Tag Archives: Snitterfield

Trove Tuesday – from Pettavel to Snitterfield

Until now when using Trove I have mostly searched for family names and places.  I hadn’t even considered the possibility that small English villages might be mentioned in an Australian newspaper.  That was until I read Jennifer Jones’s post on “Playing with Edged Tools

After that I was to find that Trove had many mentions of the village of Snitterfield where my grandfather Tom Tansey was born.    One small entry mentioned two places of interest to me – Pettavel, a vineyard to the south of Geelong,  and a cupboard, supposedly with a carved inscription done by Shakespeare, being auctioned in Snitterfield.

From the Geelong Advertiser, March 2nd 1903

Geel Addy 2-3-1903 Sale of Shakespeare chair at

These are two unrelated notices sitting together on the page.

The first concerns the Pettavel vineyard just south of Geelong where a sale of items was to be held.  David Pettavel from Switzerland established the vineyard in 1842.  It is now called the Mt Duneed Estate and has been  in the news this week because of the annual Falls Festival, a three day music festival ending on New Years Day   Normally it is held just outside Lorne on the Great Ocean Road but bushfires made it necessary to either cancel or re-locate the festival. There is an excellent article on the ABC about the mammoth task of shifting to a different venue.  What would David Pettavel think about the hordes of people and the noise on his estate ?

The second notice from the Auctioneers concerned both Snitterfield and Shakespeare.  Shakespeare’s family had connections with this village.  Did Will really make and inscribe this cupboard which was up for auction ?   By switching from the freely available Australian Trove newspapers to the British Newspaper Archive  I read that on Jan 9th 1903, two months before being mentioned in the Geelong Advertiser, the auction was also reported in the Leamington Spa Courier, a town near Snitterfield.


But was it all one big con ?  Back in 1891 there  were many articles and letters about this same piece of furniture claiming that it could not have been inscribed by Shakespeare.  One such article was published in The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on September 5th, 1891

Cupboard discredited

Shakespeare pops up everywhere in connection with Snitterfield, which is just to the north of Stratford on Avon, such as in my post on A Parting Gift.

Kitchen Week – in Snitterfield

When Tom Tansey left Snitterfield near Stratford on Avon in 1888 to travel half way round the world to Geelong in Australia he knew that there was little chance that he would see his family again.  I find that hard to imagine, sixteen years old and never to see your parents, three sisters and brother. again.  Another sister was born the year after he left  but he was to meet her later on as she  also came to Australia.

Letitia Trickett, Geelong, aunt of Tom Tansey

Letitia Trickett, Geelong, aunt of Tom Tansey


One consolation was that he came to live with his Aunt Letitia  – his mother’s sister. She had married Phillip Trickett and settled in Geelong.  But she was a stranger to Tom as she had come to Australia in 1870, two years before Tom was born.

One thing Tom did have though was a photo of the kitchen that he left behind, the kitchen where he had grown up for sixteen years.

kitchen in SnitterfieldThe heart of the kitchen was a Victorian cast iron range- a utility version of the many kinds which were available.  There is a central firebox with a small oven either side and a chain hanging down to suspend a pot or kettle.  Either side of the range was a small warm nook, just the right size for a child.  There are interesting things to speculate on in the image – the lamp,  knickknacks on the mantlepiece, Father’s chair by the fire, bellows to blow the fire, a stool for a child  and what appears to be a curtain

There was a second brick oven outside in the  wash house.  It was there that the Sunday roast and Yorkshire pudding was cooked. The neighbours would bring their dinners to be baked and were charged a penny to help to help pay for the wood – they would also bake pies and tarts for the week.

This kitchen was the place for the weekly Saturday night bath in a tub in front of the fire.

It is where Tom’s mother sat to make rag rugs for the floor.

It is where Tom’s father would sit by the fire to read his Birmingham Weekly Post with a stumpy old clay pipe in his mouth (his nose warmer) and the cat Moses 0n his knee.

It is where Tom’s mother would set out for Gospel Oak to buy their honey and when there having to accept a cup of “tay” which had been strained through the seller’s hessian apron.

