Jenny Louisa Girardot

Jenny Louisa Girardot

Female 1875 - 1952  (76 years)

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  • Name Jenny Louisa Girardot 
    Born 15 Jun 1875  Montfleury, Grenoble, FRA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 12 Jul 1875  Grenoble Eglise Chretienne Reforme (cert.) Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Buried 1952  Queen's Road Cemetery, Thornton Heath Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 25 Feb 1952  Croydon, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I132  CATH UK
    Last Modified 21 Mar 2016 

    Father Gustave Girardot,   b. 11 Aug 1844, 122 rue St Denis, 6eme arrond. Paris at 18h00 [cert] Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 03 Jul 1909, Les Ombrages, Meylan, Isère at 18h00 [cert] Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Mother Mary Sophia Caroline Wheeler,   b. 04 Apr 1847, Leicester, LEI Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Jan 1912, Les Ombrages, Meylan, Isère Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Married 27 Oct 1872  Register Office, Worcester, witnessed by Walter H. & Louisa E. Wheeler [Marr. Cert.] Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • When Gustave Girardot married Mary Wheeler he was working in Paris, he declared he could never live elsewhere, and would never touch the glove trade, which was then - with long white kid gloves de rigeur - a most flourishing Anglo French business. Within a month he had accepted a position as Morley's French representative in Grenoble and they moved to a large flat there where their daughters were born, Elise in 1873, Jenny in 1875. And there Elise died of meningitis in the December of her fifth year. Exactly thirty seven years later Mary wrote to her daughter Jenny, "I do know what you mean - the eyes do not cry but the heart cries all the time."
      Under her crying heart she carried Henri, who was born in October 1878, and was never expected to live. Maurice arrived in July 1881 when they were out of town for the summer, and it was so hot the nurse immediately carried him into the garden. Mother's (Jenny's) earliest memories were of the summers away from the heat of Grenoble in a farmhouse in the mountains, where Henri fell into the piece d'eau, where rats were gigantic, thudding through the attics at night, and where the mountain storms were so spectacular and la mère Rose told them thunder was le bon Dieu qui joue aux boules. They loved the farmhouse holidaying but it came to an end when the family moved from Grenoble to La Tronche, seven kilometres out, and bought Les Ombrages from an Englishman, John Andrew Hawke, also with Morley's.
      Mr Hawke moved his wife, three young sons and daughter up the mountain to Mont Fleuri. From the garden of Les Ombrages Jenny was later to focus binoculars on the garden at Mont Fleuri to spy out if John Hawke junior was at home.
      Les Ombrages was a tall square house in a large garden of fine trees - John Hawke had planted an avenue running north south. Gustave Girardot added a line of chestnuts east west, grass was in the French manner, harvested by farmers; shrubberies, roses, la terrace, le potager, la poulailler - and the mountains: Champ Russe where the sun set, Casque de Nero...The words bring back a magic that I only tasted second hand and know as though it had been my home, my childhood. My Grannie created it, "with comeliness and kindness shone the whole house for they first were radiant in her soul", so said George Herbert of his mother and just so was it for Les Ombrages.
      It was not, after all, a "little interior" that Gustave gave her. It was a beautiful home, and there they kept open house for all the English colony, which was considerable. Grenoble was prosperous and important in the business world. When I went over the leather factories in the 1920's they were half empty, gloves were out of fashion, and anyway the mountain chamois had not survived the demands of the days of my grandfathers. Late nineteenth century, everything flourished.
      English Mary at La Tronche took on the church (Protestants say Le Temple) and the parish, as her heart, conscience, energy and ability decreed. At Elise's birth she was so new to France she "tu-toi-ed" the doctor, but by the time Elise's short life had ended she was lecturing Mesdames' good works guilds in fluent French. Nothing suggests that she was ever homesick for England. I believe she lifted up her eyes unto the Alps and adored. Certainly her children did. They adored her first and beyond her their mountains.
    Family ID F242  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family John Goodridge Hawke,   b. 10 Feb 1869, Montfleury, Grenoble, FRA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Aug 1921, Thornton Heath, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 52 years) 
    Married 20 Jul 1898  Meylan, Grenoble, FRA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • John and Jenny

