Sunday, 16 February 2020

Goole butchers

The snowdrops are out and putting on a good display this year despite all the wind and rain of recent days.
But all the dykes and ponds are full and the fields are standing in water. Roll on summer!!!!

However the weather has given me time to spend some time on the computer answering local and family history queries. One of the most interesting has been from a gentleman in Bavaria who has been looking at German immigrant pork butchers in the 19th century.

He sent me a lot of information about the Hohenlohe area, a farming area from where several families emigrated. These were often second sons of farmers and were already skilled butchers but who  could not make a living in their home area. 

One family from the village of Hessenau were called Strecker and they ended up in Goole. Initially the business was run by sister and brother Barbara and John George but later by John George and his family.

Their shop was on Boothferry Road, near the station. The premises, number 78, is still there. It is almost opposite the Pasture Road junction and next to the present Post office, which is built on the former yard of builders Platt and Featherstone.

The Streckers had been in Goole 29 years when the war broke out in 1914. Mr Strecker was naturalised but the family was still subject to anti - German feeling and moved out of Goole to Wakefield. Their shop was later run by the well- known Goole butchering family of Willie Crapper.

The Strecker family still have descendants in Yorkshire but it is only very recently that they have been able to make contact with their German relatives as they had lost touch as a result of the war.

A pre-war view of Boothferry Road showing the Strecker name on the end of their shop. Much more recently the Morrill decorators had their name there.

The Crapper family were 'English pork butchers'

 This was the shop in 2004 when it was a barber's
In complete contrast I have also been looking at the nineteenth century restoration of Howden church - it was not then known as Minster as it is today - but I think that will have to come in a separate post.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

New term and new decade

Well - it's all over for another year and I hope all readers of my blog have had a good Christmas and New Year. I am taking decorations down and preparing for a new term with my local history classes in Howden and Goole.

The first Howden class is on Monday 13th January at 1.30 pm in the town council offices on Bridgegate and we would welcome new members at this first class - you can enrol after you've tried it out!!

The first Goole class at Ilkeston Ave Community centre is at 10am on  Thursday January 16th. Both classes are very friendly and a good way to meet new people.

One of the topics I shall be looking at is the story of Nancy Nicholson who lived at Drax and later at Asselby. After her death there in 1854 pamphlets were published about her colourful life. She was apparently a 'termagant'.

I have been looking particularly at her ancestry and connection with Asselby Hall. This was the home of the Smith/Smyth family from at least the seventeenth century when John Smith's house had 5 hearths, the biggest in the Village.

The family were still living in Asselby when in 1769 Nathaniel Smith died. But then later the same year his only son John  also died. He left all his property in Asselby to his sister Mary, to pass eventually to her young daughters Ann and Sarah.

Mary Smyth had married Rev Joseph Fisher, vicar of Drax in 1765. Joseph was  originally from Cockermouth.  When he died in 1820 after 50 years as vicar aged 82 he was described as   "a man of most eccentric character, but of wonderful and superior abilities being not only well versed the art of physic, but also law and divinity. "

He studied medicine for 2 years at Edinburgh university,  wrote a thesis on dropsy and was subsequently awarded a medical degree from the university of Leyden.

He was also master of the school at Drax.  But as he was away from Drax for long periods he had a hard working curate. This was Rev John Jackson. In 1787 John Jackson married Joseph's daughter Ann and the following year their daughter Nancy was born. She was apparently very spoiled by her parents and seemingly not a nice person.

Joseph's daughter Sarah married Thomas Harrison of Harrington in 1810 and they had a daughter Dorothy.

Time passed and in 1810 a  newly ordained curate, Rev John Nicholson, came to help John Jackson. Rev Jackson died in December that year and was buried in the chancel of Drax church.

The chancel of Drax church

The following year 22 year old Nancy married the curate. It was not to be a happy marriage nor was it a happy time for the pupils of Drax school.

