101771 Gunner Herbert Flowers, Royal Garrison Artillery
Born on 6th July 1883 at the Old Dairy Cottage, Aldbury
Died on 23rd December 1970 in Hathersage, Derbyshire
Herbert Flowers was born at the Old Dairy Cottage, Ringshall Road, Aldbury, the third of the 5 children of Thomas Catlin Flowers and Charlotte Avarintha née Blunt. He was baptised at St John the Baptist’s Church, Aldbury on 5th August 1883, at which time his father Thomas was a Groom at Ashridge. However, Thomas later became Lord Brownlow’s Coachman.
Herbert’s siblings were:
- Annie, born 24th September 1878
- Elizabeth (Lizzie), born 17th November 1880
- Rupert Flowers, born 12th April 1894
- Dorothy, born 19th March 1896
Herbert started at Little Gaddesden School on his fifth birthday, 6th July 1888. The Log Book entry for July 9th that year included the following passage:
On Friday last – Entered Herbert Flowers on the School books – Also re-entered his two sisters (Annie, 9 and Lizzie, 7) who have been absent since the 8th of February last – a matter of 5 months! Their father is in the service of Lord Brownlow and frequently has to move from Ashridge to Belton, and occasionally, when his stay is likely to be a long one, (as in the present instance) he takes his family along with him. I understand there is a small school at Belton, but I was grieved to learn that, during the whole of the five months, the two girls have only had one month’s schooling. This is much to be regretted.
Herbert’s education was somewhat disrupted as the result of his father’s employment. Between 1890 and 1892, the family spent a few weeks each year in London, where their address was 2 St Martin’s Mews, St Martin-in-the-Fields. The Little Gaddesden School Log Book for 27th January 1891 records that:
T Flowers (who is employed in the Stables at Ashridge) with his wife and family, have gone to London for the Season, so the names of the children are removed from the Registers.
Herbert attended Saint Martin’s National School in London between the following dates:
- 24th February – 7th May 1890
- 25th January – 13th April 1891
- 30th March – 10th April 1892
The remainder of his education was at Little Gaddesden, which he left on 9th December 1897, aged 14, with a Certificate of Attendance.
Annie Flowers’ Wedding
On 20th June 1900, Herbert’s sister Annie Flowers married Henry Albert Gee at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden, following which the photo below was taken at Ashridge.
Their mother Charlotte is seated on the right hand end of the row of chairs and their father Thomas 3rd in from the right, next to Annie. Their sister Lizzie, 19, is on the left hand chair, next to Henry Gee, with Herbert, 16, behind her, partly hidden by her hat. Dorothy, the youngest sister, aged 4, is seated on the ground, front right with younger brother Rupert Flowers, nearly 6, next to her.
In the 1901 Census 18 year old Herbert is a Stonemason’s Apprentice, no doubt on the Ashridge Estate; he lived at home with his mother and siblings Lizzie, 21, Rupert Flowers, 6, who was at school, and Dorothy, 5. Their address is given as Ashridge Stable Yard. Their father Thomas, a Coachman, was at 2 St Martin’s Mews, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
In Service at Longleat 7
Herbert worked for Thomas Thynne, 5th Marquess of Bath at Longleat from 1902 – 1907. Herbert’s granddaughter notes that:
Herbert was employed as the first footman/under butler in the household. The house steward/butler at this time was J. Richardson. Herbert was part of a team of over 40 serving men and women at Longleat.
Meeting his Future Wife 4
In the 1911 Census, Herbert is shown as a Footman in the household of Robert, Earl of Camperdown, living at 39 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London W. Also in service there was Housemaid Nellie Taylor, whom Herbert married three years later. Both their ages are recorded as 25, though Herbert must have been 27 and Nellie just 22. In all, 13 servants are listed.
69 year old Robert Adam Philips Haldane Haldane-Duncan, 3rd Earl of Camperdown was a Liberal politician; his sister 71 year old Julia, Lady Abercromby, who was resident on Census night, had been a Lady of the Bedchamber for Queen Victoria and, whilst in that service, painted the first official portrait of the Queen for the National Portrait Gallery.
Examining the Little Gaddesden Boy Scouts for their Cook’s Badges 8
Although Herbert had left home, his family divided their time between Ashridge and Belton until 1921. In Autumn 1912 his mother was one of the judges when the Little Gaddesden Boy Scouts were examined for their Cook’s Badge. The Little Gaddesden Scout Diary records that:
14 boys of the LG Troop were examined in the Park at Ashridge for their cook’s badges. Lord Brownlow presented a rabbit apiece to each boy. Fourteen fires were then lit, made up on some bricks + each boy proceeded to skin and boil his rabbit, adding vegetables + dumplings into his stew. The judges on this occasion were Lord Brownlow, Mrs Temple, Mrs Bridle, Mrs Flowers + Mr Jim Rodgers. Mr J Parsons presented 3 prizes for the best 3 saucepans of rabbit stew. Arthur Pinnock won the 1st prize.
