Thursday, 29 November 2012

Ledger of House Contents, 38 Park Lane 1919

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The residence marked 'A' on the Google Street view above is the present day 128 Park Lane, London. Back in 1908 this was number 38 Park Lane, but was officially re-numbered as 128 from 1934. This can be seen here: Survey of London Website, which also lists residents through history.

One resident was Mr. Warwick Brookes, (1875-1935), his wife Beatrice (nee Waldenstrom), and their children John and Claire. Amongst my Brookes memorabilia I have a gold leaf, leather bound ledger, which was prepared in December 1919 as an inventory of house contents by Messrs. Waring & Gillow Ltd., valuers, of 180 Oxford Street, London. The book lists each room, complete with all contents, and their value. The total value of contents can be seen below, which by present day standards is huge. Other interesting facts to emerge are the large number of servants employed, as can be seen from the list of the values of their possessions, and also the fact that the family obviously owned drawings by my grt grt grandfather, (Brookes' father's uncle), but didn't attach any great value to them, as they are all hung in the housekeeper's room, with individual values of around 10/- (50p).

The house is documented as being owned at this time by Sir Edward Mackay Edgar, a Canadian-British banker. He was a keen power boat racer and won the The Harmsworth Trophy in two consecutive years, 1912 and 1913 with his boat Maple Leaf IV. See also British International Harmsworth Trophy. The previously mentioned associate of Brookes, Lord Hardwick held a similar interest and owned his own boat Glisseuse, an 18 foot hydroplane, in 1910. I can only presume that the shared interest in boats and racing, (although Brookes' interest was in yacht racing), led to the association with Brookes, thus leading to him renting the property from Mackay Edgar. During the 1920's crash, Mackay Edgar shared the same fate as Brookes, - bankruptcy.

S.S. Borodino

A family portrait in oil, Warwick Brookes

During the early years of the 20th Century Warwick Brookes 1875-1935 became a successful and wealthy businessman as managing director of The Junior Army And Navy Stores, whose registered office was York House, 15 Regent Street, London S.W.1.

At the start of the Great War the company won the naval contract to supply His Majesty's Grand Fleet with stores and supplies, and a ship, the S.S Borodino, was made available to be used in this ambitious venture as a merchant fleet auxiliary. The contract ran between December 1914 and February 1919, and later, a book documenting the exploits of this ship was published on behalf of the company. The book can be read in full here: S.S.Borodino M.F.A Number 6.  and it contains many interesting photographic plates.

An Interesting Photograph

An interesting photograph has just been found amongst the family. Here it is:

There is a helpful caption hand written on the back which states: Lord Hardwicke, RT, Warwick Brookes, Major General Francis Lloyd.

Warwick Brookes is easy to identify, he is the one with the Panama hat. So, Lord Harwicke will be on the left. I presume RT next to him will be Brookes' lifelong friend Captain Reginald Tyrell, and the one with the moustache will then be Francis Lloyd. The family member who gave me this, Brookes' granddaughter, believes the location to be somewhere in Southern France, but if I was asked to guess, I would say Isle of Wight. By the gentlemen's attire the occasion is obviously linked to Brookes' hobby of ocean yacht racing, and the date? It is documented that Francis Lloyd was born 12th August 1853, and died 26th February 1926, so I would put the date of this image in the early 1920's. Warwick Brookes was managing director of The Junior Army and Navy Stores, who won a naval contract to supply the fleet during the 1914-18 war. Reginald Tyrell was also a director of that company.

The movie clip below is from testing Maple Leaf V for the race to be held at the 1920 Cowes Regatta, in which Brookes' yacht Susanne took part in its own class, and won against the King's yacht Britannia. The motor boats Maple Leaf V and Maple Leaf VI were owned by another friend, colleague and in fact landlord of Brookes - Sir Edward Mackay Edgar, a Canadian born banker, who owned the house on Park Lane, London, where Brookes lived at that time. Here is the story of the 1920 Harmsworth Trophy Race, held during Cowes Regatta week in that year: 1920 Harmsworth Trophy.

