Bob Evered tells the story of one of the oldest Evered/Everett family lines in England. He describes his role in saving the Tytnesfield Estate, its history and link to his own family line, and some of his childhood memories.
The Campaign To Save the Tyntesfield Estate When George Richard Lawley Gibbs 2nd, Baron Wraxall, died on the 19th July 2001 there was immediate speculation over the future of his estate. With no immediate heir, the title was passed to his brother, Sir Eustace Gibbs of Coddenham House, a countryseat in Suffolk. He said: “My brother left his entire estate to me and my half-sister and our respective families.”
Sir Eustace was expecting a hefty inheritance tax as well as a lengthy list of renovation work to the estate. He said, “It is exceedingly unlikely that either of us or our families will live in the house.” It was about this time that I contacted the National Trust in the hope that they would be interested in purchasing the whole or part of the estate, if and when it went on the market.
The National Trust agreed to become involved and launched their Save Tyntesfield Campaign at the Tyntesfield House, on the 30th April 2002, amid intense media presence. A few days earlier, Geoff Mowday, who was Communications Officer of the National Trust Wessex Region had invited me to the launch and subsequent events. He was also a most affable Australian with whom I hit it off immediately. The campaign was launched when Fiona Reynolds, the Director General of the National Trust, and I co-presented early donations to the treasurer of the National Trust.
The campaign was to run for just fifty days with the initial target that would be solicited from public donations to be £1 million. The final bid was due by mid-June which produced a nail-biting seven weeks. There were countless appeals on radio, television and in newspapers. During this period I put out my own Save Tyntesfield leaflets and wrote countless letters to anyone I thought could help, including Buckingham Palace, The House of Commons, and the American Embassy.
Finally on the 18th June, 2002 it was announced that the Trust had bought two of the three prime lots, subject to contract. These lots included the Tyntesfield House (and about 100 acres) and the Home Farm (plus 400 acres). We had to wait another six weeks for the contract to be drawn up and completed. The Handing-Over-of-the-Key-Ceremony took place on the 6th August and the National Trust announced that this campaign had been their most successful over the past ten years!
The public’s response was outstanding with donations of £3 million towards the stated initial £15 million required. There were also two anonymous benefactors who gave donations of £4 million and £1 million, respectively. The campaign’s initial target had been exceeded beyond all expectations. Donations flooded in, not only from the UK, but from all over the world! However, the final boost that most likely clinched the success of the campaign was an unprecedented grant of over £17 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Thanks to the foregoing, Tyntesfield is now in the hands of the National Trust, in perpetuity, for all of our children and our children’s children.
My own family line is tied to this area of Somerset and specifically the area called Wraxall.
An Overview of Historic Wraxall and the Tyntesfield Estate
The village of Wraxall lies midway between Bristol and Clevedon. The origin of the name Wraxall (Werocosale as it was known in earlier times) is “Nook of land frequented by the buzzard or other bird of prey”’. For ancient administration purposes (and some modern) it came under what was known as the Portbury Hundred in the County of Somerset. There is some evidence of human activity in pre-historic times in Wraxall. For example an Early Iron Age bronze torque was found near Birdcombe Court and to the south the remains of a Roman Villa (occupied before 250 AD) were discovered in 1950.
The total early acreage of the Parish of Wraxall and its chapelries (Nailsea, Flax Bourton & Failand) was 7,594 acres. After divisions in 1811 its size was reduced to 4,125 acres. Wraxall came under the Deanery of Bedminster and Redcliffe with the county border extending to the River Avon at Bristol. At the beginning of the 19th century the population of Wraxall was 540 and this rose to 921 by 1891. Today the population is 2360 (2001).
