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Heal

Seward Healhis is a picture of Seward Heal taken from the ‘Cricket 11 of 1904’ picture. It shows him in a typically relaxed and confident pose.The spelling of names varied greatly in earlier times so Heal, Hill and Hale amongst other variations could apply to any of his ancestors. Heal is a rare name nationally but Hill is the 32nd most common name in Great Britain with a strong presence in Somerset. Hale is 830th most common name but it is more common in Gloucestershire.
 The earliest record for the Heal ‘clan’ in the area is 1400 when William Halewelle was a tenant in Whitnell (Emborough). The next record is dated 1544 when Elizabeth Hele and her son Robert were tenants in Ston Easton. Richard Heal is listed in 1562 reclaiming a heifer that had strayed.
William Heale and John Heale (corporal of shot) were two of the men mustered from the Chewton Hundred to defend against the expected invasion posed by the Spanish Armada in 1583. James Heale was one of two men from Chewton Mendip transported toJamaicaafter the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. The other person from Chewton Mendip sent with the 850 men into slavery was James Parker. Thomas Hayward was hanged at Norton St Philip was the third man from Chewton Mendip punished for joining the rebels.
Heal, Hills and Hales appear in 18th century records for Chewton Mendip and still live in the area. Seward Heal has left a deep impression in everybody who met him so he is well-remembered, not just because he appears in so many photographs.  Seward Thomas Heal was born on 7th September 1881 according to the school register.
The Women’s Institute published a history of Chewton Mendip in 1954 (reprinted in 1996) which included several photographs. Seward featured in most of them. The assumption is that he was the original source of the some of the  photographs and the information about the people in them.
The first picture of Seward is dated 1892 when he was one of many children at Chewton Mendip school. The names of most of the children in the photograph can be traced back for hundreds of years in Chewton Mendip.
Village FlySeward is next seen driving a horse called Jack and carriage known as the ‘Village Fly. Jack and the Village Fly belonged to the old Waldegrave Arms.The copy of WI history which this photograph was taken from was supplied by Ken Church. The boy behind Seward was Donald Dix who was a nephew of Charles Chard who was the publican at the time.Jack was stabled in the stables that were later converted by Maurice Payne into a garage. Seward was an unofficial ‘bouncer’ in the Waldegrave Arms and he was sometime called upon to calm thing down or evict people who refused to be calmed. There was a window at the end of the pub facing what is now the bus stop which had to be mended frequently when things got out of hand.
One occasion when Seward was to blame was an incident in which he accidentally cut Maurice Church’s hand so badly with a scythe that two of Maurice’s fingers had to be sewn together. This did not appear to cause any animosity between the two men. Neither did it prevent Maurice working as a carpenter and one reason he appears in the ‘Old Post Office’ picture is because worked as a carpenter for the Collis family. His injury did mean that Maurice was not suitable for the army because he could not fire a rifle so Maurice avoided Word War One which so the accident could have been a blessing in disguise.
Seward is also seen in a picture of Handbell Ringers and the Cricket eleven from which the picture of him is taken. He appears in a group photograph in front of the door on the north side of the church.
Seward’s mother lived in the small cottage in Brays Batch next to the Peppard’s house where she used to make candles. He was known to have lived in Chew Hill/Dumpers.
2 Comments
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    Thanks for supplying these wonderful content.

    • Thank you for your kind comments. Do you have a particular interest? I have other material I have not published yet.

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