Walsall man in service at the home of Lord Tredegar

Thanks to the Black Country Bugle for permission to use this article

 

Walsall man in service at the home of Lord Tredegar

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: July 03, 2008

At the end of Queen Victorian’s reign, at the time of her death in 1901, it was recorded that there were 1.7 million women and 140,000 men still employed in domestic service. The great Victorian Age had given the upper and middle class levels of society a considerable amount of wealth, and the tradition of maintaining a house full of servants continued throughout the nineteenth century, and didn’t fall out of favour until after the First World War.

Almost every family history investigation reveals ancestors who were domestic servants at some stage in their lives, and in 1914 domestic service was still the largest single occupation for women. Houses of various sizes would employ as many servants as required to meet the needs and demands of the head of the household; the bigger the house the more servants there would have to be. It had always been the policy to employ new servants from locations at least 30 miles away, for it was feared by those who had the most to lose that younger servants especially might go running home at the first opportunity and spread unwanted gossip. To this end prospective employers advertised the positions available, rather than pass on any vacancies by word of mouth.

Prior to 1891 Frederick Tippett, a working class mon from Walsall, who may well have already been an experienced domestic servant, was hired to work at Tredegar House in Newport, South Wales, the home of Godfrey Morgan Lord Tredegar, a peer of the realm. He had joined a domestic army of 24 which included 15 women and nine men, living and working in the House. Eliza Cook was the housekeeper, a battle-axe of a woman in her sixties, who originally came from Swindon, Wiltshire. She had worked for the Morgans for years, and like so many domestics of her ilk had dedicated her life in service to others and was never married.

Eliza Cook may well have been the person who agreed to take Frederick on, as hiring and firing was one of her main duties. She was also a shrewd woman and didn’t necessarily employ girls who were too young or had no experience of domestic service at all.

In 1891 the youngest girls living and working at Tredegar House were Elizabeth Hillier aged 20 from Cardiff, and Mary Williams, also 20 from St David’s, Breconshire. The youngest male servant was Frank Sloman from Dorset, who was 19 years old.

Frederick Tippett was single [aged 30 in 1901 census] and although his job title isn’t known, he was most likely employed as a footman, with his duties clearly defined. He would have been a subordinate to the butler and if there was more than one footman, could have been placed in a ranking system according to height, size and good looks. Most were over six-feet tall, but additional inches could add additional income.

Often footmen were matched in size to maintain conformity in their joint appearance, and they were trained to act in unison. Frederick would have had a great many duties, ranging from seeing the head of the household and guests into their carriages on departure and receiving them on their arrival; polishing the household copper and plate; waiting at the table; and cleaning knives, cutlery, shoes and boots. Other duties at various times included trimming lamps; running errands; carrying coal; lighting the house at dusk; cleaning silver and gold; answering the drawing room and parlour bells; announcing visitors; waiting at dinner; attending the gentlemen in the smoking room following dinner; and attending in the front hall as guests were leaving. His uniform would have been white tie and tails with brass buttons that were most likely stamped with the Morgan family crest.

In 1891, the same time as our man from the Black Country was employed at Tredegar House, one of the servants wrote a letter to a friend, who was also a servant at a house in North Wales. Extracts from the letter give an indication of what the daily routine below stairs was like, particularly in the kitchen …
“There is a man in the kitchen who prepares and cooks all the meat, he’s the butcher. Then there is a man in the scullery, also a woman kept for washing up, and two still-room maids, and a woman comes every day to bake the bread. So there are five in the kitchen and two regularly in the scullery. I am afraid Miss Brown that sounds very much like a fairy tale, but when I tell you there are fourteen cold meats sent up every day for my Lord’s luncheon including four or five hot dishes, you will understand there is some work to be done in the kitchen alone. ”

For his service to Lord Tredegar, Frederick would have been paid £20 – £40 per annum, worked virtually every day from early morning till late at night, and only enjoyed some leisure time on a Sunday afternoon, or an occasional half day which was a reward if his work was deemed satisfactory and his behaviour conducted without blemish. Christmas at Tredegar House for Frederick would have been busier than ever. But come Twelfth Night he and the other servants would have been able to let their hair down and enjoy dancing and general merriment in the servants’ hall until the early hours. But woe-betide any who had too much to drink, for their duties started again at 6am the same morning.

Beatrice Mina Louise Coombs – Wife of John Evans Chauffeur at Tredegar House

lady crop

Article provided by Martyn Evans a family relative and member of Friends of Tredegar House

 Beatrice Mina Louise Coombs was born in Buckhorn Weston North Dorset 18th August 1892, one of six children to John and Elizabeth Coombs.John Coombs was born in1861. By the age of 20 in 1881 he was an agricultural labourer,he then went on to work for the council repairing roads with his 2 sons.

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In 1911 Beatrice was working as a housemaid – one of sixteen live-in staff, for the Earl & Countess of Melville & Leven in their London home and also at Kirtlington Park in Oxfordshire.

The Earl was only 24 – having lost his father in 1906.

Sadly, he was only to live another three years.
By co-incidence Frederick Morgan’s (of Ruperra Castle) great-grand-daughter and great grand-daughter live in Kirtlington.

Kirtlington Park near Oxford is now a prestige a wedding venue http://www.kirtlingtonpark.co.uk/

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Photo courtesy of Guy Collier Photography – http://guycollierphotography.com

In 1913 Beatrice came to Tredegar House as a housemaid. Maude Williams the Housekeeper was her cousin. Maude had previously worked for the Sturt family at their London home and at Crichel (Evan Morgan’s first wife was Lois Sturt) and no doubt encouraged her cousin to apply for the job.

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Crichel – where Lois Sturt was brought up. Have a look at her home in these wonderful Country Life photographs
http://www.countrylifeimages.co.uk/Search.aspx?s=crichel%20house

Beatrice met her future husband John Evans chauffer to both Courtenay Morgan and Evan Morgan. Look at the link on this website about the Servants and Estate Workers (under Tredegar House Topics) to read more of John (fondly known as Jack by the family) and his capture by Turk Rebels in 1916.

Link to article mentioned above.

http://www.friends-of-tredegar-house.co.uk/home/john-evans-chauffeur-to-lord-tredegar/

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Beatrice and John married in 1922 in Buckhorn Weston North Dorset in 1923 they had one son. They lived at Tredegar Park Cottages opposite Cleppa Park, an estate house that John’s parents & grandparents had lived in.
When John passed away in November 1965 Beatrice stayed in the house until the early 1970s, she then moved back to Buckhorn Weston to live with her sister. Beatrice passed away on 30th November 1976

Beatrice Mina Louise Coombs
What must have it been like for these young women to work in such grand houses when most of them had been brought up in humble surroundings?

 

Hilary Barrett interview with John Watkins, who worked at the house from 1950 -1956

In 1950, at the age of 15, John Watkins started a 5 year Apprenticeship as a Maintenance Fitter in the Tredegar Park Workshops which were situated in the Home Farm complex of the Tredegar Estate. He completed his apprenticeship and worked on the estate until 1956.

He had been born and brought up in Pencarne Cottages, Coedkernew. A tenanted cottage on the Tredegar Estate.  The cottage had no electricity, running water or indoor toilet. A family of frogs lived in the well in the garden. His mother cooked on a black lead grate and candles and oil lamps were in use to light the cottage. John shared a bedroom with his brother and grandfather. The rent on the cottage was 3s 6p a week.

His father ran his own business building farm carts but had previously worked on the estate and had driven the first estate lorry – a Morris Commercial vehicle which operated out of the Tredegar Estate Rhiwderin workshops. This lorry conveyed workers to undertake repair work on the estate farms.

The iron work for Johns’ fathers carts was undertaken by the Tredegar Estate blacksmiths. It was on an occasion that Johns father was visiting the workshops that they mentioned they needed an apprentice in the blacksmith and fitting shop. John was taken on to learn his trades.

There were 2 adult engineers and 3 apprentices in the workshops who undertook all maintenance work within Tredegar House and the outlying buildings and grounds.

He worked a 46 ½ hour week, including Saturday mornings. 8am to 5pm (30 mins lunch with no other breaks during the day). He had one weeks holiday a year and earned 9 old pence per hour in the first year. In 1956 when he left estate employment John was earning 3s an hour.

