Closing stanzas of U A Fanthorpe’s “Growing Up”

I wasn’t good

At growing up. Never learned

The natives’ art of life. Conversation

Disintegrated as I touched it,

So I played mute, wormed along years,

Reciting the hard-learned arcane litany

Of cliché, my company passport.

Not a nice person,


The gift remains

Masonic, dark. But age affords

A vocation even for wallflowers.

Called to be connoisseur, I collect,

Admire the effortless bravura

Of other people’s lives, proper and comely,

Treading the measure, shopping, chaffing,

Quarrelling, drinking, not knowing

How right they are, or how like well-oiled bolts,

Swiftly and sweet, they slot into the grooves

Their ancestors smoothed out along the grain.

The Queen’s Hall, formerly at 10 Sheen Road, Richmond

Image: corner of 29 George St, Richmond, showing *WB monogram on pediment

Assorted facts drawn from Cinema Treasures; National Science and Media Museum;

In 1896, brothers Alfred and Harold Wright opened a draper’s shop at 29 George Street, Richmond. The shop grew to become a small department store which became incorporated as *Wright Brothers Ltd in 1929. In 1940 Wright Brothers was purchased by a department store in Kingston called Hide & Co. Ltd who ran it as a subsidiary company. Hide & Co. Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, was acquired by House of Fraser in 1975. A branch of Tesco Metro now occupies the building.

The Queen’s Hall, a couple of minutes’ walk away in its day via The Quadrant and The Square, was originally built in 1900 as a Freemasons Club.

(The Freemasons’ Richmond Lodge met at the Station Hotel, Richmond from March 1884 to May, 1888, when it was transferred to the Greyhound Hotel. Here it remained except for short periods at the Star and Garter Hotel, Kew Bridge, the Castle Hotel, Richmond, and Hotel Cecil, London, until January, 1901, when it moved to the Freemasons Club in Sheen Road, Richmond. Meetings were regularly held there until October, 1909, when once again the Lodge made its home at the Greyhound Hotel. Here it remained – except for one meeting at the Holborn Restaurant, London – until 1954, when it removed to its new home in The Parkshot Rooms. The Lodge continued to dine at the (enlarged) Station Hotel, the first home of the Lodge.)

The auditorium had a small stage with a proscenium and was used for many different types of entertainment. In 1911, the Hall was converted so that it could also be used for the new Wright Brothers Bioscope film showings.

Bioscope became a word increasingly interchangeable with moving pictures. Michael Chanan, in his book The Dream That Kicks, talks of ‘Bioscope teas’:

Bioscope teas were particularly popular at the New Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, where in 1908 the lady from the suburbs could pause in her afternoon’s shopping, and for a shilling enjoy a “dainty cup of tea and an animated display”.’

It also became increasingly widely used in naming and advertising moving picture companies and their shows.

The hall had many names during its cinematic life and after, including The Pictorial Hall / the New Pavilion / Inman’s Club (in 1921 it was converted into a billiards hall). In 1938 it was put into use as a servicemen’s club and canteen for the war. In 1944, it was converted into the Richmond Community Centre. Occasional film use continued into the 1950’s when the Richmond Film Society held screenings in the hall. It was eventually demolished in 1986; a Waitrose supermarket now stands on the site.

“The far ends of the earth are not five minutes from Charing Cross, nowadays.”*

*D.H. Lawrence, in “Lady Chatterleys Lover” (1928)

From: Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class (2018), by Luke Barr:

“(1898) One of the reporters spotted Ritz as he was leaving the hotel and asked him why he and Escoffier had been fired. I haven’t the faintest idea, Ritz declared, maintaining his dignity but not breaking his stride. He was going to see an old friend, E. Neuschwander, the manager of the Charing Cross Hotel. He needed a place to stay, somewhere to set up shop temporarily, to make plans, receive visitors.

They’d come full circle, it seemed, Ritz and Escoffier: the Charing Cross Hotel was the very place Escoffier had gone for help on the day they’d arrived in London and found the Savoy kitchen bereft of supplies. Escoffier’s old friend Louis Peyre had given him what he needed. Now it was Ritz’s friend Neuschwander, the manager at the same hotel, who offered to help, putting him up in the best room he had available.

