The Story of Betty (Chadwick) Kirk Owen

Mother of Alice (Kirk Owen) Maitland

Date 19/9/2023



Birth, Marriages and Death 1

1.     Her life, from conversation, albums etc: 1-1

Address at Betty’s Funeral given by Isabel Maitland 1-6

2.     Husband 2, Rex Kirk-Owen 2-1

3.     Life in the 1960’3 & 70’s with Husband 3, Richard Vernon 3-1

Cuthbert de Hoghtons, Richard’s brother-in-law; 3-3

4.     Husband 4, RS Thomas: 4-1

5.     Pepler Family 5-1

6.     CHANGES and ENDNOTES 6-1

Changes 6-1


This is an expanded version of the entry in the “CHADWICK, BARCLAY & BELL FAMILIES” volume.






Betty and Creina: this was probably taken at the cottage in Hampshire, when Creina came over in June 1957 (on a DC6B Vancouver-Amsterdam, a long flight in those days).

Birth, Marriages and Death

Born: 17/8/1915, St John’s Rectory, 1611, Quadra Street, Victoria BC.
Parents: Frederick Austin Pakenham & Creina (Henderson) Chadwick.
(She claimed to be born 1916 after Alice was born - no young mother should be over 40!).

Died: 26/8/2012, Bryn Awelon Nursing Home, Criccieth, Wales at the age of 97. Her funeral service was at St Johns Church, Porthmadog, Wales, with a cremation afterwards at Bangor. The service was conducted by Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, who referred to her as feisty lady in his address: Barry was extremely kind and thoughtful in accompanying the coffin to Bangor, leaving the family to host the party. A party, as instructed in her will, followed at Portmerion Hotel in North Wales.

Married, 1st, William Beatty-Chamberlain, Lt RNVR (20/8/1908-22/10/1996), 16/3/1941 at St John's Church, Victoria BC. His parents were Edward Beatty and Margaret Mabel (Pease) Chamberlain; Edward was one of 11 children, born to a cleric in Whitchurch, Shropshire, trained in London and was in Yorkshire and latterly in the Isle of White, his wife was the daughter of a solicitor in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, where she retired to as a widow. Betty claimed that WBC’s sister married Wingate of Burma fame, but like other things she tended to say, this was not correct. Although William was born in Lostwithiel, his sisters were all Yorkshire born and married to other men. The family was in Pateley Bridge in 1911.
    WBC emigrated to Canada, arriving with his mother from Southampton at Quebec, 5/5/1935: he had been in the Air force in England, but intended to be a farmer in Canada, going to GE Parham, Vadeaux Lake, Oliver BC. His aunt Florence Pease was working at the Mission in Okanagan, a few miles away.
    William was a Lt 12/9/1941, Lt Com 12/9/1949, and was posted to St John's Newfoundland from British Columbia June 1941 on SS Baccalieu. EAC joined him after their marriage; they were divorced September 1945. According to his gravestone, he remarried Marion Cameron, but I have been unable to find anything about her or their subsequent life.

Married, 2nd, Reginald (Rex) Kirk-Owen, Victoria, BC, 25/3/1949; he died 28/8/1959. Rex divorced his 1st wife, Jocelyn in January of that year. More about Rex in the Owen Volume. He was born in Calgary of English parents from Liverpool and Wolverhampton.

Married, 3rd, Richard Vernon, 30/5/1978, (1900-19/7/1996), of Hilton Park, Staffs & Keevil, Wilts; more about Richard’s family in the Vernon volume. Richard was in effect the father of Alice. Given away by Antony Maitland; Betty spent the eve of her wedding at the Maitland’s flat at Evancoyd (Radnorshire).

Married, 4th5, Rev Ronald Stuart Thomas (1913-9/2000), 17/8/1996, Llanfairynghornwy, Anglesey. Given away again by Antony Maitland, she kept coming back.
More about RS Thomas, the poet.

Issue with Rex KO:
Alice Charlotte Kirk-Owen, 3/10/56-14/3/97,
married Antony Maitland, author of this text.

BC: Alice Charlotte Kirk-Owen

3rd October 1956,

28A Holland Street,

London W8.


1.  Her life, from conversation, albums etc:


    When Alice died, she left me with a couple of crosses to bear: Teddy, an awkward terrier and her mother. Teddy the terrier eventually died, but her mother lived until 2012!
    Betty Chadwick/Chamberlain/Kirk-Owen/Vernon/Thomas, to use her multiplicity of surnames, was a feature in my life ever since falling for Alice. Betty has the distinction of having binned one husband and killed off three more, Alice’s father having been the second of the four. I am unusual, if not unique, in having given my mother-in-law away in marriage, not just once but twice: like the proverbial bad penny, she kept coming back.

    Betty was what might be kindly described as a “character” throughout her life. When, in connection with RS Thomas, she was mentioned to the then Archbishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams), he was reported to have said “Ah, Betty, a difficult woman”.... At her funeral, conducted by Barry Morgan, at the time Archbishop of Wales, he called her a feisty lady. So I have the church’s sanction to have found her difficult! One has to remember, though, that by the time she died, she had lost 3 husbands, Rex probably having been the love of her life, and a much loved daughter.
    To quote RS Thomas, her last husband, from his last, unpublished works:

“A smoking, swearing, drinking
fox-hunting female – I can’t
think of any I would less like
to meet, and now one
has me in her toils.
The god with the bow
has aimed true.”

    I first came across Betty Kirk-Owen at a drinks party given by the Bayliss’s (Peter was a contemporary of my mother’s and was responsible for setting me off on my aviation career) to which I had been invited to meet this lovely girl next door to them. Betty came to the party but not her daughter Alice who had gone to a more exciting event. Betty was good enough to ask me to tea, where I finally met Alice – I left about 11 that evening and, as they say, the rest is history. The Bayliss’s said they used to hear me leaving Burcher Cottage late – my DB4 Aston had a distinctive exhaust note!
    I suspect that Betty’s idea of a son in law would have been landed gentry, preferably with a double barrelled name (a candidate she had lined up never did marry!). A story told to me about these early suitors was of Alice referring to all these dreadful men mother kept producing, then Betty invited me for tea....

     When I first appeared on the scene, she and Alice were living in Titley with Richard Vernon (she had not then married him: he was one of the men I later gave her to). She was well known for her ebullient personality, hard drinking and smoking. Her parties were always lively, with a cross section of locals from retired Colonels to local artists. Any problem – have another drink! (Certainly latterly, she would have a stiff shot of brandy in her mid morning coffee, and pink gin later – she was not really a wine drinker, so the quality of wine in her house left a bit to be desired). She was even then probably technically alcoholic, but certainly not a secret drinker – drinking was a social activity.

