Tag Archives: west grinstead

It is reassuring to know that I was right

20 May

Without wishing to sound too smug, it is reassuring to know that my theory was correct. The birth certificate for Andrew WELLER arrived in the post today confirming what I thought was the case, but I was just not quite confident enough to accept without seeing further evidence.

Andrew’s mother is listed as “Mary Weller formerly Newnham”, which is just the answer I was looking for. It is a shame that I had to pay £9.25 for the privilege of getting that one piece of information, it is not as if I really wanted or needed the rest of the information on the certificate, but I suppose now I have his birth certificate I really ought to find out what actually became of him (he is my 4x great-uncle after all).

More importantly this mean I can happily say that my 4x great-grandmother was Mary NEWNHAM and she married Thomas WELLER in Bolney, Sussex on the 31st December 1816. The census records that Mary was from West Grinstead, Sussex, so she is almost certainly the daughter of James and Sarah NEWNHAM of West Grinstead and she was baptised there on the 7th August 1796.

Now I can start work on the NEWNHAM family line with the resources I already have access to, so will hopefully be able to add a couple more generations without too much difficulty.

For anyone who might be interested in the full details from the certificate (and because I have finally worked out how to do tables) here they are:

No. 104
When and where born Thirteenth of August 1838 Twineham
Name, if any Andrew
Sex Boy
Name and surname of father Thomas Weller
Name, surname and maiden surname of mother Mary Weller formerly Newnham
Occupation of father Agricultural labourer
Signature, description and residence of informant Thomas Weller Father his X mark Twineham
When registered Sixteenth of August 1848
Signature of registrar Billy Ho[ward] Registrar
Name entered after registration [left blank]
Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Back from the Civil War to Sussex

14 Apr

In a perfect example of how easily distracted I am my thoughts these last couple of days have shifted from the American Civil War back to the English countryside.

I can see how my train of thought took me there. I was looking at the two Sussex families that emigrated to the US (the ALLCORNs and EADEs) convincing myself that now was not the time to carry on researching them. The thing that really annoys me is that there are a couple of family members who married and I don’t have their spouse’s full names.

This makes my database look rather untidy and it is this aspect that annoys me. Looking at the list of other incomplete names I stopped on Sarah, the wife of James NEWNHAM of West Grinstead, Sussex (one of my 5x great-grandparents).

Before I knew it I was starting to assess the situation with James NEWNHAM and wondering whether I already had the information to hand that would enable me to identify his wife’s full name. I have transcriptions of the parish registers for West Grinstead (from the Parish Register Transcription Society) and also monumental inscriptions (from the Sussex Family History Group) as well as sundry other sources.

The evidence suggests that she was Sarah HOLLAND who married James NEWNUM in the neighbouring parish of Nuthurst, Sussex in 1787, further to this it appears that she was probably from the neighbouring parish of Shipley, Sussex. They appear to have had quite a large family and Sarah probably died in 1825 aged 59 whereas James died in 1851 aged 87.

In short there looks like there is quite a wealth of information waiting for me to explore further. Before I do too much exploring however I need to investigate my connection to James NEWNHAM and make sure that he is my 5x great-grandfather, I seem to remember that the evidence wasn’t 100% satisfactory, so I need to be sure before I go any further.

However I realise this is just another way of me avoiding working on the NICHOLLS and DRAPPER families in Kent. It is very easy for me to find other things to do rather than face having to do research in Kent, so I am going to try to ignore James and Sarah and get back to Kent again.

Why did grandmother move to West Grinstead?

7 Feb

When I looked back on what I achieved last week it seemed like I hadn’t really done much family history, but this is because I still need to get away from the idea that I need to be adding names and dates to my family tree to be doing family history.

Last week I spent a lot of time, perhaps a bit too much, looking at Hatterells, West Grinstead, Sussex and it’s connection to my family history. This hasn’t added anything new to my family tree yet, ultimately the only thing that I am going to be adding to my family tree in relation to Hatterells are some address details for my grandmother and some of her children.

Whilst there are few hard facts to add to my family tree there is more background material that needs to be recorded, like the details from the rent book and there are a few more records that need checking, which might give me more information, but nothing that is going to fit neatly into my family tree.

