PERCY ARTHUR CLARK (1885 -2nd January 1918) and HAROLD WOOKEY CLARK (1887 – 27th August 1917)

Percy and Harold came from a family of ten children whose parents Thomas and Alice Maria, née Wookey, moved around quite frequently. Eldest son Percy was born in Rowberrrow, Harold and Honora in Yatton; Cyril, Edward, Gilbert in Abbots Leigh; Mary in Wrington; Helena, Decina and Marjorie in Upper Langford. Thomas was an agricultural labourer though in 1901 he was working on the railway, presumably on the local extension to Blagdon. The family settled in Rose Cottage, Says Lane and remained there until at least 1930.

In 1901, Percy was working as a groom. In 1911, he was a Hackney Motor driver and at the time of his voluntary enlistment in October 1915, he was a tractor engineer in Weston super Mare. He was single.

Harold became a blacksmith’s striker when he left school. In late 1909 he married Virtue Mary Grey in Bristol and in 1911 he was working as a gardener at Brentry Hill, Westbury on Trym. At the time of his death, his wife was living at 1 Stoke Cottages, Stoke Bishop, with a daughter Kathleen who had been born in 1913.

Harold was killed in action on the 27th August 1917 while serving as a Private in the 2/4th (City of Bristol) Battalion, Territorial force, Gloucestershire Regiment.  His final service number was 202640 (previously 28557 and 20330). He was aged 32 and is listed on Panel 72-75 at Tyne Cot, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. This is in the area which was known as the Ypres Salient.

Percy died on 2nd January 1918. He had enlisted in Bristol in October 1915 and was a Private with the Army Service Corps, service number M2/132333. He did most of his initial training in Bath before leaving for France on 21st March 1916. At the time of his death aged 33 he was with 29th Ammunition Sub. Park. (Sub. Parks were the distribution points at the end of the road behind the lines from which the Ammunition would be taken forward by horse or man.) A report in the Weston Mercury gave more details of his service and included copies of letters sent to his parents.

Percy’s death was as a result of a tragic accident in which he was hit in the head by a lorry skidding on ice. His burial was in the Fauquembergues Communal Cemetery, one of only two Commonwealth graves there. The other is for a soldier who died in 1915. His father supplied the wording for his headstone, which reads ‘With Christ which is far better’.


WILLIAM EDGAR BROWNING (3 April 1899 – 23 August 1918)

William Edgar Browning, known as Edgar, was born on 3 April 1899 and lived with his family in Stock Lane. He was the son of William Henry Browning, a carpenter & wheelwright and his wife, Bessie. Both were born in Churchill in 1870. They had five children: Frederick Ernest born 1892, Maud born 1895, William Edgar, Walter Samuel born 1902, and Vera Madge born 1910.

Edgar joined up in 1917. He was serving as Private 67871 in the 6th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment when he was killed in action in France on 23rd August 1918. He is buried in the Meaulte Military cemetery. The village of Meaulte, in the Department of the Somme, France, was held by Commonwealth Forces from 1915 to 26 March 1918, when it was evacuated. It was recaptured on 22nd August 1918. The cemetery, which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is located south of the village, has 291 casualties buried there.

The following appeared in the Weston Mercury & Somerset Herald on the 21st September 1918:-

KILLED IN ACTION. We regret to hear of the death of Private Edgar Browning, of Langford. His parents had the sad news conveyed to them on Wednesday afternoon from the War Office that he was killed in action fighting for his country. He was a splendid boy and will be mourned by all who knew him. He was a member of the Churchill choir, and a Sunday School teacher. Much sympathy is felt for his bereaved parents.

