I was born on 28th March 1945 in the Ilford Maternity home, parents Francis William Lyons & Joan Edith Turner .My mother suffered from phlebitis after my birth and was kept in hospital for 6 weeks, my maternal grandmother, Edith Turner staying at the newly acquired family home of 92, Herongate Road, Wanstead Park, London E.12. to look after my elder sister, Hazel, then aged 2 & 3/4. I assume my father was still serving in the Royal Artillery at this time as the Second World War didn’t end, in Europe, until May 8th that year. My mother had been living at (rented) 60, Courtland Avenue, Ilford, during the latter days of the war, and this address was also given on my birth certificate. I think Herongate Road was purchased during the last months of 1944.
I was christened at St.Gabriels Church, to which Hazel & I returned in 2008 and were made most welcome. There was a lady there who had been the Brownie Leader in the 1950s, but she did not remember us. They thought my Baptism might be in the book in the Church, but in fact their current book started after 1946.
Herongate Road was my home for the first 8 years of my life. It was a carefree time. I managed to play in the street outside my friend’s house but apparently was not allowed to play in our street as my mother considered it common. But I was sent out to collect horse manure (for the garden) from the rag and bone man’s horse - a task that I did not enjoy being seen doing! I was very late to acquire distinct speech; my sister was asked to interpret what I was saying, and my mother took me (via multiple bus journeys) to see various specialists and speech therapists. My school report from Aldersbrook County Primary school [ only 4 or so streets distant] says "Speech still rather indistinct" when I was 7 years 3 months. There were 48 in my class that year, 39 the following one. I was described as “very sociable and cooperative” and my conduct as “ usually very satisfactory, much improved this term”!! I do remember being made to move my desk from the back to the front of the classroom after an incident with my friend Wendy during a test (and of feeling it was very unfair that she was allowed to stay at the back!). I learnt to ride a bike on the pavement outside her house, before that having only ridden a red three wheeler of Hazel’s. Another friend was Rosemary White who also lived in Herongate Road on the other side and down the far end.
I was able to play in Wanstead Park under Hazel’s supervision. We used to walk through this to my maternal grandparents’ home, who lived in the upper part of 87, Endsleigh Gardens, Ilford. My grandmother used to help my mother make all our clothes. An unpleasant memory was standing on the kitchen table at home, having the hem of a garment marked with the aid of a stick (I obviously didn’t relish having to stand still for the requisite time). I do not remember my grandfather ever being in his flat (presumably we went there on week days when he was out at work as a carpenter) but he did come to our house, especially at Christmas. He seemed very jovial to me, and played cards and cribbage with us and loved horse racing. But, in reality, was far too keen on drink and gambling and was probably responsible for making my grandmother’s life miserable which was reflected in her outlook on life. (But, which came first? – we will never know). Another memory was us getting green paint (from some railings) on two, almost new, light blue coats( with matching hats). Money was tight and rationing still existed from the war, and our mother had a fierce temper (or so it always appeared to me).
From Northumberland Avenue we could go through Wanstead Park to our grandparents at Endsleigh Gardens. Note the proximity of Courtland Avenue to Endsleigh Gardens.
Wanstead Flats was just the other side of the main Aldersbrook Road. There were many prefabs on this where people lived (I think they were built during the war) and a barrage balloon (these were used during the war to prevent enemy planes flying low). And sometimes there was a Fair, which I thought was wonderful.
I started to learn the piano with a Miss Hill at the age of around 7. Neither of my parents played but apparently my grandmother was a very good pianist (but I have only just learnt of this fact!).
My father bought his first car about 1949. This had been ordered by his brother Bill (due to the war there was a 2 or 3 year waiting list for cars) but he could not afford it when it arrived. It was a Wolseley, dark green coloured. Trips out in it were fairly rare. A visit to Aunty Pett (younger sister of my grandmother) & Uncle Billy at Widford, south of Chelmsford, was a veritable expedition. These relatives owned a rural, idyllically situated semi-detached cottage, with cottage garden, but with an outdoor earth closet. At the bottom of their lane was a level crossing and we used to adore going to watch the steam trains going across it. Their son, Lloyd was 10 years younger than his cousin, my mother, and, whilst he was studying Architecture in London, he used to lodge in our small front bedroom, which presumably helped the family budget. My father had returned to work at George Whichelows Tannery in Bermondsey in 1945 and used to commute there daily on the tube I think. My mother, of course, was a full time mother. All day Monday would be devoted to washing and there was an old fashioned mangle in the outhouse and a long washing line that occasionally broke, leading to frayed nerves. Shopping was done daily – we didn’t get our first fridge till 1953. The next door neighbours, the Horsleys, had a television by 1952, and we watched the State funeral of King George VI and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth on it.
