Orestes Lewis Meadows was born, probably in Woodford, on December 14th 1864. Most of what we know of him comes from the notes left by his youngest son, Edwin Henry, who was clearly very proud of his father. His family must have lived near the River Roding as he swam there regularly as a boy.
Evidently Orestes had scarlet fever when he was 15 and whilst convalescing he made a beautiful model of The Royal Lodge, Leytonstone. It seems that his family had lived at the former royal hunting lodge before they moved to West Ham. A self-portrait of James Meadows, Orestes’ grandfather, which hung in the hall of the lodge is still in the family’s possession and the young Orestes made a miniature version to hang in the hall of the model.
On August 29th 1892 Orestes married Flora Edith Coules. She was his first cousin – his mother’s sister’s daughter – and was born in Acton on November 8th 1868. They had seven children: Dora (24 Sept 1893); John Lewis (11 Sept 1894); Jesse Edith Gwendoline (16 Aug 1896); Violet Hilda (8 May 1899); Stanley Arthur (31 Dec 1901); Margaret Helen (25 Dec 1903) and Edwin Henry (16 Nov 1906). Three of the children died in infancy: John Lewis (4), Margaret Helen (3) and Stanley Arthur (8 months).
Dora married William Anderson Baillie in Bexley on April 17th 1920. Hilda married James Hossack in Ipswich in December 1934. Their son Grant became a celebrated musical director and composer.
Orestes, known as Orey, was for many years manager of Pimm’s Restaurant in Poultry, where he had a hand in the creation of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup.
The family lived at Brookside, Hartford Road, Bexley until 1922 when they moved to Beech, nr Alton, Hants. Orestes was reckoned to be a very good cook and he was a prolific photographer at a time when that required a working knowledge of chemistry. Unfortunately, after his death, Edith destroyed all his photographs. He was a keen motorist, maintaining his cars at home and delighting in ‘tearing’ around the countryside. He also collected stamps and bird’s eggs; he was a skilled gardener, and he played the flute. It seems that chest damage incurred in a old bicycle accident contributed to pleurisy in later life and his final years were not very comfortable.
A month before his death when the 1939 Register was taken Orestes was living at Bankside in Beech with Flora, Gwen and Edwin Henry. He suffered a painful death from ‘lung trouble’ on October 27th 1939. Edith survived until 1954 when she died aged 86 at Leigh-on-Sea in the presence of her eldest daughter Dora.