Towards a house history of… the Lion Inn (Part 1)

For my first contribution towards a Waters Upton house history I’m going to look at one of the few older properties in the parish which can, throughout its existence, be identified by name in most records relating to it. Today it is the Bharat Indian Restaurant, and for a while in the 1800s it was known as the New Inn, but for most of its near 200 year history this home and business premises was named the Lion Inn.

The Lion Inn, as seen in the early 1900s on a Wilding postcard in my collection. Image enhanced and cropped from original.

Before I attempt to give the Lion the House Through Time treatment, I should explain what I mean by ‘towards a house history’. Because of data protection and privacy requirements, and the related issue of more recent records being less accessible, my one-place study of Waters Upton officially ends around the beginning of the Second World War. The same will apply to the accounts of the houses of the parish which I am compiling and will share on this website. In the case of properties which still stand, I will of course include information about them as they are today, but there will be about eight decades of their most recent histories missing. That still leaves a decent period of time for us to look at!

In addition, this post (and others like it, to follow in due course) will provide only an introduction to the people connected with the house. The owners and/or occupants who I have managed to identify will be discussed briefly, with the aim of exploring their stories in more detail later. When those stories are added, I will update this post to include links to them.

Finally, I have yet to consult all of the available records. There are electoral registers and more besides held at Shropshire Archives in Shrewsbury, patiently waiting for me to take a look at them and extract the data they hold. Rather than wait until I have done so before embarking on this house history journey however, I have chosen to share what I have, knowing that I can update things later. I’ll now get on with doing exactly that.

Inn like a Lion…

A notice published on the front page of the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 21 June 1833 provides a beginning for the Lion’s story, nearly two centuries ago:

At Waters Upton and Wellington.
At the Lion Inn, Waters Upton, in the County of Salop, on Wednesday, the 26th Day of June, 1833, at Four o’Clock in the Afternoon, subject such Conditions as shall be there and then produced, and in the following or such other Lots as shall be agreed upon at the Time of Sale:
ALL that newly-erected and well-accustomed PUBLIC HOUSE, or Licenced Beer House, called The Lion, situate at Waters Upton aforesaid now in the Occupation of Samuel Nickless, with the Stables, Cowhouses, Walled Garden, and Premises thereunto belonging.
And also all those Four small Pieces of good Meadow and Pasture LAND, lying together and adjoining the House, and containing three Acres or thereabouts, also occupied by Samuel Nickless.
The House consists of excellent Cellaring and spacious and commodious Kitchen, Parlour and Lodging Rooms. It is admirably adapted for Business of any kind, being situate adjoining the Road leading from Wellington to Whitchurch, and at the corner of the Road leading from that Road to Market Drayton, &c. and part of the Premises may at a trifling expense be converted into a Shop. […]

What a wonderfully informative notice! Not only do we find from this that the Lion was “newly-erected”, we also get an impression of the house itself, with its “excellent Cellaring” and those “spacious and commodious” rooms.

The 1911 census recorded that the building had seven rooms (including the kitchen but not including any scullery, landing, lobby, bathroom or closets); the 1921 census says nine. The reason for the apparent increase is not clear. The building might have been extended between the censuses, or a couple of rooms may have been divided. Or the head of the household – the same person in both years – may simply have interpreted the instructions differently on each occasion. Curiously, the room count for the nearby Swan Inn went from nine in 1911 to seven in 1921!

Pride of place

Amongst the other information in the 1833 auction notice is a description of the Lion’s location. The house stands on the East side of what is now the A442, the Wellington to Hodnet and Whitchurch road, on the South side of its junction with the main road through Waters Upton village (from which a far from direct route to Market Drayton can be followed). An ideal location to tempt thirsty travellers or workers (such as waggoners) passing by, while also being well situated for local customers.

The other buildings belonging to the Lion – “Stables, Cowhouses, […] and Premises” – and adjoining parcels of land occupied along with the house (and its walled garden) – “Four small Pieces of good Meadow and Pasture […] containing three Acres or thereabouts” – are also noted in the auction notice.

The tithe map and apportionment records created in 1837 provide details of at least some of these pieces of land. A “House [Buildings] Garden & Croft” (number 121 on the tithe map) corresponds with the Lion’s location. The owner of that property also possessed Middle Marsh (122, pasture, two roods and 20 perches in extent), Lower Marsh (123, meadow, one acres, two roods and 28 perches) and piece of land described as a Garden (147, no description of cultivation given, 25 perches in extent). Below, on an extract from a later (Ordnance Survey) map, I have drawn a line to indicate the boundary of those pieces of land and added the numbers from the tithe map.

Map adapted from an extract from NLS Maps. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence.

The nature of the beast

Another snippet from the notice of the Lion’s sale in 1833: the property was described as a “PUBLIC HOUSE, or Licenced Beer House”. It seems likely that the Lion was one of the thousands of new public houses which appeared in the wake of the Beerhouse Act 1830. Under this Act any rate payer could apply for a licence (costing two guinea annually) to brew and sell beer on their premises.

No clue as to the original owner of the Lion and its associated land is given in the notice of sale, but the above-mentioned tithe apportionment records of 1837 probably tell us who purchased the property – although there is some confusion over his exact identity. The apportionment agreement referred to a William Felton as “the Owner of a Messuage Garden and several Closes of Land containing by Estimation Three Acres and twenty two perches Statute Measure”. However the accompanying schedule names the landowner as Thomas Felton – perhaps the same Thomas Felton who appeared on the 1841 census at Waters Upton as a publican.

I have my doubts about Thomas being the owner, not least because the register of voters for 1842-43 includes William Felton, with abodes at Rowton and Waters Upton, as the owner of a “Freehold house and land” at Waters Upton – occupied by Thomas Felton. Subsequent registers, up to that of 1850-51, state that William Felton had his abode at Bratton in the parish of Wrockwardine, and referred to his house and land at Waters Upton as the Lion Inn.

William Felton does not appear as a Waters Upton voter in the electoral registers after 1850-51. This corresponds with the death of a 77-year-old William Felton, registered in Wellington Registration District in the first quarter of 1851. I believe he was the William Felton enumerated on the 1841 census at Rowton as a farmer, his age (likely rounded down) given as 65. It appears that his son John Felton then inherited the Lion – and went on to change its name.

Between the Lions

John Felton of Bratton appeared in the lists of voters as the owner of a freehold house and land at Waters Upton before his father’s death. He was likely the John Felton, son of William Sarah, baptised 25 May 1806 at Kinnersley (nowadays Kynnersley). He wed Melona Meredith at High Ercall on 2 October 1837, at which time (according to the allegation made when he applied for his marriage licence) he was a butcher. In 1851 he was recorded on the census as a farmer of 184 acres, living with wife Melona and their children at Long Lane in the parish of Wrockwardine.

John’s property in Waters Upton was not identified by the name of the house or its occupier in the aforementioned lists. Similar entries in those lists continued up to and including that of 1858-59. Then, from 1859-60 until at least 1871, we see John Felton of “Long Lane, near Wellington, Salop” as the owner of a freehold house and land at Waters Upton named as the New Inn.

The establishment formerly known as the Lion appears as the New Inn on the censuses of 1861 and 1871. During the 1870s however the inn’s original name was restored – the earliest reference I have found so far is in a report in the Wellington Journal of 14 October 1876 (page 8). The Lion’s return may well have been a consequence of the death – on 19 July 1875 at Long Lane according his entry in that year’s probate calendar – of John Felton.

I have yet to trace the ownership of the Lion from 1875, although I do know (thanks to the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 1 March 1907, page 8) that on 28 February 1907 “the ‘Lion’ public house, at Waters Upton, with some 3 acres of land, was sold to Mr. W. T. Southam, Shrewsbury, for £850.” There are however other people connected with the history of this house for us to look at – particularly those who lived there and called it home. I will introduce them to you in Part 2.

The Lion Inn, between its days as an inn and its current existence as the Bharat Indian Restaurant. Photo by Harry Pope, taken from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons licence.

By the numbers: How Waters Upton’s doors got their digits (Part 2)

< Back to Part 1.

An important development in the history of house numbering outside London was the enactment of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act of 1847. This legislation “comprised in one Act, sundry provisions for paving, draining, cleansing, lighting and improving towns and populous districts.” Sections 64 and 65 of the Act gave greater control over house numbers and street names to certain commissioners.

The commissioners in question were those of the towns and districts to which this legislation applied, typically those appointed under Town Improvement Acts. They could have other titles, such as trustees. Section 64 allowed them to “cause the houses and buildings in all or any of the streets to be marked up with numbers as they think fit, and […] cause to be put up or painted on a conspicuous part of some house, building, or place at or near each end, corner, or entrance of every such street the name by which such street is to be known”. Section 65 then stated that the “occupiers of houses and other buildings in the streets shall mark their houses with such numbers as the commissioners shall approve of”.

Eleven years later, many of the provisions of the above Act were incorporated into the Local Government Act 1858, which was deemed to form part of the Public Health Act 1848. The powers granted under this combined legislation were adopted by a number of Shropshire’s towns. The county’s newspapers, copies of which I have perused at the British Newspaper Archive, show that eventually, discussions about street naming and house numbering in those towns took place. (In the following paragraphs, ESJ means Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal; SC, Shrewsbury Chronicle; and WJ, the Wellington Journal.)

On Monday 18 June 1866 at a meeting of the Local Board for Oswestry, “Mr Bayley called attention to the desirability of putting up the names of the streets and numbering the houses. (Hear, hear.)” Six months later, on Monday 10 December, “The Chairman proposed that all the houses of the town should be numbered.” This was approved, but the work was not carried out. It was not until 1880 that new proposals were put to the Town Council and adopted. In supporting them, councillors referred to the large volumes of mail – including election addresses – that went undelivered because addressees could not be found. (Oswestry Advertiser, 20 Jun 1866, p5, and 12 Dec 1866, p7; WJ, 8 May 1880, p7.)