Each year we had 10 to15 friends to our birthday parties and my father organised the games for this. One year, probably at my sister’s party, there was a game involved pulling a rug (a magic carpet?) away from under one’s knees – this worried me about going to other parties for a long time. The food at these parties was a feast and must have involved a lot of work on the part of the mother.
In the summer of 1953, my parents sold Herongate Road for £2250 and bought 6, Worcester Crescent, Woodford Green for £4500. This was a detached, mock Tudor house with a lovely garden and with a large crescent green right in front of it, with a huge circle of rhododendrons at its centre. There were large tunnels running through it, which were great fun to play in. Whether the main reason for this move was that Hazel had passed the 11+, and had gained admission to Woodford County High School, I do not know. I of course, also had to change primary schools, but do not remember being disturbed at this. My new school was Woodford Green Primary School, just north of the main road running from London and Wanstead out to Loughton. This was about a mile from home, but I was soon left to get there and back by myself. I was very happy there and did well. I enjoyed playing Netball, playing as shooter, and was captain of the school Netball team in my final year. I was also in the Rounders team, but not because of any talent; there were probably only 15 girls in the year and 9 are required for a Rounders team!
In the spring of 1955 I was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. It was thought that I probably got this waiting for buses in the rain to get from Woodford back to Wanstead for my piano lessons with Miss Hill. Anyway I was confined to bed for at least 3 months and missed a whole term of school. During this time I read incessantly (with the aid of a book stand as I was not meant to move at all). As I got better my parents bought their first television set and I was carried downstairs each morning and became an expert on Cricket through watching all the test matches and also Wimbledon.. By the end of the summer I was pronounced healthy with the assurance that my heart had not been affected. After this I was a regular addict of Woodford Library, often visiting several times a week in the holidays (and hiding the next books I wanted to read behind other books so as not to be disappointed on my next visit).
During these years at Woodford I was a keen member of the local Brownies who met at our local church, St. Michaels, on Woodford Green. I also went to Sunday School there and then loitered watching the cricket at the adjoining local cricket club.
Several foreign youngsters (18-22), offspring of work contacts of my fathers at Whichelows, stayed with us at Woodford and I was given the job of escorting them round London. The Central line run into town from Woodford station (down at Woodford Broadway, 5 minutes walk) and I got to know this quite well.
Having passed the 11+, I followed Hazel to Woodford High School. I cycled there on the bike I had been given for passing the scholarship. I was admonished for talking too much in class and the head teacher thought I was capable of better work in my report at the end of my first year there. I enjoyed the Guide company there and went camping with them at St. Audries Bay, Somerset in 1957. I used to go on long cycle trips with my friend Kathryn Hill in the holidays. And Knighton Woods, part of Epping Forest, was a wonderful place to explore.
By this time we owned a green Austin car, reg. LXA789. Trips I remember were to Southend and to Widford & Chelmsford, where my Aunty Margery lived. We also went by car on our annual holidays. This sometimes involved leaving home in the middle of the night. We once got stuck on Porlock Hill and had to reverse down and then make a detour. We were staying in Lynton during the great flood there in 1952, and I remember walking down in the dark to the Lynton -Lynmouth bridge that had been destroyed and seeing bedding hanging out of the destroyed side of a house. This was on the last night of our holiday.
One memory is of being taken to my father’s tannery and of being somewhat sick there from the stench.
In January 1958 my father took up a new job with John Bloors in Northampton. This was not popular with either my mother or Hazel. The former was involved with an amateur Dramatics Society and had good friends in this. Hazel also had firmly established herself at Woodford High: as she was due to take her O-Level exams in the June, she actually stayed behind for 2 terms, staying with our next door neighbours, the Granges, at number 8. I do not remember my own feelings! The Worcester Crescent house was sold for £5250. Its replacement at Ashton cost £3600.
