Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2014 10-12 Volume 22 Number 4
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
October - December 2014
Vol 22.4
Contents of this issue.

From the Chair 1
Burntwood and District Memorial Project – An Update 2
News From the Secretary 3
Minutes of the 2014 AGM 4
BFHG Accounts 2013–14 7
Update Your Details 8
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks:
Back-to-Back Houses in Birmingham 9
Two Cousins and the First World War 10
Dunham Massey 11
Land of my Forefathers 12
Request for Genealogical Help 14
More From the House with 12½ Chimneys 15
Ellastone Hospital 18
This Issue’s Cover Photograph 19

From the Chair
Dear Members,  Another year is almost over, and 2014 seems to have flashed past even faster than 2013! Christmas is almost upon us, so you should have put your sprouts on by now to make sure they’re cooked thoroughly. Our Monday evening, talks by our guest speakers continue to be well attended, interesting, informative and educational. A big ‘thank you’ to Jane Leake for finding these speakers. Thursday evening research nights have settled down to be poorly attended events and have been opened up to be informal get-togethers for the Memorial Project as well as research evenings.
The group is still being asked to attend events, the most recent being the one at Burntwood Library in early November. Thank you to everyone who gave up their time to man our stands on any of these events throughout the past year.
The WWI Memorial Project is going strength to strength and are always looking for volunteers to carry out research on behalf of relatives of local soldiers, sailors and airmen killed. I don’t think Pam Woodburn is conscripting people yet – she is still relying on volunteers!
We are looking to run a trip to ‘The Who Do You Think You Are’ show at the NEC in Birmingham on Thursday, 15th April 2015. Please make your interest known to Colin Waldron, our vice-chairman, who is organising the trip. The cost will depend on how many people are interested – the more seats we can fill on the coach, the cheaper it will be.
We are also looking to run a trip to The National Archives at Kew probably in May, 2015. Anyone interested should please contact one of the committee. To enable this trip to be financially viable, we usually run it in conjunction with Cannock Wood Gardening Guild. Their members go to Kew Gardens, which is close by, but you can come on this trip and go elsewhere in London, as long as you are back to Kew to catch the coach back. For anyone who hasn’t been on this trip before, I can highly recommend it, although first-timers to TNA will probably be like a kid in a sweet shop. I know I was!
I wish you all a Happy Christmas, a prosperous and peaceful 2015.  Steve Bailey, Chairman BFHG 2014–2015
Burntwood and District Memorial Project – An Update by Pam Woodburn
Some of you will have noticed the Memorial Project Displays that have been around the area. So far, the feedback has been very good indeed.
Our team of researchers are working very hard to produce mini-biographies of local men who gave their lives in World War I, and research into what was happening on the home front is now also under way (www.bfhg.org.uk). So far, the feedback has been very good, and we owe a debt of gratitude to our sponsors – The Heritage Lottery Fund, Tesco, and Burntwood Town Council. The money and resources that they have provided have made our task so much easier.
We always need more volunteers. If you have research experience and feel that you would like to help, do please ask me to add you to our happy band. We generally try to meet to discuss ideas and experiences at the Group meeting on the fourth Thursday of the month. Come and see what it’s all about if you are interested.  My fingers are crossed!
News from the Secretary
We have had two new members join the group during this quarter; a big welcome to you both.
You will find attached to this issue of the Journal a form to renew your membership which is due in by 1st January 2015. Please fill in your up-to-date contact details, as we want to update our database. Also add any further names that you are researching, using the back of the form if need be. If there is no change to the surnames you are researching, please leave the boxes blank and tick the ‘No Change’ box. Also please note that the form and payment must now be sent to the Treasurer.
Thank you to all those members who have sent in articles and items for the Journal. They have made interesting reading, so please keep them coming, preferably by email, to the Secretary/Committee or direct to Brian (Editor) at brian@aryxia.freeserve.co.uk.
Those of you who attended the AGM will know that I have stepped down from the Secretary’s job this year. As I write, a new Secretary has not been appointed, but I am sure that you will be notified as soon as possible.