Read School Drax chapel showing alms houses

Apparently Nancy's mother could not bear living with her daughter and moved to Cliffe where she died in 1842 aged 73. The newspaper report described her as

Ann. relict of the Rev. John Jackson, curate of Drax, and lecturer of Barmby-on-the-Marsh, the last surviving daughter of the Rev. Joseph Fisher, M.D., late vlcar of Drax, and granddaughter of the late Nathaniel Smith, of Asselby Hall, near Howden.

If the story is correct Nancy starved the 12 pupils, taught them how to steal eggs and apples, dressed oddly and was very miserly. Her husband took to drink and both were violent. They parted and Nancy moved to her Asselby property, inherited from her mother. She ejected her tenant farmer who was a relative and the villagers were so angry they bought his goods back for him at the farm sale and burned her in effigy.

Rev Nicholson was suspended from preaching in 1828 and died  in 1850 at Newland, near Drax, described in the newspaper as much respected.

Meanwhile Nancy's cousin Dorothy had married a ship's captain. Sadly he was killed in an accidnet and in 1845 she married again at Howden.

 Mrs. Dorothy Wilson, of Asselby Hall, widow of Captain John Jorden Wilson, of Harrington Harbour, Cumberland, and granddaughter of the late Mr. Nathaniel Smith, of Asselby Hall, this county; and also of the late Rev. Joseph Fisher, M.D., Vicar of Drax, and Perpetual Curate of Carlton, in the same county.

 After the death of this second huband she and her children moved in with her cousin and was living in Asselby in 1851.

Nancy died in 1854.   She left nothing to her cousin Dorothy who had cared for her. Dorothy kept an ironmonger's shop in Howden Market Place on the corner of Highbridge but she was in partnership with her son Joseph and they went bankrupt in 1875. The premises were sold, described as

 DWELLING-HOUSE AND SHOP, Situate on the East side of the Market-place, and lately occupied as an Ironmonger’s Shop, by Mrs. Dorothy Taylor. This Estate is situate in the best part of the important town of Howden, and will be found on inspection to be well-built, conveniently arranged, and well worthy of the attention of purchasers whether for investment or occupation.

Asselby hall was demolished sometime after Nancy's death and apparently replaced by Eel Hall
It was said that an oak beam with eels carved on it was built into the gable of the  old hall and that this was incorporated into the attic of the new house.

Life was certainly exciting in Asselby when Nancy was there.

I have not a picture of Eel Hall farm - can anyone help?

Monday, 2 December 2019

Barnhill near Howden - and mud

Today is the second day of December and it is fine and frosty. Molly and I have just been for a walk and at last the standing water is retreating and the ground is less soggy.  Road edges have suffered in this weather.
There has been work going on at Skelton to  improve the clough entry into the  River Ouse but this has meant that with the road intermittently closed more traffic has been using the narrow track known as the Hazel croft or more usually Asselcroft or Aizle croft.   I don't normally meet any other traffic on this single track road but passing is difficult and as the road sides have become incredibly muddy I am avoiding it.

Historically I am turning my attention away from chapels and looking at the interesting history of Barnhill near Howden. By coincidence I have been asked twice recently about it and so have looked
out my notes and done a bit more research. Here is a summary.

A brief history of Barnhill

In a charter of 959 AD it was mentioned as ‘Beornhyll’. There have always been stories about the 'hill' visible south west of Barnhill hall.  Was it a burial place? Who was‘Beorn’  - the word could could mean warrior or could be  simply a personal name.

In the Domesday Book of 1086 ‘Bernehelt’ was listed as a bailiwick of the manor of Howden and was approx one carucate - the area which could be ploughed by one plough team in a year and could be anywhere  between 60 and 100acres.

There was a house and moat and a family called Barnhill or Bernhill lived there. The moat has been much altered but was on the  edge  of Howden Park.

Bernhill family

There are mentions of a Richard de Bernhill  in 1334 and a Nicholas de Bernhill in 1398 and 1415. The Bernhill family seem to have been connected by marriage to the Saltmarshe family.

