8046 Private Rupert Flowers, Inns of Court Officer Training Corps
Born on 12th April 1894 at Ashridge
Died on 13th June 1988 in Grantham
Rupert Flowers was born at Ashridge, Hertfordshire. He was the fourth of the 5 children of Thomas Catlin Flowers and Charlotte Avarintha née Blunt. He was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 1st July 1894. His father was Lord Brownlow’s Coachman and the family address was then recorded as “Ashridge Stables“.
Rupert’s older siblings were his sisters Annie, born 24th September 1878 and Elizabeth (Lizzie), born 17th November 1880 and his brother Herbert Flowers, born 6th July 1883. His younger sister Dorothy was born on 19th March 1896.
Rupert started in the Infant Department of Little Gaddesden School on the afternoon of 18th April 1898 when he was just 4 years old. Oliver Gentle started school on the same afternoon – his 3rd Birthday.
Annie Flowers’ Wedding
On 20th June 1900, Rupert’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 is 3rd in from the right, next to Annie. Their sister Lizzie, 19, is on the left hand chair, next to Henry Gee, with their brother Herbert Flowers, 16, behind her, partly hidden by her hat. Dorothy, the youngest sister, aged 4, is seated on the ground, front right with Rupert, nearly 6, next to her.
The Family in 1901 4
In the 1901 Census, 6 year old Rupert was a school boy living at home with his mother and siblings Lizzie, 20, Herbert Flowers, 18, a Stonemason’s Apprentice and Dorothy, 5. Their address is listed as Ashridge Stable Yard. Their father Thomas, a Coachman, was then at 2 St Martin’s Mews, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
On 31st December 1907, Rupert and Dorothy Flowers left Little Gaddesden School to go to Belton. Their father’s job required him to move between Ashridge, Belton and London with Lord Brownlow. Then, on 18th January 1908, Rupert was admitted to Standard 6 at Barkston & Syston School, Lincolnshire. However, on an unspecified date, he “left to go to London“. Then, on 6th April 1908, he returned to Little Gaddesden School. Eight months later, the Log Book entry for 23rd December 1908 recorded that:
Rupert Flowers (St 6) has left School: he is over 14 years of age. He has gone to Belton & will attend School there.
Rupert was old enough to leave school so may or may not have attended school in Belton. Dorothy too went to Belton, returning to Little Gaddesden School on 20th April 1909.
In the 1911 Census, Rupert is recorded as a 16 year old Haidresser. He was a boarder in the household of William George Hoar, his wife Edith Sarah and their 1 year old daughter Nellie at Oakview, Cross Oak Road, Berkhamsted. William George Hoar was the brother of Edward Hoar, George Hoar and Richard Hoar of Hudnall.
The Family in 1911 4
In the 1911 Census, Rupert’s parents Thomas and Charlotte, his sister Dorothy and Walter Bustens, whom his sister Lizzie later married, were living at Belton, Grantham. Both Thomas and Walter were Domestic Coachmen. Herbert Flowers was in Service as a Footman in London.
Examining the Little Gaddesden Boy Scouts for their Cook’s Badges 7
Although Rupert had moved to Berkhamsted by 1911 and his family were then shown at Belton, 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.
Military Service 8
Rupert’s Service Record shows that he was stationed at the Inns of Court OTC Camp at Berkhamsted and that he was not sent to serve abroad. The reason for this seems to have been his health; his medical category on joining for duty in November 1915 was Ciii. That was still the case when he was examined by No 1 Travelling Medical Board a year later on 9th December 1916. Category C indicated that he was free from serious organic diseases and able to stand service in garrisons at home; iii was used for men who were only suitable for sedentary work. No reason for classifying Rupert as Ciii was given.
However, Rupert was re-examined on 17th February, 20th April, 26th June, 5th September and 8th November 1917 and on each of those occasions was classified as Category Bi. i.e. able to stand service on lines of communication in France or in garrisons in the tropics and able to march five miles, see to shoot with glasses and hear well. His final Travelling Medical Board examination was on 8th April 1918, when he was classified as Category A, indicating that he could march, see to shoot, hear well and stand active service conditions. However, his record suggests that, despite his improved health, he remained at Berkhamsted, spending the War as a barber/hairdresser. He was disembodied (discharged from the Territorial Force) on 6th March 1919, his Service Record giving his home address as Belton, Grantham.
“The Devil’s Own”: The Inns of Court Corps at Berkhamsted 9
In Chapter 2 of his book “The Inns of Court Officers Training Corps during the Great War”, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel F.H.L. Errington C.B., V.D., writes about the Corps at Berkhamsted, where Rupert was stationed.