I would like to thank all the committee, but in particular Geoff Sorrell, Jane Leake and Pam Woodburn, for all the help and support that they have given to me over the last two years. They are an enthusiastic, knowledgeable trio, without whom the Group would probably cease to be. Please, if you can, offer your support by serving on the committee and helping to run the Group; you will get plenty of help from the present committee.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.  Pauline Bowen, retiring Secretary
Minutes of the 2014 AGM
This year’s Annual General Meeting commenced at 7.30pm on Monday 8th September 2014 at The Old Mining College, Chasetown.
Chairman’s Welcome. Steve Bailey welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Committee Members present were: Steve Bailey, Colin Waldron, Chris Graddon, Pauline Bowen, Geoff Sorrell, Barbara Williams Gill Wilner
Apologies: Brian Asbury, Jenny Lee, Alan Betts, Sheila Clarke.
Minutes of the 2013 AGM were read and accepted. Proposed by John Caitlin and seconded by Mike Bradbury.
Matters Arising: The prize for the most interesting article had not been decided. Chairman to speak to Brian Asbury.
Chairman’s Report: Monday meetings had been well attended but the Thursday meeting attendance was poor. In future, Thursday would be used for the Memorial Project, though computers would still be available for research to members and help and advice would be available to anyone who is having trouble or just beginning their research. The transcribing of St Peter’s, Hednesford church records has been completed – CDs are available to purchase at £4.00 to members. More volunteers were needed to help with transcribing records and checking. Thanks were extended to Bernard, Jane and all the volunteers.
Committee members standing down this year are Pauline Bowen, Geoff Sorrell, and Barbara Williams. Thanks were extended to all of them for all their hard work over the years. Although Geoff was retiring from the committee after 28 years’ service, he is still carrying on dealing with members’ research and helping with the memorial project. Barbara will still be dealing with the CD sales.
A grant has again been received from Burntwood Town Council; a volunteer is needed to deal with future applications as Barbara is standing down. A grant of £4000.00 has been received from the Lottery Fund for the Memorial Project.
Thanks were extended to Jan for looking after the Library, to Pam for organising the Raffle, to Jenny for organising the refreshments, to Alan for all his work with the website and to Brian for editing the Journal. Jane Leake became a Life Member for all the work done since the group started.
The trip to Kew had to be cancelled because of a lack of support but may be re-organised for April/May next year. Ivan is starting a new website dealing solely with the Memorial Project and it will be linked to the main site – Thanks to Ivan for his hard work.
Outside events have increased this year, with us taking stands at the Mormon Churches in Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield, and at Burntwood Library Christmas event. We should have had a stand at The Chase Wakes but this was cancelled due to extremely bad weather.
For the future, we are hoping to set up a Facebook page for members, though we need someone to co-ordinate it.
Treasurer’s Report: A copy of the financial report was given to everyone present and would appear in the next Journal. The report showed a healthy balance, but members must be aware that £4000.00 of that is earmarked for the Memorial Project over the next four years. The largest expense is for room hire, and the committee need to do a feasibility study as to whether we need the room for the Thursday meeting, or whether we could find somewhere cheaper and with Wi-Fi and faster computers.  In future, annual subscriptions would come under the Treasurer’s remit, not the Secretary’s.
Secretary’s Report: A big part of the job this year has been dealing with the annual subscriptions. Thank you to all those members who sent there cheques in on time – some didn’t arrive until June. We have 93 members this year, as opposed to 99 last year. We have lost 15 but gained nine new members – welcome to you all.The other main part of the job has been organising the printing and distribution
of the Journal, which comes out in March, June, September and December. Apologies for the lateness of the June journal, as Brian, the editor, was ill. We often struggle for suitable articles and items of interest, so thank you to all those who have contributed this year. Please can you all try to send in your stories of your family history research that you think other members may find interesting. We do not need essays; just a short piece will be fine. Articles should be printed and sent by email direct to Brian (his email address is in the front of the  Journal). Preferably, items should be with Brian early in February, May, August and November, as you will appreciate it takes a while to set it all out.  I am standing down as Secretary this year, after doing the job for two years; we need new committee members and a new Secretary. I am happy to help anyone to settle into the job over the next three months so, if you are interested, please speak to one of the committee as soon as possible.
