'Leaves of The Forest'
THE REV. SAMUEL EDWARDS
FIRST VICAR OF ‘ALL SAINTS’, VINEY HILL
EXTRACTS FROM THE FAMILY DIARY BY PERMISSION
Researched and Published by C.R. Johnson
Note : This was originally published in booklet form. n.b Spelling, grammar and punctuation are true to CRJ’s original – Ken Morse
The contents of this book are extracts from the Family Diary of the Rev.
The copy from which these extracts are taken is entitles ‘Leaves of the Forest’ and was compiled and given to the present incumbent of All Saints, Viney Hill (The Rev. Wilfred R.J. Watts) by Theodora C. Reeves – a grand-daughter of the Rev. Basil Edwards, a brother of the Rev. Samuel Edwards.
The Rev. Samuel George Edwards was a son of the Rev. Samuel Edwards, and who followed his father as vicar of Viney Hill after his father’s death.
The Diary, which relates to events which occurred from January till August 1867, I found of great interest, and the extracts I have included in this book, will, I hope, be of interest to other members of the church also, as it gives a picture of the work of the church at Viney Hill, and the conditions of life prevailing there 107 years ago.
My thanks to the vicar for loaning me the original copy. I am very grateful.
A painting of the Rev. Samuel Edwards still hangs in the church vestry, where I presume it has been from the early days of his ministry at Viney Hill. I have often looked at his benign countenance since my connection with the church, which began in the early nineteen hundreds.
C.R. Johnson. December 1974.
The Rev. Samuel Edwards was the son of Samuel George EDWARDS AND Sarah Fear – and the grandson of John Edwards and Sarah Williams of Lambeth.
John Edwards was very friendly with the older John and Charles Wesley, and is mentioned once or twice in the former’s diary. Like the Wesleys, the Edwards never left the Church of England.
Sarah, nee Williams, was the niece of Matthew Hutton, b.1693 and later Archbishop of Canterbury. She was the daughter of George Williams, Almsman of Westminster Abbey, who was buried in the Dark Cloister in 1777. Perhaps it was this background which kept them to ‘Mother Church’.
At any rate, Samuel Edwards was at first a schoolmaster but later decided to take Holy Orders. At 30 he proposed to some young lady who refused him – not very kindly I fear – implying that he was not sufficiently well off to marry, nor socially acceptable. In high dudgeon he went home – put three names in a hat and drew out one – and straight away went and proposed matrimony. Katherine Stratton accepted. She was a young girl of good looks and stubborn determination. This letter had perhaps scared off other suitors. They married in 1844 and despite trials and tribulations had a very happy life.
They were blessed with four children – Katie, who married a Seth-Smith and was mother of a large family, on of whom was David Seth-Smith, later known as the Zoo Man on the BBC; Basil, who went to Cambridge, then curate of Streatham Hill before becoming rector of Blaisdon and later Ashleworth in Gloucestershire. Margaret, who married twice but remained childless; and Samuel George, who after his father’s death in 1875 became the rector of Viney Hill.
Anyhow, the Rev. Samuel Edwards was inducted as the first rector of Viney Hill in the Forest of Dean, after having served as a curate somewhere in Bristol, where the family had lived in some-what straightened circumstances.
The ‘Leaves of the Forest’ was a family journal written each month in an exercise book, and then posted round to various cousins and aunts in Brighton, Croydon and Westminster before returning to Viney Hill for the next month’s edition to be added. The last one was written at the end of August. Young Sam, the editor, was soon going to Cambridge – Basil got his first curacy about then, and the Rev. and Mrs. Edwards became more and more occupied with theparish, as gradually a bond of trust and affection grew between them and the parishioners.
The following pages are extracts written by the family from the original ‘Leaves of the Forest’.
Theodora C. Reeves. Grand-daughter of Basil Edwards.
LEAVES OF THE FOREST
The year 1867, as was predicted by ‘Old Moore’ made its entry amid frost and snow. The skates were soon buckled on and the lovers of that delightful exercise, which can only be enjoyed at one particular season, had a pretty good time of it for about a fortnight.
The sad accident in Regent’s Park, London, which caused the immersion of 200 and death of between 50 and 60 persons, had cast a gloom over the skating time of 1867.