In 1481 Edward Saltmarshe wrote in his will that William Bernyll should inherit the 'capital messuage' of Bernyll and all the lands... according to the entail created by the ancestors of the said William.
However the will also said that if William or  his heirs wanted to sell Barnhill then the Saltmarshe family should have first refusal.
Possibly William's mother was a Saltmarshe as the will also said that William  should pay 3s 4d annually to his father Thomas's widow.

The will also stipulated that the present tenant of Barnhill should stay on for at least 12 years, implying that William himself lived elsewhere.

 The Metham family at Barnhill

In 1495  William and wife Emma sold Barnhill to Sir Thomas Metham and  his wife Isabel.  Sir Thomas lived at Metham near Laxton. Isabel was his second wife and they had a son William. Sir Thomas gave Barnhill to William.

There was an interesting court case in the early 1530s  describing how Sir Robert Constable of Flamborough sent a gang of thirty men to 'Barnhill Grange' who forcibly broke in and took several animals. Sir Robert  said he believed that Barnhill was part of manor of Howden and took 8 small oxen,  6 draught oxen, 4 milk cows,  2 mares with foals and 8 young colts  in lieu of his steward’s fees for the manor.

There were accusations that there was a fight, servants were hurt, oats were destroyed and other animals driven away.

This Metham family were still there in 1590  when Howden registers show the baptism of Isabel, daughter of Thomas Metham of 'Barnell'. The Metham name disappears from the registers soon afterwards but there was obviously a small community there as there are several incidences of 'Barnell' in the Howden registers throughout the seventeenth century.

The Elands

From the 1720s  descendants of Thomas Eland lived at Barnhill. In the parish records Barnhill is written variously as Barnal House, Barnellhall etc.

One interesting record is of the marriage in 1755  of Abraham Eland  of Barnhill Hall to Mary Clark of Brind which took place in Wressle Castle Chapel

There is a stone stone outside Howden church to George Eland late of Barnhill Hall who died in 1795 aged 50.

Nineteenth century

By 1834 Thomas Waterhouse was renting the farm at Barnhill Hall and living there with six children and two servants.

In 1861 Robert Askham and his family were living at Barnhill Hall which was a farm of 138 acres.
But in Feb 1870 there was an auction at Barnhill Hall, the premises then of Mrs Askham.

For sale were  7 Draught Horses, 10 Beasts, a Milch Cow, Cows in Calf, a Fat Bullock, a Fat Heifer, Waggons, Carts, a Dog Cart a Riding Saddle and Bridle, Gig Harness, Horse Gearing, Drills, Ploughs, Harrows, Agricultural Machines as well as a quantity of household furniture and dairy utensils and 20 tubs of Regent seed potatoes

John and Alice Kershaw were farming there in  1871 but Alice died in 1873 and John in 1880. There is a stone to their memory in the churchyard.

In 1878  there was another sale at Barnhill when all the  farm stock of a Mr Ibbetson was auctioned.
By 1881 John and Anne Everatt and one year old Richard and 2 farm servants were at the farm. The couple went on to have seven children.

Twentieth century

After the Everatts Barnhill had other occupiers until the Lapish family moved in. The last members of the family to live there were, I believe Don Lapish, his wife Rene and their son Richard.

Barnhill Hall as it was when the Lapish family lived there.

Rene came to Howden as a land girl and lived in the Thorpe Road hostel. Below are some pictures of her as a land girl. She married in 1956.

Rene with farm workers. Does anyone recognise them?

Rene at Hawcrofts' Lock Farm.

Rene with lorry

Woodcock hall

After writing the piece above I was asked if I knew anything about Woodcock hall which was a little way behind Barnhill.

It was on the lane which runs from  Barnhill and towards Howden station.  The map here shows where it was in 1854 but by 1881 the house was uninhabited.