Edgar’s elder brother Frederick also served in the War. As a farmer he had emigrated to Australia where he enlisted with the Machine Gun Company, November 1916, in Brisbane, giving his address as c/o Mr E Thatcher, Mary Valley Line, Queensland. He gave his occupation as farmer and his mother Bessie as his next of kin. Many of his Military documents have survived and can be found on-line. He was given some home leave in January 1917, then signed up for service abroad in February before sailing from Melbourne in June. He arrived in Liverpool in August or September. Almost immediately he was hospitalised with acute appendicitis in Fargo Military hospital, Larkhill. He was transferred to the 41st Battalion Australian Infantry around this time. He then spent time in Fovant hospital, the Southern General in Bristol and in the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford. He was discharged to a company depot at Hurdcott in November before being classified fit in December. He left Fovant for France in February 1918. In August he was suffering with foot problems and was invalided back to Northamptonshire Hospital. In November he was transferred to a company depot in Sutton Veny, Wiltshire from where he returned to Australia in December. He went on to grow pineapples in Queensland. He married there but neither he nor any of his siblings had any children.

The youngest brother Walter became a grocer, his business being Browning and Watts in Churchill.

ERNEST ARTHUR BROWNETT (1st February1894 – 16 January 1917)

Ernest Arthur was born in Langford, the youngest son of Charles Brownett, a coachman/gardener at Langford Court and his wife, Sarah Ann née Symes. In 1911, he was listed as a postman, aged 17. Also living in Langford were his brother, Edwin James (23), a domestic gardener, and their sister, Mabel Ellen (14).

He was known as Arthur, or Jim, and was Private 26046 serving in present-day Iraq with the 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, when he died on 16th January 1917 at the age of 22. He is buried in the Amara War cemetery (Grave Reference XVIII.D.9).  Amara (now Al Amarah) is a town on the left bank of the River Tigris some 520 kilometres from the sea. It was occupied by the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force on 3rd June 1915 and immediately became a hospital centre. Amara War cemetery contains 3,696 identified burials and 925 unidentified casualties of the First World War.

On the 3rd February 1917 the following obituary was printed in the Weston Mercury and Somersetshire Herald:-


 Much sympathy is extended by residents throughout Burrington and District toward Mr and Mrs Charles Brownet [sic] in the loss of their youngest son, Arthur Brownet, of the Wiltshire Regiment, who was killed in action at the Persian Gulf on January 16th. His parents had been wondering why they had received no letter from him, and on Saturday morning were shocked to receive a communication from the War Office notifying them of his death. The gallant young soldier was well known in the district being for many years in the Langford post office, where he was greatly missed when called up. Being of a genial kindly nature, he was very much beloved by those who came in contact with him. He was a member of the Burrington Church of England Men’s Society, and was also a member of the Men’s Club Committee. Mr and Mrs Brownet have one other son at the front and one serving with the YMCA.”

While at the front Arthur had become friends with a Samuel Millbank and they had pledged that if either were killed the other would visit their family. Samuel did that and later married Arthur’s sister Ellen (Nellie). Their grandson John Millbank has provided information and photographs since the publication of the Burrington in WWI book including the photographs of Ernest in postman’s uniform and Edwin with a horse.

Of other members of the family, Reginald Charles was born in 1884 and served with the YMCA from 1915 to 1920, as he was unfit for active service. In April 1915 he married Rose Shepstone. He died in 1939.

 Edwin James, who was born in 1888, served with the Royal Engineers as a Lance Corporal from 1914 to 1919 and saw active in France and Italy. Edwin did not marry, living in later life with his sister Lucy.

The Reverend Dr Thomas Sedgwick Whalley and the Queen of Bath

Chris Stephens’ study of the building of Mendip Lodge and the social life of Georgian England that was hosted there has culminated in this eminently readable book. The remarkable Rev. Whalley was poet, pamphleteer, traveller and horticulturist.  His life (1746 – 1828) was one of extravagance, generosity and intellectual activity, spent among some of the most influential people of the time.  The book details his life on Mendip, in Bath and in the France of Marie Antoinette and Napoleon.  It describes his association with William Wilberforce and Hannah More and figures such as Fanny Burney.  In particular, it relates his devotion to his beautiful, vivacious and gifted niece, Frances Sage, the ‘Queen of Bath’.

