Tag Archives: cuckfield

Wandering: High Weald Landscape Trail – Cuckfield to Haywards Heath

1 May

Conditions were less than favourable when my friend Chris and I decided to walk the next section of the High Weald Landscape Trail. Our previous walk many months ago had left us in Cuckfield, West Sussex and despite the promise of more rain, on top of a week of heavy rain, we hoped that we could make it from Cuckfield to Ardingly.

Our delay in continuing this walk was in part due to the complexities of getting back to Cuckfield by bus. That all changed in mid-April when Metrobus changed the times of their bus from Horsham to Haywards Heath, meaning I was able to jump from my bus at the wonderfully named Pronger’s Corner and onto the Haywards Heath bus, without having to wait a couple of hours.

It was fairly obvious from the outset that we were in for a wet walk. The walk north from Cuckfield was nice enough and would have provided some wonderful views had they not been obscured by misty rain. The conditions underfoot were also less than ideal.

I was surprised how undulating the ground was, hills and valleys were the order of the day, we didn’t rise to any great heights but enough for there to be some potentially decent views across the Weald. Some of the slopes, however gentle, were made a little tricky due to the wet conditions and in a couple of places the paths were almost impassable due to the expanse of mud and water.

Heading north from Cuckfield we clipped the edge of Whiteman’s Green before turning east, passing through Brook Street and continuing on to Borde Hill just north of Haywards Heath. We had half hoped that we would be able to catch a bus into Haywards Heath from Borde Hill, however there was no sign of a bus stop so we had to make our way on foot following the road south into town.

Without really thinking about it we had decided to call it a day, the light rain and squelching conditions underfoot taking its toll on us. It was such a disappointment, I sense that in better conditions it would have been one of the best sections of the whole trail. I may have to return again in the summer when the sun is shining.

Looking west from Borde Hill, West Sussex (28th April 2012)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Cuckfield Church, West Sussex

26 Oct

Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield, West Sussex

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Wandering: High Weald Landscape Trail – Bolney to Cuckfield

22 Oct

The High Weald Landscape Trail is a 90 mile route that runs from Horsham in West Sussex to Rye in East Sussex. The High Weald is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and according to the High Weald AONB website its key features are “its rolling hills, scattered farmsteads, small woodlands, irregular-shaped fields, open heaths and ancient routeways”.

It has been a long time since I walked a section of the HWLT, it was back at the end of April when my friend Chris and I started on the first section of this route, but finally we were back today to continue the walk.

Bolney is not the easiest of places to get to by public transport, for me it involved a bus ride, a train ride and another rather bumpy bus ride. Today’s walk got off to an inauspicious start at side of the old London to Brighton road, but we soon passed under the current London to Brighton road and into woodland, although we never really did get away from the noise of the traffic.

In a large proportion of today’s walk was in woodland and to be honest it wasn’t particularly inspiring. Perhaps if we had been a week earlier then there would have been more leaves on the trees it would have been more appealing, but as it was the walk soon became a little tedious. There path was varied, sometimes along the side of the wood, sometimes through the middle of a wood, sometimes along a road surrounded by woodland but there were few sections where we were actually out in the open.

Things did improve once we got nearer Cuckfield. The landscape did begin to open up a little bit and we were able to see the South Downs in the distance, admittedly it was only the outline of the South Downs, as it was still a bit hazy in the distance.

Without doubt the best part of walk was the village of Cuckfield itself. Of course I am biased because there are family connections with the parish, and it gives its name to the Civil Registration District in which so many of the births, marriages and deaths in my family tree occurred. I don’t think I have ever spent much time in Cuckfield (and we didn’t really spend that long today), but I have passed through on occasion and I now know that I will undoubtedly have to return in the future.

We found time to visit the church (which was open and had a display of “church treasures”) and the churchyard, then after a quick wander around the streets we popped into Cuckfield Museum. I knew Cuckfield had a museum but hadn’t realised what a treasure trove it was, along with the expected displays on aspects of local history they also have a small resource centre for family and local history. I resisted the urge to take a folder of the shelf and pull up a chair.

I need to get myself better organised for my next visit, well actually not my next visit because that will be to continue the walk but the time after that, so that I can spend some quality time immersed in some family history research.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Who Do I Think They Are? – Is this the ANSCOMBE family?

8 May

I have been puzzling over this photo for many months, it belonged to my great-aunt and has no names or dates on the back.

One of the reasons I love this photo is because of the varied clothing in evidence, but also I love that the old man’s trousers are tied with string just below the knees! What is that all about? To me the man on the right at the back looks like a cowboy who has lost his horse and the man next to him might just be a mad scientist.

