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Walter Marcus Ascoli

Walter Marcus Ascoli

Male 1880 - 1959  (~ 78 years)

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  • Name Walter Marcus Ascoli 
    Born Mar 1880  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Biography Walter - the intellectual one
     The second child was a boy named Walter Marcus, the second name after his father. Quick and attractive as a small child one story was told, again and again, that when he had his first pair of breeches, which in those days did not happen until the age of five, he wanted to show himself to everyone. When he had been duly admired by all the neighbours and friends he said,
    "Now may I show the cat."
    He seemed a little delicate though, as one time at about six, he had to go as an out patient to a hospital and was treated for heart trouble. The physician who examined him said,
    "Keep him from school and give him a good rest."
    To everyone's amazement he burst into tears.
    "Whatever is the matter with him?" said the doctor to my mother.
    "I expect," she said, "it is because you said he was to stay away from school."
    "Well," said the doctor, "that is the first time I have ever known that to happen, usually it produces smiles."
    Anyway, he was sympathetic and said.
    "Well, if you are so fond of school you may go, but come straight home and rest as much as possible."
    This, however, seemed to pass as life went on, but he was never athletic and could never stand any great strain, so I suppose the weakness did remain, but he was otherwise healthy. 
    He always loved his school and his lessons and excelled in them. When we lived at Walthamstow he attended the school with Elizabeth which was about twenty minutes walk from where we lived. When he was ten he won a scholarship to the local Grammar school. I remember some of his friends there - there were quite a bunch of them - I even remember the names of some of them. They often went to Epping Forest together. It was occupations of this kind which seemed to be their hobby rather than games. I suppose I was too small to accompany them, though I know I often wished I could. There was a big field near our house, however, called Job's field with a large pond in it and I often went with the boys there. They used to take an old basket with them, tie a rope to the handle, throw it into the pond and drag for tadpoles or "tiddlers" as they called the little fish they found in the pond. I remember one day, either the handle of the basket or the string gave way and their improvised net was left stranded in the middle of the pond. There was a whispered altercation as to what they should do, but I do not think it was my mother’s basket on that occasion, so I never heard the result of the loss. It must have been a dry summer that year for I remember seeing the wreck in the middle of the pond sticking higher and higher out of the water, until one day the field was enclosed and we we're deprived of the pond and the pleasure of the meadow forever. I believe it was taken over for the construction of a new railway, a branch of the L.M.S. which went to Southend, thus connecting the eastern side of London with that famous seaside resort. 
    Time passed and here we were in Clapton the other side of the River Lea. Walter had to give up his scholarship at Walthamstow as it was only for local boys. He afterwards went to the Tottenham Grammar School where he remained to the end of his school life. This was London but meadows were still available, as well as water, which seemed always necessary to Walter's life for in his young days he was always a naturalist. It was here; I was often allowed to help him. There were pools under the railway arches where we could get water beetles and various water creatures. He discovered a place where larger fish then tiddlers lived and were caught in our net. My mother was scared of all these things, especially when some of the beetles flew from the water and invaded our living quarters. One night he had to be roused from his bed to catch one which was frightening my mother out of her wits. 
    He also collected butterflies and moths and I often went with him to Epping Forest and learned how to net them, and about the chemical to put in the jar, and also how to mount them. He collected stamps, also, and I used to help him mount these, and learned the names of foreign countries, and he lent me books about these lands and their people. I was very proud to be his helper. He introduced me, also, to chemicals and showed me various experiments which filled my youthful mind with wonder. My father often brought him throw-outs from the Guildhall Museum so a cupboard was utilised for his collection of chemicals on one shelf, and a small museum to which we often added things found in the district, - old coins et cetera, on another.
    He made small poems from time to time which I also viewed with wonder and admiration. One of these was recited at Christmas, year after year by one of my sisters until it lost its interest. Another phase in Walter's life was a strong political and religious bias. Often on Sunday evenings, with Father's armchair as a pulpit, he would gather us younger ones round him and would preach a sermon to us. Of course, he was going to be a minister when he grew up. On the political side, he would often write letters to the local papers during election time in the Liberal cause. Both of these phases pleased my father immensely - he was very proud of his eldest son.