At the beginning of 1871, Shrewsbury Town Council discussed “the plates of the names of the streets” which were being put up. In addition, “The numbering of the houses, for the purpose of aiding the Registrar General in the taking of the census” was to be considered by a committee. Confirmation that this work was about to begin was given at a meeting of the Shrewsbury Improvement Committee in October that year. (ESJ, 15 Feb 1871, p8, and 18 Oct 1871, p6.)

Also in 1871, at the annual meeting of Wellington’s Improvement Commissioners in June, “An application was considered from Mr. Boyd, postmaster, praying that the Board would consider the question of numbering the houses, on the ground that it would facilitate the delivery of letters.” The matter came up again at later meetings, but each time was deferred. A decade passed before it was agreed that the town’s houses should be numbered; plans were finalised in December 1881. (ESJ, 28 Jun 1871, p6; SC, 20 Oct 1871, p8; ESJ, 26 Oct 1881, p9, and 28 Dec 1881, p6.)

By the time some of Shropshire’s urban representatives had gotten their collective acts together over street naming and house numbering, provisions enabling these improvements in country districts were in place. The Public Health Act of 1875 (according to volume 16 of The Laws of England) conferred the provisions of the Towns Improvement Clauses Act on all urban districts. Crucially for this story, it also allowed Local Government Boards to use the Act’s powers in rural districts. As we have seen however, having those powers granted and having them applied were two very different things.

To say that it took a while for house numbering to become widespread in rural areas would be an understatement. I think that the benefits were accepted, but there was a reluctance on the part of parish officials to make and carry through the necessary plans, or spend the money that was required, or compel local residents to play their part.

In the end it was neither concerns over census-taking nor issues with mail delivery that swayed the smaller settlements of Shropshire. The threat of names being struck off voters’ lists was what finally got numbers and names displayed in reluctant rural parishes.

On 7 July 1905, the Shrewsbury Chronicle reported that Mr J W St Lawrence Leslie had been appointed a revising barrister on the Oxford circuit. Prior to this his name had appeared in the Shropshire papers as Deputy Recorder (from 1899) and then ‘full’ Recorder (from 1904) of Shrewsbury. (WJ, 1 Jul 1899 and 27 Feb 1904.) Much greater prominence in the county’s press lay ahead for John William St Lawrence Leslie.

Mr Leslie’s duty as revising barrister was to hold ‘courts’ for revising and signing off the lists of those entitled to vote in parliamentary and local elections. He had to consider applications made by people who wanted their names added to these lists, and objections made against the inclusion of these names or of any of those already on the list. After weighing up the legal pros and cons he would confirm additions, and strike off those not eligible to vote. (A short guide to Electoral registration and the registers before 1918, in PDF format, is available from the Surrey History Centre; the full legislation – the Parliamentary Registration Act 1843, as it stood, with amendments, in Mr Leslie’s day – can be read in The Statutes of Practical Utility.)

A revising barrister could also bring their judgement to bear on the lists before them without being prompted by objectors. After he had settled into his new role, Mr Leslie did just that. On 25 September 1908, the Shrewsbury Chronicle reported as follows:

THE revision of voting lists in Shropshire has proceeded this week […]. The Revising Barrister has repeatedly commented upon the vital necessity of having houses numbered or identified in some way in the now famous column 4, but has been content for the most part to pass lists imperfect in this particular with the intimation that they must be made perfect next year. The remarks Mr. Leslie made on the subject last year rather led one to expect some drastic measures, but doubtless the fact that in many parishes an earnest effort has been made to carry out his wishes had some influence in inducing him to give a further period of grace in those cases where the task of numbering or naming houses – by no means an easy matter in rural parishes – has not yet been carried out.

The difficulties experienced in one of those rural parishes, Lydbury North, were raised at a revising court held that same month (Ludlow Advertiser, 26 Sep 1908, p7). The assistant overseer said he had done his best, but the scattered nature of the houses across the 9½ mile width of the parish made numbering impractical. Neither the parish council nor the owners could see how to start the work asked of them. Mr Leslie’s solution for this issue was to give the houses distinctive names, adding: “If the owners and residents would not carry out the idea then the Parish Council could apply to the Local Government Board for powers to do it themselves and charge the owners.” If a scheme was not implemented, Mr Leslie said, he would “strike off the people not properly described” from the voters’ list.

On 5 October 1909 it was the turn of the seemingly immovable Waters Upton to meet the unstoppable force of John William St Lawrence Leslie. The Shrewsbury Chronicle of 8 October (page 9) reported:

Mr. Leslie held a court for the revision of the local voters’ lists on Tuesday at Newport. […] Each parish with the exception of Waters Upton had complied with the request that the houses should be numbered or named. Mr. Leslie said the landlords in Shropshire had mostly fallen in line with his suggestion. […] With the exception of Wem and Shifnal, which places he had not yet visited, he could say Shropshire was in perfect order. Only in about half-a-dozen cases was the numbering not done, but it would eventually be carried out as required.
When dealing with the Waters Upton list, the Assistant Overseer stated that at the Parish Meeting they declined to have the houses numbered. Several questions were asked by Mr. Leslie who asked why the Parish meeting was ruled by the Rev L. Vernon Yonge, who had first made himself secure by giving a name to the house he occupied. He then encouraged the parishioners not to number the houses. […].

Numbers, and more house names, came to Waters Upton soon after Mr Leslie’s court concluded. Evidence for this can be seen on the household schedules of the 1911 census (and probably on the electoral rolls of course, but I have not yet viewed the registers for that timeframe). Only a small proportion of the householders gave specific addresses, but it is clear that a house numbering scheme was in place. In addition to 39 Harebutts, 43 Waters Upton, and No 45 Terrill Farm, there was “27 High Street”. This, the address given for the Rectory, is the only time I have seen the village’s main street named (albeit unofficially).

The ‘new’ house names given were The Beeches, The White House, and Clematis Cottage. The first two of these also appeared on household schedules when the 1921 census was taken. Almost every home had a name or a number given on that year’s census, and as Clematis Cottage was described as number 31 it appears some or all of the properties with names, also had numbers assigned to them.

Although this is the end of the story of how house numbers came to Waters Upton, it is just the beginning of my research relating to the properties they identify. For one thing, I need to identify exactly where each of those numbered and named houses stand (or, for those which are no more, where they stood). If my research generates results, there will be lots more stories (perhaps that should be house histories) to come…

Picture credits. 5, © Eva the Weaver (Flickr), adapted and used under a Creative Commons licence. Six, public domain image from HippoPx. 7, © Duncan Cumming (Flickr), used under a Creative Commons licence. Nummer 8 by Liza, public domain image from pixabay. Number 9, a mashup of a public domain image from PeakPX and a photo © Kirsty Hall (Flickr), used under a Creative Commons licence.

By the numbers: How Waters Upton’s doors got their digits (Part 1)

House numbers are something we take for granted these days, but it hasn’t always been that way. They didn’t exist in England before the beginning of the 1700s, and they did not appear in Waters Upton until another two centuries had passed. Here are some edited highlights from the 200-year story of the spread of house numbering, from London to other urban areas, and from Shropshire’s towns to its rural parishes, including Waters Upton.

My interest in house numbering, particularly in the parish of Waters Upton, stems from my desire to research the histories of individual houses there as part of my wider one-place study. For me to be able to do this, I need to be able to distinguish one house from another in records relating to the place and its people. The absence of house numbers before the early 1900s makes this a tricky task.

There were a few houses with names of course (The Hall, the Swan, the Lion Inn), and a couple which can be identified from the occupation of the ‘head of the household’ (the rectory, the smithy). There are also a couple of hamlets in Waters Upton parish (the Terrill, the Harebutts) each consisting of just a few houses (and each with a variety of variant spellings in days gone by!). If house histories are not possible for those places then ‘hamlet histories’ – smaller one-place studies within a larger OPS – might be feasible.

What about street names, which were around long before house numbers (my favourite being Shall-I-go-naked Street in Whitechapel St Mary)? In common with many other small settlements, the road along which most of the village’s houses are situated does not have a name. There is the Market Drayton or Hodnet road of course, on the west side of the village, but few of Waters Upton’s homes faced onto this (two of which were the inns which can be identified from their names). And back in the days before Waters Upton expanded, the one road with a name – Riverside Lane – was not a residential street.

The absence of a named street and of numbered houses would not have been a great problem in a small village like Waters Upton. Those seeking a particular house or its occupants would no doubt have been pointed in the right direction soon enough by one of the villagers. In larger settlements however, and particular in cities like London, a plethora of properties made things more complicated. How did people find the building they were looking for?

“Before house numbers,” says The Postal Museum, “businesses used illustrated signs to show people where they were”. In times of less than universal literacy, such signs, using images rather than words, were an important part of the ‘visual culture’ of towns and cities. As Kathryn Kane states in her blog post On the Numbering of Houses they would have “served as landmarks by which a person could give directions to their residence.”

Those who could wield a quill had to write out such directions, rather than addresses as we know them today, when sending letters. I suspect the shortcomings of this way of doings became more and more apparent as the population, and built-up areas, expanded.

The earliest reference to houses in England being numbered appears in volume one of Edward Hatton’s A New View of London, published in 1708. Describing “Prescot street, a spacious and regular Built str. on the S. side of the Tenter Ground in Goodmans fields,” Hatton said that “Instead of Signs, the Houses here are distinguished by Numbers”.

It does not appear that this early experiment sparked immediate imitation elsewhere. The notion of numbers being used to identify properties did eventually catch on though, and in the latter part of the 18th century received ‘official’ approval. This came about as part of much broader efforts to tackle the state of the streets in and around the city of London.

Writing about these times in his Modern History of the City of London (1896), Philip Norman stated: “The condition of the paving in the roads and foot-paths of the City [had] long given rise to complaints”. He also observed that “The want of proper tablets to distinguish the names of streets and courts, and of regularity in numbering the houses, occasioned great difficulty, especially to strangers.”

These issues led to laws designed to bring cleanliness, safety and order to the capital’s thoroughfares, through the appointment of commissioners with powers to put improvements in place. The city of Westminster was the first to secure such legislation, in 1762 (2 Geo III c21), although further statutes were needed to make this workable. The first of those updates (3 Geo III c23) to the original “act for paving, cleansing, and lighting, the squares, streets, and lanes” in Westminster (and other parishes and liberties in Middlesex) is of particular interest. It gave commissioners the power to order “the names of the streets or squares to be affixed on the corner houses”.

