A person who deserves greater recognition for her work in Henfield is Miss Margaret Knowles of Henfield Place. She gave a large tract of land, part of the garden of her house, to the village to be used as a recreational area for the children of the village. The gift was to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935, and was therefore known as the King’s Field (next to the sports centre). An oak tree was planted in memory of the gift, but was unfortunately felled during the building of Northcroft. The land originally bounded Upper Station Rd, but in the 1960s houses were built along the road and additional land was acquired at the side to compensate. There is now no recognition of her gift to the village.
Miss Knowles was born in London to a Charles Julius Kino on 22nd May 1877. Family tradition gives his birthplace as Russia, coming to England during the 1870s. He married Louisa Essinger in London in 1874. The 1881 census shows them living in Edinburgh Terrace, London. Margaret had 2 siblings, Hugh C, and Guy J. F. Guy was a civil engineer who started a motor vehicle company with Lucien Legros, the son of the artist Alphonse Legros. They produced the ‘Iris’ car, which in early days at least was described as ‘cumbersome and slow’ with a slow revving engine and was nicknamed the ‘Old Buggerinas’.
Charles Kino is recorded as a tailor and woollen Warehouseman. By 1891 the family name changes to Knowles. It would seem that Charles also indulged in property development in London and built 7 blocks of apartments on Prince of Wales Drive, possibly with Lord Battersea.
He began collecting artwork and became friendly with 2 artists: Whistler and Rodin, Guy as a child would play with clay in Rodin’s studio. After Charles died, his wife Louisa developed an infatuation with Rodin and commissioned a cast of Rodin’s “Brother and Sister” for her son Guy in March 1903.
When Charles Knowles died he left his son Hugh £1.2M and his son Guy £400,000. It is interesting to note that before his death he brought Linkenholt Manor in Hampshire, including the whole village. Margaret was left several endowments and large sums of money.
It is believed that Margaret came to Henfield Place in 1913. In 1939 at the start of the war, she allowed Henfield Place to become the ‘Henfield Central Hospital Supply Depot’. From 1939 – 1945, 8448 garments were sewn in various workshops and sent to Henfield Place to be packed and sent to P.O.Ws, Emergency Maternity Hospitals, people blitzed and liberated captives. Also, due to the dedicated home knitters, 3272 knitted garments were sent to British and Allied Forces; the final total of work reached 13,022, all being packed and sent from Henfield. All local men were given Christmas parcels. Proudly no man was forgotten.
Henfield Central Supply Depot provided garments and bandages to Shermanbury Grange Hospital and the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Margaret Knowles was the driving force behind an organisation called the Girls Friendly Society (GFS) in Henfield. The GFS was a national girls organisation founded in 1875. It was originally set up to help young girls/women who left home in the country to work in towns and cities, and who very often had no friends or family and were extremely vulnerable. The Society’s aim was to befriend and mentor these girls. In 1880, the Society had 40,000 members and provided lodges which offered cheap good quality accommodation for young women working in domestic service or mill and factory workers.
During the war years the Henfield GFS threw itself into the war effort raising money for, amongst others, the White Horse Club for boys and girls in London; another was to provide housecraft training for 16 - 18 year old girls. The GFS carried on after the war and was active into the 1960’s and became a youth club for young girls.
All in all, Miss Margaret Knowles gave a lot to the village both in time and money; next time you walk through the Kings Field to the Leisure Centre or go and play tennis or football, have a thought for this kind person.
Margaret’s sister Kate Christine Knowles set up the ‘Forget me not’ League, originally set up to send books and games to captured allied servicemen, but it developed into giving parcels of toiletries, shaving equipment and small luxuries. To join the League you paid a fee of 1s (5p) and then undertook to raise money by organising dances, whist drives, etc. When you raised 20s (£1) you were awarded the Forget-me-not medal. Margaret died on 25th January 1947, leaving around £300,000 (equivalent to almost £12 million in 2019). It is interesting to note that the village that Kate lived in named a road after her – Knowles Walk; and Henfield named a road after Margaret – Knowles Close.
It is not known why Charles Kino changed his name and why he chose Knowles, but it is known that Henfield is better off for having had such a kindly benefactor and friend.
By Steve Robotham (Assistant Curator) with thanks to Maureen Fletcher and Adrian Vieler (researchers), first published in the Henfield Parish Magazine, June 2019. Iris car image added 2020.
Although Dulcima assisted her father and sister with the production of stained glass, she was perhaps more famous as an actress, author and playwright, perhaps taking after her mother who was a successful author under the name of “William Beaumont”.
In 1919, the Brighton Herald carried favourable reviews of a play “The Younger Generation” in which Dulcima was appearing at the Palace Pier Theatre. The play toured the UK to good reviews. The West End beckoned, and in 1921 she was described as an actress and writer, having written “Red Indian and Fairy Stories” for children.
