OK, make yourself a cuppa tea and listen closely.
It is February 1829. Probably cold and rainy, perhaps a touch of frost in the air.
Now it's November 1836. Keziah and Samuel are married in the same church at Carbrooke. Their son William Tolman Leveridge is 7 years old.
Young William grows up to learn the blacksmith's trade in Carbrooke, and joins the Army to become a farrier shoeing the horses of the Kings 1st Dragoon Guards Regiment. In October 1856, the Regiment is stationed at Topsham Barracks in Exeter in Devon, where 27 year old William meets Ellen Dolling, a pretty servant girl. William and Ellen are married in Exeter in April 1857, but two months later William and the 1st Dragoon Guards are sent first to the barracks at Aldershot, then to India, and finally to China.
William and Ellen's daughter Jane Keziah Loveridge is born a month later in July 1857. (Apparently it was a shotgun wedding.}
In 1860, William is wounded, and leaves the Regiment. He takes Ellen and 3 year old Jane to Carbrooke, Norfolk to live with his parents, Samuel and Keziah, where he continues work as a blacksmith. Samuel at this time is one of the many gamekeepers working for Lord Walsingham at nearby Merton Hall.
William and Ellen decide to pursue new opportunities in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, in 1862, taking their new son, also named William, but daughter Jane stays with her grandparents, Samuel and Keziah Tolman. There is no evidence that Jane ever saw her parents again.
Now it's December 1872. Jane marries her blacksmith sweetheart Charles Barham at Rockland St. Peter, not far from her home in Carbrooke. Was she really only 15?
Soon the babies arrive. Bertha is born in 1874, William John in 1876, and Julia Anne in 1878. But disaster strikes the family, Charles dies of "acute bronchitis 11 days" when baby Julia is only 2 months old. Jane has no income and can't support three small children, so she and the little girls go to live with Samuel and Keziah, and little William John goes to live with his Barham grandparents.
By 1881, Samuel Tolman is the proprietor of the village shop in Thompson, Norfolk, with his widowed granddaughter Jane helping him. But 2 years later in early 1883, the family celebrates a wedding. Jane marries William Alfred Betts and by the end of the year, Bertha and Julia have a little half-brother, James.
But Samuel is getting older and weaker. His death in1884 is due to "Decay of nature" and is followed by Keziah's death in 1885. They are buried in the graveyard at Thompson.
Jane and William Betts continue to run the village shop for many years. More children are born, Ethel Kezia in 1889, Herbert Victor in1892, and Ivy Ellen in 1896.
But all is not well in the family. Julia does not get along with her step-father, and leaves home to live with her Barham uncle.... (missing a whole lot out here) .... and became my grandmother!
I went to Thompson with my cousin. We wanted to see the church where Jane and William Betts were married, and perhaps find some family gravestones.
St Martin's Church dates from the 1300s. When we opened the heavy oak door, it swung inwards with a ghostly creak, and a rush of cold air greeted us from inside the church. Perfect!
Can you imagine Jane and William, kneeling at the altar, with Samuel and Keziah sitting there on the left, telling 9 year old Bertha and 5 year old Julia to be quiet and sit still during the wedding service.Much of the interior of the church has not been changed since the 1600s, mostly due to neglect. The nearby church at Merton was used by the various Lord Walsinghams, who lived at Merton Hall, and that was the church that got all the TLC.
Perhaps Jane baptised her children at this ancient stone font.
The ancient woodwork is silvery and smooth, hand carved with wheat and poppies, often with a date... this one reads 1632. There is moss growing on the floor in some corners, and there is a feeling of calm and serenity throughout the church.
But the graveyard didn't hold out much hope for finding family markers.
Time to cut the grass, perhaps?
For previous posts about my vacation in England, please scroll down.