Tag Archives: Tearle


Tearle Meet 2012

Introduction by Richard Tearle:

Richard Tearle leader of the Yahoo Tearle Group

Richard Tearle, leader of the Yahoo Tearle Group.

The weather broke kindly for us, but only after an indifferent start; a light drizzle for much of the early morning but the grey clouds soon rolled away and we had bright and quite warm sunshine for the majority of the time.

In terms of numbers attending, this was the lowest turn out, but we knew that it might be more difficult for many people this time around. Having said that, the people who attended had a wonderful time and there were some very important and interesting stories that came out.

Stanbridge Church from the graveyard

Stanbridge Church from the graveyard.

I had stayed overnight in Luton so it was an early arrival for me and a chance to take some pictures of the church and churchyard. Ewart arrived just before the church was opened for us and we busied ourselves laying out the various trees, organising the visitors books and pamphlets.

From vestry to altar the branch of John 1741

From vestry to altar, the branch of John 1741. The printouts for other branches are laid over the pews.

Pat Field was once again an invaluable attendee and husband John looked after the refreshments in his own special way.

Elaine arrived a little later with Sheila Rodaway who had timed her holiday in England to coincide with The Meet – and wonderful it was to see her. Elaine had been showing her around Tearle Valley, especially Wing and Leighton Buzzard.

The Meet gets under way

The Meet gets under way. From left: Irene Fairley, Ewart, Steph Teale, and Elaine with Richard and Sue Flecknell and Sheila Rodaway.

Lunch was taken as usual at the 5 Bells and I made a short welcoming speech and then passed the honours to Ewart who delivered a wonderful and very moving tribute to dear Rosemary, whose passing last year was a blow and a shock to us all.

Rosemary Tearle and Nightingale - August 2009, Kaeo, Northland, NZ

Rosemary Tearle and Nightingale – August 2009, Kaeo, Northland, NZ

The afternoon passed at a more leisurely pace and we finally wound up the proceedings at around 4-30. One of the last people to leave was Deborah Meanley, who gave both Ewart and myself a signed copy of her book of her poems. I read them that night and they are both wonderfully witty and, in places, quite acerbic!

Sue and Richard Flecknell arrived and Ewart spent some time finding Sue’s grandfather on the Tree – but there is perhaps another story there…

Thanks also to Rod and Stephanie who drove down from Yorkshire just to be here – and in doing so they – and we – made a fascinating discovery connecting Teales and Tearles: it could be that Rod will have to change the spelling of his name on his fleet of breakdown vans!!

All in all, then, a good day in which we were able to concentrate more on individuals rather than generally pointing people towards the right tree.

My thanks to all who attended, to Ewart for all his very hard work and Elaine for her organising skills – not to mention her shortbread!
Richard Tearle
July 2012

About 30 people turned up for TearleMeet 4 but what we lacked in numbers, we made up for in the excitement of our discoveries.

We were especially pleased to see the visit of Sheila Rodaway, who had made the journey from Canada.

Sheila Rodaway of Canada

Sheila Rodaway of Canada.

It was also nice to see that progress had been made on basic research since the last Meet. There was an enlarged Tearle Memorials in Stanbridge (2012 edition) pamphlet, and many of the branches of The Tree had grown considerably. The John 1741 branch, as you can see in the picture above, stretches all the way from the altar to the vestry. The Joseph 1734 branch simply did not fit in its usual place in the north transept, either, and there were also two trees that had not been on display before – Nathaniel’s Tree and Ebenezer’s Tree.

We now have a tradition of honouring our passing family, and a display incorporating a poster for John L Tearle, Rosemary Tearle, and the men and one woman who died in two World Wars was placed near the window, as you can see, below.

We will remember - our gratitude to John, Rosemary, and the men and one woman of two World Wars

We will remember – our gratitude to John L Tearle, Rosemary, and the men and one woman of two World Wars

To complete the arrangements for the day, Elaine had baked a great supply of her famous cookies – shortbread slices and afghan biscuits – while John Field had volunteered to be the Canteen Manager, and Pat Field took up the Front of House position near the entrance door, ensuring that everyone who arrived was welcomed, registered, given a clipboard, documents and pen, shown the exhibits and offered a lunch order. Events such as this cannot be held without the dedicated work of a few inexhaustible volunteers, and we thank them.

Richard’s inspiring welcome message, reproduced below, set the tone for the day, which was welcoming and inclusive, as is Richard himself.

The churchwardens had set out the church documents for people to study: there was the marriage register, the banns register, the burials register and the complete booklet of the Bishops Transcripts of the Parish Registers, begun in 1562.

The little village church from where we originate has a long and rich history, and we are proud to be amongst its children.

We also had on display the greetings messages we received from our world-wide family:

Dear Richard, Ewart and Pat

I hope everything goes well tomorrow – pleasantly warm, not too blustery or rainy, good turnout, interesting networking, good lunch.

Will be thinking of you

Best wishes


Dear Ewart & Richard,

Wishing you all a very happy day in Stanbridge on Saturday.

Kind regards

Catherine Brunton-Green

G’day Ewart
Please accept the greetings of Denice (nee Tearle) and I for your Tearle Meet tomorrow.

We have very pleasant memories of the Meet in 2008 and the fine arrangements that were made for that day. Of course, meeting the “Tearles” and seeing things Tearle in Stanbridge was extra special.

Greeting also to Elaine who shared with you in Brisbane meet no 2 and to Richard who inspired the first one on the occasion of his visit.

Our visit last year to your home and your guided tour of parts of Tearle Valley are also remembered with pleasure and gratitude.

I am not sure when it will be but I am determined “we will be back”.

Love and peace

Ray Reese

Thank you. We can assure you that you were missed, and all of us here wish all of you, the very best.

As part of the welcome pack, we printed Richard’s welcome message and included it with the Memorials pamphlet.


What happened?

 So now to business. We laid out the branches of The Tree, an impressive 400-odd pages glued together in long strips about three A4 pages deep, and up to seventy-eight pages wide. Once the branches were down, visitors had to watch where they walked, lest they stepped on a branch, or someone on all fours studying a branch.

The rich documentation left for us by the churchwardens, as well as the objects and documents visitors had brought us were an ongoing source of interest.

Sheila Rodaway chats with Tricia, Deborah and Irene over the church registers

Sheila Rodaway chats with Tricia, Deborah and Irene over the church registers

Sheila Rodaway, a cousin of John L Tearle, talks with Goff and Sharron, below. Goff’s ggg-grandfather was Thomas 1807 who married Mary Garner of Toddington. Thomas was also my ggg-grandfather.

Sheila Rodaway talks with Goff and Sharron

Sheila Rodaway talks with Goff and Sharron.

Highlights Part 1

Mary Andrews of Eggington

By ten o’clock, after the usual gloomy, rain-drenched start to a TearleMeet in Stanbridge, the sun was out and some had left the body of the church to explore the headstones, the Monuments pamphlet clipped to a board, pen in hand.

“I’m James Andrews, and this is my wife Margaret,” said a chap with a grey beard and a red striped shirt, who suddenly appeared at the door. “I’m not a Tearle, but my great-great grandmother was Mary Andrews and I know she married a James Tearle. I don’t know anything about what happened after that, but I was hoping someone here might know…”

“She was my great-great grandmother, too,” I grinned. I reached onto the registration table and took a Monuments pamphlet, clipboard and pen. “Let me show you something, and you can read out to me page nine of this pamphlet.” I led off to show them the headstone I had known about since my first visit to Stanbridge in 1997.

“Is it really this easy?” Margaret murmured to James. “The first person we talk to is your cousin?”

“We know a lot about the Andrews,” said James as we walked round the tower and past the great west door. “Mary and her family were all from Eggington.”

“That’s right,” I said. “I don’t know very much about Mary’s family, I’m afraid, but I can give you answers to your first question.” We’d arrived at the headstone and James read the inscription. James Tearle and Mary. He was visibly moved. He had been closely investigating Eggington, he had been researching for years, and here was Mary’s headstone in Stanbridge, almost within sight of Eggington, and certainly a very short walk. We paused while James paid his respects.

 “There’s something else,” I said. “Come and have a look at this.”

We walked to a leaning headstone and I indicated they should read the inscription.”Charles Shillingford and Caroline,” he read. He looked up. “And?”

I turned to Margaret. “Now read page nine of your Monuments pamphlet.” She read it out slowly, and when she’d finished she blinked several times, trying to absorb the timeline, but smiling at the last line of Mary’s story. “Much Married Mary,” she quoted, the alliteration tripping gently from the tongue.

“After James’ death, Mary married this Charles Shillingford, and I have a photo of the Shillingfords, Mary and Charles, given to me by Clarice Pugsley. When Charles died, Mary, as Mrs Shillingford, married the brother of both James and John, the sexton, in Watford. Her son, Levi, the blacksmith of Wing, witnessed the marriage. As Mrs Tearle again, she died in 1914, and is buried with James, her first husband. William Tearle, the third husband, has no headstone, which is a shame, but the family of William and Catharine nee Fountain is very influential in turn-of-the-century Tearle history.”

Ewart with James and Margaret Andrews

Ewart with James and Margaret Andrews.

Meeting my Andrews cousin was a highlight of the day for me, and I would have gone home very happy if that was the sum of all that happened, but there was much, much more.

Part 2

Richard and Sue

Elaine appeared at my shoulder while I was looking in Joseph’s branch laid out in the north transept.

“Ewart, this is Richard Flecknell and Sue, and both of them are Tearles.”

Richard shook my hand, “My family is from Hockliffe, but there are gaps in the record, and it seems my gg-grandfather, James 1806, is either an import, which seems unlikely, or wasn’t baptised, which also seems unlikely, or the record was lost, and I think that’s what happened. In the 1930s many of Hockliffe’s PRs were simply lost. Part of Hockliffe lies in the Chalgrave parish, and those records are more or less intact.”

Elaine Tearle chats with Richard Flecknell

Elaine Tearle chats with Richard Flecknell.

I had a look on Joseph’s branch; I was sure this James had married a girl called Webb. I found them – he did; in fact, he and Mary Ann nee Webb had fourteen children and James was actually Joseph and Phoebe’s grandson. Joseph would have known nothing about little James, but Phoebe would probably have bounced him on her knee.

Richard Flecknell and Sue tell their story to Richard.

Richard Flecknell and Sue tell their story to Richard.

“It’s a little complicated,” I explained, but we’ve spent quite a bit of time on James, and we are pretty certain he is an unbaptised son of Richard 1778 and Mary nee Pestel.”

Richard looked dubious “Or undocumented, perhaps,” he said, “Given the gaps in the Hockliffe record.”

“That’s entirely possible,” I concurred. “Still, there are very few couples having children in Tearle Valley at this time, so the chance of James’ parents being Richard and Mary is very high.”

“I’ll keep looking for the evidence, but I’m not hopeful any more,” said Richard. “The youngest child of James and Mary Ann Tearle was Emily, who was born in Dunstable in 1852. She married Harry John Bull in 1874 and I’m the grandson of their youngest daughter, Millicent Bull.”

I looked at Sue.

“Oh!” she said with a start, realising the eyes of the group were now on her. Richard Tearle had just joined the group and he, too, was interested in her story.

“My great-grandfather was Levi Tearle, and he was born in Thorn, near Dunstable, in 1855,” she announced.

“Down Chalk Hill on the A5, turn right into a tiny lane marked Thorn and at the end there’s a cluster of farm buildings. That Thorn?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Sue. “The cottages really were for the farm labourers, and there’s even a small cemetery bounded by a wrought iron fence.”

“Levi of the beautiful headstone in Dunstable cemetery?”

“I’ve been there,” she said “I feel somehow that I know him.”

“I have researched a great deal about Levi Tearle of Thorn,” I said, “and everything I found out was a tribute to him. He seems to have been a thoroughly nice chap. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Richard cleaned his glasses while he looked at her steadily, taking in a shy, almost reticent, young woman, who seemed surprised at the interest she was generating. “Which of Levi’s children are you descended from?” he asked.

“Levi married Mary Summerfield,” she said, warming to the task and incidentally showing she had researched her family well. “He was always involved in the hat making business in one way or another; either making hats or dealing in the materials that hats are made of.” Richard nodded.

“They married in Dunstable in 1874,” she said, “and they had three children. In 1881, their little boy Sydney George was born and early the following year, he died.” She paused to take in the enormity of losing an infant. “For some reason, they seemed desperate to have a Sydney George, so when their next child, in 1861, was a boy, they promptly called him Sydney George, too. Their next and last child was Edward James and he was born in 1889. He was my grandfather.”

I had found Edward James’ grave under the trees near the road in Luton Cemetery. He had died in 1976. Sue must have known him. “Did you know he won the Silver Medal in WW1? He was wounded at Gallipoli.” I pointed to him on the chart.

Her eyes widened, “I only knew he was in the War and he was injured, but carried on when he recovered.”

“Men who were severely injured were the only ones who were awarded the Silver Medal,” I said. “Usually their injuries were so bad they barely survived, let alone went back into the fray. Your Teddy then fought in Egypt, and the Somme in 1916.”

Richard beside me shook his head. “They were so damned tough,” he breathed. “How on earth did they do it?”

With some pride now at her grandfather’s achievements, Sue handed me a photo. “Teddy is the one standing on the far right,” she said. Elaine laid the photo down and took the picture for us which I am showing below. The two women centre front are cradling rifle barrels and the group are workers at the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. They made Enfield Rifles, bren guns and sten guns, the EN referring to their Enfield manufacturing site. I gathered the Chambering Section worked on the bore and the rifling. Sue’s grandfather, “Teddy,” worked with considerable skill.

“During the War he worked in the Royal Engineers,” I said, studying the photo. “I would think he probably declared his skills when he signed up, so they drafted him there.”

“My grandfather,” said Sue, winding up her presentation, “was a son of William Tearle who married Hannah Pratt, and William was born in Houghton Regis in 1814 to a Richard and Mary.” She stopped.

“Well done,” I said “Your Richard and Mary are also Richard’s Richard and Mary nee Pestel. You are cousins, but very safely distant cousins.” She smiled her shy and beautiful smile, her quest complete.

“Heavens,” she said. “We knew were were both Tearles, but we thought we had come by different routes. Who would have thought we both came from Chalgrave?”

Chambering Section RSAF 1914-80 Luton Edward standing rt

Chambering Section RSAF 1914-18. Edward (Teddy) is standing at the far right, middle row.

I studied the photograph, and put Richard and Sue in the picture with Teddy. Well, that was a result. But the day wasn’t finished with us yet, in fact it was still building.

Part 3

Rod and Stephanie

“Ewart! Do you know where the Millings family is?” Pat Field was a couple of aisles away and busy showing a couple I had not yet met around the branches, draped as they were over the pews, and spread along the floor. I broke off from talking with James Andrews and thought for a moment.

Rod and SheilaTeale with Pat Field and Sheila Rodway.

Rod and SheilaTeale with Pat Field and Sheila Rodway.

“They were Methodists,” I said, “so they are probably in the branch of Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.” That was where Pat and her visitors were standing, so they bent down and resumed their scan of that huge branch. I seem to remember them visiting all the strips of printout. When I finished annotating the picture Sue had showed me, the couple took the opportunity to step forward. A chap in a grey-blue shirt and an almost white, closely-cropped beard introduced himself and gave me his business card. “I’m Rod Teale and this is my wife, Stephanie,” he said, the Yorkshire in his voice as clear and as open as the smile on his face. A slightly worried red-head, in a black blouse and white jeans, standing at his shoulder smiled diffidently and shook my hand. “We recover broken vehicles throughout Yorkshire, and we guarantee to be there in 20 minutes. It can get a little hectic at times, but we have a fleet of recovery vehicles and we are pretty good at what we do.”

I smiled. It’s nice to hear someone talking enthusiastically about their business.

“We’ve spent the past few days in our van coming to this Meet,” he continued, “because we think – actually our daughter thinks – we are Tearles, not Teales.” He stopped for a moment to unfold a sheet of paper that turned out to be the birth certificate of a baby boy called William Teal who was delivered safely in December 1875 in a place called Windhill Idle. I couldn’t tell you where on a map Windhill was, but I knew from another family in Yorkshire that it was in the Bradford / Leeds area. Were these the Wortley, Leeds, Tearles?

“William was my grandfather, his son Willie was my father. I – we,” he put an affectionate arm around his wife’s waist, “have a son Rodger Teale and a daughter Charlotte. It was Charlotte who says we actually come from Bedfordshire and our name is Tearle. She heard this Meet was on, so we took a few days out from our business, and came down here to see if we could find any answers to Charlotte’s questions.”

“We were talking with Pat earlier,” said Stephanie, “and she thinks that Jabez’s grandmother was a Millings, so that’s who we were looking for. Pat says the Millings family is somewhere in those printouts.” She waved an arm over the entire expanse of the interior of Stanbridge Church.

I took a closer look at the birth certificate, the only proof they had that Charlotte might be right. William’s father was Jabez Teal and his mother was Mary Ann Teal, formerly Hallewell. Now, Hallewell definitely rang a bell.