Copies may be ordered from:


Thomas Fudge of Langford Hall


One of the nice consequences that results from the publication of our books on Langford and from having this website on Langford History is that enquiries regularly come in about people who have lived here in the past.  Usually this is from individuals seeking information about their forebears and the homes they occupied. It is often the case that they tell us more about Langford than we are able to tell them about their ancestors.  It is particularly satisfying when the benefit is mutual.

A recent example occurred following an enquiry from Deborah Howells about her great grandfather, Thomas Fudge.  An entry in the National Probate Calendar for 1938 quite clearly refers to him as “of Langford Hall, Langford, Somersetshire”.  Our first thoughts were that this must refer to the Drill Hall in Lower Langford.  But no.  Then we were shown a copy of Sheet 165 of the One-inch, New Popular Edition Ordnance Survey map that was fully revised in the 1930s and published in the 1940s, after WWII.  It clearly marked Langford Hall on the Wrington side of the A38 at Havyatt, where Havyatt Farm and the properties on the other side of Havyatt Road are now[1].

All of this land was sold in the auction of the Wrington Estate in 1895.  Havyatt Farm, on the north-east side of Havyatt Road, together with 200 acres of land, was sold for £7800 to Edward Payson Wills, one of the many sons of Henry Overton Wills II.  Havyatt Lodge, on the other side of the road, which was let to a Mr Gibson, was sold to a Mr Power for £4850.  The main property included 91 acres but the lot also included the “rights of the vendor as lord of the manor”.  This gave rights over a further 1000 acres of land.

Havyatt Farm was more recently bought out of the Wills estate by the Alvis family, whose members still occupy it.  But Havyatt Lodge has had a much more chequered existence and is the subject of several local myths and legends that are sometimes at variance with verifiable facts.  The stories about Thomas Fudge, in particular, do not cast him in a very favourable light.  Not knowing if Deborah would welcome a potential skeleton in her ancestral cupboard, we were initially nervous about feeding back the things we heard.

We’ll start with one of the stories.  Thomas Fudge owned a boot-making factory in Bristol. The story is that the business fell on hard times during the great depression of the 1930s.  Thomas Fudge was said to have set fire to his premises and claimed on the insurance.  This worked so well that he later decided to do the same at Langford Hall.  What he’d forgotten was that he’d hidden much of the factory stock down the well at the Hall.  This was, of course, discovered when the brigade tried to put the fire out and Thomas ended up in prison for fraud.  A nice tale but, sadly, not one that is borne out by the records we’ve been able to uncover.

There are several Bristol families with the name of Fudge and a number of the members are called Thomas, so confusion is easy.  Several of the Fudge families were also involved in shoemaking and it seems likely that there were two contemporaries named Thomas Fudge each described as boot or shoe manufacturers.  The Western Daily Press on October 3rd, 1933 reported the sudden death of Mr Thomas Fudge, boot manufacturer of Holly Hill Road, Kingswood.  This is clearly not Thomas Fudge of Langford Hall and it seems more likely that he was the proprietor of a factory that had been badly damaged by fire 32 years earlier.  The event was recorded in the Bath Chronicle of Aug 15th, 1901.  It reported that the premises of Fudge and Williams in Hanham Road, Kingswood, were destroyed along with their contents and the firm’s books. It expressed surprise that Mr Fudge’s house, which was near to where the fire was most intense, remained undamaged.

Thomas Fudge of Langford Hall was born in about 1860 in Hanham.   Newspaper reports from October and November, 1892, record the bankruptcy of Thomas Fudge, boot manufacturer of Bell Hill, St George.  He was charged with concealing over £100 of stock behind nailed-up boards on the top floor of the factory and of not declaring two sums he had received totalling £130.  He was initially remanded to Horfield prison and then transferred to the house of correction (for more minor offenders) at Lawford’s Gate, just beyond Old Market, Bristol.  He was finally bailed in a total surety of £1000. One of the magistrates dealing with the case was none other than Edward Payson Wills. When Thomas came to trial at Gloucestershire Assizes on November 25th, 1892, he was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months hard labour.  The Western Daily Press of December 12th, 1892, advertised the factory to be sold or let, and its machinery and stock to be auctioned.  Further notices in February announced the auction of Thomas’s household effects.  The consequences of the bankruptcy and conviction must have been very severe for both Thomas and his family.