 All members of the engineering staff worked in the blacksmiths forge and did all the forge work apart from shoeing the one horse that was left on the estate. There was a shoeing iron, 3 anvils and bellows (which were later replaced by a big blower which fed the three forges). The workshop was situated in the buildings now occupied by Isca Woodcrafts.

John had to turn his hand to any remedial or new work that was needed and remembers how Tredegar House was left bare after the building and contents were sold in 1951. He was then part of the conversion team installing plumbing and electrical wiring and turning rooms into classrooms.

He states the nuns were “pretty good to us” “although the boarders were warned to keep away from me after I had taken some for a ride on my motorbike in my lunch break”!

“Nothing changed” on the estate when the nuns took over.  “The farm was still working in the 1950’s and possibly for another 20 years, after which there a was compulsory purchase order for part of the grounds for the building of the new Duffryn school”. “The gardeners were also kept on in employment by the convent”.

There was a rick yard and a poultry farm in front of the estate workshop (with thatched roofs) and John remembers, when food was still under rationing, locking the chickens in their shed until they had lain an egg for his dinner.

Potatoes grown on the estate were stored within clamps in the rick yard area and sold in sacks to local shops. Local labourers picked the potatoes in season.

“In the orchard behind the workshops were lovely fruit trees. Pear trees grew up the walls. “

There was an Apple House in the kitchen gardens used for storing all the ripe apples.

Where the car park now exists was the sports ground for staff, overlooked by two sports pavilions, and surrounded by chestnut trees. After the war when there was no timber available to be purchased these pavilions were dismantled and the wood used for repairs in the house

The open sheds over looking the sports ground housed the farm equipment – tractors and combines.

During WW11 John remembers American Forces being billeted in corrugated iron Nissan huts built on the sports ground. “There were military vehicles parked all over estate land, around the lake and as far as the eye could see. There were sentries posted at the entrance to the estate. The forces were being prepared for the Normandy Landings and there were men sleeping in vehicles. Along Forge Lane were French and Canadian troops, with tanks and tank carriers. Behind the walls were stacked cans and cans of petrol”.

John remembers one day during that time when 5 small planes circled over the area and came into land alongside his cottage. American jeeps came to meet the passengers and took them away to Tredegar House where they were negotiating the Normandy Landings. Sentries were left on duty to guard the planes. Johns’ parents allowed the sentries to sleep on the floor of their cottage. John remembers the cocoa the soldiers provided.

One morning John when walked to school and the area was like a ghost town – the forces had all left for the beginning of the Allied Invasion.

After the war the “War Agriculture” set up base in the Nissan huts. This was a government led initiative which hired out plant to farmers for ploughing, hay making and seeding to grow food during the rationing years. Johns’ boss bought a big charging system to charge batteries for the “War Ag”. One of Johns’ jobs was to use a small valve charger in the workshop to charge radio batteries for the local residents.

After the war the Nissan huts were also used to provide housing for demobbed soldiers and those without housing.

In the fields opposite the estate worked Italian and German prisoners of war. They were very clever people and would barter for pieces of clean board to use when making willow baskets. They would also take 2 shilling and half crown pieces and tap the metal out to make “nice rings”. “One German blacksmith prisoner made the farmer many unbelievable things”.

In the 1950s, when there was still running water to the mill, the engineers attempted (but failed) to get the old Mill machinery working. They did however repair the laundry machinery for the convent. “The washing tubs were like half beer barrels, it was so long since they were in use they were leaking and had rusted bands. They had to be re banded with new bands made in the workshop”. “We made flat strips on the anvil and measured and riveted them together, fitted them and then took the barrels to the lake to soak and swell them”.

“There was also a big ironing machine which went back and forth. It was full of bricks to weigh it down”. “There was a Bendix paddle operated washing machine which had an open motor on the side and open gears driving it it”. “There were lots of people working in the laundry”.

John describes a bell with a rope pull over the porch of the Brewhouse. There were servants quarters downstairs in the Brewhouse and a games room upstairs in the Morgan room, with table tennis and a snooker table.

The weigh bridge outside of Brians House was not working in the 1950’s.

The Barrett family lived in Home Farm cottage.

The Carpenters shop was situated at the end of the Great Barn. He made the cart wheels which were then taken to the engineers shop for banding on the large metal circle which lay outside the workshop, but now lies outside of the Great Barn doors. The carpenters shop business eventually

became private and did work for local schools as well as Tredegar House. Bert Marsh was the Head Carpenter. “He was a fine carpenter with an unbelievable tool chest”.

Next to the carpenters shop, the last door at the end of the Great Barn was Alan Rees’ cart shed. “Alan was quite a character and lived in the Lodge at one time”- “Alan moved anything with his cart and took ashes away from the boiler house. He sold cigarettes and wheeled and dealed out of his shed”.

Horse drawn sleighs hung from beams in the barn next to Alans’ shed. They were still there after the house sale but the rest of the house was bare.

There were Indian canoes and a gondola on the lake and on the side of the lake, now grown over, was a “massive fire pump incase of fire in the house”. It worked the emergency points – around the outside of the courtyard were red boxes with stand pipes and fire fighting equipment. 

Upstairs in the stables there are carved names on the walls and there are also names scratched on the lead weights of the window sashes in the Nursery wing. (The sash cords were renewed in the early 1950s  – when John and his team also added their names).

During WW11 a 2 metre flat walkway was built around the chimneys to enable fire watching duties and John describes massive tube like structures for sliding down in an emergency from the upstairs rooms. In the 1950’s the estate had very large wind up fire escape ladders, used for undertaking repairs to the roof. These ladders had to be taken apart, with wheels taken off, to get them into the inner courtyard.

The main water tank on the roof was lined with lead and soldered. Galvanised tanks were later put inside this tank. There was a big cast iron boiler in the cellar which was taken apart in the 1950’s

The chandelier over the main staircase was re wired in the 1950’s. The chandelier was put on a trolley and taken to the workshop. It was originally manufactured to be used with candles and it proved a difficult task to thread the wires through the parts.

John states two of his jobs on a Saturday were to run the fire pump by the lake and to wind up the stable clock. This mechanism was on weights, with a big handle to pull the weights up. He also remembers walking through Cleppa Park Woods to the water reservoir to take  daily meter readings at the Filter House. He had to clean the filters and fill up the chlorine jar, which pumped chlorine into the water supply to purify it. This supply served the whole Tredegar Park Estate and surrounding areas, almost as far as Castleton.

John describes a big culvert running under the courtyard (big enough to crawl into). This became blocked in the convent days and had to be cleared – the nuns were cutting up telephone directories for use as toilet paper!

In the kitchen gardens was a sub station to provide electricity for the house – with the electricity cables entering via the back door. When there was a big event on in the House the engineers had to increase the electrical voltage by pulling out the trip switches. All electricity lines were open copper and dead birds would be found on the ground where they had perched on these wires.

John states Evan Morgan was “Nutty as a fruit cake”. He travelled in a chauffeur driven Humber Snipe car but the the family also possessed a French made Hotchkiss car and 2 Rolls Royce. During the war, when no petrol could be obtained, the Rolls were put up for sale for £25 each.

The hunting lodges were situated behind the stud farm in Church Lane Coedkernew. The stud farm was farmed by the Harris family.

There were two lodges off the Forge Lane entrance to the Tredegar estate. Tom David (footman) and his wife lived in one lodge and slept in the other. Every morning, on his way to school John observed Mrs David emptying the contents of their chamber pots into Tredegar House lake.

John also recalls passing “The Lodge” (a cottage located on the A48 opposite the present Greggs bakery). It was lived in by Jack Vaughan and his wife. John states ‘he was always dressed in top and tails – it frightened the life out of us as he looked like an undertaker”.

 There was a footpath to Ruperra castle directly from the gamekeepers cottage.

Tredegar House Engineering staff remembered by John Watkins

George King – Chief Engineer

Charles King (bosses son) was a trained engineer on the estate. He was 35 and had been in the army.

Bryn Phugh – Engineer. Left to go into the services. Became a police inspector.