      She had a naturally mercurial personality, with strong opinions; once she had decided something was the case, no argument was likely to sway her. Perhaps being of Irish origins explained it! With artistic leanings, logical opinions were not her strong suit. In the time I knew her, I only saw 2 men able to control her, Barry Morgan, the Bishop and the head waiter at Portmerion!
      Betty, when I first met her in 1976, claimed to be 59, although she was in fact 60: when questioned about her date of birth, which I found in the photographs of her 1st year, she said indignantly “how did you find out?” – “I could not have been more than 40 when Alice was born!!!”; I later had a conversation with a puzzled solicitor about this.
     Betty was a curious mixture of almost Victorian social attitudes and behaviours intertwined with some very 20thC moral views. Her ideas of social behaviour could be incredibly old fashioned, but she could be very modern in other ways. Her morals in some ways could be described as relaxed: the relationships with both Rex and Richard started when both men were already married with children. Socially, she liked and admired the more rakish people.
     She was inclined to take strong dislikes to some people, and would recount the most scurrilous gossip with great relish. Betty always had people working for her, some of whom she grew close to: however, there was always an element of condescension in her manner. Unfortunately, people could easily drop out of favour, particularly if they overstepped the mark. She was in reality no fool about people as a driver in Wales found: he had been over charging her for some time and he was the flavour of the month for a while. He over did it one day and suddenly found himself out on his ear.
    During the years I knew her, Betty became more difficult, the alcohol probably had more effect. At the beginning, to Alice she was the greatest mother ever, but as time went on she took more managing and poor Alice was torn by Betty’s irrational dislike of the Maitlands and her Maitland family. The way she abandoned Richard Vernon and moved off with RS Thomas seemed to me at the time to be pretty selfish and immoral: it was in fact a good thing, Betty was much happier and it took a lot of load off Alice. Richard by then was showing his age, and did not want to do the things Betty wanted – he was very happy pottering around the village. Betty enjoyed the reflected fame of RS as a poet.
    Unfortunately, she took a strong dislike to the Maitland family which often put Alice in a very difficult position. This first appeared at breakfast one day at Burcher Cottage a month or so before our wedding: Betty suddenly announced that the wedding must be stopped! I had the first (of quite a number) flaming row with her. Uncle Richard I remember saying “she will have her say”. I found as the years went by that she would needle me for so long that eventually I would snap: I would get a year or two peace until she forgot I would eventually bite back.
     Quite what the root of this was, I never figured out. Some of it was a deep snobbery of someone in trade, or indeed who worked for a living. She could never understand why my parents could not just take a day off during the week. Some was jealousy, the Maitlands had a stable, financially comfortable life, travelling to places that she would have liked. Richard Vernon was, in fact, comfortably off, but did not like spending too much, and was very happy with his time in Herefordshire, while Betty herself had little money of her own, and loved travelling. She was of the type who considered the Arts as the only acceptable manifestation of intelligence – the idea as she once said that the Maitlands senior were not intellectual when they both had Cambridge degrees was somewhat surprising. Richard, on the other hand always got on well with my parents.
     A feature of her was that she never complained about her lot in life, perhaps the frustrations came out in her sometimes confrontational actions. She almost never talked about her health, or if she did it was in a very offhand way; perhaps it was her way of coping. This came out when Alice became ill: Betty knew Alice had been in hospital aged about 6, but seemed to have little or no idea what had happened. She did know the surgeon was very eminent and important though!
     Betty was a prolific “snapper” (not a photographer, the quality of many of the images is somewhat dubious! Thank heavens she predated digital images), and kept photograph albums for all her adult life. These were really photo diaries, and are annotated with titles, comments and stories. They give a vivid image of the life she led, the places she visited and with whom; they contribute a lot to the story of her life. As an example, her picture diary of her and Rex’s car journey from BC to Toronto via the West Coast down to Mexico, and back up to Canada is very well done. There is a large collection of most, if not all, the negatives of these images, some of the envelopes annotated with the contents. These photo collections are surprisingly well preserved and organised.
    Betty was born in Victoria BC to her father's second wife, Creina, his first wife having died accidentally falling down stairs (Betty with her love of the seamier side of life implicated drink in the accident); he was, by her account an priest of the old style, with an extensive knowledge of the classics – she always seemed in some awe of him, that he could converse in Latin. Her mother, Creina, was an intelligent and strong woman – she must have been to live to 107! Frederick Austin Pakenham Chadwick (known as Pak), her father was from Ontario as was her mother; Pak had been ordained there and after parishes in Windsor, Ontario and Vancouver, in 1913, took on the parish of St John’s, Victoria.
     Both her parents were of Irish origin. Her father’s family had arrived a couple of generations earlier, the Chadwicks from Tipperary and the Stewarts (FAPC’s mother) from Antrim (they are well documented on the main Chadwick volume). Creina Henderson’s parents were both born in Antrim, her father Ernest Henderson came from a prominent Belfast family of clerics and newspaper owners, the family of her mother, Agnes Quinn, moved to Invercargill in New Zealand shortly before Ernest and Agnes married. Ernest become a well known industrialist in Windsor and one of the founding shareholders of the Windsor Salt Works (there never seemed to have been any shortage of money on the Henderson side, so Creina & Kitty probably inherited from their parents). Betty had said that her grandmother Agnes had been to New Zealand: slightly to my surprise this proved probably to be correct. Agnes’s father emigrated from Belfast in mid 1883 to Invercargill in New Zealand; this would have been either by sail or the very early days of steam: either way it would have taken a minimum of 6 weeks up to as much as 12 weeks. Agnes and Ernest were married in Chicago in early 1885, Ernest having gone to the US in 1883 before moving to Ontario. They must known each other in Belfast and Agnes can only have been in New Zealand for a few months, bearing in mind the journey times.
    The newspaper report of her parents wedding gives an idea of Betty’s early life and their social status:

Former Rector of All Saints' Church Marries Popular Society Girl
A quiet but very beautiful wedding was solemnized in All Saints’ church (Windsor, Ontario) this morning at 8.30, when Miss Creina Russell Henderson, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Henderson, of Ardmore, was united in marriage to the Rev. F.A.P. Chadwick, rector of St. Paul’s church, Vancouver.
The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Arthur Carlisle, assisted by the Right Rev. A. U. de Pencier. Lord Bishop of New Westminster, B.C., in whose diocese Mr. Chadwick holds a most responsible office There were also present the Rev. W. H. Battersby, of St. Mary's church, Walkerville; Rev W H Snelgrove, of the Church of the Ascension : Rev. A. B. Farney, of Christ Church. Amherst burg: Rev. Percy Harding, curate of All Saints"" church, who out of compliment to Mr. Chadwick, the former rector of All Saints’, and Rural Dean of Essex, attended and added to the reverence and sacredness of the occasion. The impressive and beautiful choral service was used, the choir rendering “The Voice that Breathed O’er Eden” as they preceded the bridal party, and during the signing of the register they sang “O Perfect Love.” Miss Henderson, who was given in marriage by her father, was attended by her sister. Miss Kathleen Henderson, in brown moire with large brown panne velvet hat with bird of paradise mount, and carrying a large cluster of yellow chrysanthemums.
The bride wore a most becoming tailored gown of electric blue chiffon velvet, with waist of blue silk marquisette over cerise, black plush hat with large cerise rose, corsage bouquet of bride's roses and maiden hair fern. The groom was supported by Mr. Percy Allworth The family of the bride witnessed the ceremony, and the church was filled with friends, who, despite the inclement weather and the early hour, attested to the high esteem and popularity of the bride and groom by their presence The chancel was decorated in white chrysanthemums, with a profusion of palms.
A sacred and reverent feature in the service was the consecration by the bishop of the ring previous to being placed on the bride’s finger.
Mr and Mrs. Chadwick left on the C.P.R. for an extended trip through Ontario and the Northwest, amid showers of confetti from a large number of friends who gathered at the depot. (The Windsor Star Tue Oct 22 1912)