Some of the inhabitants of the Forest of Dean had never before seen such things as skates. Our appearance on some water in a very wild, out of the way part of the Forest very much astonished all who came by. First of all some gypsies appeared , who roared with laughter like wild Indians. Then some ‘frozen out’ colliers came and gazed at us in great amazement. They examined the skates and said they had never seen ‘any of they things afore’.
The Forest presents a peculiar appearance when the snow is on the ground. The ground being white makes the trees stand out most conspicuously.
Today, all the snow has disappeared, and the ice is fast melting, much to the old people’s joy and the skaters’ chagrin.
WALKS ABROAD – going to our new home at Viney
When we alighted at Gatcombe station, we found ourselves close to the Severn, which flows very rapidly this side. It is about one mile wide at this point, and a huge sandbank is generally visible towards the middle.
The railroad runs under a cliff of red sandstone by the river-side until it turns a curve and so out of sight. Altogether the station is situated in a remarkably pretty spot.
Nobody got out but ourselves, and the only official at the station having taken our tickets, we enquired if there was any means of having our luggage conveyed to our destination. He quietly said ‘No’, but we could leave it there and send afterwards, eyeing us after the manner of most railway porters. This we declined to do as we wanted the contents of our baggage as soon as possible. So we were e’en reduced to the extremity of shouldering it.
Our road for a little way lay through a valley, by the side of a pretty little stream, and then turned off up one of the hills under an abandoned railway arch, which, as it was old and incomplete, gave that part a romantic appearance. As we went along, we caught glimpses of the river at times, from which we gradually receded. High hedges, on which were numberless blackberries, ripe and black. Green trees and fertile fields, all sloping and hilly, scarcely any in the least approaching levelness. Blackbirds, thrushes and screeching magpies flying from trees and hedgerows kept us company.
Such were the thorough country sights and sounds, which we saw as we journeyed along. But when we came to Viney, all that we had seen before diminished into naught at the splendid view. But of that in our next.
On the 14th of this month the Rev. S. Edwards had a social tea meeting in the schoolroom at All Saints, Viney Hill. The tea passed off very well and afterwards some Scriptural Scenes were shown with a Magic Lantern, which being quite a new sort of thing to the people seemed to please them very much.
Mr Edwards then made a speech, which the people applauded at various times. The choir assisted during the evening, with some anthems which they rendered very creditably. The meeting closed at about half past eight.
In the early part of the month, when the frost and snow were on the ground, a poor boy named Jones went out with his father to look for a stray donkey, and has not been heard of since. (Added as a postscript) He came back a little while after. It turned out he had run away to his grandmother’s – not liking the place to which the family had just come – young rascal!
Dear Friends. We were obliged to discontinue the ‘Mangotsfield Record’ on our removal from that locality, and now having taken up our abode in the Forest of Dean at the commencement of the New Year we have made up our minds to write a paper, or Journal, or whatever you will, called ‘Leaves of the Forest’. You were kind enough to speak well of our former publication, and some even said they were sorry we were obliged to discontinue it.
We hope this will be liked as much, nay, much more than that was. We will do our best to make it so. Any contributions of any kind will be thankfully received. Any little pieces of poetry, scraps from Punch, riddles etc. etc. we should be very glad of, as otherwise we have to make it all up ourselves, which is no joke. The list, as usual will be found on the cover, and we hope no mistakes will occur about the posting etc. Please pay a little attention to this, it will prevent much trouble. S.G.E (Editor). Jan. 31st 1867.
The weather as yet ha s been more seasonal than agreeable – mostly wet and gloomy, or much wind has made keeping our feet really a somewhat difficult matter while out walking.
February, I am told, has been appropriately call ‘Fill-ditch’; the ditches in this part of the world have been filled to overflowing.
Nevertheless the mildness we have noticed lately in the air has been very pleasant after the cold.
We were very glad the Queen opened Parliament, though we should have been better pleased had she assumed a little more state on the occasion.
We were very pleased with a little piece we read – ‘As she (the Queen) passed along, she bowed, and the people gave a great shout. “How easy it would be to shoot her from here”, said one man. “Aye, but thank God”, said his neighbour “nobody wants to shoot her, for everyone loves her.”
WALKS ABROAD – Viney
Although I promised to describe Viney Hill in the last number I have really come to the conclusion that the subject is far beyond my descriptive powers. I will just say that we have a beautiful view of several fine hills covered with trees in some parts, and divided into fields in others; of the Severn gliding along at this part, two and a half miles broad; and the of the hills etc. on the other side.
