Tag Archives: Gwendoline Layton Blunt

Coming Home – Devoran 1919



Life and News in Devoran as the troops began slowly to come home after WW1, taken from the local newspapers in 1919.

Sadly one of the first mentions of Devoran in Western Morning News (18 January 1919) is of the early death of young Gladys Catherine (“Jimmy”) Edwards, daughter of local doctor Dr. Philip Hugh Edwards. This is the Edwards family after whom Edwards House on Devoran Lane and Edwards Road are named.


Western Morning News Saturday 18 January 1919

Very dearly loved – Monday 20th January 1919 must have been a sad day for many in the Village after the loss of so many young men.


Corporal R.J.  “Jack” Bilkey  died aged 26 of wounds or illness in Egypt on 31st January 1919, followed by 49 year old  2nd Lieutenant Richard Stevens  at Haslar Naval Hospital later on 7th February 1919. Richard Stevens is buried in Feock churchyard.


These two men were the last of the Devoran WW1 Casualties on the War Memorial

Gladys (or Jimmy) and the other three Edwards sisters had done much for fundraising and local public or patriotic events with their musical contributions. Her Red Cross ambulance driving  sister Gwendoline would complete writing the Devoran Roll of Honour, probably in 1919 – look for her initials GLB (for Gwendoline Layton Blunt, her married name) in the bottom right corner.

What else was happening in Devoran throughout 1919 as the men came home?

An early life in Australia was the subject of an fundraising talk or lecture in March 1919 at Devoran Council School (the old school, now a private house). Young 21 year old Lieutenant C. Michael Rogers of the Devon Yeomanry was the son of the new tenant at Tregye, where the Boscawen family had been resident before the war.


Western Morning News 18 March 1919

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Sculptor and builder H.J. Martin’s name plate at the base of the Devoran War Memorial.

Everyday life of chapel  continued, minus some of its younger men. One of the chapel elders mentioned is Herbert  J Martin  of Belmont Terrace, the mason or sculptor who carved the Devoran War Memorial and also a Mr Richards.


The Cornishman, 31st  December 1919

On September 12th 1919, the War Memorial Recreation Ground was given to the Village by Viscount Clifden

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Dedication stone of the Devoran War memorial ground

Devoran Recreation Ground 

This land was given to Feock Parish Council by Viscount Clifton as a war memorial to the men of Devoran to be used for recreation and enjoyment of the people of Devoran for all times, 12 September 1919 



Dedicating the War Memorial Recreation Ground 12 September 1919. Headmaster Mr W.R. Cock speaking, surrounded by older men of the parish. Photo from the Restronguet Creek Society website.

Devoran (Penpol and Point) Regatta and Sports took place again in May 1919, the first after the war. All part of getting back to normal or how things were before the war.


Western Morning News, 22 May 1919.  Sadly the Illustrated Western Weekly News is not available online at the moment to view Devoran Regatta 1919. Note the call for teachers – is this replacing wartime losses?


Visick’s Yard was no longer busy on war work and munitions but back on light industrial and motor engineering jobs, Western Morning News, 9 June 1919

Always interesting to read what is going on at the time around the world in 1919 from farming schemes for ex-servicemen  to proposed equal pay for equal work for women. Some women gained the vote in 1918, all by 1928.  I wonder what they would make of this equal pay still not having fully happened 100 years later?


Western Morning News May 10, 1919.

Devoran receives a mention in the article on the early Women’s Institutes in this Western Morning News May 10, 1919 –  “A powerful instrument for making the world better and happier”.


The W.I. “Centres of Education, light and life” except in Probus, Western Morning News, May 10 1919

I wonder what was going on in Probus, that the fledgling Women’s Institute failed or fell “out of line” with others “because the feudal system still existed there”!

Devoran W.I. turned 21 in 1940, according to later WI reports in WW2


With the war over, many of the Ladies and local women returned from wartime fundraising and nursing related war work to running peacetime groups such as the W.I. Scouts. Miss Tyacke who lived in Devoran (at Devoran House?) was County Staff Captain of the relatively young Scouts movement in Cornwall.

Devoran Scouts and Guides still flourish today, 100 years on and turned out in strength with their standard bearers for the Armistice 100 service.


