#100daysofbfotc Day 84: Temperance Lloyd

Hanging WitchesIt is fitting that today we should mention Temperance Lloyd, noted as being one of the last people to be hanged for witchcraft in England, in 1682. Her name has echoed down the centuries and together with Susanna Edwards and Mary Trembles, she lives on in North Devon folklore. What is she doing in a novel set in the early twentieth century? She appears in Barefoot on the Cobbles as a reminder that elderly women, women whose names may well have been known to my characters, were convicted of capital crimes. Precisely what Temperance was, or was not, guilty of is debatable. Like Polly, hers too was a crime that hinged on the accusations of others. I do have another reason for mentioning Temperance, one that may become clear in the coming months but for now, that is a secret.

Here is Polly, on her way to court in Bideford: ‘Then there was the old cemetery, the school, and the site of the house where it was said the witches used to live. Polly was not the only parent who had threatened her recalcitrant small children with tales of how Goody Lloyd would cast a spell on them if they did not behave. Temperance Lloyd and her co-accused had been hanged outside Exeter jail. Reminders of capital punishment were hardly reassuring.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.

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#100daysofbfotc Day 83: Postman Branch

BranchPostman Branch is somewhat of an interloper in Barefoot on the Cobbles as he did not actually live in Clovelly. As Leonard makes up his mind whether or not to join up, I used William Branch as a well-known local figure who was a prisoner of war.

William Henry Branch was born on 8 May 1888 and baptised at Northam on 21 June. He was the son of James and Mary Ann Branch née Heard. At the age of seventeen, William joined the army reserve as part of the 4th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. At the time, he was living at 6 Hazel Terrace Northam and working as a labourer for Mr Ashplant, a shoemaker. William was just under 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighed 129lb, with brown eyes and brown hair. He described himself as a Wesleyan Methodist. It appears that, six months later, on 19 June 1905 he was part of the regular army. 1911 finds William serving in India as a Lance Corporal in the 13th Hussars.

He married Ethel Mary Bowden in 1912 and they had one son. At some point, he was attached to the 2nd Life Guards. In the early days of the First World war he was taken prisoner. Whilst he was a POW at Wittenburg Camp, he was shot through the hand so that he would be unable to use a gun. He was discharged in July 1916 and awarded the Silver War Badge.

He became the local postman, walking the route from Bideford to Buckland Brewer daily. He used to stay in a hut at the back of the Methodist Chapel whilst he waited for the outgoing letters to return to Bideford. By coincidence, it may be that this shed is now in my garden, although other sheds are available! He also worked as the local lamplighter. By 1939 he was living at 3 Rickards Row in Buckland Brewer. He died in 1963.

 Now the old men pontificated about the war, what so-and-so should or shouldn’t have done, how our brave boys would win through and wasn’t it a pity about Postman Branch, who’d been taken prisoner.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.

#100daysofbfotc Day 82: Upton Hill, Torquay

Upton RoadUpton Hill features in Barefoot on the Cobbles as the home of the Cornelius family. In chapter ten, Daisy arrives at 48 Upton Hill, to take up her role as parlourmaid. Upton Hill rises steeply on the northern outskirts of Torquay and number 48 is in the middle of a short terrace. At the time of the novel, the end property of the terrace was a small grocery store.

‘Daisy’s box had been sent on ahead, so she was unencumbered by heavy luggage as she wound her way up the street above Torre Station. The steepness of Upton Hill caught many a visitor unawares but Daisy was accustomed to the Clovelly cobbles, so she was barely conscious of the gradient. Another glance at her instructions informed her that she would find number 48 on the left hand side of the road, three doors up from Bertram’s grocers’ shop.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.

#100daysofbfotc Day 81: Dr Toye

Capture

Western Times 28 January 1938

Dr Toye is one of several medical men who grace the pages of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

Edwin Josiah Toye was born at 8 Bonner’s Park, Bethnal Green, London on 3 November 1871. His father, another Edwin Josiah Toye, was a chemist. His mother was Jane née Buggel. Edwin trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and specialised in opthalmics but was also awarded a gold medal for his achievements in the field of obstetrics. He worked as a house physician at the Metropolitan Hospital before coming to Bideford as a locum to Drs Rouse and Gooding.

