Museum of Rural Life: Sept. 2020

The Historic Vehicle Day was a successful happy occasion! The weather was very warm and sunny and “Smoke and Mirrors” performed on the lawn accompanied by nostalgic period music whilst visitors enjoyed tea and cakes, in front of the Manor House. An idyllic late summer’s day!

Eleven assorted Austins and their owners from the Pre War Austin Seven Club visited and some other  Classic Cars came along too.

 James Howe and Claire brought Ruby the three year old Shire Horse. They had been up early plaiting her mane and polishing the bells and brasses that were part of the gleaming harness. Ruby towed a 1925 hay turner from Tothby Manor and back! This was the first time she had been harnessed to this machine, but she took it all in her stride with no fuss!

The Museum of Rural Life demonstrated the Massey Harris combine, and ran it up several times. Both the Cook’s Elevator and the Maldon Elevator were running most of the time, as well as several of our Stationary Engines, and there was a steady stream of visitors in the “Barn”

Two days earlier the second container arrived from Hansard’s Haulage, and the driver skillfully re positioned the original container before unloading the “new” one. Grant supervised with a tape measure!

A few days later, a working party of volunteers assembled the cover that fits between the two containers in less than four hours! It fitted perfectly! Gordon’s site work and Grant’s measuring were spot on!

We spent a busy Friday morning using the Fordson to move both of our elevators and the McCormick binder under the new shelter. It is great to have all them properly protected from the elements, and another benefit is that restoration work can be easily undertaken in dry conditions without the need to remove sheets.

A Ransomes Sims and Jefferies lawn mower was rescued from a damp shed, and donated to the Museum very recently. Tony discovered that it had a “spark” from the magneto, so lots of activity took place cleaning thick tarry deposits from the fuel system, and freeing off the seized up clutch mechanism. Grant made some new wooden front rollers as the originals had literally turned to dust! The machine was then duly reassembled and after a couple of swings of the starting handle, the engine purred into life! Tony couldn’t resist a trial run on the grass even though it was raining!

We have discovered via the internet, that this mower is a Minor Mk 6, 12” cut model and dates from about 1951, has a brass flywheel and, unusually, is started with a handle. It is actually in very good condition and still has most of the original green paint and decals in place.

 After this success, Tony may look at some of the other motor mowers in the Barn, which we have never had running, with some enthusiasm – watch this space!

Another arrival this month is a market barrow which once stood outside Stevenson’s green grocers shop in Louth. We were advised that it needed a little tlc…………………!

Austin agreed to renovate it, and dismantled it to rebuild at home. The pictures show that underneath the green and yellow paint, there are problems! When completed, it will be used in conjunction with our existing market barrow for selling our produce.

As always many thanks to Clive Sutton for his fabulous photos.

Ashley 30/09/2020

Testing Elizabeth Fry

In June 1828 a young woman wandered through Alford leading a horse, she was looking for someone to help her. Eventually she engaged a man called Greenfield, he was to sell the mare at market. Frances Stephenson stood just 5’2″ high, with dark hair and grey eyes and may well have looked older than her 20 years. Life had already been hard and things were about to get worse, something had aroused suspicion and Frances was detained for horse stealing, a capital offence, she must have been desperate to risk a second conviction in Alford that day. Frances was committed to the Georgian Gaol at Lincoln Castle on 13th June 1828 to await trial at the Summer Assizes, she would spend close to 12 months there.

Frances Stephenson was no stranger to hardship, one of five children born to Dinah (Grime) and Soloman Stephenson of Huttoft her mother had died in July 1810 leaving four young children to be cared for. Frances and her sister, also called Dinah, were the youngest; both of them were under three years old. Soloman had to seek Parish Relief to pay for his wife’s burial and some time later he applied to the Parish for money once more, to buy shoes for Frances. 1 Soloman married again the following year, Ann Tinker is recorded as having children prior to the marriage and twins were added to the family in 1815. Soloman died in 1824.

Newspaper reports reveal that Frances and her sister had turned to stealing clothes in their late teens. In December 1826 Frances Stephenson (alias Grime) was sentenced to 3 weeks in the new House of Correction at Spilsby for stealing a pair of shoes from George Holmes of Hundleby. While confined Frances gave birth to her son, John, he was baptised by the prison chaplain on 16th January. A few months later, in July, Dinah was sentenced to 6 months hard labour at Spilsby for stealing two petticoats, a lace collar and various other items of clothing from Mary Booth of Ingoldmells.

The Spilsby House of Correction, along with the newly extended Louth House of Correction, were a product of the prison reform movement of John Howard in the late 1700s, built upon by Elizabeth Fry and the Quakers in the 1820s. Mrs Fry and her brother Joseph Gurney had travelled British towns extensively reporting on the state of prisons in the towns which were not covered by the first reform bill in 1823. The new rules sought cleaner surroundings and better ventilation, clothing was provided along with rules on bathing and matrons were employed to oversee female prisoners. In new builds such as Spilsby there was the provision of an infirmary. In some circumstances the situation in the House of Correction was an improvement on the harsh realities of daily life. The new regimes were also based on ensuring more punitive measures and industry for the prisoners, for women this would mean sewing, laundry and oakham picking.

Gateway to Lincoln Castle : engraving 1836

It was just 18 months after her time in Spilsby House of Correction that Frances found herself inside the walls of Lincoln Castle, and expecting another child. The Georgian Gaol was built in 1788 and comprised separate areas for felons and debtors. Each felon was allowed a rug, three blankets and straw for bedding. The night cells were 10′ by 8’6″ and 11′ high. Each accomodated two prisoners on the wooden bedsteads fastened to the floor. There were four day rooms with fireplaces in them each with a communicating courtyard of approx. 10yds by 15 yds enclosed by a 24′ wall. These rooms were for different classifications of prisoners.

Initially Frances shared with Ann Smith2, who had been convicted at the Grimsby Sessions and sentenced to seven years transportation. Ann (Boyes) was born in Beesby, she married Thomas Smith of Hundleby in 1813, he was a respected gamekeeper by 1828. Her conviction caused a stir, a former professor of Religion, with good connections, she had swiftly fallen from grace when she stole various articles of linen from the shop of her friend Mr Dales. The Stamford Mercury reported :

No person has been transported from Grimsby Borough Sessions for upwards of a century; which circumstance, together with the peculiar nature of the theft, and the reputable sphere of life in which the prisoner moved, excited mingled feelings of indignation and compassion … she has fallen a victim to disgrace. 9th May 1828

It is interesting to wonder how the two women, from such different walks of life, got on together during the their few weeks in that small cell. They may have been able to hear the construction of the new tread-mill. It was close to completion by the end of June when the Stamford Mercury reported that it had “attracted various visitors who have been essaying the effects of the punishment , and it is described as being a sickener for the idle who may stand in need of such an instrument to rouse them to useful exertion.” The treadmill had been adopted as a means of creating hard labour at prisons across the Country since 1817.

Ann Smith received a full Pardon on Sunday 6th July, rather than transportation she returned to her two children, leaving Frances at the Castle to face her fate.

On 26th July Frances stood before the Grand Jury at the Crown Court held in the Gothic Court House built within the castle walls for the assizes in 1826. The Stamford Mercury reported on her trial.

Stealing a Mare at Raithby.

Frances Stephenson, aged 21, a single woman, was charged with stealing a bay mare the property of Edward Lindsey, at Raithby, on the 10th of June. The novelty of this case excited considerable attention, which was not at all diminished by the appearance of the prisoner, who was neatly dressed, and rather of an interesting appearance, but the strange situation which she was placed seemed to excite no terrors in her; she gazed around with a considerable portion of effrontery, although the eyes of every person in tbe court were fixed with earnest curiosity upon her.

The evidence for the prosecution, which was of considerable length, but not requiring a detailed notice, went plainly to prove that, shortly after the robbery, the female had the mare in her possession, and employed a person to dispose of it, under the pretence that her master, the prosecutor, was distressed in his circumstances, and that he had commissioned her to dispose of mare.

The Counsel for the prisoner insinuated that the mare had been given to her by Mr. Lindsey for certain familiar favours which had been allowed by her. Tbe prosecutor, in reply to a severe cross-examination upon this point, steadfastly denied that any thing of the kind had occurred. In her defence, the prisoner admitted taking the mare from the prosecutor’s stable, but asserted that it was with his license, as he resorted to this mode of requiting her for the favours already alluded to, and in consequence of which she declared that she was at that time far advanced in pregnancy.

Verdict: Guilty: Sentence of death recorded. Stamford Mercury: 1st Aug.1828

Following her conviction Frances was returned to a shared cell at the Castle Gaol to await the birth of her child before her sentence was carried out. Shortly after her conviction the treadmills at Lincoln Castle Gaol were set in motion.