Derek Street – Apprentice. Was killed in the forces.

Gwyn Bistow – Apprentice. ?lived in Tredegar Street Rhewderin

Jack Sidneys – WW11 veteran

Lionel Short – worked in workshop

Dorothy ……… worked in the engineering office. Had a cockney sort of accent

Other Estate workers

Allan Rees – Handyman/carter.

……. Allen – Head Gardener

Goff Rees – Gardener. Lived in Marshfield when retired. Father of Goff Rees

Oliver Seymour – Gardener

(John remembers the gardeners being permanently bent over when walking. There was no petrol for machinery, they had to dig the large gardens by hand.)

Bert Marsh – Head carpenter

Phyllis Short – worked in kitchen in Evan Morgans time. Sister of Lionel Short

J O Cullimore ran Home Farm,  his son Pat Cullimore then took over. He moved to Greg farm Forge Lane.

Courtney Williams – Land Agent for Tredegar Estate. Collected rents each month.

Maud Williams – Housekeeper -Tredegar House.

Click Photo to see larger one

Click Photo to see larger one

The above photo shows the servants in Mauds sitting room along with chauffeur John Evans’ mother .

she is the elderly lady sat at the table at tea time.

Martyn Evans has put togeather this article about Maud Williams.
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     Maud Williams – Housekeeper  Tredegar House.

Born Fanny Maud Williams June1879, in Buckhorne Weston North Dorset.
Daughter of George Williams & Mary Hayter.

Maud was the youngest of 5 children,her father was an agricultural labourer.

 In the 1901 she was working as a servant at 39 Portman Square London for the
Hon. Humphrey Sturt MP ( Lord Alington) from Moor Critchell near Wimbourne Dorset,

& Lady Feodora Sturt.

They had 3 children Diana aged 16.Napier G  aged 4,& Lois J Sturt aged 7 months.

In 1911 she had become housemaid still working at Portman Square for the Sturt family.
Lois at this time  was aged 10: in 1928 Lois married Evan Morgan.

In 1920 approx maud became housekeeper at Tredegar House.

when she left tredegar she moved back to Buckhorn Weston North Dorset

  to be in later life she moved to North Mymms to be near her neice.

She passed away the 18th july 1966 aged 87. and is buried along with her parents at Buckhorn Weston.

John Evans Chauffeur to Lord Tredegar.

The following article was sent by Martyn Evans from Christchurch Dorset, formerly of Newport.

Martyn is a member of Friends of Tredegar house. Martyn’s great great grandfather John Evans worked at Tredegar estate until his death in 1861 as a stud groom. John was the first family member to work at Tredegar House. His great grandfather George worked as a stud groom, followed by his son, John Evans. His grandfather and grandmother Beatrice Mina Louise Coombs met John whilst working at Tredegar House. They married in 1922 in Dorset. His Pop was chauffeur to Lord Tredegar, Beatrice’s  cousin was Maud Williams housekeeper. Martyn’s grandparents lived at Tredegar Park Cottages opposite Cleppa Park also the two generations before them in the same house. Lord Tredegar gave them the house to live in until they died or moved out. His Nan stayed in the house until the early 1970’s, then moved to Dorset with her sister.   .

pop evans sat in car outside Tredegar House with 2 others

 

John Evans – Chauffeur to Lord Tredegar.

John Evans, born in 1892 was the third generation of the Evan’s family to work at Tredegar House, following on from his father & grandfather before him.In 1911 census he is shown as being a groom/domestic.

He was a keen sportsman & played rugby for Newport 1912/1913. In WW1 he joined the Royal Gloucester Hussars Yeomanry, he was captured by the Turks in 1916

When he returned to Tredegar House at the end of WW1, he resumed his job a groom & used to ride out with Viscount Tredegar. In 1923, he was made chauffeur & was responsible for looking after the vehicles at Tredegar House .

He was presented with this prestigious Chauffeur’s certificate by the Rolls Royce company as recognition of the fact that he could drive and maintain a Rolls Royce car.

Evidently Lord Tredegar was pleased with John, as the certificate was only awarded after information was received from the owner of the Rolls & periodical inspections by Rolls Royce. John drove the Rolls Royce cars at Tredegar House, for the period September 1923 to October 1935.

Rolls Royce certificate awarded to John Evans

 

Pop and Bike

 

Pop and the Rolls Royce

 

 

 

 

John Evans with cricket scoreboard (click to view larger photo

John Evans with cricket scoreboard (click to view larger photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Terrible Turk

NEWPORT CAVALRY MAN’S NARRATIVE,

Stripped and Beaten in the Street

“To be a prisoner in the hands of the Turks for two years and seven months is, as one may well imagine, not a pleasant experience, and Corpl. Jack Evans, of the Royal Gloucester Hussars (Yeomanry), who has been subjected to that trying ordeal, is very thankful to be back in Blighty again. Corpl. Evans, who in civil life was a chauffeur to Lord Tredegar, is well-known locally as a speedy Rugby wing three-quarter and path runner. His home is at Tredegar Cottages, near Newport, and he is a son of Mr. Evans, for many years stud groom to the late Viscount Tredegar and the present Lord Tredegar. Corpl. Evans took part in the Dardanelles campaign, being at Suvla Bay four days after the first landing there. The Yeomanry, it will be remembered, were dismounted here, and to all intents and purposes filled the role of infantry. Evans was here two months, and was slightly wounded in the arm. He afterwards went to Egypt, and was at Katra, in the neighbourhood of the Suez Canal when captured by the Turks on April 23, 1916. He was one of a squadron of about 87 men, who were cut off from the main force by an overwhelming body of Turks numbering some 3,000, with reinforcements many miles away, and no hope of reaching them, and about half the squadron were wiped out before they finally surrendered.”

Their Death Ride.

“They were marched across the desert a distance of about 200 miles, to Beersheba, and what they suffered en route is too terrible to relate. A German, said to have been a captain of the Goeben, was in command. The prisoners were stripped of all rations, and in some cases the boots were taken off their feet, and for five days whilst on the tramp they did not have any food to eat. All they subsisted on was water which they obtained from wells, found in intervals of about 30 miles apart. But whilst the ravages of hunger were in themselves awful to experience the lot of the unwounded captives was not nearly so bad as the plight of those who happened to be disabled when captured. Men badly wounded in vital parts were put astride upon camels, and not one of them survived the journey. For sheer cruelty it would want beating. At Beersheba the remnants of the party entrained for Jerusalem, where they stayed one night and then went on to Damascus. Here they remained a week, and afterwards continued their journey to Aleppo, where they remained but one night before being sent to Afion Kara Hissar where they were put to work road-making, starting work at 4.30 in the morning, and knocking off at eight o’clock in the evening.”

Stripped and Beaten.

“A Turkish naval officer was in charge of the camp, and the prisoners were at times brutally beaten with a “cowhide” whip when found guilty of imaginary offences. Evans himself was on one occasion kicked, punched in the jaw, and then knocked senseless for daring to exchange a few words with another prisoner, and later the same day was stripped in the street, outside the baths, and was struck across his naked back with a “cowhide” whip.”

“The prisoners were also called out early in the morning to steal stones that had been blasted from a rock by the Armenians, and this stone was used in roadmaking. Corpl. Evans was afterwards put upon a much lighter and easier task” water fatigue” which meant overlooking a water party.”

“Later he was removed to the neighbourhood of Constantinople, and was here for three months.

The prisoners were subjected to much better treatment at this quarter, and they used to cheer the British aeroplanes as they came over and bombarded the place. Occasionally, however, the raiders dropped their missiles too near to where the prisoners were housed for the latters’ peace of mind. The armistice was signed on Thursday, but it was not until the Sunday that the glad news leaked through to the captives, and they gave way to rejoicing.”

No Medical Attention.

“During the whole time Corpl. Evans was in Turkish hands he never saw a doctor, but they had medicine sent to them through the Dutch Legation in Constantinople. Men died through want of medical care. He was at Constantinople when the British Fleet arrived, and they had a good time compared with their previous experiences at the close of their stay in that part of the world.”