The move took place over 2 days and we stayed overnight at the Plough in Northampton. Next day we met the furniture lorry at Hilltop, Ashton. My mother did not like this new house, a bungalow. She said that there was not a tree in sight, but I counted over 100 in our garden alone( admittedly not evergreen and in their infancy – the house was built ~ 1950).
I started school at Northampton High, Derngate. My parents had managed to get the Local Education Authorities to agree to financing this (it was a direct grant school and the local authorities would have had me going to Towcester School which had a poor success level) by first getting me accepted as a fee paying pupil by the headmistress and then arguing with the LEA that they wanted me to go to a Church school. My first term proved difficult as I was befriended by a group of girls who then turned against me. Also I was soon barred from seeing a friend I had made in the village (7 miles from Northampton) as she was considered a bad influence by my mother! This, plus the fact that my mother was acting so peculiarly (in retrospect I think she must have had a nervous breakdown, but nobody diagnosed this at the time) at home, made me take refuge in work. There were half yearly exams in February and in most subjects I had a whole term’s notes to make up to start with, so there was plenty to keep me occupied under the sheets by torchlight at night! And from then on I took a pride in my work and enjoyed being amongst the top of my year. In good weather I used to lie under the trees in the orchard revising.
That summer we had our first foreign holiday (Hazel had had 6 weeks in Brussels the previous summer, to help her with her French O Level), to Sweden. Dad sold leather here, spoke Swedish (as well as French & German), and was good friends with Harriet and Lars Gunnarson who had 2 little boys. I was so excited by it all that I wrote a detailed account of each day to my best friend Margaret. I kept this for many years but must have thrown it away in one of our moves. We crossed to the Hook of Holland and drove through Germany and Denmark, staying a while in Copenhagen, and then to Malmo and Gothenburg, where Harriet lived. We also stayed in Dalecarlia and Stockholm.
I was by now really happy with my new school. One of the things I enjoyed was not being compared to my big sister! She, on the other hand, when she joined its 6th form in the September, did not like it, nor did she think it such a good school as Woodford (true). After that we had a foreign holiday each year, making use of the firm’s caravan which was picked up and returned to Calais. In 1959, after the excitment of being a bridesmaid at cousin Audrey's wedding, we went to Blanes, Spain, returning my French penfriend, Rosalind, to Compiegne en route. In 1962 I had another exchange with Rosalind & I caught a train from somewhere in mid France to the coast where Rosalind's family was on holiday and we later returned to Paris..
. ... . . . . Front row, l to r, Chris, Audrey, Hazel . . . . . . . . . . ..Frank, Joan, Rosalind & Eva . . . . . Nothampton High School, Derngate
I was a member of the school Guide company and adored going to camp with them. Once I was in the 6th form I continued helping with it and went to camp as lifesaver (!!) & as assistant cook.
I had 2 French exchanges, both with Rosalind Digard, one in 1959 and the other in 1962. She lived in Paris with six siblings, and I still love that city. They also had a neglected but charming country house at Compiegne. On the second visit I also spent time with them on holiday near the Ile de Noirmoutier. Unfortunately I lost touch with her around 1965. My French was further improved by 6 weeks spent with Jean and Lily Brandeleer in Brussels in the summer of 1960.
Hazel got a place at Somerville College, Oxford in 1961 to study medicine. When I was in the 6th form I overheard the headmistress, Miss Marsden tell my parents that she doubted that I could do likewise. That made me all the more determined: I also got into Somerville to read Physics.(I was intending to do Maths but that became a bit abstract at scholarship level, so Physics was the substitute).
Those three years, 1964-1967, went really quickly. There was quite a lot of Practical to do, and by the end of the first term I had changed partners for this from one Bob (who was even less practical than I was!) to David Grant from Pembroke College. We were soon deeply in love and spent a lot of time together. Both of us had taken Prelims prior to admission, and thus did not have to do any University Exams until our Finals. But there were internal college exams (“collections”) at the start of each term. As a result we both did a lot of studying in the long vacations, when we were separated by the Irish Sea, he living in Belfast. For the first few holidays I also spent some time working in the Cash office of the Northampton Department Store, Adnitts, thus earning more spending money. A County Major Award paid my University fees plus £324 maintenance, whilst the parental contribution was £46.
We spent 2 nights at the Weston Manor.
Received our Finals results a few days later, 2.1s.
