Book: by Jessica nee Goatcher Godwin (48.html)

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Memoirs of an Ancient Lady
Memoirs of an Ancient Lady

Jessica Godwin (nee Jessie Goatcher) published her `memoirs` (ISBN:1 872795 64) in 1992 on her 100th birthday.

David Cole created a list of all persons mentioned in Jessica's book, with a list of all the pages where each person is mentioned. This list can be viewed here: Person List

Jess and her good friend Harry Elkins

"A day out at Clevedon"

This is a seldom mention of Harry's surname. (his surname is not mentioned in Jessica's memoirs). But Jessica and her friend, Harry Elkins, and this very photo were mentioned on page 2 in a Bath News newspaper article on Monday March 2, 1998 (Source 10).The caption read:
LOOKING BACK: Jessica in her 50s with family friend Harry Elkins . . .
Harry was a good friend indeed. In his will, he left Jessica all of the interest on much of his money for the rest of her life. And remember . . . she died at the age of 106. Needless to say, his other beneficiaries waited a long time for her to die. See the notes below that lead us to believe that this is the same Harry Elkins who was the miller at the well-known Sturnminster Bridge. This bridge is approximately 40 miles due South of Bath.

On one occasion, Jessica confided to the author (David Cole), "Poor old Harry, what a dear! He loved me so! He asked me to marry him, you know, but I felt I didn't need a third husband. I wonder how I could have managed without all the money he left me."

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Jessica Godwin and Harry Elkins
Jessica Godwin and Harry Elkins

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Written on back:spelling Harry Elkins (n?)
Written on back:spelling Harry Elkins (n?)

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Clevedon, Somerse (as Jessica may have remembered it)
Clevedon, Somerset (as Jessica may have remembered it)

Harry Elkins

There is mention of a person named Harry Elkins (c1880-retired in 1946) in Source 8. It may or may not be the same person that knew Jessica Godwin. But the years of his life span match those of Jessica Godwin (1892-1998) remarkably well!

Dorset Life said:
"Dorset has certain iconic images, of which the Cerne Abbas Giant and Corfe Castle come immediately to mind, but up there with them is the instantly recognisable Sturnminster Newton Mill [alternate spelling: Sturminster Newton Mill] ........."
"When the Museum Society took over the mill, they advertised in the Blackmore Vale Magazine for someone to run it. Peter Loosmore had been born in one of he cottages opposite Sturnminster Bridge. The mill was in his blood: his grandfather, Harry Elkins, had been the miller from 1904 and through into the Blandford & Webb days, retiring in 1946. The mill was then taken on by his nephew, Sam, who ran it until its closure in 1970. ..."

Note that Sturnminster Bridge is approximately 40 miles due South of Bath. For more info, see Source 11.

Sturnminster Newton Mill

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Sturnminster Newton Mill
Sturnminster Newton Mill

In conversation with the Vicar

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Jessica Godwin sitting on a Fordson tractor in 1992
Jessica Godwin sitting on a Fordson tractor in 1992

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Thumb: Fordson Tractor Model F 1917
Fordson Tractor Model F 1917

In Book 2 of the bibliography below, we find the following description (written in 1982) of Mrs Jessica Godwin:

The sprightly young-looking lady who sits near the sacristy at the Family Communion every Sunday recently celebrated her ninetieth birthday. We extend to her our hearty congratulations.

The other Sunday she told me, "I had five people to dinner last night. I did not get to bed until 1.30 a.m. after a wonderful evening, and I was up again this morning at 6.30, so I am a little tired."

"Why did you get up at 6.30?" I asked her, "Oh! I always get up at 6.30" she replied. "Then what time do you normally go to bed?" I enquired. "Always at 11 o'clock" was the answer.

Mrs Jessica Godwin is indeed a Christ Church personality. She was born at Worthing where her father was a master baker. He died when Jessica was only three, and [her] mother was left with a baby two days old, as well as two other sons and two other daughters besides Jessica.

Mother had difficulties in bringing the family up. Do you wonder? After a time, mother's brother came forward to take over the responsibility of the children's up-bringing, all except the baby. Jessica was put into Doctor Toye's Home for the Fatherless at Lewisham where she remained until her mother remarried when Jessica was eight years old.

"At the time I was at the Home, I was a sickly child. I had a great deal of excema and was brought up on cod-liver oil and malt. They always referred to me as "Little 85' - a number instead of a name."

When mother remarried, Jessica went back with her and her step-father and her younger brother to Brighton where she attended St. Margaret's Church. It was a most unhapppy time, for her step-father was strict and severe and made frequent use of a strap. Jessica's mother had a friend who had a daughter in London and when Jessica was fourteen she went off to be with her as a companion. "It was a dull period of my life." she said.

At the age of twenty-four Jessica left and joined the [Women's] Land Army. She was sent to Guildford for her first consignment and then went to work on the Prime Minister's land at Chequers. she worshipped at Aylesbury Parish church were she was confirmed. Later she was transferred to the Tractor Section of the Land Army at Abingdon. "There we received the first Fordson tractors to come to this country [from America]. Two Americans came with them to show us how to manipulate them! "

I saw Jessica's Certificate of Discharge on demobilization. She was referred to as "a tractor driver of exceptional ability."