    Betty had two much older half brothers, Jack and Freddy (born 1899 & 1900 respectively in Ontario). As a pretty little blonde girl (“Little Betty Chadwick” presented flowers in 1920), she was the apple of everyone’s eye until her brother, Maurice appeared in 1921, and distracted her admirers. I believe that this was one of the reasons for her life long enmity with her brother (another was his becoming engaged to a friend of Betty’s and marrying someone else – Olga - 7 months later).
    Freddy and Jack spoilt their much younger half sister, and Betty used to talk of them with great fondness and awe. Jack, who died quite young only had one daughter; Freddy had 2 daughters, the elder, Carolyn bearing a startling resemblance to Betty. Jack moved south about 1922 and lived for a while in the Napa valley, California, but later moved back to Victoria; Freddy stayed on in California. Maurice, when he retired from the Navy in about 1960, returned to Victoria, BC. At Jack’s wedding in 1921 “Little Miss Betty Chadwick, the flower-girl, wore a dainty frock of pink organdie with mauve ribbons and carried a basket of pink and mauve flowers.” At Freddy’s, wedding in 1928, Betty was a bridesmaid.

    Their life sounded rather Victorian in style. Rosemary Maitland, only 4 years younger, said Betty seemed a generation older: the household of a older intellectual clergyman (born in 1873) in Victoria, BC in the 1920’s probably really was a generation behind the business community in the English Midlands. By the time the Maitlands appeared on the scene, Betty had been living with Richard Vernon for 15 years or so. Richard was much older, born in 1900 and although a Staffordshire family, was far removed from the industrial society of the Maitlands, he was much more the old fashioned country sporting squire and so would have enhanced the late Victorian attitudes.
     Betty had a governess until the age of about 10 before going to Norfolk House School, Victoria, where she stayed until about 16 or 17, reappearing for a few years in the old girls association. I suspect she was not the most assiduous pupil, life was more fun outside school. She had some further education at BC university. From her photograph Album 1936-39, she served as a nurse at St Joseph’s Hospital, Carnot, (Comox) Vancouver Island between July 1936-September 1938. (This album finishes the day war was declared).
     Betty had visited her Henderson grand parents in Windsor, Ontario, but only as a little girl, Ernest Henderson dying in 1920 and grandmother Agnes in 1925. Her only memory of grandmother was that she had a big nose: that shows well in an early picture of Betty in Agnes Hendersons arms about 1916. Creina’s younger sister, Kitty remained unmarried in Windsor for much of her life (there is a slight indication that she may have been one of the many women left unattached after so many men were lost in WW1) before moving to Victoria, and remained in contact with Betty all her life, and leaving Alice a bequest in her will.
     Betty’s interests veered towards the Arts, and she used to sketch in her middle years. Alice always said that she underused her intelligence and was perhaps frustrated as a result. Judging form the photograph albums, Betty (like her daughter) was distracted from academe by her social life.
     A photograph album of 1906-8 shows the family life in Ontario, very much out doors, camping, canoeing and FAPC fishing and shooting, dressed up in a full tweed suit. A later one of Betty’s 1st year or so is more about the baby’s early age. They went over to Windsor, Ontario, to see Creina’s parents soon after Betty was born. Her early years were in the Rectory in Victoria: about 1940, her parents moved to Goodwin St in Victoria, probably on retirement. The albums of the 1920’s & 30’s show them out in the bush camping, fishing and sailing; to those who knew her later in life the imagination boggles at the idea of Betty in a tent, although she always claimed to like roughing it!
     The newspapers of the time give a taste of their life in pre war Victoria: “Little Betty Chadwick” first appears in public presenting flowers at an occasion in 1920. The wedding of Jack (24/9/1921) was described in what was a normal, fulsome and slightly sycophantic detail, with Betty as the flower girl:

"Nuptials of John P. D. Chadwick and Miss Vivienne Charlton To-day _
A large and Interested congregation gathered in St. John’s Church this afternoon at 3.30 for the nuptials of John P. D. Chadwick, eldest son of the Rev. P. A. P. Chadwick, rector of St. John’s Church, and Mrs. Chadwick, and Miss Vivienne Mary Charlton, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. O. King, of 640 Moss Street. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Mr. Chadwick, assisted by the Very Rev. the Dean of Columbia and Rev. G H. Andrews, rector of St. Mary’s, Oak Bay.
The church had been prettily decorated by girl friends of the bride, an arch of white asters and dahlias with trailing ivy being erected at the entrance to the chancel, flanked on either side by pink and mauve asters and dahlias. G. Jennings Burnett presided at the organ and the service was fully choral.
The bride, who was given in marriage by her uncle, Mr. A. G. King. Jr., of Nanaimo, wore a beautiful gown of ivory satin in trottoir length with an overdress of silk net sewn with seed pearls. Her long veil of embroidered net was confined to the hair with orange blossoms and she carried a bouquet of bridal rosebuds. Miss Joyce Gowen, of Seattle, daughter of the Very Rev. Dr. H. H. Gowen. was the only bridesmaid, in a lovely frock of pink and mauve taffeta trimmed with silver ribbon, with becoming pink picture hat and streamers of mauve georgette. Her bouquet was of pink and mauve flowers. - Little Miss Betty Chadwick, the flower-girl, wore a dainty frock of pink organdie with mauve ribbons and carried a basket of pink and mauve flowers. Mr. Cecil Holmes supported the bridegroom.
After the ceremony a reception was held at the home of the bride’s grandparents, where the many guests took occasion to view the handsome gifts received by the young couple. Later Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick left on the S.S. President for San Francisco, the bride travelling in a gown of dark blue taffeta trimmed with black and silver braid, and made with the new long bell-shaped sleeves and high collar, with fur-trimmed coat of fawn velour, and hat en suite.

Another newspaper reports Betty Chadwick at the Badminton Club dance, Nov 1936, Windsor Ont: this was a visit to aunt Kitty Henderson. (The Windsor Star Tue Jan 12 1937: MR AND MRS. ARTHUR W MARTIN will entertain at a tea in their home on Pelissier street on Sunday afternoon to compliment Miss Betty Chadwick, of Victoria, British Columbia, who is making an extended visit with her aunt, Miss Kathleen Henderson, of Victoria avenue. Miss Chadwick has been in Toronto with Miss Helen Sutherland for the holiday season, and will return to her aunt's home on Friday).
Several newspaper editions report on Betty’s meetings of the Old Norfolk House Association.

   She said she met Rex Kirk-Owen sometime about 1940 (in a streetcar, maybe true, maybe one of Betty’s elaborations!), and may have had an affair with him then, although he was already married to his first wife, Jocelyn. He joined the Army in 1941, and was soon posted away. He was probably the love of her life.

