The wood may be old, the brass dull with age, but every bench plaque is a dedication to somebody who was loved. We see them across our villages and towns, these links between the present and past, and yet it’s rare we know anything about the people they commemorate. So, we asked you to tell us the stories behind Tandridge’s bench plaques: who are the people they pay tribute to, and why has that particular location been chosen for them?
No. 7: Harold Bartholomeusz, Chaldon
On a small, peaceful plot of land in Chaldon, where Leazes Avenue meets Doctors Lane, a wooden bench sits under the auspices of several trees. Its plaque reads ‘In loving memory of Harold Bartholomeusz, who lived in Leazes Avenue for 62 years’.
Pamela, who married Harold in 1956, knows that he would have approved of the bench’s position: “We put the bench under the trees because Harold loved sitting in the shade. I prefer the sun though, so we’d often end up sitting at opposite ends of the garden!”
Born in Sri Lanka, Harold arrived in the UK in 1954, planning on visiting his aunt in Caterham, before continuing on to Canada. However, his aunt took him to Caterham Methodist Church, where he soon became a valued member, taking on a variety of roles, as well as meeting his wife-to-be there: Canada remained unvisited.
The couple had three children, Jane, David and Jeremy. Despite being kept busy with them (and later, their nine grandchildren) and his role at Phillips in Croydon, Harold also found time to continue his involvement with the church and also help with his local Scout group, receiving their Thanks Badge when he left. He loved cricket, both playing and watching, and was also a committed blood donor, receiving an award after 50 years of donations.
Harold died, at the age of 94, in September 2020, and Pamela enjoyed reading all the tributes to him:
“I realised how blessed I have been, sharing so many years of my life with this wonderful man.” Pamela hopes people will enjoy usin the bench:
“The London to Brighton walk passes down Leazes Avenue, and there’s always lots of walkers coming through. I’m sure Harold’s bench will be a very welcome sight!”
Do you know the story behind a bench plaque? Email: email@example.com.