Kings Langley. Strettell Memorial
Fortunately, Alma Gertrude Vansittart Strettell is an unusual name. Alma (1853 – 1939) was an internationally-known translator who married the English painter Lawrence Alexander “Peter” Harrison (1866 – 1937) in 1890, with whom she had three children. Her biography can be accessed in The Yellow Nineties Online website.
The Link with Kings Langley
Alma’s father, Alfred Baker Strettell, was the vicar of All Saints church from 1882 until 1894. Alfred died in 1904, aged 87. Her mother, Laura, died in 1888 aged 72 but her headstone is lost. There is a memorial to her first child reading ‘The infant son of L A and Alma Harrison born and died Paris 1892’.
There is (or was according to Haythornthwaite in 1924) a tablet above the door of the side entrance stating, ‘In Memory of the Rev A B Strettell, Vicar of this parish 1882 – 1894, and of Laura Vansittart his wife. The Strettell Charity was founded by their daughter, for the purpose of supporting a cottage, rent-free for such person or persons, amongst the aged poor of Kings Langley, as the Vicar and churchwardens shall select. The income of the Charity is £9 per annum’.
Victoria County History adds that, by deed dated 29 May 1905, Mrs. Alma Gertrude Vansittart Harrison gave £180 London Brighton and South Coast Railway 5 per cent. preference stock, the dividends to be applied in paying the rent of a cottage to be used as a residence for a needy and deserving married couple, any surplus income at the end of the year to be given to the occupants of such cottage, the charity to be called the Strettell Memorial Charity.
At the present time, little information has been uncovered about this charity. It seems it was founded in 1894, and Alma provided funds in 1905. If nothing else these dates link with Alfred’s retirement and death. No almshouse as such was built; a property was rented. The vicar for the time being was responsible for distributing any funds.
The Strettell Charity (ref 238171) was registered with the Charity Commission on 16th Feb 1965, and removed on 29th October 1991 as it had ceased to exist. Its aims were ‘income to pay the rent of some cottage to be selected from time to time by trustees as a home for a needy and deserving married couple or other poor person or persons in the parish of Kings Langley, or to be spent as nearly as possible to these purposes; any surplus to be paid to person or persons occupying the cottage’.
Information supplied by staff of All Saints church, Kings Langley.
The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford (4 vols). Ed William Page
Vol 2 p245
Issued Archibald Constable & Co. 1908. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 ISBN 0 7129 0476 X
Available at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol2/pp234-245
The Parish of Kings Langley: Its Ancient Church and Historic Associations, by J P HaythornThwaite
Pub The Cassio press 1924
The History of Kings Langley ed M Munby
pub Kings Langley branch of Workers Educational Association 1963 p139
Kings Langley Local History & Museum Society Newsletter part 48 page 3-7
Reverend A B Strettell Vicar of Kings Langley 1882-1894: Biography and family history and notes about his overseas posts.
Pub July 2010
The Yellow Nineties online http://1890s.ca/PDFs/strettell_bio.pdf. Accessed May 2018
Alma’s portrait was painted by the American artist John Singer Sargent in about 1899. See http://jssgallery.org/Paintings/Alma_Strettell.htm Accessed Jan 2018
Charity Commission website. Accessed May 2018