Posts Tagged ‘Suffolk’

Thornham Parva

June 1, 2014

This little village in Suffolk sounds like something out of a P G Wodehouse novel. I can just imagine Bertie Wooster finding himself in a country house at Thornham Parva where he would, inevitably, have got engaged to a girl by accident, had a row with Jeeves over the colour of spats to be worn and eventually he’d realise that Jeeves had sorted out all problems.

That would be fiction. Let’s enjoy the church as it is (or was in 2009).


This is the sort of small, solid looking church that I can approve of. The fact that it is under a thatched roof adds to its charm and so, too, do the primroses growing in profusion.

Inside the church there are medieval wall paintings.


Aha! A wheel and that’s something for a happy nerd to enjoy.


And an oil lamp too! Now that’s superb.

In fact everything is so idyllic and perfect – except for a misplaced pylon.


Oh well. We all need electricity – even in Thornham Parva.


Louise Reeve

December 2, 2013

Meet the Relative

Louise (known as Lewie) was not a close relative of mine. Actually, she is so distant that she is what I term a genealogy relative. That means a relative I only know of because of genealogy. Louise is, or was, my third cousin twice removed. Her great great grandfather was my 4 greats grandfather. I think that means we have less than two percent of common genetic material.

But Louise is interesting and I have a photo and a bit of information. It is surprising that these two things can make a person seem more real.

Let’s start with her Granny. Her Granny was Fanny the Granny. Fanny, born as a Miss Crosby is some one we have already met on this blog and you can click here to read about her.

Descendants of the somewhat scandalous Fanny have an advantage. They already start interesting.

Louise was born in the Butley area of Suffolk in around 1898. Her father, Henry was a horseman and her mother was Susan. She had two older brothers. The family lived at Wantisden Corner. That would be in one of the cottages in this terrace. I believe Louisa was there all her life.


It was as an adult that Louise led a truly singular life. She became a forester and had a uniform to wear, as we can see in the photo.


By 1930 vast areas of the local heathland had been purchased cheaply by the Forestry Commission. Over 3500 acres were planted and planting trees was what Louise did. She planted saplings, one at a time by hand after the ground was prepared. Planting the forest became the life work for Louise and she lived long enough to see the effect of the 1987 storm which must have been a sad time for her. Of course, the trees have now reached maturity and are being felled.

Louisa died in 1990.

By the River Blyth

November 2, 2013

Blythburgh, in Suffolk, is one of the places my long ago ancestors came from. My great great grandmother, Mary Ann Cullingford Smith was born there in 1817. The apparent double barrelled surname comes from her father who was born, at Blythburgh, out of wedlock and carried his father’s name (Cullingford) as a first name as well as a real surname of Smith which was his mother’s name. I do not really know if he was a Cullingford or a Smith officially,

Just downstream from Blythburgh, where the Blyth enters the sea, is the village of Walberswick. I probably had relatives who lived there. Here’s a grave of Martha Cullingford, wife of Robert in the churchyard AT Walberswick.


They have the right surname but as yet I have not fitted them into my family. This photo was taken in April 2004.

The Blyth Valley is low lying and marshy. It needs draining and pumps have been used for centuries to keep the land usable. This postcard, which has no family connections, shows such a pump at Blythburgh.


Interestingly, the card calls the view Walberswick water mill yet very clearly it has the sweeps of a wind mill. They are what might be called plain sails. The canvas that could cover the sweeps is in place, but rolled up along one edge.

Now I suspect this was actually a water pump, driven by wind, but it does appear to have a water wheel, which may actually have been to lift water from one place to another.

The slight blob on the horizon is a small wind driven pump.


On another trip to the area, in 2008, I took this photo near Walberswick. It isn’t the same structure but was a wind driven pump.


It stands on the edge of the Blyth.

Some people find the flat lands a bit dull. They don’t have the obvious splendour of mountains, but I reckon they make for a lovely scene – even if it was a little ethereal with mist as in 2008.

Who was Henry William Crossby?

October 4, 2013

When I started doing genealogy, all the books said that you should start from the known and work methodically from there.

To both my wife and I, this seemed like a silly idea. We decided that, if we visited a records library, we’d harvest data and then see what could be fitted together. Of course, there had to be some knowledge to start with. You couldn’t harvest everything.

So, when we visited the Ipswich records library for Suffolk, we were armed with the fact that I had ancestors called Crosby and they had lived in and around Butley. We already knew that spellings were interchangeable – Crosby or Crossby

Our harvesting method was to sit at film or fiche reader and, as appropriate, take photos of the screen. So a marriage of a Crosby, at Butley church, we felt, had to be relevant. But this one has never quite provided me with certainty.


Filming a fiche reader works well enough for reading it but the words tend to fade away at the edges. Regulars will realise that I have negative the image. The film you see has white writing on a black background.


This wedding took place on Christmas day in 1867. This was a common day for weddings since workers couldn’t afford extra days off. The marriage was between Henry William Crossby, aged 20 and Mary Ann Carter aged 18.


