Tag Archives: sayers common

Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part one)

8 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

I first became aware of Ernest Arthur TROWER many years before my interest in family history began. Before family history and local history one of my interests was military history and militaria. My father encouraged this interest by giving me various items, some with family connections and some without.

One of these items was a memorial plaque for Ernest Arthur TROWER. Whilst I knew the significance of the memorial plaque I had very little concept of family history beyond first cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. So I didn’t actually know who Ernest was and how he was related to me.

E A TROWER memorial plaque

As well as the memorial plaque I was also given the medals which Ernest had been awarded. These gave me the first clues to Ernest’s military service, inscribed on the edge of each medal is 52700 PTE. E. A. TROWER. DURH. L. I.

E A TROWER medals

I knew that the information was his service number, rank, name and regiment, but this was in the days before widespread internet access, in fact probably even before I had ever seen a computer in real life. I had no idea where I could find out more about Ernest, no idea of the existence of medal index cards, service records or any of the records and publications that I take for granted these days.

I knew DURH. L. I. was the Durham Light Infantry, which is probably why there is a Durham Light Infantry cap badge in my collection. The medals are not in brilliant condition, they have obviously been kept on display as the colour of the ribbons has faded quite a bit. I would imagine that they once formed part of display or shrine in memory of Ernest Arthur TROWER.

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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 importance of viewing the enumerator’s summary books in the 1911 census

19 Jun

I wrote yesterday about the completion of the 1911 census and the availability of the enumerator’s summary books, and how I hoped they might help me solve a problem with regard to exact location of my 2x great grandmother Mary Ann GASSON’s home.

Today I would like to share another example from my own family history, which illustrates the importance and value of these summary books. This concerns another set of 2x great grandparents Ebenezer and Annie TROWER at Sayers Common, Sussex (I have just written about them over at part three of my Sussex Day walk).

Although I was pretty certain that I knew where the family were living at the time of the census, the householder’s page only gave the postal address as “Sayers Common Hurstpoint” (it probably should have read Hurstpierpoint or just Hurst, but I will forgive Ebenezer that little slip).

The enumerator’s summary page actually gives a different address, that of “Vicarage Cottage”, which is just what I was expecting. If I hadn’t already known where they were living just viewing the householder’s page would probably have left me no further forward.

So make sure you check the enumerator’s summary page, you never know what else you might pick up, especially as it doesn’t cost any more if you have already viewed the householder’s page.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 3 – Sayers Common to Cobbs Mill

19 Jun

There was little of genealogical interest in the centre of Sayers Common, my interests were further north-east. So apart from paying a visit to the the parish church and checking on condition of the three TROWER gravestones there I quickly moved on. From the church my Sussex Day walk saw me heading north along the main road before turning east onto Mill Lane.

One end of Mill Lane is now tangled up with the entrance and exit roads from the current London to Brighton road (the A23). A bridge takes Mill Lane across the A23 and just around the corner the character of the road changes completely as the noise of the traffic begins to fade and I was back in the countryside again.

A short distance down Mill Lane (about a quarter of a mile) is the junction with Langton Lane (coming north from Hurstpierpoint) and it is this spot that I like to think of as the epicentre of my TROWER roots in Sayers Common.

Standing at the end of Langton Lane I really felt like I was standing in the shadows of my ancestors. A few yards in front of me to my left was Vicarage Cottage, where my 2x great grandparents Ebenezer and Annie TROWER and their family (until they grew up and found places of their own) lived for around half a century.

To my right, hidden behind a tall hedgerow was Cobbs Mill, the watermill from which Mill Lane got it’s name, and which provided employment for my great grandfather Henry John TROWER and his brother Percy Ebenezer TROWER.

I had been here several times before, but had never had time to stop for long and consider the importance of this place in my family history. The ancestors that passed this way on a daily basis, perhaps on foot like me, or perhaps on a push bike, maybe even a horse and cart.

If I wound back the clock far enough I would see the children heading off towards the school in the village, their mother perhaps hanging the washing out to dry in the bright sunshine and father off to work in the vicarage garden. Fast-forward a few years and I would see the two youngest boys leave to fight in the First World War, and would share in the sadness when news reached home that one of them would not be returning.

There was so much family history here, so much happened so close to this spot, some of it happy, some of it sad, but all of it needs to be remembered and shared equally.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 2 – Blackstone to Sayers Common

18 Jun

The next stage of my Sussex Day walk saw me head north-east, more or less turning my back on the South Downs. I was heading towards Sayers Common, and for this part of the route the quickest and easiest way (admittedly probably not the safest way) to get there was by following the road.

For the most part these were country roads, firstly Blackstone Lane, which did have more cars than I was expecting for a country road, but it had wide verges and the road was straight, so I could be seen (and avoided) quite easily.

The next section was a bit more hazardous, but thankfully quite short. Blackstone Lane joined the main road (the B2116) and for about a quarter of a mile I was walking alongside this quite busy road with all manor of vehicle rushing past. Fortunately there was quite a good verge and I was able to step off the road when traffic came hurtling towards me.

The section of main road lead me east to a place called High Cross. Which in my mind is really only a road junction with a few houses clustered round. Several roads met here, including Reed’s Lane the road I was to take. I was glad to get away from the main road and back out onto the relatively quiet country road.

Reed’s Lane heads north-east, more or less in a straight line to Sayers Common about a mile and a half away. Although the road is not even a B-road some drivers seemed to be treating it like a motorway. I was again glad to reach Sayers Common, where there were pavements along the side of the road and speed limits.

I guess Sayers Common’s main claim to fame is that it used to be on the main London to Brighton road until the modern A23 by-passed it to the east. It’s genealogical claim to fame is that this is where my 2x great grandparents Ebenezer and Annie TROWER moved to with their two children around 1892 (they went on to have another four children).

The family had been living in Henfield before they moved to Sayers Common, and although I don’t know how they actually made the move or which route they took, my walk today was in a small way a commemoration of that trip.


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