    [What would have happened known.
also walking tour 
Little about books and plays.]
    However, inevitably childhood passed and the time came when schooldays were over and work must be commenced. So, at the age of fifteen he took a Civil Service Examination and became a clerk in the Solicitor's Department - a wage earner of fourteen shillings per week.
    II
    Now I had lost my companion and I missed him, but I was becoming; in myself self-sufficient and withdrawn from the family. Walter, also, was secretly "walking out" with girls. Now and again my school companions told me he was "going out" with a sister of theirs, but soon he found a settled companion of the other sex in a girl who went to the Baptist Church which he and Elizabeth attended.
    Her name was Emily Simmons. Her mother was a widow. Mr Simmons, her husband, and their eldest boy had both died of tuberculosis - then known as low fever or consumption - and she had to work to keep the only child left her. She took up maternity nursing and gave up her home, and the child, Emily, had to live with different families. It was a poor life for a child. She went to the same school as I and I often saw her about the school - a neat, well-dressed little figure, holding herself well and walking with an assurance which I envied.
    When it was noticed my brother was friendly with her and my parents knew her circumstances, they invited her to our house as often as they could. She had then commenced as a pupil teacher. She was a talented artist and needlewoman, and did well at her lessons and as a teacher. We had a piano on which she used to come and practice, and she made a very nice addition to our Christmas gatherings - which in those days were purely family ones. She accompanied our singing on the piano and made our parties very lively with the introduction of a new song from her repertoire. One year my father gave his consent to their going on holiday together on condition that Elizabeth went as chaperone.
    Walter had now taken higher examinations In the Civil Service and later as a clerk to the London County Council (still remaining) in a Solicitor's Department. He was at the time studying law with the idea of becoming a solicitor, but his subsequent, marriage seemed to make it impossible for him to continue, and he remained with the London County Council.
    I suppose when a boy becomes engaged to a girl he is, for a time lost to his family. There were, however, one or two things which stand out in my memory. We were now members of the Baptist Chapel at Clapton and he and I were both members of a Young People's Bible Class. It was then, for a short time, he was my companion once more for we talked religion together. He had started reading books of liberal-minded German philosophers and often spoke about some of the ideas mentioned in them. We had, of course, not been brought up to think about religion, but just to accept, and now he was beginning to question that teaching. He questioned his Bible Class leader about these things and was told he must believe, also that while he was doubting he must not on any account attend a Communion Service. This puzzled him very much and he approached the minister of the church. The minister admitted there were some things difficult to understand, and that people were studying these things in order to fathom the difficulties, and advised him until then to continue as he was. But this did not satisfy Walter. He wanted to get at the truth. He worried so much over these things that tie began to be listless and to look ill. Then, one day, he came to me and said that he must give it all up as it was ruining his health. He would never give a thought to religion again, but put it right behind his back, once and for all.
    III
    Soon came the shock which so upset the life of the family - my father's death. It seemed as though the world stood still for us. How could it continue turning on its axis as though nothing had happened? What were we to do? The only monies coming in were from my eldest sister, Elizabeth, who had just started as a teacher in full status, the award being the magnificent sum of eighty pounds per year, and Walter whose stipend was in the family except to himself. Another sister, Edith, was in college training at the Royal Normal College for the Blind.
    For myself, I had just heard the result of a scholarship examination which I had taken, which offered free tuition and twenty pounds a year allowance for books on condition that I went for three years and took a London University degree. This, of course, was discussed by the older members of the family as to whether it was possible for me to take up the scholarship. Walter just put his foot down at once and said he would want to be married before the three years was over, so it was impossible. The argument which won the day was the fact that money was needed. There were four more younger than I who were still at school and, whatever happened, I must go out and earn. So I had to do the same as my sister had done and start as an uncertificated teacher. I was sorry for this as I was not as clever a teacher as Elizabeth, and had made up my mind to qualify as a chemist as chemistry had been a favourite subject of mine and I had excelled in it. But Walter considered himself head of the family and his word was now law.
    We were now rather far apart from one another. No secrets were shared and no confidences given one to the other. He was a man of the world, keen on getting wealth and making a good home for his future wife. These may have been laudable ideals but they spoiled his character. He was no longer the lovable boy that we had known and although we looked up to him for his sagacity, we also rather despised him for his changed outlook on life.