Website: Alan is away on holiday, but reported that everything was running smoothly
Election of Officers and Committee Officers:Chairman – Steve Bailey Willing to carry on, Vice Chairman – Colin Walden Willing to carry on,
Treasurer – Chris Graddon Willing to carry on, Secretary – Pauline Bowen Standing down.  All those willing to carry on were re-elected. No one came forward to be the Secretary and, as the Group cannot function without a Secretary, the committee must discuss this at their first meeting after the AGM.
Committee Members: Geoff Sorrel and Barbara Williams are standing down. All existing committee are willing to carry on and were re-elected. New members elected were Jane Leake, Pam Woodburn and Keith Stanley. The Chairman thanked all the committee and proposed a vote of thanks to Vic Vayro for auditing the accounts, seconded by Chris Graddon.
Memorial Project:Over two years ago it was decided that we should start a memorial project to celebrate the centenary of World War I. We decided to research (with their families’ permission) any local person who lost their life in the War. We have a good team of willing and able volunteers to carry out the research, and the work produced has been of a very high standard. We are approached by the families and we do not charge, though we do accept donations.  Pam successfully applied for a Lottery Grant of £4000.00 to cover the costs of producing an illustrated folder for the family of each soldier plus a copy for the archives, and also to cover the group giving fully illustrated talks to interested groups and schools. The families involved so far have been very pleased, grateful and impressed with the standard produced. Any volunteers who would like to help will be very welcome.
Any Other Business: It was suggested that a monthly tea rota should be compiled for the Monday meetings. Jane agreed to do this.A request was made for the committee meeting minutes to be put in the journal and on the website so that everyone could be more informed. This was agreed.  It was suggested that Burntwood Library should be approached to see if we could use their facilities for our meetings. It was pointed out that they had fast computers and Wi-Fi and, as the libraries in the area wanted to be more community-based, now might be a good time to investigate costs. The committee to discuss further at the next meeting.  There being no other business, the Chairman thanked everyone for coming and for their input and the meeting closed at 8.45 pm.
Update Your Details
An urgent appeal from our webmaster Alan Betts:  I have just spent an evening updating my Contact List. Having sent out and Email to all members re: the latest CD, I have had nine emails bounce back to me. This either means that members are not updating us with their current email address (or someone has mis-transcribed them). Therefore, I appeal to all members to please remember to update us when they change their email address. Many thanks, Alan
Reviews of Guest Speakers’ Talks
October 2014: Mac Joseph on ‘Back-to-Back Houses in Birmingham’ - Reviewer: Jenny Lee
Mac Joseph is a volunteer at the Back-to-Back Houses which are now in the care of the National Trust. He was himself born in a similar house, but in Ladywood, near the old Children’s Hospital, and he has recently finished a book about them. Many of them were built in the 1820s, and people came from all over the country to live in them, mainly for work – it was a period of growth in manufacturing. Unbelievably, over 20,000 courtyards were built, with about 70 people living in each. They consisted of two houses – one opening onto the street and the one behind opening onto the back yard. Each yard contained one brewhouse and a toilet or privy for every four houses – no indoor sanitation! Many butchers lived in these type of houses and slaughtered the animals in the yard, while many men
worked from home, where their wives and children could help with some of the jobs.
The floors were very uneven, and there was no drainage; there may have been one or two steps into the house but, in heavy rain, the floors became extremely wet. Rats and mice were a problem – one reason why candles were stored in a tin box for safety although, at times of great hunger, people were known to eat the candles.  Many of the houses were in a very poor state – some totally damp and without glass in the windows. Some had cellars, though people sometimes lived in them, too. The toilets or cesspits were very crude,
and the ‘night-soil men’ only came once a week to empty them. If people suffered from diarrhoea, they were required to put a notice on their door stating this. It wasn’t until the 1870s that stand-pipes were provided in each yard!
