Jan 1939

32 York Avenue

Ashley Down

Bristol 7


Dear Alice

You have asked me to tell you the story of Hanham Abbots and Sally on the Barn. It's a good many years since I done that walk and it was a real country walk then but you must remember that Brislington is so altered now-a-days, it's more like a town than a village and I dare say some of the beautiful field walks are done away with. Then again, there is Keynsham, once a pretty country village, now a town almost.

You will remember as a girl I took you from Brislington across the fields to Keynsham and crossed the river by boat to Hanham Mills then walked you all the way home by the river side to Mother Bess's ferry and up over St Annes home (all you youngsters were good walkers).

You will also remember the rambles you done as a child round Whitchurch and the old race course which is Broad Walk now. You are yet a young woman but when you get older you will treasure some of them stories you have got. You will realise then the alterations that have taken place in your time. Most of the beautiful walks I done in my young days is disappearing but I have been able to remember a few.

I will now try to tell you of my walk to Sally on the Barn with Arthur's wife and your sister Nell. Arthur's wife always wanted to go for a country walk with me. I was living on Bath Road at the time, so from our house the three of us started our walk along the Bath Road to Brislington, we walked a short distance through the picturesque village of Brislington and turned up by the old vicarage and walked by the garden wall and passed through a wicket gate [to] continue our way through spreading trees and meadow lands. Following the path, we pass through another gate and our route is along the side of an ivy mounted wall bordering a market garden. We next reach a delightful country lane, at the end of this a gate gives access to the field again. We halt at the top of the rise to admire the beautiful landscape and looking back have a good view of Dr. Fox's private asylum which is reputed to be one of the largest establishments of it's kind in Great Britain. We next enter a lovely dingle with it's shady trees and picturesque nooks make an ideal spot for a picnic. Passing along by the brook we saw what is known as the Stag's Head Rock. We now come to an old lane and following the field path by the railway soon reach Keynsham. We soon come to the Church which is very ancient, it has a fine tower built in 1634 from part of the old Abbey after the collapse of its predecessor by lightening. From the church, continue straight on until we reach the river. On the bridge we see a stone pillar, here you can sit in a niche with one foot in Somerset and the other in Gloucestershire. tramping on, we have a glimpse of the famous weir which owing to the thick foliage can be more easily heard than seen. Just past the White Hart we turn in at a gate and follow the path and soon join the river near Londonderry ruins and cross the bridge then we took a circuitous route and leaving the tow path follow the ascending field path. From the top of the rise we have a very extensive view and see lying in a hollow to the right the ancient village of Willsbridge. To our left we notice a residence walls of which are much adorned with ivy. we pass by this and after walking some little distance come to what is known as 'Sally on the Barn'. According to legend, there lived here at one time a person named Sally, who had a splendid voice and a great inclination for standing in a lofty position on the barn and singing to the moon. And it is said that the sweet music of this eccentric vocalist which could be heard for some considerable distance in the still night air caused many of the neighbouring villagers to stroll in this direction to enjoy the refrain. A figure said to commemorate this moon light singer is still to be seen. Farther on, we come to the interesting mansion of Abbots Court with its monastic and historical associations and beside it is the little chapel which seats about 150 worshippers. This house and chapel for upwards of 200 years belonged to the Abbots of Keynsham. Then we went on along the road until we came to the Elm Tree Inn by which we find a path leading to the woods and following it our ramble has another variation. We are now passing through woods so romantic that pages would be required to record their history. Suffice it to say we are passing through a part of what remains of the ancient Kingswood Forest. On emerging from the woods, we walked by the riverside until we come to the Conham Ferry which we cross and after ascending the steep track we find an iron gate where we follow the field path. On reaching the road we turn down a shady lane which brings us back to old Brislington. When Arthur's wife saw the tram lines she was surprised. She said "Dad, you are a wonder, I didn't think I was so near home as this, what a walk!". Yes and no wonder, she only done about 12 miles that day.


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