The contents on this page remain on our website for informational purposes only.
Content on this page will not be reviewed or updated.


Deborah Kerr & Anthony Bartley
Anthony Bartley & Deborah Kerr married at
St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, in London
St Swithun's Church, Swanbourne,
where Melanie Jane Bartley was baptised

Especially if they have a local significance, adverts from yesteryear are always fascinating, and this example, of association with the village of Mursley, regards a remedial treatment for female afflictions, which, until reading the wording, I naturally assumed to be either jaw ache, or clinical untidiness.

Anyway, the story of Thomas Beecham (of Beecham’s Powder fame) has been told in a previous article, but the village of Mursley has another claim to fame, as having been the home of David Tomlinson, the late film star.

Yet the nearby village of Swanbourne also has connections with a famous film star, for Deborah Kerr had married one of the village sons, Anthony Bartley.

Anthony had been born in India where, having been a barrister of the Irish High Court, his father, Charles Bartley, was a High Court judge. In fact Charles would be knighted for his service, and thus on their return to England it would be as Sir Charles and Lady Bartley that they made their home at The Cottage, Swanbourne.

As a boy, Anthony was often out and about in the village with his air gun, and one day on seeing two aircraft flying over the Swan he raised his rifle and fired at the inviting, if distant, target.

Suddenly one of the planes developed engine trouble, and losing altitude had to make a forced landing in the fields between Swanbourne and Mursley. Circling a while to confirm the safety of the crew, the companion aircraft then flew off, and so did young Bartley who, convinced that his shot had been the cause of the descent, fled into hiding. However, having been on a training mission the aircraft had developed engine trouble long before reaching the hostile airspace of Swanbourne!

Anthony would soon be shooting down aircraft for real, for following the outbreak of World War Two he became a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, downing eight enemy machines.

Indeed, much to the delight of the more youthful villagers he would sometimes ‘beat up’ Swanbourne in his Hurricane. Later in the war Anthony was sent to lecture in America, and, having made the acquaintance of several film personalities, it would be when stationed in Brussels that, through an introduction by Stewart Granger, in 1945 he made the acquaintance of Deborah Kerr.

The two stars, and the rest of the cast of the E.N.S.A. production of ‘Gaslight’, were invited to the Officers’ Club. Before the entertainers left Brussels, Deborah and Tony would be dining together, and when Deborah was filming in Ireland Tony proposed by telegram; ‘Have been posted to the South Pacific Stop Will you marry me.’ She replied; ‘Yes Stop’, Where and when’.

Since Tony was allowed only 48 hours of compassionate leave, before the wedding Deborah travelled alone to Swanbourne to make the acquaintance of her prospective in laws, and amidst great publicity the couple were married at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, in London.

Then in 1948 the couple’s first child was christened in St. Swithun’s Church, Swanbourne.

After the war Anthony become a test pilot and foreign representative for the Vickers aircraft company, but when Deborah’s career took them to Hollywood this posed a dilemma

Since, having been born in India, under American law Anthony was officially barred from working in that country. However, Congress resolved the situation by passing a private bill, ‘for the relief of Anthony Charles Bartley, in recognition of one of our greatest Allies’ greatest heroes.’

Sadly the marriage didn’t last, but even until her final years Deborah retained an affection for Swanbourne, as also an interest in the activities in the village.