It was from this kitchen that Tom would set forth to band practice.

And from here he would also leave to go to school where he learnt his beautiful copperplate handwriting.

The details of life in the kitchen came from Ellen (Nin) Tansey (1889-1975), Tom’s sister who came to Australia as a war widow in 1920, to remarry and settle in Sydney.

More kitchen related stories can be found through this week’s Sepia Saturday bloggers.



A Letter from Welcombe

Grandpa Tom Tansey is turning out to be a good source of family stories, which is surprising because when he died his daughter found her mother busy tossing photos and papers into the incinerator  Fortunately she was able to rescue many of them.

Tom had migrated from Snitterfield in Warwickshire to Australia in 1888 as a 16 year old and came to Geelong to live with his aunt who had migrated many years before and married.  The next year he received the following letter.

Letter from Welcombe 1

Letter from Welcombe 2Letter from Welcombe 3

Welcombe   April 29 1889

Dear Sr

I was very glad to receive your letter of 19 March & find you were doing well.

Enclosed I send you a £5 note to help you on.

I send you a Stratford  paper with an account of a Sham fight here on Easter Monday –

Things are rather better here than when you left, there is more work as prices seem better and generally speaking everybody is more cheerful.

I shall be glad to hear how you get on. I trust you will keep your health which is very important.

I am truly Rob N Philips

The family story is that Tom was promised that £5 note if he wrote to Squire Philips to let him know how he was getting on in Australia.   But was he normally a good correspondent ?  Again the family story tells us that  after he was married it was his wife who was responsible for any correspondence with his mother.

Welcombe House was a  country mansion  near Snitterfield and Stratford upon Avon, built about 1835 by the Philips family. The Welcombe estate  included the village of Snitterfield.   It has some interesting associations.  Robert Philips was grandfather of the historian G.M.Trevelyan, and  a subsequent owner, Sir Archibald Flower, financed the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford  on Avon.  Welcombe  is now a hotel.

(c) Bury Art Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Robert Needham Philips in 1875, from the Bury Art Museum

But at the time of the letter Welcombe  was owned by Robert Philips.  He formally addresses Tom as “Sir”,  to someone who had just had his seventeenth birthday.  And he mentions sending a newspaper which reported on a “sham fight” at Welcombe on Easter Moday.

Now I promptly thought pugilists and fisticuffs but I was wrong.  I couldn’t find the Stratford newspaper he mentioned but I found plenty of others reporting on these sham fights taking place around the country over Easter, the manouevres being practised by the various regiments.  At Welcombe it was the 1st and 2nd Warwickshire Volunteers.  You can read the reports in the transcripts from the LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER Saturday 27th April 1889  and the Coventry Herald Sham fight.  They sound very like a setting for Midsomer Murders.

But it was this sham fight carried out at Welcombe which led me to the Worcester Cyclist Corps.  1889  .

Cyclists on Singer bikes

When you stop and think of the times, the use of bikes for reconnoitering  and passing on communications makes sense.  Most photos you can find show bicycles, not tricycles,  in use by the armies so I wonder how long the tricycle mentioned in 1889 lasted in use,

Singer tricycle 1889

The Singer Tricycle in 1889 from the Stilltime Collection

This Singer is not to be confused with the Singer of sewing machine fame.

After  the demonstration of military prowess suitably watched by the gentry there was the matter of some refreshments to be had.

Snitterfield band entertainedSo the Snitterfield Band “discoursed music”.  Tom had been a member of this band before he left for Australia. and perhaps he played for the Sham Fight at Welcombe the previous year or at one of the many other times the band played at Welcombe.  R,N,Philips  had given the village a full set of  instruments in 1883 so they could form a Brass Band. Tom would have been 11 then.  I wonder how old he was when he joined the band .

why not cycle for the kingMore letters can be found on this week’s Sepia Saturday


Crowded Streets

A first reaction to the idea of crowded streets is “Cars”.   But there are many ways to crowd a street.

