UK Trip 4 May 2005: Somerset, Devon, Cornwall

Continued from Hayes family in Somerset.

We had breakfast at 7:30, and left Pickford House at Beckington just after 8:00. We had had a very pleasant stay there for two nights.

Pickford House B&B, Beckington, Somerset 4 May 2005

Pickford House B&B, Beckington, Somerset 4 May 2005

We drove through Midsomer Norton, because there was a TV detective series called Midsomer Murders. Midsomer Norton looked a rather unprepossessing place, and it turned out that the detective series was filmed in Oxfordshire anyway. We drove down the Cheddar Gorge this time, and went to the post office in Axbridge, where we bought post cards, pens and stationery. We drove up the High Street and round the village. There was a field full of Somerset sheep, which seemed fatter than the Merinos at home, and at the other side of the field there appeared to be two llamas lying down, but they were so far away we could not see them very well.

Fields at Axbridge, Somerset. Is the animal by the fience on the right a llama? 4 May 2005

Fields at Axbridge, Somerset. Is the animal by the fence on the right a llama? 4 May 2005

We called at Wookey Hole, but did not go in to the caves. We drove through Glastonbury, and saw the Tor, which was not nearly as numinous and mysterious as it has been touted to be. We had read in many places that it was supposed to be spooky, and one of the “thin places” of the earth, but it looked quite ordinaryas we drove past. Nearby we passed a sign to Burrowbridge Mump, and we wondered what a “mump” could be — something like a tumulus or tump, perhaps? We saw a roundish hill off to the left, and assumed that that was it. Then we drove along a narrow road across the Somerset flats, lined with basket willows, and turned off to the left, and after about a mile climbed up to North Curry, where my great great great grandfather Simon Hayes was born about 1785.

The Somerset Leveds, with the road lined with basket willows 4 May 2005

The Somerset Levels, with the road lined with basket willows 4 May 2005

The sky was overcast and there was a chilly wind blowing. From the hill there was a view a long way over the Somerset Levels. We went to the church, and when we got out of the car we heard the sound of the wind blowing in the trees and the raucous cries of strange birds. That was numinous and mysterious, far more so than Glastonbury, and had a rather menacing atmosphere.

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset. 4 May 2005

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset. 4 May 2005

The harsh cries of crows, and some that sounded like owls made it feel somehow unearthly. It was what H.P. Lovecraft might describe as eldritch. The church with its octagonal tower was grey and crumbling and covered with lichen, and looked like an abandoned building from Elidor, something from another time and place. If you are talking about thin places, this was the thinnest place I had ever been in.

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset, 4 May 2005.

St Peter & St Paul Church, North Curry, Somerset, 4 May 2005.

Inside the church was also rather impressive, in a somewhat different way, and it seemed to be a lively and active parish. There was an ikon of St Peter & St Paul, and we lit candles in front of it. We had lunch in the Bird in Hand pub, ham eggs and chips, which was expensive, but much better than English food as I remembered it from 40 years ago. In Bath we had gone to a Chinese restaurant, because of my memories of the banality of English cuisine. This was a surprise, and as we continued on our travels we discovered the cooking much better than it had been in the 1960s; perhaps it was the influence of all the cooking shows on TV that seemed to have proliferated in recent years.

Pub in North Curry

Pub in North Curry

The inhabited parts of the village were not nearly as spooky as the bits around the church. Though my ancestor Simon Hayes claimed to have been born here, there was no record of his baptism in the church records, and he appears to have dropped into the world out of nowhere. Perhaps he was a refugee from Elidor.

North Curry, Somerset

North Curry, Somerset

We left North Curry by a different road, and filled up with petrol before joining the M5 motorway, which took us to the vicinity of Exeter in Devon. We turned off to Dunchideock and Doddiscombesleigh and
the sun came out again as we drove down narrow country lanes with high banks and hedges, so one could see very little other than the narrow sunken lanes ahead.

Devonshire lanes near Dunchideock,  with high banks and hedges, and no view of the countryside. 4 May 2005.

Devonshire lanes near Dunchideock, with high banks and hedges, and no view of the countryside. 4 May 2005.