By 1766, according to John Noorthouck (in A New History of London, published 1773), “The paving of Westminster under the new regulations was […] far advanced, and the great disparity in elegance and convenience between the Westminster side of Temple bar, and the London side, was […] observable to every one who passed through”.

Westminster’s example was quickly copied. Acts for Southwark (6 Geo III c24) and the city of London (6 Geo III c26) were soon secured. Southwark’s act empowered commissioners to order the names of streets, lanes, courts etc to be displayed, and to “order and direct the houses within the said streets and lanes, and within the said courts, yards, alleys, passages, and places, or any of them, to be numbered with figures placed or painted on the doors thereof, or in such other part of the said houses respectively as [the commissioners] shall think proper”.

London’s legislation included very similar provisions. Other districts followed. Evidence for claims made elsewhere online that house numbering resulted from provisions in the Postage Act of 1765 has been sought but not found.

“Across London,” wrote Jerry White in London In The Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing (2012), “these were momentous changes. They were not comprehensive, because some place like the ancient Liberty of Norton Folgate in Shoreditch, for instance, opted out of parish statutes through the poverty of their residents. And doubtless the commissioners were not always and everywhere as vigilant as they should have been. But the reorganisation of paving and lighting, the naming of streets and numbering of houses, all made London tangibly more manageable. And more modern too.”

London’s streets certainly saw improvements, but there were still problems with regard to the house numbers and street names on display. The names to be used were those by which streets were usually or ‘properly’ known, and the commissioners had no say in exactly which numbers were used.

The consequences, as described by the Postal Museum, were that “numbering systems varied even in the same street”; as for street names: “There were irregularities everywhere, and the naming of streets and parts of streets was left to the idiosyncrasy or whim of the owner.” The Illustrated London News of 16 May 1846 complained:

Scores of streets in different and widely-separated parts of this vast City bear the same name, and the numbering of houses is sometimes past all comprehension. The slightest imperfection in the address of a letter sends it on a voyage of discovery to all the squares and terraces of the same name, till it finds the right one. This must add much to the labour of the [Post Office], while the defect is out of its power to remove.

The same concerns were expressed in 1854 by the Inspector of Letter Carriers in a report to Rowland Hill, which gave several examples of horrendous house numbering and street naming nightmares. The very next year however, the enactment of the Metropolis Local Management Act (18 & 19 Vict c120) offered hope of a solution. It created a Metropolitan Board of Works with wide-ranging powers including the regulation of the numbering of houses and the naming of streets.

The slow progress in the early years of this body were noted in the annual reports of the Postmaster General in 1856 (“No improvement has yet been made in the street nomenclature of London”), 1857 (“some little has been done”), and 1858 (“further progress has been made in improving the nomenclature of the streets in London and the numbering of the houses; but the main work has still to be accomplished”).

Despite this slow start, and some resistance from the public to altered addresses, by 1871 4,800 street names had been changed and 100,000 houses renumbered in London (Postal Museum figures). The work of letter carriers was made a little easier. The work of future house historians, not so much!

In the meantime, while this progress was being made in London, legislation allowing similar improvements to be made beyond the capital had been introduced. It’s time for this story to move away from the Metropolis.

On to Part 2 >

Picture credits. Number 1, © Leo Reynolds (Flickr), used under a Creative Commons licence. Colorful house number, 2, © Martin LaBar (Flickr), used under a Creative Commons licence. Door Number 3 by George Hodan, public domain image from “34”, © Brian (Flickr), adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence.

A puzzling postcard from Waters Upton

A little while ago I bought a postcard which bears a Waters Upton postmark. It does not add to my limited collection of village views – the scene on the rather grubby front of the card depicts Edgbaston Old Church, Birmingham. But it was probably posted by someone living in Waters Upton, or at least close enough for their mail to be franked there, someone named Elizabeth. Who was she?

“Dear Master David” wrote Elizabeth, “Many thanks for P.C how splendid to hear you are in the top form I hope to meet you next time through [= though?] if possible I was so disappointed Much love to you”. The postcard was franked on 11 May 1908.

The recipient

At least the identity of the postcard’s recipient was fairly easy to establish. The card was addressed to Master D. G. Loveday, care of W. Deedes Esq, Mill Mead, Shrewsbury. At the top of the list of results when searching the 1901 census at Findmypast for D* G* Loveday is 4-year-old David G Loveday. He was living at the Manor House in Williamscote, in the Oxfordshire parish in which he was born: Cropredy.

The birth of David Goodwin Loveday, mother’s maiden name Cheape, was registered in the second quarter of 1896 in Banbury registration district. Googling David’s full name generates results from Wikipedia and other websites, showing that he was born on 13 April 1896, was educated at Shrewsbury School, and was an Anglican bishop who died 7 April 1985.

I decided to find out more about David Loveday and his family in the hope that this might help to reveal the identity of Elizabeth. David’s father was John Edward Taylor Loveday. John was born in the first half of 1845 at East Ilsley in Berkshire, where his father (as per the censuses of 1851 and 1861) was Rector. He seems to be best known for printing, “with an Introduction and an Itinerary”, his great grandfather John Loveday’s manuscript Diary of a Tour in 1732 through parts of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. (This tour was probably number 23 in a list of 126 Tours by John Loveday compiled by some of his descendants.) He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 11 June 1862, aged 17.

John Edward Taylor Loveday married Edinburgh-born Margaret Cheape on 15 Oct 1874 at Cameron, in Fife, Scotland. The couple made their home at Williamscote House (the above-mentioned ‘Manor House’), where they were enumerated with their first five children in 1881. John was described as a “Landed Proprietor & Magistrate for Counties of Oxford & Warwick”. They had five more children over the course of the next 15 years, of whom David Goodwin Loveday was the youngest.

It turns out that David was not the first of the Loveday children to spend time in Shrewsbury. The 1901 census records his brother Henry Dodington Loveday, then aged 20 and an articled clerk to a solicitor, lodging with the family of clergyman William Leeke at the Abbey Foregate Vicarage. Another brother, Alexander, was also living in Shrewsbury when the 1901 census was taken. Aged 12, he was boarding at the school his brother David would later attend, Mill Mead, a private establishment under the headmastership of Wyndham Deedes.

Elizabeth . . . who?

The Lovedays’ connections with Shrewsbury might explain how the mysterious Elizabeth became a friend of the family. Was there a lady of that name living in Waters Upton in the early 1900s who looks like a suitable candidate? Of the several Elizabeths on the 1901 and 1911 census returns for the parish, one stands out: Elizabeth Yonge.

Elizabeth Mary Hombersley Yonge, née Groucock, was the wife of the Rev Lyttleton Vernon Yonge. Rev Yonge was a son of Vernon George Yonge, also a clergyman, and part of a prominent Staffordshire family which had its seat at Charnes Hall. Lyttleton was born at the Rectory in Great Bolas, received his education at Cambridge, and although he resided at Waters Upton he was vicar of Rowton, in Ercall Magna parish. Elizabeth, who was also from the parish of Bolas Magna, was a daughter of Thomas Groucock (a farmer of 180 acres in 1881), and of Elizabeth Groucock née Dickin, who was descended on her mother’s side from the Wase family of Waters Upton Hall.

The social standing of the Yonges (and perhaps also the subject of the postcard’s picture) makes Elizabeth my top ‘suspect’ in a case which is not so much a ‘whodunnit’ as a ‘whopostedit’. All I am lacking is any direct evidence that the Yonges and the Lovedays actually knew each other!

The front of the postcard sent to Master D G Loveday by Elizabeth.

Maybe one day I will find that David Goodwin Loveday’s early education, before he went to Shrewsbury School, was as a pupil boarding either with Lyttleton Vernon Yonge or with his fellow clergyman and Waters Upton resident, John Bayley Davies? Or perhaps I will find a document written (or least signed) by Elizabeth, so that I can compare it with the writing on the postcard at the centre of this mystery. Her signature should appear in the Waters Upton marriage register, but the register begun in 1837 is still in use and has not been deposited at Shropshire Archives. The probate copy of her will, a digitised version of which I have obtained from HMCTS via the Gov.UK website, is typewritten and bears no signature.

So is this the end of my investigation? Not quite. Because while looking at the other Elizabeths of Waters Upton, I found another line of enquiry.

Coincidence or connection?

The Elizabeth who piqued my interest was Elizabeth Emma Ball. She was a daughter of William Abraham Richard Ball and his wife Sarah, née Cureton. This Elizabeth spent the early part of her adult life working as a servant before moving back to Waters Upton between 1901 and 1911. There is nothing to suggest that she met the Lovedays unless perhaps she worked for one or more of them as a servant, but if that was the case the development a postcard-exchanging relationship with David Goodwin Loveday seems unlikely. However, if she didn’t know the Lovedays personally, Elizabeth may have known of them, through her younger sister…

Mary Ann Ball was born at Waters Upton on 13 February 1877. By 1891, when she was 14, she was in service, working as a nurse for the family of John Bayley Davies at Waters Upton Rectory. A decade later she was in Shrewsbury, living and working as a housemaid at a house in Belle Vue Road. Then, in 1909, she married Thomas Henry Kimnell.

Thomas was born at Wardington in Oxfordshire on 25 August 1878 and was enumerated there with his family on the censuses of 1881, 1891, and 1901. When the latter census was taken, Thomas was 22 and, like his father, he was an agricultural labourer. Whether his fortunes changed before or after his marriage is unclear, but change they most certainly did. The 1911 census recorded him not as a labourer but as a farmer, working on his own account. With wife Mary Ann and daughter Eva Mary (born 14 March 1910) he was living at Williamscote in Wardington parish.

