15th July - Eleventh Letter to Poppy
Secret diary: No entry
Official diary: No entry
Location: Waterpark House
My darling old Pip,
Got your Mondays letter last night with all the news I wanted to know. You only just got up to town in time. It was a pity in some ways the family did not tell you at once about me, but it was just as well to get you up to town first as otherwise things might have been very serious. It was a great blessing you had no complications or trouble and everything went off smoothly. It is very nice of everyone coming up to see you, hope Lady Constance is really quite all right again and nurse and Mrs Dowell are going strong.
I have a pack of cards so play patience when bored. Am very comfortable just now and plenty to keep me amused. I am being very well looked after, and get everything I want. Am spending my time cutting advertisements of likely houses out of the papers, but am afraid they will be sold before we have time to see them. They are most of them for sale on the 27th.
I ought to get away soon now, there doesnt seem to be much point in keeping me at all, I dont see what they are going to get out of it; anyhow it is very interesting.
I wonder if there have been any more prospective buyers for Foxholes yet. Hope our Cutlett will have grown less noisy when I get home, I fancy they are all like that to start with; anyhow he is ours and so must be an extremely nice child Hope you are as well and as comfortable as I am, as then you wont have much to complain about.
Lots of love for my old Pip.
Eleventh Letter sent to Mrs C.H. Tindall Lucas, 1 Cleveland Gardens, Hyde Park LONDON W2 postmarked EASTBOURNE 1:45pm 19 July 1920
Enclosed with this letter was a photo with a caption written on the back: ‘Your husband in captivity. Dont expose to the light. C’. Unfortunately it has been exposed to the light so is very dark and only a shadowy figure can be made out standing in a garden with a tree beside him and a hedge behind. CHTL, anxious to reassure Poppy of his well-being and also considering it a fun picture to have as a memento of his Irish adventure, must have jumped at the opportunity to record the event in sepia. This letter was written on paper that looks like it has been torn out of a book, although the envelope is lined with purple paper which makes it look expensive. A different ink from the last few letters had been used, which is another indication that CHTL had moved to another location.
As for ‘Cutlett’ becoming less noisy by the time CHTL came home - that was never going to happen. Both the general’s boys turned out to be very lively and quite a handful which possibly resulted in a fairly high turnover of staff as a consequence.
The boys carried on the Lucas tradition of being cheerful and active characters. CHTL’s grandfather, Francis Lucas, was a free spirited, long haired poet who was forced to work in a bank when life as a lawyer didn’t suit him. At first he was met with sniggers from his fellow bankers. What would a long haired former lawyer cum poet know about banking? Surely his lengthy mane got in the way of his attempts at simple addition? Francis had his witty reply ready:
“Perhaps you are right, I’ve heard of Samson casting columns down, but never casting them up.”
Surprisingly Francis’ non conformist methods of banking proved popular with the bank’s customers. He’d meet them in the streets and chat and joke with them rather than be ‘chained to his desk’ in the gloomy interior. His grandson inherited some of his easy way with people.
As a father Francis was perhaps over indulgent and spoilt his children as they lost their mother early on and he let them “run wild”. Elizabeth Ashenden, the family nurse declared, “He’s not fit to look after children, he takes them across the fields, through ditches and hedges, any weather, anywhere.”However Reginald Hine, who knew and wrote about the family concluded that they grew up “sturdy and independent”.
Poppy’s father had had a similar view on child rearing and she was often pulled out of lessons to go riding with her papa: something she regretted in later life as she tried to make up for the education she felt that she missed. However mixed with boisterous play there was also a good dose of army discipline in CHTL and Poppy’s home. The boy who came down to breakfast and hadn’t wet the bed, was rewarded with a medal. Bill had the unfair advantage of being a year older than Bob and normally took the prize.
‘Foxholes ‘was the grand family home that CHTL and his 9 siblings had grown up in. It was in Hitchin where the Lucas family had lived for centuries, the earliest records go back to 1468. They were staunch Quakers. One of CHTL’s forebears, William Lucas of Bancroft, Hitchin (along with his wife, Mary and mother, Elizabeth) was one of the first members of the Society of Friends and was imprisoned for holding meetings in his house in 1684. They were gentle folk who helped the poor and fought for the Abolition of Slavery and prison reform amongst other things. For many years the family ran a brewery.
Quakers treated women as equal to men and CHTL’s great grandmother was highly esteemed as a gifted preacher, over a century before other churches allowed women such equality. CHTL’s grandfather reluctantly went into banking. He also decided to leave the Society of Friends and become an anglican. Interestingly one of CHTL’s great uncles was a great admirer of Daniel O’Connell (6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847) who campaigned for the right of Catholics to sit in Parliament and for the repeal of the Act of Union which tied Ireland to Britain. So being held prisoner and conversing with Irish republicans was not that unusual in the Lucas family!