Major General Francis Lloyd had a distinguished military career, and during the First World War, was responsible for the defence of London, particularly from Zeppelin attack. More information can be found here: Major General Francis Lloyd.

There are several film clips of Lloyd during the 1914-1918 period in London. Here is one of them from 1917:

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The amazing family of Warwick Brookes 1843-1929

This Warwick Brookes, was the photographer, who's business at 350 Oxford Road, Manchester was celebrated as being an establishment of quality within the profession, with clients from the upper classes and the theatrical world visiting from across the country. He was involved in photography from the early days, where the skills of a chemist were equally as important to those of an artist. He was the inventor of the Academy Camera, an early instrument, that was made in quantity by the Billcliff camera company. He was the cousin of my great grandfather William Terry Brookes.

He had three children, Blanche, Warwick and Gordon Byron. Each are the subject of their own pages on this website detailing their own exploits during their lives. Here though I will focus on the family of his son, also Warwick, who was born in 1875, and passed away in 1935 in Cowes, Isle of Wight, during Cowes Week.

Warwick Brookes MP
This is Warwick, a flamboyant businessman, who later was a business partner with his brother-in-law, Eugen Sandow. At the beginning of the Great War of 1914-1918, he established a factory for the manufacture of war equipment. He had become Managing Director of both the Junior Army and Navy Stores and of the Civil Service Co-Operative Society. When these two concerns were amalgamated, his holdings became so valuable that he received an offer for £250,000 for it, which he refused, but later, during the post-war slump, sold it for a tenth of that. In the 1916 election, he stood for parliament and was duly elected as a Coalition Unionist member for Mile End. His business career would see him immensely wealthy at times, and at others, on the brink of bankruptcy. His partnership with Eugen Sandow saw him managing Sandow's prestigious centres of physical culture in London. By 1932 he did appear in the bankruptcy courts, and by 1935, was dead, having travelled to Cowes on the Isle of Wight, with his daughter Claire, to watch the yacht racing, which he had held a lifetime interest.

Beatrice Brookes

Warwick was involved in a high profile divorce case around 1900. I have a detailed account of those events here: The scandal of divorce This is Beatrice, his future wife after that case.

Although her parents, Eric, who was Swedish, and Elizabeth Waldenstrom were living in Manchester, she was married to a Russian nobleman by the name of Emile De Minciaky, who had been an attaché at the Russian embassy in Stockholm, and London, but later worked at a copper rolling factory in Manchester. During her adulterous relationship with Brookes, a child was born, John Charles Hugo. He was christened De Minciaky, but in open court, during the divorce proceedings, both Beatrice and Warwick admitted that the child was theirs, and as a result of their relationship. Another child, Claire, was born in 1899, before the decree nisi was issued on the 20th March 1900. The decree absolute was issued on 4th October 1900. Brookes and Beatrice married in 1900 immediately after that. She passed away in 1926.
John went on to live his own amazing life as an officer in the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers) during the first part of the Great War, and later, in the Irish Guards. He only found out about his past connections with De Minciaky when he was rummaging through his mother's papers at the age of 16, and discovered a family tree which detailed this.  After confronting his parents, he later referred to Warwick as his step-father. In 1925 he went to Downside Abbey, in Somerset where he became a Benedictine Monk, changing his name to Dom Rudesind Brookes. He later returned as chaplain to the army, attached to the Irish Guards, where he also took part in the second world war, being awarded the Military Cross for extreme gallantry during an action at Anzio. This is his citation for that:

CF 4th Class (Acting CF 3rd Class) Dom Rudesind BROOKES OSB 1st Bn Irish Guards.