It was from the Charing Cross Hotel that Ritz sent word to Marie about their new and unfortunate circumstances. She was out in the country, in Golders Green, with the two small children. They would be moving soon, he said: to Paris. There was no reason to stay in London for the season. Marie should begin closing up the house…

…In his suite at the Charing Cross Hotel, Ritz received an outpouring of support from his loyal friends and clients: notes, phone calls, visits. Marie was sent large bouquets of roses. The Duchess of Devonshire, Robert Crawshay, Alfred Beit, the Neumann brothers, Lillie Langtry, and Nellie Melba all made their allegiance known.

Lady de Grey came in person to pay her regards, and to bring word from Ritz’s most important client of all, the Prince of Wales…”

From Historic England entry:

“Charing Cross Hotel, former railway terminus hotel to the Charing Cross Railway (an off-shoot of the South Eastern Railway), built 1863-1864 to the designs of EM Barry, constructed by the Lucas brothers. The two upper floors were reconstructed in about 1953 to the designs of FJ Wills and Son following bomb damage in 1941. The hotel was extensively refurbished in the late-C20. A bridge over Villiers Street (see picture above) leads to an extension of 1877-1881, built to the designs of John Fish. The extension is excluded from the listing.

…Within the functioning space of the hotel, however, axial corridors on all floors are richly detailed; some with arched coffered ceilings supported on pilasters and heavy cornices, and others with a series of vaulted ceilings lit by Diocletian windows. The main, sweeping grand staircase is located in the wing, lit by arched windows at the half-landings. The panelled open well has decorative plaster work, and Corinthian columns at each landing; the stairs have stone treads with a wooden banister atop decorative pierced iron panels.

On the first floor of the wing is the ballroom (named as such in 2019), the former coffee room, a richly decorated room square in plan with broad recesses on each side and splayed angles across the corners, with a plainer, shallow later extension to the south side. This room has full height panelling, with heavy and deep entablatures, treated with a Corinthian order expressed in brown and light purple scagliola-covered columns and pilasters. Large winged female half figures in plaster adorn the consoles which buttress the arches to the recesses. Saint (1986) speculates that the figures could be by Raffaele Monti. Above the cornices, rich plasterwork arches and panels support the gently-dished ceiling with corner discs and small scale details and symbols including that of the Charing Cross and South Eastern railway companies…”

Charles Hamilton (1876-1961)

From Wikipedia:

Hamilton was born in Ealing, London to a family of eight children. His parents were Mary Ann Hannah (née Trinder – born 1847) and John Hamilton (1839-1884), a Master Carpenter. Charles Hamilton was privately educated at Thorn House School in Ealing, where he learned Classical Greek among other subjects. He embarked on a career as a writer of fiction, having his first story accepted almost immediately. According to William Oliver Guillemont Lofts it appeared in 1895.

Amalgamated Press started a new story paper for boys called The Gem in 1907 and by issue number 11 it had established a format – the major content was to be a story about St Jim’s school, starring Tom Merry as the main character and written by Charles Hamilton under the pen name of Martin Clifford. This paper rapidly established itself and anxious to capitalize on its success, a similar venture was launched in 1908. This was to be known as The Magnet, the subject matter was a school called Greyfriars and Hamilton was again to be the author, this time using the name Frank Richards.”

From The Book of Forgotten Authors (2017), by Christopher Fowler:

“Owen Conquest, Martin Clifford, Ralph Redway, Winston Cardew and Peter Todd were authors with something in common: they were all alter egos of the writer Charles Hamilton…Tales of schooldays and derring-do filled the pages of two Edwardian story papers, The Gem and The Magnet, and Hamilton excelled at them.

For the next thirty years, Hamilton churned out several thousand adventures about cowboys, firemen, coppers and crooks…”

From Wikipedia:

Following the closure of The Magnet in 1940, Hamilton had little work, but he became known as the author of the stories following a newspaper interview he gave to the London Evening Standard. He was not able to continue the Greyfriars saga as Amalgamated Press held the copyright and would not release it.