St Agnes Scout Rally, reported  29 December  1919 Western Morning News

The tragic loss of 31 lives in the Levant Mining Disaster in West Cornwall in 20 October 1919 brought a strong charitable response through the Western Morning News including a collection by the landlord Mr Blackwell and customers at the Commercial Hotel, Devoran (now the Quay Inn?)


Devoran amongst the subscribers to the Western Morning News Levant Mine Disaster Fund

Feock parishioners also held a Village house to house collection


Help from the village of Feock, Western Morning News, 6 November 1919

Devoran Council School staff and students also made a collection of £4 and 4 shillings towards the Levant Mine Disaster Fund.


Devoran School Headmaster for many years Mr W.R. Cock, mentioned in the Western Morning News November 12, 1919

We are not yet sure when the Devoran War Memorial was erected. Possibly it was erected in time  for the first Armistice or Remebrance Sunday in November 1919?



Happier news – the gentry of the surrounding area were now mentioned in the County Society columns for births, rather than deaths in battle. Mrs Neville Hood at Coosevean gave birth to a daughter.


It’s another girl! Society pages, The Globe newspaper , Tuesday, October 7, 1919


A distinguished title for a father, mentioned in Wednesday Oct 8th 1919 The Cornishman


New baby in the house, more hired help needed at Coozevean, (small house, countryfor the Hood family. Western Morning News, November 17th, 1919


Chapel life in Devoran, The Cornishman, Wednesday December 10th 1919.  Note the mention of the Levant Mine Disaster and the RNAS Royal Naval Air Station on Tresco, Scilly.


Blog posted by Mark Norris on 16 January 2019


1917 Wartime wedding Devoran

West Briton,  19th July 1917  “local news” section


A well known turn of the century photograph of Devoran Church c.1900/6, before the tree growth (postcard in the collection of Mark Norris)

 DEVORAN – Wedding (from the local press, July 1917) 

At St. John’s Church, Devoran on Monday [16th July 1917] the marriage was quietly celebrated of Gwendoline Mary, eldest daughter of Dr. & Mrs. P. M. Edwards of Devoran and Lt. Denzil Layton Blunt, ASC, only son of Mr. Layton Blunt of Brampton, Huntingdon.

The bride, who has recently returned from France where she has been driving a motor ambulance, was given away by her father.

She wore a simple frock of white gorgette, a veil of … … was held in place by a tiny … of white heather and she carried a bouquet of pink carnations.

The maid of honour was Miss Jane Edwards, the bride’s youngest sister who was charmingly attired in a frock of Indian net embroidered in silver … .

Desmond de Burgh RFC acted as best man.

The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. Stafforth, assisted by the Rev. John Jones, Vicar of the Parish. The Church was tastefully decorated by Miss Gladys Edwards and Miss Hilary Layton Blunt.

[The missing … sections are where researcher Bob Richards could not  clearly read the microfiche or scan of the West Briton].

We would love to have a photograph of Gwendoline and Denzil Layton Blunt. Unfortunately we have not found one yet and one may not have been taken in wartime. Instead we have tracked down a copy of the certificate.

A happy event in wartime after many losses to the village and the start of a fifty year marriage.

I wonder if wedding bells were allowed in the First World War? They certainly were not allowed  in WW2 as they were the signal of an invasion threat.


Amongst the witnesses are Denzil’s family, his father being already dead, Bertha L Blunt and Hilary Layton Blunt. The grandly named  J. Wessex Bennetts was another witness.

J. Ann or Jane Edwards was the Bride’s youngest sister. Miss Gladys Edwards was another of Gwendoline’s sisters (who may have died shortly afterwards in 1919, aged 21).

John Jones the Devoran vicar is named on the Devoran Parish Roll of Honour written out beautifully in calligraphy by GLB Gwendoline Leighton Blunt. reverend Jones was shortly to go off to war as an Army chaplain. Reverend James Stafforth was Assistant Curate of St. Mary Magadalene in St Pancras, London – not sure what his Devoran connection might be.

