Whilton Trail

Finding out about the men of our parish during the First World War is an on-going project.  Our population was small and the records are variable for those who served.  In 1940 there was a World War Two bombing raid on the War Office in London where the records were held. During this raid, a large portion (approximately 60 percent) of the 6.5 million records was destroyed by fire. The surviving service records have become known as the ‘Burnt Documents’.  Following the bombing raid many of these records suffered water damage.   It is usually easier to identify men who died than those who survived.  In Whilton all survived and this increases the problem, although we must be thankful for them and their families.   Besides this there were many men of the same name, and without extra details, it is very hard to identify those from Whilton.  We hope that as a result of our walks and website, more information may come to light.

Although some of the old properties have been demolished to make way for new housing, there are still many properties in the village thats Harry Reynolds and the other heroes of the First World War would have known.This trail will show you where they lived and describe their lives.

This guide shows where they lived and provides an insight into their lives.

Map of the sites in Whilton

The map shows the site of the houses where the men who went off to fight in The Great War lived. 

Guided Walks

The Whilton Local History Society organises guided walks for the Harry Reynolds Trail; please see our calendar for details of our next walk. 


1. Langton House

Charles Gammage was unmarried and aged 26 when war came, but being a farmer would have qualified him as having a reserved occupation, as food production was vital for the nation. 

There was also a high demand for horses. In September 1917 Charles Gammage sold a horse to an agent for the War Office. This sale was carried out without a licence and as a result he was fined, although the real offender  appears to have been John Drage, the purchaser. Drage, the agent from Chapel Brampton, claimed to be regularly purchasing 60-70 horses a week and sometimes 100.

Charles Gammage remained in Whilton. He died in the Daventry area in 1958, aged 70. Other farmers were Thomas Starmer of Home Farm, in his late 40s when war broke out, and James Emery who was farming from Norton Lodge.


2a. Ivy Cottage

By 1918 Daniel Moore was listed as a military voter for Whilton.  Before the war his father, David Moore,  had been the publican at the Engine Inn, Long Buckby, but the family had moved to Whilton.  Daniel had been trained as a bootmaker and lived in Ivy Cottage after the war.


2b. Rose Briar

John James Surridge was born in Whilton in 1885. Known as Jack, he was trained as a carpenter.  

He and Shelah Townley from Churchgate enlisted together, probably responding to the publicity given to Lord Kitchener’s “Pals Battalions” programme, a scheme which promised men who signed up together that they would fight side-by-side on the front line. He became a private in the Middlesex regiment, serving with several units. He fought in the Battle of Arras in spring 1917, but by 27 July he was at the Givenchy Clearing Station, north of Arras, with a gunshot wound in the face.  He was discharged on 7 August. 

He was awarded Victory and British medals.  He married Florence from Long Buckby and they lived in Rose Briar.  He worked in the Ordnance Depot at Weedon in the 1930s.  He died aged 74 in 1959 and is buried in the churchyard here.

Rainald Surridge born in Whilton in 1887, was John James’ brother. He was a capstan driver on the London and North Western Railway, moving railway trucks in a goods depot.  Rainald  enlisted in December 1915. He was serving as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers (Inland Water Transport Corps) in  April 1917. His medical examination in February 1917 pronounced his condition as B1, but noted the extensive tattooing on both forearms and his hammer toes.

On 21st May 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal before being transferred to Inland Waterways and Docks, and then going abroad.  On 21st June he embarked on the Troopship Aragon from Marseilles and disembarked at Salonika (modern Thessaloniki)  on 29th June 1917. (The “Aragon” was to be torpedoed and sunk at the entrance to Alexandria on 30 December 1917.)

The records suggest that Rainald found the discipline difficult.  In May 1918 he was punished for neglect of duty;  in November he was found drunk in No. 3 Red Shed on the English Quay at 1.15 a.m.  For this and being out of bounds in Salonika he lost a fortnight’s wages, was under close arrest and was permanently reverted to the rank of sapper. In March 1919 he was again found out of bounds in the Rue Egnatia, Salonika at about 9 p.m.

He had a short period in hospital in October 1919 and was finally demobilized in December 1919, settling in Liverpool. The British War Medal and Victory Medal  were forwarded to him 1922 and he died in Liverpool aged 79 in 1966.


3. Cottam

George Arthur Hancock was recorded as a military voter in Whilton in 1918.  He may have been related to the Hancocks of Cottam, or to Rose Sharp at the School House, as one of her sons was named Henry Hancock Sharp, but no further record of him has been found for Whilton. 

George may well have been staying temporarily with relatives in Whilton.  This was not uncommon at the end of the war.


4. Little Entry Cottage

Leonard Dunkley grew up here (See also 13. Holly Cottage).

William Robert Haynes was born in Braunston in 1886, the son of a wagoner. He became a groom and  came to Whilton though marriage in December 1915 to Agnes Isabel Dunkley.  The Northampton Mercury recorded on 15 January 1915 that William Haynes and two others from Braunston had enlisted in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry.  Some from the Yeomanry were taken out to serve with the Mounted Military Police and William Haynes was one of these. 

His two first children were born in wartime, and he is recorded as a military voter in Whilton in 1918 before demobilisation. By 1919 he was paying his father in law rent for Little Entry. He spent his life here, earning his living as a gardener.  He died aged 76 on 16 November 1962.

Albert Newbury was listed as a military voter for Whilton in 1918 and was probably son of widow, Kate Newberry, who was a charwoman and lived in a tiny cottage, part of Little Entry. for which she paid a shilling a week in rent. She left in summer 1919, perhaps after Albert was demobilised.

Little Entry was demolished in the late twentieth century and is now the site of Sira


5. Churchgate

Shelah Townley was a farm labourer for the Emery family and probably a football fan.  He enlisted with Jack Surridge and served with several units of the Middlesex Regiment, including the 17th, known as the 1st Footballers, where fans and players were encouraged to join up and fight together. Until he was transferred to the 1st Middlesex, he appears to have served with Jack Surridge.  He was awarded the Victory and British medals.

He came home to Church Gate and to work on the Emery farm. The photo shows Shelah Townley with his wife and mother.

James Frederick Barnett, known as Jim, was born in 1883 in Surrey.  He was a Post Office worker from Woking.  He married Elizabeth, sister of Shelah Townley of Church Gate. They already had two sons when their baby daughter Olive was baptised here in August 1913. 

It appears that Elizabeth spent much of the war with her family in Whilton and that at the end of the period her husband came to join her.  James F Barnett is included as a Military Voter in Whilton’s Register of Electors for 1918.

He was a probably private in the Manchester Regiment and was awarded  the Victory and British medals.  Jim and his family emigrated to Canada after the war, but he returned to live in the Guildford area  by the mid-twentieth century and he died in 1966.


6. The Rectory

The Rector’s son Michael Loam Logan had been born in Hampton in Middlesex and was an articled clerk for an architect and surveyor. Perhaps because of  his Middlesex connections, he joined the First Company of London Yeoman, the Company of Hussars, as a private. This  was a Yeomanry Regiment of the British Territorial Army, nicknamed the Rough Riders.  

He was awarded a Victory Medal, a British Medal and a Star Medal, which shows he served from at least 1915.  The regiment embarked on the “Scotia” for the Mediterranean in April 1915 and served in Egypt.  During 1916 it served as part of the Suez Canal defences and then in Salonika.  It is likely that he was present for the capture of Jerusalem in late1917.  In January 1917 he had suffered from a fractured finger, his notes recording that he belonged to the City of London Rough Riders.  His records also show that he was serving in Egypt again in 1919, finally disembarking in England on 3rd May 1919.  

He married Brenda C Parker in the summer of 1923 in Bromley, Kent.  When he died in 1986 he was 95 and living in Philadelphia in the USA.

Reginald Eustace Butcher did not live here but was the Rector’s son-in-law.  He had married Helen Logan in 1915, when he was a sergeant in the Second Lovat Scouts Motor Cyclist Corps. He served as a Lieutenant  in the Northumberland Fusiliers. During the war the couple brought their two baby daughters to Whilton for baptism. Helen Louise was baptised here in January 1917, and Betine in March 1918. 

Although listed as a Whilton voter in 1918, Reginald came from Edinburgh and returned there after the war.  He died there in 1957, leaving our previous Rector’s daughter a widow.


7. Stone House

Charles Henry Essen, born in 1883, was the son of Thomas James Essen, an agricultural labourer who eked out his wages by running an off licence from the end of the Stone House, which he rented.  By the time war broke out Charles was a gardener. After a medical in October 1915, he was identified as fit for service, despite slight varicose veins. He joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner. 

On the occasion of his transfer from the 14th Reserve Battery in December 1915 he was supplied with clothing and equipment for which a record has survived:

2 pairs of boots, 1 cap, 2 pairs cotton drawers, a frock (probably a shirt), 1 frock canvas, a jacket, 1 pair cord pantaloons, 1 pair puttees, 1 pair canvas shoes, 1 pair service dress trousers, 1 pair canvas trousers, a waistcoat, 1 great coat, 1 pair spurs.  The spurs indicate he may have been involved with the horses, pulling the guns. 

He had several spells in hospital and the records suggest that he may have been suffering from post traumatic stress. He was in Italy from November 1917 to March 1918, and back in France again from the end of March until January 1919. 

Demobilisation came in January 1919. He was awarded the Victory and British Medals and he returned to be an agricultural labourer in Whilton. 

 ( In the photograph, the Stone House is on the right. See also 10.Big Entry)


8. Field View

Tom Higgerson of Field View was the son of a railway platelayer.  He was about 24 when the war began and was one of those serving by February 1915. Tom’s records show that he was a Bombadier in the Royal Field Artillery (Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery) and disembarked in France for the first time on 1st June 1915. 

He was awarded the Victory and  British medals at the end of the war. He was back in Whilton after the war and attended a relative’s wedding in 1920, by which time his parents had moved across the road to the Old Cottage.  

Tom died in Reading in 1968, aged 78.

(Tom Higgerson is in the centre of the back row)


9.Tudor House

Arthur Webb  was born in Norwich in 1889, but his parents moved to Northampton, where Arthur, senior, worked as a shoemaker. By the end of the war Arthur, senior, and Emma were living in Tudor House. Their son Arthur was married with three children. He fought in the Queens Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment, first in the 11th and then the 10th Battalion, but in 1918 he was registered as a military voter in Whilton.  With so much disruption after the war, many men returned to parents, while waiting to see what would happen in their new situation. Arthur Webb junior  was discharged from the Army  in 1919. He died in London in 1980.


10. Big Entry

Arthur William Ariss was the stepson of William Marks of Whilton.  Arthur was married to Violet Louisa Townley of the Locks, but after the war they were living in the cottage nearest the modern Village Hall. Arthur’s daughter Violet Alice was baptised here in July 1916, and another Winifred May in October 1919, when Arthur was still in the Army. They remained in the cottage through the early 1920s. 

Charles Henry Essen (see photo), known as Harry, who had grown up at the Stone House (7), lived in the cottage nearest Rose Bank in later life. It seems likely that Harry never got over his wartime experience. He was remembered as being cantankerous, refusing to leave the tumbledown cottage even when water poured through the roof in 1947, and finally died in Norton in 1962. 

'Big Entry' was one of six cottages which stood on the site of The Bungalow/High Glen, but were demolished during the twentieth century. 


11. School House

Thomas George Sharp, known as George, was a butcher’s son, born in Nether Heyford, and working as a wheelwright when he was 21.  In 1907 when  he married Mary Irons Wells of Shutlanger, George was described as a coachbuilder of Whilton and their baby son Donald Thomas was christened in Whilton in 1909.   By 1911 they were living at 37 Victoria Road, Northampton and George was a Motor Body Builder. 

Meanwhile his mother had become the teacher at Whilton School, living in the School House throughout the war.  He fought with the Worcester Regiment  and in 1917 it was reported that Private George Sharp of Whilton had been wounded in both feet.


12. Manor House

Tom Adams spent part of his early life at The Locks, but during the war was brought back from France to serve as a ploughman in winter 1917-18 at Roughmoor Grounds and after the war lived for some time in the Manor House, a rented property.

During his service as a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps he moved between the Horse Transport Depot, Reserve Parks, the 4th Division Guards and  the 2nd Life Guards.  After his winter as a ploughman he had to return to France and finally left Le Havre on 4th April 1919.  He was home in time for the baptism of his daughter Marjorie in May 1919.

He had served throughout the war and was awarded the 1914/15 Star Medal, the British War Medal and the Victory medal.  He spent the rest of his life in Whilton.  In old age people remembered him as gruff, old fashioned and still wearing a smock, using a yoke to carry his milk pails, and very sharp with children.  Was this part of the legacy of his wartime experience, or was that his natural inclination?  We can only guess.  He died aged 78 in 1959.


13. Holly Cottage

Leonard John Dunkley, the son of John and Charlotte Dunkley was brought up at Little Entry (4). Born in 1890, he started life as a farm labourer, and then became a clerk. He served in the Royal Navy. He was 5 feet 3 ¾ inches tall with grey eyes, dark brown hair and a fresh complexion. He was a rating on two shore establishment ships of the Navy Reserve, the President II and the Daedalus based at Crystal Palace, Dunkirk and Dover. He served from 30 August 1917 until 31 March 1918. As his papers are stamped: “For service in land operations”, it is likely that he did not go to sea.

He lived for a period in Holly Cottage and married Sarah Boulton in 1921.


14. Lower Farm

Walter Alfred Judkin was the fourth son of James and Susannah Judkin of Lower Farm.  He was born in 1887 and had grown up in Whilton. By 1911 he was employed as a butcher’s slaughter-man, working with his brother, a butcher’s shopman, in Wellingborough. 

He became a private in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry Dragoons.  He was later transferred to the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line.  He arrived in France on 11th October 1915 and was awarded the British and Victory medals.  After the war he returned to Northamptonshire, became a butcher and settled in West Haddon.