by James and Raymond Ashdown April 2016
Lloyd Ashdown was born in Barcombe, Sussex in 1884. His father Albert Ashdown was at the time a postman although he more normally worked as a brickmaker and tile maker. He was born in 1843 in the village of Keymer where his father John Ashdown was a shoemaker. In 1869 Albert married Ellen Cornford (born 1848, Barcombe, Sussex), the daughter of Hannah Walder and Samuel Cornford, an agricultural labourer. Later that year in the parish of Hamsey, Ellen gave birth to a daughter named Kate Ashdown, the first of ten children. Albert and Ellen Ashdown settled in Chailey, where Jesse and two elder sisters were born. Frances Betsey Ashdown was born in Chailey in 1872 and her younger sister Amelia Ashdown arrived two years later, towards the end of 1874. At this time Albert Ashdown was working as a tile-maker, probably at John & Richard Norman's brick works at Chailey.
Albert Ashdown then changed career, taking up the position of postman in Barcombe, a village to the north of Lewes. Albert Ashdown and his growing family set up home in Barcombe Street, Barcombe, where Albert, Ellen and their five children were recorded during the census of 1881. During their stay in Barcombe, Mrs Ellen Ashdown gave birth to four more children - Amos Robert Ashdown (born 1879), Minnie Ashdown (born 1881), Lloyd Ashdown (born 1884) and Owen Henry Ashdown (born 1886). It is unclear why Albert and Ellen gave two of their sons Welsh names. Around 1888 Albert Ashdown found work as a brick and tile-maker, probably at James Chandler's Brickworks at Hamsey. Albert and Ellen Ashdown's last two children were born in Hamsey - Ellen Ashdown, who arrived during the 3rd Quarter of 1889 and Ethel Winifred Ashdown who was born in Hamsey during the 3rd Quarter of 1891. At the time of the 1891 census, Albert Ashdown and his family were living in the appropriately named "Brickyard Cottage" in Hewen Street, Hamsey. The enumerator described Albert Ashdown on the 1891 census return as a "Brick & Tile Maker", aged 47. Fourteen year old Jesse Ashdown was working as a "Cow Boy" and his younger brother Amos Ashdown was employed as a "Garden Boy".
The fortunes of the Ashdown Family changed dramatically when Albert Ashdown, the main bread-winner died in 1895 at the age of 52. Jesse, Amos and Lloyd had to adopt their father's role by taking up employment in the Hamsey brickworks to help support their mother and their younger siblings. When the 1901 census was taken, three of the four Ashdown brothers, Jesse, Amos and sixteen year old Lloyd, were working as brick-makers, the youngest brother, Owen Ashdown, aged 15, had found employment as a florist at McBean’s nursery where Lloyd later also worked.
I believe the family continue to travel to Chailey in order to attend the Mission Hall there. Lloyd speaks about his conversion, maybe at this Hall
I am not sure I have given my testimony in this hall but I will do so now. I am not really sure of my age, but I could not have been more than eight or nine when I sat in a small country mission hall and listen to Noel Taylor of the Evangelization Society preach from this text and for quite a long time afterwards I wet my pillow with tears very frequently for I was quite sure I was very wicked and young as I was I became very anxious to hear anything that would give me hope and set my heart at rest, and after a few months I understood the truth of Calvary and knew that a wondrous provision was made there for sinners like me and I was enabled by God’s matchless grace to rest upon that work and at quite an early age.
Lloyd seems to have had some years of what he might have called ‘backsliding’ but in a talk given in the 1950s he talks of his return to faith
Times of blessing cannot come to any church, nation or individual while sin is unconfessed and not repented of, and we are all agreed and our experience proves that we did not know blessing, or happiness untill we were brought to that point of confession and repentance but since that time and only last Monday morning riding on the bus between Ringmer and Lewes I looked across the valley & saw the spot a mile or so away where I confessed & repented and the burden of my heart rolled away it was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day Hallelujah.