Six weeks camping, touring round a very primitive Turkey.
September 1967: moved into 28,Northcote Road, New Malden, bought for £3000.
I was working for English Electric as a computer programmer above Whiteley’s Department store, Bayswater. Soon it was merged with ICS, and the office moved to Holborn. I commuted in from New Malden Station with David ,who was on Unilever’s training scheme, working with Lever Bros.
January 1969: started work at BOAC, Heathrow, still programming.
Early 1970: took advantage of our first 10% standby air tickets and did a round the world trip, HongKong, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand . This was followed by a trip to South Africa, where we stayed with my Uncle Len in Johannesberg before flying to Cape Town and returning via the Garden Route. Also visited Swaziland and Zimbabwe, meeting up with Alison & Nigel ,who were working in Zambia, at Victoria Falls. We also visited the Caribbean several times, particularly Barbados. And game trips in Kenya. Also did several trips escorting school children returning to England.
Summer 1970: sold New Malden and moved to a brand new 4 bedroomed house in Horsell Rise, Woking- £13,950.
Soon after this we bought the first of four terraced houses in Oxford, which we did up at week ends and then let out to students.
1971: a wonderful journey on the Lindblad Explorer to the Seychelles and Indian Ocean Islands.
May 1973: another trip on the Lindblad Explorer to Indonesia & Papua New Guinea.
October 1973: moved to Lausanne, David working for Philip Morris.
11/11/73: Stephen David Grant born in Clinic Les Charmettes, Lausanne.
18/12/73: Broke my leg skiing in Verbier and was hospitalised for 6 weeks.
Summer 1974. David's sister, Fiona, married Dick Rainsbury in Killinchy. Stephen liked her cake!
28/09/74: Joanna Francoise Grant born in the same Clinic, several weeks premature,
and transferred to Intensive Care for 10 weeks. She weighed 1.5kg at birth, increasing to 4.5kg by mid-December, to 5.95 kg by 15/1/1975, to 7.8 kg by 11/4/1975, to 9.5 kg by August 1975. Meanwhile David was working in Frankfurt
and returning at weekends.
24/12/74: Joanna out of danger for a week and moved to Bad Homburg, having first spent a week in Verbier, looking after 2 other under 5s as well as ours!
. . . . . . . . . . .Joanna 1977 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..Stephen 1977 . . . . . . . . . . .
1975. We returned to England in May, David becoming Marketing Director for the newly formed Philip Morris U.K. We sold Woking and moved to 33, West Temple Sheen on 11/11/1975.
1977. Following my father having created his own business in 1967, we decided to do likewise, David having decided that big business and he were not made for each other!. We bought Springwells, Steyning, Sussex - a Restaurant with Rooms - in the May.
1980. We sold Springwells in the Spring and moved to Kirkby Fleetham Hall, Northallerton, North Yorkshire in September. This was a run down country estate, once the family home of the Courage Brewery family, which we gradually did up and turned into a flourishing Country House Hotel
David, Jo, Stephen & Chris Ashton 1987
1986. We sold Kirkby Fleetham in December and were homeless for 9 months until
1987 September when we finalised on Chadlington Manor, near Chipping Norton, Oxon, which we turned into another Country House Hotel, opening the following Spring.
1996. After a difficult financial time, created by excessive interest charges under Margaret Thatcher’s Government, we sold again and bought Corisande Manor, Newquay, Cornwall.
Chris & David ~2002 on an Amazon cruise
2004. We bought Media Luna in Moraira, Spain as a winter holiday retreat, having decided to close the hotel for Christmas & New Year. We spent 3 periods of 3-4 months here until we decided to retire in the Spring of 2007 and move here permanently.
Chris around 1997 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Niece Kate, Jo and Kate's boyfriend Dave, 2011
2007. Started my research into my Lyons & Turner ancestors. This led to stays in Dublin, Chelmsford & London, pouring over Archives in libraries, walking the streets of Bermondsey, visiting the lanes & churches of Essex, etc.
Chris & David in a Moraira restaurant~2007
3 cousins discussing their past : my sister,Hazel, John & Philippa gathered in our rented flat off St Pauls in 2012, to review family history looking at photos found by Philippa.
2007- 2013. We have travelled extensively. These holidays, alongside my passion for my Family History, plus my life at my Javea bridge club, can be seen at