We saw nothing more of Dunchideock than a sign on a hedge, and Doddiscombesleigh seemed to be little more than the pub and the church. The pub was the Nobody, and I remembered someone on the British Genealogy newsgroup saying one could get a good meal there, but we’d just had a very adequate meal
at North Curry, and so were not hungry enough. We went on to Ashton in the Teign Valley, where the Stooke family had lived.

The River Teign at Ashton. 4 May 2005.

The River Teign at Ashton. 4 May 2005.

My great grandfather William Allen Hayes had married Mary Barber Stooke in Bristol, and then run the Red Lion Hotel in Axbridge. The Stooke family goes back to the 16th century in the Teign valley. Ashton church seemed much deader than the one in North Curry, and was locked.

Ashton parish church, Devon. 4 May 2005.

Ashton parish church, Devon. 4 May 2005.

There was only one monument to the Stookes that we could find in the churchyard, that of Edmund Stooke of Rydon (1788-1860). He was the uncle of my great great grandfather Thomas Stooke, who was born in Chudleigh in 1815.

Monument to Edward Stooke of Rydon in Ashton churchyard. 5 May 2005.

Monument to Edward Stooke of Rydon in Ashton churchyard. 4 May 2005.

We then went to Trusham, where Stookes had also lived, and the church was a bit better maintained, and there were monuments to the Stooke family inside the church. We spoke to a woman there who was looking after the church.

Trusham parish church. There are several monuments to members of the Stooke family inside the church. 4 May 2015

Trusham parish church. There are several monuments to members of the Stooke family inside the church. 4 May 2005

Trusham village seemed to be a bit bigger than Ashton, and had more inhabitants.

Trusham, Devon. 4 May 2015

Trusham, Devon. 4 May 2005

We went on to Chudleigh, where Thomas Stooke had been born, and parked outside the library, where some kids were skateboarding in the street. I tried to listen for their accents to hear what local
accents sounded like, but everywhere we have been we heard Estuary accents.

Chudleigh parish churc. My great great grandfather Thomas Stooke was baptised here in 1815.

Chudleigh parish church. My great great grandfather Thomas Stooke was baptised here in 1815.

We then drove through Bovey Tracey, where a Stooke had been minister in the Commonwealth period, and on to Moretonhampstead, where I had nearly had a job as a kitchen boy in a hotel in 1966, and then across Dartmoor to Tavistock, via Two Bridges. Dartmoor looked a lot like the South African highveld.

Dartmoor - resmbles the South Africah Highveld.

Dartmoor – resembles the South African Highveld.

We drove up to the A30, and crossed Bodmin Moor and turned off to Blisland just past Jamaica Inn, and stayed at Trewint Farm near the hamlet of Waterloo, run by Mike and Carol. After dumping our cases we drove in to Bodmin, and had supper at the Weavers bar in the middle of town. They had Cornish steaks on the menu, but no Cornish pasties, so we had ham omelets.

St Petroc's Church, Bodmin, Cornwall

St Petroc’s Church, Bodmin, Cornwall

The town seemed noisy, with small motor bikes running around. After supper we drove around looking for places where the Growden family had lived at various times, and found Higher Bore Street, which was one of their homes. We drove back over the moor, though around Blisland most of the roads were narrow sunken country lanes with high banks and hedges like those in Devon, so we could not see much of the countryside.

Continued at Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, on election day.

UK Trip 3 May 2005: Hayes family in Somerset

Continued from UK trip 2 May 2005: Heathrow to Bath | Khanya

We woke up at at Pickford House, Beckington, at 5:00 am, to the sound of birds singing, and the sun rising over the Somerset fields. Went down to breakfast at 7:30, and then set off for Bristol to fetch my second cousin Mary Jane Conway. We drove through Norton St Philip, to miss the Bath traffic, but the road was still pretty busy, and signposting got less adequate the closer we got to the centre of Bristol, so we ended up going around under the Clifton suspension bridge, which was a nice thing to see anyway, but had difficulty finding the area where Jane Conway’s house was. We stopped to ask at an estate agent’s, and when we eventually found it there was nowhere to park, so Val went in and brought Jane out, and then we went off to Kelston, travelling through Bitton, where our great great grandparents James Andrew Hayes and Catherine Chaffey were married in 1846, but didn’t see the church, which was off the road. But at least we got a picture of what the village looked like.

We found Upper Lodge, Kelston, without difficulty, and Josephine Tsegaye, our 5th cousin, was there with her sister Catharine Stokes, and we chatted to them about the family history, and I got Catharine’s information up to date, as well as the details of her children.