Lloyd took his faith very seriously and at some point he decided to attach himself to a radical Christian group that became known as the Open Brethren. This Evangelical group rejected many of the conventions of British Christianity, seeking to develop a Christian life which was based on the Bible alone. It is important to note that this group distanced itself from the so-called Plymouth Brethren, more accurately known as Exclusive Brethren, around this time. Lloyd continued throughout his life to espouse an open evangelical Christianity which was happy to work with fellow Evangelicals whether they were Brethren or not. For a full and detailed history of the Open Brethren see Gathering to His Name by Tim Grass.
When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911, Jesse Ashdown was the only one of Ellen Ashdown's ten children still living at home. On the census return for Brickyard Cottage, Cooksbridge, the "Head of Household" is given as Mrs Ellen Ashdown, a sixty-three year old widow earning a living as a "Needlewoman". Jesse Ashdown, an unmarried man of thirty-three is described as a "Brickmaker", but there is evidence that by this date he was supplementing his income by making picture-frames and taking photographic portraits in Cooksbridge and the Hamsey district. Soon after the census was taken in April 1911, Jesse Ashdown set himself up as a "Picture Frame Maker" at his house in Hewin Street, Cooksbridge.
In the meantime Lloyd had begun training with his brother Bob as a gardener at McBean’s Nursery. He was also becoming known as a good cricketer and it was this which contributed to his next move to Upper Gatton, Surrey to work for the Colman family of mustard fame. Sir Jeremiah Colman captained the estate cricket team and the family employed workers who could play in the team. Here he stayed in the bothy where he lived with the other unmarried men working as an under gardener and playing in the cricket team. The amount of time the cricket took up, however, caused problems for Lloyd as he found it intruding on his thoughts during the ‘Breaking of Bread’ on Sunday morning. He therefore found a job as a gardener in a house in Walton on the Hill. Other things were beginning to change for Lloyd at this time which may also have precipitated the move – he started courting a young woman called Emma and in 1909 they got married. Exactly how and where they met I don’t know and I have no other information about Emma other than that she was born in Sydenham, Kent. In 1911 the couple were living in the four roomed The Cottage “Lodge”, Walton on the Hill, Epsom, Surrey. Here he worked under George Marlow the head gardener for Montague Ord McKenzie an East India merchant from a family of Scottish aristocrats. It was a reasonably large establishment with three other under gardeners, 10 domestic servants, a chauffeur, a coachman and a farm attached called The Oaks. According to the electoral register he was living here at least until 1915
When the war came Lloyd was judged not to be fit for frontline service. Like the rest of his family he had hearing problems and so he was drafted into the Pioneer Corps. We don’t have any documents of his time in the Army but it seems that because of his experience with electricity generation as a gardener he was seconded to the newly established Royal Flying Corps and we have this story from his time with them:
I was once called upon on Christmas Day 1917 to go out to Military Camp to repair a breakdown in the electric lighting plant. The whole camp have been severed from the source of power and it was but the work of a few minutes when I had discovered the source of the failure. Two broken wires joined up and a new main fuse and all was well. Gross darkness prevailed over the whole camp, but though it was dead & lifeless “Yet” it was made to live.
After the war Lloyd returned to Surrey where he got a job at Copthorne a large house just south of Burgh Heath, the electoral register has Lloyd living here between 1919 and 1922. By now Lloyd had two sons – Reg and Bert
Reg was to become a pipe fitter and moved to Plaistow in East London where he worked on the docks and became an elder in the Brethren assembly. He married Edie and they had three children Peter, Eric and Christine. Lloyd did on at least one occasion preach in Plaistow and father and son shared a similar theology.
We are fortunate to have an obituary of Bert written by Stephen Toms for the English Churchman which gives us more details about Albert George Ashdown. He was born in Walton on the Hill on May 29, 1914, apparently he was a very small baby whom the doctor did not think would survive After leaving school he became the manager of a seed shop and married Nancy Over in 1937. During the war he was a medical orderly and experienced the horrors of the Anzio bridgehead in Italy. After the war he felt the call to Christian ministry and ministered in a Baptist church in Cambridgeshire before joining the Protestant Truth Society and then the Protestant Alliance for whom he lectured widely and became their General Secretary, developing a great interest in English Protestant martyrs and the Waldensians. After the death of his first wife he remarried Pat Bell in 1992. Bert himself died in 2005. Lloyd shared Bert’s evangelicalism and did occasionally make negative remarks about Roman Catholicism but did not share his son’s militant enthusiasm for defending Protestantism, rather he tended to avoid controversy.