Husband 1, William Beatty Chamberlain:

   She married William Beatty Chamberlain (in a fit of pique on the rebound from an earlier affair with Rex?) in spring 1941, moving with him to Newfoundland almost immediately after their marriage (which explains their proposed abode in the Empress Hotel after their wedding), she travelling overland by train, he by naval ship through the Panama canal. This marriage was not made in heaven and did not last, divorcing in September 1945 (William, I think, remarried, but I can find no detail). Betty was a Red Cross nurse in St John's for a period between arrival in 1941 and her return to BC later in the war, about the time the Japanese fired on Vancouver Island in June 1942.
The newspaper report of Betty’s first marriage makes amusing reading:

Of interest was the quiet wedding solemnized recently in St. John’s Church. Victoria B.C., at which Elizabeth Agnes (Betty), only daughter of  the Rev. Canon Frederick Austin Pakenham Chadwick, for many years rector of the church, and Mrs. Chadwick (Creina Henderson, of Windsor), 1156 Goodwin street, Oak Bay, and Mr. William Beatty Chamberlain. R.C.N.R.. only son of the late Dr. Ed­ward Beatty Chamberlain and Mrs. Chamberlain, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, were married. Canon Chadwick performed the ceremony. Given in marriage by the Rev. Montague Bruce, the bride was charming in her dressmaker suit of stone blue fine wool, with a wide-brimmed hat of darker blue, and accessories in the darker tone. Her corsage was of gardenias and freesia, and she carried a white prayer book. Miss Kay Mcintyre, the only attendant, wore a smart dressmaker suit of dove rose wool, with a wide-brimmed hat of felt in lighter tone, and beige accessories. Her corsage was of pink roses and blue iris, and she carried a prayer book of blue. Lieut. Freeman E. Burroughs, R.C.N.V.R., was groomsman, and Lieut. Peter Taylor. R.C.N.V.R., and Lieut. Peter Senkler. R.C.N.V.R., were ushers. After the service, the bridal party and a few intimate friends repaired to the home of the bride’s parents for an informal reception. Spring flowers were used throughout  the house, and Mrs. Chadwick received in a gown of navy blue crepe trimmed with pink and a wide-brimmed hat to match, and wore a corsage of pink roses and violets. Pink tulips and blue iris adorned the table, and as the bride cut the wedding cake, the toast was proposed by Mr. Rev. Montague Bruce. Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain will make their home temporarily at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.[i]

Address at Betty’s Funeral given by Isabel Maitland

Granny’s Address, As read (& Composed) by grand daughter Isabel at Betty’s funeral


As I am sure you can all calculate, I came late onto the scene in Granny’s life. Anecdotes from each part of her life suggest that her attitude was to squeeze in as much as possible all done with enthusiasm and panache.

Elisabeth Agnes, or Betty as she was known, was born in the town of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada on 17th August 1915.  The year of her birth had in fact, until quite recently, been noted down as a year later, 1916. This discrepancy was only uncovered recently when my father was undertaking some family history research. When he questioned her about the year difference, Betty turned to Daddy and said “well, no young mother should be over 40!” A neat reversal of her birth date by a year meant she was 39 when Mummy was born!  Betty remained in Canada for her school days and young life before moving to London with Rex Kirk Owen, her then husband, in 1952. Granny may have left her home country behind when she was relatively young but she successfully retained her distinctive Canadian twang for ever more. They settled into life in England, with Rex studying at the Bar. After mummy’s birth, in 1956, they moved out of London to Hampshire. Initially renting a cottage, they soon bought Blagdon House in Keevil where they remained until Rex died, three short years later, in 1959.

After this sad moment in Granny’s life, her tough survival attitude kicked in. Not to be defeated, she dusted herself down and soon found friendship and ultimately marriage with Richard Vernon. Richard was a kind, gentle country loving man who became my mother’s father in all but name, known fondly as Uncle Richard. They, with mummy, moved away from Hampshire to North Wales where Granny’s love of this part of the world began. They spent ten happy years near Towyn until practicalities required them to leave and move just over the border to Titley, in Herefordshire. Here Granny involved herself extensively in the local community and social scene. As a child, I can remember large Christmas drinks parties, Lent soup lunches and the annual attendance at the local Point to Point and Hunt Meets. Life at Burcher Cottage continued in this vein for over 20 years until Richard’s death in 1996. During this time, Granny was not wholly occupied with the social whirl of the area but was also dedicated to looking after her daughter, my mother, during her illness. Granny tirelessly gave support and practical help during this difficult time.

By the mid 1990’s, Granny was a woman in her 70’s. One would imagine, therefore, that life would start to slow down. Not a bit. She found herself in a whirlwind romance with the poet RS Thomas. Leaving Herefordshire behind, they returned to North Wales to live firstly in Anglesey and then to the local village of Pentrefelin. They married in 1996, on her 81st birthday I may add, and Daddy believes he may be one of few to claim that he has given his mother-in-law away not once but twice – to both Richard and Ronald!
Granny played a large role in the formative years of the life of me and my brother. When we were small, she used to collect us from school and the parcel shelf of the car was always so full of delicious treats that she quickly earned the title of “Snack Trolley Granny”.  She was a devil in the kitchen too. Historic roasts on a Sunday, butterscotch sauce, Angel cakes and brandy butter at Christmas.
In the school holidays, Granny would whisk Ollie and me off to stay in Tenby in West Wales or to the Basil Street Hotel in London to give our parents a well earned break. These trips were always full of generous treats and fun activities but there was never any doubt about who was in charge. Granny! Any step out of line and firm granny made a brief appearance.
Trips away were not limited to the confines of the UK. In fact, Granny was rather more adventurous than that. Quite regularly, even when she was in her 70s, she would disappear to a far flung part of Europe. I remember her returning from Albania in the mid 80’s when it was far from being the most stable country. She happily recounted to us that she had returned from the trip with barely a thing left in her suitcase having given clothes and cosmetics to women she had met who had nothing. Carefree, generous and adventurous indeed she could be.
Much of what Granny did was finished with a jaunty twist. Her rather traditional kilt skirts were topped off by a quirky beret and a slick of red lipstick. If you looked closely at home, little details hinted at her charming eccentricity - ribbons tied around the TV remote control, corners of cupboards, and walking sticks so they were easy to find; and a bizarre collection of alcoholic drinks from herby Chartreuse to the angostura bitters to make her famous drink, Pink Gin. Even the type of cigarette that Granny smoked was more colourful and exotic than others. An annual Christmas request was a packet of the brightly coloured cocktail cigarettes made by Sobraine. In fact, one artist painted her and entitled the piece “Sobraine, So Beti”. Impressively, this twinkle and original personality never went away. In the nursing home we did not make trips down the lane in a wheel chair but in her “chariot”; she would tell me she didn’t want to eat too much so that she could keep “her girlish figure”; and when Christopher first met her she surreptitiously asked him to pop some gin into her plastic beaker.
Finally, I leave you with a thought from Winston Churchill, perhaps less serious than such a situation demands but certainly in keeping with the carefree, slightly naughty livewire Granny was – “I am ready to meet my Maker, Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter”.