I found that a Jane Watson, wife of Carrick Watson had died there in 1863 although they could not have been there long as in 1861 they were living in the Manor house in Howden and Carrick was a cordwainer [ worker with leather.]

Does anyone know any more?

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Goole library family history day

It's that time of year again when Goole library hold their annual family history day - the 9th November. I have been going for years now and taking my computer and old photos to help anyone who wants help with their family history.

I shall be alongside my friends and colleagues from  the Boothferry Family and Local history Group,  the Goole First World War Research group, the Marshland history group and  others. We will be there from 10am to 4pm and will have access to Ancestry and Find my Past as well as indexes of local cemeteries and other records.

Come along and see us - and have a chat about local history.

I have been researching local chapels with my Goole and Howden  history classes. Who knew there were so many? We have looked at those in the Howdenshire area and found so many that you could not go more than a mile before finding one.

Of course chapels provided not only a religious service on a Sunday [and still do ] but a busy social life with classes, sports groups, anniversaries and support for members.

I am already into double figures in Goole and  just beginning to look at the Snaith and Marshland areas. But sadly many of these buildings are now empty, converted into houses or just plain gone. There were some magnificent  chapels - many in Goole for example built before there was a Church in the town.  It has been an interesting study and one cannot help but be impressed by the enthusiasm and devotion of chapelgoers in those early days.

Here are a few pictures.


Old Goole, Beulah

Goole Carlisle Terrace, now the site of Goole library and museum 
Goole United Methodist, Boothferry Road


Holme on Spalding Moor

Newport Primitive Methodist

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Howden Bridgegate

I have been sorting kitchen cupboards and decided I was more interested in sorting old pictures.

So here are some views from 2002 when the PA building in Bridgegate was under construction. Although to me these pictures seem relatively recent I think that a lot of newer Howden residents  might not know what used to be there. I have included an old photo to help

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Conkers and classical music

I have just come in from walking Molly and have picked up a few conkers from the road through Saltmarshe Park. I cannot resist them when they are so shiny but after a few days they become dull. There is a saying that spiders don't like conkers and that if you put them under your furniture it will keep them away. I have not noticed that it works - we have plenty of spiders!

It's been a busy few weeks. Both my Goole and Howden local history classes have started and we have been looking at local nonconformists - Puritans, Independents and Quakers. Topics have ranged from Ezekiel Rogers who took his congregation in the 1630s from Rowley near South Cave to America and founded Rowley in Massachusetts to Sebastian Ellithorp of Sandholme who was a Quaker and who died a prisoner in York castle for his faith.

Interesting too has been the story of  Cornelius Empson of Goole, another Quaker, who emigrated and called his house in Delaware 'Goole Grange'.

Congregational chapel  - the Milton rooms were behind

 And not forgetting the minister of the Congregational church in Howden who slept in a different bed for 14 years until his church  and manse were built. This was the chapel which stood in St Helen's Square in Howden.

 Also this summer I have been attending the series of free lunchtime concerts in Howden Minster. These were community events,  some sponsored by local businesses. I have been 'on the door' giving out programmes and have been pleasantly surprised as I chatted to people as they came in.

Some were local people who came to enjoy an hour of classical music followed by a cup of tea within walking or easy driving  distance of their homes.

But several had travelled from further afield - from Sheffield, Hornsea, Doncaster and as far as Derby to name but a few. They had made a day of it, exploring Howden and having lunch in the town. Many became regulars and  commented on  the friendliness of the people, the beauty of the church and the high quality of the music. We have heard professional performances on piano, oboe, violin, flute as well as by two singers.

I am  already looking forward to next year's concert series. We are very lucky to live in the Howdenshire area which has such an interesting past but has so much going on today.

Chris Hill, a talented young flautist

This season's final concert was last week. An audience of around 100 heard Steven Goulden, tenor accompanied by Amy Butler piano perform Schumann's song cycle  Dichterliebe.

Below are links to the performance on youtube

Friday, 30 August 2019

Saltmarshe heritage events

It's almost September and  it feels autumnal. The apples are doing well and we have had a few figs and greengages. I am hoping to pick some brambles too [ blackberries to non Yorkshire folk] and make an apple and bramble pie or maybe some jam. It's one of my favourites.

But with my local history hat on I would like to publicise a couple of things. For many years now I have been teaching local history classes in both Howden and Goole. Both classes restart after the summer break in a little over a  fortnight.

The Howden class meets on a Monday afternoon at 1.30 in the town council offices on Bridgegate and the Goole one on a Thursday morning at 10am in the Ilkeston Ave community centre. Both classes last 2 hours with a coffee break and run for 11 weeks.

Over the years I have run these classes not only have I made some good friends but the students have too. Some have been coming for  30 years and some have joined in January this year. Classes are  formalish in that I talk or show slides and students listen  but everyone soon joins in and has their two-penn'orth!!

This term we are going to look at the history of local chapels in both Howden, Goole and the villages.
The classes are run by the WEA and students are asked to enrol online or by telephone. But you can come along to the first class, see if you enjoy it and then enrol. Or contact me through my Howdenshirehistory  website if you have any queries.

The Howden class begins on Monday 16th September and the Goole one on  Thursday 19th September.

This summer we have visited various churches. Here we are at Eastrington

But in between these two classes  on Wednesday  18th September  I shall be giving two talks at Saltmarshe hall. It is heritage open week when interesting places all over England, many not normally open to the public,  are open to visit.

Saltmarshe Hall wil be open from 10am to 4pm. My illustrated talks will be at 11am and 2pm and will last about half an hour. Cream teas will be available at £6.95 pp.

Inside the library at Saltmarshe hall  around 100 years ago

I also have a small private museum in an 18th century cottage  in Saltmarshe. It houses a collection of bygones and is normally open only by appointment. But it will also be open that day,  within walking distance along the riverbank from the hall.

Inside the old cottage museum at Saltmarshe

So it will be a busy week but, I hope, an enjoyable one.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Bell and Harrison families of Gilberdyke Mill

I was recently asked to look at one of the names on the roll of honour in Gilberdyke memorial hall. This was JO Harrison.

James Oswald Harrison 1894 - 1914

James who was brought up in Gilberdyke,  was killed in October 1914 aged 20.

His father John William Harrison had moved from Gilberdyke to Garthorpe with his family to run the Bay Horse hotel there.

The Bay Horse at Garthorpe. John Naylor, the landlord whose name is shown on the board, died in 1908 and his widow emigrated to Iowa to be with her family. John Harrison then came from Gilberdyke to Garthorpe.

But the further back I went in the family history the more interesting - and complicated it got.

John William Harrison was born in 1864 at Spaldington Mill. His father was James who was the miller there, as his father had been before him.

James Harrison snr had died in 1840 aged 46 and in 1845 his widow Mary married another miller, Thomas Bell so by 1851 the mill was being worked by Thomas and the Harrison children were living there too.

Thomas was part of the long established and extensive Bell  milling family of Gilberdyke. His grandfather [I think], Alexander had been at Gilberdyke since the 1760s.

In fact the Bell family history illustrates the fact that millers' families often intermarried and that younger sons often went off to become millers elsewhere. I have found various Bells also milling locally at Newport, Reedness, Barmby and Atwick.

Then James jnr's mother Mary died and in 1861 James was the Spaldington miller and his sister was his housekeeper. Two years later at Eastrington he married  21 year old Elizabeth Bell - whose father, Nathaniel was the miller at Gilberdyke.

I am not sure of the exact relationship but Elizabeth would be a sort of distant niece of James' stepfather Thomas.

James and Elizabeth at Spaldington  had at least five children but then tragedy struck. Two days before Christmas  in 1873, while at Selby market, James suddenly collapsed and died aged only 38. This left Elizabeth with a mill and a large family as well as being pregnant with her daughter Minnie [who went on the marry Harry Gossop].

Spaldington Mill got a new tenant and Elizabeth moved back to her parents' home at Gilberdyke Mill. Living next door was retired farmer John Harrison Stather. John was born in 1815 at Everthorpe and so was quite a lot older than Elizabeth.

[ I said it was complicated !! I  cannot yet work out why he was called Harrison Stather and whether there was any connection with the other Harrison family]

However they married in 1881 at Eastrington church and in 1883 their son was born - named Harrison Arthur Stather.

In 1891 John William and his brother Bell both described as millers were living with them. Also there was young Harrison Arthur Stather while  James was an apprentice in Hull.

Elizabeth died in 1895 and  her husband in 1899. The four brothers [ three Harrison and one Stather] at various times worked as millers but eventually moved to different jobs, leaving Bell Harrison to run Gilberdyke mill

Gilberdyke Mill with Bell Harrison centre

When he retired his younger half brother Harrison Stather took over. By then the mill was used mainly for grinding grain for cattle feed. His son Mr John Stather, who was the last owner of the mill, remembers that his father frequently had to get up in the night to take advantage of the wind and it was this unreliability which led to the removal of the sails. The mill was then powered by a tractor which stood in a shed behind the house. Most of the grinding was done during the winter months, since the Stathers were also farmers and worked the land the rest of the year.

Family group at Gilberdyke mill: Tom Jackson, left of Sunnycroft, his wife Mary [nee Harrison],  Bill Harrison, Harry Gossop. Standing front right Minnie Harrison, later Gossop.  

But back to James Oswald Harrison [with thanks to the Crowle soldiers memorial page]

James enlisted in the Royal Dragoons at Hull on 1st December 1913. He was posted to the 1st (Royal) Dragoons and joined them in camp at Dunbar the following day. When the Dragoons returned to South Africa, James stayed behind in the UK to finish his training and was posted to the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) in York on 4th February and then the 5th Dragoon Guards on 16th August 1914. On 24th September with the 1st Royal Dragoons now returned back from South Africa, he rejoined them again.
When James rejoined the 1st Royal Dragoons they were at Windmill Hill Camp at Ludgershall, Wiltshire, where they had joined 6th Cavalry Brigade in 3rd Cavalry Division in preparation for service on the Western Front. On 5th October the Division left Windmill Camp for Southampton and began to embark next day for Belgium. After some sailing delay due to suspected submarine activity in the English Channel, they arrived at Ostende on 8th October and proceeded to Bruges as part of IV Corps.
The Division had originally been intended to assist the Belgian Army at Antwerp, but following the fall of that town they made their way south to Ypres, and on 13th October were the first British troops to enter that town.
The following day the 1st Royal Dragoons  were active south of Ypres, skirmishing with German cavalry near Neuve Eglise and camping with their brigade in Wytschaete that evening. On 15th they again patrolled south of Ypres, moving north to St Julien that evening. On the 17th and 18th the Brigade sent forward squadrons towards the Menin to Roulers road where they again skirmished with German cavalry patrols. The night of the 17th was spent at Zonnebeke and the 18th at Moorslede, near Passchendaele.
On 19th October the two armies finally met in what was to become the First Battle of Ypres. 7th Cavalry Division had intended to attack Menin and whilst 1st Royal Dragoons and 10th Hussars advanced from St Pieter to capture Ledeghem, it was soon clear the force opposing them was much larger than anticipated and under sniper fire from German Cyclist Battalions, they fell back west of Ledeghem towards Rolleghem Cappelle (Rollegem-Kapelle). The German infantry now appeared and supported by several artillery batteries launched a determined attack on Rolleghem Cappelle, forcing the Brigade to withdraw back towards Moorslede.
James Harrison was one of the five men of the 1st Royal Dragoons to lose his life that day, the unit’s first casualties of the war. It appears he was killed in the initial withdrawal from Ledeghem to to Rollenghen Capelle, his body left on the field where he fell, 1 mile south of Rollenghem Capelle. James has no known grave and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Not having heard from him since he went over to Belgium in December his parents had become extremely concerned so they wrote to the War Office. The reply came back with official notification of his death in October. 

