Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Mrs Edgar Walker, Pen Bryn, Beaconsfield Upper

On December 27, 1904, according to the post mark,  this postcard was sent from Torquay, in England,  to Mrs Edgar Walker, Pen Bryn, Beaconsfield Upper. It is  a delightful postcard -  a self-portrait of Elisabeth Lebrun. Elisabeth (1755 - 1842) was  a popular French portrait artist who painted Marie Antionette over 20 times.

The card reads - Torquay 1st January 1905 - "A bright and Happy New Year to you" - the initials appear to be FMW.  

So who is Mrs Edgar Walker and what is Pen Bryn? We will start with Pen Bryn (Welsh for top of the hill) - it is the name of a house. The original building on the site was  Beaconsfield House which was built by William Brisbane (1842 - 1910) in 1877, on the highest point in the town on what was to become St Georges Parade and Salisbury Road. Most of the building was destroyed by fire on the night of May 30, 1893. Beaconsfield House was where the journalist, The Vagabond, based himself when he visited and wrote about Beaconsfield Upper in 1885, you can read about this here.

In 1902, David John Davies Bevan (1873 - 1954) built  Pen Bryn on the site. David Bevan was a barrister and appointed as a judge in the Northern Territory in 1913. In 1924 he married Doris Reed and they had two children.  He was the son of the Reverend Doctor Llewellyn David Bevan (1842 - 1918) and his wife Louisa Jane (nee Willett, 1844 - 1933).  Llewellyn was a Congregational minister and a leader of Protestant intellectual life in Melbourne, according to his Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) entry, written by Niel Gunson,  which you can read here. The entry also includes information on Louisa.

Louisa was just as interesting, she wrote and illustrated hymns and was also involved in the National Council of Women.  The National Council of  Women in Victoria was formed in November 1901 at Clivenden in East Melbourne, the home of Janet Lady Clarke. Louisa Bevan was a foundation member. There was an interesting report of the founding of this branch in the Arena on November 28, 1901you can read it here.  Amongst other things the article tells us what the women were wearing -  Mrs Bevan was a most picturesque figure in black with Maltese lace draping her head and soldiers.  It's a shame it didn't actually tell us what the aims and activities of the Council were, but they included the education and health of women and the suffrage issue.

In 1904, Louisa Bevan was the Vice-President, and Evelyn Gough was the International secretary. Evelyn Gough, has an indirect connection to the area in that her daughter, Doris, married Merric Boyd, the potter. Merric was the son of Arthur Merric Boyd (1862 - 1940) and Emma Minnie A'Beckett (1858 - 1936).  Emma was the daughter of William Arthur Callandar A'Beckett, M.L.C., J.P. (1833-1901) and his wife Emma Mills (1838 - 1906) who built The Grange at Harkaway.

Back to the Bevans  - Llewllyn and Louisa had seven children - the aforementioned  David, who built Pen Byrn,  and three other sons, all with an abundance of given names -  Hopkin Llewellyn Willett (1871 - 1933),  Louis Rhys Oxley (1874 - 1946) and Penry Vaughan Bevan (1875 - 1913).  There were also three daughters  -  Sibyl Ceredwyn (1879 - 1962), Hester Gwladys (1870 - 1968)  and Muriel Eliza Marienne (1876 - 1955),  and an adopted daughter Dorothy Leigh Wilkins (1893 - 1970).

The Bevan family in 1909.
Image: Upper Beaconsfield: an early history by Charles W. Wilson (Upper Beaconsfield Association, 2013)

It is Muriel who is the Mrs Edgar Walker to whom the post card is addressed. Muriel  married Edgar William Walker (1879 - 1942) on  December 4, 1901. The service was conducted by her father, at the Independent  Church in Collins Street. Hester, Sibyl and Dorothy were the bridesmaids.The bride wore ivory crepe de chine, set off with a very handsome train of silvery brocade, the Church was beautifully decorated with an array of flowers and the reception was held at the Independent Hall. You can read reports of the wedding here and here.  The couple lived in Camberwell according to the Electoral Rolls and Edgar's occupation was listed as a commercial traveller. They had three children - Janet, David and Lois.

Sources -
The information about Pen Bryn comes from Upper Beaconsfield: an early history by Charles W. Wilson (Upper Beaconsfield Association, 2013)

The information on the Bevan family comes mainly from Marianne Rocke's Residents of Upper Beaconsfield website https://www.upperbeaconsfieldhistory.org.au/

The lovely post card was given to me by my post card collecting friend, Isaac.

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