A second daughter, Helen Elizabeth, was born at Williamscote on 22 February 1914, but the Kimnells’ third and last child, Alice, was born at the end of 1917 or in the first quarter of 1918 on the other side of the River Cherwell in the parish of Bourton. Almost certainly the family was living there when the Banbury Guardian of 5 Jul 1917 reported on a military tribunal at which Thomas, a farmer of 107 acres, successful claimed exemption. From the 1921 census and National Identity Register of 1939 it appears that the family remained there for more than 20 years, at Pewet / Peewit Farm (highlighted on the map above).

Thomas Henry Kimnell of Williamscote died on 16 June 1965 at Woodford Halse in Northamptonshire; his estate was valued at £4531. Mary was also of Williamscote at the time of her death on 17 February 1969; given that her death was registered at Daventry she too may have died at Woodford.

Did the references to Williamscote in the preceding paragraphs cause you to think back to the earlier part of this story, relating to the Loveday family? The hamlet of Williamscote, although lying in the parish of Wardington, is a stones-throw from Williamscote House in neighbouring Cropredy parish (the boundary is shown in purple on the map below). The 1911 Kelly’s Directory of Oxfordshire lists Thomas H Kimnell right after John Edward Taylor Loveday under Williamscote! Coincidence? Quite possibly, but I think there’s a good chance that it isn’t.

William Ball was well known in Waters Upton so both the Davies family and the Yonges would have been familiar with his daughters, all the more so in the case of Mary Ann given her employment at the Rectory. If, as I have theorised, Elizabeth Yonge was a friend of the Lovedays, this might mean that she was in a position to help bring about the union of Thomas Henry Kimnell (who the Lovedays may have known, perhaps as an employee?) and Mary Ann Ball.

Ultimately, this is speculation and does not prove anything conclusively. The puzzle of the postcard’s sender remains officially unsolved – a one-place study ‘X File’. At least for now. One further possibility for acquiring a sample of Elizabeth Yonge’s handwriting and/or signature remains. Dave Annal recently reported on Twitter that he managed to obtain a copy of an original will from HMCTS, although he did have to wait 16 months!

Picture credits: Front and back of postcard, author’s own images. Extract from Ordnance Survey 25 Inch mapping (1892-1914) showing Williamscot House reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence. Extract from Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 mapping (1937-61) showing Great Bourton, Pewet Farm and Williamscot reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence. Extract from Ordnance Survey 6 Inch mapping (1888-1913) showing Williamscot House and Williamscot reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under a Creative Commons licence.

Coronation celebrations at Waters Upton in 1902

“The celebration of the Coronation of the King was observed in several places in Shropshire and the district, but the proceedings were of course shorn of many attractions, and were mostly confined to Intercessory services in the various places of worship, and the treating of old people and children.”Wellington Journal, 28 June 1901, page 11.

Non-Coronation celebrations

The coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra was originally scheduled to take place on 26 June 1902. Elaborate preparations had been made and foreign dignitaries had gathered, but a last-minute medical emergency forced the pomp and pageantry to be postponed. Just two days before the big event, Edward ended up on a table in Buckingham Palace’s Music Room, where surgeon Sir Frederick Treves performed an operation to drain his Majesty’s abdominal cyst.

Although the coronation itself could not proceed as planned, Edward insisted that this should not prevent regional celebrations (and the serving of special dinners to 500,000 of London’s poor) from going ahead. It was in these circumstances that somewhat muted celebrations took place in Shropshire. Let’s return to the Wellington Journal of 28 June 1901:

WATERS UPTON. This little village was not behind in its demonstrations of loyalty, as the proceedings on Thursday fully testified, although the jubilation was naturally not so intense in the circumstances of the King’s illness.
The following admirably carried out the arrangements:—The Rev. L. V. Yonge (rector of Rowton, chairman), the Rev. J. B. Davies (rector of Waters Upton), Mrs. Yonge, Messrs. W. Jervis, B. Needham, J. Shakeshaft, R. Allen, H. J. Jones, A. H. James, A. Ridgway, S. T. Bennett, S. Woolley, and W. A. R. Ball (secretary and treasurer).
At 2-15 p.m. a large procession was formed in the School Yard, and, headed by the Waters Upton Brass Band (conducted by Mr. J. Davies), marched to the Parish Church, where Divine service was held. This being concluded, the village, which was gaily decorated, was paraded, the procession eventually moving to the residence the Rev. L. V. Yonge.
During the afternoon every inhabitant of the village was regaled with a plentiful supply of meat, together with three pints of ale for each adult male, whilst ample provision was made for abstainers. For the women an excellent and abundant tea was provided.
All having feasted to their hearts’ content, a capital programme of sports and amusements was carried out and much enjoyed until seven o’clock, when dancing was spiritedly indulged in and kept up till half-past 10, at which time all joined in singing with loyal heartiness “God save the King”, fervent hopes being expressed for his Majesty’s speedy recovery.
The proceedings were brought to a close with ringing cheers for all who had taken part in promoting the festivities of the day. Mrs. Rider of Crescent House, Wellington, with her usual generosity, presented each child in the parish with a Coronation medal, and Mrs. Yonge liberally supplied the men with tobacco and cigars.

Committee members, music, and medals

What a great line-up of local talent on the organising committee for these celebrations! Two clergymen (Lyttleton Vernon Yonge and John Bayley Davies), a clergyman’s wife (Elizabeth Mary Hombersley Yonge, née Groucock), five farmers (William Jervis, Bernard Morrison Needham, John Shakeshaft – who was also a corn and coal merchant, Richard Allen, and Henry James Jones), a butcher (Alfred Henry James), a carpenter and wheelwright (Alfred Ridgway), a shoemaker (Samuel Thomas Bennett), a railway platelayer (Samuel Woolley), and a former tailor who became the local relieving officer and registrar of births and deaths (William Abraham Richard Ball). All were enumerated at Waters Upton on the census of 1901 – I have hyperlinked each of their names to their household’s entry on my abstract of that census.

As for the Waters Upton Brass Band, how I wish I could find out more about it. I think it likely that the band’s musicians were drawn not just from Waters Upton but also from neighbouring villages and hamlets too. The band leader, for example, was almost certainly the John Davies who was master of Crudgington School from around 1880. The earliest mention of the band I have found so far was in the Wellington Journal of 8 June 1889. The paper reported that “The Waters Upton Brass Band, under the able leadership of Mr. John Davies,” marched as part of a procession celebrating the anniversary of the Waters Upton lodge of Oddfellows.

Almost certainly this was “the Tibberton and Waters Upton Brass Band” which headed a similar procession four years later (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 16 June 1893) and “the Cold Hatton brass band, which played selections on the ground, Mr. J. Davies conducting” at a parish church bazaar held at Waters Upton in 1901 (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 7 June 1901). After playing at the Coronation celebrations in 1902, and leading another Oddfellows’ procession to Waters Upton church the following year (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 19 June 1903), the last reported ‘gig’ for the Waters Upton Brass Band, conducted by Mr Davies, appears to have been a fund-raising event for parochial work at Crudgington in 1904 (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 24 June 1904). The John Davies whose death at the age of 62 was registered in the first quarter of 1906 at Wellington, was very likely our band leader.

Something else I’d love to know is whether any of the Coronation medals issued to the children of Waters Upton have survived, perhaps in the possession of their descendants? (An example of a Coronation medal – not necessarily representative of those issued at Waters Upton as designs varied – is shown here.) Mrs. Rider of Crescent House, Wellington, who supplied the medals, did not live in the village but through her late husband Dr John Rider – a descendant of the Wase family of Waters Upton Hall, had connections to it. Both Mr and Mrs Rider were buried in Waters Upton churchyard.

A second celebration

This story of Coronation celebrations at Waters Upton in 1902 is not quite over. The King and Queen were finally crowned, following Edward’s recovery, on the ninth of August – and his subjects could mark the occasion with unmuted merriment.

The fact that the reconvened Coronation was scheduled for a Saturday was not entirely welcome. The editor of the Wellington Journal opined in his newspaper on August 2nd, that “It would be difficult, we fancy, to imagine a more awkward time to celebrate the King’s Coronation than on a Saturday, for in nearly every town in England this is a very busy day, and one on which shopkeepers are apt to rely in making up for a probably cash deficiency on the other days of the week, and when the working classes do most of their shopping.”

The parishioners of Waters Upton responded to the potential problems of a Saturday celebration by holding their second Coronation ‘do’ on the following Tuesday. The Reverend Yonge once again chaired the organising committee and made his grounds available, and William Ball reprised his role as “the energetic hon. secretary and treasurer.” The day’s events were similar to those of the original Coronation celebrations, with some elements missing but others added – and with a note of sadness regarding the health of the Rector, as the Wellington Journal of 16 August reported:

The children of the Day and Sunday Schools met in the school yard at three o’clock, and were marshalled in processional order to the grounds, where they partook of an excellent tea. At 4-15 the adults were also entertained to tea. Sports were afterwards provided for the youngsters, and each child received prize, whilst additional prizes were awarded to those making the best attendances in the Sunday School.
Dancing commenced at six, and was kept up till 11 o’clock, to the strains of the Waters Upton Band, conducted by Mr. J. Davies. Subsequently the Rev. Mr. Bardell proposed, and Mr. E. B. [actually, J. B.] Davies seconded, a vote of thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Yonge for their kindness in placing their charming grounds at the disposal of the committee, and also for their hearty and liberal assistance. This was carried with ringing cheers.
Mr. Yonge returned thanks, and made some very touching remarks respecting the illness of the worthy rector of the parish, the Rev. J. B. Davies. At the close all sang lustily the National Anthem. In addition to a donation from the Duke of Sutherland, Mrs. Yonge provided prizes for the whole of the Sunday and Day School children; Mr. Needham and Mr. W. A. R. Ball, sweets and prizes; and Miss M. E. Minor, prizes various kinds.

Picture credits: Edward VII and Alexandra, adapted from a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons. Tuba from Etienne Mahler at Flickr, public domain image. Coronation medal from Wikimedia Commons contributor Helensq; used under a Creative Commons licence. Coronation of Edward VII in Westminster Abbey from Library of Congress via; no known copyright restrictions.

Waters Upton’s first amateur entertainments (Part 3)

< Back to Part 2.

