Tag Archives: walder

A Bank Holiday walk to Bolney

31 Aug

What a way to spend Bank Holiday Monday, contrary to expectations the sun was out (in fact it was a lovely afternoon) and I was out walking making the most of it.

The destination for today’s walk was Bolney, Sussex, home to many GASSON and WALDER ancestors and relations. In particular I wanted to visit the church at Bolney and try and find some gravestones.

The South Downs, from near Twineham

The South Downs, from near Twineham

The walk started in a small place called Wineham (thanks to my wife for dropping me off). From here I followed the wonderfully named Bob Lane to Twineham, which is slightly bigger than Wineham and has it’s own delightful little church.

St Peters Church Twineham, Sussex

St Peters Church Twineham, Sussex

There should be a couple of my WELLER ancestors buried here, although I haven’t confirmed that in the burial register. If they are they either never had a headstone or it has long since vanished, because I couldn’t find one.

From Twineham I followed Bolney Chapel Road up to the main A272 and then a short way along the A272 into Bolney itself. I like following these small country roads because I don’t have to worry too much with a map, I can just get on with enjoying the scenery and not have to worry about which footpath I have to take.

St Mary Magdalene is a beautiful church, set on the top of a small hill. About a dozen stone steps lead up to a fabulous lych gate, quite possibly the largest I have ever seen. From the lych gate a path leads up the hill to the church.

Bolney Church from the lych gate

Bolney Church from the lych gate

The church itself was closed, but there was plenty to see outside, but one day I ought to actually try and get inside. There is a huge variety of gravestones in the churchyard, so many different ages and types. Of course the older ones are not so easy to read, in fact many are now just slabs of stone with no sign of an inscription.

A pair of gravestones in Bolney Churchyard

A pair of gravestones in Bolney Churchyard

Unfortunately I didn’t have the churchyard to myself, there appeared to be some sort of treasure hunt going on as small groups of people with clipboards made their way through the churchyard searching for a particular gravestone before moving on.

My own hunt was quite successful, several modern GASSON gravestones and some older WALDER and LEWRY ones, although how much of the older ones I am going to be able to make out is another question. I need to have a look and see if there are any monumental inscriptions available that I can use to fill in some gaps. Hopefully someone went around a hundred years ago and recorded all the older ones for me before the inscriptions disappeared.

From the church I head further into the village, past the war memorial and then headed west. This long and winding road (and quite hilly) took me through some nice woodland, with a beautiful scent of pine in the air and past an ancestral home Chatesgrove. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the present owners of Chatesgrove are that keen on letting anyone see their house. Lots of thick hedges and tall fences, meant all I could see were a few glimpses of a timber framed building.

The road eventually took me back to Wineham, where I was due to get picked up again. All in all a nice afternoon spent walking (about 11 miles), lots of photos on my camera, although I don’t think any of the gravestones are direct ancestors. It is surprising how quick the temperature dropped and the light began to disappear, there is no escaping it, autumn is on the way.

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).

My latest postcard: Bolney Church

3 Jun

This wonderful card is the latest addition to my postcard collection, just arrived today from an eBay seller, the church of St Mary Magdalene, Bolney, Sussex.

St Mary Magdalene, Bolney, Sussex

St Mary Magdalene, Bolney, Sussex

There are too many of my ancestors connected with this church to list them all, but several generations of GASSONs and WALDERs were baptised and married here, and of course many of them buried here as well.

The card was posted in Bolney, but the date is not easy to read, it looks like 1915, but I can’t be sure. It was sent to Master H. Holden (possibly Hobden) of 111 Church Road, Burgess Hill, Sussex by his father. The simple message reads “We are having a nice walk about here this afternoon”.

A challenge for the weekend: update

15 May

I made a start last night on adding 3x and 4x great grandparents to my family tree. I’ve only added four individuals so far, but three of those were direct ancestors, so it is off to a good start.

I started with my WALDER ancestors from Bolney, Sussex because I knew they would be quite easy to trace. I hadn’t realised quite how easy!

The 1881 census entry for Bee Houses, Bolney, Sussex was a genealogists dream come true. On census night there were four generations of the family in the house. Talk about making life easy for me!

In complete contrast I can’t find any of my WALDERs in the 1871 census, so that is one I need to make a note of and come back to later when I have more time.

Who to spend my 30 credits on?

30 Mar

Having found my 2x great grandmother Harriet MITCHELL in the 1911 census yesterday, I now have the question of what to do with my remaining credits. I have enough credits left for one more image, but who should I spend it on?

Of course I could just save the credits for the next time I have a query, but I can feel those 30 credits burning a whole in my (online) pocket, begging to be spent.

I have found entries for pretty much all of my direct ancestors, with the exception of George Thomas GASSON (2x great grandfather). However,  I know exactly where he was at the time of the census, in the East Sussex County Asylum at Hellingly, Sussex, so there is probably no benefit from finding his entry.

There may still be some direct ancestors alive in 1911 that I haven’t checked, because I don’t know when they died, so perhaps I should pick one of my less well researched lines and use the 1911 census to fill in a few of the blanks. Maybe the WALDER family in Bolney, Sussex, but there are rather a lot of them.

Perhaps it should be one of the brothers or sisters of my ancestors. There are a few interesting people that it would be useful to find out more about, such as Abraham TROWER (3x great uncle) who was the last of about 5 or six generations of TROWERs living at Harwoods Farm, Henfield, Sussex.

Or what about Abraham’s brother Luther? What was he doing in 1911? Where was he living? Would it provide any clues as to why he would commit suicide 18 months later?

And perhaps it would be worth looking for Mercy TROWER, or would it be STEADMAN or perhaps BARLEY? I wonder if the 1911 census would explain why I can’t find a record of her marriages, despite the fact she died as a widow?

Then there is William James GASSON (2x great uncle) who died of enteric fever in the First World War. He would still have been single in 1911, and probably already serving in the army, so he might not be online yet.

And don’t get me started on the BOXALLs or the MITCHELLs, they had far too many children, one image would be a drop in the ocean with either of those families.

I never have been good at making decisions, there are far to many possibilities, perhaps I will sleep on it and see who comes to mind tomorrow. Maybe I can resist the temptation, and hold onto my credits for a really worthy cause, but like a kid in a sweet shop, I doubt I will be able to resist for long!


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