The tread-wheels at Lincoln gaol commenced their revolutions last week: four culprits are at present occupied upon them, one of whom is always in reserve as a relief. There are two wheels each of about 12 feet in length. The total number of persons who may be kept in occupation by them is about 18, allowing for the necessary reliefs; but one on each wheel is sufficient to keep it employed, and the machinery is so constructed (by a self adjusting principle) that whether there be one or six on the wheel , it revolves at the same rate. The workmanship of the machinery, ( by Mr Isaac Aydon, of Wakefield ) is considered to be of superior quality: it does not turn any mill , nor is intended to answer any productive object, beyond what may proceed from amending the manners of the prisoners.    Stamford Mercury – Friday 29 August 1828

Male prisoners standing in a frame treading on the boards of a treadmill: in the foreground others sit looking glum. Wood engraving by W.B. Gardner, 1874, after M. Fitzgerald. Credit: Wellcome CollectionAttribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Records on 2nd October reveal that Alice Cater2 of Freiston was her cellmate. Alice was 39 years old, a mother of two, she had been convicted of stealing at the Boston Sessions in July and had been sentenced to 7 years transportation. Later in October she was removed from the Castle to the notorious Millbank Penitentiary in London to await her fate. In 1832 prison petition records list Alice Cater among those who were granted a free pardon, her location is simply stated as “penitentiary” suggesting she may have spent over three years at Millbank, Alice may have avoided transportation but those three years would have been spent in dreadful conditions.

On 17th November 1828 Frances Stephenson gave birth to a daughter, Dinah, her second child born in prison. The whereabouts of her son John is unknown and criminal registers after 1828 refer to her as a mother of just one child. Prior to the birth of her son Frances had named a farm servant from Binbrook, Joseph Wildman, as the father of her unborn child. The assizes had made Joseph responsible for the upkeep of the child for its first 8 years. Lincoln Prison Surgeons2 recorded the birth of her daughter and scant notes on the health of Dinah and her Mother continue into February when the little girl was vaccinated. On March the 14th 1829 Frances recieved “her Majesty’s most gracious pardon on condition of being transported beyond the seas for the term of her natural life.”

Two months later, on 14th May, Frances and her young daughter were removed from Lincoln Castle and transported to Woolwich to board the convict ship ” the Lady of the Lake”. The method of transfer for Frances and baby Dinah is uncertain, the reports of the quakers reveal many methods of transfer for those to be transported. Some transfers from Lincoln Castle were undertaken by way of the Steam Packet from Hull but this method of transfer was not successful and somewhat short lived.

Five convicts who were recently removed from Lincoln Gaol to be put on board the Retribution at Sheerness, for transportation, became so outrageous on their journey and passage that the severest methods were obliged to be had recourse to, but without effect. They expressed their determination to swamp the boat, and to drown themselves and the crew; and made several attempts to do so. On being put on board the packet they commenced a desperate struggle with the officers, whom they challenged to shoot them, being determined if possible to escape or be killed. They were eventually subdued, after receiving some severe contusions from the officers’ staves. Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 04 June 1829

Many men were transferred from Lincoln Castle to await transportation on the prison hulks. A small rowing boat is taking people to a prison ship at Deptford 1826.
Engraving by George Cooke after Samuel Prout.. Credit: Wellcome CollectionAttribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

At Woolwich Frances would have truly entered the realm of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. Frances was exactly the kind of person that Mrs Fry was so determined to help. Sustained by her faith as a Quaker she worked tirelessly to improve conditions based on her belief that no one was beyond redemption. She first visited Newgate prison in 1813, the horrors she had already seen tending to the poor and destitute in London and then in Plashet (East Ham) became displaced in the face of the suffering she found in the prisons. In 1817 she began her task in earnest, winning the women over with her care of their children.

Elizabeth Fry. Reproduction of lithograph.
Credit: Wellcome Collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The situation Frances found herself in is revealed in the correspondence of Elizabeth Fry. The convict ships at Woolwich had already fallen under the watchful gaze of the Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners created by Mrs Fry in 1817. Building on her successes at Newgate Mrs Fry applied her methods of classification (by character), employment and instruction. The “comparatively uncontaminated” should not mix with the “most abandoned“. From 1818 the ships were a key focus of Mrs Fry’s attention, her companion Mrs Pryor was particularly devoted to this cause, visiting all but one of the female convict ships that sailed until her final illness in 1841. Every aspect of the convict’s situation was examined and the Ladies then worked tirelessly to improve their circumstances and their outlook.

Their reports to Government began with the condition of the prisoners on arrival at Woolwich. In the 1820s the groups of prisoners arrived at the vessels from around the Country. Some marched, others arrived on carts or the exterior of coaches, while more arrived on small coasters. Some were handcuffed , chained together and heavily ironed this made the breaks in the journey even harder to manage. In one reported incident the women had to descend the exterior of the stage coach as a group and manage the children they carried, despite being handcuffed and chained together, without any assistance from the attending turnkey. They had travelled to Woolwich from Lancaster Castle in this way. Many arrived in a dishevelled state with equally destitute children, or were distraught at having been separated from a young child.

Liaisons aboard the convict ships between the women and crew were notorious, tales abound of “delayed ships”, one in particular where children were conceived and born before arrival. Penny dreadful stories and images such as the one below leave little to the imagination. Similarly the situation for the female convicts upon arrival was not conducive to following the righteous path advocated by Mrs Fry.

Print by William Elmes 1813 ,after a similar one by Thomas Rowlandson 1809
© The Trustees of the British Museum Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license

During the voyage the women were in originally in the care of the Master and crew with the exception of the Naval Surgeon Superintendent. There was no instruction in reading or religion and no provision to enable them to keep clean or ensure proper clothing. Mrs Fry worked closely with Admiral Young of Deptford and Admiral Byam Martin Comptroller of the Navy. These gentlemen respected her motives as just and humane and admired her relentless pursuit of the cause. On one occasion Mrs Fry and Mrs Pryor had to be rescued from a small rowing boat when returning from one visit to a hulk on the Thames. Admiral Young’s department was responsible for fitting out the convict ships, he had suggested the provision of patchwork for the employment of the women during the voyage. The instruction in sewing and provision of materials for patchwork among other skills followed.

In a letter written in 1820 to Admiral Martin Mrs Fry thanks him for the increased provision of soap and towels for the female convicts during their voyage. When one request is met with disdain by a Navy Surgeon Mrs Fry writes

I believe I may say for all the ladies of our Association , that we do not desire indulgences or increased comforts for convicts, except so far as good and orderly conduct may conduce it. Some of our prisons we think decidedly too comfortable ; and our great wish is, that by employment and instruction, with habits of cleanliness and order , the time of their imprisonment may be a time of reformation, not of indulgence. … I believe kindness does more in turning them from the error of their ways than harsh treatment; and that many a poor creature claims a compassion and tenderness that is little known, but to those who visit prisons; as there are many of whom it may be said that, they were driven into guilt , and only want the way to be made open , to return with joy into the paths of virtue. Surely for their welfare … and hope that even the worst may be preserved from futher evil as well as for the sake of the colony , the women’s morals should be protected on the voyage; it is worth the effort to make the convict ship a place for industry, instruction and reform. extract from : Memoir of the Life of Elizabeth Fry 1847

Frances joined the convict ship The Lady of the Lake in May 1829. The ship’s surgeon was William Evans RN Supritendant, his journal provides an insight into the voyage undertaken.

… From 18-31 May 1829, we received 10 free women and 19 children; 81 female prisoners and 17 children, the largest ever sent to New South Wales in so small a vessel; and I may here observe that she was the smallest ship ever taken up to convey convicts. We were visited repeatedly by Mrs Pryor and Miss Lydia Irving, the quakers, while at Woolwich, who appeared to be indefatigable in endeavouring to impress upon the prisoners the necessity of abandoning their evil ways and becoming useful members of society. After several excellent admonitory discourses they distributed to them testaments , religious tracts, and several articles of comfort for their use during the voyage.

Appointed Mary Ann Newsome, Schoolmistress over the children in the prison, and Mrs Shacklock, a free woman, Schoolmistress over the children in steerage. The two to have a sovereign each at the end of the voyage, if they perfomed their duty, Mrs Pryor having deposited that sum with me for such purpose.

A cook, and a cook’s mate , were selected from among the convicts:- these have for their trouble, the drippings and fat, which are sold in New South Wales, to the soap boilers, for ten to twelve pounds.

Mary Stewart Mason and Mary Ann Guy were appointed overseers, one on each side of the deck in the prison, to see it cleaned every morning , and swept after every meal; they were also to see that the cisterns of the water closets were filled at least twice a day, and to select delegates from the messes in succession to superinted the issuing of provisions, in order to prevent the possibility of complaints arising on that head at the conclusion of the voyage.

The cooks were let on deck at six in the morning , the deegates at seven, and the prisoners doors opened for the whole to come on deck at eight o’clock.

They were mustered below at sunset every evening, during the voyage, and locked up for the night.

Divine service performed every Sunday, on the quarter deck in fine weather , and in the Prison-room when the weather was boisterous.

On Sundays and Thursdays at 10am, they were mustered to see that they were clean in their persons; and Wednesdays and Saturdays were set apart for washing days.

On 12th June , received despatches for his Excellency Governor Arthur, and sailing orders to proceed with all dispatch to Hobart Town Van Diemen’s Land.

… [On Monday 15th June] put all hands upon an allowance of six pints of water. From this period to the second July we experienced a series of Westerly and South Westerly strong breezes, accompanied with much rain, which rendered the vessel exceedingly damp, and during thisperiod the convicts suffered greatly from Sea sickness. Thermometer ranging between 560 and 580. Fires were had recourse to between decks , and the floors of the hospital and prison were sprinkled frequently with the solution of the Chloride of Lime. … put on , as in , whitewashing with a brush to the sides, deck and berths, [to] render a crowded prison perfectly sweet in a few minutes, especially with the aid of good fires in the swing and airing stoves.

On 8th July we reached Tenerife to replenish our water and procure fresh provisions for the convicts. On Saturday 11th July we got underway … fresh trade winds … rendered our passage from Teneriffe to the equator exceedingly tedious … the weather … was often sultry and oppressive.

The general health on board suffered a great deal about this period. From the Meridian to the Cape of Good Hope we experienced a succession of very heavy gales … accompanied by much rain, hail and sleet until we reached Van Diemen’s Land.

On the 16th October , it blew a complete hurricane, when the ship was obliged to be hove too the wind, and under bare poles. – During this part of the passage , the sea constantly washed over the ship, and the hatches were frequenlty obliged to be put on;- not withstanding , the Prison and Hospital, as well as the bedding and the clothing of the Prisoners were saturated with salt water, and we had no means of having them dried, – the water being ankle deep between the decks. The consequence was that a great number of Catarrhal cases, Pneumonia, Acute Rheumatism, and Scorbutic Dysentery [ Scurvy] came under my observation at this time; indeed towards the latter end of the voyage Scorbutic cases became very prevalent, and had the passage been prolonged we should have lost more.

[On 1st November ] … we came to an anchor in Sullivan’s Cove, Hobart Town. On the 4th November , the prisoners were inspected by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, who was pleased to say that he was perfectly satisfied with their appearance, and with their management during the voyage, and on the 6th November they were all landed and assigned to the service of settlers with the exception of three.

I may here be permitted to observe , that a ship of the small tonnage of ‘The Lady of the Lake’ is by no means adapted to carry out female prisoners; from being constantly wet between the decks and the hatches being obliged to be put on, there by causing great deterioration of the atmosphere in the prison.

Surgeon’s Journal of His Majesty’s Female Convict Ship ” the Lady of the Lake 1829

During the voyage 2 female convicts had died, one fell overboard, and three infants died. Frances and Dinah had survived this terrible ordeal, they now faced their life in Hobart, much of which had also seen the guiding hand of Elizabeth Fry during the planning but on the other side of the World the diligent attention of the Quaker reformers was lacking when it came to reporting and influencing the reality.

Elizabeth Fry had first become aware of the hopeless situation, which met female convicts in New South Wales, through her visits to Newgate. The Reverend Samuel Marsden subsequently appealed to her for help from his home in Parramatta in February 1819. He cited the plight of these women whom he saw frequently in his roles both as a missionary and as a magistrate, underlining that they had no righteous paths open to them upon their arrival, with no shelter, no work and children to feed they quickly fell into disreputable ways.

“I meet with those wretched exiles who have shared your attentions and who mention your maternal care with gratitude and affection. From the measures you have adopted, and the lively interest you have excited in the public feeling , on behalf of the of these miserable victims of vice and woe, I now hope the period is not very distant when their miseries will in some degree be alleviated. … For the last five and twenty years many of the convict women have been driven to vice, to obtain a loaf of bread or a bed to lie upon. To this day there has never been a place to put the female convicts in when they land from the ships. … All female convicts have not run the same lengths in vice, all are not equally hardened in crime . And it is most dreadful that all should alike, on their arrival here be liable and exposed to the same dangerous temptations without remedy.” Rev. Samuel Marsden: Memoirs Elizabeth Fry

Throughout the 1820s Mrs Fry championed the cause of these women. In 1823, following the opening of a building for female convicts in Paramatta 2 years previously, she wrote to her friend the Right Honourable R Wilmot Horton on the need for a similar building in Hobart:

I take the liberty of stating in writing our views relative to the female convicts in Van Diemen’s Land; in order that they may be submitted to the consideration of Lord Bathurst as we cannot but feel anxious that the care we extend to this degraded class of the community, not only in different prisons but also on the voyage , should be rendered permanently beneficial through the co-operation of government in the colonies. In the first place we deem it expedient that a building be erected at Hobart Town for the reception of female convicts. … That a respectable Matron be there stationed to superintend the whole estabishment. Part of the building be appropriated to the use of an adult and girl’s school and that the school mitresses be selected by the Matron from among the reformed prisoners, provided they be sufficiently qualified. That immediately upon arrival of the ship , after it has been visited either by the Governor or by some other person appointed by him, for the purpose of inspecting its general condition; the convicts be quietly (and as privately as possible) conducted from the ship to the said building, where the deportment of every prisoner shall be scrutinised with exactness. If the Secretary of State for the Home Department were to direct, that the surgeon superintendent should be furnished by the magistrates with a written account of the general conduct and character of every individual seen previously to their commitment, together with the nature and extent of their offence; we think it would greatly aid the Governor in his decision with regard to the proper disposal of the prisoners on the colony. That those who merit a favourable report be selected and allowed to be taken into service , by respectable inhabitants under such retraints and regulations as may be considered needful. The other to remain confined receiving at the same time suitable instruction and employment until they evince sufficient amendment in habits and dispostions to warrant the grant of a similar indulgence. We would also propose that a sufficient supply of strong and decent clothing ( not parto coloured) be provided for them during the voyage; to be put on when they enter the ship in exchange for their own. [All kept under inventory to be returned on discharge from prison] Great advantage during the voyage and while in the river that the women should wear a simple uniform dress, indispsensable for establishing order and for enforcing the regulations on board the ship that a matron be stationed there constantly whilst they remain in the river, to attend to clothing and search female visitors in order that no spiritous liquors or anything else improper be introduced. Could a person in that capacity accompany them on the voyage. …We are pleased to understand that the factory in Paramatta has more than cleared its expenses during the last year. …we are fully aware that much has been accomplished ; that many of our requests have been granted with obliging readiness, and we shall feel our sense of gratitude much increased if Lord Bathurst will condescend to peruse these remarks and to act in compliance, as far as his judgement can approve, and his authority enforce. Elizabeth Fry Memoirs 1847

The Cascades Female Factory at Hobart began as one yard, another 4 yards were added, the second one being the laundry in 1832. The “factories” operated in a smilar way to the english workhouse system.

John Skinner Prout 1844

The building sought by Mrs Fry was completed in December 1828. The Cascades Female Factory was a repurposed distillery at the foot of Mount Wellington and despite the noble ideals behind its creation the reality fell a long way short. Those women previously housed in the town were moved into the new building first and then classified according to the new regime.

The building Frances and Dinah would have seen in 1829 consisted of one rectangular yard. Surrounded by high walls with just one entrance. Within the courtyard internal walls created seven smaller yards, one for the entrance and the offices, one for each of the hospital kitchen and nursery and three more separated the different classes of women, their yards adjacent to their sleeping quarters and dayrooms. The two storey buildings lined the external yard walls, and also housed staff. A chapel and further sleeping rooms extended into the centre. 12 solitary confinement cells underlined the harsh regime.

The classification of the women was as follows:

Class 1: Women arrived from England with a good behaviour report from the Superintendent Surgeon, along with those who had returned to the Factory from Service with good characters. This class of women were assigned to service as soon as possible.

Class 3: The lowest classification was reserved for those transported for a second time, noted as disorderly by the surgeon or had committed offences within Cascades. The second class was comprised for those women between the other two classes some of whom were working their way up while others were slipping down.

As suggested by Elizabeth Fry the classifications designated the work of the women. Those ranked in the higher class would be assigned to better families and for better duties such as cooks or overseers. Second class convicts would be provided work on site making and mending clothes, while the lower criminal class would be employed carding and spinning wool.

Despite previous convictions for stealing, along with lewd and disorderly behaviour, Frances Stephenson had good behaviour reports from the gaol and the ship’s surgeon. Unable to read or write she was categorised as a farm servant / housemaid, able to wash and iron, capable of plain cooking and milking. Her convict records reflect that she is likely to have been among those assigned on arrival, depending on when Dinah was weaned. Frances’ records do show that she spent some time at cascades but this may have been between service assignments. Young Dinah would by necessity be left in the care of the nursery at Cascades. In February 1829 the Hobart Times3 reported on the arrangements in relation to the arrival of the convict ship The Harmony in January:

The new House of Correction is likely to be attended with much advantage, an instance of which already sensibly appears in the disposal of the female prisoners by the Harmony. Many of the best servants, it is well known, were necessarily kept in the late Factory, owing to the children, which there was no means of disposing of, but by leaving them in the charge of the mother; for few, if any families could be expected to incur the expense and trouble of one or two little children for the sake of the small attendance. In the new establishment, however, this inconvenience is wisely provided for. Matrons, or proper persons are appointed in apartments for that purpose, to nurse and educate the children as soon as they can with propriety leave the mother, who is thus left at liberty to go to service. By this means a large proportion of the prisoners from the Harmony, who had children with them, and who on the former system must have remained a charge on the public, have been assigned to service. February 1829 the Hobart Times

A newspaper article in 1892 related the reality of these separations. George Pullen was the nephew of the assistant superintendent at Cascades and he wrote of his childhood recollections of the Cascades Factory from its opening in 1828 to his uncle’s resignation in April 1831:

