Bradwell: Ancient and Modern

A History of the Parish and of Incidents in the Hope Valley.

By Seth Evans (1912)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

Chapter XIX.

SOME REMARKABLE CHARACTERS.

Left His Bride to Follow the Hounds.

A century ago there lived on Hunter's Green, an old worthy named Adam Morton, who was so much devoted to hunting that at one time ho kept a small pack himself. A good story is told of this individual, who on the most momentous occasion of his life, preferred the hounds to his bride. He had such a love and passion for hunting that it showed itself at the altar, he was in the Hope Church just about to be married. Just as the ceremony was commencing he heard the hounds pass through, when out of the church he bounded in quest of the pack, regardless of the feelings even of his bride, and the marriage had to be solemnized on a subsequent day.

AN ECCENTRIC WORTHY.

A curious make-up of eccentricity, a strange picture, but an honest worthy, was Richard Jeffery.

“Dick”, as he was generally called, was the character of the village. He had always a cheery word both for young and old, and by his eccentric manner of dress and general character was quite a noted individual, especially with visitors. His clever reciting of “Death and the Lady” was a treat. On one occasion he turned up at the Sheffield pantomime, which he enjoyed amazingly. With mouth agape, eyes filled with wonder, and constantly lifting up his hands in amazement, he kept exclaiming “Gold upon gold; there can be nothing grander

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in Heaven than this; if Queen Victoria was only here it would be complete”. Alluding to the stage girls, he shouted out that he “should just like to take half a dozen of them to Bradda, just to let them see”. He was a tall, big-boned man, with a ruddy complexion, high cheek bones, and a prominent nose, and, despite his penurious habits was the picture of health. His general appearance was most grotesque. A hat of enormous proportions, tied on his head with twine, was painted red and blue. His shoulders were covered with rough sacking, and a piece of the same material served as an apron. His trousers were so patched that in their mosaic appearance they resembled Sir John Cutler's silken hose that had been darned by his maid with diverse materials so frequently that none of the original fabric remained. At one time he played the drum in the Bradwell band, and he would sometimes illustrate his proficiency on that instrument by imitating vocally a cornet solo, with drum accompaniment executed with his fist on a door. But he was most effective as an elocutionist. On inspired occasions he would recite a dithery dialogue of some twenty or thirty dismal verses in length entitled “Death and the Lady”, in which the struggle of a wealthy woman to ward off the fatal summonses with coaxes and bribes was graphically and gruesomely set forth. He was carried to his last resting place in the churchyard on Good Friday in 1885, in the presence of hundreds of spectators.

DONE AS MANY AS HAD EVER DONE HIM.

One of the characters in the middle of the last century was George Goodwin - “Owd Goodin” as he was known to every child in the place. He lived in the whitewashed cottage at the top of Farther Hill, almost opposite Dialstone Villas, and was a small farmer. Many there are who can well remember the old man fetch water from the brook with a yoke and chains and two big milking cans. Stories concerning him would fill a pamphlet.

He never attended a place of worship, and studiously avoided religious people. When he lay on his death bed in 1868, the Rev. Thomas Meredith, who was the Primitive Methodist minister at that time, visited him, and when he inquired about his state the old man retorted “Have you seen my fat pig? It's good meat; best in the country”. The rev. gentleman told him that he wished to talk to him about his soul, but still the old man persisted in talking about his fat pigs. Mr. Meredith spoke to him about the story of the Cross, of the sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ, and when he spoke of Christ leaving the tomb the old man exclaimed “He was never likely to stop there if he could get out”. This circumstance is related in “The Book of Marvels”.

It is related of the same eccentric character that when a local preacher asked him if his mind was easy, he replied “Ah, I think it is”. “Why?” “What makes it easy?” he was asked. “Well”, was his reply, “I think I've done as many as have ivver done me”.

STRANGE CHARACTER'S MONEY BUYS CHURCH CLOCK.

