Friday, 10 July 2015

Nurse family of Eastrington

It has been a difficult few weeks as my aunt,  Jean Sellers, nee Nurse, who was 89, has been ill and then sadly died. The funeral,  this week, in the village church at Eastrington was poignant but also comforting.

This is the church where members of our Nurse family have been baptised, married and buried for over three centuries. Their names are on gravestones outside the church door, on the church wall, celebrating the fact that my great grandfather was churchwarden and on much of the church woodwork which my ancestors made.

My daughter played the organ, as my mother did before her and we had a 'wake' in the local village hall where we reminisced about my aunt's life and enjoyed countless cups of tea and pieces of pork pie and cake.

We shall miss her but she enjoyed her  life as a teacher at Gilberdyke School,  as a gardener, as a traveller in retirement and as part of the village community.

Jean Sellers of Eastrington with Basset hound Oscar

Monday, 22 June 2015

Howden Waterloo hero

Last Thursday,  June 18th, saw the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. Locally a small ceremony in the Howden churchyard was held to remember Howden's own Waterloo hero, Charles Ledsham

I wrote a brief piece about him which appeared in the Goole Times newspaper and reproduce it below.

Howden’s hero of Waterloo

On  Wednesday 25th January 1837 Charles Ledsham, the landlord of the London Tavern in Hailgate (later number 55 Hailgate and, until very recently, solicitors’ offices) died at the age of 48. He had previously been the landlord of the Waterloo Inn at number 12 Bridgegate.

Charles was buried a few days later in Howden churchyard and his gravestone, although much eroded, tells us that he was ‘one of the immortal heroes’ of the battle of Waterloo.

So,  as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle on June 18th, I wondered what part had Charles played all those years ago. Had he really been a hero? What was his story?

He was born in 1787, the son of John and Susannah Ledsham, and was baptised in the village church at Birkin on 13th May. On 29th September 1805, aged 18, he enlisted at Camblesforth in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards. Camblesforth seems an unlikely place to enlist and I suspect this was as a result of a recruiting drive.

The Horse Guards were a cavalry regiment and wore a blue uniform, hence their nickname of ‘The Blues’. After a battle in 1794 in which they defeated the French with very few losses they were often referred to as ‘the Immortals’ – as on Charles’ gravestone.  The regiment was based at Windsor.

Charles served for the following 13 years and 90 days, rising through the ranks to sergeant. We know he was 5 feet  nine inches tall, had brown hair, hazel eyes and a brown complexion.

He later received an army pension and appears as a Chelsea pensioner listed as one of those who served in Canada, presumably in the war of 1812.

But then in 1815 came Napoleon’s last battle when he was defeated by the Duke of Wellington.

Charles was then 28 years old. From the muster roll of those who took part in the battle of Waterloo, we know he was in Captain John Thoyts’ Company in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, of which the Duke of Wellington was the colonel.

The Blues were part of The First or Household Brigade of Heavy Cavalry and during the battle were commanded by  Lord Edward Somerset.  There were about 2,000 members of the heavy cavalry, all mounted on superb horses who charged the enemy. Charles Ledsham was one of these.

But Sgt Ledsham was probably not aware of the final victory for some time, as he was severely wounded and left for dead on the battlefield.

According to his obituary published in 1837, ‘he was engaged in personal conflict with the bearer of an Imperial Eagle whom he slew and seized the trophy, but his enjoyment was momentary as he was overwhelmed by a host of the enemy, his horse was killed annd he himself left for dead, pierced by seven severe wounds and thus deprived of  the honour of presenting it to his commander’.

The capture of an Eagle, the equivalent of regimental colours, was a great achievement and in fact only two were captured during the battle of Waterloo.

Captain John Thoyts’ troop was heavily involved in the fighting near the farm of La Haye Sainte.  It was here that he and his men charged the French and so it was most likely there that  Charles Ledsham seized the Eagle from a French officer and was then himself attacked.

There is no doubt that Charles  was severely wounded during the battle, as this is noted on his army record.

It states that he was officially discharged from the army on 27th December 1818 at Windsor ‘in consequence of being disabled by nine sword and lance wounds received from the enemy at the battle of Waterloo’.
There seems to be some discrepancy about how many wounds he received but whether it was seven or nine he was lucky to survive.

In the conduct part of the record it states that ‘he distinguished himself particularly at the battle of Waterloo’.

Charles was one of 50 soldiers of the Blues who were wounded (44 were killed).
He was, like all who served during the battle,  later awarded the Waterloo medal.