    Eventually, he got married and a rather large house was bought at Woodford where they lived for a few years. Emily's mother also retired and lived with them having her own rooms and looking after herself. Then the first baby came, a boy named Reginald Marcus. It was then the mother emerged from her back room because this was her job, looking after babies, and having come out she wished to stay out and friction was caused thereby.
    Our family were rather held aloof - apparently we were not quite good enough, but this did not last very long and the mother-in-law often came to our mother for sympathy, which was freely given, and we loved the little old lady coming to see us. She was so neat and tidy, and had so many tales to tell of her life as a maternity nurse. She used pomade on her hair, so that it set flat on her head with never a stray hair and had such a soft gentle voice and was such a sweet singer. How could her daughter have been so unkind to her, we thought?
    After four years another boy was born, Eric Walter. He was a bright-eyed little chap, quicker in movement than his brother which pleased his mother very much as she thought the elder one much too slow. But Walter was disappointed. He wanted a girl and had said he gave a donation to Dr Barnardo's Homes when Reginald was born. He would give double if this one was a girl, but it was not to be and, sad to say, it was definitely to be the last. So, the household grew to consist of four people. When Eric was no longer a baby a room was found elsewhere for Mrs Simmons and, henceforth, she referred to herself as being turned out of her home. She was always welcome with us, though, and often took advantage of this refuge.
    The new family visited us once a year while the children were small - at Christmas-time, but we were not invited there very often and did so very seldom. Walter seemed, to us, to have changed very much. He became a Tory in politics, and they entered no place of worship, and the boys were not encouraged to think about religion at all. However, he kept his very fine sense of humour and we could always be sure of a good laugh when he visited us. He also gave up his studies and just stayed in the same office, depending on the ordinary increments in salary given by the L.C.C. and occasionally a promotion.
    His wife was very ambitious and very restless. They moved from Woodford to Higham's Park and later to South Benfleet. This was in 1914 or 1915. He had been refused the army on account of his health and they both felt it would be better for all to live in the country. A rather amusing incident happened with regard to this move. The rest of the family had spent a long holiday at Leigh-on-Sea, which was then little more than a fishing village, on account of the health of one of the younger boys. Two of us girls went wandering round the countryside and we took a train one day to South Benfleet and wandered up the lane from the station chiefly to examine wild flowers. When we had travelled quite a way up the long hill we saw a notice which said "To Kitscroft." Being curious to where it would lead we followed the direction of the pointer and came to a house overlooking the estuary of the Thames. My companion and I were both devotees of the countryside and we admired the house, and its position, and thought how heavenly to live in a place like that. It was set by itself in a large piece of ground and a few ducks and chickens seemed very happy there. We told the family about our dream house, but mother and my eldest sister were not interested. Imagine our surprise, a month or two later, when Walter announced they were moving to South Benfleet. He began describing the place to us and by asking a few questions we exclaimed in unison,
    "Oh, we know it!"
    "Impossible." he said, "it is tucked away by itself right out of sight."
    But, when we added one or two details, we convinced him that we had seen it. He was astounded. He told us that the owners were Germans who had been interred and they had got it very cheaply. Mrs Simmons by this time had died.
    The two boys went to a school at Hadleigh and their mother took them each morning by pony and trap which they had bought, and in which she used to drive about the country lanes, and even into Southend to do her shopping. The boys both enjoyed the country exceedingly and spent long hours up the trees in a small wood which was attached to the property. By this time it seemed that the marriage was deteriorating somewhat, but Walter was very loyal and kept it from us as far as possible. They lived here for some years the boys growing up here, and Walter acquired a motor car - and the boys, motor-cycles.
