added a large study ‘to his own design’. From the Survey of London;  A visitor in the 1870s found every wall in the house, even in the bathrooms, covered with pictures; a pet owl perched on a bust of Minerva; and a dining room ‘where Lambeth Faience and Venetian glass abound’.

Lavender Sweep House drawing room

Among his friends and visitors to Lavender Sweep were Dickens, Thackeray, Henry Irving, Ellen Terry  and Lewis Carroll , who took a number of photographs of the house. The regular Sunday soirees attracted lots of overseas visitors too. he was a good friend of Jeanie Nassau Senior who was the first woman civil serant and she was a neighbour at Elm House on Lavender Hill which is on the site of  Battersea Town Hall/Arts Centre.

Ellen Terry wrote in her memoirs ‘to us he was more than this he was an institution‘. In her autobigraphy she said ‘it clearly became the home from home for the people from all the walks of literary, artistic and theatrical life that Taylor was part of”. 


Ellen Terry

Lavender Sweep was a sort of house of call for everone of note…At Lavender Sweep, with the horse-chestnut blossoms strewing the drive and making it look like a tessellated pavement, all of us were always welcome…Such intimate friendships are seldom possible in our busy profession, and there was never another Tom Taylor in my life….The atmosphere of gaity which pervaded Lavender Sweep arose from his kindly, generous nature, which insisted that everyone could have a good time….I have already said that the Taylor’s home was one of the most softening and cultural influences of my early life…his house was a kind of mecca for  pilgrims from America and from all parts of the world….. Yet all the time occupied a position in the Home Office and often walked from Whitehall to Lavender Sweep when his day’s work was done….lavender is still associated in my mind with everything that is lovely and refined. My mother nearly always wore the colour and the Taylor’s lived at Lavender Sweep.This may not be an excellent reason for my feelings on the subject, but it is reason good enough.   

Tom Taylor died at his home Lavender Sweep on 12 July 1880. When the property was put up for sale in October, although the house and its well-timbered grounds were commended by the auctioneer, it was the 1,200ft of frontage to Lavender Sweep and Battersea Rise that were the pull. That was when Lavender Sweep and surrounding roads were developed.

Laura died in March 1905 and had gone to live in Porch House Coleshill Berkshire with Lucy and two servants, Barbara Nugent and Jane Blake, both of whom had worked for the Taylors in London.

Lucy Taylor died in 1940. Her brother Wycliffe died in 1925. He had been painted by Millais when he was 5 years old. Lucy left the house to her sister-in-law  who sold it in 1949. Apparently, in 1962 Mary Ure, who had been married to playwright John Osborne, lived here with her second husband actor Robert Shaw where they entertained their theatrical friends. A nice bit of serendipity. In 1970, Mary Ure sold the house to the present owner, Edmund Peter Wycliffe Helps, a consultant at Charing Cross Hospital. He was the great nephew of Lucys and had been a regular visitor to Porch House in his youth. Through blogging about the Taylors of Lavender Sweep I have been contacted by their great great grandson Rupert Stutchbury who is an actor living in Cork. He, too, is keen to keep the legacy of the Laura and Tom Taylor going.

I shall be giving a talk in Battersea Library lavender Hill on Tuesday 26th May on four 18th Century houses around Lavender Hill which includes Lavender Sweep House, their neighbours and friend Jeanie Nassau Senior, first woman civil servant of Elm House, on the site of Battersea Town Hall/Arts Centre and Marie Spartali, Pre-Raphaelite artist of The Shrubbery Lavender Gardens and Gilmore House which was next door. It  became the deaconate presided over by Deaconess Isabella Gilmore who was sister of Marie’s good friends William Morris and his wife Jane. Well, I have to share my knowledge of former neighbours.


My street -Lavender Sweep.

Posted in Ellen Terry, Home of Tom Taylor an editor of PUNCH, Lavender Sweep by sheelanagigcomedienne on October 9, 2012

LAVENDER SWEEP.  I do think it is a charming name. I believe we are the only sweep in the country. Lavender Sweep is a crescent along the top of Lavender Hill and is a few yards from Clapham Common.

It was originally laid out as a carriage drive serving four large mansions with a gate lodge at either end. LAVENDER SWEEP became the name by which the large house became known which was owned by Tom Taylor who was an editor of  PUNCH. He was also a leading playwright, dramatic critic of  The Times and a distinguished Civil Servant and according to the great actress Ellen Terry, who was one of the many visitors to the house, ‘to us he was more than this he was an institution‘. In her autobigraphy she said ‘it clearly became the home from home for the people from all the walks of literary, artistic and theatrical life that Taylor was part of”.  

I was delighted to read about Taylor and Lavender Sweep from her autobiography THE STORY OF MY LIFE.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Story of My Life, by Ellen Terry.