Birth certificate of William 1876 Rod Teale's grandfather

Birth certificate of William 1876, Rod Teale’s grandfather.

We were standing at a small table in the centre of the church, and the Joseph 1737 branch was on the floor off to our right. Since it didn’t fit in the aisle, I had left the last few metres of the printout rolled up, as it had been in the tight confines of the boot of my car. I couldn’t accurately place the name Jabez, because there are 12 Jabez Tearles in the full Tree, but the Mary Ann Hallewell I knew was a Lancashire lass, and she had married a Jabez Tearle in Yorkshire. I walked quickly down the printout and couldn’t find Hallewell, or Millings, so I unrolled the end of Joseph’s branch and there was Mary Ann.

“Here we go,” I said and Rod looked hopefully over my shoulder onto the printout; to the mass of names in tiny type organised in a wildly random pattern, joined by lines of different width which dived off in various angular directions. Stephanie stepped over the printout and looked at the names upside down, waiting for their order to be explained. “Here is Mary Ann Hallewell,” I said, pointing to her name in what had become the centre of the printout, “and here is Jabez Tearle.” I pointed to the box around his name. Born 1851 in Stanbridge, married Mary Ann Hallewell in 1891 in Calverley, Yorkshire. Occupation: 1873 in Calverley, Labourer; 1891 in Ravensthorpe, Teamer. I looked at Rod for an explanation.

“The birth certificate says Jabez was a carter in a dye works,” he said, pointing to the certificate, still in his hands. “So, he’d be running horses. That’s what makes him a teamer. Perhaps because of his farming background in a rural village like this he was used to working horses, and he got himself a job with a team pulling drays. He’s working in the cotton industry, as you can see, because he’s working around a dyeing plant. At least he didn’t have to go mining,” he said with some feeling. He had inadvertently touched on the family in Wortley, Leeds. They were miners.

Death 1893, Dewsbury.

“We come from Dewsbury!” said Stephanie, seizing at last on an upside down word she recognised. “Once the family moved there, it looks as though we haven’t left since.”

I didn’t quite get it. I must have been looking puzzled, too.

“Our business is in Dewsbury, we really do live there.”

The penny dropped – this family has been in Dewsbury for more than a hundred years.

I paused for a breath. A few bricks had fallen into place, but you couldn’t make a house of them, yet. I scanned the certificate on my printer, and I have presented it above.

“Did you know William was in the First World War?” I asked.

“Yes, but only vaguely,” said Rod. The chart was quite clear – he was in the Machine Gun Corps, and in two regiments, since he had two regimental numbers. “Why two numbers?”

“Probably because the first regiment was decimated in battle, and the soldiers were transferred to another.

Rod was aghast at the sudden reality of battles so vast they destroyed whole regiments – and then the survivors were transferred to another, to continue fighting. ”Good heavens, what on earth do you think he had to endure?”

I paused while all of this sank in. Finally he turned back to the chart. “Did you know Clement Crowther?” I asked, pointing to William’s sister’s son.

A more homely vision replaced the war-torn landscape of the sea of mud that was Belgium in WW1; a dreamscape of being young and going on holiday, and visiting family. “Yes I did!” exclaimed Rod. “We went there quite a few times. I was told he was a cousin, but I was never clear just who he was.” He looked at the chart again, more closely this time, trying to add up all the details. “Aunt Ann.” He pursed his lips and blew out his cheeks in frustration. “Why didn’t I take more notice?”

I bent down to the chart and pointed to Jabez. “Now, if we follow this line from Jabez, you’ll see his father was Joseph Tearle, born in Stanbridge in 1797. He married Maria Millings.”

“That’s the family we were trying to find with Pat,” said Stephanie.

“They were a Soulbury family whom we had called Milward,” I explained. “We were contacted by the Millings family who told us what the modern spelling and pronunciation is, because, as you can well imagine, with Victorian laissez-faire spelling coupled with a lack of literacy on the part of the owner of the name, and difficulties by various historical bodies in transcribing handwritten documents, we had a variety of spellings. This is the one we have all settled on.”

“How do you know they were Methodists?” insisted Stephanie.

“Way back in the middle nineteen eighties when I was researching the Tearles in the Mormon Family History Centre in Hamilton, years before Elaine and I came to England, I found the Wesleyan Baptism Register from the Luton Circuit, filled out in Victorian times. Joseph and Maria nee Millings were in that register. Do you see Emma, Jabez’ sister?”

Everyone took a closer look at Jabez’ family.

“She married George Brightman of Soulbury, probably her cousin, and by 1884 she’d had 11 children. In late 1883 George died and by 1886 some of her children, and her brother William had emigrated to Australia, so she moved there to see what Australia had to offer. In Cooktown, a wild frontier town in North Queensland, she married a local character and womaniser named McGhie. The marriage didn’t last long because shortly afterwards she and William, and her youngest children, Habbukuke and Emma Jane Brightmen left on the Quetta for England. Early in the night sailing, while navigating one of the channels heading out to open sea, the ship hit a rock and sank in five minutes; Emma, William, little Habbukuke and Emma Jane all perished.”

Stephanie gasped and leaned the back of her head on the wall behind her, thinking of Emma in the darkness trying desperately to save her children. Jabez had lost his eldest brother, one of his sisters, a nephew and a niece to tragedy in a place so far away, it could have been on another planet.

We had exhausted almost all the information the birth certificate, and the chart, had to offer. I walked along the chart to find Joseph’s father, Jabez’ grandfather. It was William 1769, who had married Sarah Clarke. His brother was Richard 1778, who had married Mary Pestel.

Richard Flecknell, Sue and Rod were cousins. This is Stanbridge – things like that happen in a village.

Rod looked thoughtful. “So we are Tearle. That’s established, isn’t it?”

“Yes it is,” I said. “William is your grandfather, and the documentation for him and for his ancestors is compelling.”

Rod looked at Stephanie “What do we do now?” he asked.

“You’ll have to change the spelling on all your recovery vehicles,” I grinned.

The moment of discovery - Rod Teale is actually a Tearle

The moment of discovery – Rod Teale is actually a Tearle. Not so much a new Tearle family, as finding one which had disappeared.

Part 4

… and Deborah

Deborah Meanley contacted us to gain some details on her ancestry, that she had been unable to find by herself. She provided us with information about herself, and what she had found out about her family, and we had been able to supply her with fillings for the gaps in her family history. I added all the new information to the Tree, and Deborah said she would come to Stanbridge to see the result.

Deborah Meanley studies the John 1741 branch

Deborah Meanley studies the John 1741 branch

It turns out she is a descendent of the Tearle and Pantling marriages in Eggington in the 19th century, and therefore she is on the John 1741 branch, the same as I am, and which Mary Andrews of Eggington had joined. Her gg-grandfather, Richard Tearle 1794 married Dianah Pantling and their son, David 1818 married Deborah Pantling. I haven’t quite unravelled the intricacies of this but I wouldn’t be surprised if Deborah was Dianah’s niece. Thereafter, her family was in Dunstable; a classic Tearle story. In the 1911 Dunstable census, Deborah Tearle nee Pantling was living with our Deborah’s grandparents, in Dunstable, along with both of the in-laws and five children, one of whom would become our Deborah’s mother.

She proved much more interesting than the sober and somewhat scholarly person who had written to us. She spent much of her time in Stanbridge carefully looking through her branch of the family and noting the stories she found there. The couple of times I was able to speak with her, she was acutely aware of a lack of hearing.

“Excuse me if I don’t always get it the first time,” she said wanly. “Sometimes I have to hear it twice to pick up all the words. Deafness is such a curse because it strikes at the very heart of what it means to be human – we communicate in speech.”

She generously gave Richard and I a copy of her book Mother’s Prickly Poems and autographed it for us, as well. In it are some generous and fulsome, kindly and insightful, beautifully crafted poems, along with some deliciously acidic and biting commentary on people who should know better, but who set their own standards very low, and then always failed to meet them. The advice she gives her children comes straight from the heart, and from her own hard-won experience. Her most beautiful and touching poem is that written on the death of her younger brother who died in 1985 in a diving accident; “Farewell to a skin diver”.

Come and visit us whenever you like, Deborah.

Part 5

Lunch at the Five Bells.

Deborah is right in her comment below; much of the Five Bells is new, but the old part, where you enter, would have been familiar to Stanbridge residents as far back as the 1600s. The low-hanging oak beams, the thick oak planks on the floor and the smell of English ale tell stories to each other that only they remember. It’s as much a part of the Stanbridge landscape as the church itself.

Lunch at the Five Bells

Lunch at the Five Bells: Rod Teale, Tricia Milne, Irene Fairley, Sheila Rodaway and Deborah Meanley. Behind Deborah – John Field, Goff Tearle and Sharron.

Part 6

The end.

For me, TearleMeet 4 was a day of high drama and satisfyingly unravelled mysteries. I enjoyed it thoroughly. A TearleMeet is not about who comes, or how many come; it is entirely about the quality of the new discoveries that only such a personally attended Meet can provide. Can I please thank Richard Tearle, Elaine, and Pat Field for the photos above, and their permission to publish them here. Can I also thank Pat, Barbara and Richard for their ongoing efforts to make the Tree as complete, as accurate and as comprehensive as it can possibly be. Without their work, the Tree simply cannot grow.

Because I am a son of a country of the ANZACs, I take a special interest in the Gallipoli campaign. ANZAC Day is the most important national day on the New Zealand calendar, transcending politics. I now know of three Tearle men who fought there.

1. John Henry Tearle 1887 (9054, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers) of Hatfield who left his mother in Bengeo, Hertford, and joined the British Army. He was killed on 29 June 1915,  and is memorialised on the Helles Monument, overlooking the Dardinelle Straits. He was a son of dreadful poverty, and both his grandparents spent time in the debtors prison in Hertford.

2. Edward James Tearle 1889 (101941, Royal Engineers) son of Levi 1855 and Mary nee Summerfield, Teddy was wounded at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, but went on to fight in Egypt and the Somme. He was invalided out of the army and awarded the Silver War Badge.

3. Arthur Walter Tearle 1880 (3063, London Regiment) who was wounded in Gallipoli, and contracted typhus. He was repatriated to Valetta Hospital in Malta, and later fought in Egypt. He also was invalided out of the army, and received the Silver War Badge.

TearleMeet 2012

Deborah sent a message …

Thank you to Ewart & Elaine, Richard and Stewards for making the Day so ‘special’.

Apologies for  delay,  due to overload with grandchild minding and House Sale complications .

The whole day was enlightening and nostalgic for me as it reinforced my sense of belonging to the Hougton Regis, Harlington & Luton triangle despite no longer having elderly relatives in area since 2003. It is such a pity that there are no longer any brothers or elderly relatives to share the new findings with.

The Meal at Five Bells also had meaning – as it was probably almost unchanged since used by our ancestors?

Sorry that I was unable to take new information on board quickly,  due to the combination of deafness and stroke damage  a few years ago.

I finished off the day with a delightful  five hour visit to late Aunt Audrey/Babs ‘ 93 year old friend in Harlington and had a quiet journey home – arriving there just after midnight .

Warm wishes


As did Barbara


From one who was not there – a nice report. Pat had told me that numbers were down, which was a pity, but, as you say, it provided the time to concentrate on helping individuals and discovering more stories.

I’m sure that it was a lot of work again and it is marvellous that the meet is carrying on, thanks very much to your enthusiasm and persistence, Ewart.

Best wishes


And Sue Albrecht of Auckland

Hi Ewart and Elaine

I hear from Richard that the latest Tearle meet has been as much fun as the others, albeit a little smaller than previous ones?

Richard also tells me that there was a man there who mentioned that his grandfather(?) was a James Tearle whom he could not link to the tree. Could be no connection, but my father was a James Tearle who cannot be linked to the tree either. He died in Perth in 1992.

If our James Tearle cannot be discounted on that information alone, it might be worth pursuing further?

Freezing here. And Auckland is in the grip of a vicious virus, and none of us have been spared!


And Sheila

Hello Ewart and Elaine

Many thanks for everything last Saturday. You both do such a wonderful job in organizing this meet. My special thanks to Elaine for driving me to/from Leighton Buzzard and a tour of Tearle Valley, it was a very special day.

Thanks again



Tearle, Charles, 1894, Preston, UK (Loyal Nth Lancs Regt)

Here is his service record from CWGC

Name: TEARLE, CHARLES Initials: C Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st/5th Bn.
Date of Death: 30/11/1917
Service No: 36932
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 8.

Charles was killed during the Battle of Cambrai, which started on 20 Nov 1917. When the Germans regrouped and attacked on 29 Nov, after initial Allied success, Charles was killed in the following 5 days of fierce action. Cambrai Memorial was established to commemorate those who have no grave.

Son of Charles 1860 of Preston and Jane nee Swarbrick. His mother was Sarah Tearle 1831 who had made her way up to Preston following her father and brother, hoping for a better life. She married Thomas Hoole in Preston in 1868. Sarah’s parents were Joseph 1803 of Tebworth and Mary Ann nee Smith, who died in 1849. Joseph’s parents were Richard Tearle 1778 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Pestel. And Richard’s parents were Joseph Tearle 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.

There is a lot more written about the story of the Preston Tearles here, some of it occasioned by the discovery of the story of Charles Tearle, soldier.


Pte Charles Tearle 1st/5th Bn The Loyal North Lancaster Regiment.

The army record of gratuities to his family (below) show two sums sent to his father, Charles, in Preston.

Charles Tearle UK Army Effects


Here is the Cambrai Memorial in the grounds of the Louverval Military Cemetery.

Cambrai Memorial Louveral Military Cemetery

Cambrai Memorial Louverval Military Cemetery

Across the countryside Louveral Military Cemetery

Across the countryside Louverval Military Cemetery

The headstones in Louverval Military Cemetery mark the graves of fallen soldiers; however for those whose bodies were never found, the names are inscribed on the Cambrai Memorial.

Charles Tearle in Book of Remembrance at Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Charles Tearle in Book of Remembrance at Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Charles Tearle on the Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Here is Charles’ name on the Cambrai Memorial.


Tearle, Albert Ernest, 1889, Sutton, Surrey, UK (RFA)

Died 16 Apr 1917, Mesopotamia.

Mesopotamia is not a country, or even a region, it is a Theatre of War. Since he is buried in the CWGC Baghdad War Cemetery, this points to Albert being killed in Iraq.

Here is his service record from CWGC:

Name: TEARLE Initials: A E     Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Acting Bombardier
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery
Unit Text: 8th Bty. 13th Bde.
Date of Death: 16/04/1917
Service No: 46587
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: XIV. G. 8.

Rosemary Tearle of NZ found out about this chap, whom I had found in “Soldiers died in the Great War”. This is what she told me:
I did know about Albert Ernest Tearle, although with a slightly different place of death. Michael’s Aunt Evie (Evelyn Mary West nee Tearle) sent me some family history info before she died. She had Albert Ernest “Killed in action in India 1917 – He was single”. I will amend my records here accordingly.

For the record here is what I know of Albert Ernest.:
Albert Ernest Tearle, born 2 Jan 1889 at Sutton Surrey. Parents: William James Tearle 1860 and Lucy Ann nee Laine. (Tearle Grandparents, James 1834 and Sarah Ann nee Jones; great-grandparents, George Tearle 1808 and Elizabeth Tearle 1810)

Siblings: William Charles 1885, Reginald Arthur 1893 (who married Edith Maud Tanner and is in the wills section) and Grace Ellen 1900.

His brothers were butchers and his sister married a butcher, (he also had an uncle, John Thomas Tearle 1871, who was a butcher in the 1901 Sutton census) so perhaps he may have done a bit of butchering before he went to the War. William Charles Tearle also went to the War – he was a driver in the Service Corps and was mustard gassed. I don’t know if Reginald Arthur Tearle was in the War.

Enlisted Kingston-Upon-Thames, died Mesopotamia 16 April, 1917. He is listed on the Sutton Memorial in Manor Park, Carshalton Rd, Sutton.

I think the cause of the error in Aunt Evie’s report to Rosemary was because the 13th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, of which the 8th Battery was a member, fought with the 14th (Indian) Division in Iraq.* It was composed of battalions of the regular British Army, the British Territorial Force and the British Indian Army.  This does not mean that Albert ever lived or served in India. The 14th Division was engaged in battle in Iraq from 14 Dec 1916. In March 1917, the 14th Division had fought the Second Battle of Kut, and then captured (or freed from the Ottomans, depending on your viewpoint) Baghdad, under the leadership of Major-General Sir Frederick Stanley Maud. On 30 April 1917, the 14th Division fought in the Action of the Shatt Al Adhaim, but Albert never saw this. His record of Army gratuities, below, shows that on 16 Apr 1917, he was killed in or near Basra, and at a later date his body was removed to the GWGC cemetery near Baghdad. I shall let you make what you will of this document. It is very interesting. I ought to point out, too, that a Bombardier in the artillery was the equivalent of a Lance Corporal elsewhere in the army during WW1. So in this case he was an Acting Lance Corporal. Even so, he had responsibilities and duties to go with his new rank.