He came to Howden in late 1822 and had renamed the Black Horse Inn the Waterloo by 1823. Howden must have been a patriotic town as around the same time The White Hart Inn was renamed the Wellington, the name of course that it bears today.

By 1834 the Waterloo was no more and had reverted to the name Black Horse. Charles Ledsham was by then landlord of the London Tavern in Hailgate.

He died some three years later and on his gravestone, which is not very far from the chapter house, it is just possible to make out that he suffered from the effects of his wounds to the end of his life.

So on this 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, never mind the fictional Sharpe but remember Howden’s own hero who so nearly went down in history as the man who captured an Imperial Eagle at Waterloo.

He must have been able to tell some amazing stories as he served Howden people their mugs of ale

Charles Ledsham's gravestone in Howden churchyard

Friday, 12 June 2015

Saltmarshe museum visits

At last we are seeing some signs of summer. The sun has been shining and we were able to sit outside under a parasol and have a cup of tea. Next step is a barbecue although tomorrow's forecast is rain. Our bees too are enjoying the warmer weather and earlier in the week, with the help of our expert friend we were able to take a small swarm with the aid of a straw skep and a goose wing. I am fascinated how even in our modern world some of our ancestors' knowhow  is passed on and cannot be bettered.

It has been busy too as we have hosted two visits to our museum. On Tuesday morning we entertained the Selby Family History Society and last night it was the turn of the Snaith Historical Association. We showed them a powerpoint presentation about how the museum had come into being and then whilst they looked round the cottage we set out refreshments.

Gloria, Gilbert's wife is a wonderful baker and the visitors were offered sausage rolls, cheese and fruit scones, as well as a vast variety of cakes and buns. In fact last night our visitors were so happy it was dark when they eventually went home.

Gilbert and Gloria and the tempting buffet

We have two more groups booked in and are happy to take more group bookings as after all the hard work it is lovely to show people round and explain where the items have come from.

Inside our cottage museum. It dates from1763 and was last lived in in the 1870s

Another view of the same room with some of our collection of local bottles.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Blog mention on Radio Humberside

Today I was talking to a friend about our new bees when the phone began to ring. Several people had been listening to Radio Humberside [ to Phil White about 12.50 pm] when he mentioned me and this very blog, about which he was very complimentary. This was excellent - but he also mentioned that I had not updated it since May 5th - so here is a new post.

Firstly a big thank you to all who came to the concert at Laxton Victory Hall on 16th May in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. This raised £600 for Macmillan and £120 for the village hall. The hall was packed and we enjoyed music ranging from Gershwin and Vaughan Williams to traditional pieces played on the Celtic harp. Performers were Amy Butler [piano] and Steven Goulden [tenor] who are both locally-based professional musicians and Joan and Dave Hill from Beverley.

We have been busy too becoming beekeepers. Many years ago I kept bees and so had some of the equipment. But I  was well out of practice when three weeks ago we set up a hive and a friend brought us a nucleus. Three days later another friend brought a swarm he had collected in his garden. So now we have two hives and are on a very steep learning curve. We have white suits and a smoker and so far only two stings. We are keeping the tradition of talking and singing to them and so far all is well.

Historically I have been looking at Saltmarshe history with a view to progressing my long term project of writing a village history. I am also looking at the Doubtfire family of London, Goole and Hemingbrough  as I am working on a brief article about them.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Yorkshire windmills

Local history is taking a back seat at the moment as I am spending hours outside in the garden. It is the time of year when everything, including the grass, is growing and it is good to see that plants which I thought had died over winter, are now coming to life. This is especially true of the fuchsias, many of which were in hanging baskets and are just beginning to leaf up.

But I did also spend some time last week looking at local windmills. I was booked to give a talk at the Marshland Local History group who meet in Swinefleet village hall.

I have always been interested in windmills and their history. So it was a pleasure to put together a presentation which began  with pictures of Ellerker mill and then moved to Newport, Gilberdyke, Yokefleet and Howden before crossing the Ouse.

 One of the most interesting mills is the Anti Mill between Newport and Gilberdyke which was built in the 1790s so that people could buy pure flour which had not been adulterated.

Having crossed the river we looked at the windmills of Airmyn and Cowick before moving into Goole for a quick look at Timms' Mill, now part of the Morrisons; site and Herons' mill at Shuffleton before moving to the Goole Fields mill and into the Marshland.

Here the audience were very helpful as I showed pictures of mills at Swinefleet, Ousefleet and Adlingfleet and they talked about where they stood.

It was a good evening and even I was surprised  as I put the talk together just how many windmills there were in this flat Yorkshire landscape.