Similarly, it was in the 1890s that gas for lighting was supplied but, as it was very expensive, few could afford this luxury. The fireplace was where the cooking was done, with water being heated and a simple oven at the side. Coal and coke were dear, of course, so at times children were encouraged to be cheeky to the bargees, in the hope they would retaliate by throwing their precious cargo at the children! It was also necessary to bang on the door when coming down in the morning, to frighten off the mice, rats and cockroaches
which abounded. Each yard had a ‘boss’, who had the privilege of a fence round her door with her own small yard – she was in charge of sorting out a wash-day rota, for instance, and if you missed your day you then had to wait for another week! People were allowed to keep chickens, for which a licence was needed – your livestock were taken away if you hadn’t got one.
Gradually, some improvements to living conditions occurred. In 1908, when rents were 3s 6d for a house, sewage pipes were laid, but it was not until 1930 that running water was provided. Electricity, too, came in the 1930s – again expensive.  Amazingly back-to-backs were inhabited until the 1960s, when modern housing estates were built on the outskirts of Birmingham, but by comparison these seemed heartless and without any sense of neighbourliness. People tended to move back to the centre, in high-rise flats which have gradually been demolished in favour of low-rise maisonettes.
Mac’s excellent talk was made even more realistic with his wonderful slide- show, which brought living conditions to life. He pointed out that living in back-to-backs as a child was just how life was, and the people were unaware of anything different. He stressed the community life which they enjoyed, unlike the barrenness of the suburban estates. People did things together and knew everyone else – a great sense of camaraderie existed. Mac acknowledged that conditions were far from ideal, but they were very far from being slums as some people thought.
August 2014:
Michael Jennings on ‘Two Cousins and the First World War’ (short talk given at the AGM)
There were two cousins in my father’s family who enlisted in 1917 for the First. World War. One survived the war and the other died. This is a follow-up to a piece that I wrote in 2007.  The two cousins were John Reginald Jennings, who was born on 26th July
1899, and Rowland Jennings, who was born in the June quarter of 1899, both at Ewyas Harold Herefordshire. Their fathers were half-brothers. John died on 6th January 1918, whereas Rowland, who was my father’s older brother, survived the war.
John was a Private, No. 44304, with the 1/4th Battalion, Prince of Wales Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment). He enlisted at Newport, Monmouthshire, probably in 1917. His army death is listed as ‘Home’. I have not managed to find out any other details. This information only became available when I had the family graves repaired at Ewyas Harold churchyard in 2006. During the repair work, the original ‘Death Penny’ was uncovered from the ground. This was originally set in the stone cross on the grave, but it had been missing for at least fifty years and, once the work was completed, a replica was installed. When I asked for permission to do this work, I was told it was not a Commonwealth War Grave, as the family had declined one all those years ago. I have not been able to find out any other information as to where he served, other than it was probably in the United Kingdom. John is also listed on the 1st World War Memorial which is situated in Ewyas Harold Village Hall.
Rowland enlisted as a private, No. 43250, in the King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry, probably in 1917, but we have not found out where. We have a photograph of him wearing this uniform. He was transferred to the Cheshire Regiment, No. 68805. I have not been able to find out any other details of his service except that he was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal. He emigrated to Australia in 1923 and died there in 1968. He never returned to the United Kingdom and, although he married in Australia, there were no
children. He was supposed to have been badly gassed while serving in France during the First World War, which is why he decided to emigrate to a warmer country.
All of this information has been found out from a great deal of research and from surviving family members on my side of the family. We have lost contact with John’s side of the family.
Dunham Massey - by Jenny Lee
This National Trust property near Altrincham in Cheshire was a military hospital during the First World War and has been transformed from a stately home to how it looked then, with the large hall becoming the main ward.  Details of each patient’s injuries and treatment are hanging on each bed – all based on original archives of Dunham Massey. From April 1917 to February 1919, it became the Stamford Military Hospital – named after the family who owned it at the time. When it closed, 282 soldiers had found sanctuary from the trenches there in a beautiful house with acres of parkland. It was one of 3,244 auxiliary hospitals created to treat the wounded.  This exhibition was originally scheduled to end on November 11th this year, but has proved so popular that it will apparently remain until next year. It can be thoroughly recommended.
Land of my Forefathers - By Keith Stanley
As part of 60th birthday celebrations, I travelled in May 2014 to Roscommon in Ireland to explore the place where my ancestors originated.  My hotel was right in the middle of Roscommon town. As the rain was pouring down, I decided to visit the National Famine Museum in Strokestown. In 1841, the population of Ireland was eight million. It was the most densely populated country in Europe. The average Irish labourer ate up to ten pounds of potatoes a day, and not a lot else. An acre of potatoes could support three adults. The famine of the mid-1840s, caused by disease in the potato crop, had a devastating impact. In 1845, half of the crop was destroyed. In 1846, almost 90% was affected. In the winter of 1846/7, 500,000 people were in workhouses designed to take 100,000. Unsurprisingly, a cholera epidemic followed; a million died and 1.4 million subsequently emigrated.
In addition, linen spinning was affected by mechanisation in other countries, and a fall in the price of grain and a switch to grazing reduced the demand for labour. Consequently, the population continued to fall for the next 100 years. Curiously, this helps the genealogist to some extent. Many Irish records were destroyed in a fire, while others are of poor quality. Civil registration did not
start until 1864, and was often ignored in the early days. However, those who emigrated can often be traced, whereas those who stayed are more difficult to find.  For the last six years, I have been corresponding with Mary from the Roscommon Family History Centre. I dropped in to see her and take some chocolates (one good turn…) She pointed out that many records (e.g. parish registers) simply do not exist.
The name Stanley features regularly in the records of Kilbride Parish, and there is circumstantial evidence to suggest a connection to my line. A plaque outside of the parish church at Four Mile House (so called because it is about five miles from Roscommon! However, Irish miles are 6,720 ft long) has some interesting numbers on it. The population of Ireland dropped 20% in the period 1841–1851. In the province of Connacht, the figure was 28%. In the County of Roscommon, it was 31%. In the Parish of Kilbride, the figure was 45% (from 8,578 to 4,719).  The patron saint of the church at Four Mile House is Saint Brigid. Many, many girls were named in her honour. Most of these seemed to marry a man called John. There is a certain economy when it comes to names – find one and use it, over and over again.
My Grandfather, Patrick, was born in March 1883. His Mother was Bridget (neé Scott). His father was an illiterate labourer called John (in my research, I have identified six different people called John Stanley who appear to be connected to my line.) John and Bridget lived at Cams, Fuerty so, armed with my Ordnance Survey map, I went in search of Cams.  Spotting a lady tending her garden, I asked for help. She called her husband over. They directed me to a specific house occupied by Christy, a retired schoolteacher. I parked outside and starting taking photos. Christy wandered out to find out what was going on.  It seems that my mistake lay in expecting Cams to be a definite place, such as a cluster of houses. Instead, Cams is just a small area. For example, Christy’s address is Cloverhill, Roscommon. No house number, no street name. The postman just knows who lives where, as does everyone else, so the system works.
The Griffiths valuation of 1858 shows only 11 properties in Cams. Of these, five are shown as ‘house, offices and land’, with significant rateable values. As such, they would not be occupied by a labourer. One consists of land only. Four are described as ‘herd’s house’ (with no land attached), and one has a house and a small plot of land. Given the fact that the population was still dropping between 1858 and 1883, it is unlikely that any more dwellings would have been constructed in the area in the intervening period. It is probable that my
grandfather was born in one of the four ‘herd’s houses’. Aerial views show no trace of these dwellings.  Christy turned out to be a mine of information. At his suggestion, I went to see Seamus M. He tried to be helpful, but he was vague. Benny C, who lived nearby, was a better source. He is a cousin of a John Stanley (probably yet another one). Prompted by his wife, Benny probed the depths of his memory. Various names were floated.