In the event he was obliged to create new schools such as Carcroft and Sparshott, as well as trying the romance genre under the name of Winston Cardew. By 1946, however, he had received permission to write Greyfriars stories again, and obtained a contract from publishers Charles Skilton for a hardback series, the first volume of which, Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, was published in September 1947. The series was to continue for the rest of his life, the publisher later changing to Cassells.

His life interests were writing stories, studying Latin, Greek, and modern languages, chess, music, and gambling, especially at Monte Carlo. The Roman poet Horace was a particular favourite. He travelled widely in Europe in his youth, but never left England after 1926, living in a small house called Rose Lawn, at Kingsgate, a hamlet in St Peter parish, now part of Broadstairs, Kent, looked after by his housekeeper, Miss Edith Hood. She continued to reside in Rose Lawn following his death in 1961.

While Hamilton was reclusive in later years, he had a prolific letter correspondence with his readers. He generally wore a skull cap to conceal his hair loss and sometimes smoked a pipe.

He died on 24 December 1961, aged 86.”

Le Guide Culinaire (1903)

From: Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class (2018), by Luke Barr:

“The disaster at the Savoy had caught (Escoffier) entirely off guard.

…the book was more than a record of his recipes: it was a way to lay claim to his reputation, to document the changes and advances he had brought to modern restaurant cooking, to establish his place in the pantheon of chefs…Marie-Antoine Careme, of course, was the godfather of grand French cooking…In the 1850s, Urbain Dubois and Emile Bernard had helped popularise service a la Russe…(they) had published their important cookbook, La Cuisine Classique, in 1856…

…Both Careme and Dubois had spent their careers working in private, often royal kitchens (Careme for Napoleon and Talleyrand, Dubois for Prince Orlov of Russia and the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty), whereas Escoffier had always worked in restaurants…”

…Escoffier, meanwhile, finished Le Guide Culinaire in November 1902 and published it in France in 1903. Translations soon followed: German, Italian, Swedish, Danish. The English edition was pared down to about three thousand recipes from the original five thousand, and published in England and America as A Guide to Modern Cookery.

The success of the book was everything he’d hoped for, cementing his reputation as the foremost chef of his time…”


From Wikipedia:

“Born in London, Anthony was the son of H. H. Asquith, the Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916, and Margot Asquith, who was responsible for ‘Puffin’ as his family nickname. He was educated at Eaton House, Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford.

The film industry was viewed as disreputable when Asquith was young, and according to the actor Jonathan Cecil, a family friend, Asquith entered this profession in order to escape his background. At the end of the 1920s, he began his career with the direction of four silent films, the last of which, A Cottage on Dartmoor, established his reputation with its meticulous and often emotionally moving frame composition. Pygmalion (1938) was based on the George Bernard Shaw play featuring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller.

Asquith was a longtime friend and colleague of Terence Rattigan (they collaborated on ten films) and producer Anatole de Grunwald. His later films included Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy (1948) and The Browning Version (1951), and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1952).

Asquith died in 1968. He was buried at All Saints Churchyard, Sutton Courtenay, Vale of White Horse District, Oxfordshire, England…

…Tell England is a 1931 British drama film directed by Anthony Asquith and Geoffrey Barkas and starring Fay Compton, Tony Bruce and Carl Harbord. It is based on the novel Tell England by Ernest Raymond which featured two young men joining the army, and taking part in the fighting at Gallipoli. Both directors had close memories of Gallipoli, as did Fay Compton’s brother, Compton Mackenzie. Asquith’s father H. H. Asquith had been Prime Minister at the time of the Gallipoli Landings, a fact which drew press attention to the film, while Barkas had personally fought at Suvla Bay in the Gallipoli campaign.

In the United States it was released under the alternative title The Battle of Gallipoli.

The film had originally been intended to be made as a silent film, but was delayed. It was made at Welwyn Studios using the German Klangfilm process. Much of the film was shot on location in Malta, standing in for Gallipoli.”