This multi view postcard, dating from 1908, of the Gilberdyke area shows both Gilberdyke and Newport windmills

Friday, 17 April 2015

Sarah Rhodes Lane, Skelton

Not too far from where I live is a  short lane leading from Skelton, near Howden, towards Saltmarshe. This is called Sarah Rhodes Lane and since the local council obligingly put up a sign with the name on many people have asked me 'Who was Sarah Rhodes?'

There have been many suggestions - was she perhaps the ghost of a Skelton woman who had been murdered or who had wandered along the lane and tragically thrown herself in the river?

There is a well- documented ghost of a headless cricketer at  nearby Saltmarshe so there are plenty of ghosts locally.

Or was she perhaps a witch, a bit like the notorious Peg Fyfe who ran a gang of thieves and who flayed the skin off a local stable boy who refused to allow the gang to use his master's horses. He died on the banks of the River  Foulness [ 'Foona'] near Eastrington and the grass never grows on the spot where he died.

I thought that I would do a little research and try to find out the truth. I am still not sure who Sarah Rhodes was but at least now  I can make an educated guess.

A look at a recent map shows that Sarah Rhodes Lane leads in fact to a staith on the River Ouse called Sarah Rhodes Staith [sometimes Staithe]. These staiths were like semi- circular jetties, built of stone and timber and where were vessels could moor while loading and discharging cargo.

The remnants of some of these remain and of course at Howdendyke there is still a jetty where ships can moor while near Saltmarshe Hall is the site of a staith although its purpose now is to provide a location for one of the river lights.

I found a map dating from 1793 showing some 12 of these little staiths running from Howdendyke, along the riverbank at Skelton, around Sandhall and to Saltmarshe.

And one of them was called 'Roads Staith'.  I am not too bothered by the variation in spelling as it was not standardised then. I am sure there is a connection with Sarah.

I have looked for local references to the Roads/ Rhodes family of Skelton and have found that there was a Thomas Rhodes, a gentleman of Saltmarshe in the eighteenth century, who had a wife Sarah and who in 1774 sold property to the Scholfield family of Sandhall. He also had a sister Sarah.

There was too a John Rhodes of Skelton who married a Sarah Patterick in 1727. And a poor widow of Howden called Sarah Rhodes who died in 1764.

Much later in 1927  there is a note in the Scholfield family papers held in Beverley archives that

' A Wainman acknowledges that the privilege of driving a stake into the stoneheap at the mouth of the clough at Sarah Rhodes Staithe in Skelton is with the permission of Edward Paget Scholfield'.

So I still do not know exactly who Sarah was but at least I can now say that she was probably seen in the lanes of Skelton at least two hundred years ago.

Was she a ghost? Drive slowly and you may see her!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Historical ship pictures, Goole

I have been sorting out my old pictures and in particular the many relating to Goole ships and the docks. I must have hundreds and am trying to get them all digitised and eventually online. Do ask if you are interested in a specific ship as I may have a picture.

Sadly far fewer ships now pass my house on the River Ouse on their way to and from Goole. It must have been a wonderful sight when all the steamers and keels crowded the river. Almost every Goole family had some connection with shipping.

Even when I first came to live here  I remember seeing several ships on every tide. In particular I remember the giant Renault car carriers such as the Autostrada which towered over the house as they returned after leaving their cargo at Goole.

I remember too seeing the 'ity' ships which were all owned by F T Everard,  several of which were built by the Goole Shipbuilding yard.

The river is  beautiful to look at and there are several pleasure craft moving at weekends but many tides pass with no ships.

Here is a picture of an Everard vessel, the  Astrality.

She was built for the  Ministry of War Transport and managed by F. T. Everard & Sons of London.  She was sold in 1946 to the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co. Ltd., of London and renamed Bolma. In 1955, she was sold to Everard and renamed Astrality. In 1965, the vessel was sold again to Marittima Fluviale Méridionale, of Palermo, Italy, and renamed Monte Berico.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Concert at Laxton

At last I feel as if 'spring has sprung' although I prefer the Browning poem which encapsulates the feeling that at last the grey of winter has passed and everything is beginning to grow

From Pippa’s Song in “Pippa Passes” by Robert Browning

"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven—
All's right with the world!”

In my garden the daffodils are nearly all out and it is almost time to cut the grass. I have been cleaning out my raspberry canes and a friend has brought me some very well rotted horse manure so I hope for a good crop this year. But some of the muck is going to go in the potato rows as nothing beats home grown new potatoes.

It will soon be time to re-open our little museum and repair some of the ravages of winter. Not too many but it is a bit damp.

