(Authors Steve Tillotson and Lyall Payne, March 2017
Updated January 2018, August 2019)
1. Introduction and Biographical details
Helen Marjorie Semple was born in Putney, London in 1898 and died in Honiton, Devon in 1974. Her father Guy Semple (1871 - 1927) was a commercial clerk and stamp dealer and was born in Kensington, London. Her mother Florence Emily Silcock (1876 - xxxx) was born in Blackfriars, London.
In 1911 Helen was a pupil at The Court House School for girls in Nether St, Finchley, N.W. London. The Headmistress of the Court House School was Adriana Augusta Moore Semple born at Matakana, nr Auckland, New Zealand. Our research indicates Adriana may have been a cousin to Helen, we are still researching that family connection.
With acknowledgement and thanks to Barnet Borough Council, (the local Government authority for Finchley, London), we have some photographs of the school taken in 1920 and these are shown below -
Court House School Photographs 1920
In 1916 the family were living at Mill House, Harrold, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire. Guy Semple advertised in the Boston Gazette (Lincolnshire local newspaper) seeking a property to buy or rent in the Boston, Lincolnshire area
By 1918 the family had purchased and moved to The Elms (smallholding/farm and stables) in the picturesque village of Coningsby in Lincolnshire (about 100 miles north east of London). Coningsby village takes its name from the Old Norse konungr meaning "King" and the Old Norse noun meaning "settlement", which gives "settlement of the King". The Church of St Michael, Coningsby is famous for its one-handed clock, dating from the 17th-century and at 16Ĺ ft, is the largest of its type in the world.
Views of Church/Clock and River Bain at Coningsby
Mr Semple advertised his stamp business in Coningsby where he lived until his death in 1927. Mr Semple was Hon Secretary for the Coningsby Horticultural Sociey who held a show each year in the Autumn. He was very active in the local community being a member of St Michaels Church where had been a sidesman for many years. He was a member of the Parochial Church Council and also a member of the following committees - Pension, Parish Council, Rural District Council Charity Trustees, and an ex-member of the Rain Drainage Board. Mr Semple died on February 16th, 1927 at the age of 66 and left estate of the gross value of pounds sterling 8,199 (approximately pounds sterling 450.000 in todays value).
The Elms property in Coningsby was put on the market for sale in 1929.
The Elms, Coningsby, For Sale Notice 1929
After the death of her father in 1927 we have a small gap in Helen's timeline. We do find advertisements by Helen and her friend Vyvyan Trist who travelled within the UK to promote "countryside wear" that they had created. This countryside wear encompassed - "hand woven knee rugs and cushions, wool embroideries of all kind, hand blocked papers made into many use things such as recipe books, jotters, address books". They showcased their countryside wear at Moore's Belfast Linen Warehouse, in Leeds, England for several years between 1929-1934.
Helen and Vyvyan Advert 1929
From 1932 we find a new address for both ladies. Helen in April 1932 was at 2 Queen St, Bath, Somerset, where she owned a dressmaking shop. Her friend Vyvyan Trist owned a hat making business at 12 Queen St, Bath. Like her father, Helen took an interest in local community affairs and in September 1933 she and her friend Vyvyan both signed a petition to Bath City Council objecting to the City's proposal to lay a concrete path over the cobblestones in Queen St. The City eventually withdrew their proposal and the street remains cobblestoned to this day.
In the period 1935 - 1938 Helen and her kennels were located at 38 Cold Ashton, Marshfield, Gloucestershire, she was regularly exhibiting Tribesman of Pushtikuh in this period. Late in 1938 Helen moved her kennels to Brook Cottage, Dewhurst Lane, Wadhurst, Sussex and we have a record of her exhibiting Duhkan of Pushtikuh and giving this address in a show catalogue. In the period 1939 - 1947 Helen and her kennels were located at 2 Meridan Place, Clifton, Bristol, Avon. While living at Clifton, Helen advertised in The Western Morning Press (regional newspaper) on August 1942 seeking a retirement home with nurse support for an elderly invalid lady. No further details known - this enquiry could possibly have been for her mother who would have been 66 years of age at that point, or some other elderly friend/relative. In May 1947 Helen entered Meshki Baz i Pushtikuh at the West Of England Ladies Kennel Society and gave as her address the Beuna Vista Hotel. Pound St, Lyme Regis, Dorset.
Tribesman Of Pushtikuh, Bibi of Pushtikuh, Rasti Of Istalif, 1939
Some Rasti Of Istalif offspring -
Tribesman Of Pushtikuh, Tash-Garift of Pushtikuh, Tullah Of Pushtikuh
We contacted the Lyme Regis Museum for assistance and Richard Bull a volunteer Curatorial and Research Assistant very kindly undertook research dating back to 1892. Richard informs us - "I attach our info on 1 & 2 Tivoli Villas, aka Rathlyme, aka Buena Vista Hotel and now just Buena Vista. You will see that someone called Heathcote bought it in 1945 and seemingly held it until 1954, when Mayes came in. I say seemingly because there could have been someone in between, or part of the property could have been sub-let, we just donít know, particularly as it was once two properties. Moreover there is a lodge at the entrance which could have been sub let."
We very much appreciate Richard and Lyme Regis Museum's help for their excellent and thorough research on this subject.
In October 1946 Helen was scheduled to whelp a new litter but was unable to have the litter whelp at her place (believed to be 2 Meridan Place, Clifton, Bristol), or perhaps, Helen was in the process of moving to Lyme Regis which was the address she gave a few months later in May of 1947. So the litter whelped at Eileen Snellings Khorrassan kennel in Caversham, Berkshire (more on this story later). Helen had produced several litters while living at Clifton, so perhaps it was just a case of bad timing that on this occasion she couldn't accommodate the breeding. So we have several clues (Phyllis Robson reference, Welks show catalogue address, and being unable to accommodate the Oct 46 litter at Clifton) regarding Helens supposed move to Lyme Regis, but nothing sufficiently concrete to confirm the move actually took place.
In September 1947 Helen gave her address in another show catalogue as being Patchway, Gloucestershire, (Coicidentally a "D Hambleton" advertised some Pushtikuh stock for sale, and D Hambleton's address was given as 48 Stroud Road, Patchway). Helen bred her final Pushtikuh litter in February of 1947 and then seems to have retired from active breeding or exhibiting.
Lyme Regis Museum, UK
Mr T G Chamberlain, Istalif Afghan Hounds UK
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