Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 23 No. 3 August 2008

Lark Rise to Candleford

Television viewers in England have been enjoying a series Lark Rise to Candleford, a gentle late-Victorian romance based on the novels by Flora Thompson (née Timms).

Lark Rise

The novels were semiautobiographical and Flora was known to have lived in Juniper, a tiny group of houses a few miles south of Brackley; the books could well have been titled Juniper to Brackley.

A fellow-member of the Guild of One-Name Studies looked up Juniper in the Census and found Flora Timms and her family recorded there. Also there were a group of Blencowe children living with their mother and step-father Eli Massey. Their father was John Blencowe whose birth was registered in Bicester in 1857. John was probably the son of Thomas Blencowe and Anne Harrup of Souldern who trace back to the Blencowes of Kings Sutton. John was an agricultural labourer and in 1876, aged nineteen, he married Harriet Mott (daughter of Henry Tebby) at Cottisford, the nearest village to Juniper. They had three children, all baptised at Cottisford: Albert Henry (1877), Rose Emma (1879), and Margaret (1882) born a few months after the death of John in September 1881 at the age of twenty-six.

Harriet had two more children, Ernest Alfred (1884) and Dora (1886) before she married Eli Massey in 1890. Ernest died in 1918 at Le Grand Beaumart and was buried at Steenwerck in France.

Albert Henry Blencowe married Mary Jane Kirby at Cottisford in 1910; he lived on to die in Juniper in 1935. Their son Richard John Blencowe died in Barnstaple in 1982.

With luck the series will turn up on Australian TV, so look out for a realistic portrayal of life in a tiny hamlet in the late 19thC. Lark Rise to Candleford is a love letter to a vanished corner of rural England and a heart-warming drama series teeming with wit, wisdom and romance.

For members in England, there is a fascinating exhibition Flora Thompson’s life and work in the Old Gaol Museum in Buckingham.

Jack Blencowe

updated: 31 October 2008