At some point Emma died during the birth of what would have been Lloyd and Emma’s third child. This was certainly before 1924, because in 1924 Lloyd remarried Amy Lanaway who was the daughter of Ernest and Harriet Lanaway (both born 1862). The Lanaways eight children: Edith born in 1888; Gertrude 1890; Amy 1895; Herbert 1901; Cecil 1902; Norman 1904; Kathleen 1906 and one who seems to have died young. Ernest was a carriage, car and van maker – or, in other words, a wheelwright. At the time of the 1911 census they were living in Walton on the Hill which means they would have been living near Lloyd, although the family seems to have moved around a fair amount – Amy was born in Westerham, Kent. Ernest was a member of the exclusive Brethren. At this time the divisions between the open and exclusive Brethren were not as fixed as they are nowadays and there were, indeed, discussions around this time about how the two strands of the movement could be reunited and certainly individuals and meetings moved between the two strands. By the time Lloyd and Amy married, Lloyds two sons had left home and become independent.
Amy was an intelligent woman with a liking for poetry and nature and she and Lloyd had two sons David (1930) and Raymond Robert (1932). By this time Lloyd had left Copthorne and moved to become the head gardener at Ghyll Manor in Rusper, Sussex. This move came about because of Ernest Cheal. J Cheal’s & Sons was a successful nursery and landscape business based in Low Field nurseries, Crawley and they redesigned the garden at Ghyll Manor. The family were also Quakers, and Ernest was a Quaker with evangelical convictions so when he realized that the village had no chapel (the vicar at the time a certain Rev. Synnott was a highly controversial character). He arranged for the building of a Mission Hall and engaged Lloyd to be the head gardener at Ghyll Manor and also take responsibility for the Mission Hall. For some time the Quaker meeting at Ifield supported the work especially a John Dales who brought musicians to weeknight services. The Ashdown family became particularly friendly with a farming family called the Standings who also members of the Ifield meeting and it was thought at one point but Bert might marry Dolly, their granddaughter but nothing came of it.
Originally Lloyd lived in the Gardener’s cottage but this was rather unsatisfactory accommodation and they moved to 2 East St. in the village. We have more information about this time because of the reminiscences of his youngest son Raymond
The house in East Street had six rooms and an outside privy and garden shed. Heating was provided by an open fire and paraffin and cooking was done using a primus stove. Sewerage was buried in the garden but there was running water, although when Lloyd first moved in it was dependent upon a well. The house had a decent sized garden with three large Apple trees and their neighbours the Jupps kept a pig. Amy took particular pride in looking after the chickens. Originally 1 East St. was lived in by the Prentices but then good friends of the family the Burts moved in – Mrs. Burt was a great pillar of the church.
A brethren meeting was held in the front room of East Street on Sunday mornings. In the afternoon Lloyd and Amy ran a Sunday school in the village chapel (Mission Hall). Lloyd also, especially during the winter, dad gave magic lantern lectures for the village children. Every year until 1939 and excursion to the sea was organized for the village children to Littlehampton or Climping. But most of Lloyd’s time was spent in his work as a gardener and he had little time for other activities although he did read the News Chronicle, a Liberal paper.
In the early years of the 1939-45 war, the Ghyll Manor Estate was sold and Lloyd had to find another job. He was appointed gardener at a smallish house (“Beech House”) in Banstead, Surrey. It had Pleasure Grounds, Kitchen Garden, and a small “farm”. The owner was R.T.T. Waring, director of J.B. Jefferies & Sons Ltd., Coal Merchants. The Ashdown family moved into accommodation at the Jeffries offices in 6 Worcester Gardens, Sutton and for a time lived a much more urban lifestyle. Amy was responsible for cleaning the entire premises but the boys benefited from being able to keep warm on winter evenings in in the offices well-stocked with coal fires. Most of Lloyd’s time was spent at Beech House but he also maintained the garden at Worcester Gardens where rabbits and chicken were kept by the family.