Father Brookes has been the chaplain attached to the Bn ever since it came abroad. he has now served in both the Tunisian and Italian campaigns. In both these campaigns he has shown almost unbelievable devotion to duty and bravery. No wounded or dying man wherever he may be, has gone without Father Brookes' attention. he has been in places where the fire was impossibly heavy and yet he has given comfort to the dying without any thought for his own safety. During the last few weeks, in probably the fiercest fighting the British Army has yet seen, the priest moved through shot and shell never appearing too tired to go the furthest points to help a wounded man. He acted as the MO's assistant and on many occasions helped the stretcher bearers in their dangerous task of carrying men in. There are not words strong enough to describe the wonderful and shining example father Brookes gave to all ranks, and all the officers and men of this Battalion would give testimony to the tireless kindness, inspiration and help they all received from his hand. His personal bravery in addition to his priestly qualities gained him the admiration of all. The sight of Father Brookes pacing up and down reading his breviary under heavy fire has restored the confidence of many a shaken man.
     In recognition of this Chaplain's extreme gallantry and unsparing devotion to duty, I recommend he be awarded the Military Cross.

9th March 1944 
C.A. Montague-Douglas-Scott
Lieutenant Colonel
Officer Commanding 1st Bn Irish Guards

ADC to Lord Plumer, Malta 1921
* Ed's Note CF=Chaplain to the forces. CF 4th Class= Captain, 3rd Class=Major.
John's full birth title - according to his birth certificate is Count John Charles Hugo De Minceaky. He was awarded the OBE later in life.

Warwick's other child, his daughter Claire also born before Brookes and Beatrice were officially married, although, I believe was never admitted by her, had a very privileged early life alongside John and the rest of the family. They were brought up in the upper classes, and as is the norm in those circles had a nanny to look after them. Claire would also spend time living with her Aunt, Blanche, and her two children, Helen and Lorraine, whilst her husband Eugen Sandow was away performing his strong man act all over the world. As she entered her late teens, she enjoyed the trappings of that lifestyle, often mixing with her brother's officer colleagues at society parties and balls during the London season.

Claire Brookes
Claire married one Robertson (Roy) B Stewart, (her first husband), at a large society wedding at the Brompton Oratory in December 1920. They lived near to Warwick and Beatrice who still lived on Park Lane, London. They shared many a party outing together with her brother John, (who at this time had a bachelor flat on Mayfair), and her great friend Evelyn Laye, a well known actress of the time, see: Evilyn Laye . They would often go to Cowes, Isle of Wight, around the period of the early 1920's to take part in Cowes Week, where their father Warwick enjoyed success with his ocean going racer, Suzanne.

Claire passed away in 1983, a year before her brother John.

from "The Universe, 21st December 1984" Obituaries.

Dom Rudesind Brookes, OSB, OBE, Titular Abbot of Sherborne, who won the Military Cross while serving in Anzio, Italy, as a chaplain to the Irish Guards; at Downside Abbey, Bath, on Monday; aged 85.

He served as a subaltern with the Irish Guards in the First World War. His commanding officer who became a life long friend was the future Field Marshall Lord Alexander.

In 1921 he went as ADC to the Governor of Malta where he probably gained his vocation; because at the end of his training in 1925 he resigned his commission and entered the Benedictine novitiate at Downside.

In the Second World War he returned to his old regiment as chaplain and was with the Irish Guards in Tunisia and at Anzio where he won the M.C. for “extreme gallantry and devotion to duty.”

After the war he was parish priest of Beccles, Suffolk, before returning in 1956 to Malta as a chaplain and unofficial liaison officer between the Governor and the Archbishop at the time of the Mintoff dispute. While there he also became Headmaster of St. Edward’s College.

In 1966 he was appointed a titular abbot and went as Abbot Procuator to Rome where he remained for 11 years.

From "The Times 19th February 1985"

A requiem Mass for Chaplain the Right Rev. Dom Rudesind Brookes, OSB, Titular Abbot of Sherborne, late Irish Guards, will be celebrated at the Little Oratory, alongside the Brompton Oratory, at 5.30pm on Wednesday, February 27, by Dom Eric Phillips and Father Alastair Russell.

Much of the other information for this article has come from a 1983 biography of John's life, titled "Father Dolly, The Guardsman Monk". The author is Anthony Wheatley (son of Dennis). Although I believe it is now out of print, it is still widely available from used bookshops who advertise on the internet.