#OnePlaceHealer Dr Sharp

Sticklepath Quaker Burying ground has a wall plaque:

In loving memory of Kay Kathleen Forrest Sharp 1904 – 1992 And her husband Dr Chris Sharp, Our much loved G.P 1936-1949. Both of Bridge House.

Kay Sharp and my mother Ann Bowden

Mrs Sharp I remember well, she came to my wedding in Sticklepath. However her husband had died well before I was born. They lived in a small cottage opposite Ladywell before moving to Bridge House. Bridge House had two door bells, including one for upstairs (night time use for medical emergencies).

Christopher James Lewen Sharp had a London Wedding. The Exeter & Plymouth Gazette of 27 August 1937 reports:

LONDON WEDDING. Dr. Sharp (Sticklepath) and Miss Brown (Okehampton). The wedding took place at St. Clement Dane’s Church, London, on Monday of Dr C.J.L. Sharp, of Sticklepath, and Miss Kathleen Forrest Brown daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Brown, of Okehampton. The Rev. W, Pennington- Bickford (Rector of the parish and Chaplain to the London Devonian Society) officiated at the choral service. The bride was given away by her father and. Mr. R. Wotherspoon was best man. The honeymoon is being spent motoring in the Lake District and Scotland. The bride and bridegroom are both well known in the Okehampton district for their interest local affairs and sport. Dr. Sharp is prominent in cricket, and his wife has represented Devon at golf. Mr. H. Croston Brown, the bride’s father, is Coroner for the Okehampton district, Clerk to Okehampton and Hatherleigh Justices, Chairman of Okehampton Parish Council, and a trustee of the local hospital. He takes great interest in sport. (Accessed via BritishNewpaperArchive.co.uk March 2022)

Dr Sharp was nephew to Cecil Sharp, musician and collector of folk songs and encourager of Morris dancers.

A good place to investigate doctors is The Lancet’s obituaries (some also in the British Medical Journal or BMJ). Dr Sharp’s obit., including a good story about when he was wounded in WW1 can be found here.

#OnePlaceHealers is this month’s blogging prompt from the Society of One-Place Studies. Watch this space for “The Perfect Cure” coming soon!

James Bond and Women’s Bonnets 1828

I am continuing to try to add the burials and memorials in Sticklepath Burying Ground to Findagrave, but am frequently distracted… Looking for details of a Pearse death in 1828, as you do, I came across this inquest.

It is always a good idea to glance at the items surrounding an article of interest for hints about life at the time.  The inquest on poor James Bond follows immediately from this comment on female bonnets in the English Chronicle and Whitehall Evening Post on Tuesday 26 February 1828.  (The paragraph before is, randomly, about what Norwegians have for breakfast!) Transcription amended by myself, with added spacing, from BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk .  (The North Devon Journal only adds the name of the Coroner, Francis Kingdon).

“The enormous width of the bonnets worn by our present race of females calls for a proportionate widening of the size of carriages, as well as of the foot pavement, and of the iron railing leading into St. James’s Park from Spring-gardens. 

An inquest was held on Sunday last, at Sticklepath, near Oakhampton, on the body of James Bond.

It appeared that the deceased (a cripple) and his wife had a quarrel in the afternoon of Saturday the 9th inst., when the deceased’s son put him out of the house and barred the door; his wife desired him to go to the poor-house, and the son offered to accompany him there, which the deceased did not like, but said he would go by himself, and went off that evening , but was not seen till the Monday evening following , when he returned to his house insensible and speechless, and died the Friday following of an apoplectic fit.

The Jury, after a patient investigation, returned a verdict of “Died by the visitation of GOD, in a natural way.”

The Coroner, notwithstanding,  most severely reprimanded the wife and son for their unkind, inhuman, and unnatural treatment and conduct, and said they had had a narrow escape of being tried for manslaughter at the ensuing Assizes; but he passed the highest encomiums on Mr.Pearse jun. of that place, for his most humane and indefatigable exertions and attention throughout this affair.—North Devon Journal. “

(Encomium – a speech or piece of writing that praises someone highly).

Divination on St Valentine’s Eve – Superstitions in the West Country.

On Thursday 8th February 1934 the Western Morning News carried a column by Ruth E St Leger Gordon of Sticklepath concerning plants and flowers and their association with festivals and religious days.  Nestled between Candlemas (2nd Feb) and St Valentine’s Eve she mentions both:

“the festival Candlemas, or the Feast of the Purification, on the second day of this month, besides being rich in quaint weather lore and ” prophecies,” brings to mind at least three familiar plants. 

Snowdrop purest white arraie 

First rears her head Candlemas Daie;

and as this first of our spring blossoms, so white and spotless-looking in contrast to the still bare, dark earth, begins to be in evidence at this time, its double association with the date is plain. 

“Down with the rosemary and baies”

wrote Robert Herrick in his poem for “Candlemas Eve”, which has the effect of connecting these evergreens in our minds with Candlemas, though actually it was to their final disappearance as “Christmas decorations” to which the poet referred.” 

We still sing of the Boar’s head bedecked with Bay and Rosemary in our Christmas carols.

Regards removing Christmas decorations: in the North custom suggests it must be done by New Year or risk the wrath of Goblins; in the West Country decorations are removed by Twelfth night, 6th January, which was my childhood ‘rule’; and still others remove them by Candlemas.

As readily available evergreens, rosemary and bay were associated with weddings and funerals (Rosemary for remembrance), and were probably used on many other festive occasions too, possibly covered with scented water to enhance their pleasant smell.   She tells us Sir Thomas More said : “As for Rosemarine, I lett it run alle over my garden walls, not onlie because bees love it, but because ’tis the herb sacred to remembrance. ” 

She also mentions 

“one economically-minded individual who, upon the death his first wife, was anxious fix his wedding day with the second in order that the sprigs of rosemary and bay used for the funeral might function again in the wedding feast! “

“Rosemary and bay are coupled again in an old Devonshire charm against witchcraft. Certain herbs were to collected upon auspicious dates and times, after which, 

The paper ‘arbs is to be burned, a small bit time, on a few coals, with a little Bay and Rosemary, And, while it is burning, read the two first verses of the 68th Psalm, and say the Lord’s Prayer after.”

Bays and rosemary were also employed for divination purposes on St Valentine’s Eve.   Water of course was an essential of daily life and did not come piped. Divining where one could find water was important. She does not tell us whether this was for prophesy, divining the future or for water.  There certainly is folklore about seeing your future true love in dreams or down wells in the reflections on St Valentine’s day!  The Pastons (medieval letters) and various poets mention choosing Valentines, for example by casting a name into the fire to divine which is the one for you. The Cambridge library collection blog suggests other methods of divination:

“you could try fastening a bay leaf to each corner of your pillow, and one in the middle; then boil an egg, take out the yolk, fill the space with salt, eat (including the shell) and await developments.”

Whilst these herbs were mostly plentiful and cheap Ruth St Leger Gordon tells us that 

“the year of the great plague prices rose such an extent that “Rosemary, which had wont to be sold for twelve pence an armefull, went, now for six shillings handful”.  I wonder, have we missed a trick with Covid?

Happy Valentine’s Day!