In 1945 the Waring family moved from Banstead to Great Roke in Witley and the Ashdown family moved to the neighboring Lower Roke, a farmhouse dating from the early 1700s. It was a very pleasantly situated property with a wild garden and pond although it was never connected to mains electricity in Lloyd’s time. Raymond describes it in this way
“Lower Roke” was originally “Roke Farmhouse”. It was bought by the builder of “Great Roke” (1902?). If you went to the “back door” of Lower Roke, up a short flight of steps, you entered a small brick-floored entrance lobby. To your right was the staircase leading to the upper floor. A “gallery” led to the upstairs rooms. First on the right, under the roof, was the bathroom (equipped with a 6’ bath) and w.c. At the far end of the “gallery” was a small bedroom, also under the roof (this was my bedroom). The two main bedrooms lay between these two rooms. The attic contained the cold water cistern. Downstairs, four rooms opened out of the entrance lobby. All but one of these were brick-floored. On the right was the kitchen with a small larder and a wood-burning range with an oven. On this was always one or two Primus stoves (pressure stoves burning paraffin). In the opposite corner was the kitchen sink. This included a semi-rotary pump for pumping spring water up to the water tank in the roof. There was a tap off this pump so that water could be supplied by it direct to the glazed earthenware sink. Between kitchen and washroom there were two big downstairs rooms. One was the original parlour, equipped with a huge brick fireplace, wooden seats on either side, and a large cowl over the fire. It was a grand, but not very comfortable, room. The other front room was small and very different. By its fireplace we always had big elm logs standing to put your cup and saucer on, and to dry out thoroughly. In the centre of the room was a large cast iron oil lamp, and the floor was well covered with warm rugs. This was a very comfortable room.
Again most of Lloyd’s time was spent in the garden at Great Roke but he continued his involvement with the open Brethren and other evangelical Christians. He became involved in Witley Gospel Mission which was a Congregational Mission that met in a room above the Co-Op in Witley. Raymond mentions this in his memoirs
On Sunday evenings we used to attend the Witley Gospel Mission which was held in the room over the Co-op, opposite Mr. Fortescue’s butchers shop. This was an off-shoot from Milford Congregational Church, run by a Witley family, the Enticknaps, and others from the surrounding villages
It seems that over the years Lloyd’s influence in this gathering grew and it eventually transmuted into an open Brethren meeting with a Sunday morning ‘Breaking of Bread’ and an evening gospel meeting. On 13 February 1955 Lloyd gave his final address at the Co-Op which led to the to the meeting eventually building their own Gospel Hall
It is now just over 10 years since I first had the privilege of preaching the glorious gospel of the grace of God in this place, and I expect this to be the last time, as we shall soon have to relinquish this place and go elsewhere, to carry on the work so dear to our hearts. The end of various things in our lives are often very sorrowful and sad, and no doubt we can look back upon many experiences of this character in our lives. We have said goodbye to friends who have gone over-seas and we have felt it to be the last time we should ever see them, on earth. We have said goodbye to dear ones when God has called them from this life to another, and we have promised to meet them again in another and fairer world where sin and death cannot cause another parting. There has come a time in the life of our young people when schooldays have ended, and they launch out into the world to earn their own living, and one thing always stands out prominently in my memory when as a lad of 14, I left my home, and my mother never to return again, except on visits. As I waved farewell and saw her white handkerchief to dry her eyes applied, and knew I was leaving one of the best mothers, God ever gave to a young lad.
Raymond describes the new Gospel Hall and its building in this way. It was completed just before Amy’s death in 1965 and registered for marriages in April 1964
The Enticknap family included a brother who was a builder; Bob Enticknap was a “Clerk of Works” by profession: David Enticknap (his son) was a surveyor; Eric Enticknap was a brick layer; and other Enticknaps were in a small building firm in Farncombe. So the Mission decided to purchase a plot of land just off Wheeler Lane, on the common, and build Witley Gospel Mission Hall. They built an excellent Hall, one large hall, one small room with a kitchen, and space for 2 or 3 cars to park.
