Tag Archives: epitaphs

“She did what she could”

About 20 years ago my Mum and I visited the lost village of  Tyneham – we used to love looking at Epitaphs in graveyards. I did this with my Grandad too, we were interested in the history and making up stories about the lives recorded. Mum said I learnt to read from the gravestones. Apparently I insisted that she helped me to sound out the words of the epitaphs, and I’m still fascinated.

Twenty years ago, we found the gravestone of Priscilla Styles. The wording must have been much easier to read then, as I’m sure I would not have spotted it today. I had remembered the inscription as ‘SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD’.

Priscilla

This photo was taken on a recent walk, you can see more pictures of the walk here and here.                                                                                                          Epitaph: “She hath done what she could”p

I have thought about her often in the last 20 years and now with the help of the internet I could find out a little bit of what it was she did:

Priscilla Styles (nee Phippard)

1859: born: Jan, Feb or March, St. George Hanover Square, (Pimlico?) London

1861: Priscilla aged 3, her father died in Pimlico, London. According to the Census, it seems that she then went to live with her maternal Grandmother in Swanage.

1871: aged 12, she ws living with her Grandmother in New Road, Swanage

1881: aged 22, still living with her Grandmother, Mary Phippard, nee Chinchen, in Mill Pond, Swanage, Dorset.

1883: (age24) married 7.March, Parish church, Swanage to Henry Thomas Thorn Styles (Thomas was born 1858 in ‘Union’ – Langton Matravers. son of John Trim and Emily Styles, 5 siblings, some with surname Trim)

1887: (age28) 17.Aug. Amy Louise born in Swanage. (Amy died Dec. 1973 in Waltham Forest, London)

1889: (aged 30) 5.Aug. Freda May Priscilla born in Hill Bottom Coast Guard station, Dorset. (Freda died 9.Feb,1970, Enfield, Greater London).

1891: (aged 32), living with husband in (Coast Guard Station) Corfe Castle in April, Emily Violet born, Hill Bottom, Dorset

1896: (aged 37) 3rd June, Dorothy Gertrude Styles born in Lyme Regis (Dorothy died, aged76, in 1972 in Wales)

Mother of 4 daughters: Amy Louise Styles, Freda May Priscilla Styles, Emily Violet Styles and Dorothy Gertrude Styles.

1901: living at No2. Coastguard Station, Worbarrow (Dorothy aged 4)worbarroThis is a photo on the Worbarrow information board down by the bay. I’m sure Priscilla and/or all or some of her children must be in this picture. Her daughters would have been 13, 11, 9 and 4. I’d love to know which ones they are.  As far as I could tell there is nothing left of these cottages now.

Priscilla died: 24.April.1903, aged 44,  in Coastguard Station, Worbarrow-in-Tyneham, Dorset. Her daughters were aged 16, 14, 12, and 6.

Her husband: Henry Thomas Thorn Styles, was born at Studland in 1858, and after Priscilla died, he went on to marry Martha Minnie White on 1.Aug.1904 in Tyneham, and had 3 boys: 1905, William, 1906 Roland, and 1908 George all born in Swanage.                                                                                                      Thomas died aged 66 in 1925 in royal Naval Hospital Portland.                              In 1881, 2 years before marrying Priscilla, he was in the Royal Navy.

I would so love to be able to share this with my Mum, she is 86 and has Alzheimers and would not have a clue what I was talking about. My Mum is Welsh and known as Mamgu (mam-gee, with a hard G), Welsh for Granny. Miss E says she thinks “Mamgu’s brain has fallen over sideways”, a good way of putting it!

I am still intrigued to know more about what prompted the words on Priscilla’s epitaph and why she died aged 44. I wonder if I will ever discover more.