* Moberly, Brig Gen F. J. , The Campaign in Mesopotamia 1914-1918, 1923, London, HM Stationery Office.

Albert Ernest Tearle UK Army Effects

Albert Ernest Tearle UK Army Effects.

Rosemary was absolutely correct; Albert is remembered on the Sutton War Memorial. Here is the memorial itself, in the 4-acre grounds of Manor Park that have been set aside for it “For ever.”

Sutton War Memorial Manor Park Carshalton Rd

Sutton War Memorial Manor Park Carshalton Rd

Here is the dedication of the memorial for the casualties from Sutton:

Dedication of the Sutton Memorial to the war casualties.

Dedication of the Sutton Memorial to the war casualties.

And finally, here is that part of one of the many panels on the memorial that contains Albert’s name:

Bom Albert Earnest Tearle on Sutton War Memorial closeup

Bombardier Albert Earnest Tearle on the Sutton War Memorial, closeup.


Tearle, Alfred Edward, 1897, Watford, UK (1/Herts Regt)

Here is his service record from the CWGC
Name: TEARLE Initials: A E Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private Regiment/Service: Hertfordshire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st Bn. Date of Death: 10/05/1916 Service No: 4605
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. R. 8.

His parents were Alfred George Tearle 1872 Watford and Minnie M nee Cyster. His grandparents were Jabez 1844 Borehamwood and Susannah nee Payne.

Jabez’ parents were George 1818 of Dagnall and Annie nee Haws, who founded an Australian family. George’s parents were Able 1797 Edlesborough and Hannah nee Frost, and of course, this Able was the son of the famous Fanny 1780, possibly the daughter of Thomas 1737 Stanbridge and Susannah nee Attwell. So that makes Alfred a member of the branch Thomas 1737.

I note from the Hertford site that the 1st Bn in 19 August 1915 was transferred to 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, and on 29 June 1916 was transferred to 118th Brigade, 39th Division. Since Alfred was killed on 10 May 1916, he was never in the 39th Division. If you look up the activities of the 2nd Division, the poor chap never stood a chance of lasting the war. It looks as though he was killed between Loos and La Bassée during the battle of Loos.

His Army record of gratuities to his family shows only that he was killed “In Action”, and that two small gratuities were sent to his sister.

Alfred Edward Tearle UK Army Effects

Alfred Edward Tearle UK Army Effects

Alfred Edward is remembered on the War Memorial in All Saints Church, Hertford.

War Memorial All Saints Hertford

War Memorial, All Saints, Hertford.

War Memorial header, All Saints Hertford.

War Memorial header, All Saints, Hertford.

WW1 memorial names EA Tearle LJ Tearle All Saints Hertford

WW1 memorial names E A Tearle L J Tearle in All Saints Church, Hertford.

The second Tearle soldier on the memorial above is Leslie James Tearle of St Albans

The gate - Guards Corner and Windy Corner Cuinchy

The gate – Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

The massed graves of Windy Corner Cuinchy

The massed graves of Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

Alfred Edward Tearle Windy Corner Cuinchy

Alfred Edward Tearle headstone in Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

Alfred Edward Tearle in the Book of Remembrance Windy Corner Cuinchy

Alfred Edward Tearle in the Book of Remembrance, Windy Corner, Cuinchy.


Letters home, 2008, Christmas

On the week we paid off the mortgage, I lost my job. As part of the ServiceDesk management team, I had been to Brno in the Czech Republic to see how a model Desk ran. They regard these occasions as another opportunity to get as drunk as possible, on someone else’s money. “What happens on tour, stays on tour,” my boss explained. By 10:30pm my boss, the Chief Negotiator and our hosts were working their way through a stash of bottles in a local restaurant-come-pub. “You’re not drinking,” said the Negotiator. “You are making us feel uncomfortable.”

“I don’t judge you,” I said. “I just don’t drink.”

“We can’t get properly tanked if you’re sitting there stone cold sober.”

Back in Capability Green, near Luton, the autumn colours were beginning to grow riotous, led by the acers.

Capability Green

I have to save £34,000,” said my boss, “and it has to come from the Desk. She looked at me sharply. “I can save £54,000 if I cut your rate.”

“No you won’t,” I said.

“If you don’t take the cut, you will be deemed to have resigned,” she said.

I gave her my Blackberry, my laptop and my door key. On the way home I rang cousin Iris Adams. “Come and have a cup of tea,” she said. “It’s always nice to see you.”

The previous Saturday, Elaine and I had walked into the Halifax and paid off the final amount on our mortgage, plus a closure fee, plus release on the deed documents. “How do we get the deeds?” Elaine asked.

“In a couple of weeks Head Office will write to you and ask you how you want them delivered,” said the teller.

“That’s it?”

She smiled.

Outside the bank Elaine said, “We’ve just paid off two houses in our lifetime. And for exactly the same amount.” She took my arm and gave me a gorgeous smile. “What a relief!” She said. “No mortgage. Let’s go and get a cup of coffee.”

I suppose I shouldn’t really start near the end of the year, I should show you the highlights of the year more or less in chronological order.

The first highlight was our trip to Bordeaux which merged the end of 2007 into the beginning of 2008. It was cold, it was dark, it was miserable; and the French were even worse. We took an easyJet flight from Luton and landed early on 29 Dec 2007. The taxi wasn’t at all certain where the Confort Hotel Meriadeck was, but we swept through town in his elderly Merc and after running round the one-way system for a while, we dropped a street level under a bridge and pulled up outside a lift. The cabbie opened the boot, dropped our bags on the pavement and looked at us.

“Ici,” he said.

Some men in overalls were carrying mattresses into the lift, propping the door open as they loaded. We looked at the meter and gave the cabbie his fare. “Let’s try my French,” said Elaine.

“Ou est l’entrance?” she said to the nearest mattress-bearer. He looked at her blankly. “Do you know where the entrance is?” she said, trying the only other language she knew. He said something to the man carrying the other end of the mattress and she came back to me near the luggage. “I think they’re Turkish,” she said.

A short fat man in a grubby apron bustled up and waved the mattress into the lift. “Are you tryin’ to get into the ‘otel?” he asked in perfect Cockney. We nodded. “This is the goods entrance and there ain’t no door, but I’ll take you up to the first floor – that’s reception.”

We crushed into the lift alongside the mattresses and our bags. “Ow long are you ‘ere for?”  

“Until the other side of New Year,” I explained.

“Bordeaux ain’t much of a place in win’er. This is wine country and that’s what people come ‘ere for – wine tours. I don’ know if there’s much open.” He hesitated. “Best a luck, Mate.” The door slid noisily back and he leapt out of the way of unfolding mattresses snapping open after being confined in the lift.

“Room 416,” said the receptionist. “If you are going to come into the hotel later than 10pm, please ring reception from the phone in the entrance hall.” She gave us an electronic door key and we rolled our bags over to the internal lift on the other side of reception.

“So how does he talk to those guys?” I wondered.

“In Turkish, I suppose,” said Elaine.

A skinny brunette in a blue hospital smock appeared behind us, followed us into our room and rapidly made up the bed. It was one of those foldaway divans with a metal frame and it took up all the room between the table at one end of the room and the mantelpiece at the other end. With it open, we couldn’t get from the door to the window. She was an expert, punching the mattress in exactly the right place to make the frame cough and fold neatly in two. She slid one half under the other. “You’re doing that from now on,” said Elaine. “I’m not losing my hand to that metal lobster.”

While Elaine hung up her clothes in the wooden wardrobe, I made a cup of tea with a cup from the cupboard and some tea bags near the kitchen sink. No kettle; I took the tea bag out of the cup. I put a couple of tiny pots of UHT milk into the cup, filled it up with cold water and wound the microwave oven’s clockwork control to 2min. There was a powerful smell while the water heated.

“What’s going on?” Elaine yelled. “That smells like burnt toast and last Sunday’s roast cooked into an apple pie.”

“I think that’s exactly what happened,” I explained. “Someone turned on the microwave for an hour to cook a frozen ready meal and just left it while they went out.”

“That smell is truly awful. I hope it goes away soon.”

Someone had stolen my camera from the rack in the train on my way to work a couple of weeks previously, and I felt naked going outside without it. “Take a few shots,” said Elaine generously handing me her Sony, “while there’s still a little sunshine.” The boules players on the Esplanade Meriadeck  smiled at me, and then let me shoot their action while they concentrated on the game. At the end of the jardin was an open area containing a stone obelisk wrapped in a large broken chain. This small plot was rather grandly called the Esplanade Charles De Gaulle. We crossed the Cours D’Albert and followed a narrow street past the Hotel de Ville and a skating rink towards the Cathedral St Andre – Bordeaux Cathedral – in the Place Pey-Berland. Two tall, heavily ornamented towers dominated the front of the cathedral while huge flying buttresses swung in arches from the top of the walls down to pillars alongside the church. The gold-plated statue of a saint adorned a tower in a small square behind the cathedral and beyond that was a tramway. We tried the front doors of the cathedral, but they were locked. Traffic swirled all around – on the wrong side of the road, of course. We constantly had to remember where we were and to look to our left for oncoming traffic. They ignored pedestrian crossings, parping at us if we got in their way, although they did stop for a red light. “We’ll get some milk and breakfast things – and some fruit – so that we are not paying too much to eat,” said Elaine. “Keep your eye out for a dairy.”

The boules players, Esplanade Meriadeck

The boules players, Esplanade Meriadeck

In one of those existentialist moments beloved of the Continental writers, our way was blocked by a river of movement. People were walking past us, left and right, in a solid phalanx and we stood flummoxed, waiting for the tide to ebb. It was like walking out of the Oxford St Tube station. I looked up for the street sign on the stone wall in front of me. Rue Sainte Catherine. It’s the main shopping street. We retreated one street and walked a block to a cosy looking café to re-assess the situation.

“Why don’t we eat? Looks all right.” We walked inside.

A waiter asked us something very rapidly in French. “A table for two, please,” I said.

“Deux?” he asked.

He lead us to a table near the window and I picked up a menu. “Un moment,” he said and left. A young couple with a child smiled shyly at us and sat at the next table; an older couple sat opposite us across the aisle. Another waiter asked the young couple for their order, and then took the order of the older couple. About

Rue Sainte-Catherine

20min later he was back with their orders. He disappeared.

I looked at Elaine, stood up and put on my coat. The waiter re-appeared. “Your ordeur?” he asked. We ordered from the menu and he left. “What was that all about?” asked Elaine.

“If you stand up, then you are taller than everyone else around you, and the house thinks you’re leaving without paying. It certainly got their attention.”

We waited for another half an hour while others, who had arrived after us, were served. “Do that stand up thing again,” murmured Elaine, “otherwise I’m just going to leave anyway.”

Our food arrived and it was poor. The lettuce was wizened and the bread was stale. We ate unhappily.

Monument aux Girondins

Outside we braved the Rue Sainte-Catherine again and saw the kebab houses and fashion stores cheek to jowl along its length. It was long, dead straight and absolutely crowded. At one end it opened into a square called the Place des Quinconces that was once the courtyard of a castle, with a huge fountain, called the Monument aux Girondins, of prancing horses being driven by Britannia as the centrepiece of a monument to the Chateau Trompette that stood on the site from the 1400s until 1815. A plaque on the ground explained “For three hundred years, Bordeaux was English…” The chateau guarded the “infidel city” until finally it capitulated and became properly French. At the other end of the Rue Sainte-Catherine was a square called Place de la Victoire with a tall spike, a triumphal arch and a bronze turtle covered in bunches of grapes, bottle corks, bottles and all the paraphernalia of wine-making. The turtle is the symbol of Bordeaux, and wine was the means by which it had become wealthy. The arch was the beginning of the road from Bordeaux to Spain, but I never found out what the spike was for.

As we were walking back to our hotel, we came across a little Moroccan market with carpets (never buy them) lights, ornaments and tea sets. Now, they do know how to make tea and coffee, and in a most original and unique fashion. We bought a brass tea-set and two sets of beautifully decorated glasses. To our relief, they just fitted inside my case.

Even though it was pitch black night, the time was only 4pm. We looked for dinner and some supplies for breakfast. If we took the stairs, we would enter the forecourt of a supermarket that adjoined the hotel. Nice touch. Then we noticed that it was more than a supermarket, it was a mall. There was breakfast food and fruit, some clothes shops, a toyshop, various kinds of eatery and even a small diner. We picked up our supplies and ate at the diner.

The following day was New Year’s Eve and we wondered if anything was going to happen. Perhaps some fireworks, maybe a carnival. We couldn’t find anything being advertised, but we could simply have missed it. We thought we’d head back to the centre of town – it wasn’t very far – to see if we could find out.

We walked past the cathedral and admired its beautiful, sultry proportions in the morning winter mist. Again, it was closed to visitors. Did it ever open?

When we arrived at the Rue Sainte Catherine, we turned left towards the Britannia statue and noted the Café du Pain on our right. “That’ll do for lunch,” said Elaine, “but first, why don’t we have a look in the chocolate shop?”

“The who?”

I hadn’t noticed the brightly decorated little choc shop to our left, but Elaine had already disappeared through the door. A short, but quite beautiful young girl in a black top with a red pinafore gave Elaine her best welcoming smile and offered a treat from a tray of chocolates and bonbons. Elaine bit into one of the chocolates and sat down. “That,” she declared, “is beautiful.” She looked around at the marzipan delicacies, glace fruits and Belgian shell chocolates. Butterfly biscuits and lemon slices with chocolate cake wings sat on tiny shelves attached to yellow walls with gilded carvings. “Good heavens, they are exquisite. What fabulous presentation.”

“Do you like all of this?” enquired the girl, looking up at Elaine through blue eyes behind small square glasses.

“You’re not French. You sound like our friends in the neighbouring flat. Are you Polish?”

“Yes,” said the girl.

“Well, this is beautiful.”

“Thank you. It’s mine.”

“Do you cook all of this, too?”

“Yes, and we make all the sweets ourselves. We have ovens at the back of this store for the cakes and biscuits, but we make the sweets at home.”

We had a couple of her gorgeous cake-ettes and a coffee each and left. “Did you ask her if there was anything going on tonight for New Year’s Eve?” I said.

“Yes, and she didn’t know of anything.”

“That’s ominous. She lives here and she doesn’t know of anything we can go to tonight.” We spent the rest of the morning exploring inner Bordeaux. There was no sense in going to the wineries; the lady in the hotel explained that they were all shut for the winter. They had wine tasting in the summer to encourage you to buy lots of their wine, and did not simply give it away during winter. The mist hadn’t lifted and the cold was unrelenting. We called in at the Café du Pain for lunch.

Sturdy oaken tables with wooden utensils sat squarely with upright wooden chairs. Each table had a candle flickering at its centre and loaves of bread – wholemeal, twisted, French loaves, baguettes and flat unleavened cakes sat artistically on wooden mantelpieces and dressers around the café. Earthenware jeroboams that once may have had wine or olive oil lay carelessly on their sides. A quiet buzz of conversation and a warm, just-toasted scent accompanied us to a table on the mezzanine floor. We looked down on the rest of the café and I felt a deep sense of déjà vue. The waiter who had shown us to our table hovered. “Would you like a drink?” he asked. We ordered the usual and he read it back to us.

“Are you from Amsterdam?” I asked him. He stood bolt upright from having been bending over, the better to hear us. “Yes,” he said, surprised.

“There is a very similar café in the Jordaan.” I explained.

“I know it,” he said, smiled and left. He brought us slices from different loaves of bread that we dipped in olive oil or balsamic vinegar while we drank our coffee, and his soup and Caesar salad were both perfect.

It was two o’clock when we left, but the overcast conditions and the winter season already meant that the street outside was gloomy and approaching dark. “I know we’ve only just had lunch, but what are we going to do for dinner?” I asked.

Cathedral Saint Andre

Cathedral Saint Andre

“We’ll come back here,” said Elaine. She looked at the windows of the café.

“Hmm, no we won’t – he’s closing at 4pm today. Never mind, we’ll go to the diner in the mall. Their food is all right, and at least you can get it yourself.”

We took the long way round the Britannia monument to admire the Christmas lights and to follow the river along to the Bordeaux stone bridge. Elaine spent some time in light drizzling rain to prop up her camera so she could take this quite beautiful picture of the bridge at night.

By the time we had walked the river bank to the end of town, we were well ready for some dinner and a bit of entertainment, if anyone had some fireworks or a New Year’s party to attend. At the hotel, we changed into new clothes, but still warm ones, in case we had to stand outside.

The mall was closed. I checked my watch; 6pm. We looked through the glass doors and there was no-one in any of the shops inside.

Pont de Pierre - Bordeaux stone bridge - at night

Pont de Pierre – Bordeaux stone bridge – at night

“There’s a restaurant in the street parallel to the one we used to get to the cathedral,” I volunteered, so we walked there. It was closed.

