Stories of People
What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot if your name is Miss Jane Marple, Agatha Christie’s eponymous heroine. The star of 12 crime novels and 20 short stories, local folklore believed that Agatha Christie’s amateur sleuth was named after Marple station because the author passed through it on one occasion. This is not true but the station does figure prominently in the actual story. In July 2015 the station celebrated its 150th anniversary (coincidentally, the 125th anniversary of Agatha’s birth) and her grandson Mathew Prichard was invited to Marple. He brought with him a letter written by his grandmother to a Miss Marple fan, explaining how she came by the name.
This wonderful image is of William Hyde who was born in Denton in 1801. He was sexton of All Saints Church, Marple for 42 years until his death in 1865. During that time, a sexton was a ‘man of all trades’ as the role included grave digging, clerk and maintenance of the church.
Samuel Oldknow’s Georgian Church replaced an older and much smaller wooden church. It was perched on Marple Ridge at the heart of a small isolated group of buildings set amongst pastures and lying beside the long-established route between Marple and Disley. Nowadays, we do not associate the area around the church as being ‘The Ridge’ but that is how the land between the Church and Hill Top Farm is designated on old maps. ...........................
The inscription on this gravestone has always intrigued me. Who was Annie Fletcher and how had she become nurse to the royal family? Why was she buried in All Saints churchyard?
Annie, (or Ann as she was christened) was born in 1861 in Crow Nest Lane, Beeston, which is about three miles south of Leeds. Her parents William and Sarah were from Aspul near Wigan and her father was a fireman in a coalmine. A fireman was an official in charge of a district of the mine who would go down into the pit before a shift began to check that the working places were free from firedamp, and other impurities. If dangerous gases were found, it was the fireman’s responsibility to clear the air so that it was safe for the miners to work.
Some times something really interesting turns up when you least expect it. I came across this photograph recently at Archives, and was intrigued to find out more. Stamped on the reverse are the words “Air Ministry”. Why is “Marple” painted on the engine cowling? Could it be linked to one of the Marple men who fought in the First World War?
Members of the crew of the minesweeping trawler HMT HORNBEAM, former solicitors' clerks, commercial travellers, lorry drivers etc., have formed a dance band "The Sweepers Swingsters".
75 years after the citizens of Marple raised £75,000 to adopt HMS Maple, the plaque commemorating this feat has been placed in Marple Memorial Park, near to the War Memorial. The plaque was acquired by Bernard Mifflin, local resident and art teacher at The Willows School and spent over 30 years in his garden. It has been donated to MLHS by his niece, Julie Clay.
October 1859 – letter from William Foster, ship’s carpenter to his wife:
“My dear wife, I am sorry to inform you that the ship is a complete wreck. She has gone to pieces this morning, about 5 o’clock. There are only 25 – 30 of us saved out of about 400 souls.
Dear wife, give my love to the children and tell them I will be home as soon as the letter.”
Amongst the passengers who did not survive was Sarah Ann Foster (neé Woodruff). Sarah was born in Hatherlow in the township of Bredbury on the 28th April 1821 and christened at Hatherlow Independent church. Her mother was Mary Woodruff and it is likely that Sarah was illegitimate, as her father’s name is not recorded.
We next hear of Mary Woodruff from an entry in Pigot’s Trade Directory for 1834 “Taverns & Public Houses - Hare & Hounds - Mary Woodruff, Chadkirk”.
Woodruff was a common name in the local area (Woodruff is the name of a creeping plant with a small white starry flower, which grows in woods and shaded hedgerows). The burial records for All Saints Church, Marple list many Woodruffs, in particular, there is a grave inscription for a family from Bredbury that includes a Mary Woodruff whose dates tie in with those of Sarah’s mother.
Sarah married John Foster, a widower, on the 10th December 1844 at Stockport Parish Church in the Market Place. John was the publican at The Black Boy, Great Underbank in Stockport. Interestingly, although Sarah’s father isn’t named on the baptism record, nor is he married to her mother, he is named on Sarah’s marriage certificate - John Priestnall, Dealer in corn and flour.
A Mellor Photograph
In the Local History Society’s photograph archives we have a folder labelled “People named” and another one labelled “People unnamed”. Unnamed ones are occasionally identified. Named ones are quite often known because of their local history connections. However there is this one very poor photograph of a couple in a cottage garden, named on the back “Amanda and Henry Prevost” No one at the Archives recognised these names but, armed with this information, it has been possible to at least trace part of the life story of Henry.
According to census details from 1841 to 1911 the Ratcliffe family lived in Priestfield House (off Strines Road). However, on three of the censuses (1841, 1861 and 1871) the name of the house was given as Captain Nuttalls. This information has come to light due to researching a request from Steve Till who lives in Somerset. Details of this research are now in our archives.
This article contains a newspaper report on an industrial accident at Botham’s Mill, Mellor in 1878, which resulted in the death of an 11 year old girl, the subsequent inquest and recommendations.
The industrial revolution brought with it a large demand for female and child labour. Prior to this, children had always done work, in their homes or fields nearby, much of it depending on the season. With the transfer of the work to textile factories they now often worked more than 12 hours a day.
The late Peter Bardsley (1929-2010) scoured the 19th and early 20th centuries Stockport Advertisers, and other local papers, in the Stockport Heritage Library for these stories of the Marple past. Peter was a stalwart of several organizations in Marple, including the Local History Society and the Holy Spirit Church. He authored or co-authored several local history books, including Hollins Mill and Brabyns Hall and Park, both with Ann Hearle. In May 2011 a new display board, in the Marple Memorial Park, about the Carvers and Barlows, was dedicated to Peter.
Thank you, Peter
(left) at the first Gourmet Market in Stockport in 2006, tasting donkey sausages!
A recent request from Janet Davies enquiring about her husband’s ancestor, Ann Maria Vanpine, led to a search on line and in our archives. From these it is possible to learn about some periods in Ann’s life.
The Duke of York’s Royal Military Asylum,(left) records Ann’s admission to the Southampton Branch at the age of 10 on the 5th December 1821. This was a separate branch of the Chelsea RMA and was exclusive to girls. It was established as a haven for the orphaned children of soldiers who had fallen in the war with France 1793 to 1815 (Battle of Waterloo).
A letter in Cheshire Ancestor from Joyce Rishworth with a photograph of The Jolly Sailor at the time of some celebration and asking whether anyone could suggest what event this was, led to a visit to our archives of Joyce, her husband, John, and his sister, Mary.