Despite taking copious notes, I can’t claim to have a clear idea of how they all fit together. I am in correspondence with them to seek clarification, but I suspect that he is connected to one of only four Stanley family groups that feature on the 1901 Census for Roscommon. I have yet to prove a connection to my line, but I haven’t given up hope.  After taking my leave of my delightful hosts, I drove off in search of more places that feature in the research. The overwhelming impression is one of emptiness. There are many derelict houses to be seen. However, this is partly due to superstition. Benny lives in a relatively new house. The old house is next door, but is being allowed to decay. You might expect to find Ballinheglish Church in Ballinheglish, but it is at least a couple of miles away. In the grounds is a memorial stone to those with no known grave, erected by the Local History Group. I found that burial grounds are often
separate from the church; even when a church is derelict, burials continue.
The conclusions I drew from my trip are:
1 Unless I can find another line (such as Benny) to follow, I may have reached a dead end.
2 I now have a far better sense of the geography. Despite all the modern technology of Google maps etc, there is still no substitute for the Mark One Eyeball
3 You can never predict what gems will emerge from casual comments.
4 Rural Ireland and its people are delightful.
Request for Genealogical Help -  Judith Beaumont (judithabeaumont@hotmail.com)
Writes: I have been doing my family history and have found ancestors who were born in Farewell. Their name was Bonell. There were also some in Longdon, but I’m not sure if they were direct to me or not.  Bonell seemed a common name in the Midlands. The family were in Bilston for a time, then went to an area near Rotherham, then came to Bramley in Leeds. They were forge men. One was a blacksmith.
John was a popular name in the Bonell family. From 1702, John had a son, Robert, who had Edward, who had John, then John, William, and James was my grandfather. He died in 1968. I am wondering if the name was a variant of Bonehill, as I have seen that name. How far back I can go I don’t know, but I may have to come down there and look in Lichfield archives.  Do you know any Bonell history? I would be happy to find anything on them. They seemed to work in forges. Was there an iron foundry down there? I know there was in Bilston.  Yours hopefully, Judith Beaumont
More From the House with 12½ Chimneys - by Michael Jennings
Over the last few years, I have given a number of talks about the house with twelve and a half chimneys and the G.W.R. link to my family in Hereford and Penzance in Cornwall. In these talks I spoke about the stories which are connected to the manor house in Cornwall, and the Pritchard, Symons and Polglase families. This article looks at some of these stories in more detail.
Why there are 12½ chimneys: One of the tall chimney pots was damaged in a severe storm. A replacement was sent for from Stoke-on-Trent but was damaged during the journey. A further replacement was sent for, and the same thing happened again. After the sixth
attempt, it was decided to install the best of the broken pots. This is why there is a distinctive half size one today.
The moving Chinese chess pieces: This chess set was inside a two-tier display stand under a glass dome on a Victorian sewing table in the library. When it was cleaned or used, the pieces were always put back in a certain position. After a few days, even if nobody had touched them, they were always found in a different position. Nobody could explain why they moved until, one day, my uncle was sitting in the library when blasting was taking place at Newlyn Quarry, five miles away. It was the vibration which caused the chess pieces to move, as the same rock strata stretched from Newlyn to Treneere.
The phantom Rolls-Royce car: During the late 1920s, the Polglase sisters saw a Rolls-Royce car advertised for sale in a Penzance garage. They agreed to buy it and subsequently had a garage built for it, with oddly shaped doors. Before the final purchase, it was found to have been stolen in London and so had to be returned.
The St. Germoe stone sarcophagus, 800 AD: There is a stone water trough which is now situated in the gardens at the back of
the house. This was supposed to have belonged to St. Germoe, a Cornish saint. It originally came from the parish of Breage, twelve miles away, where Mr. Polglase farmed before moving to Treneere in 1876. It was dated by the British Museum, which showed it to be later than the time of St. Germoe.
The chapel of St. Clare: This was created in the attic rooms of the house and was blessed by the Bishop of St. German’s in 1978. All the furniture in the chapel came from closed churches and chapels in the Penzance area. It is still there today, but is used as a music and quiet room.
