The homes of Narth and Mary Heath
[RAH: This document turned up in 2005 at the house of John Hudson, husband of Mary Buckler’s daughter Gretta. He may have written it, and he certainly annotated a copy of it in September 1989 to accompany photographs that he took on a visit to the places mentioned here. It can be read as an appendix to Mrs Heath’s diary, which it mentions in places.]
William Nathaniel (Narth) Heath, a farmer’s son from Attleborough, near Nuneaton, married Mary Buckler, also of Nuneaton, at a quiet ceremony in Nuneaton Parish Church on September 7, 1899. The homes in which they subsequently lived and brought up their seven children were as follows:
1899-1901 5 St Margaret’s Buildings. G.E.Road [? Angel Lane is mentioned in Mary Heath’s autobiography], Stratford EC [London] where they lived in a flat above the dairy that Mr Heath managed. Their first child, Oliver Ivor, was born there on July 30, 1900.
1901-1907 Tenants of Grange Farm, Higham on the Hill, on the borders of Leicestershire and Warwickshire; this was the home farm, just behind Higham Grange, a large mansion where the Phillips family (Mark Phillips is a descendant) lived until the estate was broken up in 1917. The Grange later became a hospital specialising in rehabilitation and treatment of miners injured at work. The “main drive down which we had a right of way to reach the Watling Street” (mentioned in Mrs Heath’s diary) is still there but is not now used by the farm, which has to be approached through the attractive village of Higham on the Hill. The present occupier, Mr Michael Hall, whose family has been there for 30+ years, preceded by the Townsends (1930s to 1960s) had no knowledge of the Heaths, though there are now many Heaths farming in the area (distantly related?). Mrs Heath refers to the farm as “a ranching kind of a place; nothing neat, spick or span about it”. It is still like that.
Three of the Heath boys were born there, Alan Buckler, May 18, 1903; Alec Josiah, September 15, 1905; and William Edward, October 20, 1906.
1907-1914 Tenants of Westfields, Carlton, Market Bosworth, a large well-found place well back from the road. (Did not call because it was getting late and the light was wrong for a photograph.)
Three children were born here, Griffith, July 25, 1908; Mary Gretta, February 28, 1910; and George Bryan Stephens, August 28, 1912.
Mr Heath died in hospital, February 17, 1914.
1914-1915 Mrs Heath and her family lived with her brother for a year after Mr Heath’s death; she kept house for her brother, who was not then married.
1915-1934 Tenants of 22 Mill Lane, Shenton, 2 miles from Market Bosworth, owned by the Woolaston family, a pleasant double-fronted house with a big garden, a small field, and outbuildings, all now in excellent condition. The chestnut tree under which Ted used to be carried on a bed, on fine afternoons, to talk to passers-by (see Mrs Heath’s diary), died recently and had to be cut down, but its stump is still there.
[RAH: According to Mrs Heath’s diary, she joined Gretta in Scotland in the autumn of 1930, and, according to Michael Heath, Bryan dates her visit to Canada in 1931-34; so the Shenton period probably lasted 1915-1930.]
Mrs Heath lived in the following places between 1934 and 1945:
- Kettering, 1935-38
- Mark, Somerset, 1938-39
- Yeovil, 1939-41
- Chapel-en-le-Frith 1941-45 [RAH She was certainly here for some time, but it’s unlikely she was there all the time, because her only link with Chapel was through John, Greta’s husband, and for some years between 1941 and 1945 John and Greta lived in Sussex. And she certainly spent some time with Ted in Edinburgh, where she died.]
Mrs Heath died in Edinburgh, 8 April 1945.