Thomas seems to have bounced back into business quite quickly.  However, he was soon again in trouble with the law.  At the end of December, 1894 he was fined 2s 6d for striking a 13-year-old boy with a heavy stick.  Apparently the victim and others were in the habit of lighting fires on waste land adjacent to his factory and the magistrate had some sympathy for him but ruled that he had over-reacted.  Thomas was quick to prosecute those he felt had offended against him.  There were several instances of individuals convicted of minor thefts from the boot factory and in November 1897 there is a report of a prosecution he brought against a commission agent for seeking compensation by false pretences.  The case failed.

In the 1901 census, Thomas is recorded living with his wife, Annie, and their four sons, in Holly Lodge Lane, St George’s.  He is described as a boot manufacturer.  The Bristol trade directory of that year refers to his factory in Orchard Road, St. Georges. In the census of 1911, Annie was living in Cardiff with three of her sons but Thomas has not yet been found.  Thomas next appears in April 1928, living in Hollywood, Parry’s Lane, Stoke Bishop, and selling two-story, five-bedroom residences there.  Two years later, another advertisement for “charming residences to purchase or rent” refers to him living in Oakhurst Hall, Parry’s Lane.  Thomas had become a builder and property developer.

At about this time he must have come into possession of the property at Havyatt previously called Havyatt Lodge but then known as Langford Hall.  In another court case, in December, 1930, Thomas Fudge was sued for £34 15s for electrical work carried out at Langford Hall that he considered unsatisfactory.  The plaintiff received judgement for £2 5s of the claim.  By May 1933 he was trying to sell Langford Hall by auction.  It is described as comprising three reception rooms and nine bedrooms, as having electric light and water and included 15 acres of land.  It clearly failed to attract the price he expected and was again up for auction in May 1937.

During this period, Thomas Fudge was once more in court, this time answering a charge of slander.  He had engaged the widow of a former town clerk of Jarrow as housekeeper.  She had been so employed for 17 days when, on Easter Sunday, 1932, she returned from an evening visiting friends to be accused of being drunk and dissolute.  When Thomas told the Court he disapproved of her going to dances, the judge said he was “out of date” and awarded the lady £500 damages.

In the early hours of October 15th, 1936, a serious fire destroyed a cottage adjacent to Langford Hall.  Only the efforts of neighbours and the local fire brigade saved the Hall from damage.  It was less fortunate 18 months later when what was described as a disastrous fire did very severe damage.  Thomas’s properties did seem to be somewhat fire-prone.

Thomas Fudge died in a Clifton nursing home on July 17th, 1938.  He had been living with his son, Herbert, at 64 Parry’s Lane, so it is possible that Langford Hall had been sold the previous year.  When probate was granted, Thomas’s estate was valued at £14,136 8s. 9d. Annie died in 1941.

Our thanks are due to Deborah Howells for alerting us to Langford Hall and for supplying most of the detailed material on the Fudge family.

John Gowar
July 2013

[1] Havyatt is variously spelled with one and two “t”s.  In one instance it appears as “Havyet”.  Here we have used the double “t” version throughout, even though that may be at variance with the source.

A Parish Dispute


One of the pitfalls that beset those of us who are interested in local history but are not trained in historical studies is the tendency to rely on secondary sources.  Even the most authoritative of them occasionally make errors.  And quoting them without checking simply propagates any mistake.  One such popular misconception concerns a row that occurred between the Rector of Wrington and the parishioners of Burrington following the death of their Perpetual Curate, the Reverend Sydenham Teast Wylde, in 1826.

