From the Thorley Archives
Admiral F. S. Vander-Meulen 1839-1913
Admiral F.S. Vander-Meulen was the son of the Rev. Frederick Vander-Meulen, Rector of Thorley 1853 - 1882. It was this energetic rector who completed the Victorian restoration of our church with a new roof, windows, furniture and bells.
TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF
FREDERICK SAMUEL VANDER-MEULEN
BORN NOVEMBER 20TH 1839
DIED FEBRUARY 13TH 1913
"SO HE BRINGETH THEM INTO THEIR DESIRED HAVEN"
ERECTED BY OLD FRIENDS IN THORLEY
The name Admiral Frederick Samuel Vander-Meulen is commemorated in our church by the brass plaque on the south wall. His name also appears prominently on plaques on the row of Kings Cottages, South Road, opposite the Rhodes Centre, Bishop's Stortford.
After entering the navy in 1853 at the age of 13 as a cadet, young Frederick took part in the attack on the forts of Sebastapol in the Crimean War. He subsequently saw service in the capture of Canton and the attack on Namtow in China and eventual promotion to captain followed (1878). After commands in North America and the Mediterranean he rose to be the senior captain in the navy. His promotion to rear-admiral came on June 23rd 1893 the day after the disastrous loss of the battleship Victoria off the coast of Syria. He replaced Sir George Tryon who was in command of the Mediterranean fleet and who died in the sinking of his flagship. Frederick Vander-Meulen was promoted to Admiral, on the retired list, in 1904.
He retired to Stansted Road, Bishop's Stortford and became an active member of the community serving as a magistrate, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Between the three of them they had an unbroken service as magistrates of nearly 100 years. He was also a manager of All Saints Boys School and an active member of All Saints church congregation.
In conjunction with Sir Walter Gilbey he funded the building of two of the blocks of the Kings Cottages in 1905 and 1910. The 1910 block of four was presented to the trust in memory of his brother Colonel John Harrison Vander-Meulen 'for the poor aged persons of Thorley. Applicants must be at least 60 years of age and have resided in the parish for at least 20 years.' This is still a consideration today.
Admiral F.S. Vander-Meulen died on February 13th 1913 and was buried in the family plot beside our church room, at Thorley, on 18th February 1913. The Herts and Essex Observer of 22nd February 1913 gives an interesting insight into the funeral customs of Edwardian England. 'Along the route from Stansted Road to Thorley church all the business premises were closed and the blinds were drawn in all the private residences as the cortege passed. The coffin was enshrouded with the Union Jack upon which was borne the deceased's cocked hat and sword. Several mourning coaches carried the mourners. The congregation was made up of relatives and intimate friends and a large number of eminent townspeople.' Memorial tributes linked the Admiral's membership of the Royal Geographical Society and his naval background to the ill-fated South Pole expedition of Captain Scott whose memorial service was held that same week.
From the Archives