The views altogether you must imagine.
WALK TO LYDNEY
It was a beautiful spring morning when I set out for Lydney. The road is very hilly – you are all the time going up and down, as is the case in most of the roads in this part of the world.
The trees have been cleared away very much for some distance on both sides of the road, and enclosed spaces with felled trees, bushes etc is what you generally see as you journey along. I had just got to one of these spaces where some men were busily cutting up some timber, and I was just passing a wagon when the driver of the aforesaid vehicle asked me if I would like to get up. I accepted his offer and we set off at a rattling pace, in every sense of the word. I think I never rattled about so much in my life.
My companion informed me that this used to be a very lonely road – scarcely any traffic on it: that there used to be a cross at one place where a poor man was murdered; that part of the turnpike road is quite new; that most of it is in quite a different route to what the old one was; that the old road was dreadful as far as the ruts and mud was concerned. He also showed me a cottage where an old witch used to live, who very much alarmed all who came in her way.
I noticed while he was talking that the two horses did not keep pace together very well, and that he wanted the leader to go on as he had no whip, so her threw a stone at the poor animal’s hind quarter – not very hard – but just hard enough for the horse to understand what he wanted. I could not imagine where he got the stones from – for he did not stop to pick any out of the road – until he said, as he hurled a missile at the foremost horse – “That’s my whip, I keeps a few stones in my pocket for um.”
Lydney is a small, dirty, straggling little town, with affine old church. It is very near the Severn, and the coal from the Forest is shipped here.
A few days ago the ne Market Hall at Coleford was opened, which caused a good deal of festivity in the quiet little town. The Market Hall is a nice, substantial Gothic building situated in the middle of the town, 48ft high, 77ft long and 26ft broad. The cost of rebuilding about £1000.
There was a dinner given to the aged, who, as the papers say will ‘long remember the opening of the Market Hall’. No doubt the dinner will also be thought of at times, by the poor old folk.
The workmen, who had been engaged in the building, were also entertained with a good dinner which they doubtless did justice to. After that there was a grand Luncheon, and treats were given to the children of the different schools.
Viney Hill Church, or rather All Saints, is very near completion now. The Pulpit and Font are being ornamented, and the wall around the church-yard is already begun, and the men are very busy about it, which is more than they were sometimes while erecting the church.
WALKS ABROAD – THE GIBRALTAR – March
Just opposite the back of our house is a hill called Gibraltar. Why, I know not, unless some of the natives imagine that the hill in question resembles the notable rock.
I determined one day to explore this place. I felt a desire to stand among the trees which grow on its summit like a waving crest. So I girded up my loins and set out. Alas, the very first step I took when I reached the foot of Gibraltar, sunk deep into some mire. Now a thought flashed across my mind like thoughts do – much quicker than I can record it – if I draw out my foot just as I put it in, as the mud is not watery, it will be very little worse.
But very unfortunately it never occurred to me to act out this philosophical idea, so when I drew out my foot a pound or more of mud came with it. I was rather disgusted with this commencement, but while I dolefully scraped the best part of the mud off my unfortunate foot I came to the conclusion that if I intended to explore Gibraltar I , like the Abyssinian traveler Bruce, must make my mind up to overcome all difficulties.
I found the paths by no means in the best condition. In many places there was water, enough to drown one, letting alone being smothered in mud; there were cart ruts a foot deep without the least exaggeration; then there were ferocious dogs cutting about, barking, and looking very much tempted to ‘take a bite’ but weren’t quite sure what I would do with the mighty truncheon I waved in their faces; there were some ragged unhappy looking folks on the road who kindly expressed a hope that I enjoyed good health, and also stated that they would not in the least object to my transferring a few coppers from my pocket to theirs.
At last, after much toil, I reached the summit. I leaned against an oak tree to gaze upon the beautiful view I had fondly hoped to see from there. Imagine my disgust when I discovered, for the first time, that it was a foggy day.
There have been several sad colliery accidents at the pits about here, several fatal.
Penny Readings seem to be in great favour with the Foresters. They have been held at most of the villages around, during the winter.
The folks in this parish are busy subscribing for a new Harmonium which they want to have when the church is open.
For March, the weather has been unusually severe. We have had snow for two weeks on the ground. In many places it had drifted to a great depth, and long after it was gone from the valleys it remained on the hills.
