Tag Archives: west dean

Remembrance 2010: Alfred BOXALL (1882-1915)

9 Nov

This year I am remembering the six members of the BOXALL family recorded on the war memorial in the parish church at West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex.

Alfred BOXALL’s death was recorded in the local newspaper the West Sussex Gazette on the 6th May 1915:

BOXALL.- Killed in action at Neuve Chapelle, Alfred, 2nd Royal Berks Regt., third son of the late George and Rose Boxall, of West Dean, Chichester, age 33.

This contains the useful information that Alfred was the son of George and Rose BOXALL and was aged 33. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission also records these facts and provides his date of death as the 15th March 1915, along with some additional details of his military service:

Son of the late George and Rose Boxall, of 99, West Dean, Chichester. Served in the South African Campaign, and in India.

Unfortunately the service record for Alfred BOXALL doesn’t appear to have survived, but Soldiers Died in the Great War provides the fact that he enlisted at Chichester, Sussex which makes sense for a man from West Dean. The mention of service in the South African Campaign and India and his relatively early date of death, suggests that he had enlisted well before the outbreak of the First World War.

In the 1911 census we discover that Alfred was serving with the 1st Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment in Rawalpindi, Punjab, India. I have been unable to find Alfred in the 1901 census, which suggests that he may well have been serving in South Africa at the time. His medal index card records that as well as the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, Alfred was also awarded the 1914 Star, his qualification being entry into the theatre of war on the 6th November 1914.

Alfred was baptised Alfred Wilton BOXALL at St. Andrew’s Church, West Dean on the 1st October 1882, he was actually the fourth son of George and Rosa BOXALL, although the suggestion that he was the third son is not that far from the truth because one Alfred’s elder brothers died aged four years old, so he was actually the third surviving son.

As well as West Dean war memorial Alfred BOXALL is remembered on Le Touret Memorial in France.

Remembrance 2010: West Dean War Memorial

8 Nov

This year I will be remembering the six members of the BOXALL family in West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex who gave their lives during the First World War and are commemorated on the war memorial in St. Andrew’s Church, West Dean.

The memorial itself features the names of 26 men who lost their lives during the First World War and a further tablet remembers six men who died during the Second World War.

IN LOVING MEMORY OF THE MEN OF THIS PARISH
WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR

EDWARD BLUNDEN ALBERT JUPP
ALFRED BOXALL FREDERICK KNIGHT
ARTHUR BOXALL EDWARD MARSH
FREDERICK BOXALL ALBERT NEWMAN
LEONARD BOXALL JAMES NUNN
SIDNEY BOXALL CHARLES PEARCE
WALTER BOXALL EDWARD POLLARD
ALBERT CHAFFER HERBERT PRATT
WILLIAM CHAFFER WILLIAM SOMMERVILLE
DAVID CHASE HAROLD STICKLAND
ERNEST CROFT JAMES WHITMARSH
RICHARD DAVIES ALFRED WALKER
FREDERICK JOHNSON FREDERICK WESTBROOK

 

GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS

Unfortunately I have not been able to discover when this memorial was actually unveiled, nothing in the parish records seems to relate to it. My only chance of finding out more would seem to be a time-consuming trawl through local newspapers, which I will get around to one day unless anyone else happens to know.

Free Friday: Leaving them standing at the dock

5 Nov

In one of the local newspapers that I checked last Saturday was another slightly different report about the diamond wedding anniversary of James and Caroline BOXALL (my 2x great-grandparents) of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex. It included a paragraph which mentioned that one of their 27 children had emigrated.

When visited yesterday by a “Sussex Daily News” representative, Mrs. Boxall was a-tiptoe with anticipation. All her seven surviving children, except a daughter in Alberta, Canada, have promised to visit the tiny cottage snuggling against a wooded slope of the Downs.

Sussex Daily News (Wednesday 15th April 1936)

It occurred to me that I already knew there were descendants of James and Caroline in Canada, but the fact had been pushed to the back of my mind, only now taking on new significance when I actually read it in print.

My first instinct of course was to find out which daughter it was that had emigrated, which didn’t take long as I had pretty much traced all but one of the daughters already. It was Florence Mabel BOXALL, who married Frederick AYRES in 1906.

I found Florence and her two children on a passenger list leaving Southampton on the Ascania bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 18th December 1913. The problem is that they are crossed out on the list, does this mean they didn’t make the voyage? The only record I have found so far on the other side of the Atlantic is a passenger list for the arrival of the Ausonia at Quebec on the 8th June 1914.

