Admiral Sir Charles and Lady Drury at Homewood House

13/03/2024
Tenterden News
Admiral Sir Charles and Lady Drury at Homewood House
Article by Jack Gillett 
Tenterden and District Local History Society 

Homewood House, situated about half a mile outside Tenterden and built by James Haffenden in 1766, was bought in 1910 by Admiral Sir Charles Drury of Admiralty House in Chatham and he settled there in 1911 on his retirement. Charles Carter Drury was born in 1846 in Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, the son of Le Baron Drury (1813–1882), British Consul and High Sheriff of Saint John, New Brunswick and his wife Eliza Sophia Poyntz, daughter of Colonel James Poyntz (1796–1887)

He entered the Royal Navy in 1859 and held many important commands in various parts of the world and in England he was awarded KCSI (1903), KCB (1905), GCVO (1907) and GCB (1911).

He was Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet from March 1907 to December 1908 before being made Admiral and appointed Commander-in-Chief at the Nore, a post he held until he was placed on the retired list on reaching the age limit of 65 years in August 1911. The Admiral was twice married, first in 1886 to Frances Ellen Whitehead (who died in 1900), the eldest daughter of Mr Robert Whitehead of Beckett, Shrivenham, Berkshire and Fiume, Austria.

 

Admiral Sir Charles and Lady Drury at Homewood House Tenterden

PHOTO Admiral Sir Charles Drury

Secondly, in 1907 he married Amy Gertrude Middleton, the youngest daughter of Mr John Middleton of Porchester Gate, London W2. He was elected a member of the Tenterden Borough Council on 1 November 1913 and within a week was chosen as mayor. At the beginning of May 1914 he was suddenly struck by an apoplectic seizure and within ten days, on 18 May, he had died. In an effort to provide peace and quiet during his illness, a long section of the Ashford Road outside Homewood House was heavily sanded to deaden the noise of the horses’ hooves as they passed the house.
 

Rear of Homewood School - Archive photo

PHOTO Rear of Homewood House

During his illness there were many kind messages of enquiry and sympathy received, including those from King George V, Queen Alexandra, Prince and Princess Louis of Battenberg, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mrs Davidson, and many others. His funeral attracted a great deal of attention and various photographs and cards exist of the funeral procession. At the time, his funeral was regarded as one of the most impressive ever seen in the town.

 

Admiral Sir Charles and Lady Drury at Homewood House Tenterden

PHOTO Cortege arriving in the High Street from Ashford Road

On the day of the funeral, the mourners from London arrived by special train at Tenterden station shortly before 1.30 pm and proceeded direct to St Mildred’s Church, where also had assembled the members of the Corporation in their robes, the representatives of public bodies and the principal residents of the district. Simultaneously with the arrival of the special train the cortege left Homewood. In front of the solemn procession walked the Rev John Storrs, Dean of Rochester, who subsequently conducted the service assisted by the Rev J A Babington (vicar of Tenterden) and the Rev J Jervis (vicar of St Michaels). The coffin was draped with the Admiral’s own flag and upon it were placed his cocked hat, sword and epaulets together with a magnificent floral tribute from Lady Drury in the form of an anchor of pure white lilies tied with a cable of violets. Lieutenant Gourley was in command of the gun crew of thirty-two blue-jackets, while eight petty officers acted as pallbearers and carried wreaths. After the service, the High Street was lined with people as the solemn cortege made its way to the cemetery in Cranbrook Road. At the conclusion of the ceremony at the cemetery a naval bugler sounded the Last Post.

 

Admiral Sir Charles and Lady Drury at Homewood House Tenterden

PHOTO Cortege leaving St Mildred’s Church for the Cemetery

Lady Drury continued to live at Homewood and the grounds were used for fetes, pageants, etc and the Women’s Institute met there regularly. Lady Drury was a founder member of Tenterden Women’s Institute and the President for the first nine years of its existence (1919-1927).

During the Second World War, Homewood was taken over by the military. However, in June 1947 Lady Drury sold Homewood to Kent County Council Education Committee. She was fond of children and her wish was that the house should be used as a school rather than a roadside hotel or nursing home as had been proposed. Alderman Mrs E A Adams, the first lady mayor of Tenterden (1937-1939) and the prime mover for a Central School in Tenterden before the War, together with other local residents, supported her and she sold the house with its 50 acres for £10,000.
 

Admiral Sir Charles and Lady Drury at Homewood House Tenterden

PHOTO Lady Drury leaving Homewood

With numerous additions, extensions and adaptations (the wartime buildings erected by the Army were used as classrooms) Homewood School opened partially in September 1948 and fully the next year with pupils of secondary age transferring from the schools around. Mrs Adams became the first Chairman of Governors.

Lady Drury spent her final years at Hawkhurst before passing away in 1953 only a few months after presenting the prizes at the school prize day. She was buried in Tenterden Cemetery with her husband.
 

1953 Homewood School Prize Day

PHOTO 1953 Homewood School Prize Day
(L to R): Mrs E A Adams, Lady Drury, Mr L H Warren (Headmaster) and Sheila Tierney (Head Girl)
 
Jack Gillett
Newsletter No. 44 September 2024
www.tenterdenhistory.co.uk

References:
The Times and Kentish Express Jack Gillett
 

 
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