I took the opportunity of a dry (but overcast) New Year’s Day to pay a quick visit to Goreland Farm, West Grinstead, Sussex.
As I mentioned in my Ancestral Profile posts on my 4x great-grandparents John FAIRS and Eliza WORSFOLD nothing remains of their home at Goreland Farm. Actually that is not quite true, as you can see from the photo below there are still traces of the buildings in the form of pieces of brick and other building debris, darkened soil and a depression in the level of the field.
There is a footpath that passes over the site of Goreland Farm, but the conditions underfoot were so wet and muddy that it wasn’t long before I turned around and headed back the way I came.
Fortunately there is a country lane which runs close by the site of Goreland Farm, which provides a drier path to the nearest village a couple of miles away.
Looking on old-maps.co.uk (search co-ordinates: 517095, 118205) it looks like Goreland Farm was demolished/fell down in the 1950s, long after my FAIRS family had moved on. It would be nice to find out more about Goreland Farm and perhaps find a photograph/postcard of it, even though my ancestors were only there for a short time.
If you have read my last two Ancestral Profile posts (if not, why not?) about John FAIRS and Eliza WORSFOLD you will remember that the church at West Grinstead, Sussex was an important part of their lives. Both John and Eliza were baptised at the church, they were married there and both were buried in the churchyard.
This is the first of two postcards I have of the interior of West Grinstead Church. It was either published by Archibald and Frederick Baker or their partner Cecil Travers, it is not clear which one it was, or whether it was a joint effort. The date is probably between 1905 and 1910, or at least the original photo was probably from that date, as it was probably reprinted at least once.
On Monday I wrote about John FAIRS, my 4x great-grandfather. I mentioned that his headstone records that he died on the 11th March 1846 and that the parish register recorded that he was buried on the same day.
I was rather suspicious of this, it seemed plausible that he died and was buried on the same day but it seemed unlikely and incredibly efficient of all the people involved, including the people who had to dig the grave.
A much more likely explanation was that one of the records was wrong, either the wrong date had been carved on the headstone or the officiating minister had recorded the wrong date in the burial register.
Given that John died aged only 41 years I felt that there could be an interesting story behind his death, so I decided it would be worth ordering a copy of his death certificate. I was astonished to receive the certificate in the post today, having only ordered it on Monday evening (excellent service from the GRO and the Royal Mail).
The certificate revealed the truth, John FAIRS died on the 7th March 1846 not the 11th March, so the inscription on his headstone is wrong.
Disappointingly the cause of death was not very exciting, the cause given is “Acute Gastritis 48 hours” according to Wikipedia Gastritis is “an inflammation of the lining of the stomach”. Not particularly exciting or unusual, Wikipedia does also say that “the main acute causes are excessive alcohol consumption”, so maybe it was alcohol that caused his premature death?
Regardless of the cause of his death, this story does prove one thing, even if it is carved in stone it is not necessarily true.