war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper




Clifford Dundas Beeston, Reginald's father, died from pneumonia at 27 Minerva Avenue, Dover, on 17th June 1909. He left a widow, Maude, née Cox, whom he had married in Gibraltar on 25th April 1894, and four children. The family consisted of three boys, Clifford, Maude, and Winnie Beeston, with dog, taken around 1907, couresty Angie ShepherdCyril John, 12, Leslie Phillip Edward, 10, Reginald Clifford, 8, and a baby girl, Winnie Maude, aged 2, and before the latter two children were born, had been living at Broadlees Cottages, behind the Dover Castle. 

Clifford had originally enlisted in the Royal Marines, at London on 24 January 1887. He was then 19 and working as a warehouseman. His father, Edward John Beeston, was then his next-of-kin, living at 34 Highgate Road.

However, on 16 April that year, giving his age as 18 and his trade as a clerk, Clifford enlisted in the Royal Artillery at Woolwich, as number 61905. He appears to have had an alias - "Charles Best". His father was by then living at 35 Seagrove Road, his name given as Edward John Best. Clifford forfeited his service in the Marines when his re-enlistment was rediscovered, but went on to have make a good career in the Artillery. He was promoted a number of times, and re-engaged on 10 March 1898 to serve 21 years.

Clifford was then permitted to serve until he reached the age of 40, and was discharged just eight months before his death. With a medal for long service and good conduct, he had been over eight years in Gibraltar, and over 21 years in military service. Since his discharge on 13 October 1908, he had been working at the Castle, as a clerk in the Military Records office, and all the staff attended his funeral on 21 June, along with the band of the RGA and members from other branches of the services.

The coffin, bearing the inscription "Clifford Dundas Beeston, died Jun 17th, 1909, aged 39" was draped with the Union Flag and borne on a gun carriage to Buckland cemetery. .

With the death of her husband, Maude attempted to earn her living by a little needlework and by letting apartments when required. This brought in around ten shillings a week. Cyril was helped to find Cyril in the trimmer's shop, with three other lads and two men, courtesy Angie Shepherdiemployment as a coach trimmer by, it is believed, local Freemasons. His father had been a Freemason, having been admitted to Military Jubilee Lodge No 2195, Dover, on 26th March 1896 from Inhabitants Lodge No 193, Gibraltar.  Leslie, as the son of a soldier, Cryil in uniform, courtesy Angie Shepherdwas benevolently admitted to the Duke of York's Royal Military School.

On 10th November 1910, Maude applied to the school for the admission of Reginald. The petition was approved and Reginald entered the school on 17th July 1913. There his conduct was considered very good, and he was said to be a smart and willing boy. He was fond of games, and a good boxer, and played the flute well. But he was also mischievous. Although he gained two good conduct badges, one was temporarily removed after he had broken a pane of glass on the roof of the lavatory. He received four strokes of the cane for this escapade, while on another occasions he was punished for fighting in the passage.

Reginald left the School on 22 September 1916, on his fourteenth birthday, to join the Royal Garrison artillery. Two years later he died at Shoeburyness camp. His mother arranged for his body to be brought home, and he was laid to rest on 14 November 1918 in the same grave as his father.

Clifford and Maude Beeston, with a baby believed to be Winnie
Cyril at the coach/vehicle trimmers shop (if you know where this shop might have been, or can identify the people in the picture, please contact us) 
Cyril in uniform (unidentified)

the site of Broadlees cottages, by Simon Chambers

left: the site of Broadlees Cottages. The foundation mound where one of the terraced rows stood is in the left of the picture; the road to the cottages still remains. In the 27 Minverva, by Simon Chambersdistance, through the mist and against the setting sun, can be seen the silhouette of Dover Castle, and, to the left, the silhouette of the church, St Mary in Castro

right: 27 Minerva Avenue. Like many houses in Dover, it is at the top of a steep hill.


Note: Clifford Beeston was the son of Emma and Edward Beeston, a wholesale milk warehouseman, born in Norfolk. Clifford was born in Middlesex, St Pancras; he was christened at St John the Baptist, Camden on 29 May 1870. His parents were then living at 83 Churchill Road, with his father working as a warehouseman.

with grateful thanks to Angie Sheppard
with grateful thanks to Michael Carson, Duke of York's Royal Military School
with grateful thanks to Mr Taylor, Military Jubilee

Copyright 2006-13 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved