Watkins family

Stop number WHITE 3: Walk along the avenue and after the ninth tree on your left you will be at the Watkins family plot.
Watkins family plot
Watkins family plot
Read the story below and when you are ready to move on click on the dot/circle for Miss Wheeler.
Plaque for Jack in All Saints Parish Church Priory Avenue
Plaque for Jack in All Saints Parish Church Priory Avenue
Henrietta Watkins (1855 - 1940)

I am Henrietta Watkins, the mother of two boys who went to fight for King and Country. My husband came from Shropshire and he was an auctioneer and estate agent. I was born in High Wycombe but after I married I moved wherever my husband's work took him. But we had returned to High Wycombe well before the war started and my husband, myself and our two sons and two daughters all lived along Priory Avenue - the house is still there today - not far from my brother's house at that time (he was Charles Edwin Skull the furniture manufacturer).

My youngest son, Leslie, survived the war but his older brother, Charles, was killed in 1915. Charles was known as Jack by all his family and friends. Jack was born here in High Wycombe in 1891 but by 1901 we were living Hammersmith.

Jack began his education at Elgin House School in Shepherds Bush and then went to the Royal Grammar School in 1903, and left in 1909 passing both the Oxford junior and Senior examinations as well as the London Matriculation, and even a Bucks County Council Scholarship! In 1909 he also spent time at the Schools of Science and Art gaining more experience in art.

After leaving school he worked as a designer in the Shops' Department of Messrs W H Smith and Son, Kingsway, London. Where according to the Bucks Free Press "he was held in the highest esteem. His work was extremely skilful and meritorious, and bore the stamp of marked ability, and more than ordinary artistic perception." He set up the Pinwell Art Club (named after a Victorian artist born in High Wycombe.) He enlisted into the London Rifle Brigade on August 5th 1914, the day after war was declared. He first went to France in November and within a fortnight was in the trenches and remained there almost continuously until he met his untimely death.

He was killed on February 3rd 1915. Private C A M Piper (who would be killed on the 13th May 1915 and is listed on the Menin Gate) wrote, "I cannot say how sorry I am to have to tell you that he was shot in the head yesterday and to the great sorrow of all the section did not survive ten minutes. He was playing his tin-whistle in a dug out and I was sitting just outside making a fire. He said "My fingers are too cold, I can't get on with it" so he at once came out to warm himself. He did so, and in getting out just let his head project a few inches above the parapet, which was very low. I heard a thud and a little grunt, and he spun around and fell flat on his face. He never moved again and only breathed for about ten minutes. I am quite sure he never even knew what hit him and felt no pain whatever; it was a clean wound, straight through the brain ... It has come as a very great shock to us, as we were always a most united section, and he was one of the most liked and respected members of it, and we have done everything together for so long that the section was more like a happy family than a military unit." Here is a newspaper obituary for Jack:
Jack's obituary


Although I and my husband have a family plot in the cemetery Jack is remembered elsewhere - on a memorial plaque in All Saints Parish Church (where his Skull cousins donated the Bishops Chair in remembrance of all those who gave their lives in the Great War), on the High Wycombe and Hazelmere war memorials, and in the book of Remembrance at The Royal Grammar School. Even though he died abroad there is no way we are going to forget my Jack in High Wycombe!
Henrietta Watkins researched by Mr Andrew Wright, JHGS, and Sally Scagell and performed by Sue Granshaw, Flackwell Local Area History Group Charles Robert (Jack) Watkins
Henrietta Watkins, story researched by Mr Andrew Wright of JHGS and Sally Scagell and performed by Sue Granshaw, Flackwell Local Area History Group Charles Robert (Jack) Watkins


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