THE HARSANTS (AND MISS YOUNG)

Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos


Yes, it is an odd title. The reason is that the two relevant photos we have in the collection are labelled as Miss Harsant and Miss Young, Woodcote Green. Miss Young - I think she is Caroline Redford Young, a schoolteacher, - is only marginally relevant to this piece, but the presence of Miss Harsant does allow us to have a proper look at her family, who ran a chemist's shop in High Street, Epsom for many years - number 127, which became Harsant & Lee and eventually Lloyds Pharmacy.

Miss Harsant and Miss Young (probably Caroline Redford Young)
Miss Harsant and Miss Young (probably Caroline Redford Young)
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

In the picture Miss Young is the adult and Miss Harsant is the child. Needless to say, we have no clue as to which Miss Harsant it is, but she would be either Mary Jane or Sarah Kate (Alice Emma being too old).

The original Harsant family lived in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where John Harsant was a Dissenting Minister at the Bethesda Independent Chapel. His son, John Junior, was ordained in 1844 and became the Dissenting Minister in Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, which must be how the Harsants met the Wilkersons. James Wilkerson was a farmer in Bassingbourn and on 21 October 1847 John Junior conducted a double wedding at the Independent Chapel, the brides being Martha and Sarah Wilkerson, fourth and fifth daughters of the late James. Sarah married William Harsant, John Junior's slightly younger brother.

By the time he married William Harsant was already in Epsom. We have a fair number of photos of the shop in its various incarnations over the years, but nothing from the period when it was just Harsant's. However, I should think that this next image is about as near as you can get to its original appearance, so I shall put it in now.

Harsant and Lee, 127 High Street.
Harsant and Lee, 127 High Street 1967.
Photograph by LR James and held in the Epsom and Ewell History Centre

The business stayed in the family for many decades, so we had better list the children, who were all born in Epsom.

NameInformation
Alice EmmaBorn 1848.
William HenryBorn 1850.
Frank WorsleyBorn 1852.
Mary JaneBorn 1853.
Sarah KateBorn 1855.
Joseph GeorgeBorn 1861.

In 1872 Alice Emma married local wholesale stationer Thomas Henry Norman and they lived at The Pines, Parade. Alice died on 16 July 1915, followed by Thomas on 28 January 1926.

William Henry became a surgeon in the Bristol area and married Margaret Evans. William died on 10 February 1933, his wife having predeceased him on 1 April 1930, and was buried in Canford Cemetery. Joseph George was also a surgeon, in Bournemouth. He never married and died on 9 January 1914.

You will see that I have skipped three of the children and that's because they all had something to do with the chemist's shop and we shall get to them shortly. However, Mr Harsant was still going strong and Frank had become a chemist too, living with his father and sister, Sarah Kate. Mrs Harsant had died at the end of 1887 and William had retired by 1901: he died on 29 May of that year. Frank took over the shop, although he lived at the Parade with his wife Rose, whom he had married in 1895: Rose was the daughter of local milliner and draper Maria Willis Wood. Sarah Kate remained in the High Street, with a pharmacist and chemist's apprentice as boarders.

I am unsure as to which Lee(s) was or were involved with the shop, but all of them were the family of Mary Jane Harsant, who had married produce dealer Edgar Herbert Lee in 1886; they lived in Thornton Heath.

Frank Arnold Lee (born 1897) seems to have been the chemist in the family, but whether or not he actually worked on the premises I don't know. The 1939 Register has him as a pharmacist and optician, although he was living in Leatherhead at the time.

Frank Worsley Harsant ceased active involvement in the business in 1928, but I assume that he retained a financial stake in it; he died on 24 May 1936, Sarah Kate having expired on 24 December 1931, after moving to Thornton Heath to live with her sister, Mary Jane Lee. The latter died on 16 January 1942, then residing in Newbury.

Before we leave the shop, Bourne Hall Museum has some relevant items and I'll show you images of a couple of them, but, first, here's a later photo of the shop.

Harsant and Lee Chemist Shop
Harsant and Lee Chemist Shop
Photograph courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

They don't really make chemists' shops like they used to, most of them in urban areas being chains nowadays. However, older readers may remember taking their roll of film into the chemist's and getting back the snaps in a wallet something like this (well, not of this vintage, but a more modern version of it).

Harsant & Lee photo wallet from the 1920s
Harsant & Lee photo wallet from the 1920s
Photograph courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Not all local chemists were also opticians by any means but the Harsant & Lee establishment was a one-stop shop for medical items, photos and spectacles.

Glasses and case from Harsant & Lee
Glasses and case from Harsant & Lee
Photograph courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Miss Young

Miss Harsant and Miss Young (probably Caroline Redford Young)
Miss Harsant and Miss Young (probably Caroline Redford Young)
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

I really shouldn't be surprised by now that all sorts of unexpected things and people pop out of the woodwork during research for articles. There was nothing particularly interesting about Miss Caroline Redford Young, who worked as a governess or teacher and was a daughter of an Epsom nurseryman/florist: this is why she has been 'thrown in' with the Harsants, since she was photographed with one of them. She looks a nice enough lady but that doesn't make an article. However, I was tracking her movements through the censuses and in 1881 she was in Guildford, living with a Mrs Emma Newbold. As coincidence would have it, I was at that moment down to the last three families in this series of articles and the name of Newbold is very familiar. Averilda Newbold was the first wife of James Levick of Hookfield and the Newbolds were Coventry folk who had strong connections with Sheffield - cutlery to be precise. Mrs Emma Newbold was the wife of Robert Newbold, who just happened to be Averilda's brother. And Emma was previously Emma Summers Young, sister of our Miss Young.

I will not attempt to unravel the Young family history (they're nearly all called James and I haven't a clue which is which). Suffice it to say that in the 1851 census the Misses Caroline, Mary and Emma Young, governesses all, were residing in the High Street. Emma married Mr Newbold in 1856 and they went off to Yorkshire; he already had children by his first wife and Emma produced some more, including an Averilda. In 1861 Caroline and Mary were operating a school in Woodcote Road. There were two boarders from London, so I imagine that they took local day pupils as well, including Miss Harsant. In 1871 their abode was named as Woodcote Cottage and there were neither boarders nor servant. Miss Eisdell's establishment this wasn't!

By 1881 the Newbolds were in Guildford, where Caroline and Mary joined them. Mr Newbold was very seriously wealthy and had another abode in Burgess Hill, Sussex; when he died on 4 July 1896 he left an estate of £ 193,929 (we won't worry about the odd shillings), which is roughly £ 25 million in present- day terms. Emma died on 23 February 1899. In the meantime Caroline and Mary had retired to lodgings in St John's Wood, living on their own means. Caroline died on 8 March 1895, leaving effects of £ 266. Mary ultimately returned to Guildford, where she survived until 9 December 1902.

Linda Jackson 2019