Skip to content

Reminiscences of Life in the Parish of Street, Somersetshire – From the Year 1844

September 11, 2011

I have been sorting through a file of letters and documents from the period when I first started researching my family history (1986-1995) and entering information into my new software.

The following exerpts were sent to me by Gwen Gartrell in December 1988.  She received them from Kingsley J Ireland in South Australia.  Even before the advent of the internet, genealogists were busy networking, of course – just the technology left something to be desired.

The following is exactly as it appears in the photocopied, typed sheet I received:


By an Old Inhabitant

From Page 26:  The parish of Walton at the time of which I write, and for many years previous, presented an aspect of life, giving evidence of a growing population which from that time to the present has gradually declined, the house property diminishing in value as the years passed.  Within the last 50 years property to the value, probably of thousands of pounds, has been razed to the ground in consequence of dilapidation, the issue of war and tear, caused largely by the neglect of the owners.  Hence as property became destroyed thus, the population gradually decreased, and while the population of Walton was thus decreasing, that of Street as has already been stated increased year by year, as the manufacturing interest developed.

The notable farmers of the day in Walton were as follows:

Farmer Henry Dyer, who lived at Ansey the greater part of his business life; William Bird, father of the present generation of Bird, farming at Walton now; George Crossman; Mr. Hurman, who for many years lived at Walton Farm, John Giles, who then lived at the Big Farm at the bottom of South Street, a Mr. Lovell (commonly called Captain Lovell), Thomas Wheeler, who eventually went to Canada with his family, Joseph Crossman, who farmed at Huckham, Stephen Down, who lived under Walton Hill, John Porter, then living at Landshard.  All the above were practical farmers giving employment from time to time to a goodly number of hands.

The Walton of to-day, contrasted with that of 60 years ago, gives evidence of decay as regards its business life.  At that time two smithies existed, the master man in each finding work enough to maintain his home, but to-day it is doubtful whether full employment for one smith is found.  The two smiths were Charles Toby, who then occupied the shop in the middle of the parish, lately converted into a stable, and Thomas White, who occupied premises near the Church, long since pulled down.  The only professional wheelwright at Walton at that time was Henry Hucker, who then lived near Walton turnpike gate; Here for a great number of years a good business was done.

The tailor of the village was Charles Bacon, Who as a rule was on friendly terms with the majority.  The butcher of the village was John Voake, then living near the church, his daughter still occupies the premises where for the greater part of his life his business was transacted.  The boot maker was William Browing, who at the time appeared to live in touch with the varied classes and conditions of character that frequently visited him for goods new or newly repaired.

Three public-houses existed at Walton 60 years ago, one on Quarry Batch where for so many years the late Thos. Webb lived, here Uriah Frampton lived, a licence was granted and beer, ale, porter, and cider was sold. The public now known as the “Royal Oak” for generations has been in the possession of the Bird family.  The “Globe” Inn then as now was a house of great call.  Today the “Royal Oak” and the “Globe” Inn alone exist, the licence for the hous on the Batch many years ago being withheld, so that to-day two public houses only exist, where formerly there were three.

The rector then living at Walton was Lord John Thynne, w ho had two curates, Messrs. Meade and Merriman, labouring alternately at Street and Walton, the two livings then being combined.  Rector and curates together with Lady Thynne took a great interest in the day school, the writer well remembers his four years’ schooling, walking every morning with others from Street to Walton, and the interest manifested by Lady Thynne in scholars whether young or old was the distinguishing feature of the school life of that day, her labours and interest in the welfare of the inhabitants of Walton and district being exemplary. This interest was most manifest in her special regard for girls bordering on womanhood, her labour and care being unbounded, taking them to her own home, no effort was spared in training them for  spheres of usefulness.  The following were among the number then trained, Caroline Crossman, daughter of George Crossman, Grace King, daughter of Farmer King, Jane Stock, Ann Bobbet, now living at Street; these with many others were thus favoured and made the recipients of her care.

Mr. Merriman, afterwards bishop of Grahamstown, a name still fragrant to those who remember his genial and kindly disposed nature, though curate as stated, became desirious of learning how to make boots and shoes, and notwithstanding the busy life lived found time to do so.  Esau Whitnell, a boot or shoe maker taking work from the factory, readily accepted the offer of his services, when spare time could be found in which to sit on the seat and learn the secrets of the art of St. Crispin.  This much beloved and respected man eventually lef the district for South Africa, and afterwards became the bishop of Grahamstown, and never probably in the history of the village was the departure of an inhabitant more mourned and regretted.

From Page 16:   No railway accommodation was available, The railways were being constructed soon after the establishment of this business.  Some Street men were constantly employed thereat.  One Street man, names John Barnes, was killed in Box Tunnel.  He left six sons, the father of the late Joseph Barnes, of Walton Farm, being one of them.  The following men from Street were in constant employment at Bath Bridge:  Cornelius Pursey, Christopher Bacon, Joseph Bartlett, George Tinney, and Thomas Hawkins, now living in the Mead, and several others whose names are forgotten.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2011 6:00 pm

    Hi Michelle
    I came accross your site today and I wonder if you can assist me in finding out how my Email site came to be on Genealogy Wise. It is rather strange as I have never heard of this site as such and or Genealogy Wise!
    I am not sure how or why this happend but it is rather surprising to find my email site turned into a venue for all to use without my permission.
    Not that I am angry but one would think at least try to notify me of this and consider my feelings.
    I gather this is a world wide forum and is quite good in expanding genealogy in this format.

    • Michelle permalink*
      October 28, 2011 3:49 am

      Hi Merv
      I’m really sorry, but I don’t understand what you’re saying, or why you think I might be able to help you. GenealogyWise is a forum, and I’m a member, I think, but other than that, it has nothing to do with me, my blog, or WordPress. I’ve published your comment here in case someone else can help. Michelle

  2. October 31, 2014 7:35 am

    Hi Michelle,

    I don’t know whether this link is still active but I’m interested in that you include Lovell in the tags above. James Lovell, whose name appears on the board on the side of Crispin Hall in Street is my ggg grandfather! I was in Street last weekend, giving a talk about my Street ancestors when I came across that notice. I also found his gravestone in the Friends burial ground in Street, next door toClarks’ factory.

    • Michelle permalink*
      October 31, 2014 9:56 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Philip – interesting info. I wish i knew more about where the extract i reproduced came from.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: