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William Slarks Vidler 1885 – 1914


Annie Vidler 1873 - 1898

Grave C2 (consecrated) 209

William and Annie are buried together in Tunbridge Wells Cemetery. They're brother and sister; 2 of the 9 children of William Vidler and Mary Jane Slarks, also buried at Hawkenbury.


William was William and Mary's 4th son. He was born in October 1885 in Brenchley and joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) aged 17.   The family lived in Walmer Villa, 55 Nelson Road, Hawkenbury and he was known in Tunbridge Wells as a footballer.


On 6 August 1914, aged 28, he was serving on HMS Amphion which struck a mine and sunk near the Thames Estuary. Along with nearly 150 other men, he was killed.  He became the first man in Tunbridge Wells to be killed in the Great War and is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.  The town was shocked at the loss. A lady who called to offer her condolences to his family found the house already full with sympathisers.


The insignia of the RMLI and the Latin motto 'per mare, per terram' meaning 'by sea, by land' are included on the headstone.


Now we turn to Annie. She was born in July 1873 in Goudhurst, and was William and Mary's 1st child.


Twenty four years later her death was the subject of an inquest. Annie died suddenly on 20 April 1898 at her parents’ house in St James' Park, Tunbridge Wells.  The Kent & Sussex Courier reported that at 10.30pm her father had found her vomiting and she said she didn't need a doctor. Annie told him she had mixed some sherbet from her box in milk and water as she was thirsty.  Her father thought she had taken something else by mistake - she had a box of acids for her job as a housemaid. When she couldn't stand up, a doctor was called. At 11pm she died in her mother's arms.


The report states that she was engaged and had moved home before her wedding. Her mother said they had been talking about the wedding that evening and Annie had been very cheerful the rest of the day.  The doctor examined the contents of the cup and found it to be Oxalic acid (a corrosive poison used for cleaning brass). Its appearance would be similar to sherbet and was regularly sold by chemists.


The jury returned a verdict of 'death by misadventure' having concluded it wasn't suicide.

Story by Emma Vidler

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