|Thames Ditton characters from 100 years ago|
|27 October 2012|
It has been rumoured that Thames Ditton was a weekend retreat for many people involved in the entertainment business during the early decades of the 20th century.
I live in Church Walk and was interested in seeing who occupied the houses in the 1911 census and to find out if in fact there were many ‘luvvies’ living in this neck of the woods.
The houses then were not numbered as they are now – from the Speer Road end the names were:
Ardennes (corner of Speer Road and Church Walk) and listed now as in Speer Road
Devonia (1 Church Walk)
Laburnum (3 Church Walk)
Clematis (5 Church Walk)
Myrtle Cottage (7 Church Walk)
The rest of the walk on the South East side I have yet to put a number to but house names alone (up to Ashley Road) are:
East Mearn (still has the name by the door at 13 Church Walk)
Looking at the occupants for the above I found the following:
Ardennes (Speer Road) Tom Searson Laxton, cashier for Gas Company. His wife, Rose Minnie Laxton, no occupation listed but rumoured to be a suffragette?
Devonia (No 1) Marie Louise Gotobed, artistic saleswoman (in 1901 census this lady was a dressmaker).
Laburnum (No 3) Percy and Madeleine Carr, actor and actress.
Clematis (No 5) Barbara and Nelly Huntley, actresses.
Myrtle Cottage (No 7) Thomas Green, house decorator. Kate Green his wife and two children.
Winthorpe (No 9) Robert Gray Orr, accountant. Jenny Lundy (or Orr) his wife.
Marlowe (no 11) Robert Arthur Laws, Department Manager for Paint Manufacturer. Elsie Marion Laws his wife.
East Mearn (no 13) Eliza Ross, private means. Also her daughter and daughter-in-law living with her.
Willowdene Charles Miller Baker, a sign writer. His wife Rebecca Baker, two children and a lodger.
Rothesay Charlotte Ashton, a widow. Her 10 year old son and four boarders who are all warehousemen.
Wendycot Robert Bird, a bank clerk. His wife, mother-in-law and brother-in-law.
St Albans George Huntingdon private hotel proprietor. His wife Grace and 11 year old nephew.
Kingwater Ellen Elizabeth Routledge, private means. Her son Frederick a journalist, daughter Maria Maude Routledge an actress and one servant.
Oak View Arthur Ellis Williamson who described his occupation so:
Law Clerk, also speculative builder but have given surveyor of taxes notice of discontinuance of business after 5 April 1911 owing to business being ruined by the Lloyd George Budget
Elmdene Frederick Hawkes, Mineral Water manufacturer. His wife Mildred and four year old daughter.
So I only found three houses that had anyone from the acting profession living there.
Percy Carr became a film actor and appeared in two Hollywood films, one directed by D.W. Griffiths called One Exciting Night made in 1922. He died at Saranac Lake New York in 1926.
His wife Madeleine (known by her stage name Rees) had appeared at the Adelphi Theatre in 1899 and 1900. The Adelphi lists her appearance in Quo Vadis which was staged there between 5 May – 1 June 1900 when she played the part of Crispinilla.
Her parents had christened her Madeleine Cordelia Granville Portlock but she presumably found it too much of a mouthful as an actress and just became plain Madeleine Rees.
The Huntley sisters came from an acting family. In the 1881 census their father Francis Huntley is a comedian and their mother Josephine a comedienne actor. Their brother George was also an actor. Nellie Huntley also performed at the Adelphi in 1887, so may have known her neighbour before they lived in Church Walk.
I couldn’t find out anything about the other actress Maria Maude Routledge in Church Walk.
There is another actor/impresario who also lived in Thames Ditton at this time; John Arthur Maundy Gregory.
He bought a bungalow called Vanity Fair on Thames Ditton Island in 1910 and later let it to his friend, an actress called Edith Rosse and her husband Fred.
A lot has already been written about this rather murky character and I have included a link below from the Daily Telegraph.
Get your tickets in advance for Imber Court Comedy Club on Friday 24 May. With the evening beginning...
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