Poppy Philip Spencer CHATTAWAY (1896–1916) Poppy

Philip Spencer Chattaway (known as Spencer Chattaway) was born at Harrow in 1896, the only son of Frederick Daniel Chattaway (born in Foleshill, Warwickshire in 1860) and Elizabeth Bettney (born in Manchester in c.1866). His parents were married in the third quarter of 1894 in the West Bromwich Registration District and had just two children:

  • Philip Spencer Chattaway (born in Harrow in 1896 and baptised at St Mary's Church there on 26 July)
  • Mary Margaret Chattaway (born in Harrow in 1899 and baptised at St Mary's Church there on 29 October).

In 1891 Spencer’s father Frederick Chattaway was a 30-year-old science undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, and the census that year was taken during the Easter vacation, when he was in Coventry visiting his married brother (a woollen draper’s assistant). He was awarded his degree in 1893, the year before his marriage.

At the time of the 1901 census young Spencer (4) and his sister Mary (1) were with their parents in a lodging house at 7 Marine Terrace, Aberystwyth.

In 1905 Spencer’s father went to Heidelberg as a student, and then did research in Utrecht. In about 1908 he became Demonstrator in Chemistry at The Queen’s College Oxford, and Spencer was sent to Orley Farm Preparatory School back in Harrow, from which he won a scholarship to Eton.

Shortly before the 1911 census the family moved to 151 Woodstock Road in St Margaret’s parish. Spencer (14) was then boarding at Eton, his parents were visiting Bristol, and only his younger sister was at home in Oxford, looked after by a servant.

Spencer went up to Christ Church, Oxford in about 1914, but left to join the army early the next year.

Chattaway grave

Poppy Spencer Chattaway received his commission as a Second Lieutenant on 4 April 1915, and went to the front with the 6th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment in September 1916. He was killed in action in France near Thiepval at the age of 20 on 14 October 1916. He is buried at the Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille (VIII.A.7).

Right: Photograph of P. S. Chattaway’s grave in France, kindly supplied by Christine Eaton. The text reads:

[Emblem of the Cheshire Regiment]

14TH OCTOBER 1916 AGE 20


This is one of the 40% of war graves that bears a personal message at the end (for which the family had to pay 3½d per letter).

Chattaway is remembered on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church in north Oxford; on the In Memoriam board of Orley Farm School; and on the two memorials shown below (Christ Church Cathedral and Ss Philip & James's Church).

Chattaway on Christ Church plaque

Chattaway Ss Philip & James

His obituary in The Times of 23 October 1916 reads as follows:

Second Lieutenant Philip Spencer Chattaway, Cheshire Regiment, only son of Dr. F. D. Chattaway, F.R.S., and Mrs. Chattaway, of Woodstock-road, Oxford, and formerly of Harrow, was killed on October 14. He was educated at Orley Farm Preparatory School, Harrow, and at Eton, where he was a scholar, and in December, 1914, he gained an open classical scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford. He received his commission in April, 1915, went to the front in September, 1916, and fell on October 14, aged 20 years.

His obituary in the Oxford Chronicle of 27 October 1916 is nearly identical and is shown below:

Obituary of Philip Chattaway

The memorial below, photographed by Rob Pearson, is on his father’s grave in Torquay:

Chattaway remembered on father's grave

St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Spencer’s father
  • Frederick Daniel Chattaway, F.R.S., M.A. (Oxon.), D.Sc. (London), Ph.D. (Munich) was appointed Fellow and Praelector of The Queen’s College, Oxford in 1919. He retired in 1934, and died in Torquay at the age of 83 on 26 January 1944. He continued to own 151 Woodstock Road until his death; it was then bought by Nuffield College, and sold in 1970 to a private purchaser.

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