What an interesting evening this is turning out to be – I must travel back to Waters Upton in the late 1860s more often! ‘Local talent’ performing along with accomplished amateur vocalists and musicians from a little further afield is proving to be a great combination. Speaking of those who have come from beyond the immediate locality, here comes Mr Palmer again.

Duet, ‘Come where my love lies dreaming,’ Mr Palmer and friend.

There are murmurs of approval in the schoolroom at the sight of Moses Palmer preparing to deliver his third song this evening. Rightly so, as Mr Palmer’s musical talents are well known in north-east Shropshire – and not just as a singer.

Local papers show that Moses Palmer was conductor of the Oakengates Choral Society from the mid-1850s (Newport & Market Drayton Advertiser, 1 June 1855; Shrewsbury Chronicle, 2 November 1855), provided guidance to St George’s Choral Society when it was formed in 1859 (Wellington Journal, 7 May 1859; Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, 11 May 1859), and played a leading part in the formation of the Coalpit Bank Choral Society the following year (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 9 March 1860).

Several of the concerts put on by those choral societies with Moses Palmer’s involvement were for charitable purposes. I think it’s quite likely that Mr Palmer is here tonight because the man for whom money is being raised by this event, John Preece, lives in the same part of Shropshire.

A hush is now descending, and the performance is beginning; here are the words (from The Guiding Star Songster, published a couple of years ago in 1865) if you’d like to follow along. If you haven’t jumped back in time with me to witness this live performance, I’ve also found an audio recording of a much later rendition, which although delivered by different artists (and a larger number of them) will give you a good idea of what we’re listening to, here in 1867.

Come where my love lies dreaming,
Dreaming the happy hours away,
In visions bright redeeming
The fleeting joys of day;
Dreaming the happy hours,
Dreaming the happy hours away,
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.

Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming, her beauty beaming;
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.
Come with a lute, come with a lay,
My own love is sweetly dreaming, her beauty beaming;
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.

Soft is her slumber, thoughts bright and free
Dance through her dreams like gushing melody;
Light is her young heart, light may it be,
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Dreaming the happy hours,
Dreaming the happy hours away;
Come where my love lies dreaming,
Is sweetly dreaming the happy hours away.


Time travel does not always go smoothly, unfortunately –sometimes it’s as if we lose our internet connection during an online presentation and then we’re ‘back in the room’. I’m not really au fait with the mechanics behind at all, but it might be a problem with the flux capacitor, or a random burst of chroniton particles causing a kind of ‘time burp’, or maybe even eddies in the space-time continuum. Whatever the cause, in being whipped out of time and then plonked back exactly where, but not exactly when we were, we have missed four performances.

The newspaper report of this evening’s event gives us some idea of what happened in our absence, but some elements remain a mystery. “Beatrice (pianoforte and organ flutina), Miss Titley and Mr T. Hughes.” What was performed here? Quite possibly it was an air from the tragic opera Beatrice di Tenda. Mr T Hughes was presumably not the Mr Hughes we have already heard from (and who performed the next number). Miss Titley was very likely one of Waters Upton’s own, Mary Jane Titley, daughter of Thomas Titley, a butcher, and his wife Elizabeth, née Icke. If so, she was, like Miss Shakeshaft who we met earlier, another young performer.

Song, ‘The Village Blacksmith,’ Mr. Hughes.” What a shame we missed this! The words of the song can however be found woven into my article Blacksmiths in Waters Upton. And you can listen to a more recent performance of it on YouTube. Next came “Song, ‘Poor old Joe,’ Mr. Palmer.” Now, this is a ‘plantation song’ and as such, contains terminology which isn’t really acceptable in the 21st century, so I’m going to skip past it.

Grand valse, Miss S. J .Shakeshaft.” This might have been one of any number of tunes with ‘Grand Valse’ in their titles, played on the pianoforte – possibly René Favarger’s Grande Valse de Salon, published in 1860. The performer I’m much more certain about: Sarah Jane Shakeshaft of Cold Hatton, daughter of farmer Joseph Shakeshaft and his wife Martha, née Wright. She must be about 18 right now, and I think that’s her over there looking suitably pleased having acquitted herself well in what was probably her first performance in front such an audience. We are back in the schoolroom, and the next song is about to be delivered.

Song, ‘A Motto for Every Man,’ a Friend.

The vocalist here is, I think, one of the friends brought over by Moses Palmer. The song was written by Harry Clifton (pictured below) and is also known as “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.” Once again, I’ve found the words – in Songs for English Workmen to Sing, published this very year (1867)! Plus, in case the words alone make the song sound rather dull, there’s a fabulous recording of it being sung by Stanley Holloway.

Some people you’ve met in your time, no doubt,
Who never look happy or gay:
I’ll tell you the way to get jolly and stout,
If you will listen awhile to my lay.
I’ve come here to tell you a bit of my mind,
And please with the same if I can:
Advice in my song you will certainly find,
And “a motto for every man.”

So we will sing, and banish melancholy;
Trouble may come, we’ll do the best we can
To drive care away, for grieving is a folly;
“Put your shoulder to the wheel,” is “a motto for every man.”

We cannot all fight in this “battle of life,”
The weak must go to the wall,
So do to each other the thing that is right,
For there’s room in this world for us all.
“Credit refuse,” if you’ve “money to pay,”
You’ll find it the wiser plan;
“And a penny lay by for a rainy day,”
Is “a motto for every man.”

A coward gives in at the first repulse;
A brave man struggles again,
With a resolute eye, and a bounding pulse,
To battle his way amongst men;
For he knows he has one chance in his time
To better himself if he can;
“So make your hay while the sun doth shine!”
That’s “a motto for every man.”

Economy study, but don’t be mean:
A penny may lose a pound:
Through this world a conscience clean
Will carry you safe and sound.
It’s all very well to be free, I will own,
To do a good turn when you can;
But “charity always commences at home,”—
That’s “a motto for every man.”

To be continued.

Picture credits. Extract from sheet music for Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming: Image from University of Texas Arlington Libraries website, and used under a Creative Commons licence. The Village Blacksmith, sheet music cover: Public domain image from Picryl. Harry Clifton (1863): Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Waters Upton’s first amateur entertainments (Part 2)

< Back to Part 1.

It’s Wednesday 20 January 1867 and we’re sat in the school room at Waters Upton, trying our best not to be noticed. Luckily the assembled audience, containing many of the neighbourhood’s farming folk and others of a similar social standing, are focussed on the Reverend Halke. As it happens, he is delivering the next ‘act’. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll continue.

Reading, ‘Mrs. Gamp’s Tea Party,’ J. T. Halke.

For those unfamiliar with the works of Charles Dickens (in our present company, surely not many!), the Reverend Halke explains that the passage he will read is from The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. A hush falls over the room as those around us, many of whom are used to hearing the cleric reading on Sundays from an altogether different book, await this new experience.

“And quite a family it is to make tea for,” said Mrs. Gamp; “and wot a happiness to do it! My good young ‘ooman”—to the servant-girl—“p’raps somebody would like to try a new-laid egg or two, not biled too hard. Likeways, a few rounds o’ buttered toast, first cuttin’ off the crust, in consequence of tender teeth, and not too many of ‘em; which Gamp himself, Mrs. Chuzzlewit, at one blow, being in liquor, struck out four, two single, and two double, as was took by Mrs. Harris for a keepsake, and is carried in her pocket at this present hour, along with two cramp-bones, a bit o’ ginger, and a grater like a blessed infant’s shoe, in tin, with a little heel to put the nutmeg in; as many times I’ve seen and said, and used for caudle when required, within the month.”

As the privileges of the side-table—besides including the small prerogatives of sitting next the toast, and taking two cups of tea to other people’s one, and always taking them at a crisis, that is to say, before putting fresh water into the tea-pot, and after it had been standing for some time; also comprehended a full view of the company, and an opportunity of addressing them as from a rostrum, Mrs. Gamp discharged the functions entrusted to her with extreme good-humour and affability. Sometimes, resting her saucer on the palm of her outspread hand, and supporting her elbow on the table, she stopped between her sips of tea to favour the circle with a smile, a wink, a roll of the head, or some other mark of notice; and at those periods her countenance was lighted up with a degree of intelligence and vivacity, which it was almost impossible to separate from the benignant influence of distilled waters.

But for Mrs. Gamp, it would have been a curiously silent party. Miss Pecksniff only spoke to her Augustus, and to him in whispers. Augustus spoke to nobody, but sighed for every one, and occasionally gave himself such a sounding slap upon the forehead as would make Mrs. Todgers, who was rather nervous, start in her chair with an involuntary exclamation. Mrs. Todgers was occupied in knitting, and seldom spoke. Poor Merry held the hand of cheerful little Ruth between her own, and listening with evident pleasure to all she said, but rarely speaking herself, sometimes smiled, and sometimes kissed her on the cheek, and sometimes turned aside to hide the tears that trembled in her eyes. Tom felt this change in her so much, and was so glad to see how tenderly Ruth dealt with her, and how she knew and answered to it, that he had not the heart to make any movement towards their departure, although he had long since given utterance to all he came to say.

The old clerk, subsiding into his usual state, remained profoundly silent, while the rest of the little assembly were thus occupied, intent upon the dreams, whatever they might be, which hardly seemed to stir the surface of his sluggish thoughts.

Duet, ‘The Minute Gun at Sea,’ Mr. Palmer and friend.

Now Mr Palmer returns to the spotlight. Last time he was part of a quartet (performing The Village Choristers), now he’s about to sing a duet from Up All Night or The Smuggler’s Cave, a comic opera written way back in 1809 by Samuel James Arnold, with music by Matthew Peter King. I took the liberty of stopping off in 1870 on my way here to pick up a copy of Diprose’s Standard Song Book and Reciter, which has the following version of the song (showing which parts are sung by each character). A minute gun, incidentally, is a cannon or gun fired at one-minute intervals as a sign of distress.

Juliana: Let him who sighs in sadness here,
Rejoice, and know a friend is near.

Heartwell: What heavenly sounds are those I hear?
What being comes the gloom to cheer?