The All Saints Church dates to the 14th century and is located in the village. The tower, clock and bells were added in stages during the following centuries. In the chancel are the painted stone figures of Sir Edmond Gorges (died 1512) and Lady Anne lying in state. He is in armor with a greyhound at his feet and she is lying in a red gown trimmed with ermine, her wedding ring is on her right hand. She is lying on her husband’s right to show her superior rank since her father was John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk. She was also the great aunt to two Queens, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
As a boy the Prince of Wales (George IV) was said to have played the game five stones against the church’s tower, and to have been rebuked by the Rector, most likely Reginald Cotton, Rector from 1767 to 1780.
The church’s tower was also of special interest to me because my father is buried at its foot, a short distance from the entrance steps. He was a keen campanologist (bell ringer) who had served as a bell ringer at Wraxall his adult life. He had followed in his father’s footsteps and plaques in the belfry commemorate various peels giving both of their names.
To the south of the tower is the “New Churchyard” where a fine Stone Cross stands with the names of The Fallen in the Great War on all four sides. It stands on four stone tiers, as does the 15th Century cross to the north in the old churchyard. Within the church are brass plagues with the names of those who gave their lives from this village in two World Wars.
Wraxall Court is situated close to the parish church and this manor goes back to Saxon times. After the Norman Conquest it belonged to the family of De Wrokeshale and, due to the lack of male heirs, it passed to the de Morevilles and Gorges families
The Gorges family derived its name from a hamlet in Lower Normandy. The most famous family member was Sir Ferdinando Gorges who played a leading role in the colonization of America. He had a distinguished career in the army and as Governor of Plymouth. He was one of the chief organizers of the Plymouth Company after receiving a patent in 1606 from King James I for the colonization of the area from Washington, D.C. to the middle of Maine. He is still regarded as the founder of the State of Maine, though his family line died out in the middle 17th century due also to the lack of a male heir.
The Village of My Ancestors
In August, 1997 a letter from John Evered in Australia put me on the trail of my ancestors. It would seem that my family originally came from West Somerset. My family line follows Anthony Evered (1705-1731, of Stockland, Bristol) who was the youngest surviving brother of Robert Evered (sometimes spelled Everard) who was the Lord of the manor of Otterhampton. Anthony married Edith Launsey and they had one son, William Evered, who was baptised 5th October 1726 (See Burkes Landed Gentry, 1961 pp. 245-246). However, within five years both of William’s parents were dead. It is uncertain who raised William, possibly one of his uncles or his stepmother? He had two siblings but only his sister, Mary, survived into adulthood. His half-brother, Robert, died as an infant.
William married Ann Govetis on the 17th December, 1748 at Kilton, West Somerset (Phillimores Marriage Registers). Two of their children, William and Ann died early. It was their third son, also named William, from whom we trace our family line in Wraxall. He left West Somerset and set out for Wraxall around 1787. He probably brought very little “baggage” with him, and at some point, crossed the social divide into the ranks of those that served.
William must have set sail for Bristol. Two hundred years ago it was far easier to travel by ship than overland since both sides of the Bristol Channel had dozens of small ports. He may well have embarked at Combwich Wharf or Watchet, followed the Bristol Channel up the River Severn to Avonmouth, sailing up the Avon to Pill or even right into the heart of Bristol itself. William married Mary Mason at The Church of the Holy Trinity on the 27th March 1788. They settled in Wraxall, most likely at Belmont, within the confines of the Tyntesfield Estate.
The Belmont Estate was described by The Rev John Collinsons in his mid-eighteenth century History of Somerset: “On the southern side of the hill, and eastward from the village of Wraxall, stands Belmont, the seat of William Turner, Esq; a very neat house, situated on the declivity, with a fine wood in the back ground, cut out into beautiful walks; and the bare summit of the hill picturesquely rising above it. In front is a fine view to the south and southwest, and a gentle descent to the rich vale of Bourton.”
