The Palmer Family of Reigate

This page is based on a number of postcards that were given to ex-Redhill resident Tim Clarke several years ago when a house was cleared out in Redhill. Tim is certain that the people clearing the house knew nothing or the origin of the cards nor who had owned them. A keen genealogist Tim sent the cards to me to add to the 'Families' section of this website in the hope that they might be of use to someone doing a related line of research. I have carried out a little research and the results and the postcards are shown below on this webpage started early June 2011. In mid June 2011 living family members were contacted and more information received and is included below accordingly. But if anyone else has more knowledge of this family please contact Alan Moore. All images are numbered for reference.

June 2011

The starting point is that eleven of the postcards are addressed to Miss B. Palmer at various dates and addresses as follows:. . .
Aug 1910 - 21 Chart Lane This is now knownto have been Aug 1911 - 21 Chart Lane the family home at that time)
Sep 1912 - Hetherwood, Doods Road
Aug 1913 - Hetherwood, Doods Road
Aug 1913 - Hetherwood, Doods Road
Aug 1914 - Hetherwood, Doods Road
Nov 1914 - Hetherwood, Doods Road
Sep 1915 - Hetherwood, Doods Road
Oct 1915 - 21 Chart Lane
Feb 1916 - Redgate House, Reigate Road
July 1918 - Redgate House, Reigate Road
from MR? - posted at Shepton Mallet
from Auntie C at 19 Gilbert Rd., Eastbourne ** see note
from MGC - posted at London Colney (it's near St Alban's)
from ??? - posted at ???
from Jess - posted at Crawley
from MGC - posted at Brighton
from Nan at Broom Stile, Esher, Surrey
from MGC - posted at St Albans
from MGC posted at Reigate (but picture of St Albans)
from H - posted at Redhill, Surrey
from H - posted at Godstone, Surrey
**Note - The front of this card shows a nursing home and in the message Auntie C. say she's feeling better for the cahange, so perhaps Eastbourne was not her home town.
Nothing in the messages gives any family information but there were some postcards with names on. Shown here are two of them. The Bessie shown seated is the Bessie to whom the postcards were sent. She was the eldest of five daughters in the family.
The one of Harry was taken by a Reigate photographer, suggesting that Reigate was Harry's home town. And indeed it was, for Harry was the eldest of five sons in the family.
 Writing on the reverse identifies three of the five sisters, Ethel back left; Emily back right and Bessie seated in front. The date is July 1913.Harry 5th Hussars 1915, the eldest Palmer boy. Photo by Snook of Reigate
There were five boys and five girls
A look at the census returns 1861-1901 reveals the following
1861 census
Henry Palmer 33 living in Nutley Lane, Cordwainer
Betsy, wife, a boot kinder (sewing the finished leather shapes into the finished boot or shoe?)
Children - Henry 6 - Mary 3 - Elizabeth 2 -
Thomas 3 months
1871 census
Henry Palmer, Thomas' father, 43, living at Henry Street (not known in Reigate) Cordwainer* b Horsham Sussex
Betsy his wife, aged 36 born Wanham Sussex
Children - Henry 16, Letter carrier - Mary 15, Nurse -
Thomas 10 - John 8 - Sarah 6 - Edward 5 - James 3 - Eliza 1
*A cordwainer was a shoemaker
1881 census
Betsy Palmer 47 widow living at Nutley Lane working as a charwoman
Thomas Palmer 20 - the family head in the above censuses is here the son aged aged 20, a gardener
Children - John 18 - James 13 - Eliza 11 - Clara 8
1891 census
Thomas Palmer aged 30 living at Glovers (Farm) Cottages off Reigate Hill working as a cowman.
Fanny his wife
Children -
Bessie - Harry - Thomas
The 1901 census for Reigate showed only one Palmer family
Thomas Palmer b c1866 living at Brokes Lodge stables, Reigate Hil, working as a domestic gardener
Fanny his wife
Children -
Bessie aged 12 - Harry aged 11 - Thomas aged 11 - Emily aged 8 - Ethel 5 - Edward 5 - George 4
Henry Palmer and Betsy were both born in Sussex. Their first son and daughter were born at Capel and Brockham respectively and all the rest of their children, including Thomas who was to be Bessie's father, were born at Reigate
The children of Thomas and Fanny were -
1893 Twin
1893 Twin
1895-1972 married Ethel Terry (1901-1972)
The five sons all married but none of the five daughters did so. The sisters all lived together in a house called 'Homehurst' in West Road, Reigate, a house that Thomas had built. They collectively adopted a boy, Timothy Batty.
Two postcards show Ernest Woodhouse. The one of him on the camel says it was taken on March 30th 1918. Poignantly added is, Died of wounds Oct. 11th 19?0 (the ? replacing an unreadable number). Returning to the 1901 census Ernest Woodhouse is shown as living at 68 Nutley Lane, close to the Palmer family. It seems that the Woodhouse family might have been related to the Palners. Ernest palmer is said to have married a girl named Sarah.34
