Queer Places:
Corrie Lodge, 15 Lingfield Rd, Wimbledon, London SW19 4QD, UK
Richmond Cemetery Richmond, Richmondshire District, North Yorkshire, England

Caroline Head (November 14, 1852 – October 26, 1904) was an English missionary. Charlotte Hanbury’s 1905 Life of her sister Caroline Head included a letter that the Reverend Charles Fox wrote to Head in 1877, soon after the birth of her first child: “I want desperately to see you and that prodigy of a boy, and that perfection of a husband, and that well-tried and well-beloved sister-friend of yours, Emma Waithman.” Although Head and Emma Waithman never combined households, their regular correspondence, extended visits, and frequent travels were sufficient for Fox to assign Waithman a socially legible status as an informal family member, a “sister-friend” listed immediately after Head’s son and husband. Caroline Head’s biographer described her as “deeply attached” to several teachers in adolescence, including one “who was greatly used in strengthening her spiritual life, and of whom she wrote in enthusiastic terms to her aunt: ‘Dear Miss O. gets more lovely every term, I am so fond of her!’ Later in life they sought each other’s help and sympathy, and the affection never declined.” The biographer identifies Head’s love for her teacher as a spiritual force providing “help and sympathy,” but in the youthful letter the author cites, Head links her fondness to physical admiration for the “lovely” Miss O. In turn, a friend of Head’s recalled how the physical and spiritual illumination of first seeing Head’s “bright, glowing face” created a bond both romantic and religious as “our hearts were drawn together in union with Christ”. Her “best-beloved friend, Emma Waithman” assisted in Head’s own spiritual awakening, and both women defined their resulting friendship in religious terms, with Waithman expressing faith in their “bond of union” and Head convinced that the two “shared every spiritual blessing”. Caroline Head’s son married the niece of her beloved friend Emma Waithman.

Caroline Hanbury, known to her family and friends as “Carrie”, born stoke Newington, London, November 14, 1852, was from a family who were both affluent and deeply religious. Albert Head, born Suffolk 1844, is variously described as a wealthy merchant banker and marine insurance broker, known by the Hanbury family for many years. After the visit of American Evangelists Moody and Sankey to the North London Mission and his meeting with the former, “a great change had come over Albert Head” and he took an interest in Christian activities “instead of the life of gaiety and society” with which he had always been associated by the family. Caroline and Albert were married on February 15, 1876, and spent their honeymoon in Paris and the South of France, subsequently living at various addresses in highly desirable parts of London. They had two sons, both of whom suffered ill health and a daughter who died at birth.

In 1889 they let their house in Richmond and moved to St. Leonards on Sea, Sussex, for their son Albert’s health and it seems likely that at this point they became associated with Dr. David Hoadley Gabb, MRCS, LSA, whose practice was nearby in Hastings. Unfortunately, their son Albert died on January, 14, 1892. Their other son, Alfred, later married Dr. Gabb’s youngest daughter in 1917. Another of Dr. Gabb’s daughters, Frances Georgina, became a missionary in Swazieland.

Caroline and Albert Head moved to Wimbledon in 1892 where the South Africa General Mission, an undenominational Christian union, was close by. The object of the SAGM was “to evangelise the heathen, to rouse the Christian Church to a holier life and to aid existing missions and churches”. Apart from Caroline’s interest in missionary work, she was also asked to take meetings of the Postal Telegraph Christian Association and many other Christian organisations.

Albert was on the Council of The Cape General Mission since its formation in 1889. Caroline interviewed women candidates who offered to go to Cape Colony as missionaries and they were invited to stay at Corrie Lodge. Later, when on station, she would correspond with them resulting in “masses of letters from the Cape”.

In 1893 Albert was invited to visit mission stations of the South Africa General Mission. He accepted and Caroline accompanied him, despite being a poor sailor. They funded the journey themselves and sailed for South Africa in October of that year. At his Keswick Convention in Wellington, Cape Colony, they met and stayed with the President of The Cape General Mission, Rev. Andrew Murray (Jnr.), older brother of Miss. Helen Murray. On October 29, Caroline and Albert visited the Huguenot Seminary, Wellington, where they met Miss. Abbie Park Ferguson. They then stayed with Sir John Gordon Sprigg and on November 9, were in Pretoria where Caroline went shopping with Miss. Clara Harris, “and was delighted to help her and Miss. Gabb towards setting up housekeeping in the wilds of Swazieland. After dinner went to Mr. Coates to see the huge waggon being loaded with all their furniture, and a small one behind was to be their home for eight to twelve days or more, the three ladies sleeping on their mattresses inside and Mr. Coates and the white driver underneath in hammocks. We had to leave to go to Johannesburg, but we should like to have seen the start”. From Johannesburg they wanted to make a brief visit to Pondoland but alas there was no time left for such a long journey. They arrived back in Wimbledon just in time for Christmas.

In 1894 Caroline began writing circular letters to friends and missionaries in many countries including her sisters in India and China; eventually the number of such letters increased to over a hundred. The SAGM Annual Home Report for 1896 thanked Mr. and Mrs. Head for their kindness and recalled that Corrie Lodge was at times described as “Head Quarters”. An office was set up at 14a Lingfield Road, and it was from here that copies of the South African Pioneer printed in London, ‘organ’ of the South Africa General Mission, could be obtained.

By October 1899 it was felt that the four rooms, used as an office by the SAGM, at 14a Lingfield Road had become cramped and larger premises were found at 17 Homefield Road, Wimbledon.

At the time of the 1901 Census17 in addition to Albert and Caroline Head, there were three visitors at Corrie Lodge:

Abbie Park Ferguson, Single, age 63, President of College, born United States of America, British subject.
Helen Murray, Single, age 51, Principal of Seminary, born Cape Colony, British subject.
Emmie Maria Murray, Single, age 43, Officer Salvation Army, born Orange River Colony, British subject.18
The household staff consisted of: Cook, Parlour Maid, House Maid and Kitchen Maid.

After graduating in 1856 from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Massachusetts, Abbie Park Ferguson taught in America before travelling to Paris to teach, where she became caught up in the Franco-Prussian War. She returned to Connecticut to work in city missions and in 1873, at the invitation of Rev. Andrew Murray, sailed to Cape Colony where in the following year she founded the Huguenot Seminary in Wellington, the first institution of higher learning for women in the country, which in 1898 became a college with Ferguson as President.

Daughter of Rev. Andrew Murray (Snr.), Helen Murray graduated from the Huguenot Seminary in 1875 and from 1876 - 1916 was Principal of the Midland Seminary at Graaff Reinet, Cape Colony. She wrote an autobiography The Joy of Service published in 1935.

Following a short illness, Caroline Head died on October 26, 1904, and is buried at Richmond Cemetery with her son, Bertie, who had died twelve years earlier at the age of 15.

Mr. Head remarried in 1907 and continued his Christian philanthropic work with his new wife. He died in October 1928 and among the hundreds who attended the funeral service at Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon and interment at Richmond Cemetery was Miss. F. Georgina Gabb.

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