Category Archives: Research notes

Paul Vd Kerckhove and the bust of Mayor Whitbourn Emson: by Alison MacKenzie

“A souvenir of the Belgians’ friendship and visit to the town” In 1915 the Belgian Community of Tunbridge Wells commissioned Belgian sculptor Paul Vd Kerckhove, himself a refugee, to make a bust of the town’s Mayor and Chairman of the … Continue reading

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Administration and the refugees – a reflection: by Helen Phillimore

As a member of the CREATE Group I volunteered to research a part of the history of the Belgian Refugees who came over to the UK between 1914 – 1919, a number of whom were sent to Tunbridge Wells and … Continue reading

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Schooling for the Belgian children: by Alison MacKenzie

In all, 75 Belgian refugee children passed through Tunbridge Wells (though the maximum at any one time was only 35), and arrangements were made with the Borough’s schools to give them free education as required.  Some were taught by the … Continue reading

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The medical treatment of refugees in Tunbridge Wells, 1914-18: by Carolyn Gray

  Additional material by Alison Sandford MacKenzie On 25th September 1914, the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Charles Whitbourn Emson called a meeting of interested parties to discuss his proposal to open a Municipal Fund and set up a Borough Committee … Continue reading

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Belgian Lace: by Caroline Auckland

I know for certain that the main piece of lace visible in the above photograph is from Belgium, the rest I have inherited or acquired. A drawer full of aging white fabric and needlepoint has survived mainly because it is … Continue reading

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How were the Belgian refugees funded?: by Ken MacKenzie

With the outbreak of the war on 4 August 1914, and the speed of the initial German advance in Belgium, it became quickly clear that there would be a problem of fleeing refugees; on military grounds it was thought desirable … Continue reading

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The Belgian Refugees’ links with St Augustine’s Catholic Church: by Terry Farrage and Kenneth MacKenzie

Belgium was and still is a predominantly Catholic country. Although there were a few Protestants among the refugees who came to Tunbridge Wells the overwhelming majority, Flemings and Walloons, were strongly of the Catholic faith. Inevitably they sought out the … Continue reading

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Belgians in Southborough: by Fiona Brown

In 1914 Southborough was quite a small village, separated by three miles of open country from the more elegant Tunbridge Wells but very much connected to High Brooms with its Brick Works and Railway station.  I am fascinated by the significant … Continue reading

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The Club Albert: by Jan Wright

In November 1914, Belgian Refugees in Tunbridge Wells decided to form a club.  They were able to use premises at 32 Calverley Road which belonged to the Constitutional Club, on the first and second floor where Waterstones and Hotter are … Continue reading

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Wounded Belgian Heroes in Tonbridge, 1914: by Pam Mills

Following the Siege of Antwerp, many Belgians fled for their lives coming to the UK. On 16th October 1914, a ‘special’ Ambulance train arrived at Tonbridge Station in the early hours of the morning carrying several wounded Belgian soldiers & … Continue reading

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