Last week I focussed on Chas Rose.  This week I turn to his wife, my maternal grandmother, Gwendoline Powell Asher.


Gwen was one of three girls born to William Darlington, and Kate Asher (née Powell).  She was the eldest, born 25 June 1894 at 1 Alton Terrace, Belle Vue in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.  It’s difficult to pinpoint on Google streetview exactly where that is.  Perhaps it’s now a block of flats.  Gwen’s sisters were Dorothy (born about 18 months later) and Winifred (born about 3 years later in Cheshire).   Gwen’s father was a post office clerk.  I’m told that Gwen was baptised at the church of Holy Trinity in Shrewsbury.

Gwen and her younger sister, Dorothy, started school at the same time (Gwen age five and Dorothy age four) but only went to school in the mornings.  In the afternoons they did painting and drawing.

In the 1901 census they are living at North Hermitage, Delamere, Belle Vue, Shrewsbury.  This might not be the exact house but it gives you an idea. Gwen’s father was now listed as a civil servant, travelling clerk, Surveyors Department, GPO. Ten years later they are living in the same place.

The following information comes from my mother who told it to me when I was about 10 years old, and from my mother’s cousin some years later.  I was told that Gwen never went to school but it seems she did, according to Dorothy’s daughter.  However, their father didn’t think they were getting on well enough, so he pulled them out of school and got private teaching – they had a governess, and were taught music, English literature, art, and arithmetic.  She liked music and art and used to sneak away to paint.  (She was a good artist.  I have a few of her paintings.)  Instead of doing homework she would write short stories or draw.  She didn’t need to work but Gwen was a “bit of a rebel” and went away to the East End to study nursing.  (My mother told me at a later stage that she was a midwife.)  In 1921 a fellow nurse (C. J. Lorden?) at Rotherhithe hospital wrote a poem in Gwen’s autograph book:  “A kiss is a noun, given standing up or sitting down, singular number, present tense, given by a man with common sense”.  Gwen was also a suffragette.  She liked going for long walks and walked very quickly.  This makes sense as my mother also walked quickly (probably to keep up, as I had to with my mother).

According to my mother, Gwen met Chas Rose during the First World War (as I suspected in my previous post and had forgotten).  Gwen was a nurse and Chas worked in the Field Ambulance so it makes sense.


However, according to Dorothy’s daughter they met in Ipswich, where Gwen was working in munitions where Chas was the foreman.  I can find no information on Gwen’s nursing career or even who wore that exact uniform.

Gwen was living at 3 Durham House, Dartmouth Park Hill, Islington in London at the time of her marriage to Chas.  They married on 10 September 1921.  I had noted Harwich in Essex but the marriage certificate just says Tendring district in Essex (which does include Harwich).  Gwen, my mother told me, did not believe in getting married in church when you were not a christian, and indeed they got married in the Register Office, witnessed by Gwen’s sister, Dorothy, and Chas’ brother, Alfred (and nearly missed a boat to get there).  I had grown up believing that they married at Maiden Hall in Belstead Road, but this could be Belstead Road, Maidenhall in Ipswich.  Perhaps they just had a reception here, or just that Gwen stayed there.  It’s all very confusing.


A house in Belstead Road where I believed Gwen and Chas got married or that Gwen was staying at.


No-one in Gwen’s family met Chas until after the wedding (except for Dorothy).  There was no honeymoon.  The day after the wedding all the family went to Felixstowe for the day.

According to my notes as a child, Gwen and Chas “liked adventure” and decided to emigrate to Australia (where Chas’ brother Edward was living).  (As stated in my previous post, they left from London on 4 January 1922 aboard Demosthenes.)  Also, apparently, they wanted to go somewhere warmer, not liking cold weather.  They bought five acres of land west of Sydney at Pendle Hill (in Greystanes Road), which they had to clear for themselves, Gwen killing snakes in the process.  There was no transport but horse and sulky.  Apparently the horse was very bad-tempered and often bucked.  They established a poultry farm (in a region known for poultry farms).  Gwen served as midwife in the region (although this is not noted in any electoral rolls that I have).  Gwen created a flower garden and sold her wares in Market Place, Sydney, where there are still flower stalls.


Gwen had two children (including my mother), born in 1924 and 1926.  In 1930, Gwen’s “much loved” father died but she could not attend the funeral.

Gwen fell ill with leukemia and travelled to England for treatment at Christie hospital in Manchester in 1948.  She left with her daughter on 5 August 1948 aboard the “Maloja”.  The ship sailed from Sydney, travelling via Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Colombo, Bombay, Aden, Suez Canal, Marseilles, and London, ultimately arriving in Epsom, 20 September 1948.


The “Maloja” leaving Sydney

Gwen lived in a hillside cottage at Llanfairfechan in North Wales, taking the train to Christie hospital when needed.

My father travelled across to join my mother (presumably they were engaged) and they married in 1949 in London, then lived near Gwen for a time.


Gwen loved gardening and was often working in an allotment growing vegetables, even when she shouldn’t have been, due to her health.  She also painted and read books, listened to the radio, and went to evening classes to learn Welsh.

Sadly, Gwen caught pneumonia, and died at Osborne House, Llanfairfechan (where my parents were living) on 1 November 1953.  She was just 59 years old.

[My father wrote of their lives in England about this time, but it is hidden in a box somewhere and I can’t locate it.  When I do, I’ll edit this post at a later date.]

Sources: family archives, Google, Gwen’s 1952 diary; Pamela Gwynne