(from Victorian Hangover)
My parents were married in 1888. Mother was Asst. Matron at the Hemel Hempstead Convalescent Home where her eldest sister was Matron and my Father, Arthur John Hubbard. M.D. was the visiting consultant. They became engaged on Tuesday, 10th Jan. 1888, and Married on Tuesday 10th July 1888. Mother has told me that during the whole period of their married life, those two dates have never again coincided on Tuesdays. My Father was born on the 7th Nov. 1856 and died on 3rd. Feb. 1935. While he was proposing to Mother in the Dispensary at the Hospital he was exceedingly nervous and was fidgeting all the time with one of the drug jars. Later on Mother annexed this jar, and it is still in my possession, holding a collection of precious and semi-precious stones which she brought back with her from South Africa, from the Vaal River. (This was given to my cousin John W P Hubbard. JFH)
It may perhaps have been noticed how very little part Father plays in the memories of my first ten years. He was in fact an almost entire stranger to his children till he retired from practice in 1910. All we ever saw of him was during a couple of hours on Sunday afternoons, and a fortnight in the summer. He had been junior partner in a firm of doctors at Hemel Hempstead when he and Mother first met. She was then Assistant Matron at King’s College Hospital Convalescent Home, where her eldest sister (her twenty two years senior) was Matron, and Father had been the visiting doctor. Both my elder brothers were born at Hemel Hempstead and Mother always looked upon the place as her real home. Shortly before I was born Father had severed his connection with the firm and had. “squatted” in Kensington, where he eventually built up very flourishing practice. He would never have the surgery and consulting rooms in the same house as his own family, with the result that one of my main early memories of Father is seeing him flying at high speed to the station when we were out for our morning walk. He never got home till long after we were in bed.
He retired in 1910 when we left Ealing and went to Little Dean, Gloucestershire, and he and I became devoted to each other. I had much more of the mentality and temperament of his family than of my Mother’s, though I was so like her in face.
(Chapter 4 Forest of Dean)
Leaving Ealing and going down to the village at the edge of Dean Forest was one
of the biggest and devastating breaks in my life ever that I have experienced. I
was extremely happy at Ealing, and had any number of little friends, there were
lots of relations in the neighbourhood, and plenty of interests for a child of
my age. My two brothers attended a little day school near by, so we were all at
home together, also the house was modern and comfortable.
But Mother had never liked Ealing, it was too near London for her; she loved the country with her whole heart, and her one idea when Father retired was to get down to the country, the more remote and inaccessible the better. Discussing the subject in later life, Jack and I have always marvelled that Father should have retired just at the time that his children were beginning their education, for he was then only in his early fifties and his practice was flourishing, and we have marvelled in particular that he and Mother should have selected such a completely out-of-the world spot to which to retire. Father had a book on his mind, and the necessity for peace and quiet in which to get this written, was I believe one of the reasons given for the move. The book was eventually published and is an extremely profound and scholarly work entitled “The Fate of Empires”. Even now, after over forty years, it is well worth reading, both for the far-sighted approach to sociological problems, and for the excellence and fastidious choice of the phraseology, which in itself makes the solid subject-matter supremely readable.
Father’s family raised an indignant protest at his burying himself right down in the wilds of Gloucestershire. He had many interests of a scientific nature, and belonged to a number of learned societies in London, and of course when we left Ealing it became impossible for him to attend the meetings. Our move down there did little to improve relationships between his family and Mother. Feelings had always been strained between them, as Father was a great favourite with his own people, and they bitterly resented Mother’s apparent determination to keep him away from them. Mother considered them “worldly”, besides which she had a devastating gift of putting anyone she loved on a pedestal, and forming her own conception of what they ought to be. Father was, much to his despair, placed upon an extremely high pedestal, and the affectionate, light-hearted ragging at which his own family was adept, and which he enjoyed and appreciated whole-heartedly, was a source of distress and indignation to Mother, who felt it was undignified and disrespectful to him. She could never understand the temperament of Father’s family, any more than they could understand hers. They were poles asunder, and it is no wonder that I, who inherited so much of the temperament and mentality of his people, yet with a distinct trace of Mother as well, should have found myself torn to pieces on a rack of opposing heredities for so many years of my life.
Anne Elizabeth (Aunt Elizabeth) was a nurse, and eventually became Matron of the Kings College Hospital Convalescent Home at Hemel Hempstead, Herts. My Mother, also a trained nurse, became her Assistant Matron. As they were both trained nurses the home took in patients at a far earlier stage of convalescence than most similar establishments, and my Father, Arthur John Hubbard, M.D. was the visiting consultant. He was at that time, junior partner in a firm of doctors in the town. It was there that my parents met and became engaged and subsequently married. My mother's father died quite shortly before the date set for the wedding, and it was his last wish that the wedding should not be postponed owing to his death. At that time the period of mourning was very long and strictly observed. My mother was married in grey, not white, on account of being in half mourning. I have seen her wedding dress of a very pretty grey silk with a small bonnet, in the fashion of the late Victorian period.
In 1956 I took a post as Locum Pharmacist for four weeks at the new West Herts Hospital , and immediately recognised the old Convalescent Home, now incorporated in the modern buildings, from photographs which I had seen at home. I also found the half demolished house which had been my patent’s first home, and recognised it by the name. “Durrance” cut into the capstone of one of the pillars of the drive. On my next visit the house had entirely disappeared, due to widening and modernization of the High Street, but the capstone with the name on it was lying in the mud of the torn-up drive. Both my elder brothers had been born in that house.