Belmont can perhaps best be described as an estate within the confines of 20th Century Tyntesfield. In the 1750s William Turner built a fine mansion here on the site of an old cottage. Then in 1767, at the age of 42, he became engaged to one of Bristol’s most famous daughters, the 22-year-old Hannah More. She gave up teaching to spend time preparing to become the wife of a rich landowner and during their six-year courtship she was known to have spent much time there. But Turner left the comely 28 year-old Hannah at the altar of Clifton Parish Church in 1773. Some say he was too frightened and overwhelmed by this lively, intelligent young woman. She went to London to pursue her writing career, but there is no doubt she was greatly disappointed. Her poem, The Bleeding Rock, about a rejected lover turned to stone (except for the heart which bled when struck) was based on rock strata in the Wraxall area with iron deposits which appeared to bleed after rain had fallen on them:
“The guiltless steel assailed the mortal part,
And stabbed the vital, vulnerable heart.
The life-blood issuing from the wounded stone,
Blends with the crimson current of his own.”
Turner even used selections from Hannah’s poems, placing them on tablets of wood, to decorate his grounds. Some forty-odd-years later as a small boy I would stand and stare in wonderment at these poems in the woods near Tyntesfield House.
In the Autumn of 1997, at the 14th Century All Saints Church, I stood for the first time next to a hitherto unbeknown to me EVERED family burial plot. It lies almost unnoticed in the old part of the churchyard, dwarfed by a giant yew tree nearby, some ten paces south from the Stone Cross with steps described by the Rev. Collinson as: “In the churchyard is a large yew-tree, and a fine cross, with the steps and pedestal nearly perfect (History of Somerset).”
The writing on the main headstone had long since disintegrated. However, I found the following inscription marked very faintly on the stone edging:
“WILLIAM son of ROBERT and SARAH
December 1897. 65 years
of REDLAND BRISTOL”
Also inscribed on the four corner stones were the initials “W.E. M.E. R.E. S.E.” These initials stood for William Evered, Senior., Mary Evered, Robert Evered and Sarah Evered. They were buried here in the following order:
· William Evered, buried 4th December 1829
· Mary Evered, née Mason (Wife of William), buried 14th April 1848
· Robert Evered (Son of William & Mary), buried 30th April 1865
· Sarah Evered, née Cox (Wife of Robert), buried 22nd December 1869
· William Evered (son of Robert and Sarah), buried 14th December 1896
William (1830 – 1896) was the last burial here almost exactly one hundred years ago. There can be little doubt that all of his cousins and the rest of the family would have been in attendance, including Mary Evered his second cousin with whom he lived for many years. She was the sole beneficiary of this considerable estate. This funeral must surely have been the largest collection of Evereds, living and dead, to have been together at this church. Other children of William and Mary and their descendants also lie buried elsewhere in this churchyard, including their youngest son William Evered (1806 – 1891). He had served as a butler at Belmont. His grandson, John Evered would also follow in his footsteps.
Standing in the churchyard, amid the graves of my ancestors brought to mind this poem.
Your tombstone stands among the rest;
Neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiselled out.
On polished, marble stone.
It reaches out to all that care,
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist, you died and I was born.
Yet each of us, are cells of you, in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse.
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor the placed you filled,
Spreads out among the ones you left,
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew,
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.
Parish records in England and Wales have been kept since 1538. Many of these records were kept in the Parish Chest and or with the Rector and Church Wardens. However these days most records are held by the County Record Office (CRO). Records for this community were housed at Taunton. During my research I came across an Inventory of Parochial Documents in the Diocese of Bath and Wells in the County of Somerset. This included Wraxall. Armed with this information I set out for the CRO in Taunton.
My first quest was to find the copy of the List of Inhabitants who commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, 1897. An earlier request to the Rector had led me to believe that it was at the Somerset County Record Office at Taunton. It was not found there either during this or subsequent searches made on my behalf by a professional researcher.
He reported that he could find few documents relevant to a parish of this size. One item he came across was a booklet called the Findings of Failand by L. Bowden. This had a humorous paragraph: “George Alvis was committed to the house of correction for one month for wilfully throwing a snake at a timid young lady on whom he had played similar tricks such as pitching toads and mice at her.”