“Corpl. Evans took part in sports and enjoyed a fine measure of success, capturing six firsts, one second, and one third prize. Strange to say, however, it was in putting the weight, throwing the cricket ball, long and high jumping and wrestling etc., and not as a runner that he was most successful. He seemed to have lost a lot of his former dash as regards speed.”

“The statement, previously made, that the Turks took very few prisoners in the Dardanelles campaign, is lent colour to by Corporal Evans, who says he saw very few men who had fallen into the hands of the Turks during the fighting on the Peninsula, and there can be no doubt that many were killed by the enemy after they had been taken prisoners. Corporal Evans refers with deep regret to the fact that Corporal W. Morgan of Michaelstone, who was captured by the Turks in October 1917, died from dysentery just before the armistice was signed.

pop evans at tredegar in yeomanry uniform0001 (2)

pop evans at Tredegar in Yeomanry uniform

 

 

pop at bullford camp salisbury

pop at bullford camp salisbury

postcard to home click here to see larger photo

postcard home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Newport Dragons supporters will be familiar with the ultimate sacrifice made by players and others associated with the club in the two World Wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45. The memory of such sacrifice is honoured each year by the laying of commemorative wreaths at the club’s memorial gates.

What will be less well known are the sacrifices made during those two conflicts by those who survived. John (Jack) Evans was a chauffeur to Lord Tredegar, keen on all sports, he played for the Newport first XV just three times between 1911-12 and 1913-14. According to newspaper reports he “was considered one of the fastest threequarters in Wales”. Enlisting in the Royal Gloucester Hussars he was captured by the Turks in 1916.

Whilst a prisoner he wrote home, on one occasion asking “Is Map. Williams still at home? If so, remember me kindly to him, and thank him for the & pound  he and W. Kelly sent. I have not had it yet, but I will get it allright” (Mapson Williams was a fine Newport forward playing around 150 games for Newport between 1911-12 and 1923-24).

pop evans 1912 team photo

pop evans 1912 team photo

Letter from Captain Morgan

Click on letter to see larger image.

Letter from Captain Frederick Morgan sent to John Evans

(Great Great Grandfather of Martyn Evans)

 

John Evans my grandfather with 2 others on Cardiff Rd with the horse & cart.pop is on the extreme left.the gentleman on the right we think is Mr Lambourne,who i think was a coachman at Tredegar House,he lived next to nan & pop

John Evans my grandfather with 2 others on Cardiff Rd
with the horse & cart.pop is on the extreme left.the gentleman on the right we think
is Mr Lambourne,who I think was a coachman at Tredegar House,he lived next to nan & pop

With thanks for all research material to Martyn Evans

 Link to the 2nd Article

 

Transcript of Interview by M.R. Apted and Mrs B.M. Evans, 15th February, 1973

 

Courtenay Morgan (Lord Tredegar) with his sister Violet Mundy who used to act as The Lady of Tredegar House. Katharine Morgan, Lady Tredegar rarely visited the House, preferring her homes at Honeywood House, Dorking or in London

What about Lord Tredegar and the Servant’s Ball?

His sister was always with him – Mrs. Mundy, the men would line the one side and we would line the other side in the hall. It was the length of the hall when we started the dance.

Going right back to the beginning of the dance, did you get a formal invitation with a card? Did invitations go out before the dance?

Oh, yes, and you had an invitation. You could invite someone, you see.

You’d get an invitation on a card, which would invite you to bring someone to the ball as a partner?

Well, of course, we didn’t exactly have the cards, but I think there was the invitation cards going out for people, you see, but I don’t think I ever had a card. I don’t think I did, but there were invitations sent out for people you could invite.

Now, Mr. Seyama (Gardener) is obviously not a dancing man.

No. No, Oliver didn’t go much.

You probably went to a lot, did you?

I went to every one.

What did you do about a dress? I mean, you knew it was coming up. What did you do about a costume?

They were beautiful dresses.

Did you make it yourself or did you have it made?

Oh, no, I used to buy them. Oh, they were beautiful dresses. They all had long dresses, you know, marvellous dresses they were, and it was a lovely ball, and it was beautiful.

And it started at 8 o’clock?

It started at 9 o’clock. As the clock struck 9, His Lordship was there, and then,  of course, up the sides and down the middle, we used to call it. Roger de Coverly (a dance). He’d start the ball then, and the last dance – I always danced the last dance with my husband – he wasn’t my husband then, but after. At 6 o’clock in the morning, when the stable clock struck 6 it would end. We’d go through the whole night, the whole night.

Coming back to the beginning, when the clock struck 9, you all went in. Now, was His Lordship there?

We were already lined up for His Lordship to come to take the head of the thing.

So the clock struck 9 and he came down the stairs?

Yes.

Now what about the tune? Is Oliver right about the tune?

Well, I think Oliver must have been right. I forget the name, you see.

But he was right in saying you were all lined up?

Oh, yes, yes, yes. All the men up one side and all the girls the other side.

Was this mostly people from inside the House or were there a lot of people from outside, people who worked on the estate?

Not in the first dance.

I see. Well, who was in the first dance?

Mostly all the estate people in the first dance with His Lordship, all the estate people.

And, then, after that, the other guests could come in?

Well, then, after that, people took the floor, you see – everybody.

What sort of music was there?

Oh, we used to have Mr. Wallace from Cardiff and his band, him and his sons – I think it was his sons in the band. He was there always for the ball, and he used to play for the weekly dances, as well, that we had.

What about refreshments? You didn’t go right through until 6 o’clock with nothing?

Refreshments? You never saw anything like it – marvellous. In the Housekeeper’s Room – everything was laid out there – in the Housekeeper’s Room. That was for the refreshments. Your supper was in the kitchen.

You mean that, during the dance, there were refreshments in the Housekeeper’s Room?

Oh, yes, next to the Servant’s Hall.

So that was where all the beer and wine was?

All the wine and fruit and everything you could mention.

And you could go in there any time?

Anyone could go in any time. Of course, there were people there to see what you wanted and that, you know. And in the Still Room, they used to have their coffee – whatever they wanted there.

What about supper?

The supper was in the kitchen. You’d go in for supper…..well, I suppose you’d call it supper.

Was there a special time for supper?

Oh, only a certain time for that. You had tremendous dishes down the whole side, the whole length of the kitchen, and everything was cooked there, of course, in the kitchen; everything was cooked in the kitchen.

And people just went in within the time and they helped themselves?

People were told the time for their supper, you see. For a lot of years it was just standing up…..I forget, but we used to have sitting down at one time, years ago.

People helped themselves from the table – a sort of buffet idea?

There was food on the table, but there were people there to see what you wanted. There was different foods, you see: joints of beef – you never saw nothing like it, never; you never saw a table like it, and everything free.

Then at 6 o’clock in the morning, the bell went and you went straight off back to work?

Well, at 6 o’clock in the morning, the last dance was played, and that was it. The stable clock was striking 6 as we came out of the ballroom.

So you went out of the ballroom at 6 and went straight back to work?

Had to go to work after. Had to go to work after. Yes. The Victory Ball – when we had The Victory Ball – that was after the 1st World War – I don’t think I undid my hair for three days.

Why? Because it was so beautiful, you mean?

Well, we hadn’t the time, you see. Oh, yes, it was marvellous. That was a lovely ball, that was, the Victory Ball he gave.

And what were the weekly dances?

Oh, they were lovely. Just among ourselves and that, you know.

Every week on a Saturday or something like this – a regular thing in winter was it?

Well, it would all depend when Mr. Wallace could come. Now, usually, it was Friday; I think it was, if I remember right.

Now, as I’ve gradually been getting the picture: you arrived in 1913, so you had a period before the war, you had a period in the war itself, and you had a period after the war, and then, of course, as a wife, you were on the estate. Were there big differences between the period before the war and the period after the war, or was it very much the same?

No, no, very much the same. No difference at all, not what you could call difference. No, it was all much the same. Everybody went on the same.

Then you were living in one of the estate houses after you were married, were you?

Same house I’m in now.

Yes, so your husband was working as chauffeur, and when did he retire? How long was he there?

Oh, well, you see, during the war, they had to work anywhere else – the last war I’m talking of now. Well, I don’t know what age he was when he retired – 70, I suppose.