Hayes cousins: Josdephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes, Stephen Hayes. Kelston, Somerset 3 May 2005

Hayes cousins: Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes, Stephen Hayes. Kelston, Somerset 3 May 2005

They had a Liberal Democrat poster outside their gate. There was to be a general election, but the political campaigning seemed more subdued than in South Africa, with most of the posters being smaller. We had seen mostly Liberal Democrat ones, and a few Conservative ones, but very few Labour. In South African cities election posters were tied to every lamp post, but here they were tied to people’s fences, so one could guess the political affiliation of the residents.

Looking at the family history: Steve Hayes, Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes. 3 May 2005

Looking at the family history: Steve Hayes, Josephine Tsegaye, Mary Jane Conway, Catharine Stokes. 3 May 2005

After lunch we took Jane Conway to Winscombe, Somerset, where our great great great grandparents Simon Hayes and Rachel Allen were married in 1814, and took photos of the church, and got copies of the parish magazine.

The road to Winscombe, at the foot of the Mendip Hills in Somerset 3 May 2015

The road to Winscombe, at the foot of the Mendip Hills in Somerset 3 May 2015

The church of St James was quite a way from the centre of the village.Simon and Rachel Hayes had four sons, one of whom died young. The other three moved to Bristol where they were builders and carpenters.

St James's Church, Winscombe, Somerset. 5 May 2005

St James’s Church, Winscombe, Somerset. 3 May 2005

We then went to Axbridge, to see where our great grandfather William Allen Hayes had spent the latter part of his life as landlord of the Red Lion pub, and my grandfather Percy Hayes had grown up. William Allen Hayes had married Mary Barber Stooke, and was first a builder in Bristol before moving to Axbridge to run the pub.

The building that was formerly the Red Lion pub in Axbridge High Street, though when we saw it in 2005 it was no longer a pub but a private house.

The building that was formerly the Red Lion pub in Axbridge High Street, though when we saw it in 2005 it was no longer a pub but a private house.

The Red Lion is no longer a pub, but a private house. Nevertheless, Jane, bold as brass, knocked on the
door and asked if we could have a look inside. It was now owned by an American couple, David and Juliet Maclay. David’s family were from Boston, and he does historical restorations, and offered us a cup of tea and showed us the library he had built upstairs, which was very kind of him to do for complete strangers. He also had an interesting icon of Ronald Reagan making a speech, with Henry Kissinger and others floating round his head like demons to tempt him, and side panels showing American atrocities in various parts of the world.

Icon of former  US President Ronald Reagan in the old Red Lion pub in Axbridge 3 May 2005.

Icon of former US President Ronald Reagan in the old Red Lion pub in Axbridge 3 May 2005.

We went to the square, and took some photos of the church, and a woman was coming to lock it just as we got there, but let us look at it. She said she locked it because she was the one who lived closest.

Parish church in Axbridge, Somerset. 3 May 2005

Parish church in Axbridge, Somerset. 3 May 2005

We drove up the Cheddar Gorge, and took some photos there as well, and then took Jane home. It was interesting to see the Cheddar Gorge, as that was where my grandfather had grown up, and we have some photos in an old family album that show it.

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset 3 May 2005

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset 3 May 2005

It was after 7:00 pm, so the traffic was not too bad, and we drove in through Bedminster where the Hayes family had lived in the second half of the 19th century. On the way Jane Conway commented about the election, and said how horrified Mummy would have been that there was a Labour
government, and at the thought of the Tories not being elected. We found that rather strange and wondered how many other people of her age (77) would take their political opinions from their parents so unquestioningly. There was still no parking outside Jane’s house, however, so we said goodbye
to her at the gate, and drove back to Josephine’s house via Bitton and Kelston again.

Josephine’s father, Crofton Hayes, had also been in the building trade, and had had a firm of shopfitters. He had a large house near Kelston, and two of his daughters lived in the attached lodges, though the main house had been sold after he died.

Upper Lodge, Cleeve Hill, Kelston, Bath, home of Josephine and Ezra Tsegaye. 3 May 2005

Upper Lodge, Cleeve Hill, Kelston, Bath, home of Josephine and Ezra Tsegaye. 3 May 2005

We were hoping to meet Josephine’s sister Lydia Curtis, whom she said had most of the historical information on the family, but by the time we got there it was too late to go to see them, so we chatted to Josephine instead, and she told stories about some members of the family. We were also sorry not to meet Josephine’s husband Ezra, who had been ill. He was originally from Ethiopia.