      Jenny Girardot fell in love with John Hawke when she was twelve years old. And she pushed him into the piece d'eau.
      I'm not saying that love was born at the tinkle of that surprising splash - for him perhaps? But for her I believe it had already happened for she thought him so strong that it never occurred to the diabolical child that if she lurched against him as he stood poised at the rim of the pond - goldfish baiting? fountain admiring? just stirring after-lunch coffee? - caught off balance he would fall in. Such a pillar of strength, such a marvellous young man could not fall. Well, he did. No doubt she wanted to be noticed and no doubt she was. How they must have exclaimed and cried out! English though they mostly were, French mannerisms are contagious ... ah non alors! mais voyons! .... And how they must have laughed. He would have been immaculate, for he always was (military in bearing), and probably they had all been to church. I imagine it after Sunday lunch at the Goodridges' at Mont Fleuri where one sat to watch the sunset?
      When, half a century later I sat with Mother and her godfather to watch sunset on the Alps, did she say, that was the pond? She found everything so changed, naturally ... it was. But I caught the afterglow of what had been their paradise and knew that paradisal it had been.
      The Hawkes lived in another pleasing house a walking distance up the mountain in the then-village of Mont Fleuri. They had four children: John, Jim, Willie and Dot who was so tiny at birth she was never known by any other name though christened after her Mother, Jane, my grandma Hawke, who was born in 1839 Sarah Jane Norrish Goodridge. Her father, William, was a corn merchant in Devon. She was the daughter of his second marriage. William Snow Goodridge of the house in Mont Fleuri was her half brother and my grandpa Hawke's will names him as guardian for his children should they be orphaned. William Goodridge married a French woman, Elise Vallet. They had no children.
      The Hawkes were descended from millers in Cornwall, and then in the wool trade, and in one of England's flourishing periods were making their way up admirably, but how John Andrew was with Morley's, a well-known clothier, as their representative in Grenoble I don't know. Probably William Goodridge (doubtless in gloves) got his brother-in-law Hawke a position out there. Anyway it was all set to be a happy and prosperous life for all of them. And then, on a business trip back to England, John Andrew dropped dead on the station platform in Lyons. He was not forty. He left his adoring wife with four children under ten.
      Grandma Hawke was a terribly reserved person. She must have been absolutely shattered and even English Mary Girardot (a "woman to whom you felt you could tell anything" a cousin told me, years after) could not get near her. John Andrew Hawke was never spoken of by his widow and never known to his children. All we ever heard was that he enjoyed fishing which was an infliction for his eldest son, having to be quiet, sitting there drowning worms. Was that young John's only memory of the ten short years they knew each other? Jane Hawke did not go back to Devon where, presumably, her parents were still alive. It was many years before she moved from the French house John Andrew left her.
      The elder Hawke boys were sent to school in England, and John and Jim spent holidays with cousins on the farm - the Leighs at Kennerleigh Manor. There was their love for life, their enchanted memories, but cum manhood John was placed with Fothergill and Harvey, clothiers of Manchester. He became manager of the Bow Street office in London and took Jim in with him. John detested his office. He did not whine. He saw it as an opportunity to establish himself well and eventually for buying a farm in Devon. He understood business. He worked hard.
      Meantime in La Tronche Jenny waited.... Tante Elise (William Goodridge's French wife) predicted she would marry John because, after those Sunday lunches, it was always in his cup the child chose to dip her sugar for her coffee "canard". If anything else ever encouraged Jenny to cling to her belief in their united destiny she never mentioned it. He was seven years older, a popular young man living in England. Grandmère gave her a ring of turquoise and pearls. She made it her talisman for happiness, certain if she wore it, it would bring her her love. The dream grew as she grew. Languid in her teens she was taken to the doctor. English Mary was incensed by the question, "Is she perhaps in love?" These French and their ideas! Her daughter hardly more than a child....
      Jenny flirted with John's youngest brother Willy - the darling whom his mother could not bear to send away - it kept her secret safer, and she never flirted, so she insisted, other than in fun, never to be misunderstood, never to hurt. Girls can do such damage she told us over and over again. As children all the English colony went up to Mont Fleuri where Mrs Hawke gave them lessons with her own Willy and Dot. Willy was a nasty spoilt little bully, he swung on Flo Benson's fair plaits and made her cry, but never bullied Jenny, "I would not have cried." Teaching must have been thorough for when they went on to school, lessons were the last thing Jenny bothered with. Extremely entertaining, she clowned, good-hearted and popular. "I had no memory", so higher learning she dismissed as a waste of life, as for her it probably was, knowing so precisely what she wanted, touching her turquoise and pearls.