For some days after the arrival of a female prison ship, a stranger, looking on from the outside, would have concluded that the ‘Factory’ was en fete. Vehicles of every description then used might be seen driving up to the gates and setting down the—well, I will make one word do for the wives of the wealthy, the middle class and the
humble artisan, and style them all ladies. The ladies, then, alighted from their
vehicles, and producing their orders for servants on assignment, the women
were called in one by one and put through their catechism. “Can you wash?”
“Can you sew?” “Can you get up fine linen?” “Can you cook?” “Are you fond
of children?” etc. After thus examining some half-dozen a choice was made,
and mistress and servant drove off together. Before the close of a week by far
the larger portion of the human consignment was distributed amongst and in the
homes of their masters in both town and country. … The Colonial
Surgeon, Dr. J. Scott, R.N., made periodical visits for the purpose of reporting
on the sanitary condition of the whole place and its inmates. The hospital was
never overcrowded; many of the cases only helping to swell the expenses of
the nursery and Orphan School. To these cases Colonel Arthur showed no
mercy. The unfortunate creature nursed her child for nine or twelve months,
after which it was taken from her arms, and consigned to the tender mercies of
strangers in the nursery. The mother was then sentenced to an imprisonment of
eighteen months before she became eligible for assigned service. Many of the
poor mites seemed discontented with the new world into which they had been
ushered, and left it altogether; while those of stronger constitutions, but less
fortunate, pined within the stone-wall enclosure, with only occasional peeps for
a short time at nature’s verdure outside, fighting for life against the neglect and
peculation of their convict nurses for two or three years, when they were
removed to the less confined and more healthy atmosphere of the Orphan
School at New Town. The scenes witnessed at the separation of mother and
child were sometimes very harrowing. Backward Glances : Launceston Examiner 1892

The cascades factory quickly became notorious for the poor state of those confined there , in particular the children.3 The buildings were already in the shadow of Mount Wellington and the high yard walls ensured a state of permanent damp and shade prevailed. Inadequate rations, cramped conditions and poor hygiene took their toll with death rates in the nurseries four times higher than in the town. Reports abound on the poor state of the conditions; children crowded by the dozen into small rooms, buildings piled with rubbish and crawling with bugs, while settlers complained that the women arrived from the factories in a filthy state.

In March 1830 young Dinah succumbed to these conditions, born in Lincoln Castle Gaol in November 1828 she had been transported for months across the seas to the terrible conditions in the convict nursery, where ,separated from her mother, she gave up her fight for life.

Frances continued along the dictated path. In December 1830 a marriage application is recorded for Frances Stephenson, Lady of the Lake, and Henry ( Harry) Sherwood, Hibernia. Harry had been transported for sheep stealing in 1818, the two were married in March 1831.

Harry and Frances went on to have eight children between 1832 and 1847.

The 1832 and 1833 musters record Frances as assigned to a Mr R Barker. In 1835 she received a ticket of leave, with a conditional pardon in 1840 and a free pardon being fully approved in 1842, records reveal that she was “recommended by several persons of respectability in her neighbourhood as an exceedingly well conducted and steady woman”. Although one newspaper report in April 1840 suggests that her life remained complicated ; Samuel Barton had his ticket of leave suspended and was given three months hard labour on the roads for carrying out an illicit correspondence with a married woman and assaulting her husband, Harry Sherwood.

Frances would later marry again, following the death of Harry she married Joseph Haywood in 1875, subsequently widowed once more she married Richard Price in 1887 at the age of 80. Frances died in October 1889 , she is buried in Yarram, Victoria.
She endured the absence of John and the loss of Dinah, out living three of her husbands and five of her eight1 children with Harry Sherwood.

The young woman who had reportedly looked around the court of assizes with such effrontery, 60 years before, seems to have been in possession of a remarkable inner strength which provided her with a dogged determination to just keep going.


  1. Many thanks to Carol Mayall for giving me permission to use information sourced from “tangible” documents in the form of parish registers.
  2. As above Carol Mayall provided the names of Frances’ cell mates from Lincoln Castle records; accessed while researching “one of [her] most colourful ancestors“.
  3. The Female Convicts Research Centre Website contains a wealth of information on the subject of Cascades and many other Factories and stories.

Calling all workers; a very different war

Calling all workers
Part of campaign to increase aircraft production during WWII               © IWM Art.IWM PST 14221

As we approach the 75 Year anniversary of Germany’s Surrender we find ourselves in strange times. Original plans for  VE Day Memorial Celebrations have been cancelled across the Country as our Government tells us we are at war once more. This time the enemy is invisible,  we are fighting on the Home Front, and our hospitals are  all too frequently the theatres of war. Once again community spirit is strong , connected in a primarily virtual world, people have come together to sing, to play, to offer advice for the garden and to organise tangible help for those in need.

For the first time in generations we have been subject to strict Government orders controlling our movements, the campaign slogan, has become the rallying cry of the daily briefings from Westminster.

Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

If we are forced to venture out instructions are ever present as we are led through different working practices, enter medical establishments with trepidation, or warily face the food queues. Posters have been a key element of this campaign, stark, concise and emphatic in their message. They provide a swift insight into what is happening and what is expected of us, as we have moved through the last few weeks they have changed to reflect the latest requirements.

Similarly the posters of World War II provide an insight into the key campaigns throughout the six long years of war. Over 75 years later the success of the slogans is confirmed by our familiarity with them today.

Among the campaigns to promote the good health of the Country, botanists pharmacists and doctors worked alongside ministry officials on the Vegetable Drugs Committee to ensure the active ingredients for important medicines were available.

Herbs for war70 County Herb Committees were created along with 250 drying centres . Volunteers were recruited via institutions such as the Scouts, Girl Guides and the WI to forage for the required plants.

In May 1944 the Skegness Standard included a brief paragraph at the end of a WI report relaying information from the Lincolnshire County Herb Committee:

Stinging nettles are among the plants asked for in abundance this year to help Britain’s home produced medical supplies. Urgently needed are foxglove leaves and seeds for the heart. Autumn crocus seeds for rheumatism and deadly nightshade for the nerves.  


Humour was widely used to engage the public although this approach was understandably measured against the issue being addressed. The importance of moving children to safer rural areas, and allowing them to stay there, was approached with a mixture of encouragement and a suggestion of fear.

Children from the towns were moved to safety at the outbreak of war but, as the first few months remained quiet in the skies, problems were widely encountered as mothers sought the return of their children to the family home. Children from Grimsby began arriving in Skegness at the outbreak of hostilities, with over 300 arriving by bus on Friday 1st December 1939. Ladies of the WVS, councillors and other volunteers were on hand at the Tower Pavilion Distribution Centre to welcome the children and see them settled. In 1944 Alford councillors called for additional help at the school which was trying to cope with an additional 60 school meals due the accomodating evacuee children.

The evacuation of children from the towns and the blackout were among the earliest major changes to life on the homefront. Plans had been place for months with the local press reporting on Blackout preparations in April 1939. Alongside the report was confirmation that the evacuation census was virtually complete. Fifty six thousand from Leeds and 21,000 from Hull , mostly children, would be evacuated into the Lindsey area in the event of war.  A warning …

that isolated Lincolnshire villages could not regard themselves as being perfectly safe from the effects of air raids was given by Major James Henry Hadfield, of Alford, secretary of the North Lincolnshire branch of the Red Cross, this week. A great number of aerial battles would take place over Lincolnshire in war time because of the network of aerodromes, he said, and the probability would be that enemy bombers, en route for the densely populated areas, would, when attacked by fighter aircraft, discard their bombs in a hurry before reaching their objective. No one could foretell where a bomb might drop, and it was necessary, therefore that first-aid measures should be perfected both in the villages and in the towns.         Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guardian – Sat. 15 April 1939


Art.IWMPST 14970

In the event the Blackout led to a large rise in accidents and personal injuries safety campaigns were extensive to encourage people to wear elements of white to help them to be seen.

The Punch Cartoonist Fougrasse designed The Blackout (below) free of charge for the Ministry of Information posters, he went on to do many more.

Time Flies was connected to the push for being productive in all areas of life. The Careless Talk Costs Lives poster is one of eight by the popular artist  related to the anti-gossip campaign for the ministry of information.

The British Government mobilised the civilian population for work desperately needed to support the war. The co-ordinated campaigns prescribed a way of life which lasted for many years beyond the war, elements of which remain ingrained within the fabric of our society today, allbeit diminishing down the generations. The Ministry of Information was created on 4th September 1939, the day following the outbreak of war, the control of information at home was a key responsibility, both in promoting campaigns and support for war work while suppressing news and censoring the press.

The civilian population must be kept fed and healthy in order to provide the labour for the huge war machine the Country had to become. Food rationing began in January of 1940, followed by clothing in June of 1941. Campaigns to Grow your Own , Dig for Victory and Make Do and Mend  were presented throughout Britain at a local level through institutions such as the Women’s Institute, the Scout Movement and local Horticultural Societies and gardening Clubs.

Funding the war effort was  the basis of more campaigns, the public were encouraged to save their money and buy war bonds to support the war, squandering cash on unrequired goods was frowned upon and recycling became the order of the day. At a local level the campaigns are reflected in snippets of news from the War years.