By this time Lloyd had left his work at Great Roke after Mr. Waring sold the house. But he remained in the village of Witley, living in a prefab in 1 Sunny Corner on Roke Lane, this had two bedrooms and a large garden and proved to be reasonable accommodation. Lloyd and Amy were greatly helped by Esme, Amy’s sister-in-law when she moved nearby with her husband Cecil. This retirement gave Lloyd the opportunity to concentrate on his evangelical work. We still have many of his notebooks from that time which contain the detailed notes on which his talks and addresses were based, these are gradually being digitized and are available at the website www.storyman.org.uk together with extensive footnotes and an analysis of his theology. The notebooks tell an interesting story about his work as a preacher in the villages in and around Witley. Much of his work was done in the nearby village of Chiddingfold where there were two Baptist churches but he also ministered in Milford, Liphook and Farncombe and at numerous cottage meetings. Cottage meetings were similar to what we would now call house groups where a talk was given which led into discussion and refreshments. Lloyd also gave talks to local Bible classes for young people such as Kings Own. At these meetings Lloyd preached a traditional evangelical message rooted in the evangelical revivalism of famous preachers such as Moody and Spurgeon. He was particularly influenced by the works of Graham Scroggie and Campbell Morgan, these were contemporary evangelical preachers who defended the conservative view of the Bible against more liberal interpreters. The talks are carefully constructed, displaying a committed, balanced and thoughtful intelligence, and are always based on a serious study of Scripture using aides such as Young’s analytical concordance, but without losing a deep sense of emotion particularly when reflecting on the work of Christ on the cross. He is fond of quoting a variety of hymns and draws regularly on his experience of rural life – occasionally giving talks which use gardening themes as an extended metaphor for the Christian life.
Retirement from full-time gardening did not mean Lloyd gave up paid employment. He worked for a while as an auxiliary postman in Witley and also did some gardening work for individual clients. One of these clients was an elderly woman who was a friend of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the composer, I have always liked the story of her giving Vaughan Williams a jar of Lloyd’s honey for a Christmas present each year. Lloyd also enjoyed the opportunity retirement gave to get out and about, using his bike to travel to nearby towns and villages. He enjoyed talking with people, especially about his faith. This is an interesting example of one of these encounters
Some years ago we were holding Cottage Meetings in a very out-of-the-way spot near Horsham and the brother who had been speaking was very faithful regarding this subject and on my way home I overtook a lady who had been rather annoyed by the message and as I dismounted at the foot of the hill and prepared to walk with her, she turned to me rather indignantly and asked “Do you believe that a God of love will ever send His creatures into a burning hell”. I realized I had to answer with caution. So I asked her another “What would happen to a London fireman who was found arguing with people in grave danger whether they would be burned to death or killed by falling debris”. She said at once “He would be discharged”. I replied “We are in a similar position.”
But Lloyd’s retirement was not without troubles of its own. His responsibilities within the Witley meeting could be onerous, especially when a member needed to be challenged about an adulterous relationship. Lloyd felt this had to be dealt with but he also wanted the fellowship to be forgiving and welcome back the repentant sinner. Amy began to develop what was then the rather mysterious disease of multiple sclerosis and she gradually became more incapacitated. The boys David and Ray also left home. David won a scholarship to Cambridge University and went on to become a science teacher initially at Godalming Grammar School. He became heavily involved in amateur dramatics something Amy and Lloyd with their conservative Christian suspicion of the theatre did not feel entirely at home with. He married Gill Pusey, a local woman from Witley and they had four children Nick, Jacquie, Mark and Neil. Ray, inheriting his mother’s love of the natural world, went to Bristol University to study at the new school of veterinary medicine. He went on to be a lecturer in veterinary anatomy at Bristol and the Royal Veterinary College in London. In 1958 he married Margaret Roberts, they had two children Stephen and James. Lloyd knew the Roberts family from his time at Copthorne and Amy’s sister Kathleen had married Margaret’s uncle Don Roberts. Ray became a Baptist in Bristol where he taught in the Sunday school and later a churchwarden in the Sussex village of East Dean to which he retired.
