It would be difficult for many of the people now living in the village to realize just how small a place Tylers Green was before the War. [1914-1918]. I came there in 1916 & excluding the Vicarage, there were but 4 people of substance living there.
The Vicar was serving as Chaplain to the navy but was at home for short periods. They were very poor financially & either picnicked in a couple of rooms in the house or lodged with Mrs Rolfe at Beechwood just opposite the Church. I remember walking up one morning from Claremont for an early service. As I passed Beechwood, Mrs Spencer put her head out of the upper window calling out to me that the Vicar was in bed & that there would be no service. She was dressed only in a frilly cotton nightdress & her coarse white hair was hanging all over her face. When he died I went along to offer my sympathy. She met me at the door with a stony & insolent stare, listened to my halting words & then showed me out saying she did not know what I had come for. The door slammed behind me.
During the Vicar’s absence with the fleet, we had relays of parsons to take duty! One young curate of the type common to the comic stage was reported to have proposed marriage to Mrs Lancaster Rose. No doubt her riches & the luxury of her house appealed to him as being of use to the cause of the Church. She used to tell the story of his undignified exit in her own inimitable way.
Another one was a German, (German Swiss he was described by the kind & tolerant). There was quite a crowd one Sunday morning at 8.0 a.m. & he passed so infinitesimal a moment as he turned with the invitation to the people, that we found ourselves repeating the second Our Father without anyone having left their seats.
Mr & Mrs Spencer were tragic failures, she was the wreck of a beautiful woman brought about by indulgence in what sd never be allowed in a woman – he was kindly and spruce to the last & I think that his religion was very real to him. What his sufferings were or perhaps their joint sufferings together, can only be partially imagined; but I think they must be held in extenuation over the last tragic years.
Two memories in connection with the Church come to my mind – which happened just after I came. It was Holy week & I took my little daughter to the advertised Children’s Service at 10.0 a.m. on Good Friday. After the bell had stopped ringing the Vicar came into the Church & as we two were the only congregation he told me that there would be no Service. Next morning I arrived with a few flowers to help with the Easter Decorations. I waited for quite a long time but no one came. Then Mr Spencer walked in, & said that as there were no flowers or greenery or gifts of any kind it was impossible to do anything, & his wife was in bed. Only the Altar vases would be done. Joyfully I held out my bunch of flowers & offered to arrange them. ‘Oh no thank you – my wife always does them & I will take them over to her bedroom presently.’ I and my little bunch of flowers went sadly home again.