The situation of our camp at Berkhamsted was an ideal one, pitched in the field on the north side of the station and sloping gently up to Berkhamsted Place. The Squadron, both men and horses, were in the Brewery. Lord Brownlow placed at our disposal his private waiting-room at the station and also a covered-in shelter, both of which were used for the Quartermaster’s office and stores. The proximity of the station did away with all transport difficulties. On the west side we had ample room for expansion, and on the east side another large field, subsequently given the name of ‘Kitchener’s Field’ made an admirable drill ground.
The surrounding country was the best imaginable for training, so varied, that during my period of command, although we had a battalion tactical exercise first twice, and then once every week, we never had to repeat the same exercise. To the north lay the big common, later intersected by some 13,000 yards of trenches, then Ashridge Park, undulating and beautifully timbered, placed entirely at our disposal by Lord Brownlow, and so away to the open downland of the Chiltern Hills…
We went where we liked, and did what we liked. The big landowner, the small landowner and the farmer were all equally ready to help…
In the neighbouring villages, Nettleden, Little Gaddesden, Aldbury, Ashley Green, Bovingdon, the awakened villager turned to sleep again with greater security when he realised that the outburst of firing, and the swift rush of feet through the village street, betokened nothing more than a night raid of the Devil’s Own…
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. Rupert Flowers and his brother Herbert Flowers are included on this list; Rupert’s regiment, the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps was identified from his Service Record. Rupert and Herbert 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 10
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 Rupert Flowers, possibly because he did not serve overseas. As he and his family had connections to the village until 1921, his name has been added to the 2018 Centenary Revision of the Roll of Honour, as has that of his brother Herbert Flowers.
“Belton. Welcome Home” 11
A report in the Grantham Journal of 7th June 1919, describes the celebration to welcome men back to Belton.
It was desired, while Lord Brownlow was still in residence, at Belton, to show, on behalf of the whole village and parish, some mark of public welcome to all the brave men in any way connected with Belton, on their safe return from the war, and of united thanks to them and appreciation of their gallant services.
A delightful Social Evening Party was accordingly organised and held in the Schoolroom, on Thursday June 5th, attended by Lord Brownlow and all parishioners, and to which special cards of invitation were issued to our heroes.
The entertainment was in the hands of Mr Pither, who arranged an admirable variety performance of fun and music, in which local talent took part, powerfully aided by Messers. Matt Broughton and Thompson of Grantham. Proceedings began at 8 o’clock with a short opening speech by Lord Brownlow, in which he touched upon the main purpose of the gathering and spoke feelingly of those who had fallen and of those who mourned their loss. The names of the invited men who have returned were then read out and each, in turn, amid welcoming hand claps, came forward and shook hands with Lord Brownlow.
Abundant refreshments provided by his Lordship were spread in the open air in the Schoolyard. Dancing followed and the happy gathering was kept up until 1 o’clock, when the proceedings were brought to an end with three cheers for Lord Brownlow and the singing of God Save the King.Quoted extract courtesy of the Grantham Journal
Returning to Ashridge 12
The 1919 Electoral Register shows Rupert registered to vote at The Stables, Ashridge, which was his parents’ address.
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. Rupert too moved to Lincolnshire and, by June 1921, was working as a Hairdresser Manager for Mr Campbell in Grantham.
On 6th July 1922, 28 year old Rupert Flowers married 23 year old Edith Shakespeare Parker at Belton.
The photo below was taken in the gardens of Rupert’s parents’ home at Manthorpe after his wedding at Belton.
- Back row left to right: Rupert’s sister Lizzie Bustens née Flowers, Herbert Flowers, Rupert, his bride Edith Parker, Feargus Parker, Rupert’s sister Annie Gee née Flowers.
- Seated left to right: Rupert’s mother Charlotte Flowers, Edna Parker, Rupert’s sister Dorothy Flowers and father Thomas Flowers.
- The children at the front are Rupert’s niece and nephew Ena and Cecil Bustens.
In Lincolnshire 12
In the 1922 Electoral Register, Rupert and Edith are shown at Flowmangran, Bridge End Road, Grantham. However, between 1923 and 1931, Electoral Registers list them at Manthorpe with Thomas and Charlotte.
On 22nd March 1934, Rupert and Edith’s son Gordon Thomas Flowers was born in Grantham. The 1939 Register shows Rupert, Edith and Gordon again living at Flowmangran, Bridge End Road, Grantham, where Rupert and Edith were registered to vote in 1922. By 1939 Rupert was a Hairdresser Manager.
In later life, Rupert continued to work as a Barber/ Hairdresser until almost the day he died, aged 94, on 13th June 1988. His address at the time was Throxenby, St Catherine’s Road, Grantham. Edith died in 1993.
5. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
7. Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922
9. https://archive.org/details/innsofcourtoffic00erri Errington, Lieut. Col. F.H.L., C.B., V.D (1922) The Inns of Court Officer Training Corps during the Great War, Printing Craft Ltd., London
10. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge
14. Personal correspondence with Rupert’s Great Niece
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson