Monthly Archives: February 2013

A windmill in Almondsbury

Excitement – one property surveyed in 1909 for the Lloyd George survey of land values (Gloucestershire Archives D2428/1/3) was described as a windmill, and this was the first time that we had come across one – mills, yes, flour mills, yes, but no windmills. Of course, by 1909 the contribution of windmills to the nation’s flour supply, produced by means of this early medieval technology, however up-dated with new pieces of equipment it might have been, was very tiny, if any at all. Large steam-powered flour mills had displaced both wind and water mills.

One of the volunteers transcribing the 1909 data, M J A Beacham, is also author of Mills and Milliing in Gloucestershire (Tempus, Stroud, 2005). Could he tell us something about the Almondsbury windmill? After some searching and to and fro-ing in email communication, it turns out that all was not as it seemed.

The owners in 1909 of the property described as ‘windmill’ were the trustees of Almondsbury Memorial Trust, and there was a note that formerly it had been part of Woodhouse Farm. Recourse to the Ordnance Survey map revealed a windpump on Woodhouse Farm at this date. Would this have been called a ‘windmill’? Researchers were sceptical. The history of windpumps on farms, which were once quite numerous, is yet to be written, Mike comments.

A real windmill may have existed on Almondsbury Hill from the mid-seventeenth century. There was certainly one marked on Isaac Taylor’s map of Gloucestershire dated 1777; windmills provided very helpful landmarks to travellers. Two years before Taylor’s map, a lease of a windmill in Almondsbury (GA D674/a/E29), shows it to have been part of the Knowle estate of William Bromley Chester; Col. Chester-Master owned Woodhouse Farm in 1909, suggesting this was tbe the windmill we were looking for. It was marked on the OS 1830 map (surveyed perhaps twelve years earlier) as circular in plan, and may have been a tower mill of brick or stone, with the latter more likely. By 1843 only ‘Windmill field’ was marked on the tithe map. The windmill probably ceased work at about the same time as the one in Falfield a few miles to the north.

The Almondsbury Memorial Trustees still own Windmill field, but in 1909 it was only the memory of a windmill. The search has been interesting, and our thanks to Mike who has contributed substantially to this account.

Valentine’s Day

Posted by Admin on behalf of Elizabeth Jack

On 14th February 1924 (in G.A. Ref: D37/1/510) Maynard Ciolchester Wemyss wrote to the King of Siam:

It is curious how customs and habits change. Today is Valentine’s Day and when I was young & in fact for some time afterwards, it was widely recognised as the chief day in the year for the love-lorn youths and maidens to exchange tokens of their affection. I believe the custom began with verses always supposed to be the production of the sender. I believe these date back for a great number of years. I think Pepys refers to them & very likely he was author of many amatory verses. Then I believe came the time when the love-lorn swain was himself the Valentine to be accepted as such or rejected by the lady of his choice though I don’t think her acceptance implied necessarily anything but a very temporary arrangement. Then much later on came the Penny Post and with it the printed and illustrated Valentine no longer the prided product of the sender and though the swain was only, at first, supposed to send one, the maiden might rake in as many as she could get, and regarded them as sort of trophies, somewhat in the light that an Indian warrior regarded the scalps of his enemies. Now-a-days one never hears of such a thing as a Valentine and very few people indeed realize or remember that 14th February has any special history attaching to it. I never could make out how or why the custom came to be associated with St. Valentine. I believe he was a nameless and blameless individual who came to a tragic end. How different is the position and life of a young girl now to what her grandmother’s was in the days when she received tributes of Valentines and perhaps very demurely admitted their receipt. I am conservative enough to feel a little regret when such an innocent and humble little custom as this passes into oblivion. It is one of the vanishing links with the past and I always regret it when these links are broken.

An Indian tea planter in Charlton Kings

Looking through the Charlton Kings 1909 survey material the other day, I was intrigued by the name of a house in Sandy Lane – ‘Multrapore’. Searching on the ever helpful Google reveals that Multrapore is an Indian tea plantation still in operation and involved in some legal disputes of which the details are not available to the ordinary googler. The other reference which Google produced was to glos1909survey, and clicking on it brought one to the complete Charlton Kings data on the website! The Gloucestershire Archives file is classified at D2428/2/38.

In 1909 Multrapore was owned and occupied by Montague Douglas (or Donald) Seaton. The house occupied a quarter acre plot, valued at £120. The house was valued at £1050, clearly a substantial building when it is compared with the many houses and cottages valued at less than £100.

One Montagu Donald Seaton was a pupil at Christ’s Hospital Schook, Hertford, in 1881, and was aged 11. He had been born in Lichfield. Was this our man?