From Geoff Peirce – Stowey Farm

In my retirement, I have returned to my roots in Somerset several times in the past few years. In fact, it has now become an annual event and my wife and I both enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Wheddon Cross/Cutcombe and the glorious surrounding countryside. On one of these trips Cynthia Stevens asked if I could write up something on my family history. I was surprised when that appeared on this website but now delighted that there has been additional family histories, recently added.

As my original version was badly presented, I have updated and hope that it might be of interest. I have been researching my family history for some years and love to hear stories about life in the past. Our parents went through extremely difficult times and it is a credit to them that we have got where we are today. 

I was born at Stowey Farm and my birth was registered in 1938 in the Parish of Cutcombe.

My father was born in East London in 1905 and went into service and finished as butler in the London Household of Fred Beadle at 1 Queens Gate, Kensington. My mother was born in Wiltshire and was also in service in London when she met my father. At the outbreak of war, the family and servants of Fred Beadle moved to his country estate at Stowey Farm, which he had bought after the Bouverie estate was split up and sold off. Beadle was a wealthy industrialist having made his money in coal.

I was born on 14th December 1938 and have been told by my parents that it was a very snowy day and that the doctor had come out from Timberscombe on his horse.

My father enlisted in the RAF in 1943 and my mother, my sister and myself moved into a cottage at Great House Street, Timberscombe, owned by Beadle. My sister and I went to school in Timberscombe and for a while my mother worked for the Hodder Williams family (Publishers) at Duddings Timberscombe. My sister was friendly with the Bond family who ran the Post Office at Timberscombe.

Before my father was demobilised, Beadle had sold Stowey Farm and moved first of all to Clouds, Timberscombe and eventually to Willett House.

Mr Beadle was well liked by everybody. Arthur Webber remembers him well and said that he could shoot with his one arm better than most people with two.

Post war conditions were quite hard and for a while we squatted in the vicarage at Timberscombe before my father found a job as lorry driver in Bishops Lydeard. There, we lived for a while in an old army camp called Sandhill. Eventually we moved to Surrey, my father becoming manager of a newsagent shop.

After moving to Bishops Lydeard, I went to school there, but we returned to Timberscombe around 1947 for a few months and lived in a cottage called Pero, on the road from Timberscombe to Wheddon Cross. This was in order for my sister to take her 11+ examination at the village school.

I have very few memories of my childhood but recall walking to school from Pero to Timberscombe, in heavy snow only to find that classes had been cancelled. The Headmistress( Mrs Willis) made us a hot drink and we had to walk all the way back. My wartime memories are few, but I do recall the German prisoners of war working on the road near Timberscombe and also a German plane crashing on the hills somewhere, which we all went to see.

During my life, I have lived in Surrey, Swansea, Essex and then a long spell in Belgium before retiring in France. It has been an interesting voyage and the peace and climate here in France is wonderful, but nothing can compare with the green pastures of Wheddon Cross.

Below are pictures of my father at Stowey Farm (always dignified) and Fred Beadle at Willet House (a kind man).

Harold Peirce at Stowey Farm
Fred Beadle at Willett House