Some research by Bob Richards and Mark Norris revealed the following:

The Groom – Lieutenant Denzil Layton Blunt, Army Service Corps

Listed on the certificate as aged 26, Esquire, MA Lieutenant ASC Army Service Corps, resident of Brampton, Huntingdon.

Born 1892, son of H. Layton Blunt of Orton, Peterborough, Denzil was educated at Shrewsbury School where he won honours in shooting and with the rowing eight.

He went on to King’s College, Cambridge in October 1909. He was in Plymouth working with a  occupation of Zoologist on the 1911 census. He gained 2nd class Natural Science Tripos Pt 1 B.A.  also in 1912 and M.A. in 1916.

Co-author of the influential 1926 scientific paper The Nutritive Value of Pasture, still much quoted in scientific papers today.

Denzil served with the Indian Education Service from 1912-1914, then served in France as a Lieutenant with the Royal Army Service Corps from 1915-1919.

After the war he worked in farming and agricultural research in the UK from 1920-1926 when he moved to Africa to become Senior Agricultural Officer to the Government in Kenya. Raising a small family, he died there with Gwendoline in the mid 1960s.

The Best Man – Desmond Herlouin de Burgh, 40 Squadron Royal Flying Corps 

Desmond Herlouin de Burgh, AFC, was the Best Man at Gwendoline Edwards’ wedding. He was born in 1897, son of Colonel Ulick de Burgh, 7th Dragoon Guards, from an Irish family based at Scarva House Co. Monaghan. He went to Harrow School, then was a gentleman cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Desmond  joined the army in 1915 at the age of 18 as a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. He left to join the Royal Flying Corps as a Pilot / Observer in 1916 and at the time of the wedding was a Pilot in 40 Squadron RFC,  a hazardous job with a short life expectancy! De Burgh appeared to be an accomplished but  less well-known air aces of 40 Squadron, according to a recent book by Joe Gleeson called Irish Air Aces of the RFC and RAF in the First World War.

After the war he was given a permanent commission in the RAF in 1919. He rose through the ranks in the inter-war years and saw service in Iraq and India, working in signals and becoming Director of Telecommunications for the RAF in 1941.


A cemetery picture from another / future war, the Alamein Memorial from WW2 where the Desmond de Burgh the Best Man from the 1917 Devoran wedding is remembered. Image: CWGC

As an Air Commodore, De Burgh was lost in a flying accident [in South Africa?] on 17th January 1943. He has no known grave and is remembered with many other RAF personnel who have no known grave on the El Alamein Memorial in Egypt.

Quite a character! The pop musician Chris de Burgh is a famous relation. (No wedding or music related puns about the Lady In White or Red please)


The Father of The Bride – Dr Philip Hugh Edwards, Physician 1868 – 1945

You can read more about Dr. Edwards, Gwendoline, Denzil, this marriage and Devoran in WW1 at previous blogposts:



Edwards House and Edwards Road

The bride is likely to have set off from The Driffield a few houses down from Devoran church.

On Devoran Lane, not far from St Johns Church  where this wartime wedding took place, is The Driffold, still listed as such as a Hotel on the 1986 Domesday Reloaded project.
This large house in Late Victorian times and into the Edwardian / First World War period was the large home and possible doctor’s surgery of the Edwards family. It is still known as Edwards House, opposite Edwards Road.

The Bride – Gwendoline Mary Edwards, British Red Cross Ambulance Driver 

An enquiry lodged with the BRCS archives for any further information on Gwendoline Edwards elicited that sher served with  VAD Cornwall 34 (34 might be her number or an area number). Gwendoline Edwards served as a 21 year old from 13 October 1916 as Rank G.S. (General Service?) Chauffeuse until 9 July 1917 (a week before her wedding). Particulars of duties: Motor Ambulance Driving in France.

GLB BRCS record

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

A check of local newspapers of the time reveal that Miss Edwards and sisters (as the daughters of the local doctor) were involved in fund-raising for the war effort.


g m Edwards engaged blunt 1917

Northampton Mercury 30 March 1917


Sale of Work at Perranporth, West Briton 1915

The concerts held during the afternoon and evening were well attended, Messrs W.J.Johnson and the Vicar made the arrangements and the following artistes took part: the Parish Church Choir, Canon and the Misses Corfe, Mrs Turner, Miss Armstrong, Miss Edwards (Devoran).