Henry, we see, was a labourer who lived in Butley. His father was also Henry and a gardener. Mary lived in neighbouring Chillesford and her father is listed as John Ship. Mary must have been base born, as they say.

The witnesses were Henry Meadows, Sarah Crosby and Mary Ann Crossby.

And do you know what, as I write this I reckon I have worked out the answer to my title question. I often find writing helps to clarify thoughts.

So now I’ll answer the ‘who was Henry?’ question.

On my tree I have a Great Great Great grandfather called James Crosby. Amongst his children was a Henry Crosby born in 1817. Censuses tell me that this Henry was a gardener. Henry married in 1846 and his first born son arrived in 1847. He appears to have been known as William but I now feel convinced he was Henry William. The next two children were girls. One was called Sarah and the other was Mary Ann. They must be the witnesses. I could add here that Sarah, fully, was Sarah Ann Crosby and she was born in 1849. My great granny had the identical name and was born in 1850. Oh, confusion!

Later censuses show me Henry W Crossby and Mary together and it all fits correctly. A minor problem I have puzzled over for years has been solved.

And as it happens, I think this vindicates the data harvesting method when in records libraries.

Meet the Relatives – Fanny and Eliza Crosby

September 9, 2013

My Crosby ancestors and relatives came from Suffolk. They were based around the little village of Butley in the lowlands not all that far from Woodbridge. Today’s pair are distant relatives but the photo I have is so lovely I feel I know these two splendid ladies.

For once the words are not mine or those of my family. They come from a book

Fanny and Eliza Crosby

Words and Pictures from the book, ‘Two Horse Power’ by John Hewitt who was born in Butley on 24th August 1905

Then there was an old fisherman, Jack Collins, the farm labourer. He used to frighten me a little-his voice was rough and he swore a lot, though not if my mother was within earshot. He was married to Eliza, and she was another of my favourites. Eliza and her mother lived in our house until Eliza married Jack and they moved to Butley Street. They lived in the Mill House and I suppose they milked the cows and weaned the calves as well as doing the household chores and baking the bread in the brick oven on Fridays. The clothes were washed on Mondays in the wash-house and there was butter and cheese to make with the skimmed milk.

On top of all these jobs, there was the beer-brewing—0ne coomb of malt and four pounds of hops. It was said that more beer was given away at Butley Mills than was sold at Butley Oyster. Almost every man who came to the mill expected a pint of home- brewed. If he was paying a bill, he got a drop of gin in with it. There was a saying “Good beer deserves a drop of gin – bad beer needs it.”


Eliza used to come down from Butley Street, where she lived, and stay the night in our house to keep an eye on me (and, I expect, the maid) when Father and Mother went out to a party or a Whist Drive in Woodbridge. When I was told I was to go away to school, I expect I objected loud and long, and she would tell me that if I stopped at home I would be like her-unable to read or write. She brought me my one and only iron hoop, made by Ernie Burch, our blacksmith.


Fanny and Eliza Crosby – ready for the milking at Butley Mill


Butley Mill from an old painting

And now some notes by me.

Fanny Crosby was born in Butley, Suffolk in 1826. She was the niece of my great great great grandfather James Crosby and his wife Elizabeth (née) Frost. Fanny’s husband was Robert Reeve. This seems to have been a bit of an on/off marriage, but Eliza was one of eight children born to Fanny, in 1857. Fanny died in 1911 so the author, John Hewitt, probably had only faint memories of her.

Eliza married Jack Collins in 1896. They had no children.

Britain’s most easterly point

September 4, 2013

I notice my last two blogs have been about a place in West Cornwall and another on the North coast of Scotland. Let’s go to Britain’s most easterly point today, and for real pleasure let’s go by train. We were staying in Darsham in Suffolk and this was the train for the hop to Lowestoft.



Like many of the more rural lines, a marketing name has been dreamed up and those serving Lowestoft are the Wherry Lines.

We have arrived and our train awaits its next duty at Lowestoft.


It’s no surprise that the station is s terminus for it is Britain’s most easterly station. It’s the North Sea from here on.


I rather like the station and think the early British Railways enamel sign is a gem.


Lowestoft itself is bustling and busy – or was in 2008 when this trip was made. Drilling rigs were under construction and the dock area seemed to be thriving and lively.


We made our way to the Easterly point which we had visited before in 1995.


The 1995 picture shows family members slithering over the slimy breakwater to be as far east as possible.

By 2008 signs acknowledged the status of this place.


We liked some of the places which got a mention here.



Well there’s another couple of places we have visited.

