Charles Edward Jolley


Charles was born in Higham Ferrers and baptised in St Mary’s Church on 1 January 1860. He went to school in Higham Ferrers and must have enjoyed it because by 1881 he was living in Wheathamstead, initially working as a teacher in an Elementary School and latterly as the Headteacher.

His love though was for music. Charles received his first organ lessons from J. E. Smith, the organist at St Mary’s Parish Church, Rushden. (Enos Smith had a music shop in Church Street, Rushden, on the corner of John Street. He was the organist at St Mary’s from 1875 to 1930.) Charles must have gained a lot of help from Mr Smith, and it was while working as a practicing musician he gained a degree in Music from New College, Oxford. It was reported in the London Standard on 16 October 1888 that he had gained a degree of Bachelor in Music. On 25 October 1888 Rev. Dr. Bellamy officially awarded it to him at the degree ceremony in Oxford, and from then on Charles was permitted to use the title Professor of Music.

The compositions the music students had to submit as examination pieces (BMus and DMus Exercises) were deposited in the Music Section of the Bodleian Library’s Department of Western Manuscripts. A typed list of these Exercises and their composers is held in the Music Reading Room at the Bodleian Library and are still available for perusal.

Organist at St George's Church

By 1892 Charles had become the organist at St George’s Church, Hanover Square, a position he was to hold for the next 55 years.

On 30 March 1889, Charles gave an organ recital in support of the fund raising event for St Mary’s Mission, Parish Church, Chesterfield. He played an impressive repertoire including pieces by Mendelssohn, Bach and Grison. While commending Charles’ skill, The Derbyshire Times reported that ‘Mr Jolley proved himself a master of his art’, but it also stated ‘it must be mentioned, however, that the organ is sadly out of tune which rather marred the effect of the softer pieces’.

He married Lilian Doble (born in Brixton in 1866), in Holy Trinity Church Twickenham, on 7 October 1890. His father had been one of the witnesses and his father’s occupation was recorded as ‘government contractor’.

Charles and Lilian had two sons, Eric Arthur (born in Twickenham in 1892) and Norman Kemp, (born in Wandsworth in 1895). Norman’s middle name was in honour one of Charles’ good friends, Mr. F. W. Kemp, a conductor. Both of their sons had very successful military careers.

Charles continued to work as a freelance musician, while retaining the organist post at St George’s, Hanover Square and Holy Trinity, Twickenham. The Berkshire County paper reported a successful inaugural concert on 19 June 1915, when Charles played the new organ at the Windsor Congregational Church.

Charles died in 1949. His long service as organist to St George’s was recognised and a memorial service was held for him at St George’s Hanover Square on 8 October that year with the venerable Hon. SH Phillimore, Archdeacon of Middlesex, and the Bishop of Kensington taking part in the service (reported in the Times, 10 October 1949).

His two sons

Eric Arthur Jolley (1892–1987)

Eric joined the Royal Navy as an Assistant Clerk. He served in the East Indies on a twin-screw cruiser, the flag ship Hyacinth, in 1909, as a clerk. He was in Hong Kong on the Tamar in 1913 as Assistant Paymaster and in 1917 on the torpedo ship, Actaeon. It was while serving on the Actaeon that he was brought to the attention of the Admiralty by his commanding officer R A E Villiers, who on 27 June 1919 wrote in dispatches,

'A most zealous hardworking and capable officer. He acted as my secretary for the past three years of the war, and has rendered me valuable assistance during a time of great stress with seldom less than 140 vessels attached.'

He was awarded at least two medals, one for his service in the Persian Gulf between 1909 and 1914, and a World War 1 victory medal in 1920. Eric continued to be promoted. By 1931 he was the Paymaster Commander and awarded the OBE. He retired from the Navy on 30 June 1941 but transferred to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and continued to serve throughout the Second World War.

Eric died in Taunton Deane, Somerset, in 1987.

Norman Kemp Jolley (1985–1951)

Norman had similar success as his brother. He joined the Royal Marines and was a Second Lieutenant in 1912, and by the end of World War 1 was a Captain. He continued in the Royal Marines after the war and his services were acknowledged in 1936 when the Portsmouth Evening News reported on 23 June that Major (brevet Lieutenant–Colonel) had been awarded the OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours.

In World War 2 he was a Major General in the Royal Marines depot in Deal.

Norman died in Westminister in 1951.