Phyllis Ethel Chipperfield (1887-1937).

Watercolour painter, Miniature painter.
Creator of the St. Barnabas Church Great War Roll of Honour.

Phyllis Ethel Chipperfield, the daughter of a local doctor and surgeon Thomas John Burgoyne Pearse Chipperfield and his wife Katherine Elizabeth, was the painter of the recently rediscovered St. Barnabas Great War Roll of Honour that has been held in the vaults of the Surrey History Centre in Woking since 1996 after being discarded by the current Vicar of St. Barnabas church in Temple Road, Epsom.

Phyllis Ethel Chipperfield's signature
Phyllis Ethel Chipperfield's signature from the corner of St. Barnabas WW1 Roll of Honour

Phyllis' father was professionally known by his middle name of Pearse but to save confusion is referred to here as Thomas.

Phyllis' 27-year-old father, from Bloxham in Oxfordshire, had married 28-year-old spinster Katherine Elizabeth Read on 30 June 1883 in her local church, Holy Trinity, in Twickenham. The couple returned to Church Street, Bloxham, where Thomas had his medical practise, and it was there that Katherine gave birth to Phyllis' brother Pearse Wellesley in 1885. Phyllis was born there on 21 March 1887 (GRO reference Jun 1887 Banbury 3a 900) and baptised in the local church on 5 June. Thomas and Katherine also had a third child that died.

The family were living in 'Merton Cottage', Bloxham in 1891 and the census records that her father was a 'Duly Registered General Practitioner' British subject who had been born in Bangalore, East India. Thomas engaged a cook and a housemaid to help his wife run their home while she took care of five year old Pearse and Phyllis, aged three.

Thomas went into partnership with Dr. Charles Frederick Knight and had two practises, one at 341, Brixton Road and the other at 'The Turret' in Streatham Hill. However in 1894, the London Gazette gave notice that on 28 August the partnership between Thomas and Charles had been dissolved by mutual consent.

Thomas moved his practise and home to 61, Botanic Road, West Derby, Lancashire. Phyllis, aged 13, had her friend Grace Edmondson staying with her the night the 1901 census was taken while her brother Pearse was a resident student in Great Berkhampstead.

The family moved south again and had been living since 1907 at 794, Fulham Road, Fulham S.W., where they employed one live-in cook/general servant to help run their home. Thomas ran a medical practise from his home and also one at The Green, Hampton Court. He filled in the 1911 census form stating that he and his wife Katherine had been married for 26 years and that one of their three children had died. He also stated that he was now aged 52 and that his wife, instead of 53, was only 49. Pearse had not followed his father and grandfather into the medical profession but had become a bank clerk.

Aged 22, Phyllis did not have an occupation noted by her father on the 1911 census but between May and August that year Phyllis exhibited two of her watercolour paintings, "Snow" and "Tommy Atkins", at the Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition. Unfortunately we have not found a copy of these paintings to show here.

Phyllis' entries in the Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition catalogue Phyllis' entries in the Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition catalogue
Phyllis' entries in the Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition catalogue

By 1914 Thomas had moved his family and practise along the road to number 728, Fulham Road. The following year, on 14 June 1915, Phyllis' brother Pearse married Audrey Dorothy Tyrrell Preston in St. Michael and All Angels church in Kensington. At this time he was still working for the Bank of England and the couple remained living in the Fulham area and did not have any children.

In 1916 Thomas appeared for the first time in the Epsom telephone directory as a physician living in Abele Grove, Epsom, Surrey. At the same time a Dr. Wakeford appeared as a partner of Thomas' practise at 728, Fulham Road. Their partnership however had been dissolved by 1917 and Thomas was only noted as practising in Epsom.

