Tag Archives: hurstpierpoint

Sussex Day 2009: Part 5 – Ruckford Mill to Hurst Wickham

21 Jun

By this time I was starting to get hungry, although it was still an hour or two before lunchtime, so I decided it was time to start heading south to the village of Hurstpierpoint.

I decided to take the most direct route to Hurstpierpoint, which was more or less due south along Malthouse Lane and College Lane, however the real reason for taking this route is that it would take me through Hurst Wickham.

I am not sure if I had been through Hurst Wickham before, if I had it was a long time ago, and certainly well before I had known that my 2x great grandparents Henry and Dorothy Isabella BATEMAN had lived there.

They had moved there sometime around 1896-97 from Preston, near Brighton. I am not sure how long they actually lived there, Henry was still living in Hurstpierpoint when he died in 1921. After Henry’s death Dorothy left for Australia to join her son who had settled out there. She left from Hurstpierpoint, but the passenger list gives a different address.

My problem was that I couldn’t find any modern day reference to their address, 2 Shenley Villas, it had either been demolished or renamed. I wanted to actually have a look on the ground and see if could find any clues to it’s whereabouts.

Hurst Wickham is virtually one long road with houses down either side, so I check house name carefully as I walked up the road. Most seemed quite modern, and it appears the were all numbered as College Lane, if the road had been renumbered that would explain why I couldn’t find any reference to Shenley Villas.

Getting nearer to Hurstpierpoint I found what I think is the likely location for Shenley Villas. There is a row of five semi-detached houses on the eastern side of the road, where some of the original house names were visible, and the readable ones all included the word “Villas”.

So one of these was probably their home, I now need to follow that up next time I am down at the West Sussex Record Office by having a look at some maps, and perhaps see if I can find out when they changed name. At least now I have a pretty good idea of where to look when I get there.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 4 – Cobbs Mill to Ruckford Mill

20 Jun

Although I was familiar with both ends of the next stage of my Sussex Day walk, I had never actually walked between the two before. A footpath leads past the front of Cobbs Mill, and across the mill stream, and out into the countryside.

The mill itself has been recently restored, but it is sadly not open to the public (except on very rare occasions) because it is also a private house now, part of which is up for sale.

This was probably the most enjoyable and relaxed stretch of the whole walk, unfortunately it was quite short, probably about a mile and a half in length. What made the first section of this part of the walk so memorable was the fact that I was walking along the side of the mill stream which had once powered the watermill.

I followed the stream for about half a mile before the path left the side of the stream. The water was almost still, and the plants on the banks were beginning to take over. The stream buzzed with insects and the occasional bird. The highlight however was the sighting of a grass snake making it’s way across a small bridge, sadly it kept itself well hidden but I did manage to get one photo of it.

The path continued to an area north of Hurstpierpoint (near Hurstpierpoint College) known to me as Ruckford. This was home to my more recent GASSON roots, in fact very close to home, my grandparents lived here for a few years and my father was born here. Although there is another watermill here, there was no family connection with it and one would be hard pressed to recognise now.

It had been many years since I had been over here, we used to visit almost weekly when my great aunt lived here, my brother and I coming over to mow the grass. That seems so many years ago now.

The 1911 census is complete, so I can have a look at the enumerator’s summary books at last

18 Jun

I wrote a post over three months ago about the up coming release of the Enumerator’s Summary Books for the 1911 census and how I wanted to view the page for my 2x great grandmother Mary Ann GASSON to try and pin-point exactly where Gorewood Green was in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex.

Well, finally the summary books have arrived at the 1911 census website, along with all the other remaining records, and the 1911 census blog claims that the 1911 census is now complete and who am I to argue. I must admit that I started to lose interest after the Sussex data had been uploaded and explored, because by 1911 pretty much all of my ancestors had arrived in Sussex!

Now I need to go back and see what else can be learnt from these summary books and I have already made a start with the one relating to Mary Ann GASSON. From the neighbouring properties (the Sportsman Inn, Huntsmoor, Shalfords, Gate House and the Isolation Hospital) I now have a pretty good idea of where to look for Gorewood Green, and it looks more and more like Gorewood Green is actually a varient of Goddards’ Green, the current name for the area. I think I will have to have a close look at some maps when I next visit the West Sussex Record Office.

What a way to spend Sussex Day!

16 Jun

Phew! Even by my standards that was quite a walk. Sitting on the bus on the way home my pedometer had registered 38,731 steps, that’s just short of 19 miles. Just to round things up I got off the bus a stop early and made it up to 20 miles with an extra little walk.