It was at Abingdon that Jessica met her first husband, Albion [Godwin]. He was the District Executive Officer for the Board of Agriculture. All her family were by now in Canada, and, after demobilization, Jessica went to stay with them. She remained in Canada for eleven months and returned to England in 1921. In August of that year she and Albion were married at St. Peter's [in] Brighton. They lived at Wantage for a short period, and then took over a five hundred acre farm near Basingstoke - where they remained for seven years. "We had rented it and were losing money, so we sold all the equipment and came to Bath. We bought an Apartment House in Belvedere. We found it difficult to make ends meet and when the maids left in 1943, we turned it into flats."

In 1945 she went to Canada to see her mother who was very ill. Following her mother's death, she returned to Belvedere, bought two cottages at Wick, turned them into one, and later Jessica and Albion moved out of Belvedere and moved to Wick. Within ten months, Albion had died. He was buried at Wick church.

Jessica remaind at Wick for five years. Then one day she was on the underground in London. She was struck by a handsome gentleman sitting opposite her. When she got out at Richmond (she was to be met by her brother) the handsome gentleman also got out. To her amazement her brother not only greeted her, but also introduced the handsome gentleman to her as his brother-in-law [named George Lilof].

After such a romantic coincidence, I was not surprised to hear that Jessica and George were later married - at Wick Church.

The cottage at Wick was sold and Jessica and George went off to live at Bournemouth - but only for eighteen months. Then they came back to Bath and lived at the house which Jessica still owned at Belevedere. Sadly in 1969, George died from pneumonia. Jessica remained at Belvedere until 1980 when she moved to Green Park and it is from there that she comes to worship with us every Sunday.

I asked her for her comments on the Church of England in 1982. How wise was her answer;- "Of course I prefer the old language of the Prayer Book, but I am not qualified to pass comments on the liturgical principles behind the new services."

"Of course I received no education at all really", she added. What an amazing statement, for I consider Jessica to be a cultured and educated lady. "You mean you received little education in school," I retorted "but life itself is a great educator if you approach it in the right way and this you have done."

How fortunate we are to have Jessica as a member of our Christ Church family! She tells me she is writing her life story. We look forward eagerly to reading it.

R.R.B. [Revd Roger Roberts]

1917 Fordson Tractors

The first Fordson Tractor was built in 1917 and some of them "were exported to the U.K. in 1917 to expand British agriculture." according to Source 9 (Wikipedia). At age 24, in 1916, Jessie Goatcher joined the Women's Land Army. It should not surprise us that she was trained to drive a tractor that was first exported to England in 1917.

St Bartholomew's Church in Wick, between Bristol and Bath

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Thumb: Jessica Goatcher's grave is at Wick Church
Jessica Goatcher's grave is at Wick Church

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Aerial View of Wick Church (Jessica Goatcher's grave)
Aerial View of Wick Church (Jessica Goatcher's grave)

Jessie (Jessica) nee Goatcher Godwin is buried at St Bartholomew's Church in Wick, South Gloucestershire, England. In her autobiography, Jessie refers to it as Wick Church which is shown in the photos above. Both Jessica Godwin and her first husband, Albion Godwin are buried at Wick Church. The official name of the church is Church of St Bartholomew. It is List entry Number: 1216152 in Historic England. For more information refer to Source 12. This church, sometimes referred to as "St Barts", is situated approximately 10 houses East of Court Rd on A420. This is approximately 9 miles NorthWest of Bath, Somerset, England as can be seen in the map below. It is located at:

82 Church Rd
Wick, Bristol BS30, UK
51.453033, -2.438181

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Thumb: map of Wick Church (Jessica Goatcher's grave)
Map of Wick Church (Jessica Goatcher's grave)

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Thumb: Jessica Goatcher's grave
Jessica Goatcher's grave

Albion GODWIN and Jessica nee Goatcher GODWIN are both buried at Wick Church. Their headstone reads:

In memory of
the dear and loving
husband of Jessica
who fell asleep March 15, 1954
aged 79 years
the dear and loving
wife of Albion
who fell asleep March 18th, 1998
aged 106 years


Source 1: Alice GOULTON DOB: c1860by David KC COLE, Date: 2014 F Jun 30
Source 2: Anthony Rowe Ltd, Bumpers way, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 6LH, England, UK, as of 2015
Source 3: List of persons mentioned in Book 1 by David KC Cole, Date: Apr 15, 2006
Source 4: List of persons mentioned in Book 1 by David KC Cole, Date: Apr 15, 2006
Source 5: Gen: Zeals School by David KC COLE, Date: 2014 F Jun 13
Source 6: Article:1953 Zeals-More Info re Jessie Goatcher by David KC COLE, Date: 2014 F Jun 13
Source 7: Zeals in 2015 WhiteSheet Primary Academy, Date: 2015 D Apr 12
Source 8: Mention of a Harry Elkins Dorset Magazine, Date: 2010 B Feb
Source 9: Fordson TractorsWikipedia, Date: Aug 3, 2015
Source 10: Bath [England] News page 2, Monday March 2, 1998 Article Title: 106 Today: Jessica aims to see in new century for a second time.
Source 11: Hilly Ground Cottage HolidaysAdvert. Date: Aug 3, 2015
Source 12: Historic England: St Bartholomew Church in South GloucestershireBuilding # 4 in the center of the map


Book 1: Memoirs of an Ancient Lady by Jessica Godwin (nee Jessie Goatcher) ISBN:1 872795 64, Publisher: Anthony Rowe Ltd (Source 3), Date: 1992

Book 2: Christ Church Personalities [page 5] of the Christ Church Challenge [monthly booklet] 1982 E May

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Written: 2014 A Jan 15
Updated: 2015 I Sept 24

By WebMaster: Thou Old King Cole