At some point Lloyd and Amy moved to 14 Springwood, Milford. Amy died on the 6 January 1965 and Lloyd followed soon after 2nd June 1966 dying at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guilford. His effects were registered by his son Reg and amounted to £1463. Christine Cheetham, Reg’s daughter shares these memories of his last days
Our grandfather made an enormous impression on my life. I was with him in Guildford hospital the day before he died, when he suddenly became very sick. The nurses rushed to him, and I was "shooed away", so I was never able to say goodbye. He had been due for discharge to my Mum and Dad’s home the next day - the day he died, and the purpose of my visit to him in Guildford was to find out what his personal needs would be on discharge. I loved him very dearly, such a deep, quiet, strong Christian man. Mum and Dad told me that when they took him to hospital that last time he prayed before leaving the house, and committed every member of the family and many friends into God's care, as if he knew he would not be returning. He prayed at such length they were fearful of missing the bus! In my last conversation with him, he read my Mother's letter, and said, "Edie is so kind but I will not be needing anything" ....did he knowLloyd and Amy are both buried in Milford Cemetery.
 Lloyd's sister Nell said Lloyd had to leave school in order to start work and had to take a special test in order to be allowed to do so
 Established in 1879 by James Ure McBean, and only one of three nurseries to have shown at every RHS Chelsea Show. Originally the nursery grew a variety of imported plants and by chance an orchid was discovered amongst the ferns. Albert, James’ son, developed a great passion for orchids, which led to the nursery’s recognition as a leader in growing orchids.
 This information taken from the website http://www.photohistory-sussex.co.uk/CooksbridgeN&Rphotgrs.htm#Jesse%20Ashdown%20of%20Cooksbridge which contains a history of Jesse Ashdown, Lloyd's elder brother.
 An evangelistic organization began in 1864 who supported Christian evangelists. Noel Taylor was presumably one of these evangelists although I have no more details about him.
 The Breaking of Bread is the most distinctive element in Brethren worship. Worshippers gather with no preplanning or service plan except that the service will finish with a simple Communion service where bread and wine are eaten as a remembrance of Jesus's death. Before this worshipers are free to share a word, introduce a hymn or read from Scripture as they feel guided by the Holy Spirit.
 See The Bridge to Airpower: Logistic Support for Royal Flying Corps Operations on the Western Front, 1914-18 Peter Dye Naval Institute Press, 15 Sep 2015
 A pipefitter, also known as a steamfitter, is a tradesperson trained in organizing, assembling, creating and maintaining mechanical piping systems that must withstand high pressure. These types of systems are usually industrial, include heating and cooling systems, and involve work with steam, ventilation, hydraulics, chemicals, and fuel. This occupation is often overlooked and sometimes confused with the occupation of a plumber. However, a steamfitter and a plumber differ in the fact that plumbers work with low-pressure piping systems, such as utility systems. Pipefitters work more in welding, rather than in the field of water or water sanitation.
 See the address given at Providence Chapel, Chiddingfold 1955 6 March
 The Reverend Edward Fitzgerald Synnott, known
to some as ‘Big Paddy’, was born in 1870 and attended West Meath Grammar School
before joining the Irish Constabulary, which he left in 1894. He was ordained
in 1898, before taking a degree at Durham University. He had been to Canada
before serving in several English parishes, and on 22nd June 1914, he arrived
in Rusper from Worthing with his wife.
 Congregationalists originated from Puritans in the 17th century and shared many values with the Brethren
 Witley Gospel Mission met in the hall above Witley co-op. It is now an independent retailer called Witley Wines (a memory shared on the Francis Frith website by Ann Enticknap , on May 18th, 2011. An Enticknap family were key stalwarts of the Mission).
The assembly afterwards met in a purpose built Gospel Hall which was situated in Little London Witley Godalming Surrey GU8 5QY – a rather out-of-the-way place on a track leading to the common. The Hall is still in use although the congregation is small and from outside the village. One of the remaining elders says Lloyd was a key influence on him becoming a Christian. [RRA visited September 27, 2015]
 e.g. 1956 March 6 Farncombe Sisters Meeting and 1954 March 31 Kings Own Chidingfold
 See August 21, 1955 address given in Witley