A few Other Newspaper Reports

Times Colonist Wed Feb 7 1951
"Dinner At Union Club

To honour Miss Pamela Davies and her fiancé, Lt. Cmdr. (S) William Ash, R.N., H.M. Survey Ship Challenger, whose marriage will take place Friday afternoon in St. Luke's Church, Cedar Hill, Capt. and Mrs. J. D. Prentice will entertain at a dinner party in the Union Club on Thursday evening. Covers will be laid for 14. The guests will be members of the bridal party and a few close friends.

Also in honour of the affianced couple was the after-five party given recently by Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Kirk-Owen at their home on Rockland Avenue."

The Province Fri Feb 9 1951
Betty used to talk about the Ash's

"International Interest Created

In Beautiful Victoria Wedding

VICTORIA — In a beautiful springtime setting of white flowering shrubs, blossoms and daffodils, one of the season's loveliest weddings, which has international interest, was performed this afternoon at St Luke’s Church at Cedar Hill with the newlyweds leaving later for a honeymoon on the mainland.

Principals were Miss Pamela Davies, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cornwall Davies of Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand and Lieut.-Cmdr. (S) William N. Ash, Royal Navy of HMS Weather Ship Challenger. He is the son of Dr. and Mrs. H. Arnold Ash of Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire, England.

Rev. F. Pike officiated and the bride was given in marriage by Capt. J. D. Prentice, RCN (Retired). Mr. E. Edwards was organist.


Like a cameo cut from old ivory was the bridal picture.

Exquisite in its mellowed richness was the pale champagne Victorian brocaded gown worn by this afternoon’s fair-haired bride. Simple in line with squared neckline and full skirt, the gown was misted by clouds of tulle veiling cascading from a coronet of gold leaves. She carried an arm bouquet of cream freesia and gardenias to blend. Her only jewellery was a string of pearls.

Mrs. Reginald Kirk Owen was matron of honour for the bride. A deeper reflection of the bridal gown was her old gold taffeta model worn with a halo hat of matching taffeta and net. Palest gold tulips, the petals turned back to reveal darker centres, fashioned her bouquet.


Lieut. G. J. B. Simeon, R.N., was best-man and Lieut. J. O. Clarke, R.N., and Lieut. J. M. Nicholas, R.N., were ushers. A naval guard of honour was formed as the newlyweds left the church by officers of HMS Challenger and RCN.

A reception was held at “Ardmore....


2.  Husband 2, Rex Kirk-Owen

   Sometime after she arrived back in BC, she came across Rex again, he was by then married with two children, a son, Peter (b 1946)and a daughter Jill (b 1943). That side of the family imply that Betty broke up this marriage – she may well have been the instigator, but to be fair, it takes two to tango. The albums show Betty and Rex together, looking like a couple in spring 1947 (“courting days”) and a camping & fishing trip on the Campbell river in 1948, so the affair had been going on for a while before Rex’s divorce his first wife, Jocelyn was granted in early 1949.
   After Betty and Rex were married in March 1949, they lived away from the scandal in Prince George (North of Vancouver) for a while where Rex had an interest in a cold storage business which he had started with some army friends; it was capitalised at $35000 in April 1946. It was not successful losing a chunk of family money.
   Betty’s well annotated photograph albums show her and Rex on various expeditions. The first after their marriage was in July 1949, when they went down into Washington State, up through the Glacier National Park and on to the Calgary Stampede, before returning via the Banff-Windermere highway to BC (their “real honeymoon”). The next year, they made another road trip along the Caribou highway and Williams Lake and Fraser River. They had a Pierce Arrow in 1948, from Rex’s father.
   Rex’s financial mis-management and the friction caused by their marriage led to them fleeing from BC immediately after Rex’s youngest sister, Pauline’s wedding in September 1951 on a long road trip (in a new MG YT type Tourer, a rare car even then, it appears in their photographs) down the Pacific coast roads to California, Mexico city and Southern US, Washington DC etc, staying with brother Freddy in California on the way. This trip is beautifully recorded in one of Betty’s albums, with descriptions of the places. (the album has been copied, and the original negatives of the prints have also been scanned): the outline from the album was: Pacific Coast,
Fresno, ca, Phoenix, Mexico City, Biloxi, New Orleans, Gulf Coast (10/51)
Washington DC (10/51).
    They ended up in Toronto, where both Rex and Betty worked, Betty in The Whitney Block, Toronto, presumably in the Government service, while Rex carried on from his Victoria job in the transport department, joining the same organisation in Toronto, but in the legal department; he was probably studying law even then (there are English letters referring to his Canadian experience); he may have Rex worked for Ontario Hydro @ Niagara as well.
They lived in 83, Centre Street West, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Nr. Toronto for about 12 months: they had Easter, 1952 in Windsor, Ontario, presumably with Aunt Kitty. They left Canada via Quebec and sailing from Montreal 25/10/1952 on the Empress of Canada, arriving at Liverpool 31/10/1952, destined for 23 Norfolk Sq. W12 (Rex was described as a student, Betty as a housewife). Norfolk Square is just outside Paddington Station.

The move to England

   On arrival in London, they first lived in Norfolk Sq, and then Holland Street (28A). Rex worked as an engineer for the London Council before (while?) studying for the Bar; he was involved in the building of the Hammersmith flyover. During his pupillage, he worked late nights for the GPO to supplement their income (trainee lawyers were not paid at the time). The albums of the time show Betty & Rex doing the sights of Britain, such as Scotland, Stonehenge and scenes of London. There is a good sequence of the Coronation and of the Spithead Naval Review in 1953. They seemed to have had some involvement with a Canadian association in London: perhaps that was how the were invited to a Royal Garden Party in July 1953, the 2nd of the new Reign. Another expedition was to see Rex’s Aunt Jessie (Kirk-Owen) and her husband, George Mason, at the time a member of Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1954; Betty and Alice went to see Jessie again in the 1970’s, George having died in 1958.
    The had a taste for the more unusual cars: as well as the Canadian MG, Betty and Rex had a 2 door AC 2 litre coupé (BJE 102), blue in 1960, but maroon on the 2021 listing (off the road since 1994). Betty sold it in 1960, reverting to cars more to Richard’s taste.
   After Alice's birth, they moved out of London to a cottage called Tudor Thatch, Oakhanger, Bordon, Hampshire, owned by John Burton's wife, Jacqueline, who had lived near them in London (John, a priest, assisted at Alice & Antony’s wedding in 1976), and then to Ropley (Hampshire); after a while, they bought Blagdon House, Keevil, moving in May 1959, Rex dying in August 1959.
    It seems from the sequence of events that it cannot have been appreciated how ill Rex had become: they took on a new and large house in the May and he was called to the bar in July 1959. In one of two of the contemporary photographs he does appear to have aged considerably in the previous few years. He died on cancer, and often appeared in photographs with a cigarette. Betty likewise was a smoker all her life, but with no apparent ill effect.
     After Rex’s death, Betty had the support of friends, in particular the Smalls (David had been in Chambers with Rex and was a distant Henderson relation of Betty’s) and the Happells. Betty remained at Keevil until 1960 (in the 1960 phone book) and worked for 6 months in Bath. Life would have been difficult as a widow with a large house and 3 year old daughter. By the time she and Alice went over to Canada via the Panama Canal (1960/1 winter), they showed a residence at Phillimore Place, W8, London, so they had probably sold Blagdon by this time. Phillimore Place was probably a short term rental on their return to England in Spring 1961 before they moved to Wales with Richard.