Stratford Memorial 1922February 12, 1922 and Bridge Street in Stratfod-on-Avon in Warwickshire was crowded with foot traffic for the unveiling of the War Memorial which listed the names of the local serving men who died in World War One.  Notice that the Memorial is standing in the middle of the street.  After it was hit by a lorry it was shifted to a safer location.

We met Mary Matilda Checkets in Framed in a Doorway in Snitterfield , By 1922 she was  the widow Mrs Tansey, had moved from Snitterfield and  was now  living in Stratford on Avon .  Her youngest daughter Ellen was also a widow.  She had been married to Private Amos Unitt but he had been killed at Pozieres in 1918  and Ellen had gone to Australia and re-married.

Mary Matiilda sent this postcard to her six year old  grandson in Australia.  His father Amos Latham Unitt had  been born in Stratford on Avon and so his name was entitled to be included on the War Memorial.

Stratford Memorial 1922 Back

I think there is a little bit more to this postcard.  It is stamped so has been sent to Mrs Tansey  without putting it in an envelope .  Then she has signed it as Gran and indicated that it was for her grandson Stan and it has ended up in Australia.   I think the two handwritings are different so who was it sent it to Mrs Tansey in the first place ?

Earlier than this, in 1907 on the other side of the world, Camp St in Beechworth was crowded  with four horse- drawn vehicles. Beechworth in north eastern Victoria is a remnant of the  gold rush in the 1850s  This postcard has a linen type texture which makes it hard to scan.  Bandmaster Tom Tansey and his wife were to live in this street in the 1930s.

Beechworth Postcard 1907Perhaps some day I will be able to find a family member connected to the recipient of this  Beechworth postcard and hand it over.

Beechworth Postcard 1900 BackA Parade is another way of crowding a street.  A Gala Day Parade is held each year in Geelong to raise money for the local hospital  Here is the Geelong West Brass Band marching down Moorabool Street in the Gala Day Parade in 1931.  The bandmaster was Eric Searle.  The band had been revived in 1929 after having lapsed a couple of times.


Anyone who follows the road bike racing might be interested to know that this is the part of Moorabool Street which was the start and finish of the 2010 World Road Championships Time Trials. and was the finishing point for the Road Races,

And in a Parade in Sydney c1938 the members of the Sydney Ladies Brass Band were on a highly decorated float, led by their trainer and conductor Hilda Tansey.

Float1For more interesting early  street scenes go to the links in Sepia Saturday


John Green’s Bible – Going Back and Checking

Our Sepian inspiration this week is a book with unexpected photos hidden in it. I have no corresponding surprise photos but i have been looking at a copy of an inscription  which came from the front of a Bible.  The statement is signed late in life by my great grandmother using her maiden name Mary Matilda Checketts instead of her married name Tansey.

John Green's Bible

John Green’s Bible

I have always been aware that half-sister would have been the correct phrase to use when you share the same father but I have always taken the rest of the facts in this statement for granted. But now I am asking

1. Was the Rev.Jago involved with this gift

2. Was it really given on Easter Sunday 1815 ?

1,    John Green was born in Snitterfield in 1755 and Rev Jago  was the Vicar of Snitterfield from 1737 until his death in 1781 when John Green was 26 years old. The first mention I have so far of John doing parish duties was in 1783,  So there was hardly time for John to have performed 20 years of service to the parish to receive a presentation while the Rev Jago was alive,

After Rev Jago’s death in 1781 the incumbent became John Horton but he lived in Ashorne and the Curate was James Davenport who lived in Stratford. But the more I read around this area the more confused I become..  While John lived there was a Vicar who frequently didn’t live in the parish and a Curate who frequently didn’t live in the parish, much to the parishioners consternation.  But when John clocked up his twenty years of service as Parish Clerk which clergyman was involved in the presentation I do not know.

Perhaps it was the Rev Joseph Taylor..  He seems to have been Vicar of Snitterfield from 1802 until his death in 1833..