Burrington is very unusual in that traditionally the parishioners have had the right to choose their own incumbent.  If suitable, he was presented to the Bishop of Bath and Wells by the Rector of Wrington.  In The Heart of Mendip (first published in 1915 and reprinted in 1971), Francis Knight sets out the story that is normally told:-

In 1831 the Rev. John Vane, Rector of Wrington, refused to nominate and present to the Bishop the candidate whom the parish had chosen.  The case having been brought before the Court of Common Pleas, that Body decided that the Rector had no power of rejection.  The candidate in question, however, declined the living.   Whereupon Mr. Vane assured the Burrington parishioners that if they would leave the matter in his hands they might rely on his choosing a man who would be equally acceptable to him and to them.  They gladly agreed.  The Rector nominated himself, thus becoming Vicar of Burrington as well as Rector of Wrington; and with kindly, if somewhat autocratic sway, he managed, for no fewer than forty years, the ecclesiastical affairs of the parish.

The truth is rather more complicated but more readily understood.  It is revealed in the diocesan and parish records held at the Somerset Heritage Centre (SHC) and in the detailed account of the proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas.  This can be found in a contemporary issue of The Law Journal that has recently become accessible via the Internet (Google Books).  The case was heard on the 3rd February, 1829.

The Rev. Wylde had been instituted as Perpetual Curate of Burrington (the formal title for the incumbent) in July 1795.  In addition, he became curate at Rowberrow in March 1799 and Rector of Ubley in March 1805.  He died on May 12th, 1826, aged 71.  Two months earlier, perhaps because the Rev. Wylde’s health was failing, the Reverend James William Arnold had been licensed as curate at both Ubley and Burrington.  These were salaried posts in the gift of the incumbent, not permanent appointments funded by tithes. The Rev. Arnold was a man of some social standing.  His father had been a gentleman of the Privy Chamber to George III and he had married the daughter of an earl.

A parish meeting was called on June 19th, 1826, at which Burrington parishioners were asked to choose between two candidates to succeed the Rev. Wylde.  One was the Rev. Arnold, who was already doing the work. The other was the Reverend
Richard Davies, who appears to have been resident in Wrington and to have been the preferred choice of the Rector of Wrington, the Reverend William Leeves. The Rev. Davies was Perpetual Curate at both Churchill and Puxton.  He first officiated in Puxton in 1804, had been curate there since 1814 and Perpetual Curate in both parishes since 1819.  The Rev. Arnold received 34 votes to 32 for the Rev. Davies.  Next day, Benjamin Somers, as churchwarden, together with the Rev. Arnold, took the result to the Rector. However, William Leeves refused to present the Rev. Arnold to the Bishop. Instead, on November 8th, 1826, he nominated the Rev. Davies.

The Rev. Arnold, Benjamin Somers and 73 Burrington parishioners sought redress in the courts.  Writs were issued immediately.   A writ of Quare Impedit demanding that Arnold be presented to the Bishop was issued on November 9th, 1826, and the defendants (Leeves, Davies and the Bishop) were summoned to appear before the justices at Westminster on the 8th day of the following Hilary Term.  Next day, November 10th, a writ of no admittance was served on the Bishop to stop him from licensing Davies.

When the case was heard, the jury found the election of Arnold to have been valid and binding on the Rector.  However, Leeves, Davies and the Bishop appealed.  That was why the matter went to the High Court.  There it was decided that there had to be a re-trial.  This was because the jury had not been properly directed on a subtle matter concerning the nature of the tradition by which the parishioners elected their vicar.  Was it a common-law custom, or an ecclesiastical custom?  This affected the time over which the custom had to become established for it to be held valid.  There were also questions over parishioners’ eligibility to vote.  The Court of Common Pleas came to their view with ‘much regret as the preferment is of so trifling a nature’.

It would seem that the decision of the appeal court was too much for James Arnold.  He had officiated at nearly all the recorded Burrington services from January 1826 until the end of March 1829.  But he conducted no further services in
Burrington and may be presumed to have left the area.  By this time, the Reverend William Hutcheson had been appointed Rector of Ubley to succeed the Rev. Wylde and it was he who took most of the services recorded in Burrington over the next two years.  William Leeves had died in May 1828 and had been succeeded as Rector of Wrington by the Reverend John Vane.   Richard Davies had ceased to take services at both Puxton and Churchill in September, 1827 (except for an adult baptism at Puxton on 22nd September, 1829).

