THE HOOK FAMILY
Samuel Hook, his wife Anna Maria and their five children moved from Chalford , Gloucestershire to Tovil , Maidstone , in 1852, when Samuel took a partnership in the paper mill there. Two years later his son Charles Townsend, aged twenty-two, acquired the Snodland mill and they all moved to the house in the High Street called ‘Acacia cottage’ in the 1851 census, which had been the home for previous papermaker masters. It was on the south side, just where the by-pass is today, and the Hooks lost no time in rebuilding the property to make it a large and imposing building, filling the space between Brook Street and May Street
Samuel nbsp; &nb p; &nbs ; = Maria Anna, daughter of Charles Townsend
(b.7 Jan 1797, Devizes ) (b.10 Jun 1803, Bures , Essex)
(d.16 Jun 1866, Snodland ) (d. 20 Nov 1881, Snodland )
Charles Townsend &nbs ; Edith Anna &n sp; &nb p; nbsp; Maude Midsummer
(b. 30 Apr 1832, Norwich) (b. 1835, Norwich) nbsp; (b. 1841, Chalford , Gloucs .)
(d. 11 Feb 1877, Snodland ) (d.1 Mar 1892, Snodland ) (d. 29 Sep 1930)
Agnes Darlington nbsp; Eustace = Evelina Augusta Bull (b.1847, Chatham) nbsp;
(b.1846, Chalford , Gloucs .) (b. 1843, Stroud, Gloucs .) &nb p; &nb p; & bsp; & bsp;
(d. 12 Sep 1903, Snodland ) (d. 1890, Hove)
Charles Townsend Hook breathed new life into the paper mill. When he took over, production was about 5 tons a week ‘from 20 to 30 hands’. In 1859 Kelly’s Directory described it as ‘a manufactory of writing paper from straw which employs about 70 persons. By the 1871 census there were 129 men, 35 women and 12 boys and in the 1882 Directory the mill was ’employing about 350 persons and manufacturing weekly more than 90 tons of paper. But for a detailed account of the mill the reader is referred to Kenneth Funnell’s Snodland Paper Mill( Snodland , 1979 and 1986).
Following C. T. Hook’s death, the family soon appointed a retired army officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Trevenen James Holland (1836-1910), as manager of the mill. He built Ivymeath (now the offices of the Mid-Kent Water Company) during the 1880s, but lived there for only a few years before moving to Tunbridge Wells. Nevertheless, he remained formally in charge until his death in 1910, although William Dedrick , the General Manager, effectively and efficiently ran the business, which contined to prosper, even in difficult times. There was one blip, however, which the company preferred not to disclose:
£100 reward. Wanted on warrant for Fraudulently Embezzling certain sums of money to the amount of £2000 and upward, the monies of his employers, Messrs. HOOK & Co., Paper Manufacturers, Snodland , Kent, between the 6th October 1885, and the 10th September 1887.
ALEXANDER EDWARD ROLLASON late Cashier in the above firm, and who absconded on the 9th September last.
He is about 45 years of age, height 5 feet 9 inches, spare gaunt man, light thin and straight hair, quick and abrupt in his manner, good regular white teeth, a little inclined to stoop, short-sighted in one eye, uses glasses, one a magnifier the other plain, sober man, not in very good health, fond of physicking himself with Homeopathic medicines, speaks French, well read and well informed. Has a wife but no children. Has resided abroad, and been employed as commission agent and manager of stores in London, Paris, New York, Montreal, &c.. May seek similar situations.
The above reward will be paid by “Colonel Holland, C.B.,” Ivymeath , Snodland , Kent, for information that will lead to the Apprehension and Trial of the accused (Police included). Information to be given to Superintendent Richard Hulse , Kent County Constabulary, WestMalling , who will forward Photographs of the accused on application. West Malling . Jan. 2nd. 1888.
All members of the Hook family went out of their way to support and help the community and many memorials of their generosity remain for the benefit of succeeding generations. The list below makes no mention of the smaller but continual charitable acts which one finds in written accounts of the time. We might note two. Following one particularly harsh winter, Charles Townsend Hook called a meeting of the parents of pupils at the British Schools. He expressed his concern that they had had an especially hard struggle ‘to pay the school pence at that time’, and refunded them their money. Woolmer goes on to note:
During the year 1887 (the Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen’s Accession), the Misses Hook not only contributed liberally to the fund raised for the festivities, which took the form of a feast to the aged poor as well as the children; but they had struck, by a Maidstone firm, at their own expense, and from their own design, a number of very pretty little silver brooches, one of which they presented to each mother who had children attending the Schools, as a commemoration of the event.
- 1870? Acquisition of the British Schools by Charles Townsend Hook. The Hook family paid all expenses apart from a £90 government grant.
1870: Stained glass windows in All Saints Church given by Mrs Eustace Hook. She later contributed to the cost of the tiles in the chancel floor.
1877: Clock Tower built in memory of Charles Townsend Hook.
1878: Gas lamps for the parish, gas supplied from the mill gasometers .
1881: Temperance Coffee Tavern in May Street opened.
1882: New Jerusalem Church consecrated on 27 June.
1887: Providence Chapel sold to the Misses Hook to enlarge the British Schools
1893: Three almshouses erected in memory of Eustace Hook opened on 27 December. One house was for a member of the New Jerusalem Church; one for a member of the Church of England nominated by the Rector; one for a person elected by the Nonconformists. A second building divided into four tenements was erected later by Agnes Hook in memory of Amelia Drummond, governess to the Hook family.
1893: The Technical School on the corner of Waghorn Road and the High Street erected; it supplemented the work of the British Schools.
1895: Devonshire Rooms erected.
1923: Sale of land for Fire Station (now the garden at the end of Waghorn road, next to the Devonshire Rooms).
Of course, to some extent all this charitable activity was geared to the family’s involvement with the Swedenborgian movement (discussed later) and to welcoming and encouraging the villagers into that Church. Among the collections of the Kent Archaeological Society is a privately printed pamphlet, written by the sisters supposedly as an account of their summer holidays in Devonshire (hence the ‘Devonshire Rooms’), but taken up mostly with religious and moral preaching. Nevertheless, their contribution to the life and well-being of the village was outstanding and we still reap its fruits today.
Agnes was an artist, but if her pictures have survived, the whereabouts of most them is unknown. We have two which may be by her and two very rough sketches from the 1930s which may have been based on two more. The latter are mid-nineteenth century views of the paper mill – just what one would expect from the daughter of the owner.