While continuing my seven year research into my wife's Cotswold farmer family, the year 2007 to date has proved to be unbelievable.
The 1881 & 1891 censuses showed my wife's great uncle Thomas Goddard Hill, his wife Ann and six children farming at Catswood Farm in Stancombe,Bisley. Also listed were the farm labourers Thomas employed, one of whom was 20 year old William Trinder.
When reading the name of the farm on the census, we couldn't believe our eyes! We excitedly ploughed through our family photographic albums and there we found several photographs of our car and caravan on Catswood Farm in 1983! Nearly a quarter of a century ago, my wife and I had parked our caravan, on several occasions, on a farm owned or tenanted by her great uncle nearly 140 years ago and never knew it!
I wrote to the "Owner/Occupier" who we now know is Mervyn Dickenson. We received a warm reply and an invitation to visit the farm. On that day in February when the Arctic hit the country, we drove the 210 miles return journey from Devon to the Cotswolds. What a wonderful day that turned out to be.
The farmhouse, built in 1590, had been beautifully restored over a period of 50 years by Mervyn and his wife Jane. Mervyn gave us a tour of the house from cellars to attics. We walked through bedrooms which we know my wife's ancestors had slept in and indeed were born in.Mervyn had located the graves of great uncle & aunt Thomas & Annie in the cemetary of Bisley Parish Church which we visited.
We ended our visit taking lunch with Mervyn in a centuries old inn in Bisley. Sitting by a log fire and gazing out at the snow laden trees and ancient Cotswold houses, it was easy to visualise great uncle Thomas Goddard Hill supping ale with other farmers over 100 years ago, probably on the very seats where we sat.
On a beautiful sunny day in April, my wife and I were atop of the cliffs at Beer, not far from where we live. We began a conversation with a couple who it transpired came from Stroud.We mentioned our connection with the Cotswolds (we lived there ourselves in the 60's & 70's)and were delighted to learn that they both knew not only Catswood Farm but also Fennells Farm owned by my wife's great grandfather 200 years ago. The lady used to play with the children of Fennells Farm when she was a child. Even more surprising was the fact that as a child in 1940, she knew the 80 years old William Trinder who in 1881 was a farm labourer at Catswood Farm run by great uncle Thomas!
I know the world is a small place, but I find these coincidences quite amazing! But then, at 80 years of age I find it amazing that I am still alive to find amazing things!
Dennis Harold Field
Please login if you wish to rate this article.