Benjamin Giles, known throughout the Peak as “Old Benny”, for the greater part of his lifetime travelled the country as a hawker of small articles which he dragged about up hill and down dale on a handcart. The old gentleman's life was a mystery, but it was said that when a young man he was a London merchant, and lost every penny by misfortune, and the rest of his life was spent in the manner indicated. His home - if home it could be called - was in a small chamber behind some lead smelting works on Bradwell Hills, where “Overdale Houses” now stand, and when on his rounds he never lodged at houses, but was allowed to sleep in outhouses at lead smelting works belonging to Mr. E.M. Wass, a wealthy mine owner near Matlock. He lived to be more than eighty years of age, and when he died in 1883 he left a large sum of money - £150 or £200 - to Mr. Wass, who returned it to Bradwell in the shape of a public clock, which he placed in the church tower at a cost of £150, and erected a monument over the grave of this strange character, which is noticed elsewhere.

MONEY ALL OVER THE HOUSE.

The curious habits of a well-known character, Mr. Joseph Wright, a farmer, of Smalldale, were revealed when his furniture came to be sold after his death in the year 1893. He was a highly respected man, a member of a very old family who had been on the spot at least 300 years. His wife having long predeceased him, he lived alone many years. During the sale of furniture the auctioneer observed that there was a secret drawer in an old box he was offering, and a secret drawer there proved to be. It was opened before the box was sold, and yielded a rich reward, for it was found to contain a bank note, a bag of gold, and a large quantity of silver coins. There were small sums of money all over the house, including fifty shillings in copper coins in a jug.

PUTTING THE “AXINS” IN.

A good story used to be told of a Bradwellite who was en the point of entering into conjugal relations. He went to the clerk of the parish church at Hope and ordered the banns to be published anent his forthcoming espousal, but he strictly charged the clerk to tell nobody about it so as to keep it as secret as possible. The clerk acting strictly on his injunctions.

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never told the Vicar, and the consequence was that on the following Sunday the banns were not published in the church. On the Sunday he was very eager to hear who had been “called out” in church, and on ascertaining that his own name had not been called he was very wroth. Rushing off to the clerk in a great rage he demanded to know why he had not been “spurred”, when the clerk naively replied, “Why you charged me not to tell anybody, and consequently I did not tell the Vicar”. This was an interpretation of the secrecy which the worthy fellow had never contemplated and he thereupon ordered the clerk to let the proceedings take the usual course. The banns were published on the following Sunday.

LITTLE MARTIN MIDDLETON, THE DUKE'S FAVOURITE.

A comical character was Martin Middleton, known as “Little Martin”. But he was such a trusted and faithful retainer of several successive Dukes of Rutland of that period that one of them had his portrait painted life size, and it hung in Haddon Hall until a few years back. And over his grave in Hope Churchyard there is a midget of a headstone, no doubt corresponding with the stature of the character it commemorates, and it informs the passers by that “Here lyeth the body of Little Martin Middleton, of Hasslebatch, who died 1815, aged 90”.

REUBEN HALLAM, AUTHOR AND PUBLICAN.

Reuben Hallam, although not a native of Bradwell, lived here for several years in the early seventies. when he kept the “Shoulder of Mutton”. A clever and widely read man, full of knowledge of men and things, and possessed of considerable talent, his life was one of strange vicissitudes and unusual experiences. He was born in Sheffield in 1819, and died there in 1909, aged 90. He was a roving spirit, and wrote a serial story “Wadsley Jack, the humours and adventures of a travelling cutler”. “Lilia Nightingale”, and “T'ups and Dahns o' Sheffield life”, were among his productions. It was really an account of his own experiences in early life. For some years he learnt carving, afterwards forged knife blades; he was a talented violinist, for some time performed in a travelling theatre, became proprietor of a boxing saloon and a professor of pugilism, and was at one time double bass singer, scenic artist and assistant manager at the Theatre Royal, Sheffield. He was for many years choirmaster at St. John's Church, Sheffield, and published “An introduction to the Art of Singing”, and in his early days he was a famous cricketer. He was, indeed a most entertaining person, and many a time has he related his reminiscences in the “Shoulder of Mutton”.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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