1st: When in the storm on Albion’s coast,
The night watch guards his weary post
From thoughts of danger free,
He marks some vessel’s dusky form,
And hears amid the howling storm,
The minute gun at sea,

2nd: The minute gun at sea;

Both: And hears amid the howling storm,
The minute gun at sea.

2nd: Swift on the shore a hardy few
The life-boat man with a gallant crew,
And dare the dang’rous wave;
Through the wild surf they cleave their way,
Lost in the foam, nor know dismay—
For they go the crew to save,

1st: For they go the crew to save.

Both: Lost in the foam, nor know dismay—
For they go the crew to save.

1st: But O, what rapture fills each breast

2nd: Of the hopeless crew of the ship distressed.

Both: Then landed safe, what joys to tell
Of all the dangers that befell!—

1st: Then is heard no more,

2nd: By the watch on the shore,

Both: Then is heard no more, by the watch on the shore,

Both: Then is heard no more, by the watch on the shore,
The minute gun at sea.

Song, ‘The Fidgety Man,’ Mr. Hughes.

Now Mr Hughes is taking his second turn, but I need to pop back to 1870 to find a copy of his song even though it means missing his performance. (I think I’ve found it in Sharp’s New London Songster, but if this is it – and it’s the only song of this title I can find – it’s a strange choice for man to sing! Have a look and make your own mind up.)

Reading, ‘The Boy and the Beads,’ Mr. Weaving.

Edward Weaving is the Master of the Industrial School in the former workhouse buildings just beyond the parish boundary, near Cold Hatton. He and Mrs Weaving started there in 1860 and although they don’t yet know it, next year (1868) Mr Weaving will become the Master of the Drayton Union Workhouse. (Shhh, don’t tell – spoilers!) In the here and now, he’s going to read from Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. I wonder if he also recites this passage to his inmates?

“By the bye, Bob,” said Hopkins, with a scarcely perceptible glance at Mr. Pickwick’s attentive face, “we had a curious accident last night. A child was brought in, who had swallowed a necklace.”

“Swallowed what, Sir?” interrupted Mr. Pickwick.

“A necklace,” replied Jack Hopkins. “Not all at once—you know that would be too much; you couldn’t swallow that, if the child did—eh, Mr. Pickwick? ha! ha!”—Mr. Hopkins appeared highly gratified with his own pleasantry; and continued—”No, the way was this;—child’s parents were poor people who lived in a court. Child’s eldest sister bought a necklace—common necklace, made of large black wooden beads. Child being fond of toys, cribbed the necklace, hid it, played with it, cut the string, and swallowed a bead. Child thought it capital fun, went back next day, and swallowed another bead.”

“Bless my heart,” said Mr. Pickwick, “what a dreadful thing! I beg your pardon, Sir. Go on.”

“Next day, child swallowed two beads; the day after that, he treated himself to three, and so on, till, in a week’s time, he had got through the necklace, five-and-twenty beads in all. The sister, who was an industrious girl, and seldom treated herself to a bit of finery, cried her eyes out, at the loss of the necklace; looked high and low for it; but, I needn’t say, didn’t find it. A few days afterward, the family were at dinner—baked shoulder of mutton, and potatoes under it—the child, who wasn’t hungry, was playing about the room, when suddenly there was heard a singular noise, like a small hailstorm. ‘Don’t do that, my boy,’ said the father. “I ain’t a doin’ nothing,’ said the child. ‘Well, don’t do it again,’ said the father. There was a short silence, and then the noise began again, worse than ever. ‘If you don’t mind what I say, my boy,’ said the father, ‘you’ll find yourself in bed, in something less than a pig’s whisper.’ He gave the child a shake to make him obedient, and such a rattling ensued as nobody ever heard before. ‘Why, it’s in the child!’ said the father: ‘he’s got the croup in the wrong place!’ ‘No, I haven’t, father,’ said the child, beginning to cry, ‘it’s the necklace; I swallowed it, father.’—The father caught the child up, and ran with him to the hospital—the beads in the boy’s stomach rattling all the way with the jolting; and the people looking up in the air, and down in the cellars, to see where the unusual sound came from. He’s in the hospital now,” said Jack Hopkins, “and he makes such a strange noise when he walks about, that they’re obliged to muffle him in a watchman’s coat, for fear he should wake the patients!”

“That’s the most extraordinary case I ever heard of,” said Mr. Pickwick, with an emphatic blow on the table.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” said Jack Hopkins. “Is it, Bob?”

“Certainly not,” replied Mr. Bob Sawyer.

“Very singular things occur in our profession, I can assure you, Sir,” said Hopkins.

“So I should be disposed to imagine,” replied Mr. Pickwick.

> On to Part 3.

Picture credits. Mrs. Gamp Makes Tea: Sketch by ‘Phiz’ (Hablot K Browne), scanned by Philip V Allingham and taken from The Victorian Web. Extract from sheet music for The Minute Gun At Sea: Original image from Trove; out of copyright. Mr Pickwick: Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Waters Upton’s first amateur entertainments (Part 1)

Amateur Entertainments.—An entertainment for the benefit of John Preece was given in the Schoolroom on the evening of Wednesday week. As this was the first thing of the kind ever attempted in the locality, considerable interest was manifested in its success, and the room was filled with by a respectable audience. The following programme was given in a satisfactory manner, the Rev. J. T. Halke occupying the chair […]

What a joy to find (in the Wellington Journal, 2 March 1867) details of the first amateur entertainments performed in Waters Upton! And what a joy it must have been for those who witnessed those events too. No doubt songs were sung and tales were told regularly on an informal basis in both of the village inns, and of course entertainments could be attended in Wellington (and possibly in other, larger villages in the district). Never before however had anything quite like this happened in Waters Upton itself.

Behind the joy was a tale of tragedy, and heroism (the full story of which I have written for the Railway Work, Life and Death project). On 29 December 1866 John Preece, a railway porter and gate keeper at Wombridge in Shropshire, had saved the life of a child who strayed onto the railway tracks as a train was approaching. The cost to John was a terrible one – struck by the engine, he was left with injuries so severe that he was taken to the Salop Infirmary in Shrewsbury. There, it was found necessary to amputate John’s right foot and hand, and the whole of his left arm below the shoulder. A subscription was set up “to alleviate the suffering incurred in this act of courage and humanity” (Eddowes’s Shrewsbury Journal, 16 January 1867).

The entertainments at Waters Upton were arranged to contribute to the funds being raised for the gallant Mr Preece and his family (he had a wife and two children). The first was held on Wednesday 20 January and the second, “given for the amusement of the working classes” on the following Friday (Wellington Journal, 2 March 1867).

The man occupying the chair at the entertainments, the Reverend J T Halke, was the subject of my first post to this blog: John Thomas Halke and the Church of Waters Upton. As you will soon see, he also contributed readings to the proceedings (and was clearly one of Charles Dickens’ many fans). Few if any of the other performers were Waters Upton residents, but several lived close by on the eastern side of Ercall Magna parish and others came from further afield.

Rather than simply give you the names of those who played, sang and read, and of the pieces they performed, as listed in the report from the Wellington Journal which I have quoted from above, I am going to try something a little different. Put on your most old-fashioned formal wear and prepare to step back in time, as I attempt to recreate an evening of songs, music, and readings in mid-Victorian rural Shropshire.

Grand march (pianoforte and organ flutina), Miss Humphreys and Mr. Hughes.

Unfortunately we have arrived just after the opening number, but that does mean we can make an unobtrusive entrance during the applause and take our seats at the back. The newspaper report of this evening’s programme tells us that a ‘grand march’ was just played, but there are several ‘grand marches’ so there’s no telling which one this was. I’m not sure who Miss Humphreys is. Mr Hughes on the other hand I believe have read about in the Shropshire papers, appearing at concerts as a member of the Shrewsbury Vocal Union. Have you ever seen a flutina before? It’s a type of accordion. Ah, we’re almost ready for the second item.

Glee, ‘The Village Choristers,’ Mr. Palmer and friends.

I’ve not seen him before, but I’m pretty sure this is Moses Palmer of Redlake, over in Wellington. He’s given quite a few songs and recitations, sometimes accompanied by friends as now, and also by his son and daughter (I read about that in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 8 January 1864). Would you believe he’s actually a mining agent / engineer? This is a glee for four voices, which should be interesting; here is one version of the words (which I found in a programme for the Wells Harmonic Society’s 1848-9 season) if you’d like to follow along:

Come, Brothers, tune the Lay,
For all who can must sing to-day.
Ye jovial Sons of Song!
Here at Pleasure’s summons throng.
Now pray let all be Harmony,
Beware, beware,
Now pray let all be Harmony,
Take care, take care,
That all who hear may praise the strain,
Again, and yet again.
Tra, la, la, &c.

Now I with PRIMO start,
I’ll take the {SECOND / BASSO} part,
The rest will try their choral art.
Now you, Sir, mind what you’re about,
Keep Time, or else you’ll all be out.
Now pray let all be Harmony,
Take care, take care,
That all who hear may praise the strain,
Again, and yet again.
Tra, la, la, &c.

So far there’s nothing wrong.
For ever live the Soul of Song!
Let all the burthen share,
And Music’s glorious praise declare.
Bravissimo! what Harmony:
Aha! aha!
Sweet Harmony, brave Harmony:
Aha! aha!
It is indeed a noble strain,
We’ll have it yet again.
Tra, la, la, &c.

Song, ‘Let us all speak our minds,’ Miss Shakeshaft.

Now, if I’m not mistaken this is young Charlotte Emma Shakeshaft, daughter of William and Sarah at Cold Hatton, just north of here in Ercall Magna. She doesn’t know it yet but she’s going to marry William Henry Atcherley from the Moortown, a little west of us and also in Ercall Magna. He’s her second cousin on their mothers’ sides (they have shared Icke ancestry) – and also my first cousin four generations removed. So many things we have to keep quiet about when we go back in time! Anyway, for those unfortunate enough not to have travelled back to 1867 with me, here are the words and a rendition of the song on YouTube:

Men tell us ‘tis fit that wives should submit
To their husbands, submissively, weakly,
Tho’ whatever they say their wives should obey,
Unquestioning, stupidly, meekly.
Our husbands would make us their own dictum take
Without ever a wherefore or why for it.
But I don’t and I can’t, and I won’t and I shan’t!
No, I will speak my mind if I die for it.