Nine of the cooks subsequently served in the First World War; the others were too young. Those who served were: Albert Basford, Edward Bunn, Francis Green, Gerald Green, Bernard Halsey, Percy Hobbs, Frank (Henry F) Johnson, Arthur Pinnock and Archie Wells.
On 3rd May 1914, at St Lawrence Church, Morden, Surrey, 32 year old Herbert Flowers married 25 year old Nellie Taylor. Nellie was the daughter of Charles William Taylor, a Coachman. Herbert then lived at 122 Amyan (Amyand) Park Road, Twickenham and his occupation was recorded “Tradesman”. Nellie’s address was 15 Garth Road, Lower Morden. Their son Herbert Ronald (Ron) Flowers was born on 13th September 1915, by which time Herbert and Nellie lived at The Cliffs, Kintbury, Hungerford, Berkshire.
The only surviving records of Herbert’s military service are his Medal and Award Roll entry and Medal Roll Index Card. These show him serving as a Gunner in 223rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, which went to France on 2nd December 1916. RGA Siege Batteries were equipped with heavy howitzers and, as British artillery tactics developed, were most often employed in destroying enemy artillery as well as strongpoints, stores, roads and railways behind enemy lines. For his War Service, Herbert was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
The Belton Roll of Honour
The Roll of Honour in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Belton lists 49 names of those from Belton who served in the Great War 1914 – 1919. Only the men’s names are listed, with a cross to signify those who died; no regiments are given. Herbert Flowers and his brother Rupert Flowers are included on this list; Herbert’s regiment, the Royal Garrison Artillery, was identified from a family photo. Herbert and Rupert Flowers are among those who had association with both Ashridge and Belton through their father’s employment as Lord Brownlow’s Coachman.
Seven men, all servants of Lord Brownlow, are named on both the Belton and the original Little Gaddesden Rolls of Honour; they are: Harold Catt, Walter Darby, Frank Dove, Matthew Fowler, Herbert Jacobs, Mark Kinchington (recorded Kisington at Belton) and Ernest Moore.
An Addition to the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour 16
The original, pre-Second World War, wording on the left hand panel of the Little Gaddesden War Memorial on the village green read:
This memorial is erected in honour of the one hundred and thirty six men who went from the villages of Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Ringshall and served in the war of 1914 = 1918. The names of those who gave their lives for their country are cut on the stones here. The names of those who returned to England are preserved in the Church.
However, the Church Roll of Honour lists only 119 men and one of those omitted is Herbert Flowers who, like a number of the men named on the Roll, had left home and was married by the outbreak of war. His parents, however, had connections to the village until 1921. Herbert’s name has been added to the 2018 Centenary Revision of the Roll of Honour, as has that of his brother Rupert Flowers.
The Family leaves Ashridge 17
Adelbert Wellington Brownlow-Cust, 3rd Earl Brownlow died on 17th March 1921. His Will stated that Belton was to be kept but Ashridge sold to pay the death duties. Herbert’s father Thomas, who had worked as a Groom and then a Coachman for the Brownlows for over 40 years, then left Ashridge with his wife Charlotte. They retired to Manthorpe near Belton, thus marking the end of the family’s association with Little Gaddesden and Ashridge.
Electoral Register entries show Herbert and Nellie living at Westcott Street, Westcott, Dorking, Surrey between 1924 and 1938. However, in 1939 they moved to Dummer Grange, Basingstoke, Hampshire where Herbert was Butler Chauffeur and Nellie also in Domestic Service in the household of Donald Ferguson, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The 1950s 10
In the early 1950s, Herbert worked as a Gardener and Handyman at Buckhurst Hill in Essex, where he and Nellie had live-in accommodation. In 1955 Nellie became Housekeeper and Herbert Gardener and Handyman to the Spence family of Heron Water, Bramshott, Liphook, Hampshire. Again, they had accommodation provided.
Nellie died on 23rd March 1963 in St Luke’s Hospital, Guildford, Surrey. In her National Probate Calendar entry, her address is given as her son Ron’s house in Derwent Lane, Hathersage. Herbert then lived with Ron at Waldens, Derwent Lane, Hathersage until his death aged 87 on 23rd December 1970.
5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906
7. Personal correspondence with Herbert’s Granddaughter
8. Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922
15. For an explanation of why siege batteries and the Royal Garrison Artillery are so called, see https://gregswar.com/setting-scene-background-articles/siege-batteries-of-the-royal-garrison-artillery/
16. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson