James DarvillView full burial details
JAMES DARVELL; 1852-1945
James was born on 7th June 1852. He was the sixth of nine children born to Thomas and Eleanor Darvell. The family lived in Waterside, Chesham and the 1861 census tells us that James’ father was a bricklayer. At the time of the 1861 census James was 8 years old and was attending school, described in the census as a scholar. Ten years later in 1871 James, now 18 years old, had followed in the footsteps of his father and older brother Charles and was working as bricklayer. He was still at that time living with his parents and some of his younger siblings at the family home in Waterside.
He married Leah Philbey in the Congregational Church in Berkhamsted on 2nd June 1873. The couple’s first child, Alice, was born in 1875 and their second, Annie, in 1877. Henry was born in in 1881 and their youngest child, Fredrick in 1883. It is not clear when James moved to Berkhamsted but Leah lived in Berkhamsted and given that they married in the town, presumably it was between 1871, at which time James was still living in Chesham and the date of the marriage that James had moved to Berkhamsted.
As a bricklayer James would have found plenty of opportunity for work in Berkhamsted. There had been a large expansion of housing in the west of the town following the sale of the Kitsbury Farm estate in 1868. Builders were also active in the west of the town in the first decade of the twentieth century. In 1902 work started on Shrublands Avenue and there was further work on Cross Oak Road. Queens Road was built and development started at Sunnyside on the east side of the town. Building slowed significantly during the First World War, but accelerated in the 1920’s with the construction of council housing in Swing Gate Lane and also at Gossoms End. During the 1930’s further council housing was built at Highfield Road. Houses were also built for the first time north of the railway line by private enterprise following the sale of the Ashridge estate.
The Ordnance Survey map of 1877 shows that at that date Charles Street and the houses along the street had not then been built. It may be that James worked as a bricklayer on the very house in Charles Street in which he, Leah and their family were to later live. The 1891 census reveals that James and Leah lived in Charles Street and the 1901 census gives us the number of the house, number six. The couple were to remain at 6 Charles Street for the rest of Leah’s life, as the 1911 censuses and later electoral rolls up to 1923 confirm. Alice, their oldest daughter, then age 26 years and working as a lady’s maid, was living with James and Leah in 1901 at Charles Street, but their younger daughter Annie had moved on. By 1911 Alice too had moved out.
James continued to work as a bricklayer, being described as such in both the 1901 and 1911 censuses.
Leah died in 1923 and the electoral roll for 1924 tells us that following her death, James moved out of number six Charles Street. He did not however move far. The roll for 1924 discloses that he was then living at 12 Cowper Road, which was the home of his daughter Alice and her husband Fred Howell. James was living at12 Cowper Road with Alice at the time the 1939 register was complied. James died 5 years later on the 8th March 1945 at the age of 92. He was laid to rest with Leah who had been buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery following her death in 1923.