The Greenwood Tree – December 2017

The December issue of The Greenwood Tree, my last as editor, will be reaching you in early December and the PDF (in full colour) can now be downloaded from the Members’ Area of our website.

In the September issue you were introduced to our new editor, Paul Radford (for contact details, see below), and I have been working with Paul on the production of this December edition. We have visited our printers, Aurora Print and Design in Wincanton, and Paul is now pretty familiar with how I have done things as editor.


There are, I think, a particularly interesting set of member’ articles this time, including one by Paul on the recent fire at Parnham House, and describing other major fires that have affected towns in Dorset.

One of our French members, Arnaud Aurejac-Davis, describes his researches into his family’s connections to that of Oscar Wilde.

Our Vice-President, David Hawkings, reports on important progress at The National Archives in making available the information in Letters of Administration for Somerset. They help to cover the gap left by the loss of probate records during bombing in WW2.


There are a couple of articles highlighting unusual names that should amuse you. This one was from Audrey German:

The baptism of Sweet Hart’s daughter, Love.

The recent release by the GRO of improved indexes of births and deaths has been featured recently in The Greenwood Tree, but Ann-Marie Wilkinson’s Computer Corner highlights one or two pitfalls that users should be aware of.

The Society’s projects on photographs and historic pageants have again provided some excellent pictures, but also pose some questions. Can you identify any of the people in these two photographs?

Maypole dancers from the Sherborne Pageant of 1905. Photograph courtesy of Sherborne School.

A group of workers at Doulting Stone Company c.1850. Photograph courtesy of Christine Atkins.

News of recent meetings of the regional groups and the AGM, hosted by the Taunton Group, together with our usual regular features will, I hope, make for some interesting reading to divert you during the frenzy of planning for Christmas. If any of your relatives are interested in family history, and you’re struggling to think of a present, what about the CD (or memory stick) of 40 years of The Greenwood Tree? I was pleased to see that we have now sold more than 300, a useful addition to the Society’s funds.

After five years and 20 editions I am passing the baton to a new editor. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me over the past five years, from our very reliable regular contributors, to the production staff at Aurora as well as those who help with proof-reading. But The Greenwood Tree belongs to you, the members. Without your articles and other contributions there would be no Society Journal. So please keep them coming, and support your new editor.

Bob Barber

Contacting the new Editor

The email address for Paul Radford is:

Communication by post should be sent to: Stumps Cottage, Oxbridge, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3UB.

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Farewell to Eileen Holloway (1930-2017)

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Eileen has been a regular volunteer at our Family History Centre for some considerable time. An experienced family historian she had fascinating stories to tell about her ancestor at the Crimea and another on the Oregon Trail. She did things ‘by the old school’ methods and laughed at the mention of the word ‘computer’. It would have amused her greatly, had she known, that she would be the subject of a ‘blog’. It is hard to talk of Eileen in the past tense as she was so much a part of the camaraderie that we all enjoyed on a Friday morning. We would have talks together about family related topics most weeks in which Eileen would participate with gusto as she always had some experience or another to recall to add to the relevance of our discussions. She brought in ‘mystery items’ to challenge us, old postcards and maps she had come across and was always there with an appropriate addition whatever the topic. She had many other interests and talents, of which we were dimly aware, but it was her amazing capacity to keep on being interested and interesting which is the lasting impression she has left with those of us who worked so closely with her of late.

She was indomitable in what she took on and was planning to decorate one of the trees in the forthcoming Christmas display in the Cheap Street Church in Sherborne – on a theme of ‘Family History’ and which we now aim to complete in her memory.

One of her fellow volunteers said when she heard the sad news: ‘Eileen was a lovely, kind lady and her family will miss her dreadfully.  Every other Friday won’t be the same without her… her funny anecdotes, her deep knowledge of her family and her farming area, her cakes and biscuits but most of all her presence and cheery personality.’

Farewell Eileen – we will miss you.



Eileen takes part in a West Dorset Group Project


…..and makes her point!

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Some of the mystery items that Eileen brought in to challenge us

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An old postcard and its reverse

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A treasured newspaper cutting

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Another old postcard and its reverse

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A plate of Friday morning specials

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Going to School in the War Years

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The original Foster’s School building in Hound St (now converted into private residences).

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The second Foster’s School building on Tinneys Lane (demolished in the 1990s).