I did finally find the book as described in the “Parish Chest” above. The highlight of that day was to sit quietly for a couple of hours and read with great interest, Collections for a Parochial History of Wraxall, by The Rev. George S. Master. In due course and with great difficulty I obtained my own copy of the book.
I learned that William and Mary Evered settled in Wraxall, most likely at Belmont, only a few years after the of departure Hannah More (mentioned above). They had seven children, four boys and three girls. The eldest sons Robert and William both died in childhood, the two subsequent sons were given the same names. The second Robert was born in 1802. He married Sarah Cox and later they kept The Prince Regent Put in College Place, Bristol. They had an only child, a son also named William, born 17th January 1830.
William, their youngest son, was born in 1806. In 1830 the 24 year-old William was working as a manservant at Belmont House. He married Esther Young at St. Mary-le-Port Church in Central Bristol on the 8th September 1830. They had a son, William Young Evered born 6th February 1836. Three weeks later Esther died from complications in childbirth.
The following year, on the 3rd October, William remarried a 24 year-old widow, Ann Purnall née Hawkins, who also worked at Belmont House. They too had only one child, a son, Robert Evered, born 10th October 1840. The 1841 census showed William at Belmont House and Ann as head of house with her seven-month old baby son Robert and one visitor. There was no sign of the 5 year-old William Young Evered who may well have been with grand parents Robert and Mary Young in Long Ashton.
The census of 1851 for Wraxall again gave Ann Evered as head of house with William Young shown as a 15 year-old pageboy and half-brother Robert as a 10 year-old scholar. It also identified Ann’s mother, Mary Hawkins, a 77 year old widow, living with Ann. Their address was given as Belmont Lodge. William senior was found in Belmont House as a butler.
William Young Evered married Ellen Heaven at All Saints Church in 1859. Their first-born child, William Evered, was baptised at Wraxall 21st October 1860. About this time they moved to Clifton, Bristol. In 1862 the two-year-old William died and that same year Ellen gave birth to a daughter Ellen. William Young and Ellen went on to have seven more children, five boys and two girls, all but one surviving into adulthood and all but one baptised in Clifton.
In the 1891 census, William Young Evered and his family were living in Clifton. He was shown as a 45 year-old Railway Carrier, a trade he shared at times with his half-brother Robert and cousin William. This William was shown in the same census living nearby with his 2nd cousin Mary Evered at the Elephant & Castle. Soon after the 1891 census he was back in Wraxall administering his 88 year-old father’s will. William senior died 19th May 1891. William Young Evered died in 1898, aged 62, at Wells, Somerset. He was recorded as a gardener of Wraxall. Ellen returned to Bristol and died there at the age of 90. She was buried at Wraxall, next to William Young Evered, on 19th February 1923.
The 1861 census showed Robert Evered as a 20 year-old apprentice carpenter still living at Belmont Lodge. Around 1860 William Gibbs started rebuilding Tyntesfield. I have concluded that Robert most likely completed his apprenticeship here.
On 29th October 1865 Robert married Laura Theresa Bailey of Frome in Bedminster Parish Church. His residence was given as Somerset Crescent. The 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses showed them continuing to reside at Wraxall. The 1881 census recorded Robert as a grocer and carrier while all other documents recorded him as a carpenter or foreman. The schedule showed them as living near Rock Farm. Between 1866 and 1879 they had seven children, two boys and five girls. Two of the girls died in infancy. The eldest child, Edith Laura was forty years old when she married Thomas Hayward in 1906. The remaining two girls Annie Beatrice and Alice Georgina stayed together ending their days in a cottage on the border between Wraxall and Nailsea. They died in 1952 and 1955, respectively and both are buried in the Wraxall Churchyard. The eldest son was Walter Samuel Morley Evered, my grandfather, and the youngest son, Frank Heyselden Evered, who as a young man left for Yorkshire where he married and raised a family.