      At her eighteenth birthday her photo was taken. In it she wears a pin brooch in the shape of a dragonfly, tiny turquoise again. Dot gave it to her. And Dot had the photo on her dressing table. John stole it to take back to England. His incensed sister told Jenny sternly not to start trifling with that heart.
      Jenny was past master at saying nothing with daunting dignity. She never trifled with any heart. Gaston Cambefort loved her all his life, and so did Georges, the young officer. Another far more splendid officer had asked for her hand before she was eighteen. Nothing ever altered what she knew: that John Hawke was her destiny and she his.
      He proposed as they walked together from Les Ombrages up to the Hawke's house at Mont Fleuri. She was nineteen and her parents would not hear of their marrying before she was twenty-three. That was not a long engagement for those days (Dot was to be engaged twelve years), "and we were not together," said Mother, "engagements are all right if you are not on top of each other."
      Grandmère was not pleased that her Jenny was to marry an Englishman, and it occurs to me that in all the odd fragmented memories that is all we have of la fameuse Pauline not one suggests that she were ever stupid. What indeed was Jenny Girardot doing, French as she was and born in the Alpes, following a young Englishman whose heart was in the damp Devonshire she hated, who worked in fog-bound London and gave her a home in suburbia? How strange is love.
      They married on a broiling hot day in July 1898 and honeymooned at La Grande Chartreuse, in a hotel (not the monastery...) where Jenny objected to English John's cursory ordering of the waiters, "it is not how we speak in France". He changed his tone completely; s'il vous plait, and veiullez bien, and, surely merci beaucoup - for any bread roll or lump of sugar so that they were served before anyone else and bowed round like nobody else, perhaps because of his teasing her but where and when do the French not love young lovers?
      John chose a house in Thornton Heath where he had been living, chose it facing a green that had trees on it, not noticing the neighbourhood, only hoping the trees and the dusty green would give a country atmosphere. They did not replace the Alpes, nor had the people anything in common with the community at La Tronche. Jenny for all her liveliness was extremely shy and totally déplacé. Her loneliness was appalling until her child was born and they moved to Norbury where she flouted convention by proudly pushing her own pram.
      Eda was a most beautiful baby and a radiant little girl. She was clever, she was lively. Every photo shows a lovely child. The baby that came soon after her when Eda began to talk she called her little titta, from which, somehow, Helen Mary was renamed Cis for life. Eda talked all in a rush: "Titta has-ou cleaned ous goffsticks?" bouncing on the end of Auntie Sunny's bed, polishing the brass bed knobs with her nightie, and Cis, who drawled, "Noah, Edaaa."
      When Jack was born Jenny contracted puerperal fever, the children were taken to Les Ombrages, Tiwi came to Norbury, and when they gave up hope Nurse Coker arrived. Jenny recovered. They wheeled her in the bath chair to see the first non-horsedrawn trams go by on the London road. The children came home. "But," Mother would tell us when we were very little, "Dad had lost all his curly hair and I had only married him for that you know."
      John and Jenny's youth was over, but they were all together and well again - friends in and out, kindly 'aunts', boisterous 'uncles....
      A year later Eda caught a chill, was ailing. They took her to Hastings to benefit from change of air, to get well. And there Eda died (of meningitis?) in the December of her fifth year. The eyes do not cry but the heart cries all the time.
     1. Eda Dorothy Hawke,   b. 21 May 1899, Thornton Heath,SRY Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Dec 1904, St Leonards on Sea of (?) Meningitis Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 5 years)  [Natural]
     2. Helen Mary ''CISSIE or TITTA'' Hawke,   b. 24 Jul 1900, Thornton Heath, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Dec 1994, Bosham, SSX Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years)  [Natural]
     3. John Girardot ''JACK'' Hawke,   b. 03 Feb 1903, Norbury, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 02 Mar 1983, Croydon, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)  [Natural]
     4. Irene Louise Hawke,   b. 16 Jul 1911, Norbury, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 02 May 2005, Bosham, SSX at 3.30 a.m. Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)  [Natural]
     5. Lorraine Pauline Hawke,   b. 21 Jan 1915, Thornton Heath, SRY [Croydon 2a 551 Q1] Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 06 Jul 1996, Stow-on-the -Wold, Glos [PRO N. Cotswold 4851/16a 279 - July] Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years)  [Natural]
    Last Modified 21 Mar 2016 
    Family ID F7  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Jenny Louisa Girardot [1875-1952]
    Jenny Louisa Girardot [1875-1952]

  • Notes 
    • Irène's letter (Sept 2000) to me about Jack; (all under Jack and part also under Lorraine)

      Mother stayed on at the Hermy after Dad died really because she couldn't make big decisions without him. Uncle Maurice said she should have gone back to Grenoble "where she had friends", and that was true. She never made friends in England. To start with she never met educated English - the suburban Ladies could not talk to someone who pushed a pram - and proudly. It must have been quite different when she was mistress of the Big House, but not different for her. The Hermy's great advantage was that it was easy for the French to jump on train at Victoria and tram or cab from Norbury station to Hermy.
      You can see that a return to France might have been feasible with Cis and Jack, OR with Irène and Lorraine, but having two big ones and two little ones made a spread out family awkward. So we dodged the worst of the wars.
      We stayed at the Hermy till all of a sudden the three sisters decided to marry: first Roy and me, then Cissie, then Lorraine. Norm's sisters were friends of Auntie Maggie's (Roy's mother). Don't know when they went to Australia. When he - a flautist - came back with a musical comedy he had written and hoped to see on in the West End - and similar hopeful ideas - Auntie Maggie lent him "Nonsuch" while it was empty. And there Roy and I met him, living on rice and raisins, and writing a play. When Nonsuch was let, I asked Mum if he could live in the old kitchen at the Hermy. Cis said "Who IS this chap you are landing on us?" I said he is having the kitchen to live in - nothing to do with you - or any of us. As you may imagine dear Norm became at once the one sane head in the sort of bedlam the Hermy was becoming. He did everything the place needed to keep it standing.
      We all felt superior because it was a silly idea to imagine one could write a successful musical. Uncle Bert Sayers said "Someone should tell that young man." But when he had played the music, he thought everything should be done to encourage him. Instead he flabbergasted everyone by marrying Cis, and when war came took a job in armaments up North where he would be unlikely to hear bombs.
      Mum was left with Jack and the huge Hermitage. She put it on the market. It didn't sell till after the war. She bought 155 for Horace and Lorraine and, to be near Lorraine, 48 for herself, Jack and Uncle Brindley (her uncle and Auntie Wee's youngest half-brother), with the upstairs arranged for the Whitlams, disastrous protegés of hers. Lil Whitlam, with whom Mum became obsessed, was to be her housekeeper
      Mum had a four-figure overdraft at the Bank (we didn't know). When war broke out, the Bank foreclosed. She lost a lot, and was panic stricken, with no one to turn to.
      She decided to sell 48 and live in future between her daughters' homes. Precisely what she envisaged for Jack no one knows. Jack had no intention of moving and never did.

