Friday 29 September 2017

Iddesleigh Dowland & Monkokehampton; C21 Palette

From Iddesleigh church
Iddesleigh Dowland and Monkokehampton; a C21 palette

Several branches of my paternal ancestors were rooted in Iddesleigh the neighbouring parish to Broadwoodkelly, where the Sampson family were yeoman farmers for many centuries. There were offshoot branches also established in nearby Dowland and Monkokehampton. The piece here is from a layered prose-poem written after a recent visit to the area in search of graves and sites linked with the family. It includes the names of several generations of our forbearers who lived in these parishes.
Do also look at Finding Sites the Older Way; Broadwoodkelly, which links with this piece and the ancestral branch of the people it features. 

Thursday 28 September 2017

Samuel Sampson of Wildridge North Tawton

The page above is taken from Herbert Sampson's Memoirs, whose opening pages tell us what he remembers about his father, Samuel Sampson of Wildridge North Tawton. In this short piece I've largely left my uncle to conjure up my paternal grandfather. 
 (see more below)
Samuel Sampson, probably in London
before he moved back to Devon with his family circa 1910

Contemporary Newspaper accounts of funeral of Samuel Sampson of Wildridge 
       The list of mourners at the funeral of our father's father, Samuel Sampson, in 1931, when he was only 63, suggests he was a popular man. Although he was my grandfather I can not relate any personal anecdote about Samuel's importance in my own life; he died long before I was born. However, implicitly I was always aware of his standing in our family and within the local community of North Tawton, in Devon. His name frequently was dropped into family conversations and he was never far from my father's, or his brothers' and sisters' memories; indeed, they were all evidently very fond of him. But Grandfather's rapport was not only with his immediate family. His funeral account describes Samuel's varied involvements in the town as well as and out and about its neighbouring parishes.

An Overseer, member of the Town Council, Chairman of the Old Age Pensions Committee, Manager of Local Schools, Trustee of School Lands Charity, Special Constable, member Fat Stock Committee, Hon. Collector for the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Apparently, grandfather was interested in progressive social schemes and other newspaper accounts of the time indicate how he became involved in local water improvement schemes. 

     Brought up in Broadwoodkelly in an important farming family which had a long established presence in the parish,  along with his brother John, Samuel turned to the building profession to make his own way of life. Samuel moved away from his home parish of Broadwoodkelly at a young age. I think, given the family's farming background the fact that Samuel left the area and farming may have been because of the decline in farming that happened in the mid to late C19. Samuel's second eldest son. our late uncle Herbert, is the one who can take up the story about his father through his own Memoirs (copies of which are held by members of the Sampson family). Herbert's deft and highly detailed account conjures a vivid sense of his father's presence and talents, including his professional building expertise and musical skills.

The pages above are taken from Grandfather Samuel's son, Herbert Sampson's Memoirs. Herbert's memory was fantastic and the extracts tell some of the story of the Sampson's move down to North Tawton from London and after a short time where the family stayed at a cottage in Bondleigh, their early years at Wildridge. 


  As builder, cum-architect Samuel designed and built several local structures. One such is North Tawton's War Memorial,  which 

was moved to the cemetery in Exeter Street in 1948. It stood originally in the park in Barton Lane, which, like the Memorial, was bequeathed to the town by Frank Gibbings. Local builder, Samuel Sampson, designed and built the Memorial. It consists of a granite obelisk mounted on an ornate square plinth with recessed panels of pink marble bearing inscriptions on each of the four sides.

In his Memoirs Herbert recounts his own memory-trace of the beginning of World War One, which includes a reference to his father's designing of the North Tawton War Memorial, which still stands in the cemetery in Exeter Street. Standing in front of the memorial you can glance up the slopes behind the town and between the huddles of encroaching new-builds, see the trees, fields and even a glimpse of the house he built and made his and his family's mid Devon home. Samuel, his wife and several of their children are buried in the cemetery.

