Syleham in Suffolk
My Great Grandmother Lucy was born on 2nd July 1844 to Richard Moore. She was born in Syleham, a village in Suffolk, as was her father in 1805. He spent all his life in the village and died there in 1870. He was married in Syleham in 1830 to a local girl two years younger than he was, Elizabeth Evans. He was employed as the village carpenter. His widow died in Syleham in 1891. In 1861 their address was Upper Green in Syleham. His father, also called Richard was born in Rishangles (a small village a few miles away) but was living in Syleham by the time of his marriage in 1794. His wife Phoebe (née Juby) was a Syleham girl aged 20 at her wedding in Syleham church.
Syleham is in north Suffolk on the south bank of the river Waveney near Harleston. The land is low lying and can easily become water logged. You would not think such a remote corner of the country had ever seen anything of note, but in 1173 that unruly Baron Hugh Bigod surrendered his castles at Bungay and Framlinghan to king Henry II who was camped at Syleham with his army. It was on this occasion that Bigod made his famous rhyme: “Were I in my Castle upon the River Waveney, I wouldne care for the king of Cockney”
From the eighteenth century our family was slowly but surely advancing up the social scale; my great great great grandfather born in 1764 worked as an agricultural labourer all his life and died a pauper in his 86th year. (In those days you did not retire on a pension if you were poor, but went on working as long as you were able. At least he kept out of the workhouse.) His son was a step up, a skilled worker (a carpenter), and his daughter Lucy married a prosperous shopkeeper. Her daughter (my grandmother) married a linen draper and her daughter married an optician. Her daughter took her degree at Oxford and retired from Calgary University as Professor of Rhetoric. In six generations we have not done too badly but a another branch of Lucy’s family produced a university lecturer in Electrical Engineering a generation before.
Lucy’s father was forty when she was born. He lived to be 66, dying a year before Lucy married my great grandfather William Rutter. He was the baker in Stradbroke and originally she was employed as housekeeper to take care the domestic duties looking after his large family, his first wife having died in October 1870. By the following March she and a young girl called Mary Aldous were installed as live-in servants. She soon became Willliam’s second wife in April 1872 and went on to have a large family of her own.
Lucy’s mother was Elizabeth (née Evans). Elizabeth was illiterate, signing her name with a ‘X’ on the birth certificate. Lucy was certainly not illiterate, and I have a copy of a letter she wrote in January 1905, distributing various items to her children following the death of her husband in 1904. Her husband had a confectioners shop; the bakers shop is still there and I was conducted round the bakery last year by the current owner. Lucy ran a profitable sideline selling seeds. She kept chickens behind the shop which was also her home. The fowls were passed on to her youngest son Arthur.
Like many late Victorian families, her children would have been taught the piano; I do not think Lucy herself would have learnt to play. The best pianist appears to have been her daughter Mary as she was given the piano. (Mary’s daughter Jill is still living in Felixstowe.) My mother remembered her grandmother well, being 14 when she died in 1924. Since moving to Wolverton (now part of Milton Keynes) at the age of 10 she would have seen her grandmother only seldom if at all, but she recalled how very upset she was when her youngest son Arthur was killed on the Somme. When Lucy died in 1924 at the age of 80, one of of her effects which was auctioned off was a 1922 Ford Model T Coupe motorcar. She obviously had not driven it herself, she had been driven around by her son-in-law Bertie Bullen. But whoever was the driver, they had not used it very much; according to the sale details it was virtually brand new.
Another item in the sale also makes her seem part of the modern world; an HMV Gramaphone and a box of records. There may have been electricity in Stradbroke by 1924, but it would not have been required for listening to music. The gramophone was a wind-up one.
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