The setting of the photo doesn’t really provide any clues, it is a rural setting but that doesn’t really help narrow anything down at all. The only clue I have is that the young man second from the left on the back row looks like my great-aunt’s father (my great-grandmother’s partner) Trayton ANSCOMBE.

So I wonder whether the old man sitting in the front is his father, who was also named Trayton. The woman on his left is wearing a wedding ring and I wonder whether she is his wife Fanny? According to the census his wife was ten years younger than Trayton (and I suspect she may not have been his first wife), but even so there still seems quite a large age difference, either that or he had a very hard life.

The older Trayton ANSCOMBE died in 1914 aged 65 years, when his son Trayton would have been 18 years old. So the age of the young man in the photo looks about right if it was taken not long before the older Trayton’s death. My problem with this is that the old man looks a lot older than 65 to me.

I really need to get my photo-dating books out to see if I can learn anything from the clothing of the younger people in particular. I also need to do some more research on the ANSCOMBE family, to see if there were enough children for this to be the family. In the meantime, if you recognise any of this group please let me know.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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NEWS: 1911 Census summary books on Ancestry.co.uk

9 Dec

You never know what you are going to find when you go poking about the Ancestry.co.uk, especially their Genealogy Databases Posted or Updated Recently page. Last night at the top of the list were entries for the 1911 Census summary books (Channel Islands, Isle of Man, England and Wales). Hopefully this marks the beginning of the promised release of the 1911 census on Ancestry.co.uk and The Genealogist.

I expect we will hear more about them in the next few days when they are officially announced. From what I have seen though they are nice crisp colour images of the pages, looking very similar to the Findmypast ones.

You might wonder why this is such good news, after all Findmypast.co.uk have had the images (both the household schedules and summary books) available for some time. For starters you never can have enough different indexes, just in case one of them is wrong, but more importantly (to me anyway) Ancestry.co.uk have made the summary books searchable for the first time (I think?).

Being able to search the summary books for the head of household has helped locate one of my “missing” families. Within about 10 minutes I had been able to locate the ANSCOMBE family in Cuckfield, Sussex, something which I had failed to do on using Findmypast alone, despite many previous attempts.

It wasn’t a straight-forward process, on Ancestry I searched for the surname ANSCOMBE in Cuckfield and found several likely households. After getting the schedule number from the summary book image and finding their neighbours on Findmypast, I was able to work out what the census reference should be for their household.

Searching on Findmypast using the census reference brought up a transcription without my ANSCOMBEs anywhere to be seen. I viewed the image and it all became clear, the cause of my inability to find them revealed.

The household schedule began with three individuals (a tutor and presumably two pupils), all described as boarders. Beneath them was a gap of two lines and then the six members of the ANSCOMBE family I had been looking for. For some reason they had not been indexed, just those first three unrelated individuals, no wonder I couldn’t find them.

I now need to find out how to report them missing to Findmypast, but this just goes to show the value of looking in multiple indexes. I am sure that once the household schedules are available on Ancestry that there will be similar examples of missing individuals, it is inevitable with any index of this size that there will be errors.

Sometimes all that is need is a little bit of teamwork (thank you Ancestry and Findmypast) and some creative thinking to get around a problem.

Ancestral Profile: Mary SMITH (c1807-1891?)

6 Dec

In recent weeks I have been jumping from branch to branch of my family tree when it came to choosing a subject for my weekly Ancestral Profile post, but this week I thought I would follow up last week’s post (featuring George MITCHELL) by writing about his wife Mary SMITH, my 4x great-grandmother.

Although Mary outlived her husband by nearly 50 years I know very little about her, this is not helped by the fact that her maiden name was SMITH and her married name was MITCHELL, neither of which are particularly uncommon. It also doesn’t help that each census return seems to give different information from which to calculate her date and place of birth.

The marriage to George MITCHELL took place on the 29th September 1828 in the parish of Cuckfield, Sussex. As I mentioned last week I haven’t checked the original marriage record for extra information. I also wrote last week that George and Mary had six children:

  1. Eliza MITCHELL (baptised 7th December 1828 in Cuckfield, Sussex)
  2. Mary Ann MITCHELL (baptised 30th January 1831 in Cuckfield, Sussex)
  3. Harriett MITCHELL (born c1834 in Slaugham, Sussex) [my 3x great-grandmother]
  4. Caroline MITCHELL (born Q3 1838 in Slaugham, Sussex)
  5. Alfred George MITCHELL (born 23rd February 1841 in Bolney, Sussex)
  6. William MITCHELL (baptised 14th April 1844 in Balcombe, Sussex)

It seems that her husband George died in October 1844 as the result of being hit by a steam engine, leaving Mary as a widow with six children. The 1851 census shows her as a pauper living in Slaugham, Sussex with her four youngest children.

