I'm not sure know why - perhaps I listened to too much Cure in the 80s - but for some reason I really enjoy having a good old nose around a cemetery.
I was up at the Tunbridge Wells one recently with Mr Anke and Cath, and we got very excited when we came across what surely must be the most fabulous name ever - Septimus Parsonage. Septimus Parsonage! I developed such a strong Septimus Parsonage fixation, that I had to stop myself from rushing out and buying a kitten just so I could call it Septimus Parsonage.
It turns out that Septimus Parsonage is more than some local dude who just happened to have an extremely cool name. If you've ever seen the list of mayors in the Town Hall's Main Council Chamber, the name will be familiar to you - it appears no less than five times on the list. It turns out that Our Septimus was a very notable Tunbridge Wellian indeed.
Septimus Parsonage was originally from Lancashire and had enjoyed a successful career in wine shipping before coming to Tunbridge Wells - to Boyne Towers, Boyne Park to be exact. He immersed himself in local matters, and in 1921, at the age of 63, he became our 21st Mayor.
Our Septimus with some dude called Edward at the Tunbridge Wells and Southern Counties' Agricultural Society show in 1928. Photo from Tunbridge Wells: A Second Selection by MLJ Rowlands and IC Beavis.
On being elected, The Courier said "he has travelled extensively, and has consequently a wide knowledge of men and matters". He was very much the philanthropist, doing a lot of good work and preferring to do it anonymously "...last Christmas, through his thoughtfulness and generosity, it was a proud boast of Tunbridge Wells that not a single family lacked the joy of special Chrismas fare". Other highlights included setting up soup kitchens, founding the Municipal Public Library, and opening Calverley Grounds. He was a prominent figure in such a long list local organisations that I felt quite knackered reading it. Just a few were: the Cricket Week Association, East Sussex and Tunbridge Wells Musical Festival, Tunbridge Wells Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, Tunbridge Wells Horticultural Society, Tunbridge Wells Rangers Football Club, and (phew!) the Monson Road Swimming Club.
He died on holiday in Bexhill at the age of 71, and the wall of the Main Council Chamber has never seen his like again. Many thanks to Jim at the Town Hall for his help, and the Museum Reference Library for helping me get over my fecklessness with the phish.
Sadly I didn't get a kitten, but to console myself I called our pottery owl Septimus Parsonage.