We are reminded that bombs were dropped over a wide area of Sherborne on 30 September 1940 with loss of life and widespread damage. John Samuel Jackson of Milborne Port, a pupil at Foster’s School remembers what it was like to be in school during the war years:

I previously (1937-39) went to Stonegarth School, which was situated at the bottom of The Avenue in Sherborne. The Headmistress was Miss Sparkes. Having taken the Entrance Exam, I then started at Foster’s School in Hound Street in 1939 when I was not yet ten years old. The Headmaster was Mr H Lush. Later that year we all moved up to the new school at the end of Tinneys Lane.  Trenches were dug on the far side of the playing fields (well away from the school building) in a zig-zag formation with duckboards in them to stand on. When the air raid siren sounded we all had to run across to them entering from both ends and, when meeting in the middle, numbering off. On one occasion I remember a German plane flying quite low over our heads with his machine guns firing, probably just to scare us. The school caretaker (Mr Pollard) and the groundsman later found some bullets scattered around the playing fields.We travelled to and from school on Southern National buses. Milborne Port was only three miles and the fare was 3d (three old pence) return. But as petrol and diesel were rationed and in short supply the buses ran on gas by towing a trailer with a coke burner which sent gas to quite a large bag on the roof of the bus. The bus went extremely slowly especially up the hills. The coke furnace used to glow red hot after dark – it looked quite weird.

Looking Back 8.3

On 30 September 1940 German bomber planes, possibly on their way to Westlands in Yeovil or to Bristol, were met by British fighter planes and turned tail. Seeing a built-up area below them (Sherborne) they just dropped their bombs in order to make up speed. Although no bombs actually hit the school some landed nearby blowing all the glass out of the windows on the front of the school and shards of glass were stuck in the notice boards on the far side of class rooms. Fortunately school time ended at 4.00 pm and the class rooms were empty. The school was then closed for two weeks while the windows were re-glazed etc.

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As the photograph above shows, the house in Newland, in which Miss Billinger (Headmistress of Lord Digby’s School) lived and which she shared with Miss Sparkes (Headmistress of Stonegarth), took a direct hit. The wall in the foreground of the house is where I and other children were waiting for the bus to pick us up at 4.05 pm on route to Milborne Port and Henstridge. To the best of my knowledge the bombs dropped on Sherborne at around 4.45 pm.

Of course because the war was on we had to carry gas masks and the first lesson on Saturday mornings was gas mask drill. As you can imagine in a class room of approx. 30 boys it was quite a comical sight, leading to a certain amount of laughter, which in turn caused the eye screen to mist up and lots of strange noises coming from the sides of your face where the rubber fitted. In the early 1940s several masters were ‘called up’ into the forces, including Mr Hulme (French) and Mr Hewitt (Geography). Their places were taken by their wives who were also qualified teachers. I believe both masters returned to their teaching posts when the war was over. During my time at school any article you may have mislaid or maybe dropped in the school area, be it an exercise book or gym shoe etc, usually ended up in the ‘Pound’ which was in the Headmaster’s office. To retrieve same article you had to go to the office and pay the sum of 1d (one old penny) to the Headmaster’s secretary, Mr Harry Otton.

Unfortunately in 1944 my father, who ran a butchers business in Milborne Port had to withdraw me from school to assist in the business as three of his staff, Charlie Hinks, Reg Pattemore and Michael Coyne all got called up for war duty. So at the age of under 15 I was doing a butchers delivery round, sometimes actually driving until the local policeman warned my father.

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I am pictured right with one of the vans belonging to the family business which has the war time white edge painted around it. No street lights were allowed during the war.

John Jackson. Pupil at Foster’s School 1939-44

For more information on those remembered as having been killed during the bombing raid and for a photograph of the memorial plaque see Sherborne School Archives.

30 September 2017

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Stories of Exeter’s War Hospitals 1914-1919

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100 years ago, in 1917, you might have been Gunner John Parr, wounded in the third battle of Ypres during a heavy exchange of fire. You’ve been given your initial medical care in the field and sent by train to the French coast. Now you are in an ambulance train. You’ve been sent home to ‘Blighty’ for further treatment.

It’s early morning and as the train draws to a halt you look out of the window and see the sign ‘EXETER’. Two orderlies lift you down from the train on a stretcher and a doctor comes over to check your condition. Ahead of you is an ambulance wagon. You are going to one of Exeter’s Red Cross hospitals. You are out of the hell of Paschendaele. You are safe.

These moving words begin to tell one of the Stories of Exeter’s War Hospitals 1914-1919, an exhibition researched and staged by members of the Exeter Local History Society and if you are able I urge you to see it if you can. The whole thing is the result of four years work under the leadership of Dr Julia Neville whose small team of five or six undertook the painstaking research,  with a further final twenty of so members helping with the actual exhibition. The whole thing is, in my humble opinion, a triumph. This exhibition not only tells us about what happened in Exeter but it also speaks for the many volunteers, the doctors the VAD nurses, the ambulance men, those who sourced the beds and equipment and many more who played their parts. It even reminds us of the local Devonshire people out sourcing the Sphagnum Moss to make the wound dressings.

