1911 was quite a year around the world. The Chinese Republic was proclaimed after a revolution overthrew the Manchu dynasty. Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. International Women's Day was celebrated for the first time across Europe. The first official air mail flight took place in India, when Henri Pequet carried 6,500 letters a distance of 13 km.
Back home, Ernest Rutherford produced his theory on the nature of atoms, and in Stoke things were going along as normal with people being fined for driving a wagon without lights (Joseph Patten), and allowing their animals to stray on the road, as detailed in this report from the Taunton Courier on the 19th April:
"STOKE ST. GREGORY CASES. Two cases were next heard of straying horses in Stoke St. Gregory.—The first defendant was Henry Hembrow, of Stathe, a haulier, who was summoned for allowing two horses stray.—P.C. Bartlett proved the case, and Superintendent Stoker said that he had received numerous complaints of cattle straying in the same parish. -The defendant was fined 2s and 5s 6d costs. —The second defendant was Benjamin Hector of Stathe, a withey worker, who pleaded to allowing a horse to stray on June 17th.— Fined 1s and 4s 6d costs."
And then there was the Coronation. Stoke certainly woke up to that great occasion and made merry as shown by the documents below.
[Thanks to Stephen House for digging these out. The 'C J HOUSE' printed on the Balance Sheet was Clifford House, Stephen's Great Grandfather].
The coronation of George V (our present Queen's Grandfather) and his wife Mary as King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and as Emperor and Empress of India, took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 22 June 1911. The family had not yet changed its name to Windsor so they were still 'Saxe-Coburg-Gotha'. See HERE for a news clip of the wedding.
The event in Stoke was well covered by the local press (see HERE for the full write-up in the Taunton Courier). After a religious service, with an unusual co-operation between the two churches, everyone went to a field known as ‘Half Yard’ owned by Mr H Hembrow, where a large marquee had been put up. It was a rather rainy day but the Langport Band played for an hour and then the festivities began. The men were given lunch, after which various sports took place, although some had to be abandoned because of the rain. The ‘women & children’ were then allowed to eat as the report describes: “The children's tea was at 4 p.m., and Coronation mugs were presented by Mrs. Barrett to each child. The children filed into the large marquee, and did full justice to the good things provided. The next tea was that for the ladles, and required no less than 16 tea pourers. This meal was also much enjoyed.” Sports carried on in the rain after tea, but it cleared up for the ‘dancing on the green’ till 10 pm, with a final ‘God Save the King’
Flooding had always been an issue in the Parish, especially from the River Tone, with its bank high above Stanmoor. Stoke residents had made several requests for the bank to be raised but it was sometimes difficult to get the powers that be to take action. This is a report from the Wells Journal on the 18th May 1911: "Somerset Drainage Commissioners. The monthly meeting of the Somerset Drainage Commissioners was held at Bridgwater Wednesday last, under the presidency of Mr. R. Neville Grenville.—The engineer presented a lengthy report upon a petition from the inhabitants of the parish of Stoke St. Gregory, drawing attention to the alleged weak state and insufficient height of the banks around Stanmoor, by reason of which houses and land in the Stanmoor district were in great danger of being flooded last December, and asking the Commissioners to strengthen and raise the banks where necessary, as to obviate the risk of flooding in the future. There was doubt, he reported, that with the Tone bank in its present state there would always be a very great risk of Stanmoor being flooded whenever the water in the river attained the height it did last December, or to within few inches of that height. To strengthen the hank would be a somewhat costly work. He enumerated the various parts the bank that required strengthening, and added that the Parrett bank was in a fairly good state, and only required the work of ordinary maintenance. He estimated the cost of the works at over £l,OOO. It was agreed to send copy of the report the District Board, for their observations thereon."
This little ditty appeared in the Taunton Courier the same year
Piped Water had arrived in Stoke in 1910 but not all properties were connected directly. Many families had to continue using well water or carry jugs from the various standpipes around the village. Some even used river water from the Tone for most of their needs. Many wells however, were filled in as they were deemed to be health hazards. One instance came to light at Stathe reported in the Taunton courier in February: "STOKE ST. GREGORY CASE. Mr. W. F. B. Dawe, on behalf the Taunton Rural District Council, applied for order for the closing of a polluted well belonging to Mrs. Fanny Keirle, of Stoke St. Gregory.—Mr. Dawe stated that Mrs. Keirie was the owner of two cottages at Stathe, Stoke St. Gregory, one of which she occupied. Attached to that cottage the well in question. Six weeks ago Mrs. Keirle was written to on the matter, but she had gone to London, where the summons was served on her. She was willing to have the well partially closed, that was only to use the water for washing purposes, and not for drinking. The Council, however, asked that it should completely closed, as Stoke St. Gregory had now a water supply, and Mrs. Keirle could at a very small cost have a tap put in each of the cottages from the main. In time of flooding the occupants would be driven to the well for all thelr water. At present they got their drinking water from the standpipe to the main.—Mr. S. J. James, inspector of nuisances, gave evidence, and in answer to the Bench said that the stand pipe was 200 yards away from the cottage.—A daughter of Mrs. Keirle. who was present, said they only wanted to use the well water for washing up purposes, and were quite willing to get their drinking water from the standpipe.—The Bench made order to that effect, warning the woman that if the well water was used for drinking there would be considerable trouble. She was ordered to pay 5s costs."
Family Problems - report from Taunton Courier 3rd May
"DRINK THE DISTURBER. The unfortunate effect of drink in disturbing the good relations between husband end wife were illuminated by the case in which Henry Martin, elderly labourer, of Stoke St. Gregory, was summoned hie wife, Edith Martin, for threatening to kill her on April 25th.—The complainant the outset asked that the case might be withdrawn, her husband had promised that it should never occur again.—The Bench, after questioning the woman, decided to hear her evidence. She said that they had been married eight years, and at the time of the threats the defendant was under the influence of drink.—P.C. Bartlett said that the defendant was as a rule a quiet hard working man, but when under the influence of drink be behaved like a madman.—The defendant said be would try to get on wall with his wife in the future.—The Bench adjourned the case for month, the Chairman expressing the hope that the parties would manage to agree, and that the man would keep away from strong drink."
The Rose & Crown, Woodhill and Meare Green Farm (now Meare Green Court) were both up for rent.