North America 1960:

23 August 1960, Departed London for Panama SS Iberia

Elisabeth Kirk-Owen, 7, Phillimore Place W8 for Vancouver
Alice Kirk-Owen.
11 September 1960, San Pedro, California
Both arrived, both Canadian.


3.  Life in the 1960’s & 70’s with Husband 3, Richard Vernon

    Also living in Keevil At the time of Rex’s death, at the Manor was the Vernon family of Richard, his wife Barbara, 2 sons, Peter and Christopher and daughter Flavia (in 2021, Christopher and Flavia still live at Keevil, Christopher died in July 2023). By an extraordinary coincidence, the Maitlands were living in Oaken, near Wolverhampton, in what was then known as the Dower House, but which had been called Oaken House. They had bought it from the Wrottesley estate soon after deaths of the Misses Vernon, Richard’s spinster aunts! Rosemary (Parkes) Maitland (Granny R) lived in or around Oaken all her adult life.
     Richard was, in effect, Alice’s father and had a major influence on her (and Betty’s) life so I include a bit on him. He did not die until 1996, and so we all knew him well.

     Richard must have been unsatisfied with his life in Keevil, and soon abandoned that life and moved with Betty and Alice into Wales, firstly to a rented house in Bwlch, near Eglwsfach: Betty was described as Richard’s housekeeper even when they subsequently moved to Herefordshire. For Betty to move in with a married man at the time must have been pretty scandalous: Richard did not finally divorce his wife until 1978. He was listed in the phone book at Keevil long after he had actually left there; the Vernon family’s affairs continued to be administered by a firm of solicitors in Wolverhampton as they had been for many decades before. The firm continued to keep Betty under some control until her death!
     The move to deepest Wales was probably to escape the recriminations: Richard had a deep love of the countryside, hunting and ornithology, so the area suited his tastes. Their first abode was Carrig, Glandyfi (Llandyfi, Machynleth, just outside Eglwys Fach). There they met RS Thomas, who was the incumbent between 1954-1967; he and Richard became good friends, which made subsequent events a little surprising.
     In about 1962 (in the phone books 1962-70), Richard bought a typical local house not far away across the estuary, Bryn Gwyn, Llanegryn, near Twyn, Merionethshire, moving in March 1962, where Alice grew up. There, Betty developed a circle of friends and some locals who helped with Alice and in the house. In the grand lady style, she continued visiting them long after they left for Herefordshire. Alice would also continue to visit. Betty is recorded as opening the Llanegryn Horticultural Show 21 September 1968.
     After Alice left Dr Williams, a Welsh oriented school in Dolgellau for Hatherop Castle in Gloucestershire, in January 1971 (in the phone books from 1971 onwards), Betty and Richard moved into Burcher Cottage, Titley, Herefordshire, which was nearer for Alice's schooling. Here Betty involved herself extensively in the local social scene and was a member of the Hereford sketching club.
    Betty was by nature a traveller, although somewhat restricted by circumstances. In this the example shown by Creina helped: Creina came over to England several times, in 1957, 1960, 1962, 1966: Betty went the other way a number of times in the 1970’s and 80’s, the last time was for Creina’s 100th birthday in 1987.
    Betty and Alice went to Canada by sea through the Panama Canal over the winter of 1960-1, stopping with half brother Freddy in California. They continued on overland from Vancouver to the East Coast and then England by sea again. As with other trips, Betty created a good album of this trip. The next recorded “saga” was a cruise to Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece & Turkey in the Spring of 1965 (see Album 14); I think it was on this voyage they met Dorothy Colles, who painted the pastels of Alice as a child and, a generation later, Isabel. Later, she undertook some more adventurous trips, amongst which were: Persia in 1976, Trans Siberian Railway late 1984, Albania 11/9/1986, a Norwegian Cruise 13/9/1989-25/9 (Bergen, Nidaros (Trondheim), Alesund, Trondenes (Lofoten Islands) Tromsdal, Masoy, North Cape, Bodo). Richard, Betty and Alice went on a cruise of the sites of Turkey in 1970 and 1972.
     Betty’s albums, of which there are 36 from their arrival in England, are marvellously laid out, with good descriptions to go with the images; the majority are from Alice’s birth onwards. These later one give vivid picture of their life. As well as the main travels, they show Betty, Richard and Alice on day trips round southern Britain and some longer ones around Britain, including Scotland. It is notable that, in spite of Betty’s Irish origins, she never seemed to have gone there.
     By the early 1990’s Betty was becoming more and more frustrated with life in Titley and increasingly difficult; the worry over Alice’s health cannot have helped. Alice bore the brunt of some of this, which often manifested itself in her virulent dislike of the Maitland family. Richard, then aged over 90, was showing his age and would not move out of Titley.
      Richard was an old style country gentleman and squire, with an enormous knowledge and love of the country, and gave Alice a love of the country and a calmer disposition than might have been expected, a gift which was to stand her in good stead later in life. Richard and Betty moved with Alice to Burcher Cottage, Titley, Herefordshire in about 1970, to be nearer Alice's schools, Richard remaining there until his death in July 1996. He was a man of understated intelligence, well read and interested in the natural world. He was also surprisingly interested in scientific developments. He also had deep, private religious feelings, sometimes verging towards the more spiritual. His knowledge of country matters was enormous, but, to quote Brenda Bayliss next door, he always had time to stop and look.
      Richard was in some ways a relict of the past in not having worked for a living in his life, except for a short period farming before and during WW2. Both he and his father had “independent means”, but in both their cases, the day to day running of their affairs was carried out by others (in Richard’s case, by solicitors in Wolverhampton). Unlike many such people however, he benefitted greatly from that security which allowed time for his life of country pursuits. The extraordinary thing is that only one, Peter, out of his 3 issue worked. Even Peter’s job was not that of a high flyer.
     Richard was not a great traveller but he, Betty and Alice took a cruise to see the Greek sites of the Eastern Mediterranean. He only flew once, with Antony in a light twin-engined aircraft. After his initial fear, he realised what he could see of his beloved country and was fascinated by it.
      Richard was born in 1900 at Welsh Frankton in Shropshire, son of Bertie Vernon and Esther Hodgson (d.21/3/1957), widow of Capt Francis Robinson Atcherley of Marton Hall, near Baschursh, Salop & dau of John Mills. Esther had a daughter, Muriel Hope Atcherley by her first husband and 2 twin nephews, David and Richard Atcherley, both of whom became eminent RAF aviators. Richard’s family moved to Hilton Park about 1930 after the death of his grandfather, Augustus Leveson Vernon. There is more on this family in the Vernon volume.
     Richard went to a prep school in Warwickshire and then to Harrow. Richard’s parents had a house on the Isle of White, and Richard’s 3 children were born there between 1927 and 1936, so he was probably living there during the 1930’s (daughter Flavia’s memory is a little vague on this). Later, certainly by 1939, he lived on a farm just outside Neen Sollars near Cleobury Mortimer (the 1939 registration show him as of independent means).
      Richard’s 1st wife Barbara de Hoghton (1894-1987) was the daughter of James de Hoghton, 11th Bt from Hoghton Tower in Lancashire. Her brother Sir Cuthbert, 12th Bt (1880-1958), married twice: his 2nd wife was his secretary, Philomena Simmons, who he married when he was 63 and she was 19! She was therefore Richard’s sister-in-law, although 24 years younger than him. She once visited Betty and Richard in Herefordshire, about 1980: Betty was very rude about her as Lady de Hoghton, though by that time she had remarried after Cuthbert’s death, although the mother of the 14th Bt. The press cutting below gives cause for Betty’s disapproval: to advertise Pond’s Cold Cream would have been very unsuitable!

