William Noel Downing

Noel Downing was born in Moorfields, Church Lane, Handsworth on 16 Dec 1888, the only son and youngest child of William Edmund Downing. The records relating to him on this site are divided into a number of separate pages with some examples of the range of archives and material that still exist.

William Noel Downing in 1909

William Noel Downing in 1909

Noel attended Mulgrave Castle School – a small private school in Whitby from about 1899-1903

Noel was a boarder at Harrow School from 1902 to 1907 before going to Brasenose College Oxford, where he read law 1907-1910

He worked at his father’s firm G and W E Downing Maltsters from 1911 until he enlisted in Sep 1914 and joined  first the Public Schools Battalion and later obtained a commission in the Welsh Guards.

In 1895 the Downing family had moved from Handsworth to Elm Lodge, Hagley. At about the same time the Evans family moved in next door at The Lawn, Hagley. The two families were close together. Letters written at the height of the First World War indicate that both Wilmot Evans, Mary Downing, Molly Evans and Noel Downing were all close in the life changing events of the battles in Northern France. Molly and Noel went on to marry on 29 July 1919 – Wilmot Evans died on the Somme in July 1916.

Noel returned from the trenches to take up the mantle of the family malting business – but this was in serious decline by the 1920’s. Certainly the family fortunes were adversely affected by the depression. The young family of three daughters were brought up in Edgbaston and moved from 16 Woodbourne Road (1919) to 11 Fitzroy Avenue (1930) and eventually to 47 Selwyn Road (1935).

Noel retained his love of the outdoor life and paid frequent visits to his father’s hunting lodge at the Beacon, Radnorshire. His father did not in fact die until 1939. During the Second World War he served as a Reserve Constable, by which time the family business appears to have been radically reduced in activity. In 1945 his father’s estates and the remaining business was all finally wound up and Molly and Noel retired to Upton in Hampshre, where he spent the last twenty years of his life.

Throughout his life Noel retained a keen interest in Amateur Dramatics – from his school days to his retirement in Hurstbourne Tarrant there is record of his amateur thespian career.

Family of William Noel DOWNING and Constance Mary Shaw Hellier (Molly) EVANS

Husband:William Noel DOWNING (1888-1965)
Wife:Constance Mary Shaw Hellier (Molly) EVANS (1890-1974)
Children:Pamela DOWNING (1920-2012)
Hazel Mary DOWNING (1922-1994)
Margaret Gillian (Jill) DOWNING (1926-2019)
Marriage29 Jul 1919Hagley

Husband: William Noel DOWNING

Name:William Noel DOWNING
Father:William Edmund DOWNING (1849-1939)
Mother:Hannah Pitt SHOWELL (1855-1941)
Birth16 Dec 1888Moorfields, Church Lane, Handsworth, Warwickshire
Educationbtw 1907 and 1910 (age 18-22)Brasenose College, Oxford reading Law
Death4 Oct 1965 (age 76)Basingstoke, Hampshire

Wife: Constance Mary Shaw Hellier (Molly) EVANS

Name:Constance Mary Shaw Hellier (Molly) EVANS
Father:Henry EVANS (1840-1923)
Mother:Florence Eliza (Floss) MARTEN (1858-1922)
Birth15 Mar 1890Green House, Lower Green, Tettenhall, Staffordshire
Christening9 May 1890 (age 0)Tettenhall, Staffordshire
Death19 Sep 1974 (age 84)Upton, Hampshire

Child 1: Pamela DOWNING

Name:Pamela DOWNING
Spouse:Donald Cecil MORGAN (1922-1997)
Birth16 Jul 1920Birmingham
Death19 Dec 2012 (age 92)Hillingdon

Child 2: Hazel Mary DOWNING

Name:Hazel Mary DOWNING
Spouse:Stephen Gurney HAYNES (1921-2006)
Birth24 Dec 1922Birmingham
Death7 Mar 1994 (age 71)Tenbury

Child 3: Margaret Gillian (Jill) DOWNING

Name:Margaret Gillian (Jill) DOWNING
Spouse:Peter William Robert BLAKE (1924-2014)
Last updated on 4 March 2021 by JJ Morgan