In 1939 Britain was reliant on food imports, the blockades of WW1 ensured that rationing was quickly introduced and families were encouraged to grow their own produce to supplement their diet with produce which was not on ration. Imported fruits and vegetables disappeared from the nation’s diet for some years. In December 1945 a Fyffe ship docked at Avonmouth with a consignment of 10 million bananas from Jamaica. They were the first bananas to reach Britain since 1940.

One relative who grew up in Skendleby recalls vividly her first sight of this strange fruit.  One of four children, all of the siblings were very reluctant  to try this new addition to their diet.

In January 1940 everyone received a ration book with coupons, including children. Sugar, meat and cheese purchases needed a coupon, other items worked on a points system that altered according to availability. Children and expectant mothers were a priority, from 1942 they received an increased milk ration. The provision of free milk to school children continued until 1971.

Local newspapers carried the declarations from the Ministry of Food explaining the food rationing system, registrations required with local butchers and grocers and, inevitably, the fines issued to both traders and housewives when the system had been abused. As the system was updated new information advertisements appeared.

In April 1940 the Skegness Standard reported on the Lindsey Federation of Women’s Institutes recent meeting in Louth: The produce guild had enrolled 175 members whose … first task  was to distribute the remarkably good collections of vegetable seeds purchased co-operatively the National Federation. They had had the help of Mr. Murray with their gardening, and he had drawn up a vegetable chart for them. In June it is proposed to hold several day conferences on ‘From Garden to Kitchen,’’ where they could learn in the morning how to grow their vegetables, and in the afternoon see how they could be cooked to the best advantage. Fruit preservation was perhaps the best side of the guild, which appeals to most members, and the County was prepared to arrange half-day schools in jam-making and fruit bottling or canning. Initially, to allow members to see the concrete results of this season’s work, a series of small produce exhibitions are to be held in September at some twelve different centres.                               Skegness Standard Wednesday 17th April 1940

Victory Garden Shows and competitions took place across the Lindsey district throughout the war years, as well as promoting the food campaign they raised also funds. In 1943 a series of shows across Lindsey raised over £5,700 for the Red Cross.

In June 1941 clothes rationing was introduced, manufacturing had been moved over to the production of weapons. The Make Do and Mend campaign was launched by the Board of Trade in 1942.  At a local level the WI picked up the baton for this campaign organising series of exhibitions on thrift craft. One such exhibition in Spilsby in 1944 was opened by Mrs P Godsmark who commended the thought, skill and ingenuity involved. The make and mend exhibits also received a special mention with dressmaking, renovations, gloves, slippers and household jobbery included.

The war on waste continued with a series of recycling campaigns. Rags were recycled for use in the creation of soldiers blankets and uniforms. Salvage campaigns for scrap metal large and small were also tremendously successful across the County.

In August 1940 the Lindsey Women’s Volunteer Services reported on their work in relation to the National Salvage Campaign to a correspondent from the Standard:

First all she said she was very pleased to be able to say that after one and a half years’ work there were now 3,300 members of the W.V.S. in Lindsey. She is full of admiration for not only the amount of work the women have done, but the way they stick to it, sometimes in the face of great difficulties. … Regarding salvage, the work has increased enormously in the last two months. For instance. W.V.S. has agreed to do all the collecting, sorting and baling of paper for the Caistor R.D.C. Quite recently the Horncastle Rural area was organised to assist the Council with their salvage scheme, and the W.V.S. Organiser  visited 70 villages and organised a salvage scheme in each one of them in under three weeks. The Sanitary Inspector is very pleased at the clean and tidy way in which the paper is coming in from the majority of the villages. In Skegness, the organiser had sets of pots and pans on the doorstep her office within ten minutes of  the radio broadcast, and within an hour she had an appeal on at one of the local cinemas from that afternoon. Another got permission to disply the wreckage of a German plane to explain to the public what the aluminium was needed forAll of this work is in addition to all the usual Civil Defence work —A.R.P., Hospital Services, Evacuation, and Transport. National Savings groups, canteens for the Forces, and many jobs that cannot be classified. For instance, apart from doing thousands of ration cards for the Food Controller, the women in one big coastal town have been disinfecting gas masks. Seventy women are working, and the greatest achievement was the disinfecting of 112 in one evening and the dismantling of 60 babies’ gas masks in the afternoon. Regarding the Civil Nursing Reserve,- 300 nursing auxiliaries have been interviewed by the W.V.S. Apart from endless work connected with evacuation all over the county, the Communal and Social Centre at ‘The Woodlands,” Woodhall Spa, has now been run by W.V.S. since September 11th. All the cooking, waiting, etc., has been entirely voluntary. W.V.S. have also been helping with the hostels for unbilletable children at Gainsborough and Linwood Rectory and Caistor.   

Skegness Standard -Wednesday 14th August 1940


The Salvage of Iron Railings for the War Effort               Copyright IWM HU57738

The National Salvage Campaigns included the scheduled requisition of iron railings across the Nation. Compensation of 25s / ton was available but people were urged to donate their railings to  the war effort. All railings were scheduled for removal unless their retenion was essential for reasons of safety; the enclosure of cattle or were deemed to be of historic or artistic merit. The last option provided the basis of an appeal for the owner but the local authority decision was final.  

In February of 1944 the Standard reported ” much dissatisfaction” in Alford regarding those railings which were not removed. The Parish Council was keen to underline that railings preventing cattle from accessing the poisonous yew trees and hedges were kept in place but the decisions were not theirs.

Along with details of the scheduled removals notices explained that the steel merchants and contractors were not benefiting from the metal removals.

In May of 1943 the Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guradian reported that the Ministry of Work team had completed their scheduling in Lincolnshire.

As a result this comprehensive undertaking, some thousands tons of scrap metal have been scheduled, collected, trucked and dispatched to foundries to be transformed into ships, planes, tanks and guns. Although the locators’ task is over the work recovery of the scrap metal will continue in Lincolnshire for some weeks. [ they were still discussing the issues in Alford in 1944 ! ] In addition to the lifting of much heavy metal, and the dismantling of various buildings, there are still thousands of tons of light scrap and tins from destructor yards in different areas. The business of sorting, pressing and trucking this is difficult, and the percentage of tins collected in Lincolnshire has been abnormally high, three or four times higher than that usually encountered. Over 700 tons tins and light scrap have been removed from Lincoln destructor yard alone and a correspondingly heavy tonnage, also of tins and light scrap, have come from Caistor. Louth RDC, Alford Urban. Barton-on-Humber, Horncastle, Spilsby and Woodhall Spa. 

In addition to the salvage campaigns National Savings Campaigns were relentless …

Wanted for Sabotage (Art.IWM PST 3406) … Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The Squanderbug was created by artist Phillip Boydell, an employee of the National Savings Committee. The Committee raised funds by urging the public to save their own money and invest it in the war effort. The cartoon bug appeared in press adverts and poster campaigns as a menace who encouraged shoppers to waste money rather than buy war savings certificates.

Alford frequently topped County tables for the various savings campaigns throughout the war.

In April 1940 the WI were counting up their collections for the War Finance Campaign, £63,000 was attributed to the Alford National Savings

In the War Weapons Week in June 1941 Alford raised a staggering £59,400 representing an average of £27 per person.

In 1942 they came top once again during Warship Week with a total of £31,427, raised by Whist Drives, Amateur Productions and Dances. In May 1944 the ” Salute the Soldier ” Campaign saw Alford receive the County Flag for their contribution of £6 16s 1d per head, in relation to £4 14s 5d for Market Rasen and £3 10s and 6d for Lincoln.


The pressure to feed the Country and protect shipping required more cultivation and women were encouraged to work on the land, enabling the men to join up. The Women’s Land Army was originally set up in 1917 but had disbanded at the end of the Great War. It was reformed in 1939 and volunteers were recruited, from December 1941 women could also be conscripted. As in the First World War the Land Girls undertook all aspects of work on the land and could be sent to any part of the Country.

In February 1943 The Standard reported on the the issues facing the Lincolnshire Farmers as discussed at the monthly NFU meeting. The labour shortage continued to be an issue;

The considerable help that had been given by school children was agreed, but it was felt that the boys from secondary schools might do more if the headmasters would permit it. Various instances were given of how readily offers of help had come from the masters of elementary senior schools, while too great stress was laid by the masters of secondary schools on the interference which land work had the boys’ preparations for examinations. It was felt that the Education Authorities might help in pointing out to the masters of secondary schools how helpful their boys could be.

It was also felt that the machinery for obtaining Italian Prisoners of war as land workers should be speeded up. At present it took from four to six weeks  to get a prisoner for billeting on a farm. It was very necessary to procure them in this way to emable them to start work with the other men. To employ them in gangs meant that they did not arrive on the farm until 10am and they were away again shortly after  4 p.m.

One of the assembly also drew the attention of the Executive to the Ministry Labour order directing farm men to leave the land and seek employment in tin and coal mines. It had been suggested that woman could do land work, but this was not altogether his experience. 

Skegness Standard – Wednesday 10th Feb 1943

The introduction of the Land Girls and Prisoners of War on the Farms did cause some  problems. In November 1943 a young man was convicted of maliciously wounding a land girl at Market Rasen. Frederick Cross had taken offence at her friendliness towards the Italian Prisoners of War following her refusal to go out with him on several occasions. The young woman received knife wounds.