From the TimeOut website:

Few enough films deal with the traumatic experience of the First World War, and Asquith deserves some credit for tackling the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. His gilded youth protagonists now look unbearably priggish: ‘Just fetch my bath-water in the morning and brush my clothes and see that my buttons are clean and polish my boots and my belt’, an 18-year-old officer tells the middle-aged soldier detailed to look after him. And the action sequences, handled by veteran director Barkas, endorse the public-school heroism. Asquith, with his staunch liberal insistence on the futility of war, puts up a brave fight, but overwhelmed by the 8,000 extras and the flotillas of troop-carriers, he ends up celebrating patriotism rather than pacifism.

Luke Buckmaster wrote in The Guardian of 6.11.14:

“Few films impact the national psyche with as much force as Peter Weir’s 1981 hit starring Mark Lee and Mel Gibson as young athletes shipped off to war. Gallipoli is one of the best loved and most quintessentially “Australian” films. It contemplates themes as baked in to national identity as the fur of a koala and the gristle of a meat pie – from mateship and camaraderie to perceptions of justice (the eternal “fair go”) and obsession with sport and physical performance.

This initially heart-warming but ultimately devastating story begins in Western Australia in 1915 with a training sequence between a drill sergeant-like coach and runner, Archy (Lee). Before Archy blazes through a makeshift finishing line (a string attached to two sticks stuck in the ground) he jogs on the spot and partakes in one of Australian cinema’s most famous exchanges.

“What are your legs?”

“Springs. Steel springs.”

“What are they going to do?”

“Hurl me down the track.”

“How fast can you run?”

“As fast as a leopard.”

“How fast are you going to run?”

“As fast as a leopard.”

Archy crouches and puts his hands in the dirt; later his hands will be covered by a different kind of crud, far away from the Aussie outback. For the first 25 minutes, Gallipoli is an archetypal sports movie, the protagonist establishing his skills in against-the-odds challenges (he outruns a man on a horse then wins a race with mangled feet).

The film begins and ends with Archy running. It could be interpreted as a metaphor for the cruel task taken on by professional athletes: the war against themselves and others, the sweat and tears expended for the arguably futile nature of it all – a universe in which, as certain as bodies slain in battle fields, one record is eclipsed by another. It also reads as a commentary on how emerging genius can be stymied in a world obsessed with other, crueller things, such as fighting and dying for patches of land.

But the most potent interpretation of Gallipoli – and one that hasn’t lost a jot of power all these years later – concerns Weir and screenwriter David Williamson’s scathing deconstruction of the atavistic perception of war as a great adventure…”

Corsica Hall, Seaford


“Britain’s foreign relations formed a crucial component of the political nation during the eighteenth century. Foreign affairs were a key issue of state, and perceived failure within European power politics could cause the fall of government ministries. Britain’s foreign relations with the main European powers, and especially France and Spain, have been extensively recorded. Britain’s unique relationship with Corsica has been neglected. Corsica can appear to be insignificant compared to other European states. Many British writers, however, government officials, naval and military officers, considered Corsica to be of the highest importance within eighteenth-century foreign affairs. Corsica was especially important within the larger sphere of Anglo-French rivalry. Corsica was one of the few territories that was ruled by both nations during the eighteenth century. This thesis reveals that Britain’s relations with Corsica were far more significant than has been previously realised. Britain’s relations and interactions with Corsica remained relatively consistent throughout the period from 1728 up until 1796. The two main developments to occur between Britain and Corsica during the eighteenth century were, firstly, the ‘Corsican crisis’ (1768-1769) and, secondly, the establishment of an Anglo-Corsican Kingdom (1794-1796). These are discussed in chapter 2 and chapter 4 of the thesis respectively. Both of these ‘events’ have been studied as being separate from each other and as confined to their respective periods of time. This thesis aims to link and to compare these two key developments for the first time, and to show that the Corsican crisis directly influenced the Anglo-Corsican constitution in 1794.Corsica was the largest European territory to be ruled by Britain during the eighteenth century. The Anglo-Corsican Kingdom provides a unique insight into how Britain might rule conquered territories in Europe. The thesis charts and explains Britain’s relations with Corsica against the background of the second hundred years war against France.”