We walked back to the centre of town. Everything was closed. Except McDonalds. It was 8pm. There was nothing we could do. We ordered a double mac, a pot of chips, a cup of tea for me and lemonade for Elaine. It was awful. It was horrible. It filled us up was the best you could say.

We walked back to the hotel and watched CBS News (the American primaries) until midnight. We went outside. Not a peep; no fireworks, no car horns, nothing.

On the way home in the plane, we checked our understanding of the state of the world. The best cooking we ever had was Italian – in Venice, actually. We had beautiful food in Prague, in Budapest and in East Berlin. The worst food was in Paris, Nice and Bordeaux. Anywhere in the world, if the advertising for a restaurant says French Cuisine, then it will be expensive, but don’t expect quality. Maybe the French like to give themselves Michelin Stars just to cheer themselves up. One day they might cook ok – if they cared enough to bother.

In April, Doug Davidson came to stay. We had first met him as a very young chap in Piopio – now that’s a while ago. His mum is Mary Venn. He had been on a long trip around South America, and he reckoned he could even speak some Spanish. The nights weren’t too cold so he was happy to stay in our loft and we set up his bed with a blow-up rubber mattress and an electric blanket. He showed us his photos from South America and I collected them all up onto a DVD so he couldn’t lose them and mailed a couple to his mum in Hamilton. Elaine introduced him to Nichola, a beautiful young teacher’s assistant, so he had company for the time he was in St Albans, and a way of seeing the sights and meeting the locals. He was trying to get forestry work in England, but on his tourist visa he had to be sponsored. Trucking and import companies said they would like to have him, but there were plenty of Swedish forestry workers and they couldn’t employ Doug while there were European workers who could do the job. He decided that it would be best to awaken his New Zealand forestry contacts and wait until he got back home. He explored London on several trips into the City and Elaine took him to some of her favourite haunts.

On his last weekend in England we took Doug to the seaside. To Brighton, that quintessentially English coastal town and resort. The ThamesLink train goes directly from St Albans to Brighton with only a few stops. We showed him the Lanes of little knick-knack shops, we walked the pebbled beach from the Royal Pavilion all the way to the old Victorian-built Brighton West Pier. In 2002 the pier had collapsed in a series of violent storms and then in early 2003 it had been killed off by arson attacks and now large chunks of it lay rotting in the sea. A lone guitarist gazed out at the pier and sang laments for his lost heritage while the sea lapped and whispered at his feet. On the Monday, Doug caught the plane back to NZ and we had emails from him and Mary, to say he was home in fine condition.

Lament for Brighton West Pier

Lament for Brighton West Pier

The long-running tale of 2008 was really about my work. I started the year as a newly-promoted Team Manager and I was very pleased to receive the recognition that I had done a good job. By April, Sainsbury’s was telling us about the re-organisation of Service Management. 13 positions had to go. In July, I found out that one of those positions was mine, and in late August, I was no longer working for Sainsbury’s. It was a bit of a loss after seven years, but these days a permanent appointment is really only a long-term contract; I had been there a good while and I had helped them through difficult times.

I worked for the NHS for about six weeks deploying security software onto all their laptops in Watford. My workmate, Pete B, was a genuine character. He complained that his agency had stiffed him for £1 an hour. “You’re getting £16 an hour, yeah?”


“Well, I’m getting £15 and there’s nothing I can do about it, except get another contract. Anyway, why couldn’t I get Milton Keynes? I live there, don’t I? But some other git from out of town is working it, and I have to ride to Watford.” He made it sound like a swear word. He was ringing the IT agencies, chasing them for work – and when he wasn’t his girlfriend was ringing him. “Are you married?”


“How long?”

“Well, say over thirty years.”

“Ya what! Tell you, Mate, if she doesn’t stop ringin’ me not only am I not going to marry her, I’ll dump her and move up North, just to get out of the way. Thirty years? The only reason I stick with her is because I love my little daughter.” His mobile rang again. The phone burbled for a while, “Ok, Love, I’ve got the pannier on my bike, so I’ll pick up some milk on the way home. Of course I love you. Bye. Bye. Bye.” He dropped the phone into his leather bag on the floor. “Geez.”

“You had a daughter with her and you still couldn’t marry her?”

“I’ll tell you what, Mate; no-one’s ever goin’ to marry her. What a disaster.”

The phone rang again. “Christain, how are you? How’s the work in Kings Langley?” They spoke for a while and he hung up, laughing.

“Christain says that they have only done two laptops all day. I told him we’d done five already and that there were another five lined up before we finish. He said “I suppose Ewart is your gopher, is he?” and I told him “No, he’s the boss – I’m just the technical lackey.” We are miles ahead of the other teams. It’s the way you sweet-talk the staff here to give up their laptops. Everywhere else, they hide them.”

We had finished almost all of the latops that we had been asked to when I had the offer of the work as Service Delivery Manager in Luton. The year that started with a promotion has ended with unemployment. It’s a funny old world.

We had one other long-running saga this year – our British passports. About two years ago, as we were coming back through Luton Airport, the immigration clerk said, “You’ve got Indefinite Leave to Remain.” She flipped my NZ passport around the better to show me the green sticker.

I said, “I know. We sat in the carpark at Croydon from 2:30am to queue for it. We took canvas armchairs and a little gas stove and made endless cups of tea to keep warm while we waited.”

The clerk grinned. “Many have,” she said. “Why don’t you apply for a British passport? You’ve been here long enough, so you qualify.”

“Is there an easy way?”

“Hmmm, I see what you mean. Don’t forget, the sooner you start the sooner it will all be over.” She stamped our passports and we left her, wondering.

“It’ll ground us for six months!” said Elaine

In May this year, I took the plunge. I went in to WH Smiths and bought the information pack. It consisted of a book called Life in the United Kingdom; A Journey to Citizenship and a booklet called Life in the UK Test; Practice Questions. I took them home. “We have to sit and pass the test first.”

Elaine had a flip though the book, then addressed the questions in the test. “Here you are,” she said. “When was the Council of Europe established?”


“What percentage of London’s population is made up of ethnic minorities?”

“What do they mean by ethnic?”

A week later she said, “Ok, now give me any test from the booklet.” I photocopied the marking sheet and gave it to her to write her answers on, then took her through one of the sample tests. “What sport is played at the Wimbledon tournament? What percentage of Christians are Roman Catholics? What is the name of the country house of the Prime Minister?” And so on. The pass is 17 out of 25; I ran her through eight tests and Elaine consistently got more than 22. The next day, Monday, I rang the immigration number to book the test. It would be the following Tuesday, at 15:30.

“You did what?”

“May as well be now as in six months time,” I said.

“So we lose our passports as of next Tuesday?”

“No, but we have to apply for citizenship within three months, or re-sit the test.”

“And then we lose our passports?”

“We should get them back by Christmas.”

“Where have I heard that before?”

We studied the book and sat the trial tests many times that week and when we attended the test centre in Luton, and completed the test, the principal gave us each a sheet that had our names on it and the single word PASS. We could go on to the next step.

“I’ve still got a brain,” said Elaine. “I was beginning to wonder.”

I downloaded the form from the Immigration Department, we filled out one each, attached our NZ passports and a £750 cheque and sent them off into the Post Office network. The form said something like “If you sent off your passport in June, we would expect you to have it back by February.” My Christmas deadline was looking uncertain. Our NZ passports ran out in early January 2009 and it might be problematical getting a new one if the old one was completely dead.

I found an Immigration Department phone number that might allow me to plead for my passport. The lady asked me when I expected to travel. “Um, Wednesday a fortnight from today.”


“I’m going to Brno for the company.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” she said. In early October, our passports suddenly turned up in the mail. Just in time for me to go to the Czech Rebublic. When I got back, we sent our NZ passports off to NZ House to be replaced. They weren’t any use to us, because we couldn’t go to any European country with a passport that had less than three months left on it.

In a week, they were back, a nice new one each, valid for five years. The old passport still had our Leave to Remain sticker in it, but the corner of the cover was chopped off to show they were cancelled. Elaine delightedly flew off to see Genevieve, going out on the new passport and returning on the old one, to show she still had a right to live here. They made arrangements for us to meet in Amsterdam, to have Christmas in their lovely new flat overlooking Westerpark. It was all coming together nicely.

In early November, we each received a certificate advising us that we were British citizens by naturalisation and we were invited to a citizenship ceremony, which we had to attend within three months or start the entire process all over again, beginning with the Test. I rang the number on the invitation, and we found out the ceremony would be in the Old Court House, in St Albans Rd East, Hatfield, on 24 November at 10:30. We had to register at the desk by 09:30. We were allowed two guests each, so I asked Iris, who had sponsored us to come to England in the first place, and Jill her daughter, the best friend we had. Elaine invited her boss, Mary Weller, the principal of Sandridge School, who had enthusiastically supported Elaine’s work to become a citizen and who had countersigned all the forms that Immigration had given us. John and Liz Stredwick, who had been our friends since Elaine had worked in Goffs Oak in the early years as a supply teacher, were very happy to be there, too. It was a lovely little ceremony of swearing allegiance to the Queen and promising to be good citizens of Hertfordshire, and Britain. Then we all had our photographs taken.

The JP who conducted the ceremony stood by my elbow a short while later.

“I have just sworn in 30 people as new citizens of Britain,” he said. “I checked the roll, and there were 16 nationalities represented.”

“I was fascinated by the wording of the swearing to the queen,” I said, “because it was almost identical to the words I had to say when I signed up to be a teacher in NZ way back in 1966. She was our head of state then, and she still is.”

He paused. “What are you going to do now?”

“I’m going to send off my citizenship certificate so I can have a British passport,” I said. “Then I can live and work anywhere in Europe.”

“And you’d want to do that?”

“Our daughter lives in Amsterdam, so I want to make sure that I can see her.”

“Oh, very good. Mind you, remember not to use your NZ passport for the next few weeks, until you have received your British passport.”

“What’s happened?”

“Now that you are a British citizen, your Indefinite Leave to Remain is void. You can leave the country all right on your NZ passport, but you can’t get back in.”

“How long will we wait for a British passport?” said Elaine, just catching the last of the JP’s sentence.

“About six weeks, I think.” Elaine looked bleak; our trip to see Genevieve and Barry for Christmas now seemed unlikely.

The moment I got back home I filled out the form, attached my passport photos to it and Mary Weller countersigned it for me. I sent off the form along with my citizenship certificate and both my NZ passports. I was grounded again. The result was in the lap of the Gods. A couple of days later, Elaine sent her form off.

We waited.

A week later, my NZ passports returned. There was a letter. I had to attend an interview with Immigration to establish my that my ID, in person, was the same ID as was represented in my passport, and that I matched the photo I had sent them. I had to ring a number to make an appointment for an interview.

“We are now seeing all applicants for new British passports in order to reduce ID fraud, and ID theft,” said the person who took my call. “We’ll just ask you some questions about yourself based on information that you have supplied us, and which is available to us from various sources. Next Tuesday? 15:15? In Luton? Please present yourself at reception 10min before this time. If you fail to turn up, you will need to re-apply for citizenship.

In the end, the interview was straight forward enough, and I knew all the answers. What was my father’s name? What was my mother’s middle name? What was my wife’s birthday? That was a good one – I can never remember.

They don’t tell you the result of the interview at the time, but my British passport arrived in the mail on Friday of that week. Elaine’s process followed the same sequence and her passport arrived on 10 Dec 2008.

It really was all over by Christmas.

Since I had lost my Fuji Finepix S9600 on the train, I was looking for a better camera, but in the medium price range. I always had a problem with both my Fujis not being very secure with their focus. Sometimes they would focus on the foreground and sometimes they would focus on the background. There was no way to control it fully, even in manual mode on the S9600.

The SLR technology that I was used to on the Asahi Pentax camera that I’d bought in my T-Col days had finally become affordable on digital cameras. I went back to the old days to look for a camera that would be certain to have a good range of excellent lenses. I could throw the body away when it became dated, but lenses are where the real money goes, and the technology has not really changed, because the physics of lenses still works the same as it always has. I bought a Nikon D40X, and then later added the 18 – 135mm zoom lens to it. I began to get the kind of quality in my pictures that I was looking for.

I went to the 2008 Sandridge School Fete to photograph what goes on there, as I had since 2004, when I met the parent of a girl who had been in Elaine’s class a year or two prior. We had been to see her sing in local productions.

“Are you photographing the fete again this year?” she said, fixing me with her blue eyes and shock of blonde hair.

“Would you like a copy of the CD?”

“I’d love one, especially if you can catch my daughter.”

“What are you doing these days? I haven’t seen you since the musical night you put on earlier this year.”

“I’m attending acting classes and sending my catalogue to anyone who might be able to help me. In the meantime, I’m the editor for a local magazine called Our St Albans; you know, feel-good stories about local events and local businesses. We have a circulation of about 10,000.”

“Would you like me to send you a few pictures of St Albans that you might find useful?”

Fishpool Street, St Albans

“Email them to me and I’ll show them to the boys.”

The reaction to the pictures I sent her was immediate. “The boys” wanted to use one of my pictures for the August cover; could I send her the full-sized file of my photo of Fishpool St? In this picture, you are looking directly up Fishpool street, which in a few hundred metres takes you to the Abbey gateway. You can see the Victorian terraces that line the street. The reason the footpath is so far above to road is to enable a carriage to pull up and the occupants to step down easily without needing a footstool. The pub on the left is the Black Lion, recently transformed into an exceptional quality restaurant called the Savanna. The pub on the right is the Blue Anchor, which serves the usual English ales and pub grub. Behind me is the River Ver, which flows through St Albans, and is why the early town was called Verulamium by the Romans. There was a pond here, fed by the Ver, in which the Abbey monks used to keep fish for their winter sustenance – hence the name of the street. Since then, I have had a picture on the cover of another three issues of the magazine. Here is the cover of the October issue, right. Elaine and I were having a walk around Verulamium Lake in the autumn when the lovely sunset that day let me take this photo.

Sunset, Verulamium Park

Sunset, Verulamium Park

For the cover of the November issue, left, I took a picture of the Old Sopwell Nunnery on the day I bought my new zoom lens. Henry VIII installed Anne Boleyn here and came to visit her (Hertfordshire was the king’s favourite deer hunting retreat) while he was sorting out the problem he had with being married to Catherine of Aragon, his first wife.

Old Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans

Old Sopwell Nunnery, St Albans

One morning in November, it snowed. That’s quite rare and it created a storm of argument. Global warming was turning the world into the New Ice Age. On the way to work in Luton, I saw that the Childwickbury gatehouse was covered with snow, and just as fortunately, it was bathed in early morning sunshine. The magazine couldn’t resist it for their Dec/Jan cover – winter. A local artist had put on an exhibition in the Childwickbury manor stables and Elaine and I went to see it. That’s when we first saw and admired this lovely Victorian gatehouse. At one time, the manor belonged to Stanley Kubrick (of “Eyes wide Shut”) and Elaine was describing it to her class, she told me, when one of her 6-yr olds said with a sigh, “It’s pronounced CHIDIKBRY. Get it right, Mrs Tearle.”

Childwickbury Gatehouse

Childwickbury Gatehouse

The picture also illustrates a few of the disciplines of this magazine and its covers. Firstly, it’s in portrait orientation, meaning the long axis is north-south. Secondly, there’s a space below the main interest in the picture to place an advertisement and then there’s more space above the interest to place the magazine’s name. Thirdly, the interest itself has to be immediately recognisable as a St Albans landscape feature. I’m wondering if this might be the opportunity to start another stream in my life. I’m working on it. If you would like to see more of my work, ask your search engine for flickr Ewart Tearle (those exact words, spelt that way) or click HERE. For Elaine’s site ask for flickr Elaine Tearle, or click HERE, while Genevieve’s is at flickr Cor Lems and that’s HERE.

Tearle Meet 2008

One of the most intensive and exciting days this year was TearleMeet 2008, the second of which I hope will be a long series. I asked the Stanbridge PCC (the church governors) if we could have the church for the whole day, this time, instead of only a half day as we did for the first TearleMeet in 2006 and I let the local pub, the Five Bells, know that we would be coming. We had to get in early, because July is the wedding season and the church is booked every day in every weekend for months either side. The reason for particularly wanting Stanbridge is because it’s the first place Tearles were recorded in England, and our record there goes back to the mid 1400s. In preparation for the event Barbara Tearle of Oxford told the story of Thomas Tearle, the silversmith, who worked in London in Georgian times (1750s) and she also had a very impressive collection of pictures of his work.