A brief notice to the Home Guard in the Skegness Standard, August of 1940 suggests that during the heightened tensions of war the absence of spoken English was understandably a problem.

Home Guard

Dont forget that French, Polish, and Czech airmen are flying with the Royal Air Force. A solitary parachutist may be one of these and unable to speak English. If you see five or less they may be our own men.


IWM ARP Warden © IWM Art.IWM PST 13874
IWM ARP Warden © IWM Art.IWM PST 13874

The work done by the various defence organisations on the ground is too vast a subject to adequately cover here. A brief overview of the subject has been provided below taken from information in the Alford Town books published by Cooke and Crome in 1988/90 .


Alford’s Royal Observer Corps opened in June 1936 and had been mobilised on 24th August 1939. A Civil Defense unit was formed in Alford in 1939 which comprised 4 sections; Air Raid Wardens; First Aid; Ant-Gas Squad and a Rescue Squad. Training was frequently in conjunction with local Army Units. The Home Guard were formed in 1940, training took place on a Wednesday and Thursday supplemented by night exercises and Sunday parades in the Market Place.

Servicemen responsible for coastal defences were housed in local camps or in in family homes. An Artillery Training Battery was set up at Bilsby Park.


The warnings issued by Major Hadfield in April of 1939 were of course correct and Alford was no exception  In June 1940 a Heinkel flew along West St. firing randomly. The first enemy aircraft shotdown in Lincolnshire were three Dornier 17Zs in August 1940. One dropped into the North Sea, the other two crashed in Bilsby.

In June 1941 a Heinkell 111 was hit close to Alford, the pilot crash landed down at Reston. The aircraft was displayed in Alford Market Place.

On 7th September 1941 an enemy bomber machine gunned Alford Station, dropping an bomb on a large goods shed there. Arthur Bush, a railway porter on firewatch was killed.  Arthur and his wife Ellen had lived at 16 Commercial Road, he was 65 years of age, they had been married for over 40 years. the Civil Defense Rescue Squad worked through the night

In May 1942 Compulsory Enrolment in the Home Guard was announced in the Skegness Standard. All men in the County not already involved in the Civil Defense Service would be required to assist.

In July 1942 bombs were dropped on the lineside South of Willoughby Station. Around 500 tonnes of debris blocked the lines comprising of clay bricks, concrete, trees and hedging. The Stationmaster called in the gangers and the line to Grimsby was cleared in under three hours for the mail train. The permanent gang from Alford worked to clear the other line.

Beware the Butterfly Bomb
Copyright _IWM_PST_009505_A

In 1945 the Lincolnshire Echo posted a series of extracts from a County Constabulary booklet : Air Raids in Lincolnshire. The reports reveal the extraordinary disruption caused by thousands of Butterfly Bombs dropped accross Lincolnshire during the war years. These anti-personnel bombs detonated when touched.  In June 1943 Grimsby, Cleethropes and the outlying rural areas suffered a major air attack which included over three thousand Butterfly Bombs. The devices lay everywhere , fitted with clockwork fuse and a 30 minute delay mechanism. The large number of bombs required extensive searches in town and country by police, wardens and the Fire Service involving over 10,000 man hours in Grimsby alone.  In August 1943 a further 750 of the devices were dropped in one raid on rural districts, close to Horncastle.

The disruption in rural areas was complicated by the importance of protecting the crops, harvest was suspended until extensive searches had been carried out the brunt of which fell onto the police service. Many areas of Corn, Barley , Peas Clover and Grassland were systematically searched before being declared safe. Some areas were left as the floiage was too dense. In three areas tanks were used to tow reapers to gather  a crop which would otherwise have been lost.

Life on the Home front during WWII was one of deprivation and hard work.  Shortages were widespread, the war effort demanded time, money and hard work. The poster campaigns of the 1940s were very clear staying at home was not an option.


By the end of WWII 384,000 soldiers had been killed in combat, the civilian civilian death toll was 70,000 largely due to German bombing raids during the Blitz: 40,000 civilians died in the seven-month period between September 1940 and May 1941, almost half of them in London.

On 6th December 1944 the Skegness Standard reported on the stand down of the Home Guarrd. The final parade of the 10th (Lindsey Battalion) took place in Alford, large crowds gathered to watch the march past and stand down. The men assembled at Alford Town Station and marched to the school grounds. A dais had been erected in front of the White Horse Hotel to be used as a salute base. Representations of 7 Companies, 27 Platoons, numbering 1300 officers, NCOsand men marched past headed by the band of the Louth British Legion. The stand down took place in the senior school playground. Following a service by the Rev. Draper the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers was sung. Field Marshall Sie AA Montgomery-Massingberd read a message from the King:

for more than 4 years you have borne a heavy burden. Most of you have been engaged in long hours of work necessary to the prosecution of war or to maintaining the healthful life of the nation: and you have given a great portion of the time which should have been your own, to learning the skilled work of the soldier. By this patient and ungrudging effort you have built a force able to play an essential part in the defence of our threatened soil and liberty…

The National Anthem brought proceedings to a close, and as the battalion dispersed the British Legion band played Auld Lang Syne.

In December 1945 the Lincolnshire Echo reported that between June 5th 1940 and March 3rd 1945 116,384 bombs were dropped on Lincolnshire alone killing 408 people and injuring 1,233.

The Alford war memorial commemorates twenty two fallen  in WWII, 8 of whom lost their lives in 1944, Sapper Stanley Wheatley died in Italy in October 1945 following the end of the War. railwayman Arthur Bush appears in the book of Civilian fallen.

Messrs Cooke and Crome inform us that on 8th May 1945 the Church bells were rung for an hour, following a short informal service of Thanksgiving.

Later in the day a public bonfire took place on Park Lane Field where an effigy of Hitler was burned.




Victorian Valentines


vintage-ephemera-4090031_1920In February 1931 an article in the Lincolnshire Echo  welcomed the revival of the Valentine during the previous three or four years. The writer then reflected

“ How different , however, are these lovely sentimental messengers from the crude and rather repulsive caricatures which did duty in early Victorian days and which died a deserved death!”


Valentine 1877Valentine

In 1882 The Lincolnshire Chronicle reported : [in Alford]“St Valentines day, with the postal officials, was this year, as usual a busy one. Judging by the bulky mail bags and messengers bags, swollen out to enormous dimensions, the votive offerings, indicative, let us hope , of requited tender passion, were exceedingly numerous.”


The above adverts for Valentines in Victorian Alford made me wonder what they looked like. The first things that come to mind are the traditional chocolate box victorian card with a loving verse.

Personally the Comic Valentine promised in the second advert seems a much more interesting option.


The cards below are from 1875 , they are sometimes known as “Vinegar Valentines” , it is easy to see why.

Valentine's Card
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & HoveRoyal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove


Valentine's Card
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & HoveRoyal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

My favourite find for the satirical Victorian Valentine verse was in the 1875 publication:

Love Lyrics and Valentine Verses for Young and Old 

Cod eyed Valentine

To a Cod-eyed Spinster

The very last that I should take

To Village church or minster,

For purposes connubial,

Would be a cod-eyed spinster.


I’m fond of cod for dinner,’tis

With me a favourite dish,

But I shouldn’t like to own a wife

With eyes just like a fish.


Time’s hourglass now is running low,

So be no longer jealous,

Make way for younger girls and cease

To hunt up us smart fellows.


I’d sooner marry a giraffe,

Hedgehog, or porcupine,

Than from the female sex select

A cod-eyed Valentine.


Happy Valentines Day


Valentine's Card
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & HoveRoyal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove


I am having a ripping time here Paris is as full as it can be …

This is Dorothy’s last letter home following her war service, it is really just a short note from Paris where she was having a ball. After her 4 years of service in WW1 Dorothy returned to Alford but, by then a very independent young woman, she quickly headed to London. In July 1919 the Joint Women’s VAD Committee granted her a scholarship for training in X Ray work and , in 1920, she sat her examinations in Radiography and Medical Electricity at Guy’s Hospital.  She frequently stayed at the VAD Ladies Club in London . Dorothy worked as a Radiographer at the Royal Free Hospital where she met radiologist Dr Dulcie Staveley. The two colleagues shared a flat in Gloucester Place for many years before retiring to live at Ivy House in Alford together.

July 1919 VAD procession
A procession of Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses and personnel marches past a crowd of onlookers along the Mall in London. British Army personnel are also present and there are numerous flags flying from flagpoles and stone plinths along the road.                                             Â© IWM (Art.IWM ART 4037)

25th April 1919                                                                             28 Rue de Pontlieu, Paris VIII

My dearest Father

Never mind about the money it can’t be helped. I have borrowed £15 from Colonel Robinson so will you please send him a cheque for that amount.

I am having a ripping time here Paris is as full as it can be. I am going to see Tommy Sandall this afternoon and we may go out on the binge to-night. Yesterday morning I shopped and yesterday afternoon we went to the Louvre and the Pantheon. The former is in a terrible muddle as the treasures have only been brought back since armistice and nothing is where it was before. Last night we dined with the Robinsons: they had a party.