Ellen TerryAlso among his friends were Dickens, Thackeray, Henry Irving and Lewis Carroll , who took a number of photographs of the house. He died there in I88O. Harry Furniss illustrator/ Punch caricuturist  wasn’t impressed when he called. From  SOME WOMEN WHO WROTE : When I was a friendless and ambitious youth, arrived for the first time in London, I carried in my pocket next to my rapidly pulsating heart a letter from Tom Taylor, editor of Punch, from himself to himself giving me his address, and a request to call and lunch with him on my arrival. In consequence, I wended my way to Lavender Sweep, Clapham, where I found a house with india-rubber tubing tacked on to the hall door, to keep out draughts—and draughtsmen. Mr. Taylor was not at home.

Ellen Terry’s recollections of Lavender Sweep are of a genial home and she was evidently so very fond of Taylor. She wrote; Lavender Sweep was a sort of house of call for everone of note…At Lavender Sweep, with the horse-chestnut blossoms strewing the drive and making it look like a tessellated pavement, all of us were always welcome…Such intimate friendships are seldom possible in our busy profession, and there was never another Tom Taylor in my life….The atmosphere of gaity which pervaded Lavender Sweep arose from his kindly, generous nature, which insisted that everyone could have a good time….I have already said that the Taylor’s home was one of the most softening and cultural influences of my early life…his house was a kind of mecca for  pilgrims from America and from all parts of the world….. Yet all the time occupied a position in the Home Office and often walked from Whitehall to Lavender Sweep when his day’s work was done….lavender is still associated in my mind with everything that is lovely and refined. My mother nearly always wore the colour and the Taylor’s lived at Lavender Sweep.This may not be an excellent reason for my feelings on the subject, but it is reason good enough.    Lavender sweep House.

The fanlight from Tom Taylor’s house has been preserved and transferred to 84 Lavender Sweep opposite our house. I was told by an elderly neighbour that 84 was lived in by servants of Marie Lloyd, the musical hall star, but that is a story for another day- sin sceal eile.

84 lavender sweep

I was delighted to find out about Lavender Sweep from The buildings of Clapham by The Clapham Society’s and the information about the fanlight on 84 being from Tom Taylor’s house which was a haven for the litterati of the day.

I do share Ellen’s love of lavender and it is my favourite colour. I offer visitors to our house little bags of lavender from our garden and allotment as well as needing them to fight of the pestilent moths.

This is an old photo of our geranium bush which went very well with our purple door!Purple door and geranium bush

John Betjeman’s poem London Sketch 1944 celebrates our street in his charming way and we are grateful to him too.

Lavender Sweep is drowned in Wandsworth,

Drowned in jessamine up to the neck

Beetles sway upon bending grass leagues

Shoulder level to Tooting Bec.

Rich as Middlesex, rich in signboards

Lie the lover trod lanes between

Red Man, Green Man, Horse and Waggoner.

Elms and sycamores round a green.

Burst good June, with a rush this morning,

Bindweed weave me an emerald rope,

Sun , shone bright on the blossoming trellises

June and lavender bring me hope.

NUMBER 85 LAVENDER SWEEP  has the word SAND  still visible from the war to indicate where ot was to be left for fire wardens to use contending with fires.100_1612

There was a murder on Lavender Sweep on 17th October 2013. The body of Henry Stangroom was discovered when Police forced there way into the house around nine in the evening. We heard and saw a the police vehicles, ambulance and fire engine and the road was closed to traffic.

The post-mortem the following day revealed that the chef had died from stab wounds to his heart and lungs. Andrew Morris, 30, of Lavender Sweep, has been charged with Mr Stangroom’s murder and was due to appear at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (October 23).

Henry Stangroom

Henry Stangroom

The 21-year-old victim was given a suspended prison term in July 2012 after pleading guilty to dangerous driving in relation to the death of a teenager from Odiham. Mr Stangroom, who was 19, at the time, was behind the wheel of a Peugeot 306 that collided with 19 year old Jack Bland in Farnham Road in September 2011. murder Hous lavender sweepThe Daily Mail report got quotes from neighbours, as you would expect.  ‘Seeing all that going on, seeing the body  bag being fetched out, it was like Midsomer Murders. ‘This is such a nice street, lots of lovely  people who work and have high-paid jobs or work in TV. I have lived here for 25  years and I have never seen anything like this. Speaking about the flat, she added: ‘You  couldn’t keep tabs, there were too many people always coming and going in and  out. ‘They were very noisy, drinking and all that.  Sometimes they were in the back garden, they would laugh loudly and drink all  day in the summer.’ We  have lived on the street for 46 years and neither have we seen anything like it!

Lavender Sweep has got a new directional sign at the Battersea Rise end of the road.

New sign At Battersea Rise end of LavenderSweep

New sign At Battersea Rise end of Lavender Sweep

New sign and the Sunday Breakfast Club queue

New sign and the Sunday Breakfast Club queue