Local History Society

 The 'Mercury' and the Home Front in WW1

The Simonds family and its connections with Arborfield


The Black-out claims a local casualty

On January 22nd 1916, the 'Mercury' carried a story from Surrey, but it was someone who would have been well-known in Arborfield, and indeed was laid to rest there. The black-out seems to have contributed to the cause of the incident:

Mr Ralph Pomeroy Simonds, the second son of Mr William Simonds of Farley Hill, was killed in a motor cycle accident in Surrey, trying to avoid a pedestrian who was in the road. He was pitched off and severely injured, never regaining consciousness. The deceased was married’.

The 29th January issue reported the Inquest, which stated that the accident was at around 6:30 p.m., and that Mr Simonds was living as a farmer in Surrey near where the accident occurred. It also recorded the funeral, which was held in Arborfield on the afternoon of Tuesday 25th. The body had been taken into church the previous evening, and the service was conducted by the Rector, Rev J A Anderson.

The mourners were:

Mr and Mrs William Simonds (father and mother);
Mr and Mrs John Simonds,
Major and Mrs J Simonds,
Mr Vivian Simonds,
Mrs Charles Simonds,
Miss Alice Simonds,
Mrs Maurice Simonds,
Mr Vere Alfrey,
Mrs Anderson,
Mrs E M Sturges,
Mr Hall,
Mr Sabiston,
Mr G Proctor,
Mr D’Aeth,
Mr A C Taylor,
Dr Halpin,
Mrs Syfield,
Miss Leadbetter,
Mr F Beadle,
Mr F W Seymour,
Mr G Newman,
Mr E Barnes
(Bailiff to Mr John Simonds),
men working on the Farley Hill estate,
members of Surrey Police,
and others.

The Simonds family was so well-known that the Reading Standard also reported on the funeral on the same day:

An accident in the dark has caused the death of Mr. Ralph Pomeroy Simonds, second son of Mr. Wm. Simonds, Farley Hill. Aged 32 and married, he resided at Court Lees, South Godstone, Surrey, and the accident occurred near Blindley Heath. He was driving a motor cycle in the darkness, and in attempting to avoid a pedestrian he was thrown from the machine and rendered insensible. He was severely injured and died without recovering consciousness.


For well over 200 years this well-known Berkshire family has been associated with Arborfield, and it was in God's acre here that the body was quietly and reverently laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon, being borne to the grave by six men employed at the farm in Farley Hill.

[List of mourners - giving some extra detail of those absent because they were serving at the Front - and flowers] 

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