We drove back to Beckington quite late that night, and were beginning to be quite familiar with that road.

Continued at UK Trip 4 May 2005: Somerset, Devon & Cornwall.

Index to all posts on our UK trip here UK Holiday May 2005

Stooke family on Wiki spaces

I’ve started adding some information about the Stooke family on our Wikispaces pages.

My great grandmother was Mary Barber Stooke who married William Allen Hayes, and they lived first in Bedminster, near Bristol, and later at Axbridge in Somerset, where they kept the Red Lion Hotel. Mary Barber Stooke’s father Thomas Stooke came from Chudleigh in Devon, and most of the earlier generations came lived in the Teign Valley in Devon.

Benoke family – Allen descendants

June Murphy has just sent me a lot of information on the family of her great grandfather Hooper Scott Benoke, and from it I’ve been able to to work out that June and I are 5th cousins, and we are both descended from William and Ann Allen of Winscombe, Somerset.

The Allen family seems to have been quite prolific. At various times I’ve discovered mysterious cousins staying with Hayes relatives in censuses in Bristol, and have gradually been tracking them down, and most have turned out to be Allen descendants. Some of the surnames of descendants are Hayes, Williams, Hill, Purnell, Nipper, Benoke and there are probably many more to be discovered.

A few more Hayes bits

Yesterday I went to the LDS Family History Centre in Johannesburg, and looked at the microfilms of the parish registers of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. A lot were faint and illegible, but I did manage to find the marriage of John Hayes to Margaritta Jane Caple, and the baptism of their son William Wickham Hayes. John Hayes was the brother of my great great grandfather James Andrew Hayes.

The Caple (or Capel) family were from Winscombe in Somerset.

Allen, Williams, Benoke, and Nipper families of Somerset

June Murphy replied to a query I had left on the RootsWeb message boards, about the Allen, Williams, Benoke and Nipper families of Somerset. She is descended from Hooper Scott Benoke, who was staying with his grandfather Giles Williams in the 1861 census.

June also left a message in our message forum (see sidebar), that Hooper Scott Benoke is her great grandfather, and descended from Ann Williams. She notes that he was married three times, and I only had information about one of his marriages, to Louisa Nipper, who I suspected may have been related to Joseph Nipper and Mary Williams. June confirmed that Louisa was their daughter, and so first cousin to Hooper Scott Benoke, as their mothers were sisters. So now I’m hoping to hear more from June on Hooper Scott Benoke’s other marriages, and his descendants.

My great great grandmother was Rachel Allen of Winscombe, Somerset, who married Simon Hayes or Hays. Rachel’s sister Hannah married Giles Williams, hence the link between the families. Giles Williams and Hannah Allen had four children, one of whom died young. Hannah appears to have been dead before 1834, though i have not found a record of her death or burial. In 1834 Giles Williams married Sidonia Sweet.

Hayes, Allen, Williams, Purnell

Today I spent quite a lot of time making use of the OriginsNet free offer for 4 July, and seeing what I could find. The most useful things were the 1841 and 1871 censuses, though they are not fully indexed, and some of the images did not display properly.

But they seemed to have Bristol and Somerset fairly well covered, and I looked up my great great great grandparents, Simon and Rachel Hayes, in the 1841 census, and think I may have found a clue to a long-standing mystery.

Ages ago one of the first censuses we found (Bedminster 1851) showed John Hayes (son of Simon and Rachel) and a cousin staying with him, Elena Purnell, aged 17.

Ever since then we’ve looked for a Purnell connection, but have never found it in more than 20 years of searching.

But in 1841 Simon and Rachel were staying in a household that included Ann Purnell, aged 45, and two younger Purnells, and an Emily Tripp aged 4. This was in Paul Street, Bedminster, Bristol. It seems possible, then, that Ann was Rachel’s sister. We know what happened to her other two sisters — one married Giles Williams, and the other married George Hill, but what happened to Ann was a mystery. So now we have to find her marriage to a Purnell, to confirm this, and also that she had a daughter Elena, and another loose end will be tied up.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.