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

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