After the death of Dr Rouse, Edwin became Gooding’s assistant and later a partner in the practice. He is credited with owning the first car in Bideford, in 1902. Dr Toye was a leading Rotarian and served as mayor of Bideford in 1925. It was during his tenure that the building of the new Bideford Hospital was begun and Bideford Bridge was repaired. On 8 September 1903, married an older lady, Mary Ellen Keene née Greatorex, in Northam and they lived at Stanhope in Northam Road. She already had children but they had none of their own. Dr Toye died suddenly at Stanhope on 2 January 1938.

‘Dr Toye was a tall, brusque man in his forties. When Dr Kay called, you felt that he was visiting for a cosy chat, Dr Toye was very different; he was business-like, hurried, eager to give his verdict and to move on to the next patient.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.

#100daysofbfotc Day 80: Police Sergeant Ashby

Police Sergeant Ashby is the bearer of bad news when he arrives on Polly and Albert’s doorstep in chapter fifteen of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

CaptureJames Charles Ashby was born on 1 January 1874 in Holsworthy, the son of James and Grace Ashby née Jones. James followed in his father’s footsteps and began his working life on a local farm. In the mid-1890s he joined Devon Constabulary.

James married Hannah Mary Luscombe in Wolborough on 27 December 1899. They are believed to have had three children. In 1901, he was working as a police constable in Highweek, Newton Abbot, he is also known to have worked in Bishop’s Nympton and Dawlish. He was serving in the Bideford area at the time of the novel but moved to Budleigh Salterton before his retirement in 1922. In 1939 he was living at 7 Imperial Road, Exmouth and was working as a caretaker. He died in Honiton in 1959.

‘Polly was unable to raise her gaze above the middle of the policeman’s chest. Her mind was captivated by insignificant details, the shiny buttons that marched down Ashby’s tunic, the red weal on his neck, left by the chin strap of his helmet. Everything about the man’s attire seemed too small for his formidable frame. His collar was tight, the leather belt with its metal clasp, was stretched across his ample stomach, even his boots were taut and misshapen by the bunions that were a legacy of past years on the beat.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.

#100daysofbfotc Day 79: Nelson

Lime KilnNelson was the youngest of Polly and Albert’s four sons. He was born in Chapel Street Clovelly on 16 August 1908. Nelson’s story features in chapter four of Barefoot on the Cobbles and it would spoil the novel if I were to recount it any further here. So I will leave you with an extract from that chapter.

‘Bertie, with his younger brothers Mark and Nelson, had spent the long, light evenings after school scrabbling for rusty buttons or broken bits of plate and bickering with friends over who had spotted a particular treasure first. As they ranged across the beach, using old branches to make dens above the water’s reach, their unbroken voices mingled with the raucous cries of the gulls and echoed back.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.

#100daysofbfotc Day 78: Arthur Wakely

PeppercombeThere are only brief references to Arthur Wakely in Barefoot on the Cobbles. His escape from his Devonshire home, to become a coachman in Midlothian, Scotland, was an example to Albert that there was a world beyond the fishing villages on the north Devon coast.

Arthur William Wakely was the eldest of the Wakely family and the only surviving son in a family of girls. He was born on 21 April 1861 in Peppercombe Valley. Initially he moved to Bideford and worked as a painter but shortly afterwards changed his occupation. In 1882, he married a Scottish girl Mary Eliza MacAulay in London, where they had no doubt met whilst in service. They moved with the family to their Scottish home in Edinburgh, by which time Arthur is working as a coachman. Arthur and Mary had at least eight children. We lose track of Arthur and his family after 1901.

‘It was from Polly that he learned that there were two more sisters at home, Ada and Ethel and a brother, Arthur, who was making his own way in the world.’

Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.