Robert died on the 2nd April 1917 followed five days later by Laura. They were both buried at the Wraxall Churchyard on 5th and 13th April. Extracts below are from plagues for Robert and Laura that were said to have been mounted in St Mary Redcliffe.
We miss the hand-clasp; miss the loving smile; Our hearts are broken but a little while And WE shall pass within the golden gate; God comfort us, God help us while we wait.
“THY WILL BE DONE”
How hard it is to part with those
We loved on earth so dear,
The heart no greater trial knows
No sorrow more severe
Walter Samuel Morley Evered was born in Montpellier Place on the 17th November 1868 and baptised in Clifton. He appears in the 1871 census in Wraxall which records him as a 12-year-old scholar at the nearby boys’ school. He was still at home in Wraxall for the 1881 and 1891 census. This time he was recorded as a painter and decorator, most likely at Tyntesfield. He married Marian “Minnie” Pickford at Temple Cloud in 1895. The 1901 census records them in Wraxall with 5 year old son Walter John (Jack) Evered, my father. In 1913 they moved into the newly built Victoria Cottages.
Jack married Mildred Lucy Jones, my mother, on 1st January 1938. She had been born here in 1909. They continued to live in Victoria Cottages for the rest of their lives. I was born on the 20th of November the same year.
My maternal grandfather was away for the 1st World War serving as a gunner in the Royal Artillary and my uncle served in the Royal Navy from 1928 to 1953. During the 2nd World War Wraxall Court was taken over by the Admiralty. After the war Bristol University used it as a Halls of Residence following the bomb damage to Bristol.
Growing-up On the Tyntesfield Estate
In its heyday the Tyntesfield Estate covered in excess of 3,000 acres. The main part of the estate was protected by roads on all sides. Further afield it also owned most of the lands and farms immediately adjoining the estate. It had its own water supply from the Tyntesfield Pumping Station which utilized the natural local springs pumping the spring water up through the estate to the reservoir tank on the high ground. My grandfather ran this water system and pumping station until his death in 1945. He could often be seen traveling around the estate in his red and black colored Morris 8 car. Tyntesfield House, offices and various lodges were lit by gas, later it generated its own electricity from the “Engine Room” adjacent to the still working sawmill.
My father worked on the estate from the age of twelve to sixty-five (1908 to 1960) as a painter and decorator. He was most upset that the new estate agent at the time insisted that he must retire at age 65. He was soon offered a new job at vastly better pay and he continued to work for several more years on the then new Mizzymead housing estate at Nailsea.
Although the maintenance staff could be found anywhere on the estate they had a large builder’s yard that was situated just above Home Farm. Here farm gates and other items would be made, the selected stored timber coming directly from the estates own sawmill to the carpenters shop then into the next-door paint shop. If gates, gateposts and fencepost etc required treating then they were dipped for several days in the huge under cover open-topped creosote tank. To the far side of the yard was the forge and masons’ workshops. Near by was the bullpens and stabling for the carthorses as well as other livestock with special needs.
The estate was mostly self sufficient. In addition to the Home Farm, it had its own gardens and stables. Five generations of my forefathers worked in various roles on this estate ranging from gardener to butler. We have read elsewhere that Tyntesfield House was the ultra modern residence of its day. Most of the estate-workers houses on the estate were much more modest.
My family’s semi-detached 3-bedroom cottage comprised of bedrooms each with its own fireplace, and a front room with a fancy fireplace used only on special occasions. The kitchen had a built in dresser and was fitted with an open fireplace which also had a side-oven for cooking. This served as a dining room. There was a large back kitchen with sink and cold water supply that housed a scrubbed white kitchen-table and a large walk-in larder. Adjacent to the backdoor was the cupboard under the stairs, which also served as a refuge for mother and son during bombing raids during the war - my father stayed in bed!