I spent months on The Tree, as it’s called; the family tree of all the Tearles and their relationship to each other. There are over 2000 names on it, and it stops with births in the early 20th Century. I also put a lot of new information onto my own Tearle family site. The Tree is now so big that the aisle of the church couldn’t contain it. I had to break it into six bits, and scatter it around the church, so that people who were descended from one ancestor in the mid 1700s could find their family on the Tree. Then I updated my booklet on the graves in Stanbridge, so that people could walk around the church grounds and see where their ancestors were buried. In the years since the first TearleMeet, I had been able to identify many of the Tearle girls, so their headstones could be identified as Tearle graves. It was nice to see people walking around, booklet in hand, deep in discussion with each other. I found out that a local chap had lots of Victorian postcards of Stanbridge, so I invited him to show them at the Meet. He made up a Powerpoint presentation of the slides that would be of interest to us, and he gave us a fascinating 1/2hr show.

You can read my report on the day HERE.

I have to report, unfortunately, that Jennie Pugh is not the best these days. She has suffered a series of falls, and while they are not bad in themselves, and have not hurt her, she has decided to move permanently to the Georgiana Care Home near Leagrave Station. If you would like to write to her, the address is:

Mrs Jennie Pugh, Georgiana Residential Care Home, 10 Compton Avenue, Luton, Bedfordshire LU4 9AZ, England.

Her family are in the process of selling her Oakley Rd house. It is very sad; Elaine and I visit her every weekend, and we are hoping that since Jennie is close to a ThamesLink railway station, her sister Joyce Palmer will still be able to come up from Balham in London to visit her. We are working on the logistics of this. It is a nice little care home and Jennie has been happy there before, whilst recovering from an operation last year.

On Prinsensluis towards Westerkerk

On Prinsensluis towards Westerkerk

The good news, of course, is that Genevieve is having her first baby late next February. Elaine has already been to see her, but I am looking forward to meeting her and Barry this Christmas. Now that our passports are finalised, I am free to go. From time to time, when we Skyped Genevieve to have a chat with her, we have asked her to turn profile, the better to be able to admire her growing bump. Perhaps that’s not the most genteel thing to do, but you can’t resist asking, can you? She even sent us a copy of the photograph the hospital gave her of the baby’s first scan. Our photo album of Genevieve and Barry’s family has begun.

As you will have guessed from a comment I made earlier, they have moved from their little flat in the Jordaan, close to the canals, to a more spacious 3-bedroom flat overlooking Westerpark. This is close to the Westerkerk so they will still be able to hear the lovely bells, and the chimes of the clock, of this fine and historic 1620s church. She hears the same bells and the same chimes that Anne Frank wrote of in her memorable diary. The picture above is one I took in December of 2002 during our first visit to Amsterdam to see Genevieve, and it’s from a bridge across the canal just 100m from her flat at that time. She and Barry are now living on the other side, from my vantage point here, of the tall church with the blue globe. The picture on the right is one Elaine took recently to show me the view Genevieve and Barry have of the Westerpark from her kitchen window. They say it’s a lovely place to go for a walk, even in winter. It’s certainly a view anyone would be happy to look out on, especially while you’re working on dinner.

We have sent a few parcels of clothes for the new baby (we couldn’t resist) and they have all been in shades of beige (that classic NZ cricket colour) to remind Genevieve of her heritage and to hint of greatness to Barry.

Westerpark from Genevieve’s flat

Westerpark from Genevieve’s flat

Iris has made a most beautiful fluffy knitted bear, and Elaine has crocheted a blanket that is big enough for a ¾ bed, but if folded in half will make two blankets on a baby’s cot.

In late 1994, Genevieve made a friend on her Spirit of New Zealand sailing expedition. Her name was Angela and her parents live in Auckland. She is still a firm friend to Genevieve and has been to see her often. This year she and her new husband, Gerard, Spanish in spite of the name, came to see us. What a charming couple! What a lovely girl! “Can you show us something new about London? We are coming into London Bridge Railway Station and we’ll be there about 10:00am.”

That’s a challenge. Of course I could. We took them to Borough Market and we had a lamb tortilla and a bottle of fruit juice. We showed them the Globe pub where Bridget Jones had her room in the movie, and then we walked them to Clink Street, past the Golden Hinde and along the Thames River, under London Bridge, through Hays Wharf, past City Hall, under Tower Bridge and all the way to the Design Museum. In Hays Wharf, Angela showed us her strange multi-frame, wind-up camera.

You pull a string from the back of the camera to wind it up then when you push the shutter release, it takes 7 photos in quick succession – on film. While the pictures are being taken you wave the camera about, so that when you print the film, you get a succession of photos that you paste along your wall at home in a sort of lazy, lolloping s-shape. Why not? Very interactive. Very intuitive. She took a wind-up photo of the statue of the Navigator, a huge bronze ship in a fountain, that looks a bit like Jules Verne’s submarine, but with a mast. The picture here is of Angela, Gerard and Elaine having at chat in the late afternoon near the Design Museum, just before we took them back to London Bridge Station and their trip home.

Angela, Gerard and Elaine

Angela, Gerard and Elaine

Another visitor, and not for the first time, was Shayne Bates and his family, Lee and Shaun. They had come over from Virginia, where they live not far from Washington DC, to do some business for the company Shayne works for. Our relationship with Shayne goes back to 1984, so he has been a friend of ours for quite a while, and he’s always a welcome  visitor. When we were living in Milford Close, he had come and stayed on our divan bed while on various round-the-world trips. They were going to be staying in Lancaster Gate for a week, would we like to stay with them for Saturday night?

I had no idea where Lancaster gate was, but anywhere in London is always a treat. Their flat was near the Tube station of the same name. When we looked on the Tube map, it turns out that Lancaster Gate was on the Central line, so if we took the Victoria Line from St Pancras and changed onto the Central line at Oxford St, we had just two stations to count, and we were there. “Our hotel is opposite the station,” Shayne informed me. And it was; we sent him a txt when we arrived at St Pancras at about 4pm and he and Shaun were waiting for us on the steps of the hotel. And it was teeming with rain. London in autumn, we explained to him, as though he’d never seen rain. We dropped off our bags and Shayne and I wandered round the corner to the nearest off-licence to pick up some drinks for the business meetings that were to be conducted in the flat over the next few days, and Shayne looked at the cigar stand to see what would be nice. “She’s got Cuban,” I noted to him. “They are illegal in the US, so you might like to taste one of those. They’re supposed to be the best in the world.”

“Ah, HA,” he cried. “I’ll turn up at Dulles Airport customs and breathe cigar all over them.”

“Cuban!” I’ll say. “But you’re too late. It’s gone.”

The lady proprietor smiled politely, gave him change for his order and we walked out, chuckling, into the cold and rain.

In the morning, after Lee had made us the most beautiful breakfast of bacon and eggs on toast, I noticed that there were literally hundreds of paintings on the wall along the footpath opposite the hotel. “Come on, Shaun. We’ll go and see what we can make of them.”

Elaine, Shayne and Lee in Hyde Park

Elaine, Shayne and Lee in Hyde Park

As we walked down the ranks of pictures, I explained to Shaun the basics of picture composition, and after a short while he was explaining to me what he saw in various pictures. He had learnt well. Finally, it dawned on me. This was the wall around Hyde Park. Lee, Shayne and Elaine joined us. “Why don’t we have a short walk around Hyde Park?” I suggested. We could see the Diana monument and whatever else is there.”

For the next half-hour the sun shone just enough to give us some of the those magical photos that you can only dream about. The picture here is of Elaine, Shayne and Lee looking over the Serpentine with the park beyond; a seagull on a post keeps an eye on them, and the trees on the opposite bank glow in the late autumn sun.

We spent the rest of the day having a wander around Oxford Street. Shayne was looking for a particular kind of mobile phone that would help him on his future trips to England and Lee and Elaine tried on shoes and dresses, mostly to remind themselves where they were – London -and what time of year it was – almost Christmas. Shaun and I were above all this crass commercialism – we went to MacDonald’s for a chat, and he had a Coca Cola while I had a coffee and we watched the crowds on Oxford St surge past.

I spent many weeks this year digitising Thelma’s slide collection. It was a project she had asked me do for her, and after her death, Martin dropped the boxes off for me to see what I could do. Many of the slides were at least 40 years old and the media was in poor condition.

Thelma Tearle and the rhododendrons

Thelma Tearle and the rhododendrons

It was a labour of love for a dear friend who Elaine and I still often talk about. The pictures, though, were a revelation and gave us a view into a hitherto unseen world, when Millie (Thelma’s mother) was young and beautiful; when Thelma herself was very young, slim, attractive and vivacious. We saw Martin as a baby and his father George, and we saw the marriage of Thelma’s sister, and pictures of the cottages in Wing with their living gardens and the people we knew in them, as long ago as the 1960s.

Most of all there were the pictures of Thelma’s holidays – sometimes in Cornwall and sometimes in France or Italy. There were even photos of her on the deck of the Queen Mary en route to New York, along with slides of New York, the Niagara Falls, Canada, Los Angeles and Washington. I know they are grainy and the paint is faded, but the impression they give is as vibrant and as imperative as the day they were taken.  It was a privilege to do the work.

I took the entire digitised collection to Thelma’s brother Dennis in Bedford and we spent several hours on my laptop identifying as many of the people as Dennis and Betty could recognise, and as many of the places as we could deduce from the context and their probable age. In the end, I copied all the files to DVD and Elaine and I met Martin in the Travel Lodge near the M1. Martin is an engineer on the narrow gauge railway in Leighton Buzzard and every few weeks he goes there all the way from Warwick and drives the train for the weekend. He has to do it often in order to maintain his engineer’s ticket, but for him it’s a love bordering obsession. He was very happy with the completed DVD and to see his mother’s precious boxes of slides.

Jimmy Mark and Dos, our very good friends from Te Awamutu, came to see us in July this year. Something to do with a cruise from Southampton to New York. He is the farmer who leases our 13-acre block in Otorohanga and he met Sheila, Thelma and Clarice when they came out to NZ in 1994. They sat on the deck in the sun watching Jimmy race around the paddocks on his tractor, doing what farmers do. He was working at such a pace (he always does) they called him Hurricane Jimmy. I must say that he doesn’t seem to have slowed down much, even after the last fourteen years. We picked them up from the train station in St Albans, and we took them to the local market, held every Wednesday and Saturday. As you can see from the picture, it’s a lively scene with all kinds of things for sale from these outdoor, canvas-roofed stalls.

St Albans market

St Albans market

Jimmy wanted an England flag and on a whim picked up a very nice grey tweed hat. Nothing outrageous; he looked very cool. From here, you can walk all the way through the market, to French Row, through the Waxhouse Gate, down past the cathedral,  around Verulamium Lake and on to St Michaels for a waffle lunch at the Kingsbury Water Mill. That was the plan. When we got to French Row, we introduced Jimmy and Dos to John Breeze, who has played folk songs on his guitar for somewhere over twenty years, always on this very spot, raising countless thousands of pounds for charity during that time. His daughter is Michaela Breeze, whom you saw weightlifting in the Beijing Olympics earlier this year. “So you’ve come to commiserate with Ewart now that he’s English and has to support the wrong team?”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Jimmy. “He’ll still be able to support his team against the French.”

“This is called French Row because we beat them, not the other way round,” said John, grinning, just in case Jimmy was referring to his singing address. “So why do you have an English flag in your hand? Not thinking of changing, too, are you?”

“No!” laughed Jimmy. “My neighbour’s English, so when we beat England on our tour in October, I’ll fly this flag at half mast, just for him.”

John Breeze of French Row

John Breeze of French Row

“I’m Welsh, so you are welcome to beat them,” he said. “We’ll give you a good run this time.”

“You can always try.”

John went back to his singing and we carried on down French Row, past the Medieval clock tower and through the Waxhouse Gate to the cathedral. We took a diversion through the cathedral because Jimmy and Dos had never been through it. They admired the Roman bricks that had been used to build the enormous crossing tower that dominates the building, and noticed how long the nave was. We walked right through the very impressive Norman building listening to a simply lovely choir, and we called in at St Albans shrine to light a candle in memory of our missing loved ones. It’s not that any of us are particularly religious, but St Albans Cathedral is a building of heroic proportions and has such an impressive interior, that you take the opportunity to commune, just a little, with deeper thoughts and more sombre memories. The whole place has a real sense of just how ancient it is. There was a shrine to St Alban within living memory of his death, and it is said that a spring arose from the place of his execution, hence the name Holywell Hill. This has been a holy place for at least 1600 years, and all that history is steeped into the stones of this beautiful cathedral. The choir finished its song and we moved off down the hill to the Fighting Cocks pub.

St Albans shrine in St Albans Cathedral

St Albans shrine in St Albans Cathedral

“See the round bit, Dos? That’s the cockpit, where the fighting roosters were set onto each other.” We walked through the pub and looked over the handrail into small the octagonal room below.

Fighting Cocks pub near Verulamium Lake

Fighting Cocks pub near Verulamium Lake

Pictures of colourful roosters with sharp brass heels looked down from the walls.

“Down there?” she said.

“You stood up here and laid your bets, the handlers set the roosters onto each other, and the winner took the money.”

“Amid plenty of blood, I suppose.”

“True. I wonder, though, what we do today that would horrify them, but we just take it for granted?”

We crossed the River Ver and walked to the Kingsbury Water Mill along the banks of a quiet, shallow, little stream. “River Ver,” said Jimmy. “River?”

“Unfortunately, sixty percent of the flow is sucked out of it before it gets here,” Elaine said. “Drinking water, factory water and irrigation.”

We had a beautiful meal at the Mill, which has been transformed by a South African couple into a restaurant that made waffles as the basis of all its dishes. The Kingsbury mill was mentioned in the Domesday book. “In Saxon times, they only worked daylight till dusk,” I said.

“Go on,” said Dos, suspecting more.

“They had candles for light, and the flour dust in the mill was highly flammable.”

“Bang,” said Jimmy, looking around.

The weather was bit fragile and it was cooling down, in spite of being in the middle of summer. They had other appointments to meet and a ship to join, so we took them back to the railway station for their trip to London.

It’s always nice when you have Jimmy and Dos for company. We thought back on their unstinting hospitality when we were last in NZ, and the wonderful time we had spent with them on their farm.

I have an update on the flag. Dos has sent us a picture of Jimmy, in his grey tweed hat, standing alongside a flagpole outside his house, with the English flag flying. “Why is it at half mast?” I asked Elaine, who had opened the envelope. She looked at the letter from Dos.

“In commiseration with his English neighbour who has just lost an important rugby match,” she said. “Unfortunately, this time, more than one. But they just can’t seem to beat the All Blacks.”

We had gone to the Old Albanians Rugby Club rooms to see the England v NZ match, and we were two of the entire crowd of three voices raised for the All Blacks, in a room of hundreds who were yelling for an England win.

Maybe England will win next time, then. Or perhaps the time after that…

That seems to be a rundown on the major things we have done this year. It hasn’t been, shall we say, a golden year, but it has had some memorable, and even milestone, moments.

I know that Genevieve and Barry will join Elaine and I in wishing you a very Merry Christmas and hoping that the New Year will bring you happiness and prosperity.

Our very kindest wishes to you.

Ewart and Elaine

St Albans

Dec 2008


Letters home, 2001, London Marathon

Dear Mum and Dad

Just a short note to let you know that I’m home safely after running the London Marathon this morning.  My time is sub-3:45:00, meaning about 3:44:10hrs.  I had hoped for a sub 3:30:00 but I just have to accept the time I’ve got.  It’s not a bad time for 54-yr old running his first marathon, and his first London Marathon at that, after only 3 years and 3 months of any sort of running.  And I’ll tell you what, there were an AWFUL lot of people behind me!  When I was running past the 21 mile mark, with Tower Bridge just in front of me, I could see lots of people just passing the 13 mile mark, and no sign of the tail of the competitors.  They had taken nearly 3 hours to get half-way and they still had a long way to go .

Waiting for the train, St Albans

Waiting for the train, St Albans

London being what it is, and the trains being in the condition they are, we couldn’t go directly to London Bridge Station and then off to Blackheath.  We caught the train from St Albans to London Bridge, but just before Kings Cross Station we were told by the train driver that due to engineering work, he wasn’t stopping at London Bridge and we’d have to get off at Kings Cross and find another way to Blackheath. Up to that very moment we’d had assurances from the rail people that all was in order.  We got to Blackheath Station near Greenwich Park after having to miss three trains because they were all full, but only with 10 minutes to spare before I had to throw my kit onto the back of the  truck that would take it to the finish for me.  It was a close thing, and Elaine said there were lots of people who actually missed the start and had to run through the assembly area just to catch the field.

It’s quite a flat course, a little downhill if anything, and very pleasant to run on those roads.  All the way it was jammed with runners, I always had to be careful where I ran so as not to trip up or be tripped, but at least half a dozen people in front of me went down.  None of them looked hurt, but it would be a difficult thing to recover from completely.

The timing chip tied into my shoe

The timing chip tied into my shoe

It must have been quite a cold day, because when I drank the water from the bottles that were handed out nearly every mile, I thought they must have taken the bottle from the fridge.  It really chilled my skin when I threw some water over myself.  However, the weather made very good running conditions because I never once felt over-hot, it was just a nice comfortable temperature all the way round.The beautifully soft and very light running suit that Genevieve had bought for me made such a difference, too. I’d never worn anything before that was so light and so comfortable.