WALKS ABROAD – to Parkend – APRIL
Sir James Campbell is an important individual here, he is the proper person to apply to about Forest land etc; and moreover, pays a subscription to the Viney and Woodside schools (which by the way is more than anybody else does).
He called upon Papa, so I went when he returned the visit. After going about 3 miles we came to a number of coal-pits very near together, whose chimneys emitted vast volumes of smoke. Now and then we met ragged looking folk driving long strings of dejected donkeys, bowed down with back-breaking burdens of coal etc.
The smoke that issued from the numberless chimneys of the coal-pits, spread like a cloud over the country, and in my humble opinion, much spoiled the prospect and beauty of the place.
Farther on we came to a large Iron Foundry with its blazing fires, clattering hammers and smutty workmen. Observing numbers of large masses of leaden coloured substance lying about I enquired of a man I saw breaking them up, what they were:
“Cinder, Sir, Cinder.”
“But what is the cinder off it’s so heavy”
“Some o’t be heavy too, dunno what it be the cinder of! It do come from the Foundry.” So I left him about as wise as I was before!
At last we came to an enclosure which appeared to be the grounds around a gentleman’s dwelling, and which we judged from the direction given us, was Sir James habitation.
We proceeded along the drive until we came to where it divided into three or four different roads. Which to take was the question. I thought if we went to the right we could not go wrong. There we saw a very nice house, but we did not appear to be in the front of it. We tried another and found ourselves in the stables. The last led us into a shed full of wheelbarrows, spades etc.
At last we discovered the door and rang. Sir James was not at home so we returned.
Some very horrible things have happened lately, but as this is a faithful account we must e’en record the bad with the good.
SUICIDE AT FUTTRELL
An inquest was held at the George Inn, Futterell, on the body of James Bale, aged 16 years, who hung himself with his whip by tying it to an oak tree near the turn-pike leading to Coleford.
Deceased and another boy, Amos Baynham, were fetching sand for the Parkend furnace. Soon after they set out, deceased’s wagon came in contact with Amos’s cart, and a piece of the shaft, about a foot long broke off. This seemed to have troubled deceased very much, for he said to his companion “What do you think of that Amos? I would not have done this for £10; it will cost £5 or £6 to mend it; it is enough to make one go and hang oneself”. He then went up into the wood and was found hanging to the tree, quite dead. (As usual , drink was the cause. Deceased had imbibed about 3 quarts of beer and cider.)
MUTILATING A CORPSE
On the first instant, a young man named Price, a turner, son of Mr Price for many years a Scripture Reader in this district, was brought up under a warrant, charging him with having, on the 19th of March, mangled and disfigured the dead body of Eliza Hughes aged about nine years. (We refrain from giving particulars).
A poor man named Noah Hardwick has been drowned in a well at Lane End.
The people in this part of the world have a custom of going on Palm Sunday to ornament the graves of their relations. Daffodils, which grow wild in the fields, seem to be the favourite flowers – probably because most common. Wreaths of artificial flowers are sold just before the time, some of which cost as much as 2/9 each.
Last Sunday was most unfavourable for the poor folks. The rain fell and the wind blew most violently all the morning – sad to say.
CONSECRATION OF ‘ALL SAINTS
How anxiously we looked to see if the morning was fine on the 25th! And how disappointed we were to find it very dark and gloomy!
However, there was one thing – it did not rain – and that was the principal matter after all. This was to be a grand day fro the Viney Hill and people of surrounding parts, fro the church which they had seen so slowly rise, bit by bit, was now in very truth, to be consecrated for public worship.
Long before the time appointed for the Commencement of the service, the people began to congregate in groups near the church in the Churchyard.
The invited friends and more favoured ones were allowed to seat themselves comfortably, while the crowd (turba – from the Latin - ksm)
were obliged to remain outside until the Bishop made his appearance.
We will try and describe the church as well as we can. (We should have liked to have drawn a picture of the church, but cannot quite manage that). It is built of stone from the Forest Quarries in the Early English style; with a long pointed roof surmounted by a handsome little bell gable on which is a stone cross. The east end of it is in a bow shape, with narrow windows. It is situated in a very pretty spot close too the Forest, and on slightly rising ground.
