Charles Kenneth Mitchell

Portrait of a young man

Portrait of Kenneth Mitchell, year unknown. CWSCM:2019/4880.157.13

Charles Kenneth Mitchell was born 1st October 1889 to parents Charles James and Sarah Blanch Mitchell. He had one sister; Blanche Mary who was 4 years older. Charles senior worked as the Postmaster for Crawley while the family lived in locally at 24 High Street and later New Road.

Kenneth or Ken to his friends was a popular lad, a member of the local choir as well as playing football and cricket in Crawley and Three Bridges. In the 1911 census he is a 21-year-old man working as an estate agent while living at the family home, Roxham, Post Office Road, Crawley.

When war broke out there was a need for young men to sign up. The 11th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment was formed on 7th August 1914 in Bexhill. The 11th along with the 12th and 13th regiments were know locally as Lowther’s Lambs because they had been raised by Claud Lowther MP. We do not know when Ken signed up, but it must have been soon after the battalion’s formation.

Shortly after joining, tragedy struck when Ken was admitted to Bexhill Hospital with Spotted Fever which developed into Meningitis and killed him on Friday 5th February 1915. He was 25 years old. During the time spent with the battalion in Cooden Camp, Bexhill he achieved the rank of Lance-Corporal.

Grave stone of Charles Kenneth Mitchell

Kenneth’s grave stone in St John’s churchyard, Crawley.

Ken’s body was transported by motor hearse to Crawley where he was buried in a military grave at St. John the Baptist Church the following Wednesday. His coffin was partially draped in a union flag, carried from the family home by uniformed service men, followed by floral tributes, the Crawley Boy Scouts, The Manchester Regiment which was based in Three Bridges and mourners. At the end of the service three volleys were fired over the grave and the Last Post played on the bugle. Sadly, Charles James was too ill to attend the funeral.

At a local fundraising event for the war effort shortly after Ken’s death, Mr Lehmann is reported to have said “Mr Mitchell had died for his country just as surely as if a bullet from the Germans had brought him down in the trenches. … and when the time came to erect a Roll of Honour for those in the district who had died for the country’s cause, the name Kenneth Mitchell would not be absent.” (Richardson, 2011, p. 75-76).

Bronze plaque inscribed with Charles Kenneth Mitchell

Kenneth’s death penny was donated to the Crawley Museum in 2019. CWSCM:2019/4880.173

The 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions went on to be sacrificial lambs at the Boar’s Head raid to draw German attention away from the battle of the Somme further south. 30th June 1916 subsequently became known as The Day Sussex Died due to the amount of men that were wounded or killed at Boar’s Head and is where Lowther’s Lambs got their name.

Ken is one of two soldiers who died during the First World War to be buried at St. John the Baptist Church Crawley. Gunner Howard Clement Pace died on 5th July 1916 aged 22 and was buried in the plot next to Ken shortly after. Both are remembered on the plaques outside of Memorial Gardens, Crawley and on the war memorial outside the same church.

References

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Find My Past

Imperial War Museum

Richardson, Renny. (2011). All the Bright Company of Heaven, Menin House, Eastbourne.

Do you remember The Tree?

The Tree building, before restoration

 

We need your help!

We’re currently writing some new text for the museum about the history of The Tree building, and want to include quotes from people who remember it before it became the museum.

Do you remember when it was council offices?

If you have any memories or photos you’d like to share with us and our visitors (once we’re open again), please get in touch. 

https://crawleymuseums.org/contact-us/

Thank you! 

Town – a poem

Town

All these big palaces and castles
The centrefold of tourism
But what about that little town
Now built up, the history forgotten

How much i know of the Tudors,
Victorians and the woes of war
On such a large scale. But oh,
How little i know of this local town
The way it grew and how.

The men who left this nearby town
To die. Not just for the crown but
Also those people in their little town
I didn’t know so much of the iron
Industry, or how it was so close
To what i call home, here in this town

But how glad i am i took the time
To find out more of this local
Land. the men, the woman
And that huge famous tree!

By Melanie Bransome

Photo of entrance to Broadwalk from High Street

What is now the entrance to the Broadwalk from the High Street. From Crawley Museum’s collection.

Inspired by Crawley History? Share your writings online.

Crawley’s Collections Revealed – label an object! (1)

As part of our Crawley’s Collections Revealed project (funded by Arts Council England), we’re meant to be running face to face sessions with people, looking at objects and writing labels.

Obviously we can’t do the face to face bit right now, but we can still show you objects and ask you to tell us what you’d put on a label.

It can be something factual, something the object makes you think of or remember, or even a drawing or poem. It’s up to you.