During the 12th mile, we crossed Tower Bridge and that was a real highlight. There were lots of people watching and a wonderful amount of noise. At the 13 mile point, there is a short section of road where I could see the leaders of the marathon passing the 21 mile mark and heading for the finish. I saw Teargat, who was second, and Antonio Pinto, who was about 5th.  Paul Teargat was running his first ever marathon and I heard he’d finished second.  Not bad. It was just fortunate timing that I saw them.  Any later or any earlier and I’d have missed them because the section where the homecomers could see the outgoers is quite a short stretch of road.

Half way

Half way

The very, very worst part of the marathon was mile 23. The course seems endless and the pain is awful.  I told myself that I would never walk.  No matter how slowly I ran, it would still be faster than walking and I was also absolutely sure that if I walked, I’d stop.  I have never walked in a race before and today wasn’t going to be the first time. It could have taken another hour to get to the finish.  At mile 25, there is no mile 26, just the finish 1.2 miles away.  When I saw Buckingham Palace on my left, and passed the Victoria Memorial as I rounded into The Mall, then I finally felt that nothing could stop me.  I could see the finish clock in front of me and it was about 3:42:00 and I saw 3:43:55 as I crossed the line, so that’s why I think my final time will be about 3:44:10-ish.  But well under 3:45:00.

I crossed the finish mat that recorded the time from the chip on my foot, then I stopped.  After that, it was all agony.  I could hardly walk, every step was an effort and I was gasping from the pain.  I had to walk up a little ramp to get the chip removed from my running shoes and then I had to walk down the other side, clutching onto the railing.  A lovely lady put the London Marathon finisher’s medal round my neck and gave me a quick peck on the cheek and someone else swung a space blanket (it’s a blanket made of very warm, shiny material) round my shoulders and I limped down the whole line of The Mall to find the truck with my kit bag on it.  Someone gave me a goody bag of London Marathon stuff with a t-shirt, some sports bars, some drinks and an apple.  Just as I found the truck and collected my kit, Elaine and Karen yelled enthusiastically from behind the tall wire fence that kept the runners’ area secure.  It was a terrible effort to sit and get changed and an even worse effort to get up.  I was very impressed that they had managed to find me with all those people milling about, but they had gone looking for the numbered truck with my kit in it.  Very intelligent.

The end

The end

We walked to Trafalgar Square and down the tunnel to Charing Cross, from there the train to Leicester Square for Kings Cross and from there … Home.  People on the trains and in the tunnels who saw my London Marathon medal (of course I wore it home! And I’m taking it to work at Tesco tomorrow, too) engaged me in very pleasant conversation, commiserated with me on my agony and charmingly commented on my time.

During the week I had lots of phone calls from our English friends and family, including Thelma, Roland and Jennie.  We also had lots of lovely emails from friends and family in New Zealand and Genevieve rang a couple of times as well.  

Ivor Adams rang to see how things went, Roland rang to see how I was and Ivor’s daughter, Jill and husband Dave, came round to see us and to swap jokes with the cripple.  I’ve had emails of encouragement this morning from friends in Te Kuiti, Otorohanga and Hamilton and Nick and Sally Trout from Warnham sent one, too.  I also had an absolutely beautiful card with encouragement, and lots of stickers, from Karen before we left this morning. I have had a wonderful day.

The prize

The prize

Elaine’s view of the London Marathon while Ewart did the hard job of running it.

The main marathon event began for me last Wednesday when I went to London on Ewart’s behalf (armed with signed authority, ID, and a list of tasks to complete) to collect Ewart’s gear bag, computer chip, runner’s number etc. The fun really began on the tube sitting at Charing Cross Station on the Jubilee Line waiting for the Docklands Light Rail. It was the first morning to collect such articles and people were arriving from all over to find London Arena, just like me.

I wore my new Canterbury tracksuit, bought in NZ for me by Ewart especially for the marathon and my NZ All Blacks t-shirt. On the platform apparently I looked like someone who knew where I was going because English people kept asking me for directions.  It was quite a laugh really but I met some lovely people this way and we travelled on the trains together, chatting about the marathon all the way and going our own separate ways on arrival.

The Arena was easy to find – it’s in the Docklands area of London where huge and very impressive expansion projects are going on. On arrival the 2001 Space Odyssey music blasted forth and that really set the tone for a great day. Everything was really well organised so getting Ewart’s gear (through several steps) was very simple and that left my day free to enjoy the marathon exhibition and enjoy it I did. At the end of the day, after some shopping for Genevieve at Canary Wharf, I dragged my very weary body home ready for the days ahead.

The first of those days was quiet and just required providing the right sort of foods at the right times for when Ewart needed them and having a quiet rest – you know, marking, stuff like that.

Saturday was market day, so I had to get the right foods, cook at different times to get the right amount of food in and make final arrangements with our special neighbour, Karen. There were lots of emails and phone calls wishing Ewart well and with all the cards sitting about, our flat was quite festive. Followed by an early night.


The marathon went really well. We got up at 4.50am and made ourselves ready to go. Karen arrived here at 5.45am and we headed by car for St Albans station, travelled by Thameslink train to London … and then the fun started. We intended to travel direct to London Bridge station but just short of Kings Cross the driver came on the intercom to say that due to engineering work, this train would not be stopping at London Bridge. We would have to get off at Kings Cross and go to London Bridge via the Northern Line. The Northern Line is the furthest walk through the tunnels of any of the lines at Kings Cross so we set off at quite a pace so as not to use up valuable time. We waited on the platform with lots of other people, white plastic gear-bag in hand, heading for the marathon.

After about ten minutes a voice came over the intercom telling all the marathon people to head for the Victoria Line because the Northern Line was closed. We went to the Victoria Line platform and waited; the train was late, then the one that did come was full and we couldn’t fit on. We waited for the next train while time ticked by. We caught the next train to Green Park, then more walking through tunnels to the Jubilee line and caught that train to London Bridge. Then we had to go to find Connex.

Once there we ran into all the other people (hundreds by then) who had been caught by the train problems. We stood on platform 5 and watched the first three trains come and went and we couldn’t get on.  I met one man who told me he had started north of us at Hertford. He had sat on that station for 15mins with other runners, finally to have the intercom tell him that no trains were going from Hertford to London that day, despite his having checked with the railways the previous day. He had had to ring his wife to drive him and a group of runners to St Albans to catch our train – and be there by 6.24am! Most of the trains from London Bridge could only take a few people because the trains were full before they got to us.

London being what it is, and the trains being in the condition they are, we couldn’t go directly to London Bridge Station and then off to Blackheath.  We caught the train from St Albans to London Bridge, but just before Kings Cross Station we were told by the train driver that due to engineering work, he wasn’t stopping at London Bridge and we’d have to get off at Kings Cross and find another way to Blackheath. Up to that very moment we’d had assurances from the rail people that all was in order.  We got to Blackheath Station near Greenwich Park after having to miss three trains because they were all full, but only with 10 minutes to spare before I had to throw my kit onto the back of the  truck that would take it to the finish for me.  It was a close thing, and Elaine said there

Then we got sent to platform 4 and two more full trains passed through.  At the third train we ran right to the front carriage and got there just as the doors shut. I called to Ewart and the driver that I could see vacant seats. We asked the driver if we could get on. I had my NZ tracksuit. He opened the doors, let only the three of us on and quickly closed the doors behind us and the train set off. The trip was quite slow because of a succession of red lights and a slow section of line with engineering work. Once at Blackheath there were lots of nice friendly police and marshals to help us to find the right place and we set off on the 20 minute walk to the Blue Start on Greenwich Park. We made it in time for Ewart to change, drop off his gear bag on a big numbered truck and have just over 10mins to spare.

Finding a loo was fun. We found some for the athletes but the queues were horrific so Karen and I decided we could wait. Just…

We wished Ewart well and just before the 9:30 am start time headed back to Blackheath Station. We couldn’t find the start line anyway because there were thousands of people (plus tens of thousands of runners) and large hot air balloons as well, including a couple we recognised from the Hamilton Balloon Fiesta. We found a nice coffee shop and rested there for about 1/4 hour. During that time, the race had started and some time later we saw runners still arriving with their gear bags and running to try to catch the start.

Getting ready, Blackheath

Getting ready, Blackheath

From what we understand, the start area was so huge that there were runners starting when the leaders reached the eight-mile mark. For the London Marathon everyone’s time is counted

from the start gun regardless of whether you make it over the start line very quickly.

Karen and I found the station and joined the queues for trains to the underground once more. We decided to go via Victoria, so we flagged the train to Charing Cross because it was too full anyway. When our train was due the announcer came on to say our train would be ten minutes late. We were beginning to get used to this and started to laugh. Others on the platform looked sideways at us and Karen said, “Welcome to England!” We were both dressed as Kiwis but Karen’s mum is Irish and her dad English. We were just having a fun day out.

On arrival at Victoria we had similar adventures but finally found a train to get us to Tower Bridge where we hoped to catch Ewart at the 13 and 22 mile points as they were opposite each other. We didn’t find that place immediately, because there were far too many people, so we grabbed an ice ream and went to the end of Tower Bridge, next to the Tower of London – and found a great atmosphere there anyway. We had to stand on tip-toe for a long time checking out every runner with a white cap heading towards the half-way mark.

I finally spotted Ewart. We screamed “GO EWART” at the top of our lungs then headed back to the underground for our next adventure. Out came the map and we decided to head to St James Park, arriving by The Home Office. Once there we found we were just 800 metres from the finish line and fortunately Karen spotted a gap in the fence so we could be right at the front. We could see at last!!! We’d felt REALLY SHORT until then, though. We stayed there for about 1 1/2 hours looking at every white cap, yellow and black strip etc. Our eyes hurt and streamed and we cheered on anyone who got into difficulty or who looked interesting. Finally we spotted Ewart and screamed at the top of our lungs again. People around us looked at us VERY STRANGELY. Then we took off towards Buckingham Palace.

Here it got really crowded and it was very difficult to get through the crowd. We caught a glimpse of runners from time to time and photographed the beautiful tulips in the palace gardens. I also saw the plaques for the Diana Princess of Wales Walk in the pavement. From here on the going got really difficult and we could only go a few paces at a time whenever the crowd would let us through.

We found the finish line on The Mall and watched people finishing, being awarded their medals and getting their computer chips removed. As each runner finished they were wrapped in a reflective, metallic-looking sheet, called a space blanket, to keep warm. I spotted the numbered trucks where we had earlier deposited Ewart’s gear and knew just which truck his would be in, so we headed for it.

We had to stay beyond the perimeter fence and we took photos of things we thought Ewart would want to see afterwards. We spotted Ewart quite quickly and called to him, taking a photo of him with his medal and space blanket. We waited for him to change then we walked parallel with him until we could be on the same path. He was very stiff and sore by this stage, but very happy. He had finished the marathon in 3 hours 44 minutes. It was a fantastic time for a first marathon, in fact for any marathon.

We were REALLY proud of him. We walked at his painful and very delicate pace to Trafalgar Square and then through the underground tunnels to Charing Cross station. People were happy, chatting to each other, showing medals and comparing times. It was really great to be part of and fortunately the train trip home was much less eventful. At St Albans station a couple of black guys who worked at the station called to Ewart to see his medal and made him and us feel really special. They were so happy and excited just to share Ewart’s triumph with him. We finally got back to the flat at 4pm, very tired but extremely happy, kind of high really.

Since then it has been all celebration. Dave and Jill had driven up from Ashtead to see Ivor and Iris and they called round see us. That was a lovely surprise and a perfect way to wind down after a big day. There were lovely emails and phone calls to follow, yesterday and today – from everywhere. Ewart has had a great day with his work mates today and I with mine. Ewart took his medal to work today and he got a great reception. None of them knew he was running. Tomorrow it goes with me to school. The children knew he was running and are excitedly waiting to hear how he got on.

Well, this is it. Time to go to the start.

Well, this is it. Time to go to the start.

It was a wonderful adventure for us all.  For me, I am pleased to be the  “gopher” and “spectator” but none the less a participant. For Ewart it is one of the greatest achievements of his life. Thanks for your support. You made a big difference to the last two years of training for this event. Genevieve was wonderful: she phoned us, wrote lots of encouraging emails and bought the lovely running suit that Ewart ran in for the race. It was truly a great family day for us.

Re-united. Exhausted and pleased it’s over, but there’s only one way of winning a London Marathon medal.

Re-united. Exhausted and pleased it’s over, but there’s only one way of winning a London Marathon medal.

Lots of love



Time: 3:43:58 hr Place: 6453 Finishers: 33,000  Starters: 44,000

The London Marathon is a world event, so that puts Ewart in the top 20% of marathon runners world-wide.


The Top of the Tearle Tree

I have been working on the difficult task of drafting a chart that shows the Tearle family tree from its beginnings in Stanbridge, to the middle of the eighteenth century. The sole criterion was that the line of Tearles it described had to be unbroken, from the first name to the last. Barbara Tearle of Oxford started the project off by posing a scenario that was solidly rooted in fact, but sounded like the start of novel:

Jan 2006:

“In 1610 John Tearle, yeoman of Stanbridge, bought land in Stanbridge.  He could have been making this purchase near the beginning of his farming career, or more likely near the end.  He could have been anywhere in age between 25 or 50.  He could have had a young family or a grown family.

There is a marriage of John Tearle to Joan Hale in Upper Gravenhurst in 1607.  The Stanbridge PRs show baptisms of children to John Tearle from 1611 to 1618, but they are incomplete for the next few years.

In 1653 John Tearle yeoman of Tilsworth (wife Joan) settled the same land on his son Thomas and his new wife Mary Smallbone.  Also involved was William Tearle of Stanbridge and there is a reference to a John Tearle of Stanbridge who may be a different person from John of Tilsworth.

Is the newlywed Thomas Tearle son of John bap 1618?  If so, he would have been 35 when he married.  Rather late, but they were troublesome times and people might have put off marriage.  

In 1699 Thomas Tearle of Stanbridge transferred the land to Thomas Tearle jr. of Hockliffe and John Tearle of Stanbridge.  If this is the same Thomas who married in 1653 he would have been 81.  Is this likely or is there another generation?  One of the witnesses was William Greenhough who then grants a mortgage to Thomas Tearle sr. and jr.

Using William Greenhough as a point of reference, Thomas Tearle who transferred the land, is the testator of 1699 who died in 1704.  As the testator’s sons were Thomas and Joseph, the John Tearle mentioned in the transfer is probably from a different family.  He may be the John Tearle who made his will in 1701, who is from a different family because he only mentions one brother (Thomas) and different sisters and brothers-in-law.

In 1717 Thomas the new landholder of 1699 and his brother Joseph remortgaged to Elizabeth Haines.  This may confirm the identification of the two Thomases as the testator of 1699 and his son.

In 1732 Joseph Tearle dies and his son Thomas administers his property.  The various mortgagings until the sale of the land in 1788 show that this Thomas was married to Mary and that his son was Joseph who was married to Phebe Capp.”

I mulled this over for a long time and slowly gathered the documents together that would allow me to draw my chart. Barbara had provided me with an outline, but I needed much more. The only documents extant from the period are the parish records of Stanbridge Church, (hereinafter referred to as the PRs) the wills left by some of the men Barbara had mentioned, and some land transfer documents that mentioned Tearle owners or neighbours. All of these documents are held by BLARS, the Bedfordshire history centre in Bedford, and each is numbered. I shall be quoting those numbers throughout this account. There is also an excellent book on the subject of Tearle history called TEARLE, a Bedfordshire Surname, written by John L Tearle. I shall refer to his book as JLT, plus relevant page numbers. Since most people who own the book have the 2nd Edition, then that is the one the page numbering refers to.

There is also a convention I use that gives a man’s name and birthdate as a short code, such that a Thomas Tearle born in 1709 will be referred to as Thomas 1709, if he marries then he and his wife will be referred to as Thomas 1709 and Mary, nee, her maiden surname. If there are various people from different places, then their place name will also form part of their identifier. So this man would be Thomas 1709 of Stanbridge, or shortened to Thomas 1709 Stbg, and he and his wife will be referred to as Thomas 1709 Stbg and Mary nee Sibley. I have not seen this convention before; I had to develop it to give a unique but plain English identifier to the people who will be mentioned in this chart. I shall be using the convention here.

To return to Barbara’s outline, then, I found the baptisms of children of John 1610 and Joan nee Hale in the Stanbridge PRs:

1611, February 28, Elizabeth, daughter of John Tearle.

1614, July 22, Susannah, daughter of John Tearle

1618, September 20, Thomas, son of John TARLE

If we now look at JLT pp67-69, the author asserts that these are the children of John 1585 and on p68 he states that we should look for a son John who was born in 1610 (ie be the firstborn) who would inherit the property coming down from his father. There is plenty of time between the marriage in 1607 and Elizabeth’s birth in 1611, for a firstborn son, John. If the man buying land, above, is indeed John 1585, then in 1653 his son John 1610 is settling the land he inherited onto his son Thomas who had just married Mary Smallbone. This means that BOTH John 1685 and John 1610 married a Joan.

