Memories are powerful family possessions that profoundly link hearts together. Family memories are a legacy we pass on to future generations. They serve as a bridge between the past, present, and future.
The marriage settlement between William Butler and Jane Davis.
A marriage settlement was very necessary in those days for a wealthy lady like Jane Davis – her assets in the settlement were £808 16s 11d which is now worth about £976,900.00. Once again things were very different from today. At the time an unmarried woman had the right to own property and make contracts in her own name but, upon marriage, a woman’s legal rights and obligations were subsumed by those of her husband. Married women did not have any rights due to the legal fiction, called coverture, that a husband and wife are one person. Once a woman married she had no claim to her property as her husband had full control and could do with it whatever suited him!
Serendipity has struck with the memories of Frank Sumsion who was born on Combe Down in 1926, meaning he’s now into his 90s.
He published these on Bathonian’s past and present memories on Facebook – a closed group for Bathonians and their families. I loved them and they had a great response from members. Thinking they deserved a wider audience, I contacted Frank and asked whether I could publish them here. Luckily he said yes, so they have been added.
"My first vivid memory as a four or five-year-old child was moving home with my dad, mum, two brothers and sister into an almost derelict cottage in Byfield Place, off Summer Lane, Combe Down. I clearly remember walking into a very dark room with one gas light in a corner, a stone sink and an iron fireplace with a hob and small oven...."
"My memories of Combe Down are still quite clear in my mind, it was all so different then. As children, we wandered everywhere and people seemed to notice you and talk to you more...."
"Another 50 yards or so brought you to Mrs Colmer’s sweet shop, a favourite of ours. Mrs Colmer ran the shop, and Mr Colmer, the local shoe repairer, worked in the cellar below. We wore boots most of the time, the soles covered in studs to make them last, my dad repaired them...."
"Towards the right-hand side of the Firs Field was a ‘light hole’, approximately 20 feet in diameter, it serviced the underground stone mines, it was surrounded by a dry-stone wall three or four feet high. We were told never to climb over the wall...."
"I vividly remember vast numbers of the once-common lapwing (the peewit). Before the Second World War lapwings would flock at Foxhill. There were no houses only fields, owned by Springfield Farm. Part of my evening paper round involved delivering to an old farmhouse, at the outset of war it was taken over by the Admiralty. During what must have been early summer, I would spend an hour or more sitting perfectly still in the fields, surrounded by hundreds of these birds. Also there always seemed to be a skylark, high in the sky, singing clearly..."
"I previously mentioned our return to Combe Down School. My first teacher was Miss Condy, she taught juniors and came from Claverton. She was kind and caring. I soon moved up the general classes and remember most of the teachers names...."
He designed Cleveland Bridge at the site of a Roman ferry crossing, linking the A4 London Road with the A36. It’s a cast iron arch bridge with lodges like miniature Greek temples at each corner and was was built in 1827 by William Hazledine. Oh, and he had also designed Holy Trinity church.
There was Rev Carr Glyn Acworth (1842 – 1928) who was Vicar from 1877 – 1890. He was also was married 3 times but he had no children.
Rev Alfred Richardson (1853 – 1925) was vicar from 1902 – 1914. After he retired he wrote: An historical guide to Monkton Combe, Combe Down and Claverton with Rev David Lee Pitcairn (1848 – 1936) who was vicar of Monkton Combe from 1883 – 1914 and also a great grandson of Arthur Guinness (1725 – 1803) – the brewer.
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