I don’t really know what is happening, my guess is that they took the Ausonia from Halifax to Quebec. Her husband Frederick had probably already made his way to Canada in advance. It is an interesting puzzle, I would like to find out what really happened but I don’t really have the time to investigate it.

Now this is making me feel guilty. I have a mental image in my mind of Florence and her two children and a handful of suitcases standing at the docks at Southampton looking bewildered and lost. I feel I should be helping them make their way across the Atlantic, but I don’t have the time. All I can do is wish them good luck and wave them goodbye.

I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about not following every branch of my family tree, I just don’t have the time at the moment to learn all about the passenger lists and follow the family over to Canada. For now I need to concentrate on what I already know about and that is English resources.

Picture Postcard Parade: West Dean House from South

2 Nov

It is about time I added a bit of colour to my postcard tour of the parish of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex. So far I think the postcards have all been black and white or sepia, but this one is in colour. Admittedly not many colours, mainly greys and greens, but colour nevertheless.

This postcard of West Dean House was posted on the 23rd November 1906, which seems quite fitting as it looks very much like a winter scene, there is not much colour in the flower beds and most of the trees have lost their leaves. The Sussex Postcards website has information about the publisher Russell’s of nearby Chichester, Sussex and the probable photographer George Henry Allen. It also features a copy of the same card which is postmarked 1904, two years earlier than mine.

The core of West Dean House was built in 1804 and it has been added to during the following two centuries. It is now home to West Dean College and is not open to the public, but it is set within West Dean Gardens which are open to the public throughout most of the year.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 44

31 Oct

Last week was quite a good week, with the high point being yesterday’s visit to Brighton History Centre and coming home with lots of photocopies of newspaper articles. Of course that means more work, as I need to get the copies scanned, transcribed and the details included in my database.

Two of the newspaper articles concern a very distant pair of relations, but it was such an interesting story that I needed to follow it up. This means even more work as I need to put all the details for these distant relations into my tree to make the connection with my ancestors and me. On top of that the story needs more work done on it, there are still lots of loose ends to tie up.

Last week I did more work on the 27 children of James and Caroline BOXALL. I spent some time having a detailed look at the baptisms, births, deaths and burials for West Dean, Sussex trying to discover whether I am ever likely to find all 27 children. The are probably three or four death certificates that I need to order, but even if they are all James and Caroline’s children I am still some way from finding all 27 children. This makes me wonder whether it is worth the effort (and money) when I am never going to find all of the children.

I did get last weeks newspaper articles scanned and transcribed, but I never got around to scanning and transcribing the wills. They have been sitting on my desk now for at least three weeks, and nothing is going to happen to them unless I start the process and get them scanned. At least once they are scanned I know they will be backed up and easily accessible whether at home or on the move, so that I can work on them wherever and whenever I have the time.

So this week is going to be mainly a scanning week, there are a couple of postcards that I need to do, but it is going to be mostly photocopies of newspaper articles. I might even try some “spot” scanning of my maps, they are rather large (3½ft x 2½ft) so I can only scan small parts of them and even that is going to be a bit of a juggling act.

Free Friday: TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN – truth or myth?

29 Oct

I have written about my surprise and partial disbelief at the story that my 2x great-grandparents James and Caroline BOXALL had 27 children. This sort of story demands proper investigation, a process which I began last Saturday at West Sussex Record Office.

I had previously checked parish register transcriptions for baptisms and burials at West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex and knew there weren’t baptisms for 27 children. Even taking into account a few unidentified burials and birth and death registrations I was struggling to come up with 27 children.

The 1911 census records that the couple had 13 children born living and that four had died. Obviously for there to have been a total of 27 children then there must have been another 14 that were either stillborn or died within a few hours, this seems a shockingly high number, more than were born living.

In the absence of official records I searched for some other evidence. The earliest record that I have found mentioning the 27 children is a report in the local newspaper, the Chichester Observer, on the 15th April 1936. Subsequent reports seem to draw on this first report and duplicate the error with the year of marriage.

TWENTY-SEVEN CHILDREN

WEST DEAN COUPLE CELEBRATE DIAMOND WEDDING

Wednesday will be a happy day in the lives of two of West Dean’s oldest residents, when they celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their wedding.

