Robert James Lees - Ilfracombe

Robert James Lees


 

The Lees Family in Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is a resort on the North Devon coast of England which is described
in its current tourism literature as `a
cosmopolitan resort with a charming natural harbour, lazy pavement cafes and flower strewn shopping streets.'
Lees moved here with his family from Plymouth in 1911 and remained a
resident until about 1925.
 

 
   

 

Engleberg


Engleberg

 

`Engleberg' was the Lees' family home in Ilfracombe. Lees, his wife and his younger children lived here from 1902 until 1928, and Sarah Lees died here in 1912. Lees remained in this house longer by far than in any other location.

A serious fire in 1896, known now as the 'Great Fire of Ilfracombe' cleared a large area of the town which was promptly rebuilt in Victorian style. Many of the Victorian houses in Ilfracombe were built by retired planters and other reasonably wealthy people retiring to the area after working in the colonies, and attracted by the town's restful atmosphere 

Until 1906 the various beaches and coves were strictly segregated into male and female areas. A watchman sat on a rock between the coves and blew a ship's horn at any male who strayed too close to the ladies' beach.

 

 

St Bradnock's Road, Ilfracombe


St Bradnock's Road, Ilfracombe

 

An example of the type of house in which the Lees family lived whilst in Ilfracombe (c.1900-1926).  Visitors to the town at that time would have seen a lively and prosperous resort.  Crowds flocked to the place by steam boat, and charabanc from the railway station, located high above the town. It was the quintessential English resort of Punch and Judy shows and pier head entertainment.

It is also possible that a young Beatrix Potter was seen, who spent her summer holidays here. Winter in the resort could be a dreary affair, especially if one had no roots or was not a native 'combite'. Storms roaring in from the Atlantic brought major concerns and anxieties, and in 1910 the seafront promenade was hammered to near destruction.

 

 

42 High Street, Ilfracombe


42 High Street, Ilfracombe

 

Premises in Ilfracombe town centre formerly used by the firm of Philips & Lees (Ernest Harold Lees) (as was 46 High Street, illustrated at the foot of this page)

     

 

47 St Bradnock's Road, Ilfracombe


47 St Bradnock's Road, Ilfracombe

 

The location of the Lees family home in 1910. This present house was built at a later date.

 

12 The Promenade, Ilfracombe


12 The Promenade, Ilfracombe

 

46 High Street, Ilfracombe


46 High Street, Ilfacombe

 

The premises of 12 The Promenade were also formerly used by the grocery business known as Philips and Lees, the latter being Ernest Harold, the son of Robert James Lees.

 

Ilfacombe Cemetery


Ilfracombe Cemetery

 

Ilfracombe Cemetery


Ilfracombe Cemetery
The Cemetery is now closed (June 2003)
and visitors are barred from entry

 

 

 

Holy Trinity church in the town holds Ilfracombe's War Memorial to 157 men of Ilfracombe who did not return home after the Great War.  One of these was a son of Robert James Lees.

 

(Colour images courtesy Mike Hutchinson)

 


Please use the Index column on the left to navigate this site
 




2003 Stephen Butt