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The White Horse and Family Connections by Monica Chard, Editor


Just as The White Horse was closing I was contacted by a local Sunbury couple who had a tale to tell. Their son’s partner Penny Embden is not from this area. In researching her family history imagine her surprise at discovering that she had a connection with Sunbury through more than just her partner. She found that one of her ancestors ran The White Horse nearly a century before. Not only that, but partner Antony Elvin had grown up in The Avenue, the same street as the pub. Talk about a small world!


Burgmaier was sadly interned in 1915. Little Marj went on to perform with a dance troupe called the 'Eight Step Sisters' who appeared regularly


On the steps, with Laurel and Fidelis Burgmeier, are Marjory and Pete (both infant girls).


The landlord of what was then The White Horse Hotel, from 1914-15, was Fidelis Burgmaier who had arrived from Germany at the end of the previous century and married. His wife was called Laurel and they had two children, Marjory and Pete. You may have already realised that to be a German in this country in 1914 was somewhat tricky, and


The Embdens today, baby Burl in the middle, and to the left is the son of Marjory, and the right, her grandson.


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at concerts with the famous Harry Roy Band. The Eight Step Sisters (above. Marj 4th from left) appeared in one of the very first TV broadcasts in the world in the early 1930s and 2 films - 'Rio Rita' and 'Everything is Rhythm', again with Harry Roy. She married a Dutchman, van Embden, and at some point the van was dropped. Embden has continued into five generations now and the newly arrived baby boy, Burl Embden Elvin, returned recently to the steps of The White Horse in homage to his ancestors. So what became of poor old Burgmaier? He had a run of terrible luck. A young boy, Fred Wilson, fell down the open cellar to The White Horse. His father took Burgmaier to court, suing for compensation. The press referred to Burgmaier as an ‘enemy alien’ when the case was heard at Chertsey Crown Court. Damaged were awarded of £30 - a fortune at the time. Initially it was to be paid jointly by the brewery and Burgmaier, but the brewers proved they had no liability so the whole burden was on the shoulders of the landlord. By the time the appeal was wrapped up Burgmaier had already closed his bank account, sold off his effects and been interned. Talk about ‘twixt the devil and the deep blue sea’! So family connections continue . To see the new generations on the steps of the pub where their ancestors had stood reminds us of the mysterious path of life.


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