 Two photos of Ernest Woodhouse of Nutley Lane, Reigate
Other postcard photos of people  
UnknownUnknown. Named as May on the reverse and dated 1915Unknown, dated Xmas 1916
Three servants at the rear of a house, no identification on reverse. Could Bessie be one of them? If she was a servant as a young woman this would explain the various addresses the postcards were sent to (see below) (Identification of this house required)
The fact that Bessie did work as a domestic servant is confirmed by this extract from the 1911 census for a house called 'Birdhurst', which was on Wray Common, Reigate. (census extract kindly supplied by Tim Clarke)
Empire Day photos from postcards 
All four cards have written on the reverse, May 30th 1913. Display given by the Reigate County School for girls before the Earl of Meath in connection Empire Day, afterwards at the Reigate Pageant on May 31st before Lord Curzon. It could have been at Redgate House (as the displays shown on the cards beneath are) but this is not verifiable from the scenes. The Reigate Pageant was an event held to celebrate the aquiring by the Reigate Corporation of Colley Hill. It was held on Colley Hill and at the Reigate showground. Bessie could have witnessed it. I was thought that the man addressing the children in photo 13 above could have been the Earl of Meath but Geraldine Foy subsequently emailed to say - 'I 've done some more research into the photo where a gentleman appears to be addressing the assembled schoolchildren at the Reigate Empire Day celebration. I don't think it's the 12th Earl of Meath. He was born in 1841 and this person looks a lot younger. Also in all the photos I've found of him, he has a large beard. Interestingly, Earl Meath was responsible for the introduction of Empire Day, officially recognised by the British Government in 1916. He was also very involved with the scout movement.
More information from Geraldine Foy, Reigate County School Old Girls, January 2012 - I was interested to see the pictures of Reigate County School girls on your website, performing at a display in 1913 (pictures 10-13).   I run the Old Girls Society and can shed some more light on the photos as we have a 1914 school magazine in our archive with articles on the two events.   The girls gave two displays. the first was for Empire Day on 23rd May* and was at the house of the Rev. W.E Earle. He had a very close association with the school and they performed each year at these celebrations. Other secondary schools from the borough attended the event on the 23rd. They formed columns on the lawn, girls in the centre, boys on either side, facing the back of Redgate House where the guests sat under a canopy - Mr and Mrs Earle, Miss Earle, Lord and Lady Meath, the Mayor and others. The girls' display was of an Empire Dance, Watts and made at her pottery in Compton. The girls' depicted a knight and his lady, with the words "Love, serve", whilst the boys' showed St. George and the Dragon, with the motto "Faithful and True". A safety pin and red, white and blue ribbon was attached.   On 31st May, the girls then performed at the Reigate Pageant. Their display was given in the Horse Show Ground ( now used on occasion by Reigate Priory Cricket Club). The girls represented the four Home Countries and the Colonies, and formed into a cross with a circle round the outside. First they sang the Recessional and The Children's Song, with music specially written for them. Before each of the national songs (Under the Greenwood Tree, Wi' a Hundred Pipers, Men of Harlech and Let Erin Remember), a Mr Bashford played a few bars on the cornet. After each, the whole circle danced round singing, so that girls representing each nation faced the grandstand in turn.   The English girls were dressed in white with red roses, the Scots in white with tartan scarves, the Irish in green with shamrock and the Welsh in white and green with daffodils. They formed the quadrants of the circle. The girls of the Colonies formed the cross and wore their drilling costumes. The Canadians wore maple leaves, the Australians flannel flowers, the South Africans silver leaves and the Indians (India being a colony for the day) lotus flowers. At the end of each arm was a girl carrying a effigy of a representative animal - Canada a white bear, Australia a kangaroo, South Africa an ostrich and India an elephant. Behind all the dancers there was a large green and white flag with the word "Servamus" ( We Serve) on it.   As well as the County School performance, pupils from Frenches Road School did Morris Dancing, the boys of Reigate Grammar School gave a display of Old English Sports and two pupils of Mrs Doidge Stevens danced.   I hope the above is of interest andcan help in identifying the location of the pictures  (as Redgate, I think).