The Gentleman's Magazine 1833 Joseph TaylorThe Parish Clerk was an important salaried position in the Village and he carried on with his normal occupation as a carpenter at the same time.  His name appears frequently in the Parish Register as a witness to weddings and he was the parson’s indispensable right hand  man.  He also constructed and repaired much of the woodwork in the nave and the chancel and repaired the roof, and the gate etc, etc.  He died in 1820.

I am convinced that Rev Jago was not involved with any presentation to John Green.  However it would be an easy enough mistake for Mary Matilda to make more than 100 year later as Rev Jago was a bit of a celebrity in town having a reputation as a  minor published poet.

John Green is not part of Mary Matilda’s family so how did she come to have his Bible ?  I have looked at John Green’s will and he didn’t mention his Bible in his will. to specifically leave it to his granddaughter.

John Green married in 1788 and had a daughter Ann Green in 1790

George Checketts’ first wife was this Ann Green and they had a daughter Elizabeth Checketts. who was grand-daughter to John Green as mentioned in the bible.

After his wife Ann’s death George married Mary Hutchins and had a daughter Mary Matilda Checketts,

So we  have the two half-sisters, no step-sisters.   They had the same father, George Checketts.

2.  Did the presentation take place on Easter Sunday in 1815.  I will never know.  But if it did Napoleon had escaped from Elba just a few weeks before and the Battle of Waterloo took place a few weeks later on.

The oral history which led to the statement in the Bible is not necessarily accurate but that does not make it any less meaningful.  Mary Matilda knew that the book had come from a man who worked tirelessly for the village and was respected for that work.

I’m afraid this must be rather boring to most people but I am enjoying  using Sepia Saturday to record and collate my little bits of information  It is forcing me to look more in detail  at what I have rather than just looking at the overall picture.  But I am just a step along the way.  One day someone else will add more information .


Men in Aprons – The Hurdle Maker

At first glance our Sepia Saturday theme this week of Aprons seems a strange choice, but when you start digging you find some remarkable examples.  I have decided to go with the men folk.

ChatterleyHurdleMakers bA distant relation found this photo in a display in the village hall in Snitterfield.  It is the Chatterley family who were wooden hoop and hurdle makers.  I believe the man on the right is John Chatterley (1816-1899) which would place this photo in late C19th,  His two surviving sons, Thomas Chatterley and William Turner Chatterley were members of the 1887  brass band whose photo I used in A Parting Gift

Chatterley BrrosHere they are in the band photo – William at the back and Thomas to the front. With their full beards they are hard to match to the first photo. Their mother was a cousin of my Tansey grandfather’s grandfather, so there is a distant connection to me through the Hutchins family.

The hurdle making is a fascinating process.  One of  the uses the farmers had for hurdles was for making small enclosures for lambing ewes.  In this photo notice the padded leather protector worn at waist level to protect his clothes from being torn when weaving the hurdle. The man seated in the first photo is also wearing one.

The Hurdle MakerHere is an interesting and instructive video on hurdle making.

In John Chatterley’s will he give and bequeath the goodwill of my trade or business of a Hurdle Maker and Hoop Shaver and the stock in trade tool-utensils chattels  to his sons William and Thomas ,  This is the first time I have seen this phrase Hoop Shaver.  Wood hoop maker is the term usually applied to the family members whereas a Hoop Shaver: created and fitted metal hoops to barrels, casks and tubs.

One interesting comment I came upon was The main use for (wooden) hoops by the middle of the 19th century would have been for baskets and light tubs: barrels tended to be hooped with iron. Expect to find a thriving baket-making industry where you find hoop makers!

Perhaps the Chatterleys even contributed to the basker making for the lovely ladies of Cranford ! of

There are some things in the photo of which I am not sure, such as what appear to be stacks of hoops.of many sizes or concentric rings. Has anyone any knowledge in this field.

PS He didn’t mention leaving any aprons in his will.

