This millennium year 2000 has enabled me to extend my family history in several ways and briefly I review the main elements.
The publication of two fascinating books by the Horsham Museum Society in January, “The Shelleys of Field Place” – the story of the family and their estates – and “The letters of Bysshe and Timothy Shelley” and other documents put me in touch with Mr George Bason of Hove. Mr Bason has researched the history of Castle Goring for many years, and I am extremely grateful to him for sending me a file of notes and photographs, including one of the gamekeeper’s cottage where my grandmother, Katherine Leach lived with her father Noah Leech, gamekeeper in the mid-19th century. The gamekeeper’s cottage remains an architectural gem, as does Castle Goring itself, originally built for Sir Timothy Bysshe Shelley in 1790-1810, the poet Shelley’s grandfather (see Pevsner’s account on pages 125/7, The Buildings of England: Sussex , Penguin 1965).
My father often talked to me of his mother’s domestic service at Castle Goring and it had obviously affected her greatly. As she only married when she was 35 on July 18th 1885, she registered her first child Frederick in 1887 as resident at Castle Goring, so the connection obviously continued after marriage for a while. Castle Goring near Worthing is now a language school! Unfortunately, my grandmother died before I was born and Uncle Fred, too, had been killed in 1917 whilst near Arras in the First World War.
We spent a delightful week’s holiday at Eastbourne in June. Whilst there I visited Summerdown Road to find the large house, Muskoday, where my aunt Elizabeth Linfield was in domestic service at the time of her tragic death – she was found drowned at Pevensey Bay on November 12th 1924 (see Longshot Vol 5 No 2 p.52). Unfortunately we failed to find the house – no wonder, it had been destroyed by a German bomb. In a recent letter from Vera Hodsoll (formerly Hon. Secretary of the Eastbourne Local History Society) she told me that the house was destroyed in a heavy raid by Focke-Wolfe FW 190s in the afternoon of June 6th 1943, exactly one year before D-day. So it is sometimes impossible to see the houses where one’s family has had connections in the past, despite my suggestion in a previous Longshot (see Vol 1 No 2, p.42, “Starting a Picture Story of One’s Own Family”.)
However, I have been able to build up a collection of photographs where my father, grandfather and his grandfather’s grandfather, Peter Linfield (1734-91) lived. They make a very colourful and interesting album and I am adding a copy of the Gamekeeper’s Cottage, Castle Goring shortly!