Cuthbert de Hoghtons, Richard’s brother-in-law;

This must have created quite a stir at the time! From rather poor quality images in the papers, she was a good looking girl.

Baronet Weds Secretary (Dundee Courier 1 Feb 1944)

Several hundred women were unable to gain admission to the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Patrick at Walton-de-Dale, near Preston, yesterday, when 63-year-old Sir Cuthbert de Hoghton, Bart., was married to his 19-year-old secre­tary. Miss Philomena Simmons. The bride was given away by her brother George, who is 16 and a clerk at Preston Colliery agent’s office.

Her bridesmaid was her sister, Miss Teresa Simmons, who is in the W.A.A.F.

    Sir Cuthbert’s estate agent, Mr Francis Dewhurst, was best man.

Lancashire baronet dies in Sussex

Halifax Evening Courier 6 Dec 1958:

Sir Cuthbert de Hoghton, of Hoghton Towers, near Preston, who died on Thursday night at Cooden, Sussex was 71.

Twelfth holder of a baronetcy created In 1611, he succeeded his father, Sir James de Hoghton, in 1936. Educated at Harrow and Magdalen College, Oxford, he was commissioned in the Coldstream Guards in 1902 and served with his regiment until 1904. In the 1914-18 war he joined the Royal Naval Air Service and was for a time, at the headquarters at Dunkirk. For many years he devoted his major interest to the

Hoghton estate.

Sir Cuthbert leaves a widow and three sons—two sons by his first wife, formerly Miss Helen Mac­Donald, who died in 1943, and one by his second wife, formerly Miss Philomena Simmons, whom he married in 1944 when he was 63. The heir to the baronetcy is Mr. Henry Philip Anthony de Hoghton (39).


Philomena, Daily Mirror May 1954 – than aged 30 – Pond’s Cold Cream.

Richard & Kenya


Steam Turbine MATIANA built by Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. in 1922 for  British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., Glasgow, Passenger / Cargo    Richard had travelled to Kenya in 1924[1] where he would have stayed with his ˝ sister, Muriel (Atcherley) Hemsted: a picture shows him in the Kenya yacht club (I have a note of 1938, but his daughter Flavia confirms that he went to Africa before his marriage in 1926). He travelled on
 SS Matiana

Atcherley, Muriel - 1     Henry Hemsted was a doctor and the couple were living in Nairobi by the middle of 1919, and were resident at Ngong, about 22 km south-west of Nairobi, from 1920, after which they spent most of the rest of their lives firmly rooted in Africa. At Ngong, Henry and Muriel became part of a scattered community of European settlers, one of whom (Karen Blixen) later referred to the doctor close by in the book she wrote about her experiences: it is extremely likely that this was Henry Hemsted. Its title was “Out of Africa”, since made into a well know film. Betty used to talk about Richard being part of the “Happy Valley Set”, and it appears that he probably was, but their activities would have been out of his character! The Hemsteds had 5 children, 2 in England, both of whom died young and the last 3 born in Kenya. Muriel died in 1978 in Port Elizabeth, RSA.




Muriel Atcherley about 1911, RLV’s ˝ sister.


     Richard’s father, Bertie, did not appear to have left much imprint of his life; Richard’s early life seems more to have been influenced by his grand father, “ALV” who was a well known character locally: both his grandparents were much involved with hunting, Richard’s grandmother having a days hunting on her 80th birthday. The family had lived at Hilton Park since the 17thC, and are an example of a well-to-do country family, never titled, but always comfortably off and well respected in Staffordshire society. The early 20thC censuses show Hilton Park having 8 or 9 servants living in.
      The landed estate was large at its peak (4000 acres), and fortunately for the family, was underlain by coal and gravel deposits. These minerals provided the family with a good income for many years: even in the early 1950’s, Richard’s quarterly income from these sources was about Ł1000 after tax. However, the death duties levied on Bertie’s death and coal nationalisation left Richard selling the Hall and the remaining 1000 acres in about 1954, although he retained some cottages which were rented out. He and his family then moved to Keevil Manor in Wiltshire: his 2 remaining children still live there in 2021.
       He had an elder half sister, Muriel as shown by letters found after his death; they seemed to be close.

Hunt Reports by RL Vernon for Horse and Hound under pseudonym “Hergest Ridge”
They give a taste of Richard’s love and knowledge of fox hunting.

March 24 1978
From their meet at Gladesbury on February 6 these hounds brought off a really great hunt. Finding in Llanhowla plantation, hounds got away on a traveller and ran via Gwernila over the Gladesbury road to Llanbella and, bearing left here, ran on to Huntington, where they checked below the castle. The fox had been seen here 5min ahead of hounds.
Hunting on slowly to Forest Wood and running the length of this, they then ran via Lodge Wood down to the River Arrow, running the river bank for nearly a mile before crossing the river below the Werm.
Hounds then ran on over a large area of country via Burnt Hengoed and nearly to the Knowle Farm. It was a great joy to watch them driving on and unravelling the line in this open stretch of country, often temporarily frustrated by sheep or cattle. The fox turned back to the river once more and ran the  bank  w Mahollan. Crossing the Kington road here, he made up-country for Bread-ward and on over Kingswood Common and the Birches, over the Hereford road and through the top end of Lilward on to Upper Spond Farm.
Headed here, he turned back as  for Lilwall but hounds were close to him now and they caught him within three fields of the Hereford road - a point of nine miles, time 3hrs 10 mins. This can be described as real old-fashioned hound-hunt, such as one seldom sees nowadays, rather slow to begin with but the pace gradually increasing and hounds covering a vast amount of country with a successful conclusion.