It also means that John 1610 is a grandson of John 1560. It further means that John 1585 is alive in 1653 (he’d be 68, not impossible) or there must be a will or land transfer document missing that transfers the land to John 1610.

I have checked the BLARS documents that Barbara referred to in other correspondance (for example GA 499) and the question Barbara posed above with regards to John who died and left a will in 1701 was answered just a little later – this John is the son (1654) of Thomas and Mary nee Smallbone.

William Greenhough is probably the one who married Alice 1682, the daughter of Thomas 1655 (the elder) of the 1704 will.

There are four men mentioned in GA 501 who are quite similar to the names in the Poll Books of 1695 –

William Tearle of Stanbridge

John Tearle of Stanbridge

John Tearle of Stanbridge, son of Thomas  (John 1653-1701)

Thomas Tearle of Stanbridge (Thomas 1632)

In this list “John Tearle of Stanbridge, son of Thomas” is surely the son of “Thomas Tearle of Stanbridge”, so there should be a Thomas, son of John

Thomas 1655 who died in 1704 had a wife Mary, but she certainly was not Mary nee Chynn. I have checked the online (Ancestry.co.uk) trees and Mary Chynn is universally noted as marrying on 24 July 1660. This was the date Thomas 1632 married Mary Quinney. No-one quotes the actual record, just points to the Ancestry tree where it is stated that Mary Chynn married Thomas 1655. I have deleted the surname from this Mary in our Tree.

Disagreements and inconsistancies:

If (JLT p102) John 1667 is the author of the 1701 will, then Thomas his brother is Thomas 1674 (who married Sarah Pepyat) of the 1720 will.


Barbara says the author of this will is John 1654, the son of Thomas 1632 and Mary nee Smallbone. So that means that there is another generation and the wife of William Greenhough is Alice 1620, the daughter of John 1654. Also, we have a timeline for John 1667 from the Stanbridge PRs:


1667, October 2, John son of John Tearle


1699, May 8, John Tearle

So I think that Barbara is correct.

On p102, John L has a tree starting with John 1610 and another starting with John 1620 (which goes back to John 1560 on p92) but he does not assert that this is the John 1610 he was keeping an eye out for on p68. What if this is that John? What if this man was the  John Tearle whom Barbara introduced who was buying land, or possibly increasing his holdings, in Stanbridge, for his brand new son, John 1610, and future children, now that he was married?

Both William 1620 and John 1620 are placed on the Tree as possible sons of John 1585, but if we place John 1610 as the elder brother of Elizabeth 1611, and both as children of John 1585, then detach John 1620, it might make the above story much less complicated. It certainly is not an impossible scenario, since in Stanbridge in 1704 Joseph and Alice nee Hyde are christening their daughter Mary and in 1701 and 1706 Thomas and Sarah nee Pepyat are christening their new children; this is a clear sign of these two families living and working in the same village at the same time.

Here is the story as I now see it.

GA 500: in 1607 John Tearle marries Joan Hale and in 1610 he buys a parcel of land in Stanbridge from Alice Iremonger more or less coinciding with the birth of his first son, John 1610. There is no record of how John raised the £310 to buy the land. This man is John 1568, son of John 1560. John 1610 as his son is postulated by JLT p68.

During his life he wills the parcel to his son John 1610 and subsequently dies. This is probably the only way the parcel could pass to John 1610 (unless there is a land transfer document missing) because John 1610 was too young to buy the property from Alice Iremonger himself.

GA 501: in 1653, John 1610 sets up a trust with William 1620, his brother, and John 1620 of Stanbridge who is a neighbouring landholder, to hold the land until both he and his wife Joan are deceased, then to pass it to Thomas 1632 and Mary nee Smallbone.

Barbara notes the four adult male Tearles of 1653: John 1610 of Tilsworth, Thomas 1632 his son, William 1620 his brother and John 1620 of unknown parentage, but who must be closely related or he would not be so trusted.

Again, the land in GA 501 must have been willed to the next owner, because in 1699:

GA 502: Thomas 1655 is transferring the parcel to his son Thomas 1678. The John Tearle mentioned is his brother John 1653 (of the 1701 will) and William Greenhough is the husband of Alice 1682, the sister of Thomas 1678 ie Jnr.

GA 503: father and uncle assure the right of the property to Thomas 1678

GA 504: The property is mortgaged to Williamm Greenhough, but through Alice, it is still in the family…

Then in 1717

GA 505: The will of 1704 by Thomas 1655 gives the land to Joseph 1676 (and Alice nee Hyde) on production of a male heir, and so it passes to his son, Thomas 1709, via GA 507, 508 and 509.


GA 513, the property is held by Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp, as well as Mary nee Sibley, Joseph’s mother, wife of Thomas 1709.


GA 515 to GA 521 the property is sold off and Mary dies a “pauper” – in other words, she is on parish relief, as per the Stanbridge PRs:


1792, March 15, Mary Tearle, widow, pauper.

I have cross-referenced a couple of things to see if I am consistent and compared GA 502 (1699) with the Poll Book of 1695:

GA 502:

1.         Thomas Snr

2.         Thomas Jnr, of Hockliffe

3.         John T

Poll Book:

4.         William T

5.         John T

6.         John, son of Thomas

7.         Thomas

Who are these men?

1.Thomas 1655

2. Thomas 1678

3. John 1653 (of the 1701 will) brother and uncle to 1. and 2. respectively.

4. William 1656, brother of John 1653 and Thomas 1655; but might also be William 1649, or even William 1670.

5. John  – poss John 1667.

6. John 1653 (of the 1701 will) the only John, son of a Thomas alive at that time.

7. Thomas – this is not John’s father Thomas 1632, otherwise the land would still be in trust. It is Thomas 1655 because he still held the land and thus probably got the vote. It is likely that Thomas 1678 did not at that time hold the land, so he may not have qualified.

I have not turned the world on its head with this view of the top of the tree, I just think it looks more likely that John 1560 begat John 1585 who begat John 1610 and so on down to us. That still leaves John 1620 in a tree of his own, along with Thomas 1674 and Sarah nee Papyat in a tree that grows parallel to ours and within which lives the charismatic Nathaniel, so I have called this nearby tree Nathaniel’s Tree. I was hoping that the view I had would amalgamate the two trees, but John 1610 and John 1620 cannot belong to the same parents and there is no grandfather for John 1620 to provide an ancestor who would unite the two trees. I notice that on page 102, JLT has them on separate trees, so that would appear to be the natural order of things.

The essence is that if John 1610, as the first of the children of John 1585, is more likely than John 1620 being the last of them, then our Tree starts with John 1560, not John 1610, and Nathaniel’s tree starts with this John 1620.

GA499 onwards give us the proof, which is that John 1610 is the first recipient of the parcel that was bought in 1563, so it follows that he was not the original purchaser, which then has to be his father, John 1585. The rest – from John 1610 all the way to Thomas and Mary nee Sibley, simply follows.

So our Tree is:

John 1560

John 1585 and Joan nee Hale

John 1610 and Joan

Thomas 1632 and Mary nee Smallbone

Thomas 1655 and Mary

Joseph 1676 and Alice nee Hyde

Thomas 1710 and Mary nee Sibley

and from the link below you can download the pdf of the chart of the descendants of John 1560 to the children of Thomas 1710 and Mary nee Sibley. This is the Top of the Tearle Tree and you are welcome to download it, print it, paste it up and frame it on the wall of your living room. It is from here that we trace our ancestry and it is from this village in central Bedfordshire that we made our way into many countries all over the planet. But even today, there are more Tearles in the countryside around Leighton Buzzard, Luton and Dunstable than anywhere else in the word. We are essentially a Bedfordshire, and indeed a Stanbridge family of rural folk who have worked the land as tenant farmers, and occasionally owners, until the last Tearle who lived in Stanbridge died in a cottage on the corner of Peddars Lane in 1956.


Tearle, John L: Tearle a Bedfordshire surname, Lillydown House, 1996

The London Regiment City of London Battlions Cornhill WW1 Memorial 3rd Btn for Arthur Walter Tearle 1881

Tearle, Arthur Walter, 1881, St Pancras, London

Ethel had deep concerns when Arthur told her he was going to join the army and fight in the war that was raging across Europe in 1914.
“You’re nearly 35 years old, why do they need you?” She had read the newspapers and had become increasingly alarmed at the lists of casualties being published every day. “You’ve got three children, do you just waltz off and leave me to look after them by myself? If you are killed who then cares?”

She knew she was repeating what every mother had said to their sons, but she was sure this was different – Arthur wasn’t a fit young man looking for adventure, he was working for a well-established educational publisher and he had a family to care for. Not to mention Ethel herself. She had not married him in the Prince of Wales Rd Wesleyan chapel in 1898 to see him disappear in 1914, killed in action in some muddy hell-hole in France or Belgium. Her sister Edith had been her bridesmaid, Arthur’s own sister Minnie had signed the register, surely they would not approve of this? She did not have time to consult them; on the 29th Oct 1914, Arthur showed her a copy of the form he had signed in the Edward St Recruitment Office not far from where they lived.

“I’m in the Territorials,” he said. “Mind you, it’s only a reservist battalion.” He looked at her hopefully, waiting for approval.
“3rd Reserve Battalion (City of London) The London Regiment” she read out. “We’re not in the City. Why them?”
“They recruit over here. And besides, we were married in St Pancras, remember? That’s where the HQ is.” His chin went up, “I’m in the Royal Fusiliers.”
“Reservist, eh? Listen to this.”
She read out a short note from the form
“… to subject himself to liability to serve in any place outside the United Kingdom in the event of National emergency.”
“What do you think the War is? It’s a National emergency. The minute they get hold of you, you’ll be outside the United Kingdom all right!”

Arthur Walter begins his army service

Arthur Walter begins his army service

Why could he not see this?
She looked up from the form and saw disappointment, and even an echo of her own exasperation, on his face.
“I know you’re doing the right thing,” she said slowly, “but this is going to be hard for us. You, me and the children. When do you start?”
“Tomorrow morning.

The 3rd (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment. (The Royal Fusiliers)
Enlistment numbers show the stark reality of the sheer quantity of men enlisting for what we now call World War 1, and which our parents referred to as The Great War. The 3rd Battalion enrollment numbers rocketed from 1947, the enrollment number of the man who enlisted on 3 May 1914 to 3148, being the enrollment number of a man who enlisted on 18 Dec 1914. A total of 1201 men for one battalion in just seven months. After 1916 many regiments and battalions were disbanded and re-organised and the numbering system became chaotic and non-sequential, but during the months above, the numbers are orderly and sequential. The Long, Long Trail has a section on the London Regiment, and the 3rd Battalion, that gives further background into the regiment that Arthur had just joined

The Long, Long Trail notes that the 3rd Division of each regiment consisted mainly of Section D Reservists, who were normally soldiers who had fulfilled their 5 years service in the regular army and were waiting out their 5 years on reserve.
“All those surplus to the immediate needs of the regular army battalions were posted to the Special Reserve. Thus the (usually) 3rd Battalion of each regiment was massively and very rapidly expanded. Very large numbers of men passed through the SR battalions before being posted to the regular units.”

The record is silent as to where Arthur was trained (most of the London Regiment was trained on Hampstead Heath) but it is quite specific that he was “Home,” as the army calls it, in basic training, from 29 Oct 1914 to 22 Dec; just 55 days. On the 23rd Dec he was on a ship, bound for Malta and the Egypt Theatre of War.
“Reservist?” A shocked Ethel mourned the fact that Arthur could not have Christmas with his family.

Malta was not under direct threat in 1914 and 1915, but it was a strategic post in the Mediterranean and housed hospitals for repatriating the wounded as well as supply depots for onwards goods and munitions deployment. Whatever he was doing in Malta, and the record is also silent on this, Arthur worked, or trained, perhaps, for 106 days until, on the 7th Apr 1915, he was posted to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF), to fight in the Dardanelles Campaign. This engagement now forms part of the history of both the London Regiment and the ANZACs. Gallipoli is where New Zealand became a nation and ties with Australia were permanently bound. The 25th April each year is a National Day for both countries.

Vice-Admiral Sir John De Roebecks describes the landings at Anzac Cove and Cape Helles on 25 Apr 1915. Since this was an amphibious landing, I assume that Arthur spent the time between 8 April and 25 April in training for the assault on the Gallipoli beaches. The Vice-Admiral does not specifically mention the 3rd Division but he does say the 2nd Division (Royal Fusiliers) embarked on the warship the Implacable and landed at 07:00 with no casualties, the accompanying warships having given excellent covering fire.

“The nature of the beach was very favourable for the covering fire from ships, but the manner in which this landing was carried out might well serve as a model,” said the Admiral. I think that Arthur was amongst these men. The rest of the Gallipoli campaign is well covered by the many histories written about it and The Long, Long Trail has a very balanced view of the conflict over the entire peninsula.

It is worthy to note that John Henry Tearle 1887 of Hatfield (Service number: 9054) was also there. He was killed on 29 June 1915 and is memorialised on the Hellespont Memorial. I assume he was killed in the Helles area, so he probably survived the original landings and was killed in the Battle of Gully Ravine, which began on 28 June 1915. I shall explain the relationship between John Henry and Arthur later.

Conditions in Gallipoli were appalling. Fighting was almost hand-to-hand and the bodies could not be buried, food was scarce and munitions poorly serviced. Death, disease and sickness were rampant, yet there are legends of donkeys carrying the dead being allowed free pass through enemy lines, of truce hours when the dead were buried and soldiers took the opportunity to swap food parcels with the enemy – for instance, tomatoes were swapped for potatoes. They were fierce fighters, but there was a time and a place for fighting and when there was a truce, then you did not fight.

For almost an entire year the two sides fought over hills and rocky outcrops, trying to force an advantage. Finally, Churchill realised this was no back door into Germany and more pressing concerns drove his attention elsewhere. Gallipoli was the worst disaster of WW1.

025 Lone Pine Cemetary Gallipoli

ANZAC graves, Lone Pine, Gallipoli.
Copyright Genevieve Tearle 2004

Gallipoli was also nation-building for the Turks. Their now legendary leader, Attaturk, built his nation firmly on temporal lines; there would be no blurring of church and state. In 1934 he built a memorial to the events of the Dardanelles Campaign and he made the following promise:

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…. You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…. You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

Thousands of Kiwis and Australians who visit ANZAC sites every year in honour of their grandparents take heart from  this message.

In Dec 1915, Arthur was struck with typhus. He was looking forward to the evacuation, which had been ordered on 8 Dec 1915, but this was a bitter blow after the months of fighting he had endured. The Long, Long Trail concludes that 260,000 Allied troops were killed, and 300,000 Turks. They had fought themselves to a draw.
Arthur was evacuated to Valletta Hospital in Malta, where he started his convalescence after his initial treatment for typhus. He looked at the stone walls and the high, vaulted ceilings from his cot and saw a surgeon with a small group of on-lookers standing around the soldier’s bed next to him.

The surgeon was wearing a bloody apron, his badge of office since the days of the barber-surgeon, and he dropped the chart he was reading onto the soldier’s bed and turned to Arthur.

“This man contracted typhus in Gallipoli and has done well to come through it as far as he has,” said the surgeon to the little throng, grouped around the bed, one in a seried rank of beds, crushed into the long, narrow room. He turned his back to the window, the better to read Arthur’s chart in the gloom. “However, he has now developed gastritis and this will prolong his treatment, mostly with a change of diet. Gastritis is a common complaint after a serious trauma such as Enteric Fever.” The surgeon used the army term to ensure his students were up to date with the latest advances in military medical technology.

They moved off, satisfied with Arthur’s progress. His stomach was on fire and he gritted his teeth at the waves of pain and nausea. “I suppose he thinks I’m lucky to be alive,” he said. “What does he mean about a change of diet?”
“No Friday curry,” said an orderly.

C Savona-Ventura, in a scholarly but not very well organised essay on the Military Hospitals of Malta (The Nurse of the Mediterranean) notes that during the Gallipoli campaign 2500 officers and 55400 troops were treated at Valletta. This hospital has a long and chequered career, involving an essay on its improvement from none other than Florence Nightingale herself, charging the hospital with unsanitary conditions, poor treatment of patients and understocking of supplies. The British government set up a commission and recommendations were made, but nothing was actually done. It is generally agreed that Valletta was insufficient (and always had been) for the uses it was put to. It was here that Arthur had contracted gastritis, which is a nasty inflamation of the stomach, probably including a peptic ulcer.

He was returned to England where he spent time in Chichester Hospital, Lewes, then Braydon Hospital, then a spell in Newport Pagnell. He returned to duty on 2 May 1916, but was unable to work.

