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Peppard FamilyThis is picture of the extensive family of James Peppard taken in East Harptree c1904. James Peppard moved to East Harptree in 1900. The photograph  of his family was taken in Middle Street in East Harptree where James and his family lived. The house was specially extended to accommodate the large family which was due to get even larger.
Joseph Peppard The rather earnest young man on the left was Jame’s eldest son Joseph. He was born in 1888 so he would have been about 12 at the time but he was already a tall young man.He emigrated to America in 1912 and he would have been on the Titanic if he had left a month later. He returned to Chewton Mendip and some of his descendants still live in the village today. Tim Peppard who appears in several photographs and is the main contributor for the articles about th bells and bell ringing is his grandson.
James was then called a skilled farm labourer and he took special pride in the tools of his trade. He kept this scythe so sharp that he could shave the hair of a man’s arm, this was one of his ways he demonstrated his attention to equipment. This interest in equipment and a probable mechanical aptitude lead to him learning how to drive a Traction Engine. His skills meant he found it relatively easy to find work and he moved to East Harptee to drive the Traction Engine for Squire Hope who lived at Eastwood Manor. The move was done by traction engine and some of the children pictured below told the story in later life of how black their faces got from the soot from the Traction Engine’s chimney.
James married Mary Jane  Lockyer from Walton near Street. She used to work for Moorlands the sheepskin company as a clerk or possibly some form of supervisor. Despite this, they were told to make their mark when they married  because the Vicar assumed, incorrectly that they could not write. It was the vicar who had literacy problems because are recorded incorrectly as Pepper in the marriage register. The headmaster of Chewon Mendip school was not much better. The Peppards are recorded as Pepper’ in the school register. The details of the children are listed below.School register record
VernonVernon was born in 1900 and he was admitted to Chewton Mendip school in 1909 when they were living in Rock Cottage which may have been in the High Street or what was later known as ‘Rotton Row’ just off the Litton Road.   Their previous address is given as East Harptree and it says that he was withdrawn from school in 1911 when the school register states they left the village. It is believed they moved to Chilcompton.
James juniorJames Junior was born in 1898. He is buried in the Catholic
Church in Stratton on the Fosse because he married a staunch Catholic.
 GeorgeGeorge was a miner and died aged 22, possibly due to an illness caused by working in a Moorrwood Collery. This was called ‘bad air’ locally but it was probably pneumoconiosis.
 WilliamWilliam (Bill), he always carried a whip because he was spent a lot of time with horses, but he ended up working in Emborough quarry. He offered to have a house built for his parents in later life but James senior preferred to live in a railway carriage which he bought in Swindon and still stands in a field near Chilcompton. When he died he left the carriage to Bill and Maurice (who was not in the picture).
 Joseph is next standing by his father
 James, the proud father  is standing in the middle.
 Mary is the long suffering mother next to her husband.
 RoseRosina (Rose) is shown in her mother’s arms. She was born 20th April 1904. He married name was Hawkins and her husband and brother-in-law ran a haulage business that used horses. She is also listed in the school register as living in Rock Cottage.
 Florence was born in 1887.Florence
 KateKate or Kit Anny.
 Beatrice stayed in the area and died in Ston Easton.Beatrice
 EvaEva is rather coyly half hiding behind her sister’s shoulder. She moved to Derby.
 MaryMary is on the far right of the picture. She was born 17th March 1902 and  is also listed as attending Chewton Mendip school from 1909 to 1911. She moved to Chesterfield.
 Mary was pregnant with Maurice in the picture and Arthur came later. Maurice was a ‘colourful’ character. He shared the interest in horses with William (Bill) and this led to an unusual friendship with Lord Palmer who enjoyed an ‘alternative’ lifestyle although he was a page boy at the Queen’s wedding who was his godmother. Maurice travelled with Lord Palmer to Ireland buying horses which were used for towing a gypsy caravan amongst other things.