Many thanks to Geraldine Foy for this information which (apart from unimportant discrepancy in dates*) verifies the venues, participants and circumstances.

Pencilled on the reverse of both of these cards is Earl of Meath at Redgate House May 25th 1916. The girls were probably also from Reigate County School and the occasion was the annual Empire Day Rally held there. Redgate House is now the Eversfield Care Home in Reigate Road, Reigate. Two of the postcards above are addressed to Bessie at Redgate house showing that she was there in May 1916 so she would have witnessed this event and been able to get these postcards depicting it.
More information from Geraldine Foy.
I've had a look at the old school magazines. The school didn't produce one every year and so 1918 covers 1916-18. They mention the 1917 Empire Day celebration ("a more muted affair"), but not what they did in 1916. I also looked at the article about W.E Earle from "People of Reigate St. Mary's" and that refers to past pupils remembering an Empire Day later in the war which had a more military theme as the boys carried rifles. It also says that it is believed that Baden Powell was at this event. This could well be 1916.
Empire Day and the Earl of Meath 
Empire Day was first celebrated on 24th May 1902, the birthday of Queen Victoria who had died the previous year. It did not become an official annual event until 1916, although it is said that many schools were celebrating it before this. It's purpose was to increase knowledge and awarenes of the British Empire and encourage patriotism. On Empire Day school children would generally salute the flag, sing patriotic songs and hear speeches about the British Empire before being let out of school for the rest of the day. As the British Empire declined, so too did interest in Empire Day, and in 1958 it became known as British Commonwealth Day, then Commonwealth Day from 1966, when the date was altered to 10th June, the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth ll..
Redgates and the Earl of Meath
Redgates during Bessie Palmer's time there was the home of the Rev. and Mrs Walter Earle.The Rev. Earle was a descendant of an old Dorsetshire family and became a priest in 1866. No more is known of him by this author other than he was a friend of the Earl of Meath, who founded Empire Day, which is how the Earl came to be involved in the Empire Day celebrations in the grounds of Redgates. Some time between the wars Redgates became the property of Mr George Shrubsall, at one time Chairman of the Prudential Insurance Company. His wife was presumably the surviving partner as when she died in January 1954 the house was sold. The purchaser was the the then newly formed Reigate Housing Society for the Elderly, which converted it for use as a residential home under the house's original name of 'Eversfield', the name and use it retains almost sixty years later.
Other postcards
In these tableaux children at a (Reigate?) school enact scenes from popular stories. There are four such cards, all dated 1914, and on one is written Alfred as a boy. Who Alfred was is not known. The postcards are all by a Reigate photographer. Identification of the school would be nice.
Another children's tableaux, this time at a different location and on a card posted at Redhill in 1916. The writer signs her/himself 'H' and asks, Can you see Fred on this card?The 5th Queens at Guildford June 1915 is pencilled on this card's reverse. Perhaps one of the Family members was stationed there and is in the photo.
Another photo of Reigate County School Girls. This one has on the back 'December 1912, Reigate County School for Girls, Merchant of Venice'.

Information from Geraldie Foy re the above
The performance of the Court Scene from "The Merchant of Venice" was given by form IVb as part of the Prize Distribution at the Market Hall, Redhill. The school magazine quotes this as being in November 1912. The cast was as follows:   The Duke - Madeline McDonald ; Antonio - Winifred Gill : Shylock  -  Winifred Gough: Bassiano  -   Nora Fuller: Gratiano  - Annie Quiddington: Portia -   Constance Dale: Nerissa  -  Gladys Payne.

This card shows a view of Square Lake, St Faustin, Quebec, Canada. It is unposted but hand dated June 1913. Pencilled on it is, 'I have put a little mark on mother's house, hope you will be able to see it'. It is signed Lena.
These are the postcards containing family information. More information about any of the people shown on this page, about the Palmer family in general, or any any other aspect of the above would be most appreciated. Email Alan Moore
1951 Bessie Palmer still at Homehurst, West Road (not 1959) 
1951 & 1959 Harry Palmer living at 21 Chart Lane. 
1951 Sydney Palmer at 3 Hartswood Ave.
1959 Sydney Palmer at 28 Belmont Rd.
1951 Miss E. Palmer at 27 Albert Rd South.
1959 Miss E. Palmer at 97 Park Lane East
1951 directory - see othe Palmers
19th January 2012