In 1922, the radio station ‘L2O London’ broadcast a show called “Children’s Corner”, this eventually became “Children’s Hour” which included a transmission of the first episode of Dulcima’s story “The Queen who came to Town”. She became a prolific writer of plays, books and articles. In 1925, Dulcima joined the BBC and was the first person to adapt a play for radio. When she resigned in 1933, she had dramatised for radio over 200 plays. She then concentrated on writing her own plays, and in 1939 all the Glasbys moved to “Three Oaks, Worthing Rd, Horsham”, where they lived until 1942.
Following the 1933 slump, the two sisters opened a wool shop in Putney and then in Horsham (East Street), and then later in Henfield High Street.
In 1945, Barbara and Dulcima moved to Sunnyside, Upper Station Road, Henfield where they stayed until moving to Kentwynds, Blackgate Lane, Henfield in 1953, where Barbara died. Dulcima moved to a nursing home in Cowfold, and passed away in 1975. Dulcima may still be remembered as the woman who ran the wool shop in the High Street in Brick lane, where Hamfelds is now.
William’s work can be found in various churches in Sussex, including;
Pulborough parish church
St Matthews church West Worthing
Denton church, Newhaven (St Cecilia’s window)
St Giles church Dallington, East Sussex
All Saints church in Herstmonceux.
The museum is very pleased to have a collection of plans and design drawings of the windows sent to Atlanta, and a small collection of children’s stories written by Dulcima.
Article by Assistant Curator Steve Robotham, first published in the Henfield Parish Magazine, March 2019.
Major A. G. Wade was born in Henfield in 1881, and lived at Croft House in the High Street (in recent times Lloyds Bank), his father Charles was a solicitor (he also designed Croft House using handmade bricks from Partridge Green). Although the house remains largely unaltered, the gardens have disappeared. The gardens originally were a half-acre of garden containing a croquet lawn, a wild border, a pergola, a pigeon-cote and a summer house.
He joined the Imperial Yeomanry in 1901 very much against his parents' wishes, after an almost idyllic childhood in the village. The Yeomanry were mobilised and sent to South Africa, and it was during this campaign that he met Baden-Powell (BP) for the first time in 1901. On the journey home BP explained his plans regarding setting up a training scheme for boys, modelled on the training he gave to boys who were scouts at the Siege of Mafeking. He returned home in 1902 and joined the local militia with the rank of Lieutenant.
Whilst home he had discussions with his sister, Audrey, about Baden-Powell's ideas of a Scouting Movement for boys. In 1907 Audrey started one of the first scout troops in the world, assisted by Miss Sybil Mead. The boys came from her Henfield Hockey Club; Hockey was a winter activity and Audrey wanted something to occupy the boys all year round. It was in this year that Baden-Powell set up his experimental camp on Brownsea Island in Dorset. The programme at the camp was published everyday in the local press, and Audrey enacted them with her boy Scouts in Henfield. She reported that there was a vast improvement in the morale and behaviour of the local boys.
In January 1908, Scouting for Boys was published in fortnightly parts, and Audrey arranged for the publication to be delivered to Henfield Station bookstall. At this time Baden-Powell was very accessible and members were encouraged to contact him, so one of the Henfield boys wrote to him to ask about uniforms and instruction as to how to get them. He wrote back with the simple instruction “make your own”.
So the boys went around the village collecting material, the shorts were fathers cut down trousers, made from clothing condemned as not good enough for jumble. Enough material was bought to make grey shirts for all the troop, and the boys made their own. The first HQ was a disused shed, and chairs and tables were made by the boys from tubs and boxes presented by the local grocer.
Major Wade helped his sister with the Henfield boys but then moved to Chichester and became the scoutmaster for the 1st Chichester troop. He eventually became the County Secretary for Scouts in Sussex. In 1910, Baden Powell invited Major Wade to go to Canada with 16 ‘Kings Scouts’ to show the Canadians how Scouting could be carried out in practice. Major Wade returned to the UK and was based at the Boy Scouts HQ in London as Baden Powell’s organising secretary and then Joint Secretary of the Scouts Association. Unfortunately, his plans were scuppered by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
On Friday 31st June 1914, the Major was summoned by Baden Powell to mobilise the Scout movement. Government departments were all clamouring for the services of the Scouts. Lord Kitchener telephoned asking that Scouts relieve the coast guard so they could mobilise with the fleet. The Chief Engineer of the Post Office wanted Scouts to guard all the main telephone lines from London to the south coast. The War Office wanted messengers and Scouts were also asked to guard stretches of railway line and viaducts, bridges, etc. Some Scouts took on the duties of Special Constables. Thousands of Scouts were offered to the Mayor of Dieppe to help with the harvest. He was very grateful but declined because the war would not last long, and German forces would not get across the border!
The 1st Henfield Scout Troop is recognised by the Scout Association as being the oldest Scout Troop in existence, and for this reason Henfield was chosen as the only place in Britain to host the Centenary Flame on its trip to Brownsea Island in 2007.
By Steve Robotham (Assistant Curator), originally published in the Henfield Parish Magazine, May 2019.
With thanks to Dave Malkin.
Ref: “Counterspy!” by Major A G Wade MC (Stanley Paul & Co Ltd).
We hope you enjoy the variety of blog articles on the people and places of Henfield past!
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