      From Jenny's Journal, 3rd October 1934 written at the Hermitage, Thornton Heath

      Ma Chambre
      As I look round it what a crowd of recollections of all sorts it brings to mind - of things, of people, of happenings. Mostly of people who are dead and gone ... Pierre Girardot, my grandfather whom I only know from hearsay, a "sweet old darling" according to my Mother - a perfect saint to his much-younger-than-himself capricieuse wife.
      Pauline Felicite (Dabert) Girardot - Grandmere, the autocratic grande dame. The beautiful spoilt child of a frightened mother - married at 16 to a much-older-than-herself man because she had no dot and he was the best available "parti" and was well off, and her mother wanted her out of the way to re-marry herself. Of course I only knew her as an old lady. The last years of her life were spent at Les Ombrages. She was 85 when she died. Her complexion which she was so proud of remaining lovely to the end with no aids to nature, except plenty of soap and water! A wonderful woman, a perfect tartar able to keep a regiment working under her orders! Everything of hers labelled, ticketed, locked up etc, etc. Lovely old pictures a few of which Maurice and I still have but all Henri had are sold by now. She loved valuable old things - fine embroidery, gossamer silks, "pelures d'ongongs" as she called them.
      In the war of 1870 she made her favourite son (Oncle Paul) a waistcoat lined with sovereigns each sewn round especially so that a slit with a penknifie would release one at a time. He, Paul, was 10 years older that my father Gustave - he was the gay dog! donc the favourite ... She left instructions that her "voile de premiere communion" was to be put over her when she died so that the Bon Dieu should recognise her! She was vain even in death, she had a sort of thick white wool robe made to wear in her coffin - and she really did look lovely. When a little girl she gave me my first watch. I cried I was so over-joyed. I was her only granddaughter. At first she would have nothing to do with Papa for marrying an Englishwoman, but made it up when the first child Elise was born. She, of course, spoiled me as I was the only girl in the family. Elise only lived 4 years and Oncle Paul only had one boy. She did not like me being married to an Englishman, but was alright about it. She never knew what it was to be ill or in pain, so was very hard on people who suffered. She had a very strong personality and expected to be made a fuss of.

      October 4th - The above recollections are brought back to me first by grandpere's portrait, then by grandmere's, and the things that belonged to her. The next portrait is my father's, Gustave Girardot, second son of the above Pierre and Pauline Felicite Girardot. At 16 his father sent him off to make a living. He came to England and had digs at Turnham Green - "Tournez le jambon vert" as I have heard him call it! He prendre contact avec Uncle Henry and Aunt Elise Wheeler on business in Paris and that is how and where he met Mother. After they were married, Papa having declared he would never leave Paris and would never go into the glove trade, had an offer, after a month in Paris, to be J & R Morley's representative for gloves in Grenoble!!
      That is how we four children - Elise, Jenny, Henri and Maurice - were born there, the first boy being named Henri after Uncle Henry and the first girl Elise after Aunt Elise. My name Jenny, pronounced a la francais, being chosen by Grandmere Girardot. I don't know why Maurice was chosen for Maurice's name, but his second name, William, was his godfather's, Mr Woolcot.
      We lived in a large flat and when it got too hot in the town we rented a house outside Grenoble. We were at Gyere one summer when I was two and that is the only time I remember Elise; she died that winter of meningitis. Henri was the next and his delicacy was put down to mother's grief for the loss of her first-born. Henri was never expected to be eleve! We were at La maison Marguin when Maurice was born July 7th 1881. It was so hot the nurse took him straight out into the garden. Then the Riondels had that house so our next summmer place was higher up still. La Maison Poulet Jaliffier. Oh! all the recollections of those two places! How I wish I could write them all down. I was too young to remember much of the first (Riondel house), the "farmers" the Murrats, lived in the lower part of it. La mere Rose often comes in my dreams. It was they who said when it thundered that "le Bon Dieu joue aux boules". I remember the piece d'eau there and Henri falling into it ... and having douches with a long tuyau d'arrosage from it, and how bad it made me and how the boys loved it and continued having them when of course I did not. Another recollection of that place is the rats in the roof! Oh! the row they made at night - they must have been playing football!!! They were such big rats! The house was covered with creepers - so pretty! The roof I think was couvert de chaume. There were two "torrents" coming straight down the Rachais each end of the property, usually dry, but when there was a big storm, the stones and rocks rolling down with the water used to wash everything before it! It was a sight to go and see after. Our grelons [hail stones] were like pullet's eggs sometimes! Oh! the damage they did! but how grand our storms were to watch with the mountains all around.
      At Poulet Jollifier's house the farm was away from the house. The Rambaults were the farmers, with one daughter Suzanne. [there alas! the memoires cease]