I’ve been looking back oat old family stories as I have my family history writing group this afternoon. I came across a sad little story which I wrote quite a while ago but still touches me. It’s about the family of Robert Day who had a sad life, driven from his home by the agricultural depression, his young wife died leaving him with small children. He moved to London with the children and married again but had to leave there with a second wife and another child. He ended up in the workhouse, his children living elsewhere, and in the workhouse he died.
Having discovered the sad story of Robert Day’s life, and the happier story of his second daughter Sarah Jane, I took the opportunity on a recent visit to Suffolk to go to Lidgate where Robert was born. It is a lovely little linear village, with a very old, beautiful church where Robert’s father John and mother Avis were married in 1807 by the rector, John Isaacson.
St Mary’s Church is most attractive and set on a mound overlooking the village. The first site of it is from the road from Newmarket to Clare where the tower can be glimpsed surrounded by trees. From the gate of the church there is a splendid view to the bailey pond and the village beyond.
Within the church is the font where countless Days, including John, Robert, Sarah and her sister Elizabeth would have been baptised.
Robert may have married Susan in this church, as his father John married Avis.
Lidgate still has many thatched cottages, set up above the road as if this is such an old track across the county that countless feet and hooves have worn it down lower than the surrounding land. In the middle of the villages is the Star Inn which may have been where John held the license and where Robert lived as a child.
Bletchingley, where Robert lived with his second wife Eliza in the 1870’s was a pretty village set in the rolling Surrey hills; would he have seen the similarities between his birthplace 100 miles away in Suffolk? Both verdant, green and with an attractive church,also dedicated to St Mary?
A postscript to Robert’s story, many years later, when his daughter Sarah was an old lady, now Mrs Colgate, still living in Bletchingley, a stranger came to her door asking if there was a family called Day living in the village. Old Sarah was a little flustered and answered that she did not know of any such family, and only when the stranger had departed did she think that nearly seventy years before, she had been Sarah Day. Who was the stranger? A nephew, maybe one of her brother James’s sons, or may it have been James himself?