For we know it’s all fudge to say man’s the best judge
Of what should be, and shouldn’t, and so on,
That woman should bow, nor attempt to say how
She considers that matters should go on.
I never yet gave up myself thus a slave,
However my husband might try for it.
For I can’t and I won’t, and I shan’t and I don’t,
But I will speak my mind if I die for it.

And all ladies I hope who’ve with husbands to cope,
With the rights of the sex will not trifle,
We all, if we choose our tongues but to use,
Can all opposition soon stifle.
Let man if he will then bid us be still,
And silent, a price he’ll pay high for it.
For we won’t and we can’t, and we don’t and we shan’t,
Let us all speak our minds if we die for it.

This song was only published four years ago in 1863. It sound like an early feminist statement, but it might not be all that it appears. It was written by a man (William Brough), is intended as a comedic if not a satirical song, and at least one performer of the piece in the music halls sings it as “Mrs Naggit”. Mark my words though, in time the ladies will turn the tables and adopt this as a suffrage song!

> On to Part 2.

Picture credits.Musical notes: Public domain image from Pixabay. Flutina: Modified from a photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Bpierreb; used under a Creative Commons licence. Sheet music for Let us all speak our minds: From; used under a Creative Commons licence.

Waters Upton Tragedies: The Death of William Lloyd

Shocking Discovery at Eyton-On-The-Wild-Moors
On Sunday considerable excitement was created in the town of Wellington and the district of Eyton by a report that the mutilated remains of a man had been found in a haystack at Eyton-on-the-Wild-Moors. The statement proved to be true, but the idea that a brutal murder had been committed was soon dispelled. Deputy Chief-constable Ivins, as soon as the information reached him, took the investigation under his own personal direction.

So began a particularly sad story which appeared in the Shrewsbury Chronicle on 29 June 1883. A slightly sensationalised story too, I think, for not only was the deceased not murdered, his body had not been mutilated. What were the circumstances of the body’s discovery? Who was the unfortunate man? And, since I’m telling his story here, how was he connected to Waters Upton? Let’s return to the Chronicle’s report (to which I have made one small correction).

The stack, under which the body was found, is on the farm of Mr. E. W. Bromley, Eyton House Farm, and situate at some distance from the farm-house or any road, but is easy of access from a footpath and the towing-path of the canal, which runs parallel with the field in which the stack is. When found the body was dressed and partially covered with hay. Owing to the advanced state of decomposition in which the body was the features were unrecognisable, and Mr Ivins, with a view to finding out who the man was, issued a notice which he had extensively circulated in the district. The following is a copy of the same:—
“County Constabulary Office, Wellington, D Division, 24th June, 1883. Found dead on the 24th inst. by a hay stack in a field on the Eyton Moors, parish of Eyton, by two lads, a tramp, about 50 years of age, 5ft. 6 or 7 inches high, dark whiskers and moustache going grey; dressed in old brown hard hat, dark round pilot jacket, blue guernsey, old cord trousers, old lace-up boots, all very much worn and very shabby, had no shirt or stockings on. Supposed to have been dead about a month as he was seen in the same place on the 27th May, and complained of being ill.”
This notice was seen by a man named Joseph Rogers, in the employ of Messrs Barber and Son, Wellington, who recognised it as the description of a man named William Lloyd, about 50 years of age, a native of Waters Upton […]

Poor William! How did he end up living, and dying, in such wretched circumstances?

Map of Eyton upon the Weald Moors (or Wild Moors). Circled: The possible location of the shed (and haystack) where William Lloyd was found dead. Underlined: Eyton House, a.k.a. Eyton Farm House, where the inquest took place.

A native of Waters Upton

Piecing together the story of William Lloyd’s origins and early years is not straightforward, so bear with me while I assemble all the evidence – or skip to the next section if you wish! If, as Joseph Rogers stated, William was about 50 at the time of his death, he would have been born around 1833. I believe that Joseph’s estimate of William’s age was a ‘rounding up’ and that William was the 5-year-old William Lloyd who was enumerated on the 1841 census, at Waters Upton, with John and Ann Williams (ages rounded down to 50 and 40 respectively), Joseph Lloyd (12), and Elizabeth Lloyd (7).

Unfortunately the 1841 census did not record the relationships between household members so this record provides fairly limited information about William and those he shared a home with. There’s no baptism record for him that I can find either, nor does there appear to be one for Elizabeth Lloyd. Joseph Lloyd however was baptised at Waters Upton on 22 June 1828, his parents were William Lloyd (a labourer) and Ann, whose abode was in the parish. Were these two also the parents of Elizabeth and of the younger William Lloyd?

The most likely marriage for Joseph’s parents was that which took place at Wellington on 3 February 1827. The parish register described the couple as “William Lloyd of this Parish and Anne Taylor of this Parish”. It appears that Ann’s husband William later died (I desperately need to see the post-1815 burial register for Waters Upton!) and that Ann then remarried. The Waters Upton marriage register for 1837 onward is still with the church, but FamilySearch has indexed the wedding, on 1 June 1840 in that parish, of John Williams and Ann Lloyd.

The 1851 census shows John and Ann Williams as husband and wife, but with none of the Lloyd children from 1841 living under their roof. John, aged 63 and an agricultural labourer (as he had been in 1841), was born in Waters Upton; the relevant baptism is likely that of John, son of William and Mary Williams, “in ye Sch: Room” on 1 June 1789. Ann, 51, was born in Cherrington; I believe she was “Anne Daur of James & Anne Taylor, Cherrington” baptised at Tibberton on 21 April 1799.

William Lloyd too was living in Waters Upton in 1851. Aged 15, he was a hostler residing with and working for publican William Matthews. The pub is not named on the census schedule but there is little doubt that it was the Lion, as the Swan Inn – the only other hostelry in the village – was identified by the enumerator elsewhere.

The census of 1861 adds to the evidence relating to William Lloyd’s family, as well as providing an update on his fortunes. Household schedule 42 recorded agricultural labourer John Williams, 72, with his wife Ann, 61, and two sons (actually, stepsons), Joseph and William Lloyd. Joseph, aged 32 and unmarried, was by this time working as a gardener. William, 25, also unmarried, was an ‘ag lab’ like his stepfather.

Elizabeth Lloyd had married by this time, and the record of that event – naming her father as William Lloyd – adds further evidence to back the theory that she, Joseph, and William Lloyd junior were siblings. She wed James Tomkinson on 6 November 1854, probably at Chetwynd where she had been enumerated as a servant on the 1851 census (name transcribed as Mary Hary by FamilySearch!!). She and James spent the rest of their days in nearby Newport, where they had 11 children.

John Williams of Waters Upton died on 26 November 1864, aged 75. The death of Ann Williams, formerly Lloyd, née Taylor, was registered at Wellington, in the last quarter of 1886; she was 87 but her age was recorded as 86. Joseph Lloyd’s story, which involve duck stealing, I will continue another time. That leaves William Lloyd, whose story I will now conclude.

A vagrant life

William Lloyd’s next appearance on a census, in 1871, seems to have been his last. He had left Waters Upton by this time, and was once more working, this time as a labourer, for an inn keeper: James Brown of the Green Dragon at Hadley. At some point over the next ten years however, something happened which changed William’s way of life – he became homeless. I have not found him on the 1881 census, but I can’t rule out the possibility that was enumerated as a nameless tramp found sheltering under a hedge or in a barn or outbuilding.

The report from the Shrewsbury Chronicle, part of which I quoted at the beginning of this story, was one of several arising from the inquest into William Lloyd’s death; others appeared in the Shrewsbury Journal, 27 June 1883, and the Wellington Journal, 30 June 1883. Together, they provide snippets of information which taken together give us a feel for how William spent his last years, and in particular his final months. It was said that William “had led a vagrant life for some years, sleeping in outbuildings and picking up a living as best he could.” Joseph Rogers, who “had known the deceased from a lad”, also stated that for a long time William “had been going about the country labouring with thrashing machines, and was formerly in the employ of Mr Price, of The Lees, near Walcot.” He was not married, and “had been in the habit of sleeping out.” I can only guess that at some point in the 1870s a spell of unemployment left William without the means to pay for accommodation and led to him taking advantage of whatever shelter and odd jobs he could find, whenever and wherever he was able to. Returning to the Shrewsbury Chronicle:

Rogers states that about a month ago the deceased called at his lodgings, and he had a conversation with him, when Lloyd complained of being ill, and he advised him to go to the Workhouse. He said he would, but Rogers had since ascertained that he did not do so. William Phillips, of the Ercall Hotel, also recognised the body as that of Lloyd, and states that about a month ago he engaged him to do some gardening, but Lloyd never came to do it, and he had not seen him since. A man named Beech, residing at Kynnersley, also saw the deceased about a month ago, and said that he complained of being unwell.

Another witness was John Thomas, described by one paper as a waggoner and by another as a cowman. He worked for Mr Bromley, at whose house the inquest was heldOn Sunday, the 27 May 1883, Mr Thomas saw William Lloyd lying down “on the top of an old stack bottom” with “some hay partially thrown over him.”

A drain on Eyton Moor

The two men had a conversation, in which William said that he had gone to the place where John found him “on the Saturday night, that he lay in the shed, and that he had come out to sun himself. He said he had been very poorly for some time, suffering from bronchitis”, and as a result of that illness “he had a bad cough”. William also said that “he had been following machines belonging to Mr. Nicholls and Mr. Powell, of Shrewsbury” and that “most of his food had consisted of water.”

A most melancholy case

John Thomas was probably the last person to see William Lloyd alive – and the last person to see him at all for several weeks. There was no public road where William had settled, although the canal and a path leading to Kynnersley were not far away. With the hay in which William slept not being needed at that time, no one went near the stack until Sunday 24 June 1883.