Passing the Time
It seems extremely trusting that the captive general was provided with a pair of scissors to cut out advertisements from newspapers. Scissors have been used by many as a weapon. The picture of the prisoner requesting scissors and being given some which he then uses to cut out sections of newspapers with, is extraordinary. It just shows how relaxed he was and also that his guards were with him.
CHTL was not complaining, he was living in relative luxury and with the added interest of the horse racing memorabilia, he was enjoying his 'rest cure'. Before he was captured he had all the worry and stress of being in charge, here he could just relax and take things as they came. He was fascinated by observing how the IRA functioned and their ways and means:
While a prisoner with the Sinn Feiners for one month I gained considerable experience of the method employed by the criminal classes among whom I had to live.
Application for the appointment of Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire PARTICULARS OF EXPERIENCE AND TESTIMONIALS OF COLONEL CUTHBERT HENRY TINDALL LUCAS C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. COLONEL COMMANDANT 11TH INFANTRY BRIGADE. 13th November, 1922.
Of course one has to ask who belongs to the ‘criminal classes’ when ‘crime’ is not just the prerogative of one level of society, but is found in all socioeconomic groups: from royalty to paupers!
His life to date had seen CHTL thrown into all sorts of uncomfortable situations: he'd had to establish his position in a large family of strong-minded siblings; been forced to deal with the deprivations and trials of Public school life*; Sandhurst, the Boer War, India, Sudan and Egypt and then the extreme challenges of the trenches had all followed - living in a race horse owner's house was far from the worst place that CHTL had found himself in. He'd faced the situation head on and coolly assessed the best way to deal with it: 'this is the position I'm in, these are my boundaries, so I'll make the most of living within these, until things change'. Logically there was no need to get worried and frustrated with things he couldn't alter, so he might as well enjoy the benefits of his surroundings.
*As Dr T.E.Rogers the Hon. Archivist of Marlborough College explains: “It would be natural for you to assume that boys at public schools have always enjoyed luxurious conditions, but such was not the case - particularly at Marlborough where a positive pride was taken in mortifying the flesh! Even as late as the 1950s when a group of miners and their families spent a week at the College, amazement was expressed that anyone would pay for their sons to live in such conditions!
I have often been told the story of 2 young Old Marlburian subalterns who met in terrible conditions in the WW1 trenches and when one said "Terrible isn’t it?" he received the reply "Yes, but not as bad as Marlborough!" I mention this because, while I would not condone such, I think that these extremely uncomfortable conditions, with so little privacy, taught the boys how to get on with a wide range of personalities and people of often very different backgrounds. Perhaps these experiences helped bring out the best in [CHTL]?"
A story involving house buying that was told to Ernie O'Malley who recorded it in his book -‘The Men Will Talk to Me: Clare Interviews’, fits very well with CHTL’s main occupation at this time: “Lucas was then shifted to Waterpark. They gave him a 7 or 8 course dinner, and the men were fed up with it. He always said he’d come back and he’d buy that place of Hartigan’s, if it was for sale.”
Considering that CHTL was spending a lot of his time looking at properties for sale, it is believable that he’d eye up the luxury accommodation that he was being lodged in at the time, especially if the cook was included in the package! However to consider coming back to buy it later on wouldn’t have been an option which he’d have seriously thought about - especially as Poppy no doubt would have had something to say about that! This was another one of CHTL’s witty remarks, which may have been lost on his bemused captors.
It could well have been Waterpark that Joseph Good was referring to when he remarked:
“The place in which Lucas was then held prisoner had, I thought, a fantastic air. Four rifles were piled in the centre of the drawing-room, which had an elegant Turkish carpet. We dined at eight.”
Enchanted by Dreams The Journal of a Revolutionary Joe Good Publishers Brandon
The 7 or 8 course dinner would have fitted in with ‘we dined at eight’! Miss Mulqueen, the highly rated local chef may well have provided the many courses that were enjoyed here. Miss Mulqueen who had worked as a cook in one of the grand houses around Castleconnell, quite possibly could have appeared to cater for the general in more than one of his lodgings.
Ernie O’Malley was also told that there were ‘days on which Lucas would not give his word that he wouldn’t escape and on other days he’d say relax your guards today.’ One gets the feeling that surrounded by the luxury of the accommodation at Waterpark and the excellent cuisine that was on offer, that this would be one location that he wouldn’t be anxious to ‘escape’ from! This would be a fairly typical ‘Lucas-style’ witticism.