At the retrial, the jury again found for the parishioners and, on January 31st 1831, a writ was served on the Bishop and the Rector of Wrington, requiring James Arnold to be presented to the Bishop.  This was followed on April 16th by a formal memorandum, signed by Mary Addington, Benjamin Somers and 44 parishioners of Burrington, sent to John Vane, making the same demand.  This he duly carried out and, on May 2nd, the Rev. Arnold was licensed to the curacy of Burrington.

He declined to take up the post!

A parish meeting was convened in Burrington for 11:00 am on Wednesday, 13th July, 1831. Its outcome was that John Vane was unanimously elected to fill the vacant curacy.   A letter from the churchwardens was immediately sent to him asking him to present himself to the Bishop!  No doubt some quiet diplomacy had been undertaken in the days beforehand, to try to heal the wounds.  Finally, after a five-year interregnum, John Vane was licensed by the Bishop of Bath and Wells as Chaplain or Curate of Burrington on October 6th, 1831.  He performed his first baptism in Holy Trinity Church the same day.  And, as Francis Knight says, he continued to hold both incumbencies for the rest of his life.

What became of the adversaries?  Richard Davies died soon afterwards, sometime before December 1832.  James Arnold took a curacy on the Isle of Wight in 1833, was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1843, and held several other clerical positions in Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire before he died in June 1865, aged 69.


Whatever Happened to Whatley

From the 12th century to the 19th century a significant landholding called Whatley figured in documents relating to the Manor of Wrington.  But where was Whatley and what became of it?  These were puzzles raised by Michael Lawder in the April 1976 issue of Wrington Village Journal.  They remain a mystery.

 “Our” Whatley can easily be confused with the small manor and parish of the same name near Mells which, like Wrington, was both held by Glastonbury Abbey and listed in the Domesday Survey.  The Whatley in Wrington is mentioned for the first time in 1189.  This is in a survey of Glastonbury manors and it records that a Roger of Whatley held half a knight’s fee in Wrington.  Typically this would have comprised 2 to 3 hides or 250 to 300 acres of ploughed land.  Together with its pasture, meadow and woodland, it would have been quite a considerable holding.  In other documents, Roger is referred to as Roger of Pont Audemer, that town inNormandybeing the site of his main estate.

 The land in Whatley was clearly the cause of some dispute.  It is strange to think of absentee Norman knights arguing over this area of Wrington.  In 1198, a list of Wrington tenants owing military service assigned the half knight’s fee at Whatley in the Manor of Wrington to a William of Wanton’.  Then, in 1213, an entry on the Fine Roll records the payment of 20 marks and two palfreys to King John, for the recovery of this estate by Roger’s nephew, Jocelin of Pont Audemer.  A few years later again, records show it being held by Henry of Sandwich.  In a settlement of11 Nov 1235, at an Assize of Mort Ancestor, Simon of Sandwich acknowledged the right of Thomas of Moreton to hold the land. Thomas presumably claimed Whatley through inheritance and also held the manor now submerged underChewValleyLake.

 In 1298, a survey of the royal hunting Forestof Mendiplisted 21 settlements (vills) which surrounded the Forest and whose residents would have been adversely affected by the forest laws.  Whatley (Whatleigh) is one.  All the others are still the local parishes of today.  Along the north slope of Mendip the list runs:  Banwell, Churchill & Langford, Whatley, Winscombe, Shipham, Rowborough, Burrington, Blagdon, Ubley.  Whatley was then held by John of Moreton.

 By 1342, when Abbot Walter of Monington had a feodary compiled listing all his hereditary tenants, Whatley had passed to Robert, son of Robert of Brent.  During this time and over the following 200 years, many exchanges of parcels of land are recorded between the Brent family, a family called Whatman and a family based at Bourne, near Rickford.  And in this process, Whatley passed out of the control of Glastonbury.  In a post-mortem document of 1508, it is recorded that a later Robert of Brent held the manor of Over Langford, Nether Langford, Synderland, Whatley & Whatman’s Brent.