You might also enjoy Men in Aprons – The Potter


And for a range of apron stories visit the links in Sepia Saturday

Framed in a Doorway in Snitterfield

Sepia Saturday has commented on how many of our family snapshots are taken in the doorway of the home and asked us to take that as our starting point for Sepia Saturday 203

MatildaTansey and unknown girlMy first post for Sepia Saturday spoke of Tom  Tansey leaving Snitterfield near Stratford on Avon in Warwickshire and coming to Australia.  This is his mother Mary Matilda Tansey  photographed with an unidentified girl in the doorway of the home where Tom grew up. The house was in The Green, Snitterfield which is near Stratford on Avon in Warwickshiure. If the girl is Matilda’s youngest daughter Ellen Matilda then this places the photo c1900

I never met my great grandmother Matilda but our lives overlapped for a while so I feel as though I can reach out and touch her, and through her touch her grandfather William Hutchins who was born in 1782.  Matilda was the youngest of five children and as her father was a lot older than her mother Matilda  was less than three years old when her father died in 1853  Her mother was left with five children aged twelve and under to look after.

Next door lived Matilda’s grandfather, William Hutchins, a widower.

You might have expected a father to give his widowed daughter a helping hand. but a complaint was made against William Hutchins for not maintaining his daughter Mary Checketts and in 1854  the Overseer of the Poor at Stratford Union ordered him  to pay 5 shillings a week in order to maintain his widowed daughter and her children.

BUT, he didn’t do as he was told to and on 21 July 1854 it was ordered that goods of his should be taken to cover the debt and the expenses.

BUT no goods to sell to cover his debt could be found at his house and he was committed to the Common Gaol at Warwick for three months. It cost four shillings and six pence  to transport him there.

1854 PrisonerBy 1861 William, his daughter Mary Checketts and four of her five children were all living together in a house in The Green, Snitterfield,  one hopes happily !  He is even listed as a retired brickmaker and  the Head of the Household in the 1861 Census.  So through my great grandmother Matilda who was later to marry Thomas Tansey Snr. I feel I know her naughty grandfather.

It does raise a few questions.

1. At the time he was a brickmaker.  Was he just  “crying  poor” so that his daughter  could get extra money ?

2. No goods worth selling in his house ? Sounds to me as if they weren’t allowed to seize tables and chairs, beds etc

3. If he genuinely couldn’t pay then why put him in gaol ?

But then again it might just have been discord between the two families when you look at this entry from the National Archives

[no title]  ER10/3/1101  27 April 1852 Contents:

Complaint of George Checketts, Snitterfield v. William Hutchins and Elizabeth his wife for assault and threatening behaviour.

Poor William !  He survived until just after the 1861 Census.  I hope his daughter and her family were nice to him.

2013.10W.22See more doorways with the links on Sepia Saturday 203

A Parting Gift


What is precious, tattered, torn and handed down?

When my grandfather, Tom Tansey, landed in Geelong in 1888 as a sixteen year old he brought with him this copy of  WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AS HE LIVED   by Captain Curling.


Shakespeare’s grandfather  had a farm at Tom’s home town of Snitterfield, just to the north of  Stratford on  Avon in Warwickshire.  So why had Grandpa brought this particular book with him?


It was a farewell gift from Ben  Currier and his wife Ellen.  Ben was a farmer and much older than Tom but   Ben  and Tom were both members of the Snitterfield Town Band and this had been a parting gift and was one that Grandpa kept all his life.


In the band photo Tom is the short chap fifth from the left in the back row while Ben is standing at the right hand end of the row, This photo was taken the previous year (1887) in front of the Red Lion in Stratford on Avon when the band led  the procession celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Tom was 15 and Ben 32.

I was amazed to find that the book has been re-printed as a paperback but is also downloadable fron the Gutenberg Project, Monash Uni library, etc, etc.  This book was first published in 1853 but Curling was a prolific writer and the book had been published before under different titles.  It is described as a Romance and is based on fact with a lot of imagination thrown in !

It starts  –   “It was one morning, during the reign of Elizabeth, that a youth, clad in a grey cloth doublet and hose (the usual costume of the respectable country tradesman or apprentice in England), took his early morning stroll in the vicinity of a small town in Warwickshire…..”