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Brokenborough, Wiltshire

Chapters 4 & 6 - Sarah Hannah Gladwin

Chapter 5 - The Gladwins
Chapters 4 & 6 - Sarah Hannah Gladwin
Chapter 5a - Edwin Hope Gladwin

Original text written by Donald Lea in the early 1990s and updated by Don and Mandy in 2016/17.

Some pictures excluded for copyright reasons.

Chapter 4 of the Lea family book:

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My great grandfather, John Lea, lived at one end of Brokenborough village and my great grandmother, Sarah Hannah Gladwin lived at the other, just half a mile distance between them.  He in a farm house called "The Cottage", she in her father's house next to Brokenborough church.

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Childhood homes of Sarah Gladwin (left) and John Lea (right) in Brokenborough.
Photo:  1990                                                                                                                                     Photo:  2008

Brokenborough lays two miles west of Malmesbury just off the main Bristol road, and has been home for more than one hundred and sixty years for our ancestors in the Lea family.  A very small but neat and tidy village set in beautiful countryside, it has an air of peace and tranquillity so very few villages are able to boast about today.  I have met some ten or so villagers over the last year and am amazed at the friendliness and calm of their personalities.  A visit is a must and if it should happen to be on a Sunday, the "Rose and Crown" pub does more than justice to our traditional dish "Roast beef and Yorkshire pud".  In fact a booking is very advisable as its reputation has well exceeded its seating capacity, but an extension to its kitchen and dining area is well on the way.  Its popularity is I think not only its excellent food, but its prices are designed to bring you back again and again.  Of course I find it hard to believe that none of the boys of William Lea, if not William himself did not partake in a glass of porter in the very same room that is now and always has been the bar.

John Lea, as has been shown, was one of six children and Sarah Hannah was the eldest child in a family of seven.  Her father, John Gladwin, was the village blacksmith and her mother was called Martha.  John and Martha lived in a house next to the village church (not ordained to perform marriages), where they are buried, their graves marked with white marble stones.  Also buried with them is one of their sons and their youngest daughter, Alice.  Alice it would seem was a prominent member of the community, being the village teacher, sub post-mistress, Sunday school teacher and a very active member of the church.  In fact a brass plaque to her memory still hangs in the church today.

Sarah Hannah herself was educated as can be seen by her having signed her own wedding certificate, and on census records for 1861 she was noted as a Scholar.

John Lea and Sarah Hannah were married on the 26th January 1864 after the calling of banns, when he was 20 years old and she 17.  The impression I have, after much research on this couple, due to the fact that there is so much information available, is that they lived a very happy life together.  They produced nine children with the possibility of a tenth, over twenty years.  They too were married at St. Mary's church, Westport, Malmesbury.

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Westport St. Mary Church, place of Sarah and John's wedding.       Photo:  October 2011

John was an asthmatic and was taken ill with bronchitis.  He was admitted to Malmesbury workhouse at 81 Bristol Street, Malmesbury, just a few weeks before his death.  He was 79 years old.

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John Lea, left, with broom at Cowage farm Foxley near Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

To John's left is Mr Griffin, known as the cowman, who also worked at
Cowage and lived in one of the two red brick houses on the side of the road.
Photograph approx 1916 - photographer unknown

[Removed:  Copies of birth certificates of Sarah Hannah Gladwin and John Lea.]

In an attempt to find out as much as possible about my great grandfather John Lea, I paid a visit to Albert Fishlock of Rodbourne, near Malmesbury.  Albert was born at the rectory next to Foxley church, brought up in the area and had a great affection for Annie and Ernie who he claimed brought him up just like a son.  It was because of this close association that Bert was able to show me where John Lea was buried in Foxley church grounds, stating that Ernie had told him on more than one occasion "That's where my father lay, Bert", pointing to the spot of an unmarked grave.  Bert also pointed out the grave of a poor child who was buried in an orange box.

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Funeral of John Lea at Foxley church.  20th June 1924.

Image of Foxley Church

Foxley Church - burial place of John Lea.

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Showing the burial place of John Lea at Foxley Church.

Two of the many stories I have been told about my great grandfather, John Lea, are I think well worth a mention.

The first was of a single seated aeroplane that landed in a field near the big house in Cowage Farm where they were living at the time (approximately 1917).  Dennis was with his father Ernie, who was working in the field where the plane landed.  John was leaning on the garden gate, pipe in mouth, watching on.  The pilot emerged, walked over to Ernie and explained that he had lost his bearings and wasn't sure where he was.  He asked for names of villages and woods close by and after consulting his map he was satisfied he could carry on.  He then asked Ernie if he would mind turning the propeller to start the engine once he had boarded the plane.  Ernie agreed and after a few pops the engine roared into life.  The pilot waved to Dennis and Ernie as he taxied the aeroplane to the end of the field, turned round and began its run for take off.  The trouble was that it was getting closer to the house by the second and doubts were left as to whether it would take off at all.  Great grampy John must have felt this way as well because his arms raised and waved as he stepped back, falling into the potato plot, as the machine lifted, just clearing the roof of the house.  Much to the amusement of Dennis who I understand was about ten years old at the time and remembers his grandfather saying "Drat the thing" whilst gathering his composure.

It seems that John would also take an early nap in an armed wooden chair.  Dennis says that the only way you could tell if he was asleep after he had closed his eyes, was by the position of the pipe sticking out of his mouth.  It seems that as he actually dozed off the pipe would drop an inch or so but amazingly it was never known to drop out of his mouth all together.

One other incident relating to John was of a pair of boots he had bought only a few weeks before he was taken ill and died.  He was admitted to Malmesbury workhouse in Bristol Street where the aged and sick were attended to.  It seems someone else took a liking to John's boots as well because when his son Ernie went to collect his belongings they had disappeared and were never seen again.

[Removed:  Copy of the 1881 Census - Reference number RG11 2027.]

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Obituary for Sarah Hannah Lea.
An extract from the North Wilts Herald kept in the Swindon Reference Library.

Chapter 6:

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The following chapters include information and photographs collected about John and Sarah Hannah's nine children.
Frances Isabella Kathleen
Francis John
Albert Hope
Winifred Ada
Ernest Edwin
Dennis (Ernest's son)
Percy William
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9 (and 18)
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16

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Hand-written list of John and Sarah's children's births.

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Above:  Seven of John and Sarah Hannah Lea's nine children.
Top row:  Brothers Frederick, Albert, Edwin and Percy.
Bottom row:  Sisters Kate, Frances and Winifred.

Each of the children have their own Chapters in the Lea family book.  But as this is about the Gladwin family, those chapters have not been included on these pages.

Chapter 5 - The Gladwins
Chapters 4 & 6 - Sarah Hannah Gladwin
Chapter 5a - Edwin Hope Gladwin

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This page was last updated on 30/08/2022 16:53:41
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