This week’s object is a milk bottle. Apparently R.G. Law was known as ‘The Midnight Milkman’ because of his erratic delivery times!

Let us know in the comments what you’d put on a label for this object?

Milk bottle

(The writing on the bottle reads: “This bottle and milk is the property of R.G. Law, 16 Brighton Road, Crawley. Stolen if delivered by another dairyman.”)

Crawley’s Collections Revealed

Museum temporary closure

This morning the trustees have made the difficult decision, that in line with the government advice, we are closing the Crawley Museum and Ifield Watermill until further notice.

In the meantime we will be posting on our social media and website.

Please all stay safe and we hope to see you all when we are able to reopen.

It’s Playtime At Crawley Museum

Teddy Bear in doll's cot

On October 30th Crawley Museum will be opening their latest exhibition, and for it to be a success they need everybody’s help.

To make it work the museum is asking everybody who can to come along and share their memories of the toys they loved as children. If you still have that old teddy, a doll, or train that made you happy when you were small, Crawley Museum would dearly love to be able to borrow it for the duration of the exhibition.

The exhibition itself includes display boards, video, and toys which you can touch and play with. But what it’s really all about is your own memories of dolls, bears, Meccano, Hornby and Airfix.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the toys which you remember, they’d still love to hear your stories of the way you used to play, or indeed the way you still play today.

If you have an abiding memory of a much loved toy, or you have a toy which you are prepared to lend to Crawley Museum for other people to see and enjoy, then please get in touch. If you are in a position to make a loan of your cherished toy, don’t worry! The toys which you provide won’t be among those which will be used in the toy box and played with by other visitors, instead your loans will be carefully put in a cabinet where they can be seen, but not touched.

For more details on how you can get involved with the Toys exhibition, what it involves, times and dates simply ask at the museum reception, call 01293 539088, or send an email to office@crawleymuseums.org

Candomblé ferramenta display

Image of four metal objects: double headed axe with lightning bolts; jewelled cutlass; three tridents on stand; small copper figure.

Have you been in to see our loan from the Horniman Museum yet?

Until 15th December, upstairs in our Link Gallery we have a display case with four Candomblé ferramenta.

“Ferramenta” or ‘tools’ are used in the religion of Candomblé. Each ferramenta represents a particular Orisha – a spirit or deity from the large Candomblé pantheon. Candomblé developed from the religions of enslaved African people from the 17th to late 19th century, in the Bahia region of Brazil.

West African, particularly Yoruba, religious understandings merged with other African and Indigenous American beliefs as well as Catholicism to produce a distinctive Afro-Brazilian religion which, through music and dance celebrates life and its continuance.

These four ferramenta were collected in 1998 as part of fieldwork undertaken in Brazil by Keith Nicklin, former Keeper of Ethnography at the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

They are on loan to us from the Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, London as part of its Object in Focus loans programme. Object in Focus gives access to the Horniman’s collections by offering objects on short term loan.

IMG_1794

Education and Community Liaison

I have been carrying out the role of Learning and Liaison officer for Crawley Museum over the last 12 months. This involves working on learning activities as well as liaising with members of Crawley’s communities. As part of my work I have run outreach sessions for schools, and have also drawn up the education session summaries for the sessions at the new museum when it opens. I am now working on activity sheets and am developing plans for a range of learning opportunities in the new museum, including children’s craft activities, preschool sessions, and adult learning opportunities. I am fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers who are interested in helping with this, and we recently held a very interesting workshop on family learning. Some of the volunteers have also helped me with running stands at community events. These have included Armed Forces Day, the Crawley Big Seven-0 and the vintage picnics at Worth Park. We took along a selection of old photos of Crawley, and people really enjoyed looking at them and sharing their memories.

I have enjoyed getting to know a number of the local groups in Crawley and talking to them about ideas for temporary exhibitions and activities at the museum. This has included working with the Refugees Welcome Group on their community quilt project on happy memories, which will be displayed in the new museum. Other groups have included the Gurjar Hindu Union, the Polish Saturday School, the Crawley Campaign against Racism and the Crawley Inter-Faith Forum. I have represented the museum at events run by the CHAGOS (Cultural Heritage Across Generations) project which is led by social anthropologists from Edinburgh University, and have met with Raminder Kaur, who is planning to hold an exhibition based on her play Silent Sisters (about the partition of India) at the new museum. I have also worked with Southgate Forum, helping them to organise a community exhibition of photos of Southgate.

I’m very much looking forward to working more with people from all over Crawley in the coming year. If you know of any groups who would be interested in working with us please get in touch!

Andrea Dumbrell, Learning and Liaison Officer 

Visit Us

01293 539088
office@crawleymuseums.org

The Tree

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