Edward VIII

Edward VIII was born in the parish of Mortlake. This account draws on a Christmas card which Charles Hailstone created and sent to friends in 1983.

Edward VIII, who relinquished the throne before he was crowned, was born at the White Lodge in Richmond Park. The house is firmly in the parish of Mortlake. Hence Charles proclaims the King a native of Mortlake. White Lodge was built as a hunting lodge for George II in 1727. Various members of the royal family occupied it over the years. In 1869 Queen Victoria gave the use of it to her cousins Prince Francis and Princess Mary Adelaide, who were created the Duke and Duchess of Teck. Their daughter, Mary, who spent much of her childhood at White Lodge, married George, Duke of York, second in line to the throne. The Yorks resided in White Lodge.

There was much excitment in the late spring of 1894 when it became generally known that Mary was expecting a child, or as Charles Hailstone puts it "an accouchement was impending". People began to gather and to picnic on the grassy slopes around White Lodge. Increasing encroachment into the Yorks' privacy led to the erection of hurdles so that the Duchess might walk in the gardens without being "gawped upon" or bothered by the press. A telegraph wire was led on poles down to the post office in East Sheen opposite Milestone Green, so that bulletins could be exchanged with Whitehall.

On Saturday 23 June a child was born at 9.55 p.m. As soon as the news reached the East Sheen post office, the bellringers were quickly gathered in the tower of Mortlake church and within the hour a great peal rang out which continued until midnight. Flags and bunting appeared in Mortlake High Street and up Sheen Lane. A letter of good wishes and congratulations was sent that night to White Lodge from the Mortlake Working Men's Institute. The Duke of Teck replied expressing his and the Duchess's "most heartfelt thanks for the good wishes on the birth of a grandson tonight. The Duchess of York and her child are, thank God, thus far doing well".

On Tuesday, Queen Victoria came from Windsor to see her great grandson, by way of Richmond in an open carriage with outriders in scarlet and gold. The Queen returned for the christening on Monday 16 July, arriving in a steam train of six carriages at Richmond station and progressing upon a red carpet to the street amid the crash of military music and the strains of the national anthem. She was cheered all the way through the town, up Richmond Hill and into the park. Frederick Wigan of Clare Lawn presented an address to the Queen from the people of Mortlake, which said: "It is a subject of deep pride that the son of the Duke and Duchess of York has been born at White Lodge in this parish". But those waiting at the East Sheen crossroads to greet the Queen were disappointed when she returned through Richmond.

To conclude the story, in 1910 the Duke end Duchess of York were crowned King George V and Queen Mary. The following year Edward was invested Prince of Wales. He came to his native Mortlake in 1933 to open the new Chiswick Bridge. Edward acceeded to the throne in 1936 and abdicated in December of the same year. He died in Paris in May 1972.

Charles Hailstone did not use any of the above pictures in his Christmas card. Instead he reproduced the pride of his collection, a copy of the birth certificate of Edward VIII.

The certificate was used to illustrate an article in the Richmond & Twickenham Times during the Great War. The scibbles are instructions to the printer. Looking at the certificate more closely we see that the new prince had a string of Christian names including ones for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Phillip Palmer was the Registrar. He had an office in his pharmacy in Sheen Lane, now the premises of Serious Stuff.