So along with very little to add to my family tree I have also brought to the surface again a question which had been pushed to the back of my mind, every so often it comes to the front only to get pushed back again. I wonder if now is the time to tackle that question?

The question is why did my grandmother with her three children move from Hurstpierpoint, Sussex to West Grinstead, Sussex in 1943? There seems no clear reason why a mother with three young children and a husband serving overseas should move to an unfamiliar place, albeit not that far away, but still it would seem unnecessary upheaval unless there was a good reason.

Of course the reason it keeps getting pushed to the back of my mind is because it is probably an unanswerable question. Neither of my grandparents are alive to ask, and the three children were probably too young to remember the reason behind their move, if they were ever told in the first place.

For now I will just push that question back a little way in my mind, not right to the back, but just far enough not to fully occupy my thoughts, but not far enough to stop it being forgotten/ignored again.

Those Places Thursday: Hatterells, West Grinstead, Sussex, England

3 Feb

Alex over at the Winging It blog (and Queen of one-place studies) issued a challenge to bloggers to write about an ancestral place for the Geneabloggers Those Places Thursday weekly blogging prompt. As usual I procrastinated and couldn’t make up my mind about which place to write about and which place I could do justice to in one blog post. In the end I settled on Hatterells as it has been at the forefront of my mind this week.

My previous posts about Hatterells concerned a specific house (or farm) where my grandmother lived but the name Hatterells also refers to a small area in the parish of West Grinstead, Sussex. To say that the area was sparsely populated would be an understatement, the house I mentioned (or rather pair of houses), seems to have been the only home in the area.

Perhaps because of there doesn’t seem to be a great deal known about the place and this post is possibly more about geography than history, so having said that lets start with a map.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The area I am referring doesn’t have any clearly defined boundaries, the key feature here is the River Adur running roughly north-south through the middle of the map, which divides the area in two. There are four other interesting features that make up the area.

  1. The bridge crossing the river (marked Hatterell Bridge on the map)
  2. The site of the various buildings (marked Hatterell on the map)
  3. The wood to the north-east of the river (not named on the map but known as Hatterells Wood)
  4. The causeway from the river to the wood (not marked on this map but visible on older maps at larger scales)

The bridge is at the centre of the area I would call Hatterells and if I had to put a boundary on the area then I would probably draw a circle centred on the bridge with a radius of about a third of a mile.

1. The bridge – the current bridge is not particularly attractive, the water beneath it is divided into three separate channels, and at various times the water level downstream is controlled with boards placed across the channels. Interestingly you can find out the water level at Hatterells on the Environment Agency website. This bridge replaces an earlier bridge, which was a lift bridge (described on Ordnance Survey maps as a draw bridge), presumably built when the river was made into a navigation (the Baybridge Canal) in the 1820s. However I am assuming that there was an earlier bridge here.

2. The buildings – although nothing remains now, except a pond and a few bits of debris, there were several buildings here to the west of the river, although I have no real idea of the age or purpose of the buildings. It seems likely that together they made up a farm settlement, probably as part of Clothalls Farm rather than as an independent concern.

3. The wood – the woodland to the east of the river is actually two distinct woods, the northern part is Hatterells Wood, whilst the southern part is Whitenwick Rough. Both woods are on a slope, leading down to the fields along the river. They are divided by a deeply worn track leading straight down through the woods, which is probably six feet below the level of the surrounding ground in places and suggests a well used path of great age.

4. The causeway – between the wood and the bridge is a raised path, barely noticeable at the river end, but nearer the wood it is more clearly defined. The fields here can become quite wet and flood, this path suggests an attempt to provide a drier surface for people passing between the river and the wood. The path is much more noticeable on older maps at larger scales than it is on modern maps.

The more I look at this area the more interesting it seems and certainly worthy of further study, and combining several areas of study, including family history (owners and residents of the buildings), house history (the buildings themselves), landscape history (the woods and paths), industrial history (the river bridge) and even military history because Canadian soldiers trained here during the Second World War.

Whether I have the time to actually investigate this area further is another matter, but it is quite a nice size project (small enough) to work on and of course it has a personal connection to my own family which makes it more worthwhile.