But he retired early in the war?

Oh, no, after the war, but during the war, you see, they had to go and do war work. He was still with Tredegar, of course.

So you were directly connected with the estate, right through?

Oh, yes, until the 1930’s.

And when he retired. Was this still Evan Morgan’s time?

Oh, yes, he was still at Tredegar then.

But he wasn’t there when John was here?

Oh, no – John Morgan, Lord Tredegar? No, not then. He’d finished then, you see.

So he really finished in Evan Morgan’s time?

Yes, I suppose you would say that.

Now you started back in 1913. How did you come to Tredegar yourself if you weren’t a Monmouthshire girl?

Because I was with the Countess of Leven and Melbourne before I came to Tredegar – Viscount Portman’s daughter.

In London?

Yes, in London. And a cousin of mine was a Housekeeper at Tredegar, and they wanted a 4th housemaid – a 3rd housemaid, and so, of course, I took the place, and that’s how I got there, you see.

When you got there, was anybody a bit jealous because you were related to the Housekeeper?

No, no, no-one. No-one.

How did the House work? You had men staff, you had women staff. Did the men all come under the Butler and the women the Housekeeper?

Yes, that’s right. We were all under the Housekeeper and the House Steward.

How many women were there – you were the 3rd?

We were 5 housemaids.

Starting at the top, you had a Housekeeper. Then what?

Yes, we had a Housekeeper. I was a 3rd. I went down to Tredegar for the 2nd, and, you know, the 2nd housemaid that I took the place of, she was 70, the head housemaid was 80 – that was the old servants, nothing to do with us, but the ones that I took the place of. And, of course, when Courtenay, Lord Tredegar came into it, they left then. Of course, that was the old servants belonging to the old Lord Tredegar (Godfrey).

You had a Housekeeper and you had housemaids.

A Housekeeper, 5 Housemaids, and how many in the kitchen? 6, I think. Of course, the kitchen weren’t under the Housekeeper: the kitchen was under the Cook or the Chef, at least then, when we went.

So would the Housekeeper be responsible for the kitchen side?

No.

Would the Chef deal directly with His Lordship in fact?

Yes, the Chef dealt directly to the dining room.

Now, as a Housemaid, you didn’t have anything to do with serving at table, that sort of thing; it was looking after the rooms.

No, nothing at all. The House Steward used to sit at the head of the table, and, of course, the Butler and footmen all followed down the one side. Housekeeper, Housemaids (kitchenmaids never used to come to the big table), the still room maids used to, and the laundrymaids, of course: there were 3 in the laundry, I think it was, or 4 in the laundry, and 1 in the dairy.

Now would all these girls come under the Housekeeper?

Yes, they’d come under the Housekeeper.

So she was a very important person?

Oh, yes, yes, yes, she was, very.

So this was, in fact, your aunt?

Cousin.

Your cousin, when you went there. Now she presumably wouldn’t have a uniform, would she?

Oh, no. A uniform? She didn’t wear one. Not like we did. I think she wore print dresses though. I forget. But she had no cap, nothing of that.

What did you as a Housemaid wear?

I used to wear the print dresses and the caps.

This was a print dress with an apron – during the daytime?

An ordinary dress, you see, a print dress. Oh, yes, and an apron. And then, in the afternoon, you used to have black, you see. You used to have your black dress to put on in the afternoon.

Now were all the print dresses the same or could you choose your own print?

Oh, no, you could choose your own print. Oh yes, you could get your own dress, of course.

And then, in the afternoon, and evening…

You had your black dresses, of course, the same, and the cap: those that were on duty, of course.

Were these supplied by the House?

No, you got your own.

Was there any difference when you were promoted up the scale? Where did you finish up as – no. 1 housemaid?

Yes, I was head of 5 when I left Tredegar.

Now, did that make any difference to what you wore? How did people know you were the boss?

No, no.

Now, was there a big difference in your duties when you started as No. 5 and you finished as No.1? What difference did it make as you went up the scale?

Oh, well, of course, you had different jobs, you see. You wouldn’t have grates to do, nothing of that to do.

Now, when you started, you lived in the House?

Tredegar House? Oh, yes, always.

Are these the rooms in the top storey now?

Yes, on the top landing.

And you had a room to yourself?

Yes.

I know earlier on you had sometimes 3 maids in a room.

That was in the room beyond me. That was the under-housemaids, you see, there.

So you had a room to yourself?

Oh, yes, I had a room to myself, always.

What time did your day start?

Oh well, it all depends on what work we had to do. Of course, sometimes we were up at 6, you see, and then you would usually finish in the afternoon, about 4 or half past, before tea.

Then when you got up – there was no running water presumably – did you have a jug full of water in your bedroom?

Oh, yes, there was always water in the bedrooms, and, well, the bathroom wasn’t very far away, you see.

And whose job was it to keep the bedroom tidy? Did you keep your own room tidy?

Oh, yes, you would keep your own room tidy. We would, of course we would, and see to all the water and everything in our place.

So you then got up at six-ish?

Yes, we had to, sometimes.

And you put your print on, and it was your job to do the grates and lay the fires and light the fires?

That was the under-housemaids; the under-ones would do that, you see; the 4th housemaid would do that, mostly.

And then you would all have your breakfast together at the same time.

Yes, we had our own room for breakfast.

Now, we’re talking particularly about the room that belonged to the housemaids. You had your own room where you had your own breakfast. Was this on the top floor?

Yes, right on the very top.

And you had your breakfast there.

Oh, no, we had our own room for breakfast over the kitchen. Our sitting room had to go upstairs on the first floor.

So probably the Housekeeper had a sitting room?

Oh, yes, she had her own in the Housekeeper’s Room, and the housemaids had their own. And, of course, the kitchen staff was in the kitchen – they had theirs in the kitchen, and the still room maids had theirs in the still room.

Just the Housemaids had theirs upstairs. I see. Then what did you do in the morning? Was it mostly keeping the rooms tidy?

Oh, yes, seeing that all the rooms were straightforward and everything, and everything done properly. Oh, yes, it all had to be done in the morning, and then, of course, in the afternoon – I suppose some had to be finished off in the afternoon. But you had your time in the morning to get all your important work done, first thing in the morning. Now, you had to do the dining room, drawing rooms and all things like that. You’d do all this before breakfast – before breakfast.

That’s the public rooms, you might call them?

That’s the dining room, drawing rooms, front hall and everything. All the downstairs rooms. They all had to be done before breakfast. After breakfast, you went upstairs and seen to the bedrooms.

Now did you have specific rooms to do or did your job vary from day to day?

No, you had your own rooms to see to, the same pretty well every day. I don’t see that it varied much at all. You had your work to do and you knew what work you had to do.

Who gave you your orders? Would it be the Housekeeper?


The Housekeeper.

And she would…

She would see that that was all done, you see. She would see that the girls did all the work.

So that, by mid-day, all the ground floor had been done, and all the house had been done, really.

Oh, yes, and upstairs, pretty well. Oh well, I daresay there would be bathrooms and that after lunch, really, to see to, but all the main had been done before lunch.

Oh, did you get a break in the morning? Did you get together for a cup of tea at 11 o’clock?

Oh, yes, you could do, about 11, yes, if you wanted it, in our own room.

And what about lunch?

For lunch you would go to the Servant’s Hall. You would all go to the Servant’s Hall for lunch.

Was there just one big  table down the middle?

Oh, yes, that’s right. Well, it was the whole length of the Servant’s Hall, pretty well, anyway. But I think the Catholics, of course, the nuns, I don’t know them now, but I used to know them because they used to come up sometimes….but I think they’ve still got the Ball floor down, haven’t they? I don’t think they ever took it up, did they?

No

No, I thought not.

Then you had this one long table. Were there benches down the sides or chairs?

I suppose you would call them benches.

3 or 4 people to a bench?

Yes, they’d sit on the one long stool, you see, then they’d be another one, right down the length of the table.

Did the Steward have a chair at one end?

He had his at the top of the table.

And the Housekeeper at the bottom?

The Housekeeper sat next to the Steward.

So he was the top man?

Yes. The Housekeeper would sit next to the Steward, on his right. All the men down the one side and the girls on the other.