Best Love to you all

Your loving D

I have got two Belgian nurses in the service and I am teaching them as fast as I can …

VAD camp rouen 1919
 A Voluntary Aid Detachment camp Rouen 1919                     © IWM (Art.IWM ART 2886)

16th April 1919    HMB

My dearest Father

I don’t seem to have had any news of any of you for ages but I dare say you might say the same thing of me. I have been up to the eyes in work. I have got two Belgian nurses in the service and I am teaching them as fast as I can and doing a lot of clearing up, and making lists to simplify their work, and it is somewhat fatiguing.


However in a weeks time all will be over. I am terribly sad at leaving and wish I had been able to go on to Brussels with them, but they still don’t know when they will move: it may be next month or it may be June or July. As they once declared we should be there by the middle of February it’s a case of: I shall believe they are there when the train arrives at Brussels. However it no longer effects me as my hospital career ceases next Wednesday: I shall have just completed my four years foreign service. I have no word from you when or if the Indian family are coming home, or if you are servantless or if the others have recovered from”flu”.

I leave here on Wednesday morning and go to Paris to join Fraser where we shall stay until Sunday when we go to Boulogne and cross. Then we have to stay a day or two in town for BRCS formalities and I must get a rag or two of “civvies”  and I hope to be home about the 4th May. Did you send me some money by the way , and how much, as it hasn’t reached the bank yet? If you want to write to me after the 23rd my address is c/o Lieut-Colonel Robinson. 28 Rue de Ponthieu. Paris VIII till the 27th.

The weather is very variable, lots of rain at intervals and very windy.

I really must dry up now. I am knee –deep in packing and so forth.

Best love to you all

Your loving daughter


We often get a car or ambulance lent us to follow in which is ripping fun …

VAD ambulance drivers rouen 1919 large_000000
41st Auxiliary Ambulance Car Company, General Service V.A.D. Motor Convoy. Rouen 1919           © IWM (Q 8118)

29th March 1919                HMB

My dearest Mother

I hope by the time this reaches you the invalids will all be convalescent. You have indeed had a visitation. It is very bad luck on you all especially with your domestic troubles as well. I hope your cold and cough are better too.

You may expect me home about the beginning of May I think. I will wire you the precise date when I know it.  We are all leaving by driblets through the month of April. We have already got seven Belgian nurses here and more are coming. I have got one in the Electricity and am teaching her as hard as I can.

Will you ask Father to send my allowance out as usual please and may I have some money for travelling expenses, parting presents etc. please. I am perhaps going to Paris for three or four days on my way home, but I am not sure yet. It depends whether Fraser’s uncle and aunt who live there can do with her. If she goes I shall go, but if not I shall return to England direct. The men are full of grief at our departure and openly confess a great preference for English nurses, as also the doctors!!

When do Robin and Molly expect to go back to Canada. I hope I shall see them before they go. Have you any news of the Indian travellers and their movements? I’m so glad you liked the lace: I thought it might do to put on a dress or something like that, and I ‘m glad M was pleased with the brooch.

I have been out several times on Sundays to see the paper chase ( a species of the BEF hunt) all the men ride and there is a meet at some spot and then 4 “foxes” men with paper in bags, lay a trail and are given a certain start. One is the Master with a horn and other are hounds and they track the foxes by the paper scent and have a good cross country run and every hunter about 1 and half hours riding. There is always a large following and we often get a car or ambulance lent us to follow in which is ripping fun. Then we have tea at some mess, Remount, Cavalry Indian Gunners or some old place and then come home.

I must dry up now

Best love to you all

Ever your loving Dorothy.

We went into Monte Carlo and up to La Turbie by train …

The Hanbury Botanical Gardens remain a highlight of the Italian Riviera 100 years on 

My Dearest Mother

 I think I left off at the beginning of the trip to San Remo. We went to the cap and all packed into two big cars, they are like a touring car but wider and have an extra seat in the tonneau. One holds 8 and the other 10. We were six VADs, one little Sister from the Cap (she was Australian but in the QAs) exactly like the bird and not much bigger, a Frenchwoman and two daughters and son who was an aviator who had been invited by one of the officers at the cap and the rest of the 18 were officers. It was a gorgeous day, hazing sun and so forth. We left the cap just before 10 after going through Menton passed the frontier with many formalities and paper showing by both French and Italians. Then we stopped at the Villa Hanbury, between the frontier and Ventimiglia to look at the gardens which are quite wonderful. Old Sir Thomas Hanbury the brewer had the property and was buried there when he died, Lady Hanbury allows visitors on Mondays and Wednesdays. The garden is full of everything imaginable from tropical to wild plants. There were grapefruits that were as big as a child’s head growing on the trees and maidenhair fern growing on rocks in a wet grotto.

Then we went on and just by a Bersaglieri barracks on the cliff, just at the entrance to Ventimiglia, we burst a tyre. So we got out and photographed the Bersaglieri [Specialist Italian Marksmen], who were a handsome, athletic looking group of men, and then we walked down into the town, which is a dirty smelly little hole. Then the cars caught us up again and we went through Bordighera, which is pretty and clean-looking, and halted for lunch by the seashore just beyond the town. We had a very lively lunch in the blazing sun: I took a group [shot] on the rocks which ought to be quite amusing. Then after lunch we went on: the roads is marvellous the way it winds round the mountains half way up the slope. Between Ospedaletti and San Remo we saw Corsica quite plainly looking almost like a fairy place in the clouds.

When we got into the main street of San Remo we burst another tyre but as we were on the spot it didn’t matter much. We explored San Remo thoroughly: we bought post cards and posted them: I got some Kodak films which was very bon as one can’t get them in France. The old town is simply priceless: it is fairly smelly and very dingy, nothing but people and mules can go about in it as the streets are narrow and half of them are tunnels under houses and awfully steep. We had tea and then started back. Our car had engine trouble and climbed awfully badly however we got home safely.

The next day we went by special tram to Sospel. It is up in the mountains behind Menton. The train started from the cap about 9:30. 8 of us VADs went and the rest (about 30) were officers. The tram climbed up and up squeaking hideously all the time. When we got half way there at the highest point some of us disembarked and climbed up to Castillon, which is perched on an eminence while the tram goes through a tunnel below. It is a dear little village with a castle which is ruined by an earthquake. We could see snow-capped mountains further towards the inland quite distinctly: I took some photos which I hope may come out successfully.

Please excuse this awful scribble but I am continuing this letter in the train between Rouen and Paris and it is swaying dreadfully.

We explored the ruins and drank in the beauty of our surroundings: the lovely mountains so purple with their sides terraced with such infinite patience and covered with olive trees, and the little mountain streams trickling down their stony beds, and the blue hepaticas just coming along with the hyacinths and primroses and everything so warm and balmy: it seemed impossible that we were within a day’s journey of Paris which was cold with sleet and drizzle when I passed through it going South. We lunched at Castillon in a funny little café which called itself a hotel. We had hors d’oeuvres, omelette, stewed hare and fried potatoes, cheese and oranges. We were assisted by the two cats of the establishment, one black and one chintz [?] which circled round us or yowled incessantly except when they were fed with sardine remnants or hare bones. Even when we threw bones out of the open window they leapt after them, bolted them with unholy haste, returning singing like Hintze, who I fear was a Hun!

After lunch we set out to walk down the road to Sospel which is right at the foot of the mountains in a little hollow, 7 kilometres away. (Not quite 5 miles) We loitered down gently and arrived to find a dear little place on a stream with two quaint stone bridges across it, one with a house in the middle and then the same funny old town all huddled together. We had tea of sorts there and then came back in the tram. Wednesday we went into Monte Carlo and up to La Turbie by train. All these places are swamped with these damned gum chewing Yanks but one generally loses them out in the country. The Roman monument to the Emperor Octavius has been half pulled down by some vandal hands (probably Empire period) and used to build houses but there is a big piece left quite spoilt by having pink stucco houses squeezed up against it. We left La Turbie and went down a valley to the monastery of La Ghet where Notre Dame is supposed to work miracles. If people think she has worked a miracle for them they have to paint or get painted a picture illustrating the event. The consequence is that the walls of the monastery are covered with the most unique looking pictures of people falling down precipices and lying under trams and carts.  I never saw sucj a priceless collection: they made me choke with laughter. We walked back up to La Turbie and then on to Eze where we had lunch. Eze is a dear little village among the mountains with a ruined castle towering above the cottages. Then we climbed down a mule track to the lower Corniche road and did some real Alpine climbing to get down. We walked along till we caught a tram and got into Monte Carlo and had tea at the Hotel de Paris which is a very good place and then trammed home.

Thursday morning I went into Menton to shop for two girls who were leaving at midday and then I and the three men went as far as Nice with them and we got there and saw them off. Then they stood me a thumping lunch at Maxims and we strolled on the front and listened to the band. I saw some VADs from Cannes whom I knew, and two men from Rouen, and then we caught the express tram home.

Friday morning I went into Menton and in the afternoon I and another girl, and two of the men, went into Monte Carlo. We walked round and up and down the terraces, and saw many people strangely but doubtless fashionably clothed and then we went into the Café de Paris for tea where they have a the dansant and we saw all sorts on knuts dancing: lots of French theatrical people, chiefly bad hats I should think, and also Nungesser the famous French aviator. It was one of the most amusing places I have struck for a long time.