The information and material collected, to tell of the twelve hospitals in Exeter, is imaginatively and creatively displayed with ‘stories’ photographs and items of memorabilia printed on huge lengths of fabric used to represent bedsheets.

I am very proud to remember that my granny was a VAD nurse in Greenhill Hospital here in Sherborne and that she travelled overseas to France to nurse there for a year. It was so rewarding for me to see this exhibition as the information holds true for all the hospitals and convalescent hospitals pressed into service within reach of the hospital trains during World War One.

The exhibition is on in Exeter between now and Saturday at St Stephen’s Church in the High Street. For Further information see

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Barbara Elsmore 19 September 2017

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The Greenwood Tree, September 2017

The September issue of The Greenwood Tree will be appearing shortly, and SDFHS members can already download the PDF from the Members’ Area of our website. We have again preserved the colour content in the digital version, so it’s well worth having a look on-line, while you wait for your print copy to arrive.

I am pleased to introduce our prospective new Editor, Paul Radford (page 63), who will be editing the The Greenwood Tree from 2018. Paul is a retired journalist who spent more than 30 years working for Reuters and has extensive experience as a foreign correspondent and a sports reporter. Paul was born in Guernsey and has recently discovered Dorset ancestry. He co-edits and writes for a community magazine in the Beaminster area, and gives talks on Channel Islands history and family history topics. I hope you will continue to support our journal and help Paul by sending him your research findings.

St Mary’s Church, Beaminster.

By coincidence Mike Whitaker’s Dorset Spotlight feature (p.84) is on Beaminster, an attractive small town between Crewkerne and Bridport.

One important news item is the impending move of the Society’s Family History Centre: those of you who visit Sherborne may have noticed the estate agent’s board outside. We have been in the present building for 11 years, but the lease runs out in February 2018. John Damon, our Building Manager, outlines the current situation on page 87. Also on page 87 is the programme for the 2017 AGM and Open Day (available online here), hosted by our Taunton Group, on 23 September in Cheddon Fitzpaine. The AGM Agenda and summary Accounts for 2016 will be circulated with this issue of The Greenwood Tree, and can also be downloaded, along with the Minutes of the 2016 AGM, and the full Trustees’ Report and Accounts for 2016 from the home page of our website.

Although the Society does not recommend or endorse any particular companies, we realise that many members use commercial software to support their family history research. Ann-Marie Wilkinson’s Computer Corner (p.81) reviews the latest edition of Family Tree Maker (Family Tree Maker 2017) and Barbara Elsmore gives her personal experiences of using FTM on page 94. You may also like to read Barbara’s blog post on the same subject.

We have lots of interesting articles from members writing about their research. There is more on the Denman family (pp.70-71), including a father and son who were transported in 1829, establishing a family line in Australia, while Paul Douch writes (pp.74-75) about the very complicated family arrangements of his ancestor, William John Douch. Paul’s research uncovered no fewer than six nieces who came under the wing of William.

We don’t often cover heraldry, an significant part of the history of ‘important’ families. Christopher Deane, a guide at Wimborne Minster, gives an introduction (pp.78-79) by explaining the meaning of the Ettricke heraldic shields in the Minster, including those on Anthony Ettricke’s tomb.

Anthony Ettricke’s tomb in Wimborne Minster.

We have some good colour illustrations, including a portrait of Joseph Symes and his wife Maria Samways, whom he married in 1870. Joseph is mentioned in a notebook compiled by Charles Barrett, which lists the inhabitants of Swyre in Dorset, a village once owned by the Dukes of Bedford (p.79-80). The notebook, mainly dating from 1869, contains a cottage by cottage account of those living in the village




Although primarily a database of photographs, the SDFHS Photographic Project occasionally receives images from other media. On page 82 we show a lovely silhouette portrait of Sarah Hippsley, dated 26 February 1810.


There are lots more articles, our regular features and recent news from the world of family history. I hope you find some interesting reading in this latest issue of The Greenwood Tree.

Bob Barber, Editor

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The Pageant’s Progress

It has been very pleasing to receive contact from others who have discovered that someone they may have further knowledge about, or who might have been a family member, took part in the Sherborne Pageant of 1905. Any discoveries, however small, are often met with wonder or surprise as a little chink of light is thrown onto someone from long ago and a photo is often the key. Many of the old photos can be seen in the Sherborne School Archive Flickr collection. There is absolutely nothing like a photo for bringing all sorts of thoughts and questions to mind, and with the help of others, we have now been able to augment our list of participants with new information, and upload more biographical profiles to the Sherborne Pageant page on our website.

We now know, thanks to Ian Swatridge (whose grandfather and great grandfather were both, at one time, serving policemen at Sherborne), a little more about the police presence. With 30,000 people attending the Pageant from all over, there was some fear and trepidation in the town that there might be unruly behaviour and around 70 members of the local constabulary were drafted in. In fact, as Ian pointed out, this number of men would probably have been the entire Dorset police force at the time.