  • 1740s – “The Lodge” originally constructed at Wellingham for Mr John Whitfield
  • November 1747, Nympha Americana wrecks on the coastline. Thomas Harben ‘the original’, noted as being a clock maker of Lewes, is widely credited with making a significant fortune from this – there is no evidence to suggest that he did.
  • Before 1760 – Mr Whitfield’s involvement in the illegal importation of Corsican Wine leads to him presenting the King (George the 2nd) some of his finest wine to escape legal consequences. He is successful and “The Lodge” becomes known as Corsica Hall. George 2nd’s reign was from 1727 to 1760.
  • 1766, Thomas Harben, ‘the original’ dies. He is not a wealthy man nor does he have any connection to Corsica Hall.
  • Before 1772, After the death of Mr Whitfield, Francis Scott, the fifth Lord Napier, purchases Corsica Hall.
  • May 1772, Lord Napier’s son inadvertently shoots dead Rev. Lowden (the Lord Napier’s domestic chaplain and private tutor) at Corsica Hall (widely reported at the time).
  • April 1773, Lord Napier dies and afterwards the family vacates Corsica Hall. The building became known as being haunted – “was invested by the ignorant and superstitious with an evil and unlucky character”.
  • 1773 – 1782, While Land Tax is paid it appears that the building is not tenanted
  • 1782, Land Tax records show, Thomas Harben, rent £60 occupied by himself
  • 1784, Corsica Hall no longer appears on Land Tax records – presumbably the relocation has started.
  • September 1785, A significant quaintity of Lead, stolen from Corsica Hall, is uncovered buried near the old site. This indicates that no other part of the structure remains at Wellingham.
  • September 1786, the Sussex Advertiser and Lewes Journal reported that ‘Last Friday Mr. Harben of this place gave an elegant dinner at his new house in Seaford.”
  • 15 Oct 1792, Mr Harben of Corsica Hall (now in Seaford), is noted as helping eight French clergymen on the coast – as mentioned in “An Historical and descriptive account of the coast of Sussex” by J D Parry.
  • Around 1812, “Corsica Hall, a plain brick mansion westward of the town, was lately the residence of Thomas Harben, Esq. by whom it was sold prior to the general election in 1812 to the Hon. Thomas Bowes, brother of the Earl of Strathmore.” page 157 of ‘The Beauties of England and Wales: or Original Delineations’ – vol 14, 1813.
  • Before 1822, described as “Corsica Hall, the residence of the Hon. Thomas Bowes, brother to the Earl of Strathmore, stands to the westward of the town, and was previously occupied by Thomas Harben, Esq. who sold it to the present proprietor. It is a brick mansion; and its exterior appearance, being deficient in every pretension to ornament, is totally unprepossessing.” in the 1822 edition of ‘Excursions in the county of Sussex’ – by T K Cromwell. (page 82)
  • 1823, Corsica Hall was purchased by John Fitzgerald and by 1824 had been largely demolished. A new building, named “The Lodge” built in its place. It is this new building which currently referred to as Corsica Hall.

Anthony Malcolm Buckeridge OBE (20 June 1912 – 28 June 2004)

From Wikipedia:

“Buckeridge was born in Hendon in Middlesex, the son of Ernest George Buckeridge and his wife, Gertrude Alice (formerly Smith), but, following the death of his bank secretary father in World War I, he moved with his mother to Ross-on-Wye to live with his grandparents. Following the end of the war they returned to London where the young Buckeridge developed a taste for theatre and writing. A scholarship from the Bank Clerks’ Orphanage fund permitted his mother to send him to Seaford College boarding school which, at the time, was located at Corsica Hall (see next post) in Seaford, East Sussex. His experiences as a schoolboy there were instrumental in his later work.

Following the death of Buckeridge’s maternal grandfather, the family moved to Welwyn Garden City where his mother worked in promoting the new suburban utopia to Londoners. In 1930 Buckeridge began work at his late father’s bank but soon tired of it. Instead he took to acting including an uncredited part in Anthony Asquith’s 1931 film Tell England.