Hatterells: Paying the rent

2 Feb

Yesterday I mentioned that I didn’t know exactly when my grandmother Dorothy Annie GASSON and her children were at Hatterells, West Grinstead, Sussex,  but I do have some hard evidence which might help fill in some of the gaps.

This is the rent book for Hatteralls [sic] used by my grandmother, and as you can see she was not the first person to use it. The previous tenant appears to have been V. Patching.

The name of the landlord is not clear, but I believe it is D Berry. The address is certainly clear, Clothalls Farm, which is the closest building to Hatterells, about a quarter of a mile as the crow flies to the north-west of Hatterells, and which is still standing.

[I think the landlord is probably Dudley Berry, who was listed as a farmer in West Grinstead in the 1938 Kelly’s Directory of Sussex, and is definitely at Clothalls Farm in 1951-52 according to The Silver Eagle Horsham Urban and Rural Directory]

The book consists of a cardboard cover and now holds three sheets of paper (although presumably it once had more), two of which are blotting paper. To my surprise they are actually stapled into the book, I would have expected the blotting paper to be removable so that it could be used facing which ever page was being written on.

The other sheet is shown below and has entries on both sides detailing the amount of rent due and the date it was due along with a record of how much was actually paid.

As you can see someone (I don’t know if it was definitely my grandmother, it may have been the previous tenant still), was paying 10 shillings a week in rent, and on occasion they missed a week and paid double the following week.

Whether this was due to a lack of money, not being home when the landlord called or just that the landlord didn’t come to collect the money I will probably never know.

More importantly this show that someone was paying rent from at least the 18th September 1943 and the reverse of the page shows that the entries continue until the 9th September 1944.

Interestingly for the last two entries it seems that the weekly rent had gone up to 10s 8d, which may be why the entries finish (although it was the end of the page), did my grandmother seek cheaper accommodation when the rent was increased?

This is not the only rent book in my collection and I should be looking more closely at the others to see what other clues and insights that they hold.

Hatterells: Another “lost” ancestral home

1 Feb

The photo below shows the site of another ancestral home, like Goreland Farm a few weeks ago there is virtually nothing left to see. This is where my grandmother Dorothy Annie GASSON lived in West Grinstead, Sussex with her young family for part of the Second World War.

Between the pond and the nearest oak tree and to the right-hand side of the photo, once stood Hatterells (sometimes known as Hatterells Cottages or Hatterells Farm) which consisted of a pair of cottages and a couple of farm buildings. I remember the last of the buildings, one of the farm buildings, which was still standing until the hurricane in 1987, but the other buildings have long since gone.

The most notable thing about Hatterells is its remoteness, the nearest building was another farm over the horizon in the photo, and the nearest main road was about three-quarters of a mile in the opposite direction, and even then it was probably the same distance again to the nearest village shops. Not the most convenient place for a mother to raise a family, whilst her husband was away on active service during the war. If you don’t believe me just have a look at the location on Google Maps, nothing much has changed in the intervening 60 or 70 years apart from the disappearance of the buildings and a few less hedgerows.

I don’t know for certain the exact dates when my grandmother was at Hatterells but I do have on interesting piece of evidence which I will tell you about tomorrow.

Unplugged again: Wandering to West Grinstead Church

30 Jan

The weather today was absolutely glorious, it was still quite cold but the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky, the ground was still a bit damp underfoot but the patches of mud were easy to avoid.

In contrast to yesterday I was on my own (most of the time) and knew where I was going without the need a of map. Although I knew where I was heading (West Grinstead Church, Sussex) the route I was taking changed several times, such is the joy of knowing an area so well.

To be honest this is not the best-looking side of West Grinstead Church, but just look at that clear blue sky. I wanted to go to the church to photograph a few gravestones, and everything just came together today, some free time and good weather.

The best part of the walk however was the walk back, a combination of clear skies, bright sunshine and splendid views certainly raised my spirits after some cold, damp and dark days. The photo below is the view looking roughly south-east towards the South Downs.

I have walked these paths for many years and as well as the fine weather there were many good memories of time spent exploring the countryside. From a family history perspective just to the left of the photo at the bottom of the field is where my grandmother lived for a few years, something which I really should have blogged about by now.

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