The Bishop, attended by the Chancellor (C.J. Monk Esq. M.P) The Registrar, the Incumbent (Revd. S. Edwards) and a number of clergymen entered the church; the Bishop and clergy alternately repeating the verses of Psalm XX1V. The deed of conveyance was then read and presented to his Lordship, after which the formal registration took place.
The usual morning service then commenced by the choir singing a Sanctus. (Note by great-grand-daughter. There is then a very long account of the service and the sermon preached by the Bishop).
At the conclusion of the service the Lord Bishop accompanied by the clergy and greater part of the congregation, proceeded to consecrate the churchyard, and returning again to the entrance steps another hymn was sung, when his Lordship briefly addressed those assembled, and soon after the company, which was very large, began to separate. A Sumptuous Luncheon was provided in the Old Schoolroom, and amongst those present were the Bishop of Newfoundland, also Rev. W.H.Bathurst, Sir James Campbell, Bart; Capt and Mrs. Allaway, Colonel Noel, Archdeacon Phillpot, C.Bathurst Esq. and Lady, Rev. W.A.Bathurst, Mrs. and Misses Bawshay; Rev E.N Thwaites, Rev. Smithers, E.O.Jones Esq; Rev. C. Dighton, H. Greenham Esq. and Miss Greenham, Mrs. and the Misses James, Rev. and Mrs. Ebsworth, Rev. H.L. Parry, M.A (Clearwell), Rev. J.Davies, Rec. C. Brooksbank, Rev. Barker, Rev. Machen. Fenton etc. Quoque (also) Mrs. Edwards. Miss Edwards, Basil and Samuel George Edwards, Mr Brodie. Mr and Mrs. Peache, with J.C. and Edward Peache and Mrs. Grace.
(Note by great grand-daughter of Rev. Edwards – “I find it interesting that young Samuel George did not mention the Bishop of Gloucester, nor the incumbent, i.e the Rev. Edwards, being at the luncheon, although they must have been there. Also one wonders how many of those who attended the luncheon have left descendants who still live in the parish or neighbourhood”).
A follow up luncheon was given to all those who did not attend the fires. In fact the parish really had a festive time.
MAY – WALKS ABROAD – Cinderford.
It is well known that when we look for any lost property very diligently, we frequently don’t find it till sometime after when looking for something else. We come upon it suddenly, and wonder why we did not find it before.
I had heard of Cinderford and wished to find it out, but was told I should never be able to do so in the daytime, I might at night because of the light reflected in the sky.
One day, my brother (the bard whose productions enrich our pages) and I set out on an expedition. The journey differed from most of the same kind, by not having its end fixed upon beforehand. Whither our steps would lead us we had not the slightest idea. Nevertheless we set out happily enough, determined to go somewhere.
There is near us what is called the ‘Old Roman Road’, doubtless one of the strata (from which we have our word street) which the illustrious Julius Caesar made all over England. The inhabitants say that one time the whole road was paved, as in London and all great towns, and there certainly are traces of stone paving here and there in good preservation.
Along this ancient road we proceeded and the beautiful trees on either side, the soft green grass and moss beneath our feet; and the cool air, for it was yet early spring, evidently raised our spirits, for we found ourselves attempting faint jokes, and speculating on the probability of Caesar or (H)Adrian having stepped on this stone, or having placed their heel or toe on that!. We pictured to ourselves, or attempted to, the Roman soldiers in their splendid armour and glittering arms marching proudly along this veritable road, while the half-naked frightened natives occasionally let fly a harmless arrow, with the vague hope that it may intimidate the Roman Warriors.
After walking thus some distance, we came to what appeared to be the end of the Roman Road – a prettily situated village, with a stream of water and a railroad running through it. At the opposite side a tree-covered hill of considerable height rose. Here we stayed awhile to watch the stream as it rushed under the rustic arch on which we stood, and to consult as to whether we should proceed or otherwise.
We determined after some deliberation to extend our walk and see what was on the other side of the hill in front of us. When we arrived at the top we found a very ancient looking tumble down wall. We felt some emotion as we considered that this might be the remains of an old fortification to impede the progress of the soldiers along the Roman Road. (We afterwards learned that it was only an old boundary wall. Our Romantic visions evaporated).
