April 1, 2017

Day 3 dawned a bit dreary but it will be different from our previous days. We once again breakfasted at The Ashville and then prepared to head out. Today our goal is the Bristol Archives, repository for over 9000 documents. After checking the on board GPS again, to no avail, we pulled out the trusty cell phone and set up our route. I will take this moment to explain that the cell phone app is not as responsive as an on board system and, as a result, the actual location of the auto does not quite coincide with that of the app. Of course, I could drive at 5mph and it would probably synch, but then all of those folks behind us would be quite unhappy. And it is not auto-correcting and if a turn is missed, it will not bring us back on track. As a result we often miss the turn, have to circle back and get it right on the return.  This often means that we have to circle for each turn, adding one more correct turn on each orbit. Compound this with the confusing road system of the Bristol area and you can see why a 4 minute trip takes us 29 minutes. However, each day our knowledge of the immediate roads grows and we are able to anticipate the correct turn and are rewarded when the app catches up.

What neither we nor the app could anticipate was the sign that read "Road closed due to construction. Access the Archives through the blah-blah..." After circling the building several times, we found a spot and parked the car on a gravel road next to the Avon River and, hoping no river pirates would take the Mercedes, we skirted along a construction area until we reached the Archives.

Approaching the desk, I stated "We have come a long way to learn of our ancestors" to which the person replied "Hello Mr. Flew we have been expecting you." I immediately looked about for the Men in the Black Suits and not seeing them turned back to the clerk. "I was the one that got your email" says he. I restarted my breathing system, smiled and said "Well, we're here."

I've not been to Ft Knox but I expect I might receive a similar reception. We were told we would have to go back out, and remove our coats then take my laptop out of its case, place them all in a locker along with our umbrellas and lock it. We then had to sign a log with a lot of detailed information. After sitting through a video of how we were to conduct ourselves while in the Archives, we were finally allowed to begin our search.

We had hoped to find photographs of our great great grandfather William and great uncle William while they were employed at Ashton Estate. Grandfather William was born in 1790 and uncle William died in 1868. So were looking at a period from about 1810 to 1868. We were first directed to a book collection that included several books on the Ashton Estate one of which was a photographic journal; however, we found nothing there.

Next we turned to the on-line database. After several attempts, a search on "ashton court lab*" rewarded me with several encouraging hits. The first and most obvious was titled "Weekly Account of Labourers Employed in the Garden at Ashton Court" and was dated Jan.1833 - July 1838. To see this, we had to fill out a request form, drop it in a basket and wait for someone to bring it from the repository. Shortly, a ledger book approximately 8"x18" arrived laying on a foam pillow. Gingerly untying the retaining cord, I opened the book to the first page. Imagine my surprise when, there just over half way down the page was the name

Turning to Cissy I said "Look I found him on the first page!" And then on the second, then the third, the fourth... Well, it was a ledger book showing the days and hours the help worked so he pretty well showed up on every page in the book. However, as the year was 1833, this William was my great great grandfather. AM had stated that her husband, uncle William, worked at Ashton Court, but all we knew for sure about grandfather William came from the census where his occupation was listed as gardener. Now we had definitive proof that grandfather William also worked at Ashton Court. So here was a daily log of where he worked and what he was paid which was a handsome sum of 30 shillings per week (£1.5 pounds or about £75/year).

His typical tasks included turning ground, working the coach road, cutting and binding wood, planting weths(?), breaking stones, repairing the road, cutting weeds, grass, and ivy, spreading stones, working and cutting willows out of the willow bed, putting up rails and picking potatoes. He worked the garden, the flower garden, the nursery, the plantation, the west front (at the main entrance), the hothouse, the pilgrove, the park and the wilderness.

Further search of the Archive turned up a three volume ledger in 1828 that showed William as a gardener at the same wage rate. However, among the last entries of the last ledger we found one record for Sarah Flew (spelled Flue). Sarah was William's wife, our great great grandmother. She as born Sarah Watkins in 1794 in Trellech, Monmouthshire, Wales. (As I write this on Saturday morning, we are preparing for a day trip to Wales to find her home place.) Her employment was for a six day week where she worked "picking stones" for the sum of 5 shillings (£0.25). This is the only record we found for Sarah so I feel very lucky to have found it.

After several unsuccessful attempts to uncover more at the Archives, we decided to take our leave. William and Sarah were buried in the churchyard of the Anglican All Saints Church in Long Ashton which was our next destination. However, just down the lane from the church sat a fine old inn, the Angel Inn that proved to have a lovely pub. Built in 1495 as the Church House, it was used as a parish hall for meetings and social events.  So here we stopped for our lunch hour. We arrived just before the end of lunch and we found the fare to be typical but of excellent quality and taste. I had the steak, mushroom and stilton pie with crushed potatoes and peas. (If you are not familiar, stilton is an excellent English blue cheese made only in the three counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire.) I deemed the steak pie one, if not the best I have eaten! Cissy and John had the bangers and crushed potatoes also with peas.

Here we found the publican to be of dour countenance but of subtle humor. When we changed tables after placing our order, I explained that the people that were at our old table (that would be us) had left without paying but said that we could take their orders. He looked me in the eye and said "I wouldn't eat what they ordered!" Our seat was near the fireplace where the smell of peat from the many the fires it had seen was very evident. We also found a picture on the wall, complete with signatures, of John, Paul, George and Ringo - The Beatles.

Leaving the inn, we wandered down the lane to the church. All Saints Church was built around 1380 and, with its square spire, was very typical of the many churches I had seen in my trips through the Isles. In the churchyard just off of the lane we found the tombstone of William and Sarah. They were buried in a single grave along with their daughter, Caroline, and her son, William. It was common in those days to bury several people in the same grave. All that was needed was an idea of the number to occupy the site so that they could bury the first occupant deeply enough.

As I entered the church, two tombs lined the foyer and ancient wooden doors opened into the Nave. As would be expected, large stained glass windows depicting Christ and the Saints line the walls letting in light. The Apse has a huge stain glass window overlooking the alter. Cissy and I wandered around for only a short time as we had been informed that the doors would be locked shortly.

As the day had turned chilly and we had left our coats in the car, we decided not to wander further back in the churchyard. We plan to attend the service on Sunday and hope to find more details on the church.

Returning to our flat, we rested before wandering over to North St for dinner. We chose the old and venerable Burger Joint where John and I dined on the lamb burger with mint and fries (yes fries, not chips, apparently if they are cut like Micky Dees, they can be referred to as fries.)

We now leave for Wales, the land of dragons and song. As the others are waiting for me, please excuse any typos above. I will correct them later (and perhaps add some more pictures.)

The Smokies from near Taig an Drama Search for William The Beatles - Paul, Ringo, George and John All Saints Church A Ledger from Ashton Estates beginning the 14th day of January, 1833.  William is the 3rd from the top, about the middle and at the bottom. The Angel Inn, Long Ashton The fireplace in the Angel Inn My plate of beef, mushroom and stilton pie All Saints Church, the church of my great great grandparents - William and Sarah Flew The gravestone of William and Sarah Flew, their daughter, Caroline, and their grandson, Caroline’s son, William James Day One of the two crypts lining the foyer of the Church One of the stained glass windows in the Nave of the church The stained glass window above the Alter The Nave looking from the Alter The tile floor in the Alter room Day 4 - Wales Watching