If you would like to know more about Tyneham, there are quite a few You Tube clips with interviews of the villagers and walks round the village.houses

Tyneham Village

……..having walked to the beach and climbed the cliffs we went back through the woods to the village, now mostly in ruins (the story of Tyneham)tyneham tho ttyyn here is the old Rectory with its abandoned gardens – croquet on the lawn anyone?gdnWe could imagine the vicar walking to church past his ponds, and wondering if he and his wife planted the snowdrops.snowdDSC_0264The church still stands tych tywith poignant reminders of ancient families uprootedtyn

and loss tynettyand then this oh so cute kneeler. tynehI came to Tyneham about 20 years ago with my Mum, we used to love reading epitaphs in graveyards and found a grave stone here on which was written ‘she did what she could’ – at least this is how I remembered it. My Mum and I had had a good chuckle about this, we did not know what she had done, or not done, but she did what she could.  I remembered it was behind the church and to the left ….. had I remembered correctly would I find it? …….. YES! Here it is!Priscilla pPriscilla Styles, died in 1903, aged 44. The inscription actually says “She hath done what she could”. I was so pleased to find her again! (With the wonders of the internet I have since been able to find out a bit more about what she did – more of that another day).schThe School has been preserved with charming examples of pupils work on the desks tscha page from the teacher’s diary schdand empty coat pegs in the entrance. pegsSuch a strong mix of thoughts and emotions, mingling with ghosts and memories of a small, fairly isolated, busy seaside community. It is a peaceful setting on a sunny day, surrounded by beauty, a really fabulous place for a walk or a picnic – but for us a delicious pub lunchDSC_0284 at the Weld Arms in East Lulworth, sitting out in the sunshine on a Sunday in February    ……………..      and home to watch a wonderful sundownDSC_0196 from my bedroom window, feeling full of gratitude for where I live.

If you are as interested in Epitaphs as me and my Mum (and her Dad) there are a few more on my Dec 2012 post of a Winter Solstice Walk

Walk to Stinsford Church ….

walk1From Dorchester, my friend and I walked across Grey’s Bridge  – that is an egret you can just see, standing at the water’s edge – I must get a better zoom lens! – and then along a path by the water meadows

pathto Stinsford Church, where a cosy entrance invites you in ….

walk2 Thomas Hardy, one of our most famous local authors, went to services here. To say my friend is a fan of Thomas Hardy is an understatement! And she is very knowledgable about him, telling me little anecdotes along our walk – she told me he used to sit in the seat just below the ornate plaque in the photo below, which is on the left of the aisle as you walk in.

walk3

This is the gallery above the entrance, where the minstrels would have played before the installation of the organ. g

We both love to read epitaphs (you can see more in the slideshow of the Ringstead walk ) and see another Dorset Church on my Stourpaine Walk.walk4band I’m always interested to see the needlepoint kneelers, all those hours of beautiful handwork

walk4c

gorgeous maple leaves still lingering into winterwalk4f

and an urn that looks to me like a Nursery Rhyme King with moustache, sitting at the gates to the graveyardwalk4g

where we visited Thomas Hardy’s memorial stonewalk4d walk4ehis ashes are in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey

walk4hLook at the workmanship in the urns either side of a gateway along the path from the church towards the river

walk4j w5bheading towards Bockhampton ………. (to be continued)

For anyone interested in following Hardy’s footsteps there are many wonders to see in and around Dorchester, go to the Tourist Information Centre and pick up a Hardy Trail Guide. A must is the house he lived in, Max Gate, which is opened by the National Trust from April to October. And also Hardy’s Cottage, Thomas Hardy’s birthplace, nestling at the edge of Thorncombe Woods, a great place for a woodland walk.

“A Pair of Blue Eyes” by thomas Hardy is being serialised on BBC Radio 4 Extra a the moment :  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jphk

Available for 4 weeks.

Join me on a Winter Solstice Walk

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Ringstead

stepsOSref
cliff
iris
Ringstead

kissinggate along the beach and up the hill cliffview housesSeeing the houses perched on the cliff and then to St.Catherine’s Chapel, and Granny-by-the-sea.

When my children we younger we used to walk here and they had to find Granny-by-the-sea before we had our picnic.

grannysea portlandthe view from Granny-by-the-sea, looking towards Portland.