James Skoulding Burton

August 30, 2013

Ancestors of mine came from Blythburgh, a little village up the creek from Southwold in Suffolk. In terms of actual ancestors I’m going back to the first half of the nineteenth century, but other relatives hung around for longer and it is one of them I feature today. James Burton, with the unlikely middle name of Skoulding would have been a great great great uncle of mine. It probably goes without saying that I never knew him. Indeed, I don’t even have a photo of him, but I have located his grave in Blythburgh’s church yard – and here it is.

image002This photo was taken in April 2004

The main inscription reads, simply, ‘In loving memory of James Skoulding Burton who died April 67th 1890 in his 87th year’. The verse underneath is telling readers that James is lucky for he has now gained eternal life.

James was born in around 1804 in Blythburgh. He was baptised on 26th February of that year. His middle name came from his grandfather, who was also my five greats grandfather – James Skoulding. James’ elder sister, Sarah, was my 3 greats grandmother.

James married Sarah Gray on 9th January 1827. You can see her rather careworn grave behind that of James. The marriage was in the utterly enormous church at Blythburgh.

As far as I know, James and Sarah spent their whole life in Blythburgh.

The censuses from 1841 to 1881 all tell the same story of James as a shoemaker. The couple had seven children we know of. I have no further details so let’s hope they had a happy life.

Meet the Relative

August 13, 2013

Charles Mann

Charles Mann was actually an in-law. My Great Granny was Sarah Ann Crosby and she had a sister called Eliza who was born in 1854. These two were born in Butley in Suffolk. Great Granny, like nearly all of the Crosby family moved away and she made her home in Sussex, at Isfield, but Eliza married Charles Mann in Butley on 24th December 1885.

Charles came from Yoxford and was born in 1856. Yoxford is a few miles north of Butley and we can find young Charles there in 1861 with his parents – father was a farm worker – and younger siblings. By 1871, teenaged Charles was a shoemaker’s apprentice. He was learning the trade that supported him through his life. He was still living with his parents in Yoxford. Ten years on, in 1881, Charles was still with his parents, but by now, as a fully-fledged shoemaker, he’d have been adding to the family economy.

Quite why or when Charles moved to the Butley area, we don’t know – but we have the wedding date and from then on we find Charles, Eliza and a growing family in Butley. Actually, their first two children were born in Chillesford. Charles remained a shoemaker or bootmaker according to 1891, 1901 and 1911 census.

I have a photo of Charles working outside as he approached old age.


I think Charles died in 1931 and Eliza in 1932.

The little extra in the story came in 1887 when my great grandparents, living in Isfield Sussex, had a baby boy they called Charles Mann Stevens. He surely must have been named in honour of his uncle and it suggests that despite distance and poverty, the two families certainly maintained contact. Sadly, Charles Mann Stevens died in 1888, the year his cousin, Charles Mann was born in Butley to Charles and Eliza. What a shame these cousins never had a chance to meet.


August 2, 2013

I expect most people think that a post-box is a post box – all much of a muchness. To me they are things of beauty and things of character. I can’t resist them.

Let’s start with one in my home village in Wiltshire. It is built into a house at a crossroads where a minor road crosses a track.


Now that’s surely a sign that in times past – Victorian times – this was deemed to be an important location.


Now here’s a really special one. It is on the Isle of Arran a Scottish island which might almost be said to be in the Clyde estuary. Now that is a fab letter or post-box and it now features in family folk lore. We were driving along quite happily and both my wife and I saw a car coming towards us, albeit through some trees and round a corner. We were, presumably, mistaken, for the car just seemed to vanish. We joked that the car had gone into this post-box and would emerge, somewhere, from a similar one. We are still on the lookout for a similar one and this one was seen in 2001.

Moving now down to Cornwall, this one is in a little settlement called Kehelland near Camborne where my wife’s ancestors once lived. Maybe they knew this post box.


This one is Victorian again. The photo was taken in 2011

And here’s another which my ancestors might have known in Capel St Peter near Butley, Suffolk.


I love the message on this one.


These photos date from 2004.

One final Victorian post box.


But why is it green? The answer is that it now finds itself in the Republic of Eire. It’s in the small town of Borris in County Carlow. It’s good to see that the republic can still use a ‘royal’ post-box. Well, it makes no sense to change it. The photo was taken in 2011

I could fill pages with other boxes, but it is time to stop.


June 12, 2013

A Happy Nerd can be quite highbrow when it comes to poetry. This slim anthology, published in 1946, is a favourite volume.


You are probably already recognising a touch of sarcasm in my opening sentence, although, in truth, I can like what might be deemed more highbrow poetry. But verse is more in my line – simple, short, and maybe a bit pithy.

I went to Noke goes through the counties of England. The author has collected local rhymes about places. Here are a few linked to places I feel close to!

Let’s start with Suffolk.


Guess which two places I have ancestors from? That’s right, Halesworth and Blythburgh!

And now Sussex.


I have ancestors from Chiddingly and East Hoathly – and also Peasmarsh which gets a put down in the verse below.


Many of my ancestors come from Kent


And finally, Wiltshire where I have lived for all of my married  life.


Hmm! I look over Salisbury Plain from my house and I think it is a magical place although it can’t be denied that people used to get lost and die there because of a lack of landmarks.