North Tawton War Memorial

Samuel Sampson of Wildridge North Tawton

Samuel Sampson, back on right and his wife and five children
at Wildridge circa 1925

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Finding Sites the Older Ways (2) Broadwoodkelly

Cornfield near Broadwoodkelly
Photo Julie Sampson

Phew! I've reached the marker point of the second section of my ancestral family-wheel, which turns this blog clock round to my paternal grandfather and his predecessors. Jane Harris married Samuel Sampson in Chelsea, in London, but the couple soon returned to both of their roots when they built and set up house in mid Devon. Samuel's family were born and bred in and around Broadwoodkelly, over at least four centuries. And so, I have no problem making a big feature of that place.

The text which follows was written and compiled following a trip down to the parish. Taking more or less the same 'format'  as Finding Site the Older Ways (1) Otter Valley Land of the Luggs, which marked the beginning of the blog family-wheel, it's a layered piece which, beneath the surface embeds faintly the names of Samuel's parents, John Sampson and Nancy Earland - and their parents.

The piece is made up of a backcloth of impressionistic description, which sets the scene; early drafts of as yet unpublished poems about a couple of women in the same Sampson ancestry (Susannah Weekes and Ann Lang); and an imagined bit of dialogue taken from a fictional piece written some years ago.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Snap Marjorie -

Another poem from several written with Wildridge and various individuals who lived there, as background. This one began with an old photo of one of my two maiden aunts, whose childhoods were spent at the house. Both of them appear in the photo in Turning the Wheel. Typical of their generation neither aunt fulfilled her true potential. Nancy, the younger was a gifted pianist and taught piano for many years; she was wonderful with children and retained her own inner child until the end of her life. Marjorie, the elder, subject of this poem, also talented as musician, was unable to completely pursue her considerable intellectual talents. However during WW2 she became a Land Girl and following that period, making use of the skills she'd obtained during the war, worked for many years as a gifted gardener at a place near Topsham.

copyright Julie Sampson

Wild Ridge Ways

Our branch of Sampsons left the wild ridge in 1963, in the middle of the season of the big blizzard, but another branch of kin moved in and stayed for many more years. This piece is part of a 'homage' to that home.

Copyright Julie Sampson

Continuing to Turn the Ancestral Family-Wheel - Wildridge

Continuing to turn the ancestral family-wheel, our paternal grandmother Jane, who - though she like her siblings, was born and brought up in London - had Devon parentage on both sides (mother's in East Devon and father's roots in and about Okehampton), and after marriage to Samuel Sampson returned with him to find and link up again with both of their ancestral home-zones in mid Devon. After a search around the area looking for a suitable house for their 4 - soon with the addition of my own father - 5 children, the couple decided to build their own house back in the vicinity of both Jane's and Samuel's roots. I'm not sure why they settled on North Tawton. Perhaps because the Sampsons from nearby Broadwoodkelly already owned land there. I'm not yet sure. But the house our grandparents built in and around 1910, high on the red ridge above the town, their children's and our childhood home and our cousin's sometime holiday home, has become locked in my mind as a presence the central lodestone of childhood life and beyond. That is why it features here, in another layered piece of writing, which is part of a longer text. Next door Grandfather's brother John built Wildridge's twin called Highcroft and that became home to the other branch of Sampsons of that family.

Sampson family at Wildridge circa 1920.

Wildridge Lych-Gate 1963.
The following poem written some time ago and published in the online, but I think now non-existent magazine Cyclamens and Swords, was inspired by Wildridge's lych-gate.

copyright Julie Sampson

Saturday 16 September 2017

And so to Okehampton - Harris and Sprague families

So now we're under Dartmoor, in Okehampton. Jane Harris' father's family were rooted in the district for several  - perhaps many centuries. I wanted to mark the route of that family prior to her grandfather William Harris' leaving his home-town and settling over in East Devon.

Following a recent visit to the town I decided to write an underlayer of 'description' conjuring the moorland, which here appears half visible beneath a poem I wrote after finding the graves of Jane's ggrandparents (and my generation's great great grandparents) Richard Harris and Jane Sprague (who probably spent their lives in Okehampton), in the graveyard of the church high above the town.

Path leading up to Okehampton Church

Richard Harris and Jane Sprague -
at Okehampton Church
Photo Julie Sampson

A slightly different version of  'As We Climbed the Slope' was published by Helen Ivory online, in Ink Sweat and Tears

Best Blog Post to read before this is Land of the Luggs