Sitting on the bus my legs were beginning to ache, not a lot of leg room. I just hoped they would still move when it was time to get off! Still nothing that a nice long soak in the bath won’t sort out.

My digital camera must have very nearly reached it’s capacity, although I did have a spare memory card with me, and spare batteries which I needed. So expect to see plenty of photos on this blog in the next few days and weeks. They are mostly of the Sussex scenery, but there are several churches and several ancestral connections.

I will try and plot my route on a Google Map, but for those interested the key places were: Henfield (starting point), Blackstone, Sayers Common, Hurst Wickham, Hurstpierpoint, Wolstonbury Hill, Clayton and Hassocks (finishing point). I will give a full description when I have recovered (an early night tonight I think) pointing out the genealogical highlights along the way!

I am really pleased I went walking, it was a beautiful day, perhaps a little warm at times (and a bit of a rush to get back home). I visited several areas I had never been to before and reacquainted myself with some I haven’t visited for a long time. Most of all however I enjoyed being out in Sussex, in what I would consider typical Sussex countryside, on Sussex Day.

Here is one photo to be going on with, Sussex stretched out beneath me, as I surveyed the countyside from the vantage point of Wolstonbury Hill.

Sussex as far as the eye can see (although there may be some Surrey tucked away right at the back)

Sussex as far as the eye can see (although there may be some Surrey tucked away right at the back)

Madness Monday: George Thomas GASSON wasn’t just a lunatic

8 Jun

So far pretty much all I have written about George Thomas GASSON concerns his time at the asylum and his mental illness. I wouldn’t want you to think that George Thomas GASSON was just a lunatic, he was a normal son, brother, husband and father for a large part of his life. So to put my previous posts in some perspective here is a summary of what I also know about George Thomas.

George Thomas GASSON was born in Slaugham, Sussex on the 13th November 1853 and was baptised in the parish church on the 29th January 1854. His birth was registered under the surname GASTON, on the 25th December 1853 by his grandmother Mary MITCHELL, which presumably accounts for the incorrect spelling of his surname (I say incorrect because this is the only time I have seen him referred to as GASTON not GASSON).

He was the eldest child of Thomas GASSON (1830-1914) and Harriet MITCHELL (c1835-1904) who were married in the parish church at Slaugham, Sussex on the 17th September 1853. They went on to have twelve children in total, eight boys and four girls.

Around 1859-60 Thomas, Harriet and their three children at the time (George Thomas, Margaret and Alfred) moved to Edmonton, Middlesex whilst Thomas was briefly in the Metropolitan Police. The family are there for the 1861 census and had another child there (Edward, registered Q3 1860). Before long the family were back in Sussex (probably Slaugham), as their next child, a daughter named Harriett was registered in Cuckfield District in Q1 1863.

It is not clear when George Thomas left the family home, he was certainly with his parents during the 1871 census, when the family was in Slaugham, and sometime around 1874-75 the family moved to Bolney, Sussex. It was in Bolney that George Thomas married Mary Ann WALDER at the parish church on the 30th December 1876.

George Thomas and Mary Ann’s first child, George, was born in 1877 (baptised on the 29th April 1877) about the same time as George Thomas’ youngest brother Michael. George Thomas and Mary Ann had fourteen children in total, including in 1893 my great grandmother May GASSON. The youngest was Harold, born in 1898. During this time they were living in Bolney, in the 1881 census at Bee Houses and in 1891 at Chatesgrove.

I have been unable to trace any record of George Thomas’ schooling, if there was any. His working life was spent as a labourer, although there is no evidence that shows where and for whom, presumably he was an agricultural labourer working on one of the farms in the parish.

A couple of their children had died before George Thomas was admitted to the asylum, Edward in 1894 (aged 15) and Albert Henry also in 1894 (aged just 3 months). One son was killed during the First World War, William James (in 1915). The youngest Harold served in the navy during the First World War, but I have been unable to discover where and with whom the others served.

After George Thomas was admitted to the asylum the family seems to have drifted eastwards, firstly to Cuckfield (Cuthedges in 1901) and then to Hurstpierpoint (Gorewood Green in 1911). It was in Hurstpierpoint that Mary Ann died in 1935 aged 78, although she was buried back in Bolney churchyard.

As far as I can tell the majority of their children married, with a couple of exceptions (my great grandmother being one of them) and many went on to have large families (at last count I had positively identified 34 grandchildren).

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