Thanks for stopping by! Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? And please, sit for a spell. If you enjoy my posts, please feel free to follow me or subscribe to my blog. This is a word verification free, family friendly blog, so everything I share here is for all ages. I am a happily married man in my late sixties who lives on the Wirral peninsula, near Liverpool, in the UK.
I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite. I used to blog as Scriptor Senex which is Latin for Old Writer but now Google only lets me post as John Edwards.
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)
‘Grandma Coombes’ as she was known in the family was my mother’s mother’s father’s mother; that is, my great, great grandmother. She was born in 1819 and was still alive in the early 1910s when my mother remembered her as a bed-ridden old soul at the Crown Inn, Shipton-under-Wychwood.
Like Nana, Grandma Coombes had a birthday book but hers was not started until 1892 according to the note in the front of its wooden binding. Grandma Coombes was born Ann Gomm Young in 1819 and first married James Spencer, my great great grandfather. Later in life she married into the Coombes family who were already cousins by a previous family marriage.... Our family was bit like that!
The Spencer line can be traced back to the 16th century and a few years ago Jo and I had the enormous pleasure of visiting the house which one of the Spencer ancestors had built at Northleach in Gloucestershire in the early seventeenth century.
Some pages from the birthday book demonstrate that Grandma Coombes also used it as an autograph album as many of the entries are in different writings.
Her home from 1846 was the Crown Inn which she and James ran until his death at which stage her daughter, Sarah Sophia Young Franklin, took over. In her birthday book she comments on 20th January1906 that it was ‘My Home for 60 years’ .
In the second entry about Nana’s birthday book I shall mention some events from the outside world which she felt merited entry but only one crept into Grandma Coombes’s – 24th May – ‘Our Queen – God Bless Her’.
Only one entry merits an address and that, in the light of GB currently being in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, is quite remarkable:-
A young Flora
Mum, Flora Edwards (née Body), met Grandma Coombes at the Shaven Crown Inn in Shipton-under-Wychwood in the 1910s. Flora lived into the twenty first century and saw men on the moon, television, aeroplanes, genetic science, the internet, the European Community...
Picture then the England into which Grandma Coombes was born. The population was only eleven million souls. There were more than three-quarters of a million slaves in the British Empire, though slave trading had ceased some ten years before. Wilberforce was then a man of sixty. Leeds was a little town of 80,000 inhabitants. Travelling was by stage-coach. There were no trains or trams or cabs. There were only two steamers in the British Empire and together their tonnage was only 456. Gas was practically unknown. A Member of Parliament got up in the House and said "You might as well talk of ventilating London with windmills as talk of lighting the streets with gas." Duelling was common. Intemperance was an everyday fault.
Laws were severe. Poachers could be transported for seven years. Men could be hung for stealing a sheep. The prisons were in a dreadful state. Elizabeth Fry had recently paid her first visit to Newgate and launched her career of mercy. Women could be flogged in public places. One person in every eleven was a pauper. Only one child in four was receiving any education whatsoever. Shelley wrote - "In countries that are free such starvation cannot be as in England now we see." Children were sent to work at the age of seven, and were often made to work 16 hours out of the 24.