I haven’t found Mary in the 1861 census, although there are several possibilities. In the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census she is living with (or next door to) her youngest son William and his family, initially in Bolney, Sussex and then Slaugham, Sussex. All of these show her as a widow and only the 1871 lists an occupation, which is “washerwoman”.

Below are the ages and places of birth from the various census years. In 1841 the age was rounded down, but taking the other years it looks like we are looking at a year of birth about 1807 +/- 2 years. All the places are quite consistent, in the same general area in mid sussex within a few miles of each other.

1841 – aged 30, born in Sussex
1851 – aged 42, born Cuckfield, Sussex
1861 – not found yet
1871 – aged 64, born Staplefield, Sussex
1881 – aged 76, born Cuckfield, Sussex
1891 – aged 84, born Slaugham, Sussex

There is a baptism in Cuckfield which seems to fit, Mary SMITH daughter of Samuel and Mary SMITH, baptised on 1 Nov 1807. Unfortunately there is also a Mary SMITH baptised in Cuckfield in 1805 who could just as easily be the one. Clearly more evidence is needed.

It seems likely that Mary died later in 1891. There is an entry in the GRO indexes for the death of an 85 year old in Q3 1891 in the Cuckfield Registration District. All of the parishes listed were in Cuckfield Registration District. I really need to buy the certificate to see if this is my Mary MITCHELL.

There is a corresponding burial in Balcombe, Sussex of an 85 year old Mary MITCHELL on the 19th September 1891. This would make sense if her husband was buried in Balcombe, but it looks like he was buried in Cuckfield. Why would she be buried in Balcombe when the 1891 census has her living in Slaugham? Did she spend her last few months living with someone else in Balcombe? Am I barking up the wrong tree?

Ancestral Profile: George MITCHELL (1806?-1844?)

29 Nov

I have already written about one George MITCHELL in my family tree, but he was on my mother’s side of the family, this one is on my father’s side and was probably unrelated. This George MITCHELL was my 4x great-grandfather and in contrast with the other George MITCHELL I know almost nothing about his life.

The first record I have is his marriage to my 4x great-grandmother Mary SMITH. The marriage took place on the 29th September 1828 in the parish of Cuckfield, Sussex. As the marriage was before 1837 there is no mention of his father’s name, all I have is that they were both from Cuckfield and neither had been married before. I haven’t checked the original record, so there may be additional clues in the names of the witnesses, it is worth a look anyway.

In the 1841 census George and Mary are living in Bolney, Sussex but I can’t make out the name of the farm on which they are living. They have four children: Mary Ann, Harriett, Caroline and Alfred. The 1841 census provides the only piece of evidence for George’s birth, his age is given as 35 years and he was born in Sussex. In theory this should mean that George was aged between 35 and 39 years old, but this is by no means guaranteed.

By the 1851 census George has died and Mary is living as a widow, with four children: Harriett, Caroline, Alfred and William. This provides the only real evidence for George’s death, seemingly some time between the birth of William in 1844 and the 1851 census. Mary is shown as a pauper, so there may be some further clues among the records of the Poor Law Guardians.

It seems that George and Mary had six children, but apart from Harriett (my 3x great-grandmother) I know very little about what became of them. They were:

  1. Eliza MITCHELL (baptised 7th December 1828 in Cuckfield, Sussex)
  2. Mary Ann MITCHELL (baptised 30th January 1831 in Cuckfield, Sussex)
  3. Harriett MITCHELL (born c1834 in Slaugham, Sussex)
  4. Caroline MITCHELL (born Q3 1838 in Slaugham, Sussex)
  5. Alfred George MITCHELL (born 23rd February 1841 in Bolney, Sussex)
  6. William MITCHELL (baptised 14th April 1844 in Balcombe, Sussex)

The fact that William was baptised in Balcombe possibly provides a clue to the death of George. There is a burial recorded in Cuckfield on the 30th October 1844 of a 38 year old George MITCHELL from Balcombe. It seems quite likely that this was my 4x great-grandfather, and there is a chance that he was the victim of an accident on the London to Brighton railway. The Times newspaper refers to the victim as Thomas MITCHELL, but I can’t find a death registration for either Thomas or George MITCHELL in the right place at the right time. Local newspapers my clarify this situation as The Times might have got his name wrong.

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