We left this and went through a grove of young silver beeches from which, when we emerged, we found ourselves on the brow of a hill. Before us was an extensive plain, bounded on the horizon by some hills, the whole thickly wooded. On the right there was a respectable kind of half village, half town in which were some very decent mansions. (The people here think them mansions). We marveled at this and wondered to what part of the world we had come. So we determined to ask a strange looking man who seemed to be stopping in front on purpose for us to catch him up. But, mirage like, as soon as we approached he walked off at a furious rate.
However, happily, a portly Dame hove in sight, so we plied her with questions. She said this was no other place than Cinderford, “and that there”, pointing to a smokey, coaly place “be Ruspidge”. We thanked her for her information, and after looking about us, returned.
NOTE. I have omitted most of the Vicar’s comments on national affairs, but here follow few extracts which I think will be of special interest to the readers of this book. C.R.J
Commenting on the Reform Bill in the House of Commons the vicar says we shall not be sorry when it gets off. The Bill, patched up, mended, hammered, kicked, cuffed and snubbed, yet seems likely to pass into law, notwithstanding the anathemas of Bright & Co.
For ourselves we see no objection to manhood suffrage, providing all roughs and malefactors be excluded – that is all persons who have been convicted of crime – and why should not women vote? Don’t you think your mother would vote for the right man in the right place?
The subject of vestments is also engrossing – Shall the parson wear man millinery, ribbons etc. or shall he keep to the simple vestments of the last 300 years? In this respect we are Conservative, and are quite with the surplice. We wish success to Lord Shaftesbury’s bill – although we are half ashamed of our Bishops, that they require a layman to set them in order. Let the Bill pass by all means.
Through something being omitted in the deed of Conveyance, the new church is not licensed for marriages, and there are two anxious couples waiting, who have had their banns published and cannot be united until the license is obtained. There is also a little difficulty with the churchyard, but both will soon be overcome.
JUNE – I WUD KNOT DIE
I wud knot die in winter when whiskey punches flo –
Whe pooty gals are skating our filds of ice and sno –
When sausage meet is phrying and hickey knuts are thik;
Ow, who kud think of dighing or even getting sick.
I wud knot die in spring-time and miss the May’s monn beam
And pooty songs of little frogs; the skylark’s early scream –
When birds begin their wabbling, and taters ‘gin to sprout
When turkeys go a gobberling, I wud Knot then peg out.
I wud knot die in summer and leave the garden saas
The roasted lam and buttermilk; the kool place in the grass –
I wud knot die in summer when everything is hot
And leave the jewy blackberries; Ow now, I’d rather knot.
I would knot die in ortum with peaches fit for eating;
When wavy korn is gettinn wripe and Candidates are treating.
For these and other wreasons I’d knot die in the phall
And sinse I’ve thort ut over, I wud knot die a tall.
- - - -
Not by the Poet Laureate. This was probably written by Basil.
The view from the top of Viney Hill is so extensive that we can frequently see it raining fast to the left, and the sun shining brightly on the right-hand side. We sometimes see the fogs roll along the course of the river in huge masses.
A very important event in connection with the various mining and other interests of the Forest of Dean was brought about on Friday, May 31st, by the opening of the Forest of Dean Central Railway. The line has been in course of construction upwards of ten years, during which time the ‘shafts of Fate’ have been much against it.
It was in the hands of the Sheriff for several years, and at last only rescued by the timely assistance of Great Western Railway company, who, about a year ago, made arrangements for its redemption and completion.
Moseley Green, at which there are several partly developed collieries will by the opening of this line be greatly benefited, and a move has lately been made for the re-working of the Wellington, Old Brunswick and other collieries. These gales*, with the standing plant, together with other interests, were largely purchased, and a company is being improvised in the North of England, and the greater portion of the capital required is obtained. (*’Gales’ are granted to Free Miners at their request and define the mineral and areas that can be worked-KSM.). In the course of a few weeks it is believed that this Company will commence operations, and that this will give a great impetus to the district trade.
Although the present prospects of the ‘Forest of Dean Central’ are not of a very cheering character, it must ere long become the line of the Forest. As Cinderford is now shut out from any railway communication – that is for traffic, and more especially as the Bull’s Pill branch cannot, owing to its heavy gradient, be connected into a passenger line – there is every hope that ere long the Central will be made available for passengers as well as for mineral conveyance. Looking at the rapidly increasing populations of Cinderford and its neighbourhood this is more demonstrative.