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Eight members of the local police force being drilled in the background during rehearsals

A water pipe in Uploders with the initials H. B. N. led Helen Doble to reveal much about Captain Hugh Blomfield Nicholson of Loders House.


Clare Reeves has also helped us learn a little more about two of the young female members of the maypole dancing team – sisters Hilda and May Handover.

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12 of 16 female members of the Maypole Dancers. Photograph by J Benjamin Stone

Please keep these contributions coming and help carry this very worthwhile project forward. You can see, or download, a list of the known participants on our Pageant page, and also browse the list of profiles written so far, and download any that are of interest.

I should like to thank Bob Barber, the editor, for publishing a series of the profiles in the current editions of the Greenwood Tree. 

Barbara Elsmore 16 August 2017

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Copyright and family history

Many family historians regularly post online, or circulate on social media, images of themselves and their families and, on the whole, these will probably not fall foul of copyright or intellectual property laws, since they are likely to have been taken by family members who are the legal copyright holders, and who would, even if they should be unaware of the posting, not object to them being used. Copyright is, however, a very tricky subject and there are grey areas, where some guidance might be helpful: there is a lot of confusion about what copyright is, and how it should be interpreted.

One caveat, I am not a copyright lawyer and all this is only my own understanding of how copyright works so please do click on the links and check for yourself!

The legal position in the UK is well explained on this government website but basically copyright in a photograph or written piece of work lasts for the lifetime of the holder plus (since 1995) 70 years after their death. The copyright holder is usually the person who created the work, (eg: the photographer) or it could be the person who commissioned the work (for example, a bride’s father who paid for the wedding photographs, or a company for which the photographer worked).

One common misunderstanding is to assume that ownership of an image grants you the copyright. It does not. For example, a photograph of you as a baby taken by your father in 1960 is his copyright and, in theory, you would need his permission to use it, and so will your children and grandchildren, etc., until 70 years have elapsed since he died. So if your father died in 2000, the image remains ‘in copyright’ until 2070, and you should, theoretically, ask for the permission of his heir(s) to use it.

Updated 11.8.2017. Many people assume that ‘old’ photographs must be ‘out of copyright’, but this is a complex issue and whether or not an ‘old’ photograph is still in copyright depends on several factors. There is a good guide here.

You should always make every effort to trace the copyright owner of a photograph but this may not be possible and it would be as well then to add something to say that you have tried to find out who owns the copyright but without success, promising to credit the image correctly if the copyright owner is made known to you.

There is also no such thing as a ‘perpetual copyright’. When the copyright in a photograph or written work is owned by a company or other institution, copyright protection still ceases 70 years after the creator’s death, even if the institution is still ‘alive’. There is, in the UK, one exception: the writer J M Barrie bequeathed the copyright of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital and over the years copyright fees benefited the hospital. Barrie died in 1937 so (since copyright then lasted 50 years after death, not the present 70) when this expired in 1987, legislation (part of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988) granted the hospital a perpetual exemption.

There is a common misconception that if an image is already available online it can be copied and reproduced with impunity but this is not true, so if you are copying an image to use on your own website, circulate via social media, or include in a presentation or publication, you should always check the conditions on the source website. Sometimes people will be happy for you to reproduce their images provided you credit them correctly but many photographers and commercial organisations will only allow you to use their images on payment of fees. If an image is labelled ‘creative commons’ or ‘in the public domain’ then you should be free to use it, but do check on any acknowledgements that are required.

Another area where family historians need to be careful is in the use of images downloaded from sites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast. Their ‘fair usage’ guidelines allow you to use the images for research purposes but their ‘terms and conditions’ preclude wider, or commercial, use, without getting permission from the copyright holders. With many of the datasets that they offer to subscribers, these companies do not themselves own the copyright which belongs to whoever originally transcribed the data – often a local Family History Society – and it is the permission of the copyright holder which needs to be sought for anything other than personal use. If in doubt check out the ‘terms and conditions’ of the site concerned:


All of this may seem very daunting and lead you to believe you can never reproduce any images, anywhere. Fortunately for family historians, there is the matter of ‘fair usage’ which allows images to be used for non-profit research purposes, and there is an excellent chart which will guide you through the intricacies of this.

Basically if you always check the source of an image to find out if it is in copyright, apply your common sense when you can’t find this out, and don’t use images freely for commercial purposes, then you should not need to worry, but it is important to be aware that ‘copyright’ does exist and you should not assume that because an image is, apparently, freely available online, it can be copied and used without, at the very least, proper acknowledgement, and, sometimes, paying a fee.

Patricia Spencer – 9 August 2017


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