Apart from the Housemaids, who else would sit on your side of the table?

I think the still room maids. There was only the still room – the kitchen maids didn’t come into the hall at all. There was us and the still room, I suppose.

What about the dairymaids and people?

Oh, yes, the dairymaid and the laundrymaids, they used to come up. Of course they did.

How many Housemaids?

Well, there was the 5 of us, you see.

How many still room?

There were two still room maids, head and the 2nd.

How many dairymaids?

There was 1 dairymaid, and the laundrymaids – now, let me see, I don’t know whether there were 3 or 4 laundrymaids, I can’t remember, but, anyway, they would all sit on the same side. The housemaids would be in first…..no, I think the head housemaid, the head still room, and, I think, the head of the laundry, they used to come first, then the others would follow down.

On the men’s side, then who were on the men’s side?

There would be the Butler, the under-butler, the 1st footman, the 2nd footman, and, now then, did the Hall Boy come before….yes, the Hall Boy would come after, I suppose.

Now, for your lunch, did you have the whole meal in the hall, or did you eat the meat course in the hall and then go back to your room for pudding?

Oh, no, no. They had the meat, the joint, the tremendous joint that was brought in at the top, which the House Steward used to carve – all the vegetables, of course. Then, when you had the pudding, you would take your own pudding to your own sitting room. We used to take ours to the housemaids’ room.

You’d get your pudding from the table and then go off to the housemaids’ room?

You’d go up to your own sitting room. You’d finish your meat, you see, vegetables and everything, on the big table, then you’d leave that table, go to your own place.

Was there a sort of formal beginning to the meal? Did anyone say grace?

The House Steward did.

Was there a bell to call you to the meal?

No, there was no bell, but then, you knew the time and you knew your seat was all laid out.

Then, at the end of the meal, you went to your own room. At the end of the meal, you went to your own place. What did you do in the afternoon?

What did we do in the afternoon? We had work to do in the afternoon.

You went back to finish off the bedrooms and bathrooms?

Oh, yes, after you’d had your tea or whatever you wanted and your pudding, you would go and start your work, usually about 2 o’clock.

Which was…tidying up the rooms?

Well, yes, tidying up the rooms and doing what you’d have to do – the odd jobs, you see. You’d do the main jobs before.

Then things like putting the flowers in the rooms: did the gardeners do that or did they bring them to you to prepare?

Oh, upstairs, the housemaid had to do that. They would bring them in. The gardeners would bring them in, and you would have to put them in vases, you see.

Then as you went up the scale and became more important, did that mean that you then took over His Lordship’s room?

Oh, yes, I used to do His Lordship’s room.

Presumably the little ones didn’t?

No, well, they used to do the grates and all things like that. And, of course, there was the menfolk’s rooms, the footmen’s rooms – the footmen’s wing (they had their own wing), and the under-housemaids had to do the footmen’s rooms.

But you would be responsible for keeping the important rooms clean?

Oh, yes, I had to see that they were all done.

And when did your day’s work finish?

Well, you would usually get dressed for tea, you see, 5 o’clock, and then, of course, afterwards you had to, after the dinner and that, you had to go round and tidy up the rooms, you see, all things like that.

When did you actually finish – at bedtime, really?

Oh, yes, it all depends what time, sometimes, perhaps about 9 o’clock, 8 o’clock, it all depends on what you had to do and what you had to see to.

Was there any sort of laid-down time – half a day a week off or…

No, no, no. If you wanted it, you could have it. If you didn’t want, you wanted to stay in, you could stay in, that sort of thing.

What about holidays?

Yes, a fortnight’s holiday.

A fortnight’s holiday which you could take when you wanted it?

Well, usually in the summer.

And how were the staff paid? Who paid them?

Oh, the House Steward, Mr. Perrott always paid us. Every month.

Were there any sort of special things? Did you get something at Christmas or birthday?

Oh, yes, we had presents at Christmas.

From His Lordship?

Yes, presents from His Lordship. Well, whatever – I suppose the Housekeeper would have to see to what to get.

What did you do with your holidays?

Well, I used to go to Dorset, of course.

Go back to your home, to where you came from?

Yes, always.

Where was it in Dorset?

Well, I suppose not very far from Weymouth, down that way.

You always kept in close contact with your family, did you?

Always.

Did you write to them regularly?

Well, I don’t know about regularly, but I’m always – we’re down there now a lot, because going on the motorway, it doesn’t take very long, so we often go there of a Sunday, or anything like that.

How old were you when you left home first?

When I left home altogether?

Yes. You went presumably from home into service in London?

Yes, I did. I suppose I wasn’t very old. I went with the Countess of Leven first. I was about 15 or 16, something like that.

And how long did you have with her?

I was with the Countess – I don’t know – I think I was 4 years with her.

Did you notice any big difference between the two houses or was it much the same?

There wasn’t a lot of difference, no. Of course, very big houses, you see, they’re all much more or less the same, aren’t they?

Then when it came to the end of the day or you were going out, how did you get into Newport before…

Well, we had to walk. We just had to walk, you see. And we used to walk across where these offices are now, in Tredegar Park. You know those offices, don’t you? What is it – Statistics?

Yes, I know, those new buildings which have just gone up.

Just gone up. Well, we used to walk around by the lake and walk right across there. I often think of it now when I pass it. To think it’s all built like it is, and we used to walk that way!

How did you get back here? Were you worried about getting back in the dark or did somebody escort you back?

Oh, we were never often out in the dark. No, you were always in, pretty well…

Were there any rules about being in, that you had to be in before a certain time?

Of course, the back door was always locked at a quarter past ten; quarter past ten the door was locked. So, if it was after half past ten, you’d have to ask permission – permission to be out after that time.

Now there were all sorts of jobs. You’ve suggested some of them. What exactly did the still room maids do?

Cake and bread.

Was all the cake and all the bread made in the still room?

All the cake and the bread wasn’t made in the still room. It was made in the bakehouse, but by the still room maids.

So they provided cake and bread. Most of the meat, I suppose would be bought, would it?

Oh, well, yes, they used to have their own sheep, their own mutton, you see, lamb and all things like that; but beef,  I suppose, they had to buy from the butcher.

Again there was a slaughterhouse at Tredegar.

A slaughterhouse. And a place by the kitchen where they used to hang all the meat and that.

Then the dairymaids, they were responsible for milk, cheese and butter?

Only 1 dairymaid; she used to make the butter but not the cheese. She didn’t used to make cheese.

What would happen there? The people from the farm would bring the milk to the dairy every morning?

Yes, from the Home Farm.

What about the laundry? Did all that go on all the time, or did you have a collection on Mondays, that sort of thing?

Oh, no, the laundry was all the time. They used to have a laundrymaid – a laundry man  to do the boilers and all that, and fill them and empty them, when the washing had to come out, you see. We always kept a laundryman.

So the 3 laundrymaids had a full-time job?

Oh, yes, they did all the washing and everything.

Including the staff’s – yours for example?

Oh, no, not the staff; the staff had to get their own done.

And how did you get yours done?

Oh, we used to have a laundry, of course. We sent it to the laundry in Newport.

So what did they do in the House Laundry?

Sheets, tablecloths, towels, everything like that, you see.

And the family’s laundry – what happened to that- His Lordship’s shirts and so on?

Oh, yes, they all had to be done. They would be washed and ironed and then sent up to the House in big laundry baskets.

What about brewing?

Oh, yes, there was a brewer in the brewery in my day. Only one man did the brewing and he would deal with the cellar. They had a big barrel of beer down there called ‘The Prince of Wales’.

Did the staff get a ration of beer?

Oh, yes, they got a ration of beer. Oh yes, yes, we always used to have it if we wanted it. We could always have a jug of beer. Whoever was down in the cellar at the time would draw it for us.

How did the bulk of the stores get to Tredegar? Was most of it brought to the House, or was there a car sent into town? Did the butcher call, for example, that sort of thing?

Yes, the butcher used to bring the meat, I think, but they used to have their town cart, you know, to go to town for different things. There was a man kept up for that, to go to town and get the stuff, whatever they wanted. The butcher used to bring his own meat, and, of course, if they wanted the greengrocers or anything like that, I suppose the Tredegar cart would fetch it.

