Monday 30 September 1991

The Hayters And The Slades Of Boreham And Bishopstrow


Danny Howell was asked to write an article for the October 1991 issue of the Wiltshire Family History Society Journal.

This is it:

At the time of her death, Saturday 19th December 1925, Mrs. Martha Hayter (nee Slade), of 27 Boreham Road, was Warminster's oldest resident. She was 96, and was born on 19th November 1829 in a house at the lower end of Boreham Hill (one of a row of houses long since demolished).

Martha's father, Thomas Slade, was a blacksmith and farrier with forges at Boreham and Norton Bavant. Among his work which still survives are the wrought iron railings around the grounds of Bishopstrow House (now Bishopstrow House Hotel). These were made about 1821.

Thomas Slade died on 6th September 1841 and was succeeded in business by his sons Uriah (the eldest) and Charles. The last named became the first occupant of the 'new' smithy on the Boreham Manor estate, which belonged to the Temple family. This smithy, at the property with the current address of 215 Boreham Road, passed after Charles Slade to James Fitz, of Teffont, in 1865.

Thomas Slade's obituary in the Salisbury & Winchester Journal, in September 1841, made mention of the fact that he was known as "the intelligent blacksmith" and that he had strong mental powers, was a scientific and expert mechanic, and could play several musical instruments. The obituary also recorded that Thomas was often appointed leader of the local band at festivals, and acted as umpire in cases of dispute between musicians.

All the Slades were lovers of music. They were members of the choir at the Parish Church of St. Denys, Warminster. They were also known for their singing while working in their forges. One writer commented: "It must have been a pleasant sight to the passers-by on the dark evenings to see the sparks fly and to hear the harmony going on, whilst in the pent house farmers' boys awaited the sharpening of their plough-shares."

There was also the Slades' Band, made up chiefly of members of the family. Thomas Slade preferred to play clarionet, Uriah Slade played the drum, and Charles Slade played the bass horn.

Like her father and her brothers, Martha was also musically minded, possessing a good soprano voice. In her youth she led the choir at St. Aldhelm's Church, Bishopstrow. This was before the Church's restoration in 1876, during the days when the choir and the organ were situated in the west end gallery, an old two-decker pulpit was in use at the chancel entrance, and there were high pews.

Martha's earliest recollection, and a dim one at that, was seeing tables laid for dinner in the streets of Warminster, when she was three years old. This was probably part of the celebrations to commemorate the passing of the 1832 Reform Bill.

Much more vivid in Martha's mind was the general mourning for William IV. A rhyme went: "Then George the King / Did a very fine thing / When he toddled off to Gloria; / And William came, / And did the same / And so let in Victoria."

Martha had fond memories of the local celebrations for Queen Victoria's Coronation in 1837, when "The Sunday Scholars paraded the town and the Boreham-road as far as Wheeler's Nurseries, where a great bank of flowers had been erected, and around which the children marched on their return journey."

Martha, with her mother (who was before marriage Miss Everett of Heytesbury, born 1787), attended the Coronation Dinner in Warminster Market. She was able to recall that the carver at their particular table was Mr. Payne, who was a china dealer in Warminster.

Of other early memories, Martha could relate how stage coaches passed regularly, indeed daily, with the coachmen blowing on their horns. The traffic on the roads also included carts on Sunday nights making their way to the Somerset coalfields; plus long lines of farmers' wagons loaded with grain en route for Warminster Market. The horses wore bells which jingled in the frosty air.

Martha married Thomas Hayer, the elder son of William and Lucy Hayter, at Bishopstrow Church, on 13th June 1861. The Rev. J.H.A. Walsh officiated. William Hayter was the miller at Bishopstrow for nearly forty years.

William's eldest daughter, Miss Elizabeth Hayter, born 3rd August 1836, died 19th November 1903, was the headmistress of Bishopstrow Church School for forty-five years - a feat recorded on a plaque on the north wall inside St. Aldhelm's Church, Bishopstrow.

Thomas Hayter was a faithful member of St. John's Church (Boreham Road, Warminster) choir for forty-one years. He worked as manager of Boreham Flour Mills for three different millers, namely Thompson Sargeant, William Chapman and Edwin James Bradfield. A year or two after his retirement as manager, Thomas Hayter died at his home, Victoria Cottage, Boreham Road, on 4th February 1908. He was 69, and his funeral service was held at St. John's, Boreham Road, Warminster.