Next morning I nipped down to Menton for a final shop: the flowers were so lovely that I longed to send you some but the posts are so irregular here in France that they would have probably been as dead as mutton when they arrived so it wouldn’t have been much good.

I left Roquebrune about 12 with 3 others and all went well till we got about halfway between Cannes & Toulon. Then the engine drew up and after some time people began to walk about on the line and pick flowers, and so one of the others went to investigate and said that several people were lying on their backs gazing up into the engine’s internals and large chunks of iron were lying about. After some time we saw two black and grimy ruffians (the driver and the stoker) wandering along the line collecting large bars and things which had fallen off the engine and they proceeded back to the engine with a large bundle of spoil, but it wouldn’t go along, and a goods train, which came up behind, had to push us till a new engine (wired for) arrived from Toulon. This made us two hours late into Marseilles and over two hours late at Paris. I took my luggage over to the Gare St Lazare and then went to Colonel Robinson’s for lunch and got back here about 7:30.

 Since then I have been very busy as Dr Stouffs has gone up to Belgium on leave and I am in charge. I must dry up now: this is a very long screed: I hope not too full of drivel. I took some ripping photos while I was down there: they are jolly good some of them.

Best love to you all your loving Dorothy.

Everyone raves about the South and it is such a tremendous opportunity to see the Riviera in the season …

The Grand Hotel du Cap Martin became a Michelham Convalescent Home for British Officers:
     “Lady Michelham has taken over the hotel and pays all expenses for 200 officers, each staying for a fortnight or three weeks. It is run exactly like a hotel with civilian waiters.”

26/02/1919   Villa Roquebrune

My Dearest Mother

I received your letter of the 20th yesterday. You do seem to be having the most awful strafe with servants: what a curse they are. I wish I could help you but even over here the question is becoming acute.

I have looked everywhere for the Times marked by M: I didn’t forget it at all but I haven’t seen it and I haven’t missed a bundle. I thought she must have decided to keep it. I’ll look again when I get back. I got the papers here thanks very much for them. If Mrs Loy is laid up surely they will have the sense to make Mrs Marshall up. Where is Nellie Marshall now? They have demobbed 4 or 5 military hospitals at Rouen.

I know I am in disgrace with Tommy: I really have had such a lot on my hands lately that I haven’t had a minute for letters. You ask why I am on leave: well four months have elapsed since my last leave and since the armistice they are not so strict and, as a lot of people have terminated in our unit, it was really my turn for leave. Everyone raves about the South and it is such a tremendous opportunity to see the Riviera in the season and it doesn’t cost me a bean except what I am spending on motor drives and so forth. I’m not in the least ill, I was very tired after “the push”  but I picked up days ago.

Really the flu seems to have started off full tilt again: I am awfully sorry about Nancy Scott. I think it was Saturday when I wrote my last letter. Sunday morning four of us (all VADs) took our lunch down to the beach: there is a small strip of shingle between the rocks. There we were joined by three officers from the Michelham Convalescent Home at Cap Martin: it is only about 20 minutes walk, and 10 minutes in the tram from us. They also brought their lunch so we had a royal feast and then lay on our backs and basked in the sun. After that we climbed up to the old village at Roquebrune: about half way up the mountain side above us and only accessible by a small path. It is a most fascinating village with all the houses jumbled higgledy-piggledy on top of each other and the streets are narrow alleys going through archways under the houses. There is quite a fine ruined castle there which we duly explored and sat on the ramparts for some time watching the clouds scudding over the tops of the neighbouring peaks and looking out over the gorgeous blue blue sea. Then we finally started to go down and an ancient woman appeared from nowhere: one of the men was being very polite and opening a gate for her when she suddenly stooped down and she got her head bumped. She was furious and cursed him up hill and down dale in the most extraordinary patois. He looked so uncomfortable poor man that we all burst out laughing. Then we came back to the villa and tidied ourselves and went off to tea with this party at the cap. The Michelham home is a huge hotel on the very tip of the cap and they have an MO or two, a Matron, 2 Sisters and 4 VADs as staff. They have 200 convalescent officers, all sorts from pip squeaks to Generals. They are all of them up and about of course, lots of these are convalescing from broncho=pneumonia. They have a huge lounge there and can invite their friends to tea and so we all trotted in and had tea and listened to music. They have a fiddle and piano which discourses sweet music to them and on Sunday as a special treat Mr Moody of the Moody-Manners Open Company ( he is a Captain in the RASC down there convalescing) sang to us. He has a lovely voice and sang several songs delightfully.

Well I will stop and catch the post with this and write again describing our trip to San Remo of which I hope you will have received the post cards sent from there.

Best Love to you all your loving Dorothy.

PS: I am so glad to hear of Robin’s safe return, I thirst to hear his adventures.

I am arrived in the most beautiful place …

monte-carlo-seen-from-roquebrune.jpg!Large 1884 Claude Monet
The view of Monte Carlo from Roquebrune           Claude Monet 1884 

21/2/1919                                        Ville Roquebrune

My dearest Mother

Here I am really arrived in the most wonderful place. After 21 hours in the train I fetched up here, feeling inches deep in dirt and very sleepy. I will try and describe this place to you. The station is a wee place between Monte Carlo and Menton and on the opposite side of the bay in which Monte Carlo lies.  The villa is a gorgeous white house well over a 100 feet from the sea with a garden running down in terraces. I am now sitting on the lowest terrace looking out into the bay with sheer rock below me and a small place chipped out for the railway to run, about 40 feet below this terrace, and  then sheer down to the sea again, which is the most gorgeous real tourquoise blue and dashing against the rocks. Yesterday it was rainy and cold, today it is absolutely baking. The sky is very blue but full of white clouds so there is no sun glare. I am sitting in a thin Summer coat but I am sure I should be quite warm enough without it.  This is really a place for Army Sisters, when I arrived I was greeted very kindly by Miss Geddes, Matron in charge. I was taken to my room, which I share with a VAD Sister,  and I had a gorgeous hot bath and dressed for dinner.

The villa belongs to a Mrs Warre who has lent it for a convalescent home for Nursing Sisters. It is a most luxurious private house, beautifully furnished. There are nine Matrons in the house, I’m told some of them are Matrons in Chief so the atmosphere is a little overwhelming, but still one can dodge them pretty well. I have a lovely little white bed very comfy with mosquito curtains and three windows in the room and a balcony. Two of the windows lokk out over the bay. I don’t know if you’ve ever been out here but the vegetation is wonderful. Palms, oranges and lemons growing on trees, bougainvillea, geraniums, flowering cactus, mimosa, almonds, magnolias, heliotropes, roses and many other flowering shrubs, some of which I have never seen before, and some whose names I have forgotten, grow in the utmost profusion.

I had breakfast in bed this morning, after having gone to bed early and slept like a top.  Fried bacon, which I like now, toast and jam all beautifully served. The mountains which run up from behind us are lovely with clouds sitting on the top of them.

The journey down was rather trying I spent the day in Paris with Fraser’s uncle and aunt( having reported at the BRCS HQ and left my kit there ) I went back there in the evening and was motored to the Gare de Lyon and safely tucked into the 8:15pm express. We were six in our carriage, 4 army sisters and 2 VADs ( myself and another) The heat was appalling and we had to turn off the radiators ( all through the cold weather the carriages were almost unheated) I dozed in my corner waking up with cramp or pins and needles every few minutes. Shortly after Lyons I woke up for good to admire the Rhone Valley which is really lovely. The river was in spate all muddy and swirly and the willows and reeds all muddy too. The rocks in the foreground were muddy and the distant hills purple, all the houses built of mud or mud and stone with warm red tiled roofs which made lovely splashes of colour.  A little further and there were whole orchards of almond trees in full bloom and funny little twisted grey green trees. I wondered if they were olives. The express by which I will return tomorrow week has just rumbled past below me. We breakfasted early in the train and got very excited when we came to Avignon looking for the bridge. We saw two bridges but whether either was the celebrated pont I doubt.

At Marseilles we halted for half an hour to stretch our legs: the approach to Marseilles with the estuary is very pretty. After Marseilles we lunched , at least some of us did, and then I sat in the next apartment to my own which was VADs only and we yarned. The railway is most fascinatingly built all along the coastline with a constant view of the sea. Even in the grey misty rain yesterday the sea was blue.

Matron is over at Cannes, I’m going over to see her one of these days. I expect I shall be very busy when I get back as Stouffs is going on leave and I shall be left in sole charge of the shop.

Has Robin got home yet ? I quite expect to hear that he and I were in Paris or Marseilles on the same day.   It is very thrilling about John and Elsie I suppose they will be home about the middle of May. Are they coming for 6 months or a year ? He ought to get a year after being so long without leave. I suppose the kids will stay in England.

Did I tell you that the man who outed Asquith is Fraser’s cousin ? His son in law Sir George Stirling is Colonel of the Reinforcements Camp at Rouen. He is in the Indian army really but got badly pipped [shot] in the war and has this permanent base job now. He is quite a decent sort and we have seen a lot of him lately, he came to our dance and we saw him at the hostel dance and so forth.

I really must dry up now: I have no more news and the sun is scorching me.

Best love to you all

Your loving Dorothy.