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(WT) Mrs Thomas was born about 1889 at Rose Ash. Her father, Mr Robins, was gardener at Rose Ash Court, but for health reasons, twelve months later, he took the tenancy of Lower Adworthy in the Parish of Witheridge, and the family moved there. Mrs Thomas recalls the russet apple trees in the orchard and the greengage plum by the wall. When she was four, the farmhouse was burnt down. She was playing in the garden one afternoon and looked up and saw sparks coming out through the thatch ridge. She rushed in and cried out "there's pixies on the roof" (her word as a child for sparks). Her mother who was ill was bought out to safety on a mattress. The horse drawn fire engine came from South Molton but the farmhouse burned down, it was the day before the club walk in 1902. The family was split up for a while, but soon the owners (the Vicary family of Dart Raffe) put the family into Higher Adworthy farmhouse which they joined to go with Lower Adworthy farm. The family left Lower Adworthy in 1906 or 1907 and farmed in Cruwys Morchard for 12 years before returning to the parish of Witheridge to farm at Wilson. The long farm lane to Wilson was in those days very rough, and the ford through the river could be hazardous. Once when Mrs Thomas was about 18 she was returning from market driving a horse and box trap and the river was so high that it washed over the horses back and rocked the trap. Once there was a cards evening at Wilson, and it rained so hard and the river rose so high that the guests had to stay the night. On another occasion in the early twenties, Mr Thomas's father was taken ill and Bill Thomas, who had called on a courting visit, had parked his Model T Ford on the other side of the river which was in spate, and volunteered to go for the doctor. The doctor refused to drive his pony and trap in the conditions and so Bill drove him back and through the flooded river. This was the first time a car ever got into Wilson, and as he turned in, the headlights flashed into the windows of the other house there and the occupants fled out into the yard believing their house was on fire.

Mr Mark Thomas (see Whites Directory 1878) was Bill Thomas's father, and his family came from Rose Ash. He died in 1902 when Bill Thomas was eleven. Of Bill's brothers, Lambert "went butchering with Maunder" and Fred became a carpenter. In the Great War, Arthur went into the Navy, but returned part way through to drive the "Scout." Bill Thomas's great uncle was the first to drive a horse wagon down the new turnpike road to Tiverton (approx. 1840)

When Mr and Mrs W. Thomas lived at South View, there was no garden, so they bought Cross Park Garden.

Trafalgar House was called after Trafalgar Square, which, in the early part of this century was more like a square than it is now. Next door was known as High Cross.

School Days: When Mrs Thomas started school, the family were at Higher Adworthy and she walked to school down the lane to Lower Adworthy, over Adworthy Brook by a footbridge and up the footpath through West Yeo fields to the main route, and thence over Newbridge and up the hill to school. If the Adworthy was up then she had to go round by Drayford. Once she got so wet from the rain that Miss Oliver, the teacher, took off her dress and wrapped her own coat round her for warmth. Once, going round by Drayford, a hen flew out of the hedge off a clutch of eggs, so she went and told Mrs Stoneman ("Loveday's grandmother") over at Stuckey.

When the big girls at the Lower School used to frighten them, she and a friend used to cross the road and eat their dinner in the doorway of the Tollhouse, which at the time was empty.

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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