William Lloyd’s body was found that day by two boys. One of them, Walter Ruscoe, lived at Sidney (or Sydney) in the parish of Kynnersley (or Kinnersley) and was, like John Thomas, employed by Mr Bromley. On the day in question he took a bull down to the weald moors, and on his return he found the body by the haystack, half covered with hay. He quickly gave the alarm which led to the police becoming involved, and an inquest taking place the next day.

Eyton House, home of farmer Edward William Bromley and location of the inquest into the death of William Lloyd in 1883

At that inquest the jury gave a verdict of “Found dead” or, according to the Wellington Journal, “Death from natural causes.” The Coroner said “that it was a most melancholy case; but there was no ground whatever to suppose that deceased had met with any violence. He had apparently laid down and been overcome. It was a matter of regret that deceased had not taken the advice of one of the witnesses, and gone to the Workhouse.”

Picture credits. Map: Extract from Ordnance Survey Six Inch map Sheet XXXVI.NW published 1902; reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence.Family tree diagram: By the author. Drain on Eyton Moor: Photo © Copyright Richard Law; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence. Eyton House: Photo © Copyright Chris Downer; taken from Geograph and modified, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

Waters Upton Landmarks – Part 2

So far (in part 1 of this article) I have looked at rivers, bridges and inns as landmarks which would have been familiar and significant to people living in, visiting, or passing through Waters Upton. There were of course other buildings besides the pubs which could be considered landmarks, contributing to the unique character and identity of the village, including the church of St Michael’s and the Hall, set in its centre. I have written about the construction of modern-day St Michael’s in John Thomas Halke and the Church of Waters Upton; the church will feature again in future stories here, along with other buildings in Waters Upton. The landmark I am going to focus on now however, is one which lies several miles away from the parish.

View to a Hill

Head south out of Waters Upton on the A422 and almost immediately you will see a hill in the far distance. (Note: If you’re driving when you do this, keep a close eye on the road as well!) It doesn’t look like much from this distance, and to be fair, it’s not even in the top twenty of the highest Shropshire hills. Size isn’t everything however, and this landmark’s stature belies its significance within and even beyond the county. Say hello to the Wrekin.

The Wrekin has been described as “our best known hill and an iconic landmark for miles around” (see link above). On learning that the hill is only 407 meters (1,335 feet) above sea level, you might wonder why it is regarded with such affection. Roly Smith, writing in the Guardian in 2000, explains: “the Wrekin, which always proudly and significantly carries the definite article, is undoubtedly a hill with a presence. It rises so sharply and unexpectedly from the pastoral Severn Plain that it forces you to notice it.” He then added, “There are few mountains in Britain, let alone hills, that have exerted the same powerful influence or sense of place on its surrounding communities.”

The Wrekin stands out. It is not a mountain, but a drop of over 150 metres on all sides gives the Wrekin a certain prominence, especially in a landscape which is otherwise relatively flat – and also qualifies it as a ‘Marilyn’. The Wrekin’s nearest Marilyn neighbours, Caer Caradoc and Brown Clee, are respectively about 20 and 30 kilometres away in Shropshire’s much hillier south.

This prominence means that the Wrekin can be seen for many miles around, particularly from the north and east. As people travel into Shropshire from that latter compass point, on the M54 for example, the Wrekin stands a welcoming beacon. It calls for people to climb to its summit, and those who do are rewarded with outstanding views.

Dead Poets Society

The Rev Richard Corfield, Vicar of Waters Upton from 1822 to 1865 (he was also Rector of Pitchford, where he spent much of his time), was one of many Shropshire souls familiar with the sights to be seen from the top of the Wrekin. He was also one of several authors who have set out their appreciation of the Wrekin in verse, albeit with a little poetic licence. The poem (dated 14 February 1833) can be read in full in Shropshire Notes and Queries; the following is an abridged version:

From Wrekin’s summit cast the eye around,
To view the objects which th’ Horizon bound;
O’er Salop’s plains with beauteous verdure drest,
The Cambrian Mountains stretch along the West.
The darksome Berwyn scowls with aspect drear,
Till Dinas Bran, and Moel Pam’ appear.
Turn to the North, and Hawkstone hills you see,
With Cheshire prospects reaching to the Dee.
When to the East, you bend th’ admiring gaze,
The barren Peak your startl’d thoughts amaze!
More Eastward still, you ken in distant view
Edge-Hill, where Charles his faithful follow’rs drew.
But dwell not here on scenes of discord past,
Look tow’rds the South, the prospect brightens fast;
The far fam’d Malvern breaks upon the eye,
And balmy breezes waft from Southern sky.
This fairy circle let us onward trace,
O’er Brecons beacons, Radnor’s forest chase;
And whilst on Caerdoc’s sister hills we stop,
In distant outline, lo! Plinlimmon’s top.
May then this mountain, fair Salopia’s pride,
Attract our footsteps to its summits side;
The summit gain’d, the weary toil’s repaid,
By prospects varied, mountain, wood, and glade;
And as the outline may be further known,
So past its limits may our love be shewn—
Love to our County—and to all held dear
By ties of kindred, friendship’s off’ring bear—
Love to our Country—and, to all friends round
The Wrekin’s circle, may our love resound—
Such wishes these all Shropshire hearts inspire,
In social converse round the Winter’s fire.

School of Rock

Waters Uptonians were as familiar with the Wrekin as any Salopians. We have already seen the hill can be seen from the road just south of the village, and in John Morgan, surgeon and apothecary of Waters Upton – Part 1 I included a notice advertising the availability of a “genteel residence” within the village which had “a commanding view of the Wrekin and surrounding country.” Such was the lure of this landmark that many made the journey to become more personally acquainted with it, including the children of the parish, for whom excursions to the Wrekin were arranged as an annual treat in the latter part of the 1800s.

The earliest reference to such visits that I have found so far actually relates to the children of the ‘Union School’ just beyond the Waters Upton parish boundary; a report published in the Shrewsbury Chronicle on 7 September 1860 noted: “At the last guardians meeting it was unanimously resolved on the motion of Mr. Minor, vice chairman, to give the children of the Industrial School, at Waters Upton, holiday to visit the Wrekin.” Almost thirty years on from that, a delightfully detailed description of a trip laid on for the village’s own children appeared in the Wellington Journal of 17 August 1889:

School Treat.—The children attending Waters Upton Parish School, accompanied by many of their parents and friends from the village, had their annual treat at the Wrekin on Friday, the 9th inst. Waggons and horses were kindly lent for the purpose by Messrs. Groucock, Cornes, Percival, Owen, Shakeshaft, and W. Rider. The waggons were tastefully decorated with wreaths of evergreens and flowers, given by friends the village, Miss L. Groucock and Miss Amos.
A start was made at 10 o’clock from the Rectory in fine weather, and the children seemed to enjoy the drive immensely from the merry noise they made on the journey and through the town of Wellington until the foot of the Wrekin was reached, when the party of about 120 had to unload and commence the walk up the hill. A rest was taken at the Upper Cottage for lunch, and then the whole party proceeded to the top of the hill, which was unfortunately clouded over with a thick mist. Afterwards the weather changed, and when the party had assembled at the Cottage for tea, which was supplied by Mr. S. Tudor, Post Office, Waters Upton, in the hospitable tents adjoining the Cottage, a severe thunderstorm came on, and the rain fell heavily, making the party thankful that they were under shelter.
At length, after enjoying an excellent tea and other good things, the presents of friends accompanying the excursion, a start was made for home about six o’clock. The return journey was made in most unfavourable weather, but, although nearly all the party got a thorough wetting, no ill effects have happened, and all are looking forward to an excursion another year under more favourable circumstances.
The children in the waggons were accompanied the Rector (the Rev. J. B. Davies), Mrs. Davies and family, Miss S. Groucock, Miss Amos, Misses Minor (Meeson), Mrs. J. Shakeshaft and family, Mr. and Mrs. James Tudor, Mr. and Mrs. A. Ridgway, and many others, and were joined on the hill by Mr. and Mrs. Percival, Mrs. Cornes and party, Mr. and Mrs. Owen and friends.

You will be pleased to know that better conditions blessed at least one subsequent school outing to the Wrekin. In July 1896, when 78 children and 40 accompanying friends headed for the hill in waggons “lent by Mr. H. F. Percival, Mr. S. Dickin, and Mr. W. Jerman”, they were “favoured with fine weather” and S (Samuel) Tudor once again provided tea. Several of those named in these reports will be familiar if you have read Late Victorian Christmases in Waters Upton; the others I will have to introduce you to in future articles.

This is the end

In my conclusion to part 1 of this article, I mentioned “the usual loyal and patriotic toasts” which were honoured in Waters Upton’s Swan Inn, in 1896. These would almost certainly have included one which the Rev Richard Corfield slipped in to his poem of 1833, namely “To all friends round the Wrekin”. (This should not to be confused with the saying “all around the Wrekin”, which has a similar meaning to “all round the houses” – or in other words, taking a longer route than necessary!)

The oldest appearance I have found in print of “all friends round the Wrekin” dates back to around 1706, when playwright George Farquhar used it to open the published version of his Shropshire-based comedy The Recruiting Officer (the image above is from Google’s electronic version of this long out of copyright work). Clearly it was well-established even then. I have found many later references to this toast in Shropshire newspapers – it appears that the tradition was to make it the final toast after all the others had been offered and drunk to, by way of recognising the special bond between those connected by their county’s most revered landmark. Although I have not yet found any specific references to its use in Waters Upton, I have no doubt that it was spoken there, often, and with feeling.

Picture credits. View of the Wrekin from Waters Upton: Embedded from Google Maps. The Wrekin hill: From the electronic version of The History and Antiquities of Shrewsbury, volume II (published about 1837 and therefore out of copyright) at Google Books. View from the Wrekin: Photo by Wikimedia Commons contributor Northerner, modified and used under a Creative Commons licence. View of the Wrekin: From a postcard postmarked 1906, out of copyright. To all friends round the Wrekin: From the electronic version of The Recruiting Officer (published about 1706 and therefore out of copyright) at Google Books (link in text above).