Preparations are going ahead for another local concert - this time in the Laxton village hall in May. In fact there is a slight connection with the First World War which was the theme of February's concert. The Laxton village hall is properly called the Laxton Victory Hall and was originally an old army hut erected on land donated by Col. Saltmarshe to provide the village with a practical war memorial.

The concert will raise funds both for the upkeep of the hall and for  Macmillan Cancer Support. The music will range from classical solos and songs from musicals sung by Steven Goulden,  jazz piano solos by Amy Butler and will also include traditional music played on the fiddle, Celtic harp and accordion by Beverley musicians Joan and Dave Hill.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Poldark and the Eastrington connection

Many many years ago I had a pony and rode around the lanes of my home village of Eastrington. In June it was always- and still is- Eastrington Show. My father was for many years secretary and one of the most enthusiastic people involved was Albert Atkinson who lives on Eastrington Common.  His son, Mark always took part and has now made horses his career.

I gave up riding in my teens but I was reminded of all this last night when watching the new BBC adaptation of Poldark. For all the horses in the series are supplied by Mark who is now in business as Atkinson Action Horses

If you follow the links on the site there are lots of Poldark clips.

Well done Mark

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark riding Seamus, one of the Atkinson horses used in the series

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

First World War concert at Saltmarshe Hall

No sooner had I recovered from the Montague Mills exhibition than it was time to make the final arrangements for the First World War themed concert in Saltmarshe Hall.

Although the music and readings were all planned there were meetings of readers to organise, the programme to write and of course all the small details such as who would greet concert goers, did we have a bell to ring for the end of the interval and where should the displays be set up.

But finally all was ready. Saltmarshe Hall,  the concert venue is beautiful and we were delighted that the owners, Kate and Roland Whyte, had allowed us to use it. Kate kindly put up with our rehearsals and visits before the event and we could not have felt more welcome.

The evening came, the concert goers all arrived and soon the entrance hall and bar were crammed with what turned out to be a capacity audience.

And I think everyone enjoyed it. They listened to the readings and classical songs and sang along with some of the more popular choruses. You could have heard a pin drop during some of the most emotional and poignant parts of the performance.

Afterwards the bar remained open and we enjoyed a welcome glass of wine.

Below is a review of the concert which was published in the local newspaper, the Goole Times on Thursday,  March 5th. It was written by one of the several musicians in the audience.

Award-winning Saltmarshe Hall hosts tribute to “The Great War”

Last Friday’s “Keep the Home Fires Burning” concert in the beautiful setting of Saltmarshe Hall was an emotional and educational experience for the capacity audience.

The performance blended a wide collection of prose and poetry from the war, read eloquently by six guest readers with a selection of classical and popular songs of the period.

Readings ranged from a newspaper extract describing a Howden recruiting meeting in 1915, read by Neville Thompson, to a passage from the German novel All Quiet on the Western Front, introduced in German and read by Gudrun Wroot.

The stars of the evening, however, were Steven Goulden (tenor) and Amy Butler (piano) who ably rendered a wide range of music for the pleasure of their listeners.

Songs ranged from the pastoral The Water Mill by Ralph Vaughan Williams to the haunting Is My Team Ploughing? by George Butterworth, in which Steven’s 'mezzo voce' rendering of the ghost was extremely moving. One of the most beautiful songs was To Gratiana Dancing and Singing by the lesser-known composer William Denis Browne, who was killed at Gallipoli in 1915.
But the audience was not left out and were invited to join in the choruses of Keep the Home Fires Burning, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Roses of Picardy and Pack up your Troubles, which they did with great enthusiasm.

Steven, who had a lovely rapport with his audience, introduced each song with an informed description of the composer and their relevance to the First World War.

Amy accompanied with great skill and sensitivity, and also gave an evocative piano performance of Butterworth’s The Banks of Green Willow.

The Goole First World War Research Group had set up a fascinating array of information and weapons in one of the rooms in the hall and there was also an illustrated display by local historian Susan Butler of old photographs of the war, including pictures of the damage done by the Zeppelin raid on Goole in August 1915.

A retiring collection was taken for the Royal British Legion and it is anticipated that a substantial sum has been raised. DB

It was a lovely evening and it is hoped to perform the programme again, although no firm date has been fixed. If you  want further information or are interested in booking the performers  have a look at Steven's website:

And here is a picture of the performers, Steven Goulden, professional tenor and Amy Butler, pianist  with the sweeping hall staircase in the background.

Update: The collection in aid of the Royal British Legion raised £396.89. Thank you to everyone who contributed.
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