Charles Leatherland was my Grandpa and a bit of a hero when I was a boy.

On Sundays we used to visit his house in Starling Close, Buckhurst Hill. We would listen to his wartime stories, play roulette ('rien ne va plus'), have cakes and tea, go for walks in Epping Forest through the gate at the bottom of the garden, and watch Tiny the baby squirrel playing in the garden. In the autum we would walk up to the pond by St John's Church and collect conkers.


I would spend hours exploring his musty study and leafing through his books, before returning to the back room to play on Nana's piano. 

When my sister and I were young, he would write to us every week. The letters included stories, tales of what he was up to, and comments on the issues of the day, all written in a way to appeal to a young child.


Starling Close, Buckhurst Hill


Charles Leatherland married Mollie Morgan in 1922. They were married for 65 years. She died in 1987.

Nana was brought up in the village of Shareshill, Staffordshire. Her father was a coal miner, and her mother died when she was 17.   She met Charles while working in Macclesfield as a lady's companion.

It was a long and happy marriage, and I am sure this contributed to his successful career, despite her frequent complaints at his newspapers strewn all over the floor of the dining room and his long nights at the Herald and in the Lords.  In 1972 they celebrated their Golden Wedding.

Nana's Sunday roast lunch was excellent, and she once cooked the biggest Yorkshire pudding I have ever seen. Her Christmas pudding was based on an old family recipe handed down from her mother and it took three months to prepare.


In 1969 Nana and Grandpa took us on our first trip abroad to Knokke in Belgium. I remember a day trip to Holland to visit a windmill where I saw a mouse for the first time. Charles knew parts of Belgium quite well having served there 65 years ago as Private Leatherland in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

I visited the House of Lords twice with Grandpa. I  had a great time, meeting several noble Lords including Lord Hunt (who led the first climb of Mount Everest) and Lord Rab Butler, and watching the proceedings from the public gallery. I remember a question Lord Leatherland asked about coinage, He suggested to the Government that they make a coin with a hole in the middle to differentiate it from other coins, an idea he got from France when he was serving in the war.


    Buckhurst Hill station, Central Line from which Grandpa commuted for forty years. 

I remember his car, an old grey Mark 3 Ford Cortina which always had a funny smell of petrol. I try not to remember his driving, we always knew he was arriving before we saw the car because of the way he revved the engine. But he drove for nearly 60 years without a major mishap.


Grandpa was an inspiration to me, and to my sister, when we were young. He was never a modest man, and I'm sure he would have been delighted to read this website in his honour !


                                                                           Grandpa aged 90 


If you have enjoyed this website, you may find the following of interest :

My family tree website :

which contains detailed family trees and information about Charles Leatherland's ancestors.

My family history website 

which explores the family history including the historical backgroud and includes information on Leatherlands worldwide.

Terry Carter's excellent book "Birmingham Pals"(1997) which is a history of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment during the First World War.

David Englander's article in 'History' (no 76) on "The National Union of Ex-Servicemen and the Labour Movement 1918-1920" (1991).

Huw Richards' "The Bloody Circus" (1997), a history of the Daily Herald.

Peter Jackson's website on the Dunton Plotlands

Deanna Walker and Peter Jackson's book "A Portrait of Basildon Plotlands : The Enduring Spirit" for a brief history of the Old Rectory, Dunton

David Richards

Last updated October 2018