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Exciting times in the Beauchamp Tower

Date sent: 31 MAR 1906                           

Sender: N/A 

Recipient: Miss F Herring 

17 Katherine Villas, Mundesley-on-Sea, Norfolk 

Transcription: I’m having a day in London now having dinner It has been lovely 

Ethel. 

The inside of Beauchamp tower

You do have to wonder if Ethel’s mid-day dinner was the high point of her London trip? This view of the Beauchamp Tower hardly excites the viewer or acts as a venue attractor.  It may be accurate in recording the room, but the solid posts and rail keeping visitors back are scarcely welcoming, and the practical government issue chairs set in the embrasures fail to rate as an enthralling installation.  The Beauchamp Tower is famous for its prisoner’s inscriptions and carvings – recorded by Mr Dicks and published as a separate guidebook in 1853. In Gale and Polden’s slightly later version of this interior view, the chairs fade into the background and a friendly Yeoman Warder pointing out the fine line between vandalism and historic graffiti to a rather posed visitor takes centre stage.  

Postcard message

Ethel’s choice of a Wrench card is not unsurprising.   John Evelyn Wrench’s entrance onto the postcard scene in November 1900 was the success story of the day and included contracts to sell postcards at Hampton Court and Kensington Palace. Three years later the Daily Express hailed him as “the boy fortune maker”.  Unfortunately, the firm’s expansion proved too rapid. Wrench sold the company in 1904, and it finally closed two years later. This is an early image – no. 33 in the Series – but the brown ink and divided back suggest that it was reprinted after 1902. 

Attempts to identify Miss Herring have so far proved fruitless, although the Norfolk branch of the family appears quite prolific. It is quite possible that she was in service at 17 Katherine Villas in 1906. Unfortunately, the Census returns don’t help much. Henry and Charlotte Woods and widowed aunt lived there in 1901. By 1911 the Gaze family – Herbert, Harriet and four of their six children – had moved into the eight roomed villa.   

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