Jan 26 1979
On December 29 hounds were at Winforton. A fox found in Winforton Wood made as if for Woodseaves but turned back into Winforton Wood. Pushed out of here, he went over the Eardisley road near Red Gates and nearly to Woodseaves, then right-handed of Pentrecoed, over the Welson road and finally into Cwmma Big Wood. where fresh foxes intervened.
Another fox was soon away, making for Upper Welson and on through Blackwood to reach the Hereford road. Crossing this he made for Lemore and ran the length of Holywell Dingle, after which he bore right handed to Oldcastle, where hounds checked. Soon regaining the line, they ran on with great drive through Roughmoor to the Hereford road at Eardisley. Turning back here, hounds made for Newton and crossed the Kinnersley — Almley road into Bad Patch.
Hounds rattled the fox through this thick covert and, hunting with lovely cry and determination, they ran on to Almley Wooton, before bearing left past Oldcastle and Nieuport to cross the Kington road above Lemore, and finally lost in gathering darkness just short of Quebb.
This was a great day's hunting Although points of only three and 4 1/2 miles were made, hounds covered a vast amount of country and were all on when Norman Stubbings blew for home in darkness.
Hergest Ridge

Feb 22 1980

In spite of consistently poor scent right up to January, these hounds (under their new Master and huntsman Mr. Neil Ewart) have been working very well and giving their followers a lot of fun. From the Three Horse Shoes, Norton Canon, on January 25, a great hound-hunt ensued.
Finding in Sarnesfield, hounds hunted with great cry and perseverance for 2hrs 5min. No great point was made but hounds covered a vast amount of country. Scent, which had been only moderate throughout, finally failed near Broxwood.
After the meet at Lyonshall on February 1, a fox left Penrhos Wood as if for Lyonshall Village but, swinging left, he crossed the Hereford road and ran into Lyonshall Park Wood. Not dwelling here, he ran on to Bullocks Mill, crossed the River Arrow and continued up to the Kington-Presteigne road close to the Hunt kennels at Titley.
Hounds were not far behind here, and running on through Eywood our pilot made up for Stocking Wood which is on the 1000ft contour.
The pack rattled him round this large woodland and finally pushed him out of Eywood and to ground in a drain, where he was accounted for. This was a four-mile point on a really good straight-necked fox. Late in the afternoon hounds ran fast from the Round Wood, Titley, to ground near Stansbatch.

4.  Husband 4, RS Thomas:

     Betty then caused a minor sensation by moving to live with RST when she was still married to Richard Vernon: RS was by then widowed. Whilst there is no real indication that they had ever had a previous affair, Betty had always admired him. Initially, they took up residence on Stonewall Hill, above Presteigne for the winter 1993-4, and then moved to live at Cefn du Canol  Llanfairynghornwy, on Anglesey, from 1994-98. Betty installed a carer, one Zoe Pankhurst, to look after Richard, who continued to become vaguer until his death in 1996. Alice found this very difficult – Richard had been her stable anchor all her life.
     Whilst I disapproved at the time of this move, it in fact turned out to have been a good thing, Betty became much happier and the stress on Alice decreased. RS was very fond of Alice, who he had after all known since she was a child: she sometimes wondered if RS took Betty away to rescue Alice.
Betty & RS were friends of Kyffin Williams, a well know Welsh painter. He was never married and we used to try and persuade Betty that he should be number 5 after RS’s death!
      As RS’s health began to deteriorate, they decided to move to somewhere less remote. RS had a good relationship with Robin Llewellyn of Portmerion – he is the grandson of Clough Williams-Ellis, the builder of Portmerion. After a couple of temporary stays in the hotel complex, they bought a house in Criccieth, which Betty immediately furnished in her inimitable style. Her houses were always full of ornaments and pictures, but she had a great knack of making them look attractive.
      They spent a lot of time at Portmerion, using it as their local pub, and the staff were very good to them. She even ran an account there! We often went there as family – I always wondered what the other diners thought – they often seemed to be having a special weekend, and we all trooped in like royalty with RS, who was quite an imposing figure. We had RS’s wake there, which became unsuitably rowdy – Sian, Robin’s wife, tried to shut them up – it would be so embarrassing if anyone complained and found one of the offenders was the MD and it was a wake!


5.  Pepler Family

Kitty (Peplar) Hall was Betty’s rather older (born 1901) 1st cousin: her mother was FAPC’s sister; The Halls lived in Wiltshire and Betty kept in touch with them.

Dear Mr Byl


I am replying to your letter to my wife Kathleen Pepler Hall concerning her attendance at The Margaret Eaton School in Toronto Kit is now over ninety and although in good physical health, her memory as suffered sadly over the last few years and is not able to answer your questionnaire. I thought it might be of help to you if I wrote, in letter form, what I know of her career in teaching.


Kitty was born in Toronto Feb 1901, her Father was a well known G.P. and they lived at 600 Spadina Ave. Her Mother was the daughter of a well known family 

named Chadwick.


After attending Glen Mawr School (private) and passing her Matric. and entry to University, she stayed at Toronto University only one year and then decided to move to Margaret Eaton School, in 1922.


After graduating she took a post in St John N.B. with the Y.W.C. Soon after being appointed the first Ph.Ed. Director at the College of Agriculture in Gwelf, Now the U. of Gwelf. In about 1928, wishing to travel, she was sent to Calcutta where she joined the staff of the YWCA, during her three years there she was employed by the Indian Government to train the first Ph.Ed, women

in that country. A difficult job as the Gov. was not prepared to put up money to train any but those women unlikely to marry!. However she was, apparently,

most successful, during her time in India.


It was in 1931 when she was taking ship back to Canada that we met, I being an officer in the ship in which she travelled to Japan, We married in East Africa in 1939 where I was then working.


During the years between 1931 -39 she worked, again for the overseas staff of the YW. in Cairo.


After the war we returned to East Africa, returning to England on retirement in 1965.


During our married life Kitty has always kept up her teaching, wherever we have been, mostly with children but also with adult women classes on occasions.


To return to MES. Kitty’s was a class of twelve and had your enquiry come a few years earlier I could probably have told you all their names as I have met a number of them, now, all that I can remember are:
Lucille Jacob, Andrea Williams, Fran Pearce, Dorothy Pratt. I have a sad feeling that Kitty is possibly the only survivor.


Mary Hamilton, the principal during Kitty 'a time was a great and lifelong friend. She started Tanamacoon Camp in Algonquin Park, I believe with Kit's assistance, and I think it was quite an offshoot of MES at that time.

Kit was a councillor for many years and I have been a guest there myself in Mary's time.


Post Graduate study. Kit studied in Germany with a Dr. Logus in Hanover. Took a course in Country Dance at Cambridge U. and Swedish work somewhere else.


Reason for choosing MES. Her Father thought that physical training might overcome her too frequent her fainting attacks.


Unpleasant memories. During Drama classes at times one had to walk onto stage, take out of a bowl on a table a slip of paper on which was written a subject upon which one had then to talk ! .


Most pleasant memories. Ballet and Dance.


Alumnae. . there was no organised Alumnae as far as I know at that time, but there was a wonderful secretary at the school who for many years kept correspondence with the members, her name sadly eludes me but I believe she

also is dead now.


Please excuse errors in this typing , I have very poor sight now and took a course in touch typing but I am no expert. I can only hope that what I have written may be of some use in your research. Kit, I know would be most interested in seeing your paper. we wish you the very best of luck.


Yours sincerely


John Hall

Full text of "Folder 132 — Interviews with Margaret Eaton School Graduates: Part 1 — Margaret Eaton School Toronto 1901-1942"





Initial issue:  10/8/2021

29/8/21: Small change P2-2
19/9/2023: small changes re Blagdon


[1] He left London on the Matiana (9000 tons) for Mombasa 24/11/1924, then of the Grange, Frankton.

[i] The_Windsor_Star_Mon__Mar_24__1941