    We visited them now and again, sometimes for a day in the summer and sometimes at Christmas-time, but we did not see or hear very much of them. There was one memorable Christmas, though, when we were invited to spend a few days with them. A younger sister, Beatrice, who was a favourite of Walter, had married and lost her husband through war-activities, and was left with a young baby. She was invited to stay with them for some time, and the rest of the family, with two soldiers from America who were staying with us and a younger friend of Elizabeth's. It was unbelievable that we should all be invited, but the trap met us at the station and my mother and small delicate brother went in the trap and the rest of us walked. It was good sharp, frosty weather and we all loved it. The fires were all lit, and banked up with logs, so we were all warm and cosy. Everything seemed so friendly and the conversation was witty and enjoyable. The war was over and we felt that a new world was dawning, but the disastrous peace treaty had not yet been signed. But we kept off political issues as we rather differed about these things and it was Christmas-time and good-will was in the air.
    It was like the old days of happy Christmas family gatherings and the presence of the men from overseas added to the enjoyment. Time was running on. We never all met again in that way for the widowed sister and her babe went abroad, another brother, Percy, married and later on died when their babe was two years old, and soon after Mother, who always holds a family together, also died. This left only two of us, my eldest sister and myself. The Benfleet family now moved to the other side of London, first, to Bromley, and afterward to Keston in Kent.
    Again, it is the Christmas gatherings which have imprinted themselves on my memory. On two occasions my sister and I were invited at the festive season. Emily was, even then, becoming neurotic and hysterical. In the first place she told us we might come, but we must bring our own bedding as she had not enough warm coverings for the extra bed. We were on the point of declining the invitation but Walter wrote and refuted all this. It was not exactly a happy time - the house was cold so we huddled round a small electric fire - the boys were disgruntled - they had both left girls behind them in the Southend area. Walter himself was the one still maintaining his sense of humour and kept the party more or less lively. We made the best of it, but it was not exactly a success. On the next occasion things seemed a bit smoother .and one of the boys had his girl friend with him. Possibly Emily was on her best behaviour because of this.
    Soon the boys were both married. We were invited to each of the weddings. The older boy had rooms in the parents’ house at Keston, but, this arrangement did not last long, and they soon took a small house at Hayes, in Kent, fairly near the parents.
    Events seemed to happen quicker at the period the second world war was upon us - my sister and I had both retired and we had to vacate our house and we went to stay in Cornwall. Walter also retired and, as several bombing incidents happened near them, they removed to Devonshire. We were then made more welcome and often went to stay with them. Walter was always very pleased to see us, but his loyalty to his wife continued, although relations, we could tell, were a bit strained. Then they both became ill and the elder son was very anxious for them both and at last insisted in taking a larger house and having the parents living in the new abode with them. The younger son had, by this time, emigrated to Rhodesia. It was not the happiest arrangement but seemed best under the circumstances. My eldest sister, Elizabeth, had by this time, died and I was left alone. For a time I saw little of them, as the health of both deteriorated I visited them more often. He kept a sense of humour until the end. I could see that mentally Emily was worse than she was physically. They still drove a car, however, so could get about a little. They were both becoming a heavy liability to the young people, when the younger man was taken ill the wife could bear with it no longer and Emily was removed to a mental home.
    Walter lived for a short time alone with the son and wife, and then had a heart attack and died in hospital, at the age of seventy-nine. He had often in the last days mentioned religion to me, asking me my beliefs, which I told him freely, and sadly he would say, I dare not attempt to think about it even now. I know this, though that when he ceased to take an interest in the church work he deteriorated in character. He became hard and unforgiving - living for self and caring not at all for other people.  [1
    Occupation London County Council 
    Residence London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence Keston, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 1959  Keston, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I6806  Blank Family
    Last Modified 19 Feb 2010 

    Father Mordecai Marcus Ascoli,   b. 19 May 1848, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Oct 1901, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 53 years) 
    Mother Jane Elizabeth Palmer,   b. 1852, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Mar 1929, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years) 
    Married 1874  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F4846  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Emily Mary Simmons,   d. 1963, Surrey, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 29 Jul 1905 
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Eric Walter Ascott,   b. 1913, West Ham Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1978, Rhodesia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years)
    Family ID F4915  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Mar 1880 - London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Keston, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 1959 - Keston, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Ascoli Marcus and Jane Family
    Ascoli Marcus and Jane Family
    Walter Ascoli
    Walter Ascoli

  • Sources 
    1. [S176] Memoirs of Alice Ascoli 1884 - 1965, Alice Ascoli.


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