Were there any special occasions you can remember?

They had Christmas parties for children, but for the grown-ups, the Ball was the main thing.

How much did you see of the family? If you met His Lordship, for example, did he say hello or…

Well, you always knew. You would never get in his way.

You just kept out of the way?

Oh, yes, you would never get in his way. No.

The ladies of the House: did you ever have any direct contact with them, or did everything come through the Housekeeper?

The Housekeeper – well, she was the one to contact us all. I didn’t see much of Lady Tredegar at all.

So, at the ball, who would take the head of the ladies there?

Oh, Mrs Mundy.

Now, who was she? She was the daughter..

His Lordship’s sister.

Sister. I’m sorry, yes, this is Courtenay’s sister.

Courtenay Morgan, yes. That’s the one I was with you see.

And she lived permanently at Tredegar?

No, no. She lived at Thornbury, Gloucestershire. She was staying there, you see. She used to come to stay.

So it was the Housekeeper who really ran the house?

Oh, the Housekeeper would have to see to it, yes.

Then, of course, there were a lot of men working outside, but presumably you didn’t have much to do with them – people like Mr Seyama?

Oh, well, he was in the gardens. Oh, yes, he was outside; he used to see the flowers, bring the flowers in, anything like that.

You say you remember him arriving?

Yes, I was in the dining room. I always remember him. I always say, ‘Oliver, I remember when you came to Tredegar, you were quite a boy. I remember I was in the dining room when you came in to water the flowers.’

You remember he came in as…

He came in as the lad. He was the fresh flowers lad, arrived at the place, you see, came in with his can to water all the flowers.

Can you remember your own first day, when you arrived the first time at Tredegar?

Oh, well, I don’t remember much about it. It was much about the same as it was when I left the Countess, you see.

You presumably came by train?

Oh, yes, I had to come by train.

And a cart would meet you?

Yes, the cart would meet you: a cart, a horse and a trap, I think it was that met us in those days. There was no cars much, was there, then? I forget, I forget…..or whether it was a taxi, I couldn’t tell you. It was one of them, I know.

Now your husband: had his family been on the estate for a long time?

Oh, many years.

Was his father on the estate?

His father and his grandfather before him.

And were they coachmen?

No, his father was Stud Groom, but what his grandfather was, I don’t know.

But anyway, there were at least two generations before?

Oh, they were all on the estate, yes. Oh, yes, his father was Stud Groom of the hunters, of the hunting stable. Mr Petty was the coachman of the carriage horses.

Now would he have lived in the little lodge near where you live?

Yes, the coachman used to live there.

And this is why it’s called Petty’s Lane?

Yes, well, it isn’t called Petty’s Lane, is it. I don’t think. Petty’s Cottage we used to call it, but I think it’s called Pencarn Lane now.

Now, your husband was a chauffeur. Was he a chauffeur right from the beginning, or was he with horses before he was a chauffeur?

Oh, I think he was with his father. At least his father used to give him a mount to ride, and that, and then Lord Tredegar put him to the Rolls Royce Co. to learn the cars, and that’s the way he came the chauffeur.

You mean he actually went up to Rolls Royce and stayed up there?

Oh, yes, yes, he had a certificate for the Rolls Royce driving.

He had the certificate for a very high standard or maintenance, I would think.

Yes, yes.

He went to Rolls Royce before you were married?

Yes, long before.

So you really got to know him when he was…

Yes, he used to drive the Rolls and everything.

And he would go off in the morning to maintain the car presumably, and to test the car.

Oh, yes, he would go down to the garage, of course, you see, and then, of course, if he was wanted, he would have to go.

Where did he have his meals – in the garage?

Oh, he used to come home, used to come home for his meals.

Now, you didn’t ever see old Lord Tredegar – he died before you got there, but Courtenay would be the one that you remember.

Yes, the one that came into it after the old Viscount had died, you see. Courtenay, Lord Tredegar, we called him.

What sort of man was he?

When I was with him, very nice, very, he was. Yes. Everyone knew you wouldn’t get in his way. You wouldn’t go and push yourself in front of him or anything like that. Oh, he was a very nice gentleman, yes, he was.

I always imagine that he went on living very much the same life as his uncle – with the hounds and the farm and all the rest of it, running it very much the same way as before.

That’s right. Oh yes, it was all the same. He never altered nothing of that, and he was a great hunting man, of course.

What about the First World War. Did that make a tremendous difference in the House? You had to manage with fewer people?

Yes, I think we were a little bit on the short side. I don’t know; I don’t remember. I don’t think there was a lot of difference, but a lot of them had to go to the war, you see. Well, my husband – he was in the Territorials before – but he had to go to camp then, to the Royal Gloucesters. He was in the Royal Gloucesters, that’s right, in the Hussars.

Did you come across Evan Morgan at all? You had left, of course, before he inherited.

Oh, yes, I’d left before, but he used to visit in my day – Mr. Evan, we used to call him then. But no, not when he became Lord Tredegar, I wasn’t there then.

No. Do you remember him as a boy?

I remember him as a young lad when he used to come, yes.

Did they divide their time between London and Tredegar?

Yes, they used to go down to London and they used to come to Tredegar.

Evan and his sister?

Yes, one sister, Miss Gwyneth.

They were brought up at Tredegar, were they, mostly?

Well, they were there. They used to visit Tredegar a lot, yes.

And, of course, Evan gradually reduced the connection with Tredegar, didn’t he? It was only opened at weekends. What happened when the family went away – did it affect the running of the House, or did you do it much the same?

When the family went away, you had a certain amount to do, you see – different jobs. Everything in the House would be covered up with cloths. We would clean all the rough stuff; the furniture and everything would be covered up.

Cleaning all the silver, I suppose, would be a special job.

That’s the footmen’s job.

 The footmen – yes

They used to have their own silver place up in the pantry. And they would wait at table too. But that was nothing to do with us. We used to take no notice of that, because we had nothing to do with the menfolk whatsoever.

When the family were away, did you get the same wages?

Oh, yes, just the same. Everything was included. All the food and board.

Do you remember Courtenay’s funeral?

Yes. He’d been abroad. He came home, he was taken ill in London and I think he died in London, but they brought him down to Tredegar. He’s buried at Bassaleg, you know.

They never seemed to use the front door of Tredegar House, is that true?

Yes, the front door was never opened, except for weddings and funerals. The side door was always used. I think that was in the old chap’s time too.

We call the rooms downstairs now the New Hall, the Gilt Room, the Brown Room etc.

Yes, we used to call them the Gilt Drawing Room, the Brown Drawing Room, the Front Hall, the Side Entrance (that’s the side door), and then, upstairs, the principal rooms were the Pink Room and the King’s Room. The others were nice, but these two were the best.

Courtenay – which was his bedroom? Was it the King’s Room?

No, he was never in the King’s Room. I think the Chintz Room was his.

Were there shooting parties. Was Courtenay a sociable man?

Used to be a few that came for shooting and the hunting. He was a very nice gentleman. A very nice gentleman.

Did you find working at Tredegar to be a happy life?

Yes I did.

Why? Why was it a happy life?

Well, I don’t know why it was happy, but there was such a lot of us, you see, and everyone seemed to be very sociable and everything together, you see, that sort of thing.

Yes, it was a little society?

You know, you didn’t seem to go against one another or anything like that. I never knew anybody get the sack. Nobody.

How did you get to know your husband, because he was an outside man and you were an inside woman?

That’s right. Then he used to come inside, just the same, sometimes. Of course, they used to walk in the back door, they never bothered. Yes, just walk in the back door whenever they wanted to.

And once it got accepted that he was your special man, I suppose everybody just didn’t notice?

Well, everybody knew him, of course. They knew him and they knew me. So that was it.

So George was born.

George was born at my home in Dorset. I went home with him. It was a bigger place down home, you see, than where I am now. I suppose that’s why I went, I don’t know. George grew up on the Tredegar Estate though.

Where did the estate children go to school?

Bassaleg. Then he got a scholarship and went to Partin Prythe (?) to be at school there for 3 years.