If anyone would like to add more to this post I would be pleased to hear from them. But now it's time for Sunday tea and Poldark!!!

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Butterflies and history

Well it's chucking it down outside, the lawn is turning into a wildlife  habitat and we have had last week the hottest day ever. So this blog post is a mixture of natural and local history. While it's raining I'm sitting at the computer  trying to organise old pictures.

 Here is a topical one.  Until the M62 Ouse bridge was opened this was a familiar sight as Boothferry bridge opened to let ships pass through.  There are less ships now - but there have been plenty of queues recently as the Ouse bridge has been shut for repairs and accidents

The entertainment of watching a ship go through the bridge

It will soon be harvest time. Hay has been made locally and the giant bales are waiting to be gathered.  And I have seen a combine harvester in action and so corn will be next - when it's not raining. I can just remember though when this was the way to cut it. This picture was taken just across the road from the previous one and shows members of the Walker family of Booth harvesting with a reaper and binder just off  the road to Knedlington .

Reaping at Booth

And finally as I wrote in my last blog post there have been several Minster concerts this summer and we have been treated to some wonderful performances, particularly in  the new lunchtime series. There are still three more to come.  But does anyone recognise these people, obviously practising their singing in the Minster a few years ago?

But I promised some natural history too. In my last article for the Howdenshire Magazine I wrote about  the once flourishing teazle industry around Eastrington and Gilberdyke. Teazles were grown commercially to be used in the West Riding cloth industry.

 I have several growing in my garden which attract all sorts of wildlife. We are being asked to look at how many butterfly varieties we see. Here are what I saw yesterday - and I did not count the cabbage whites! Hope I've identified them correctly!


Painted lady

Another peacock

Red admiral

Friday, 5 July 2019

Summer music

It's a lovely summer's day and I am going outside soon to  water all the plants in pots - and give some to our chickens. They are confined to barracks at the moment as we have had a fox visit and our flock is now two down.

I have been having a musical summer so far. My daughter Amy Butler and her partner Steven Goulden  aka the Saltmarshe Duo have, in addition to their own musical commitments, organised a series of free lunchtime concerts in Howden Minster.

These are proving very popular and are of a very high musical standard. The next one is Thursday 11th July and is performed by nationally acclaimed oboist Elizabeth Kenwood. My role in the concerts is to greet people as they come in. Many have not visited Howden before and find it, as indeed it is, a delightful small town.

Last night I attended the Snaith Choral Society's summer concert in the Methodist chapel there and thoroughly enjoyed it. Amy was the accompanist and we were treated to a 4th July themed programme including works by Gershwin and Aaron Copland.

The bees are happy too now the sun has come out and are working the many lime trees around us and we have been picking redcurrants and raspberries.

It is also a time for family history visitors. I recently showed an  American descendant of the Ainley family around  Eastrington, Snaith and Kellington and have sent a  copy of my book on the history of Eastrington to California.

This morning I was visited by descendants of the Carter and Clough families, brewers and bankers, who lived in Howden in the nineteenth century. And coincidentally I have just been transcribing a diary written by Elizabeth Storry whose husband too was a banker in Howden.

Her family were friendly with the Hutchinson family at the Rectory.  Frances Hutchinson, a daughter, was an artist and we recently put on an exhibition of her works in the Shire hall.

So poor old Molly [our Labrador ] has spent some time in her bed.  What with piano and singing pupils and family historians the place is not her own - although she thinks it is.!!!!

PS The Saltmarshe family of Halifax,  close relatives of the Saltmarshe family here, got a mention on this week's episode of Gentleman Jack  - see my previous post.