Phyllis was aged 30 by then and was an active member of the St. Barnabas church congregation, in Temple Road, Epsom. It is not known exactly when Phyllis painted the St. Barnabas Great War Roll of Honour, but in September 1916 their Parochial Church Council (PCC) raised the issue of the need for a 'Decoration Committee'. The Minutes of the PCC dated 25 September 1916 recorded that:
'The third item on the agenda was a Decoration Committee, that was a committee to deal to deal with the matter of donations of pictures and other memorials in the church, to give advice as to whether or no a suggested donation would be suitable & add to the dignity of God's house, the Chairman thought that at a time like present [WW1] there should be some such committee appointed and after discussion those present agreed to the principle but details were left to a later meeting.'
St Barnabas Roll of Honour
St Barnabas Roll of Honour
Reproduced by permission of Surrey History Centre

William Anderson Black
In 1923 Phyllis painted a water-coloured portrait of William Anderson Black (1847-1934), a Canadian politician.
Image source Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Phyllis was a lay member of St. Barnabas' PCC and her name appears often in their minutes from 1921 onwards. In particular, in 1925, after much discussion by the PPC as to how the church was to raise much needed funds, Phyllis proposed and Miss Pott seconded, that the church adopt the Duplex Freewill [Offering] System. This system encouraged the congregation to give regular small weekly sums of money, thus securing a regular income to meet the church's necessary expenditure.

Since 1925, Phyllis and her parents had been living in St. Martin's Avenue, Epsom. They had named their house 'Bangalore', after Thomas' place of birth, and it was there that 71-year-old Thomas died on 23 September 1927. He was buried on 27 September in grave A303A in Epsom Cemetery.

In 1931 Phyllis painted a miniature watercolour of a child in a sunbonnet, which came on to the open market in November 2010.

child in sunbonnet
The auctioneers, Willingham Auctions, described Lot 766 (above) as
"A miniature watercolour on ivory 1931, child in sunbonnet - PHYLLIS ETHEL CHIPPERFIELD (1887 -)
exhibited 12 [paintings?] in Royal Academy label on verso British Empire Trade
Exhibition Buenos Aires 1931 - The Royal British Colonial Society of Arts 12 x 10 cm".

Her mother Katharine moved to 'The Turret', 193, Ladbroke Road, Epsom after her husband's death and died there, aged 76, on 7 November 1931. Her body was laid to rest with her husband on 10 November. Administration of her effects, valued at £1,943 11s. 9d., was granted to her daughter Phyllis.

In 1935, the Midlands Electoral Registers listed Phyllis as living at 35, Beaufort Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, the home of sisters Marion, Minnie, Ida and Elsie Mountford. Also living at number 35 were Doris Mary Esther Thompson, Eleanor Margaret Rhodes and the artist and teacher Gabriel Cyril Bunney (1876-1952); Gabriel was the son of painter John Wharlton Bunney, a protégé of Ruskin, who named his son after Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a son of W. Holman Hunt. He specialised in painting ceramics and his work can be seen in the Victoria and Albert museum, London and in the City Museum, Birmingham.

Phyllis was aged 50 when she died two years later on 10 November 1937. At the time of her death she was still unmarried and living at 35, Beaufort Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Her body was returned to Epsom and she was buried on 12 November in her parent's grave.

The Chipperfield family grave in Epsom Cemetery
The Chipperfield family grave in Epsom Cemetery
Photo courtesy of Hazel Ballan© 2013

Administration of her effects, valued at £1,699 0s.11d., was granted to her brother Pearse who by then had retired from banking. Strangely, three years later on 29 January 1941, presumably in accordance with their late mother's wishes in her Will nine years previously, the remains of their mother's effects, being then valued at £202. 2s. 6d., was given to her brother Pearse. Why it took so long to be sorted out is unknown. Pearse died three years later in 1944 and with him, this branch of the Chipperfield family ended.

The St. Barnabas PCC Minutes, dated 10 November 1948, record that they wished for a memorial for the members of their congregation who had lost their lives during the WWII hostilities. At their next meeting on 7 December they agreed that it should be similar to the framed WW1 Roll of Honour that Phyllis had painted and that they be hung together at the back of their church. Father Aubin, the vicar at that time, stated on 19 January 1949 that he was willing to obtain a list of names and Mrs. Colgate agreed to see if a friend of hers would be willing to produce a suitable WWII Roll of Honour. However the result was not, in my opinion, as beautiful as Phyllis Ethel Chipperfield's WWI Roll of Honour.

At the time of writing, as with the WW1 Roll of Honour, the WWII Roll of Honour lays safe but unseen in the vaults of the Surrey History Centre in Woking.

St. Barnabas WWII Roll of Honour
St. Barnabas WWII Roll of Honour
Reproduced by permission of Surrey History Centre

Researched and written by Hazel Ballan © 2013

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