 It is my belief that the Brent family merged the land of Whatley, in the Manor of Wrington but now in the parish of Burrington, with holdings from the parts of Upper and Lower Langford, in the parish of Churchill, to form the estate based on Langford Court.  In many documents, dating from the 1500s to the 1800s, it is referred to as the Manor of Langford alias Whatley alias Whatman’s Brent.  It is now simply known as Langford.

John Gowar

Ruth Weaver

After our AGM on April 12th, Ruth Weaver’s described coming to Blagdon as a Land Girl. Her reminiscences were beautifully encapsulated in her poem When First I Came To Blagdon:-

When first I came to Blagdon
A Land Girl in the war
I looked at her through homesick eyes
Her beauty never saw.

They told me when I volunteered
I wouldn’t have to roam
Could choose the job I liked the best
Be posted close to home.

But then my call-up papers came
A short curt note to say
Would I go down to Somerset
Just prior to Christmas Day ?

In one brief month they’d teach me all
To milk and hoe – but how
When I was simply petrified
At the back end of a cow !

My heavy heart was sad by day
Hot tears at night were shed
My wrists and arms were numb with pain
As each new dawn I’d dread.

My hostel training over
I’d acquired my accolade
Then really thought that Butcombe Farm
Was the last place God had made.

I couldn’t grasp the dialect
Of Dick and Frank and Ern
And my North Country accent
Gave them all quite a turn.

The work was hard, the hours were long
“Stick at it if you can!”
Of course I did, by then I’d met
My handsome, tall young man.

Now Blagdon’s beauty I enjoy
Each day thro’ sun and rain
Yet still a lass fromLancashire
For ever I’ll remain.

Ruth Weaver

Sidney Hill Cine Film Footage

We are deeply indebted to John Hunt, who is Chairman of the Victoria Jubilee Homes Trust, for providing us with a DVD copy of the Sidney Hill cine film. John’s mother was Daphne Hill, the youngest of Sidney Hill’s daughters.  The cine film was shot in and around Langford and Churchill during the late 20s, 30s and early 40s.  John has had the film converted to a DVD which enables us to provide you with a chance to view the film as a streamed clip on our own “youtube” site. Some of the film has been seen before on a HTV documentary in the 1990s, but there is much new material. Please respect John’s copyright on the film, which cannot be copied but is available for you to view and enjoy in the comfort of your own home!

Much of the film is centred on Langford House and records a golden era of garden parties, sporting events and royal celebrations. The footage gives us a unique insight into the Hill’s family life, with many images of Sidney and Edith’s children, Ronnie, Thurle and Daphne playing with their pets and admiring the gardens. There is also some excellent film of local characters from the village, who make cameo appearances. We would be very pleased to learn of any names you can give us. that will help to bring the film to life.

The film has been divided into seven segments of roughly 10 minutes duration, each of which can be accessed by clicking on the link here. You can enter names or comments on the youtube site directly, or you can always send us an email using the “contact us” page on the website. Do enjoy the film and help us identify the characters that will bring the film to life.

Paule Vezelay (1892 – 1984)

Well known local artist, David Cuthbert, introduced us to another prominent Bristol artist, Paule Vezelay, nee Margaret Watson-Williams. She had studied at Bristol and the Slade Art School before moving to Paris in the 1920s where she became involved with the Surrealists, and lived for many years  with Andre Masson.  Her style developed over the years, and was clearly influenced by the men in her life, many of whom such as Masson and Arp  became household names. Her own recognition came late in life when the Tate gave her a retrospective at the age of 91.

We are hoping that there will be an article on Paule in the summer edition of the Royal West of England Acadamy’s magazine.  Meanwhile there are a few images of her works in the Gallery section. We would like to find out more about her time in Bristol, so please get in touch if you have anything you can tell us about this remarkable lady.