After marrying his first wife, Sylvia Brown, he enrolled at University College London where he involved himself in Socialist and anti-war groups (he later became an active member of CND) but did not take a degree after failing Latin. With a young family to support, Buckeridge found himself teaching in Suffolk and Northamptonshire which provided further experiences to inform his later work. During World War II Buckeridge was called up as a fireman and wrote several plays for the stage before returning to teaching at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate.

He used to tell his pupils stories about the fictional Jennings (based however, on an old schoolfellow Diarmid Jennings), a prep schoolboy boarding at Linbury Court Preparatory School, under headmaster Mr Pemberton-Oakes.

In 1962, he met his second wife, Eileen Selby. They settled near Lewes where Buckeridge continued to write and also appeared in small (non-singing) roles at Glyndebourne.

Buckeridge died on 28 June 2004 after a spell of ill health. He is survived by his second wife Eileen and three children, two from his first marriage.

After World War II Buckeridge wrote a series of radio plays for the BBC’s Children’s Hour chronicling the exploits of Jennings and his rather more staid friend, Darbishire; the first, Jennings Learns the Ropes, was first broadcast on 16 October 1948. In 1950, the first of more than twenty novels, Jennings Goes to School, appeared. The tales make liberal use of Buckeridge’s inventive schoolboy slang (“fossilised fish hooks!”, “crystallised cheesecakes!”, and others). These books, as well known as Frank Richards’ Billy Bunter books in their day, were translated into a number of other languages. The stories of middle class English schoolboys were especially popular in Norway where several were filmed.

The Norwegian books and films were rewritten completely for a Norwegian setting with Norwegian names; Jennings is called “Stompa” in the Norwegian books.

More recently, the first four books were published in an omnibus edition by Prion, The Best of Jennings: Four Utterly Wizard Adventures All Jolly Well Complete and Unabridged (2010). In 2011, six titles were produced as unabridged audio books.

Buckeridge made no small contribution to postwar British humour, a fact acknowledged by such comedians as Stephen Fry. The deftly worded farce and delightful understatement of his narratives has been compared to the work of P. G. Wodehouse, Ben Hecht and Ben Travers.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82)

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“An American essayist, poet, and popular philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) began his career as a Unitarian minister in Boston, but achieved worldwide fame as a lecturer and the author of such essays as Self-Reliance, History, The Over-Soul, and Fate. Drawing on English and German Romanticism, Neoplatonism, Kantianism, and Hinduism, Emerson developed a metaphysics of process, an epistemology of moods, and an “existentialist” ethics of self-improvement. He influenced generations of Americans, from his friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, and in Europe, Friedrich Nietzsche, who takes up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity.”

From the website of the Poetry Foundation:

“…In 1817, at the age of 14, Emerson entered Harvard College. While at Harvard, Emerson had little opportunity to study the diverse literary and religious traditions of Asia or the Middle East. The curriculum focused on Greek and Roman writers, British logicians and philosophers, Euclidean geometry and algebra, and post-Enlightenment defenses of revealed religion. As his journals and library borrowing records attest, however, in his spare time, Emerson paid keen attention to the wider European Romantic interest in the “Orient” or the “East,” which to him meant the ancient lands and sacred traditions east of classical Greece, such as Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Persia, China, and India. An aspiring poet, Emerson also gravitated to selections of poetry that took up Eastern themes and Eastern poetry, including the works of Saadi and Hafez, which he would embrace in adulthood…

…Like other Anglo-American readers of his period, Emerson relied heavily on British colonial agents for his knowledge of India, reading treatises, travelogues, and translations of legal, religious, and poetic texts produced in the wake of Britain’s imperial expansion into India. As a consequence, Emerson’s writing about South Asia (as well as China, Persia, and the Arab world) often traffics in the menagerie of 19th century Euro-American stereotypes and misconceptions.”

From Wikipedia:

“…He remains among the linchpins of the American romantic movement, and his work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that followed him. “In all my lectures,” he wrote, “I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.” Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of Henry David Thoreau, a fellow transcendentalist.”