An extract from the journal of Susanah Wellington (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somerset.
The copy of a letter which I wrote to congratulate Miss Lyndall on her marriage, she married Mr E Whitby, she was married of a Shrove Tuesday the 19th of February 1833, she went to Bath for the wedding excursion.
Yeovil Feby 23rd 1833
My dear Friend I received the news of your marriage with great delight, and I hope that the sincerity with which I wish your happiness may excuse the liberty I take in writing to congratulate you on your altered situation. Mrs Eason very kindly gave us a half holiday on Tuesday and we went for a walk with the boarders to the grotto at Barwick and also about the grounds. Miss Waugh and Miss Fryer were very much pleased as they had never seen it before. Please to present my kind respects to Mr Whitby and accepting yourself the sincere love of Your affectionate friend S Wellington
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In my last post from susanah’s journal – token of affection, I wrote about Susanah’s interest in the sentiments expressed in the note her sister Jane received from an ‘affectionate friend’. The very next entry in the notebook is a letter Susanah had occasion to send to one of her own friends, and it appears she may have drawn on Jane’s correspondance for some writing tips.
Yeovil parish records show Miss Hannah LYNDALL married Mr Elias WHITBY Jr on 19 February 1833. Hannah was twenty-five years old and Elias was married on his twenty-third birthday.
The Whitby family worshipped in the newly built Baptist Church in South Street, and Elias WHITBY the elder was a Deacon of the church for sixty-four years. He and his son were successful glove manufacturers and wool dealers in Yeovil.
The WELLINGTONs and the WHITBYs most likely had a similar social standing. Susanah’s father George WELLINGTON was the portreeve and then a burgess of the Yeovil Union, from 1813 until his death in 1847. The Union was the “old corporation” that governed the market town and Elias WHITBY Jr was the clerk of the Union during the 1840s and early 1850s.
Yeovil was made a municipal borough in 1853 by Act of Parliament and Royal Assent, and Elias WHITBY was elected Mayor of Yeovil between 1862-1864 and again for 1872-1873. Hannah and Elias’ son Elias Lyndall WHITBY was also Mayor of Yeovil 1878-1879.
Hannah LYNDALL was eleven years older than Susanah WELLINGTON who was only thirteen and a half when she wrote to congratulate her friend on her marriage. I have found that Hannah was born in London and her family came from Yorkshire. It appears she had no family in Yeovil until her marriage. Maybe Hannah had been a teacher at Mrs Eason’s School which Susanah and Jane attended.
After Susanah congratulates Hannah on her ‘altered situation’ she goes on to tell her that Mrs Eason allowed the students a half-holiday on Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Tuesday), the day preceding Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent. The students and boarders spent the afternoon on a long walk to see the local curiosities at Barwick, a village lying about 3 kms (1.8 miles) to the south of Yeovil.
Barwick House is famous for the four follies and the grotto within its parkland. It’s thought the odd garden features were built between 1770–1790, possibly by unemployed farm labourers on the estate.Of the four follies, none is more odd than the tiny tower on top of a jagged rocky arch which is called Jack The Treacle Eater. It is named after a famous local runner who trained on a diet of treacle. Jack needed the glucose rush to keep up his stamina on his 110-mile sprint to London to deliver mail for the Messiter family, who owned Barwick House. The figure on top of the tower is supposedly the running figure of Jack The Treacle Eater. It looks to me like a classical statue of the Greek messenger god Hermes or his Roman counterpart Mercury. A grotto at the western end of the lake contains three subterranean chambers. The circular domed chamber contains a pool with a path around it, there are niches which hold Greek statues and at the top of the dome is an oculus which radiates beams of light. The follies and grotto are now owned by South Somerset District Council, who snapped them all up for just £5 when the estate was sold in the early 1990s. After major restoration work, Barwick and its follies are again a popular attraction with ramblers and tourists.
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Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, BUCK family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydney. Journal transcription by Terry HASTINGS; From Portreeve to Mayor: the growth of Yeovil 1750-1854 by L C Hayward; www.yeoviltown.com; www.oldukphotos.com; Britain’s Top 10 Follies.