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Finding old diary characters

A COUPLE from Devon are looking to trace characters from a diary which they have found who they believe may have come from Chichester.


Hugh and Rosemary Smith, from Northam, in Devon, came into possession of the diary which they believe was found in the office of Rosemary’s father after his death a few years ago.


In the diary, there is a reference to a young boy called John, who is Rosemary’s father and Mrs Hooper (known as Bessie) was nanny to the children of Arthur and Elsie Gliddon who drove from Williton on August 18, 1920, to collect their son, John, arriving with his two brothers, Laity and Ronald, and his sister, Edith.


In the diary, under an entry dated, August 4, 1920, it says: “My Dear Mollie, the day has arrived at last, and we – the five ‘Moorhens’ are really on Exmoor.


“We left Chichester this morning by the 8.7 train and did not arrive here this evening until after 8.30pm….. We had to change at Fratton, Salisbury, Exeter and Dulverton.


“From Salisbury onwards the journey was quite new to us all. From Exeter to Dulverton, the scenery was lovely, we travelled on a single line up the Exe Valley and the river was sometimes on one side of us and sometimes on the other.”


Mr Smith said: “It is our wish to try and make contact with any of the characters in the diary who might be able to tell us more about these people, their backgrounds, names we do not have, because the author never revealed her name nor that of her mother.


“We have been to Dulverton on Exmoor, where we have been in contact with representatives of the Exmoor National Park, as well as The Exmoor Society.


“They are very interested, no excited, by this small look into life as it really was almost 100 years ago.”


Characters in the diary include:


  • Mr Jack Hooper – tenant farmer of the Fortescure Estates
  • Mrs Bessie Hooper – wife of Jack and nanny to the children, John, Laity, Ronald and Edith of Mr and Mrs Gliddon of Williton, Somerset
  • Tom – farm worker
  • Nellie Jones – of Simonsbath, aged 13
  • Little John – aged ten (father to Rosemary Smith)
  • Mrs Croft and her daughter Evelyn
  • An unnamed mother and her daughter Mabel and the author of the diary


Further friends with whom the author was in contact with are presumed to also be from Chichester are Maude Nicholson, iris Harvey, Florris Dalton, Mrs Pratt, Mrs Ingram, Miss Wilson, Miss Trinder, Miss Jacob, Miss More and Ethel Nash.


Should you have information that you are able to give to Mr and Mrs Smith, please do not send it to the Chichester Post but instead write to Mrs Rosemary Smith, The Beeches, 3 Burrough House Gardens, Northam, Bideford, Devon EX39 1FF.

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