He was examined at Hurdcott Camp Hospital in Wiltshire. This was originally set up for various London Rifle brigades, but in August 1916 it was taken over by the Australians who used it for convalescing soldiers who would be there for six months or more. In the hills around Fovant, where Hurdcott is situated, you can see The Fovant Badges.  These are regimental badges cut into the chalk and still tended today. The 6CLR (6th battalion, City of London Regiment) is clearly there. It will serve to remind us of the London Regiment.

On 10 Oct 1916, they reported on Arthur, and two days later, he was recommended for discharge from the army as “No longer physically fit for active service.” I have reproduced a short part of the report, below, but let me transcribe it, since it makes grim reading.:

Origin Dec 1915 Gallipoli. Had Enteric Fever, during operations, & was sent Malta Valetta Hospital. Was convalescent and then developed Gastritis. Has had it ever since. Sent England. Is losing weight & is very emaciated. Bad sickness, cannot keep food down, gradually getting worse, and much weaker. Result of active service. Infected with MEF Permanent.

On the 27th Nov 1916, he was formally examined and discharged. He had been in the army on active service for two days short of two years.

Arthur Walter 3063 army discharge

This report from Chelsea Hospital also tells us that he had three children: Hilda Alexandra, born 1902, George Ewart born 1909 and Winifred Agnes born 1913. A Children’s Allowance of 1/6d per week had been paid for each of them, I assume in addition to his 3/6d weekly pay as a private in the army. He was recommended for three medals – the Victory, The British, and the 1914-1915 Star.

These may have been the same medals as many others received at the end of WW1, but they cannot disguise the fact that Arthur started service at the beginning of the War (hence the 1914-1915 Star) and served overseas for a significant part of his term of service. Nor can they hide the sacrifices he made and the enduring pain he, and his family, suffered as a result of his original decision to help in the effort to defend his country. On the 20th of Dec 1916, Arthur signed for the receipt of the first of his medals. Note that it states that “The Badge will be worn on the right breast or on the right lapel of the jacket, but not in Naval or Military uniform.”

Arthur Walter receives his War Badge

Arthur Walter receives his Silver War Badge

Here is the record the army used to ensure his award was correct.

Arthur Walter Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Arthur Walter Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

On the 24th Aug 1918, he received his King’s Certificate, which was the formal acknowledgement that his king and country would no longer require him for any kind of active service. I do not know if Arthur had recovered enough from his gastritis for the army to conclude that it was no longer their problem, or if the army paid his pension until the end of his original contract, or whether he was actually fit enough to resume his profession as an educational publisher’s assistant, but on the 20th Nov 1919, his army pension was stopped: “No grounds for further award.” All ties with the army were now cut and five tumultuous years in the military were over.

According to Arthur’s grandson, his girls had no children, but George had a family, and one of his boys bears the name Ewart, and that son has a boy called Ewart as well. Quite where the name comes from in Arthur’s family is a mystery, but mine comes from the Ewart family of County Antrim in Northern Ireland, via my maternal g-grandmother. I am not familiar with other members of Arthur’s family to know if their Ewart is family, or a name that Arthur or Ethel met in London.

I am now in a unique position to move backwards into Arthur’s past, to see into his family history for as far back as three hundred years, and possibly to see what the links are between the families that we call the Willesden cell – in other words, those families living in London NW10.

Arthur’s past
Here are my notes on Arthur in the 1901 census in London:
1901 = Arthur 1881 St Pancras Ethel 20 in Kentish Town LON

My other notes will follow this format:

1901 refers to the census year,

Arthur 1881 St Pancras references the person of interest on that census page, the year he was born and the place he was born.

Ethel 20  (and others) lists the other members of the household and their age.

In Kentish Town tells us where they were living. If the location is not immediately obvious, the I have added an identifier (LON – London).
Arthur and Ethel are fairly newly married, given that they did so when they were just 17 (I have the wedding certificate) and they are living at 30 Grafton Rd, Kentish Town. Arthur is a Publisher’s Storeman. Arthur’s wedding certificate stated that his father George Tearle was a Railway Platelayer, so that would account for their presence in Kentish Town – George had found work at one of the major railway workshops of the 19th century.

Arthur’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1881, but I’m fairly sure he was born in the Dec of 1880 – the birth certificate would solve that question – but there is no doubting his parentage; George Tearle 1844 born in Stanbridge, Beds, and Lavinia George, born 1846 in Mursley, Bucks. In one jump, then, we are back to the traditional birthplace of almost all the Tearles in the world today. I found George in 1901, too:

1901 = George 1844 Stbg Lavinia 55 Annie 25 William 21 Ethel gd 2 in Kentish Town LON

They are living at 25 Ashdown St, Kentish Town, and this return tells us quite a lot about George’s family – for instance, that since Annie was born in Kentish Town, then George has been working for the railways for at least 25 years. Given that Arthur does not list Ethel amongst his children for his Children’s Allowance, then I assume that Ethel, 2yrs old and George and Lavinia’s grandchild, is Annie’s daughter. Let’s keep going back:

1891 = George 1844 Stbg Lavinia 45 William G 11 Arthur W 10 in Kentish Town LON

The family is living at 7 Ashdown St, Kentish Town. This may be the same house as in 1901, because since the Post Office gave the houses the numbers in the first place, it’s possible they simply changed the numbers. William and Arthur are both at school, and both were born in the district of St Pancras, which covers Kentish Town.

1881 = George 1844 Stbg Lavinia 35 Sarah 9 Annie 7 Minnie 5 William 1 Arthur 2m in Kentish Town LON

George is a Railway Labourer and it looks as though Sarah, the eldest, was born in Middlesex, Kilburn, though I’m not quite sure what that tells me except that by age 27, George and Lavinia were no longer living in Bedfordshire. Annie and everyone after her were all born in St Pancras so George has taken up his railway job by at least 1872. There is Minnie, by the way, who officiated at Arthur’s wedding, and just a little aside; they are living in Prince of Wales St, which was the address Ethel gave at her wedding, and it was also the address of the Methodist chapel where the wedding was held. So that’s how Arthur and Ethel met.

1871 = George 1844 Stbg Lavinia 25 in Willesden Mdx
Now this is really interesting – George and Lavinia, with no children, are in Willesden, and George is a Platelayer on the railway. He is 26yrs. He is fresh from the country, so who else is in Willesden? No one. Was he the first? It seems that he may have been.

In 1881 Jonathon 1862 Stbg is there, a porter for Thomas James Shackle, a “Modeller in Sugar.”

In 1891 there is a list: Annie 1874, George’s daughter; Hannah Estaffe, nee Tearle 1865 of Stanbridge; John 1856 and Elizabeth and family; Jonathon again; Zephaniah 1869.
And the same again in 1901.

I shall come back to their interrelationships once I have traveled a little further back in time.

In 1861, there is a completely different picture as we approach the roots of Arthur’s tree. We are on the Eggington Rd, Stanbridge, John and David Flint, the bakers, are next door, young Frederick Janes the butcher (only 26 and already a stand-alone businessman) with his wife Rebecca, is two doors away, but we are standing in front of Mary Tearle’s house.

1861 = Mary 1805 wid of Toddington, John 21, Ann 19, George 16, David 11, Elizabeth gd 4, all born in Stanbridge.

Mary is a char woman, originally from Toddington. She washes clothes, cleans houses and probably the local pubs; this is hard physical work and the chemicals she has to use cause permanent redness and angry welts on her hands and arms. She is already a widow, even though only 56. We now know George has an elder brother John, a younger brother David and a sister Ann. I checked the 1871 census to see if Mary was still there:

1871 = Mary 1805 Tod David 21 Elizabeth gd 14 in Stbg

She was. Her son John, now 31, lives next door and her grandson Levi 1850 (my g-grandfather) is next door on the other side, working as a blacksmith with William Thompkins.

1851 = Thomas 1807 Stbg Mary 46 John 11 Ann 9 George 6 David 1 in Stbg
1851 = James 1828 Stbg p1 Mary 23 in Stbg
1851 = James 1828 Stbg p2 Levi 8m in Stbg

In 1851 the whole picture becomes clear. Let me show you how clear: in the picture below of Stanbridge church with the John and James headstones in the foreground, the one on the left is George’s elder brother, John 1840 “For 60yrs sexton of this parish” and on the right is James 1827, my gg-grandfather and the father of Levi 1850, above, the blacksmith. He is also George’s eldest brother.
I’m not quite sure how all of this works, but John was a Methodist and worshiped in the chapel next to where the school still stands. However, he had the job as sexton of the church and yet still called himself an Ag Lab on the census. Either his job was entirely voluntary, or Ag Lab, as an occupation, also covered the work of a church caretaker. This is the family of which Arthur Walter Tearle 1880 of London is a member. You can go to Stanbridge and touch their headstones.

Next door in 1851 lived Abel 1810, Martha nee Emmerton and their family.

Abel’s grandfather was Joseph 1737, the father of one of the major Tearle branches, while Thomas’ grandfather was John 1741, Joseph’s brother and himself a founder of a major Tearle branch. One step further back is their father, Thomas 1710. We are now back to the ancestors (Thomas 1710 and Mary nee Sibley) of almost every Tearle alive today. If you read John L Tearle’s groundbreaking work “Tearle; A Bedfordshire Surname” you will be able to see how John L took the family roots back to John 1610 and his wife Joan.

I have a little snapshot of Lavinia George and her family in Mursley, Bucks in the same census, on the other side of Wing, on the A418, close to Wingrave, which certainly has Tearle connections. Use the Search function to see the Wingrave stories.
1851 = Lavinia George 1846 Mursley, Bucks
We have a final glimpse in the 1841 census of Thomas and his family. James 1828 is already in service.
1841 = Thomas 1811 Beds Mary 1806 William 9 Emma 3 John 1 Stbg
6 doors away from them as they live on the Leighton Rd, is John 1791 and Elizabeth nee Mead. He is Abel’s brother.
1841 = James 1828 Beds MS in HeathnReach
This is Thomas’ boy, James, my gg-grandfather working as a manservant in Heath and Reach – not too far from Stanbridge, but I would still think it was an uncomfortable distance from home. He grew up to marry Mary Andrews 1830 of Eggington, albiet they married as minors, and she had quite a colourful career which you can read about from her link.
So let’s go back to Willesden and see if we can tie up some of the relationships we have discovered there.

The Willesden cell
We now know, with some surprise, I must admit, that George 1844 from Stanbridge, was the instigator of the Willesden cell. Upon reflection, I think it grew because George was the first. In finding a job on the railway he had blazed the trail for others who had to leave the country and farming life as rural England became more mechanised and fewer farm workers were needed. He had found a stable job with reasonable earning that did not require very much education – a kind of transition job between skilled but poorly educated farm work and the increasing demands for literacy in the urban workforce.

The memorials to John 1840 and James 1827 are close together.

The memorials to John 1840 and James 1827 are close together.

Here are closeups of the two headstones – first, John the sexton:

John Tearle and Maria nee Bliss headstone Stanbridge

John Tearle and Maria nee Bliss headstone, Stanbridge.

Then James Tearle, his brother:

James Tearle and Mary nee Andrews headstone Stanbridge

James Tearle and Mary nee Andrews headstone, Stanbridge.

Looking at the detail of the movement to London, there are certainly links between the members of the cell:
1881 – Jonathon 1862, Stbg

He was a son of William 1832 and Catharine nee Fountain. George, John (the sexton) James and William were all brothers. In fact when James died, his wife Mary nee Andrews married William. William was also a railway worker and had been since at least 1861. Perhaps he showed George the benefits of working on the railway. So Jonathon went to London and lived near his uncle while he became used to the urban ways of doing things. He married Alice Kearns in 1882 in Marylebone, and their son, James Harry Tearle 1891 was killed on the Somme in 1917.

Jonathon and George certainly had a common ancestor – Thomas 1807 and Mary nee Garner.
1891 – Annie 1874 Stbg – George’s daughter. She had moved across London to be with her dad.
1891 – Hannah Estaffe nee Tearle, 1865 Stbg. Hannah Married James Estaffe in 1888, in Stanbridge. Her mother was Mary Ann 1841, dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
1891 = John 1856 Stbg Elizabeth 35 John 12 Louisa 8 Arthur 4 George 2 Ethel 4m in Willesden, Middlesex.

This is Hannah’s family from Stanbridge; John 1856 and Elizabeth – I do not know her maiden name. Hannah is the grand-daughter of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons. John’s mother was Mary 1803, daughter of John 1770 and Mary nee Janes. His grandfather was John 1741, who was the father of Thomas 1807. John 1770 is the brother of Richard 1773 (who married Elizabeth Bodsworth) who was the father of Thomas 1807. It’s possible that John 1856 knew all this, but it’s equally possible that he had village connections, and being from Stanbridge and a Tearle, opened up London for him, with George and Jonathon’s help.

1891 – Jonathon again
1891 – Zephaniah. He was the son of Jane 1844, dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons. Jane was the sister of John 1856. So Zephaniah is also a grandson of John and Eliza nee Irons. Once John 1856 and Hannah arrived, it was easier for Zephaniah to make a living in London.

The picture does not change in 1901 so I have a clip from a directory of 1936, and I’ll leave it to you to suggest who these families might be.

Tearle families in NW10 George George John Thomas-Sidney William Zephaniah in 1936

Tearle families in NW10, 1936

Here are the families as listed in the directory:
Alfred in Iverson Rd
George in Aboyne Rd
George on the North Circular
John in St Johns Av
Thomas Sidney in Minet Gdns
William H in Severn Way
And it is certainly Zephaniah in Fairlight Av, Harlesden, because that was his address when he died in 1951.

The Gallipoli cousins
Let me now fulfill my promise to explain the relationship between the two men who fought at Gallipoli. Arthur’s father George 1844 was the son of Thomas 1807 and Mary nee Garner. Thomas’ brother Richard 1805 left Stanbridge, married Martha Walker and established a family in Soulbury, Bucks, members of which are still there.  Richard’s grandson, William Francis, born Soulbury 1857, moved to Hatfield, near St Albans and married Sarah Kefford. Their son, John Henry Tearle 1887 died in Gallipoli in 1915. So John’s g-grandfather and Arthur’s grandfather were brothers. Read the story of Norman 1919 Soulbury to see the tragic deaths on the same day in WW2, of two other men with Soulbury (and therefore Richard and Martha) beginnings.

I have discovered the following statistics about WW1
74 family members joined the war effort.
14 were killed, including Louisa nee Lees.

Of the few hundred Tearles alive in the world in 1901, this is a very valiant answer to the call to arms. We certainly “did our bit” and our grandparents paid most dearly the price to keep our countries (at both ends of the world) free from the oppression an invading country would surely enforce.


When Pat Field showed me the identity of Arthur Walter Tearle 1880 of St Pancras, as opposed to other Arthur Tearles I had confused him with, it came as a blinding shock of light. So many pieces fell into place all at once, especially around the very problematical families in the Willesden cell. I hope I have shown you the relationship between the members of that cell and hinted at the network that was operating – on a very informal and family-oriented way – to protect the family as it left Stanbridge and made its way, somewhat reluctantly, I think, given how slowly it developed, along the newly laid roads of the railway. In its early stages the, the railway was laid from Euston Station in London all the way to Preston in Lancashire. By 1848, there was even a branch line to Dunstable as close to Stanbridge as Stanbridgeford. It was built by none other than Robert Stephenson himself. A group left Leighton Buzzard for Preston in the 1850s led by Joseph 1838 and Sophia nee Kibble. Joseph’s brother George 1825 and Maria nee Franklin started the Yorkshire Tearles and George 1818 was the patriarch of the Watford cell which expanded even to Australia; and now we can see that George 1844 was responsible for setting up the Willesden cell. We can see now how easy it was for members of the group to come and go from Willesden – first stop, Euston, then Dunstable and on to Stanbridge.
The harrowing story of Arthur Walter and Ethel is at once part of the intense micro-world of individual families struggling to survive, but at the same time it also serves as a backdrop and even a model for the greater story of the Tearle family expansion.
This has been a difficult and very moving story to tell, but intensely satisfying in its conclusion.


On a visit to London in Feb 2016, Elaine and I found the WW1 memorial to the men and women of London City and County who had fought in the Great War. It sits at the foot of the steps to the London Corn Exchange in Cornhill, across the road from the Bank of England.

WW1 Memorial Cornhill

WW1 Memorial, Cornhill

The dedication states that it is for all the battalions, rather than named casualties:

Dedication of Cornhill WW1 Memorial

Dedication of Cornhill WW1 Memorial

The most important reason for showing it here, is that this memorial is all there is to remember that Arthur fought in WW1. On the back of the memorial is the battalion he fought with, even in Gallipoli – The London Regiment, (City of London) 3rd Battalion, the Royal Fusilliers:

The London Regiment City of London Battlions Cornhill WW1 Memorial 3rd Btn for Arthur Walter Tearle 1881

The London Regiment, City of London Battlions, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers, for Arthur Walter Tearle 1881, on the WW1 Memorial, Cornhill.

The agonising pain that Arthur suffered for the rest of his life will be remembered with this beautiful tribute to those who died, and those who lived in suffering, alongside him.