They are Mr. and Mrs. J BOXALL, of Scout Cottage, who were married at West Dean Church on April 15th, 1886 the Rev. HUTCHISON. Mr. BOXALL, who is 83 years of age, has been confined to his bed for a number of years, but Mrs. BOXALL, at 79, is still active, and as cheerful as ever. Only one person who attended their wedding is alive to-day, and she is Mrs. MERRITE of Tillington.

Of Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL’S twenty-seven children, only seven survive, the eldest of whom is 59. Mrs. BOXALL told an “Observer” representative who visited her on Monday that she had triplets once and twins three times. There are 42 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Two of Mrs. BOXALL’S sons were killed in the War.

The walls of the little old cottage in which Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL now live, are hung with portraits of members of the JAMES’ family, who held West Dean Park.

Mrs. BOXALL’S most treasured possessions include a case of gold spoons which the late Mrs. WILLIE JAMES gave her when Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL celebrated their golden wedding in 1926, and a necklace which Mrs. JAMES bequeathed her.

Five years ago, Mr. BOXALL was taken ill, and all hope of his recovery was given up, but he pulled round after a stiff fight. He finds it now a great hardship to be confined to his bed, after an active life on the land.

“There’s nobody to-day would work like he did,” said Mrs. BOXALL.

Both Mr. and Mrs. BOXALL can claim a life-long association with the locality, for Mr. BOXALL was born at West Dean, and Mrs. BOXALL at Singleton.

There is some interesting information included, but nothing that really helps prove the story. One thing that didn’t seem right was the mention of two sons killed during the First World War. Having spent some time looking at the West Dean war memorial I knew that only one son was listed on the memorial, furthermore the two other sons that I knew about survived the war. Did this mean one of the missing children was another son who died during WW1 and had some how escaped the census enumerator for several decades?

After searching all the BOXALLs on the CWGC and Soldiers Died in the Great War looking for a connection to West Dean, but I still drew a blank. Then it dawned on me who this missing son was, what is more I had already researched his life and even written about him on this blog. He had to be Walter Henry BOXALL, the illegitimate son of James and Caroline’s daughter Alice Ruth. He was killed during WW1 and although he wasn’t their son it appears that he may have been treated as such after his mother married. When he started school in 1901 his parent or guardian was recorded as Caroline, although the 1901 census did show him as their grandson.

To me it looks like the story of 27 children can’t true, although they were only short by one. 26 children is still quite impressive, and it is still going to take some work to see if I can prove some more (I need to order some death certificates now), but now I can’t help but wonder about Walter Henry BOXALL, and why James and Caroline felt the need to continue pretending he was their son all those years later? or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Something Sussex: West Dean Church destroyed by fire

28 Oct

The interior of St. Andrew’s Church, West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex seems modern and light, which is not what you would expect from the outside. A memorial stone set into the wall not far from the door explains why.

On the 26th November 1934 the church was almost completely destroyed by fire. According to a report in The Times newspaper the following day the Fire Brigade “were practically helpless owing to lack of water, West Dean being in an area which has suffered severely from a deficiency of water owing to the droughts of the last two summers.”

The same report records that a “very fine Elizabethan full-sized recumbant figure is badly damaged, and a life-size recumbent figure of the late Mr. Willie James [a former owner of West Dean Park]by Sir Goscombe John has been destroyed.”

In the article the Vicar (Rev. H.E. Lyne) described how the fire was first spotted, “Miss V. Smith, of West Drayton, saw smoke and flames when she was practising at the organ in the church. She immediately dashed for help, but the roof and everything was ablaze in about 20 minutes. I was out at the time, and did not get back till the roof had fallen in.”

As should be obvious from the memorial stone the church was restored, according to the Chichester Observer (Wedenesday, 15th April 1936), “The restoration of St. Andrew’s Parish Church, West Dean, which was destroyed by fire in November, 1934, was completed last week and the dedication of the new building took place on Saturday morning in time for the Easter services.”

The Bishop appears to have used the dedication to encourage the continued attendance of the parishioners every week:

It was a house of God worthy of the God they came to worship, and he urged them to come there Sunday by Sunday to worship Him. There was no reason why the Church should not be as full every Sunday as it was on this occasion. “If it is not to be a witness of our work,” he said, “it might almost as well never have been rebuilt”

For the family historian one concern would be the survival of parish registers in such a devastating fire. Fortunately in this case it appears that the registers were safely stored in a fireproof safe and they are now held at the West Sussex Record Office.

Inside West Dean Church (16 June 2010)

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