The Layton Blunt family

The Layton Blunt family in Brampton, Huntingdon not only had their son Denzil away at war. The Cambridge Independent Press of 9 June 1916 notes a Conscription Appeal Tribunal: Arthur Lewin, gardener and cowman, in the employ of Mrs Layton Blunt … Exemption one Month.

The Wartime Wedding that Never Happened

Mark Norris uncovered another interesting aspect of the Gwendoline Edwards  story in 1915, two years before the wedding:

The marriage arranged between  Lewis E. Sotheron Hodge and Gwendoline Mary Edwards  will not take place.


G M Edwards non marraiage 1915

West Briton 1 July 1915


Notices placed in  both in the West Briton and the Cornishman, 1st July 1915.

Who was Gwendoline’s bridegroom that never was?

With an unusual name and many initials, it has possible to trace Lewis Edwin Sotheron Hodge after his failed engagement. Born in 1887, he spent his working life in the Far East as a partner in the Hastings and Hodge Company. He is listed as a merchant in 1910/11 in China and Hong Kong. He was initiated as a freemason in Hong Kong in 1918 and died there in Hong Kong in 1938. I am not yet aware what his 1914-18 wartime service involved.

Blogposted by Mark Norris on the Devoran War Memorial Project blog, 100 years on, 16 July 1917 / 2017

You can contact us with any further information via the comments page.





Gwendoline Edwards heads happily home from France WW1


On Devoran Lane, not far from St Johns Church & Vicarage, pictured here c. 1905/6  is the Driffold Hotel listed on BBC Domesday reloaded

9th July 1917 – a young woman from Devoran finishes her service as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War and heads home to her village with a happy heart.

She must have seen some terrible sights during her nine months service overseas, seeing some of the human wreckage of the trenches. The Doctor’s daughter must have been relieved to see her home safely again.

On Devoran Lane, not far from St. John and St Petroc’s Church and Vicarage, is the Driffold, once a hotel, now known as Edwards Road.  The Driffold in Late Victorian times and into the Edwardian / First World War period was home to Doctor Philip Hugh Edwards family. It is still known as Edwards House, opposite the modern 1980s houses of Edwards Road.

An enquiry lodged with the BRCS archives for any further information on Gwendoline Mary Edwards elicited that VAD Cornwall 34 (34 might be her number or an area number) Gwendoline Edwards served as a 21 year old from 13 October 1916 as Rank G.S. (General Service?) Chauffeuse until 9 July 1917 (a week before her wedding). Particulars of duties: Motor Ambulance Driving in France.

VAD Cornwall 34 might be her number or an area number.

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

The reason for her happy return before the end of the war?

A week later 100 years ago on the 16th July 1917 Gwendoline was married and became Mrs Gwendoline Layton Blunt.


Although we have failed to find a photo of the wedding or of Gwendoline so far, we have found  a duplicate of the certificate.

We will publish more about the wedding including press cuttings found by my fellow researcher Bob Richards.








Gwendoline Edwards drives off to war 13 October 1916

100 years ago this week on 13 October 1916, as the Somme battle raged on through its long 141 days,  Devoran doctor’s daughter Gwendoline Mary Edwards drove off to war in France with the British Red Cross. She  had been part of nursing with the VAD Voluntary Aid Detachment Cornwall district 34.

Her engagement for service overseas began on 13th October 1916 as a G.S. (General Service?) Chauffeuse, her duties being Motor Ambulance Driving in France.

GLB BRCS record

Gwendoline Layton Blunt (nee Edwards) British Red Cross Society record cards (Courtesy: BRCS archive )

What terrible things and what human wreckage this spirited young lady must have seen in France.

There is more about Gwendoline at https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/ and elsewhere in the Blog.

She left the Red Cross to marry an army officer Denzil Layton Blunt at Devoran Church in July 1917, and is likely to be the GLB responsible for producing the Devoran Roll of Honour (recently restored) which hangs in the Village Hall. She emigrated to Africa with Denzil and her children  and died there in Kenya in the late 1960s

We look forward to tracking down more about her including maybe one day  a photograph.

Postec by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project.