The Quarry Team painting: This was painted 1891 by the Cornish artist Stanhope Forbes and was damaged by suffragettes at the Royal Academy London in 1894, where it was being exhibited. It was one of the main talking points of the house, as it measured eight feet across by a depth of five feet. It showed a team of shire horses pulling a cart with a granite block. These blocks were used in the construction of the London Embankment. The Polglase sisters bought the painting in 1941 from Stanhope Forbes for £175. Before he would agree to the sale, he had to see exactly where it was to be hung in the house. This was in the drawing room. When it was sold at auction in 2007, the price was then £110,000. There were letters concerning this between my uncle, the Polglase sisters and Stanhope
Forbes, who is buried in Sancreed Churchyard nearby. This is also where the Treneere housekeeper is buried, who retained this position for 51 years. The ashes of my uncle and aunt are scattered in front of the house and on the moors above Treen. Most of the Polglase family are buried in Lelant churchyard.
The 1897 Diamond Jubilee and the model yacht: This was a scale model of a Victorian steam yacht, similar to Queen Victoria’s own Royal Yacht. It was kept on display in the main hallway. It was supposed to have been given to Mr. Joseph Polglase as a gift for his services to Queen Victoria when she visited Penzance and St. Michael’s Mount for her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. At the time, they were unable to reach St. Michael’s Mount, as there were severe gales.
The gold nugget: In one of the display cabinets, there was a gold nugget the size of a man’s hand. This was part of the fortune which Joseph and John Polglase made in the Californian gold mines in the 1860s and early 1870s. Some of the proceeds were also made into jewellery for family members. I discovered from my visit to Breage Church last year that there was an organisation based in Cornwall
which assisted local miners to travel to America to mine the gold. The two brothers mined the gold in Grass Valley in California in three deep mines similar to some of the Cornish tin mines, thus earning themselves considerable wealth. When in America in 2012, my daughter-in-law’s relatives explained about Grass Valley being a mining area, and nowadays it is a tourist attraction. After Joseph Polglase purchased Treneere Manor, he always paid the housekeeper in gold sovereigns. Before the payment was due, he would always
disappear for a while. Over the years, a lot of speculation was attached to this and, as a result, it was said that he kept a secret hoard of gold sovereigns somewhere on the estate. No one has ever claimed to have found the hoard, but the story surfaced again when my uncle died in 2006. There was also a watch which was inscribed ‘to Joseph Polglase from the Governor of California’, which was set into a necklace. Unfortunately, this was split up and is now lost.
The smugglers’ hole, the secret internal stairway and the roof walkway: The small toilet by the side of the main staircase was enlarged to take a small bath by extending underneath it. When this was done, a void was found underneath the staircase. It was thought that this may have been a smugglers’ contraband void.  The secret internal spiral stairway was supposed to have gone down through the dining room internal wall, which is at least eight feet thick at this point. It started in the roof void above the attics and went down to the cellars below the house. The bulge in the wall between the breakfast room and the dining room contained a very small air-vent by the lock. There was also supposed to be an alcove above the fireplace, which was a warming spot. It was accessed from the spiral staircase and sealed from the fireplace.
When I was young, I spent a great deal of time trying to find these places, but never did. When the roof was renewed in 2010 and the house was restored, I had another opportunity to investigate, but there was still no sign of them. Similarly, there was supposed to be an exit from the cellars into the well which was in the rear courtyard. When this was capped during the restoration work, it was still not possible to find it.  It was also thought that the cellars were part of the original Tudor house. This first house is now thought to be positioned close to the back driveway where you enter the grounds. There are no parts of this remaining, and only a painting in a private collection depicts the ruins of the original old house.  It was possible to walk and crawl around underneath the overhang of the outside
roof area. It was said that that it had been used by soldiers as a base in the war against smugglers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Some of the other rooms: When the Tudor room was extended into a cellar in the 1960s, they discovered a small Georgian fireplace behind the plaster. The Tudor room had originally been the kitchen and had a Cornish range in it. When the new kitchen was created in an adjoining room in the 1950s, it incorporated a dumb waiter up to the breakfast room above. This was often played in as a lift by small children. This house and all of the grounds were a great place for children and adults to explore.
Ellastone Hospital by Jenny Lee
Ellastone is a very attractive small village on the River Dove on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, set in beautiful rural countryside. It is a very scattered community of farms and large country estates, one or two smaller cottages, a pub, the church of Saint Peter’s and a
Parish Hall. Notable residents in the past include George Eliot (who based her book Adam Bede on the village). Also, Handel had been a guest at nearby Calwich Abbey, and it is possible that he composed some of his work while there. Rousseau visited nearby Wootton Hall at some time, and nearby Wootton Lodge is now occupied by the Bamford family, the owners of JCB. Today, there are about 300 residents in the village.  Visiting the church recently, I picked up a copy of a recently published booklet called The Story of Ellastone Hospital. Apparently, according to Red Cross records, 17 hospitals were set up in Staffordshire, but these were mainly in fairly large towns – the exception being Ellastone. The local estate owners led the drive to establish the hospital, and it was set up in the Parish Hall, which was opened in 1910.
Such hospitals received small grants from the War Office to cover nursing care and other costs for each patient (two shillings a day!), and another gift of 12 beds was received. Local people gave vegetables, fruit, eggs, jams, butter, rabbits, etc. – but alcoholic drinks were forbidden.  The first patients did not arrive until April 1915. None of them came directly from the front, but were moved on from larger hospitals in Manchester and other large cities for ‘recovery, rest and simple treatment’.  the regime was fairly strict, but the atmosphere was homely. the hospital was staffed by a commandant, a quartermaster, a matron and several vads trained in nursing and first aid. local women volunteered to help, as did the local doctor (unpaid until 1917). all of these staff were controlled by county officials and were attached to the local military hospital (north staffs, in this case).
Time passed very slowly for the patients – there were some books provided, there was a billiard table and a piano, and concerts were held. Soldiers often went to church on Sundays. Some helped to pump the organ by hand – two of them inscribing their names and details on it! went to church on Sundays. Some helped to pump the organ by hand – two of them inscribing their names and details on it!  Visits were allowed, but only if they had a ‘letter of admission’. For many soldiers, though, their families were far away, including one patient from Australia who wrote home to say: ‘The matron, the doctor and his wife are spoiling me. I consider myself extremely lucky at striking this place.’ Sadly, the doctor died towards the end of 1917, at the age of 51, having lived in the village for twenty years.
The war ended in 1918, but the hospital remained open until February 1919 for the treatment and convalescence of the soldiers who were still there. The Hall was formally returned by the Red Cross in April that year, and local people held a Victory Ball there. Staff left flags and a plaque ‘in humble thanksgiving by those who served at the close of the Great War 1914–1919.
The booklet was published this year by a local person with help from local people and it is, I think, a wonderful tribute to the generosity, commitment and kindness of the people of a very small, rural community at such a difficult time in our history. The hospital and its occupants haven’t been forgotten.
This Issue’s Cover Photograph - Island Mining Sculpture, Cannock - Photo by Alan Betts
Normally, this space would be filled by a couple of paragraphs describing our cover photo and telling something of its history. Unfortunately, information about this particular photo is strangely hard to find, except for this one short sentence:  ‘On a roundabout on the ring road this sculpture celebrates the mining carried out in the Cannock Chase Coalfield. Mining ceased at Littleton Colliery in 1993’.
Littleton colliery itself was sunk in 1877, with new shafts being sunk between 1899 and 1902. The pit became one of the largest in the Midlands and the last colliery remaining on Cannock Chase. In 1982 it employed 1,900 miners, mining nearly a million tonnes of coal. However, after the controversial pit closure programme of the early 1990s, Littleton finally closed in 1994. The pit has now been completely demolished and the former spoil tip has been redeveloped as an area for walkers known as Littleton Leisure Park.
If anyone has any information on the sculpture itself, it would be nice to tell its story, perhaps in the next issue of the Journal.