The name of the animal is long forgotten but the owners will forever be known as Filey’s most illustrious residents. In August 1901 Dame Madge Kendal and her husband were away, treading the boards when their pet decided to play with matches. The Scarborough Evening News told the story.
A fire broke out on Sunday night [25th] at The Lodge on The Crescent, Filey, occupied by Mr and Mrs Kendal. A visitor was walking in the Crescent Gardens about seven in the evening, and observed flames issuing from one of the bedroom windows of a house at the far end of The Crescent, known as South Crescent Lodge. He immediately gave the alarm. The only occupants of the house were Miss Margery Kendal and the servants, Mr and Mrs Kendal being in town fulfilling a theatrical engagement. A good supply of water was easily procurable, and the flames were extinguished before the arrival of the local fire brigade. On an examination of the room by Sergeant Smith and a constable, who were on the scene immediately after the outbreak, it was found that a dog had been playing with a box of matches in the bedroom and had caused them to become ignited. The mattress and bedding were burnt, and the carpets, dressing table, and some books were scorched. The damage is estimated at about £10. A strong wind was blowing at the time, but the prompt action of the servants and police prevented the flames from spreading to other parts of the extensive and valuable premises.
A few months earlier the caretakers were the only occupants of the villa. Their names are given as James Jackson SMITH born Flintham, and Mary Jane Jackson SMITH born White Notley, both aged 50. James has a substantial headstone in the churchyard, all to himself, and its inscription reveals him to be a few years older than his census entry suggests.
In loving memory of JAMES JACKSON SMITH who fell asleep Dec 9 1916, aged 74 years.
‘The Lord is my Shepherd’
James’ wife may have been older too, and her middle name was Ann, not Jane. If I seem uncertain it is because a Flintham/White Notley couple must have married in 1870 because at the 1891 Census they were enumerated in Northfleet, Kent with a son, Edward Jackson SMITH, 21. Father was working as a Foreman on the railway, the son as a tramway conductor. Disconcertingly, Mary Ann THOMPSON had married a plain James in 1870, and a Mary Ann NEWMAN married James Jackson SMITH in Chelsea in 1889. FamilySearch Tree has Miss Newman (MFVP-FBP), born 1850 in White Notley, with her parents John and Jane but as yet unmarried. Trouble ahead.
The “famous” people in this post are also problematic on FamilySearch Tree. Find them here, with just one of their children. I expect they may put in better performances elsewhere on the World Tree but, sigh, that just means a deal of merging has to be done. I hope there will be more instances of light relief, though. Today I was surprised to find that William Hunter Grimston’s occupation is given as “Comedian” in the marriage register – the same line of work as Margaret Shafto ROBERTSON’s father. (Search online for Dame Madge KENDAL for lots of photographs. Check out Old White Lodge for some fascinating inside stories.)
A man, in disguise, who attended one of Dame Madge’s theatrical performances has a somewhat more substantial pedigree on FST.
South Crescent Villa is now The White Lodge Hotel.
(Today’s Image of Filey Bay and Muston Sands was taken from the corner of Glen Gardens, a stone’s throw from The White Lodge.)