To effect this purpose, the company would only have to extend this line down two miles through one of the Forest woods to reach this place. At the present time the freightage on the Bull’s branch is really very great, so much so that, were other collieries opened, their productions could hardly be conveyed down the existing railway. At the far end of Bilson Green the Great Western Coal company have been for the past two years sinking for the Forest of Dean to thick seams of coal at its basin, at which point it has not been touched.
Good Railway Communication with the Forest of Dean has long been the great hindrance to the full and proper development of it.
The F.D.C.R commences at Awre crossing, and the company have powers to make their railway to Fox’s Bridge, near the Speech House. It is however nearly completed to the end of the line. Its length is about eight miles and there are a number of bridges on the line. Its route is through the valley of Blakeney and Old Furnace Bottom, following through the Forest in close proximity, and in places crossing the Coleford road to Moseley Green, from whence its course is through another Forest wood until it reaches Fox’s Bridge.
‘On Friday, soon after noon, the inhabitants of the picturesque valley of Blakeney were greatly delighted by hearing the first shrill whistle of the railway engine on this line, and some there were who, to use a homely phrase, could hardly believe their own ears, or trust the correctness of their visionary powers; but such truly it was, and the persons alluded to, both saw and heard.
The bridges which are fine specimens of engineering and masonry skill were all found to be very solid’. The Forester.
Having been rather more occupied this month than usual, we have been unable to write an account of our peregrinations.
The Medical Inspector, P.H. Holland Esq. has seen the All Saints Church and churchyard, and has expressed his entire satisfaction concerning both. He has also sent the requisite formal permission to bury in the churchyard, so that everything is now quite settled and in proper order.
The attendance- in the evening especially, could not be much better.
On the Tuesday after Whitsun week, one of the Clubs went to church where the Revd. S. Edwards preached them a sermon from – ‘If any provide not for his own and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.’ 1. Tim. V.8.
The anniversary of the Red Handkerchief Club was celebrated on Tuesday. The members dined at Mr. Thos. Willets’.
The annual Flower Show was held, as usual, in Lydney Park on Friday, July 27th.
The show of fruit and flowers was very good, and a great number of people attended. As many as 80 prizes were given away to the successful exhibitors by the Rev. H. Bathurst, in whose park the show was held.
The election of a member for West Gloucestershire has terminated in favour of Col. Somerset by a majority of 92 votes. Col. Berkeley was the defeated candidate. There was a good deal of excitement amongst the Foresters, who were not allowed to wear colours at the hustings.
OUR POLITICAL IDEAS
The long Session has at length closed – Members have sung their ‘Jubilate’, packed up their traps and are off to the grouse shooting, and their country houses. Let us hope that when they return to St. Stephen’s they will return wiser and better men.
The Reform Bill has passed and now we hope that we shall hear no more about it, and that Beales M.A. & Co. will keep quiet for a little while, and give us breathing time. Indeed, we shall be rather pleased if we could write ‘defunct’ or ‘obit’, ‘vice resurgam’ upon the agitation. However, we are Liberal – Conservative and wish justice to be done to all parties.
Our beloved church continues to be harassed by her unruly sons and daughters – she is like the olds woman ‘who had so many children she couldn’t sit still’. The Ritualistic Commission show alarming symptoms of dissolution. We hear she is in ‘extremis’ and has lately, like a dying swan been singing, ‘Weep not for me’. We will not.
SCHOOL TREAT – On the 8th of this month the children of both schools (Woodside and Viney Hill) assembled in Viney Hill schoolroom about half past four in the afternoon where they had a good tea which they did ample justice to. The room was prettily decorated with flowers and evergreen and the flags belonging to the schools were placed about the room in conspicuous places.
After the tea, the children marched in procession to a field near the church where they played at various games, and received prizes for running etc. with which they were much delighted. The children of ‘older growth’ and some of the teachers formed a ring and enjoyed themselves in that manner. About half past eight the field was cleared and all returned home apparently much pleased. There were 300 children present. Many thanks are due to Mr. and Mrs. Piff for the valuable aid they afforded.
Yesterday (the 25th) the bells of the church were safely put in their place in the gable and astonishing sounds issued there-from during the evening. They are two good sized bells – one weighing 5cwt and the other 3cwt. They were heard very plainly at Blakeney and all around the place.
The villagers are much rejoiced to hear ‘the sound of the church-going bell’.
Archive retrieval by Richard Chidlaw, recreated for the rest of us by Ken Morse, January 2010