 Joseph Peppard age 24Joseph Peppard, decided to seek his fortune elsewhere when he was about 24 as specified in the new York passenger Lists for the White Star line. This is where he had his lucky escape from the Titanic. He went to America on the Olympic in March 1912 on a ship called the Olympic. He arrived at Ellis Island shook hands with the Captain, Edward Smith, as he left the ship. It was fortunate that he did not delay his journey by a month otherwise he would have been on the next ship commanded by Captain Smith which was the Titanic
 Joseph went to Chicago in Illinois and tried to get work as a plasterer and tiler. That proved difficult so he went to a town further north in the state called Kingston. This photo is taken from a group photo and the name of the town on the photo is Belvidere. He was married to Ethel at the time but she stayed in England and Joseph returned in 1915.
 There are a number of reasons suggested for this short stay in America but we shall assume patriotic reasons because World War One was in progress.
 Joseph did not join the forces because he had a reserved occupation transporting grain and other foodstuff like sugar from Avonmouth to Coley Mill which has now been demolished. Joseph was still using  his traction engine skills and for reasons that are not clear today he followed a route over and down the very steep hill via Hinton Bluett. A traction engine required a two man crew, a Driver to steer and a Fireman to shovel the coal. The Fireman had less faith in Joseph’s driving skills and refused to travel  down the hill in the traction engine and got out and walked. Perhaps it was the lack of speed that made Joseph risk the hilly route which is probably shorter than the main route through the valleys.
Joseph Peppard on a Motor Bike Joseph Bought some of the cottages in Brays Batch at the bottom of The Folly which bought the family to Chewton Mendip. He bought it from John Flower who may have bought the cottages and other land in Lower Street from the Kingsmills.This is Joseph on his Excelsior Villier’s powered 98cc 2 speed motorcycle in Brays Batch in the late 1940’s. Joseph would acquire non-runners and he would fit a new engine with his son Bill and Ken Church to make it roadworthy for him to ride. Ken remembers this motorbike would get to the top of a hill but speed was not it strength.
Joseph’s son, William (Bill) also had a reserved occupation during World War 2 working at Sheppard’s wood working business in Chilcompton. The sawmill is shown in operation in the photograph below They were involved in producing various war related items including ash laminate used in Mosquitoes. Only the highest quality, close grained wood would do. Their health and safety practices did not reach the same high standards. The only light for people working on the saw bench was from an a small electric light which cast a narrow cone of light around the saw blade. The rest of the workroom was in complete darkness at night. One slip and the operator could easily lose a finger if not a hand but apart from the feeble light around the saw blade they worked in almost complete darkness. This was especially risky for William who had poor eyesight.
Sawmill Richard Holder has his back to us working on the bench. Donald (Donkey) Lane is on far left of the picture and Frank Foxwell is at the rear.
The saw mill has been redeveloped for houses.
Tim has vivid memories of what was then the Vicarage. He has some memories of the Rev Latter but he was more involved with Rev Kingdon who ran the local Scout Group. Tim was sworn in standing in the hallway. They would meet in the Vicars Study which was at the rear of the house facing the lawn. Tim added some details to the supposedly secret visit by Princess Elizabeth when Lady Mary Strachey lived in what was then Navestock. There were so many people standing in the field opposite what was then called Denning’s field that she was ushered out of the side door of what was originally the Library but may have been converted into a lavatory room and separate passage at the time.
He also remembers seeing the livestock being herded to Denning’s slaughter house and Butcher’s at what is now Folly House. Some of the animals became aware of a threat and would break loose. Dennings would slaughter pigs and turn into sausages etc and Tim could hear their squealing as they were caught and the ‘pop’ of the bolt gun that was used to kill them. He would then see the slaughter man walking home with a dead pig over his shoulder. Peter Denning was a gifted cricketer and played professionally for Somerset. He was nicknamed ‘Dasher Denning’ or ‘The Butcher’s boy’. One of Tim’s claims to fame is he caught Peter Denning out, the problem is that it was a rounders game at Chewton Mendip primary school.
There was also a bakery run by the St John family at Bathway and probably a number of candlestick makers. The candles to go in them used to be made in what is now a store house next to Tims’ house.
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