The front door was always locked and bolted, only strangers would call there. The back door was rarely if ever locked, neighbors and other callers would just walk in. Outside, opposite the back door was the cookhouse, which was a converted coalhouse. The cookhouse contained a large oil/paraphin cooker with two or three burners and an oven. To the back of the cottage was a large loggia [??] open on two sides, which covered the washroom and store, as well as the one and only (outside) toilet. This was an E.C. (earth closet) until the early fifties when it was updated to an W.C. (water closet). The washroom housed a Belfast-sink with rotary motor which pumped rainwater from the huge purpose built covered rainwater storage tank. In the far corner of the wash room was a brick built boiler fitted with a metal insert and fireplace under which water was boiled. This was usually lit twice a week, Mondays for laundry and Friday nights for baths. I remember as a little boy the galvanized bath in front of the fire!
The large garden kept us going for most of our vegetable and fruit needs. Most other needs like coal, oil, meat, bread and milk were delivered to the door! The sole in-house entertainment was the radio. This ran off an accumulator which had to be taken to the South Western Electricity Shop in Nailsea from time to time for recharging!
Once or twice a week in the evenings Mr. Marsh would come to the village with his mobile fish and chip van, first to Tyntesfield Park then on his return parking in the quarry area opposite the Battle Axes. The food was all wrapped in newspaper of course, as they should be!
We were very lucky in Wraxall during the war. A German aeroplane crashed in an area known as Marshall’s field while we were at school. I was told that the pilot was buried in Wraxall churchyard and many years later a court order was obtained and his remains were exhumed and transferred to Germany. There were the odd bombs dropping nearby with one falling very close to Tyntesfield Chapel and another close to Rock Farm. The latter one caused the ceiling to fall in on young Norman Vowles whilst he slept, but he was unhurt. The usual shelter for most people in these circumstances was the aforementioned cupboard under-the-stairs. Another consequence that I recall of the war was “Double Summertime”. This meant that we had to alter the clocks, not once but twice. This had the advantage of letting farmers continue to work in their fields until nearly midnight.
The War Office requisitioned or was given the use of one or two large, triangular shaped fields from the dowager Lady Wraxall of Tyntesfield Estate for the purpose of building an American hospital. The site was picked well, situated as it was on the southern slopes of the hill with added benefit of a wooded backdrop. The camp was built, working day and night, by a work force that included my father and others from Tyntesfield Estate’s own workforce. The hospital was completed in short order and was known as Tyntesfield Camp. It became the 74th United States Army Field Hospital. American servicemen could often be seen going out with local girls, but they were always good to the local kids, being generous with chewing gum and bars of chocolate.
After the war Tyntesfield Camp became Tyntesfield Park, also known colloquially as “Tin Town”. It was turned into a housing estate to meet both local needs and to house a number of evacuees from London. The former wards were converted to 2 or 3 bedroom dwellings. At the top of the camp was a boiler house that provided hot water for most of the site.
Nearby, on Clevedon Road, Wells Thomas Ken, the well-known hymn writer, penned many of his famous hymns. He may have worshiped at Wraxall Church, having made the couple of miles ride on horseback over the hill, no doubt stabling his horse at the Rectory or at nearby Wraxall Court. His most famous hymn was Morning Evening and Night, which ended with the verse known as the Doxology:
Awake my Soul, and with the sun,
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and early rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, Angelic host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Most, if not all jobs, with tied cottages are usually reflected in the low wages and Tyntesfield was no different. However, my father always managed to save something and never had anything on hire purchase. “Cut the garment according to the cloth” was his favorite expression. Whatever one thinks of the historic manorial system, I could find no fault with my parent’s treatment during their latter years at Tyntesfield.
When my father died in 1972 Lord Wraxall wrote to my mother allowing her to continue living in the cottage, rent-free, for the rest of her life! When she died in December, 1976 this completed sixty-three years of Evereds living at this address!
Bob and his wife, Jen, live in Gloucestershire. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org