And then he joined your husband, really?

Yes, that’s right. Well, of course, I think he went with Dr Miller for a little while, then he went to the Force – the Police Force.

You mean he started at Tredegar?

He used to go down to Tredegar a lot. As a boy when he got to work….oh dear, I forget the little job he got at first, I think in a garage.

He went somewhere first and then he came to Tredegar?

Yes, he was at Tredegar for a little while, with Mr. Evan – or Lord Tredegar as he was then. It wasn’t with Courtenay, because he’s too young.

Did he join the Police Force during the War?

He wasn’t in the Police Force during the war because he was in Italy for three years. No, when he came out of the army he joined Newport Police, then he was in the Borough. Of course, its not the borough now – it’s the Gwent Police now – where he’s been ever since – nearly 27 years.

He’s very young looking isn’t he?

He joined when he came out of the army. He isn’t very old I suppose. When he was at home during the war he lived on the Tredegar Estate. He stayed with us until he got out of the army. Of course, after the army, he got married.

Well, I think I’ve taxed you enough.

 

Circa 1920-30’s

 This article was sent from Martyn Evans from Christchurch Dorset, formerly of Newport. Martyn is a member of Friends of Tredegar house. Martyn’s great great grandfather John Evans worked at Tredegar estate until his death in 1861 as a stud groom. John was the first family member to work at Tredegar House. His great grandfather George worked as a stud groom, followed by his son, John Evans. His grandfather and grandmother Beatrice Mina Louise Coombs met John whilst working at Tredegar House. They married in 1922 in Dorset. His Pop was chauffer to Lord Tredegar, Beatrice’s  cousin was Maud Williams housekeeper. Martyn’s grandparents lived at Tredegar Park Cottages opposite Cleppa Park also the two generations before them in the same house. Lord Tredegar gave them the house to live in until they died or moved out. His Nan stayed in the house until the early 1970’s, then moved to Dorset with her sister. Pop was a keen sportsman & used to play rugby for Newport for two seasons prior to WW1, he then signed up & was captured by the Turks in 1916.

 

Nan Evans at Tredegar House

Nan Evans at Tredegar House (click photo for larger photo)

 

 

 

 

Pop Evans

Pop Evans (Click here to enlarge photo)

 

 Link to Article about Pop

 

 

Murder of former Gatehouse Keeper at Tredegar House

Local historian Steve Barber tells the story of The Murder at Tank Cottage

MURDER MOST FOUL AT TANK COTTAGE  in Bassaleg in 1909

Standing within the graveyard of Bethesda Chapel, Rogerstone is the weathered gravestone of Charles and Mary Thomas, who are simply described as having died in Bassaleg on November the 11th 1909.

             

  IN LOVING MEMORY

-OF-

CHARLES THOMAS

WHO DIED AT BASSALEG

NOV. 11TH 1909

AGED 82 YEARS

ALSO OF

MARY THOMAS

BELOVED WIFE OF THE ABOVE

WHO DIED AT BASSALEG

NOV. 11TH 1909

AGED 72 YEARS

 

The facts stated on the gravestone are basically true, but what it does not explain is how they died.  The unfortunate couple were, in fact, discovered brutally clubbed to death, with their heads battered almost beyond recognition, in their very own bed, at Tank Cottage Bassaleg.

 

Mr. Thomas who had only been a pensioner for just two weeks, had formerly worked as an assistant to the Woodman on the Tredegar Estate.  Prior to dwelling at Bassaleg the couple had lived in the Main Lodge of Tredegar House, on Cardiff  Road. Mrs Thomas, for some reason, decided that she did not wish to be involved with opening the entrance gates for visitors.  It was then decided to move the couple to a vacant cottage at Bassaleg.

 On Monday the 15th November, one William Butler, who was initially described in the South Wales Argus as being a 78 year old Crimean War veteran, was arrested and charged with the murder.  Butler had lived in Bassaleg from 1906, being employed at the Tredegar Arms to do odd jobs.  He was also known round Bassaleg as a general labourer and gardener.  He claimed to be a tiler and plasterer.  Investigations showed that his real name was William Clement and that he originated from Nebley in Gloucestershire, and was actually sixty-two years old.

It transpired that he had a past record of crime over a period of some 40 years, and had used the aliases Butler, Palmer, Clements and Brown.  His criminal record indicated that he had been sent to prison for theft at Glamorgan, Gloucester, Monmouth, Brecon and Winchester assizes at various times.

He had been lodging with the respectable West family, in a house now occupied by 22 Caerphilly Road, just two doors away from Tank Cottage.   Both Tank Cottage and the adjoining property, Woodland Cottage, were demolished after the murders, in 1910 and 1911 on the instructions of Lord Tredegar .  The site has been since built over by a single and more modern property, originally constructed for the use of the Curate to St Basil’s Church.

Butler had been charged with threatening behaviour to a young female member of the West family, and was due to appear at Pentonville Court Newport on Saturday the 13th November.  It was suggested that he hoped to steal money from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas to pay for his defence.  The Thomas’s were rumoured to possess a small ’hoard of gold’, but only a tiny amount of money had been found on Butler’s person.

 Some six weeks before the murder, when Butler had fallen out with the West family he moved to live at James Terrace, Pye Corner with a Robert Doody.  He had, whilst there, uttered threats against his former hosts the Wests, and one unlikely suggestion was that he stupidly hoped that they would be blamed for his  violent crime.

His trial, at Monmouth, took two days and evidence against him included  a cut thumb and a bloodstained coat.  On the 22nd February the jury took just ten minutes to find him guilty.  Mr. Justice Grantham donned the black cap and sentenced him to death by hanging.  It was reported that Butler furiously made denunciations against the witnesses and fought with his warders “like a ferocious caged animal”.

He later appealed against the death sentence but this was rejected on the 11th March, and he was subsequently executed at Usk Prison, by Messrs. Ellis and Pierpoint, on the 24th March 1910.  Right to the end, Butler, continued to plead his innocence.

The actual inquest on Mr. and Mrs. Thomas was held locally at the Tredegar Arms, where the Chairman of the Coroner’s jury was the well known Mr. John Basham proprietor of Fairoak Nurseries.  The weapon used to bludgeon the unfortunate couple to death was never found or identified.  The very water tank that the cottage took its name from was actually drained in the fruitless search.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas’s funeral took place in November 1909 and was fully reported in the local press.  The couple had been regular and respected members of Bethesda Chapel in Rogerstone, so the funeral took place there.  The cortege slowly passed along the roads between Bassaleg and Rogerstone, which were lined with many people who had travelled from miles around, and blinds on all houses were drawn as a mark of respect.  When the procession reached Bethesda it was found that the number wishing to attend the service was many more than the chapel could hold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This horrible double murder became so famous that eventually a ballad was composed – The Ballad of Tank Cottage, here it  is:

 

At Bassaleg, near Newport on a cold

November’s day

A double murder took place,

both victims old and grey

Through Newport and for miles around,

the news it quickly spread

How Charles and Mary Thomas, were

found murdered in their bed.

William Butler has been sentenced,

his time is drawing nigh

For the cruel double murder, on the

scaffold he must die.

That cruel crime at Bassaleg, filled

many hearts with gloom,

Found guilty, William Butler will

soon meet a murderer’s doom.

Though no one witnessed that foul

crime, the evidence was clear,

When he’s led forth to meet his doom

no one will shed a tear.

The story of that brutal crime, it

makes the blood run cold

He murdered that old man and wife

just for the sake of gold.

That villain was arrested, and there

can be no denial,

Before a Judge and jury he has had

a patient trial.

He need not look for mercy, no mercy

did he give,

Such villains are not fit to die, nor

are they fit to live.

The record of that old man’s life, is

one that’s full of crime,

And many a gloomy prison cell he has

entered in his time.

Against the laws of God and man, he

often went astray

But for his last and double crime,

Death’s penalty he’ll pay.

That double crime at Bassaleg will

long remembered be,

That Butler was the guilty man,

‘twas very plain to see.

His life must pay the forfeit, no use

to curse and rave,

The blood of his poor victims, calls

vengeance from the grave.

 

Copyright © 2012 Friends of Tredegar House