Category: Johnstone

Exmoor Johnstone Uncategorized

Looking for Sarah

Sarah’s Story
In 1881, Sarah Thomason married James Maxwell Johnstone in a tiny church in the beautiful Welsh village of Betws Garmon.  The couple moved to Keswick in the Lake District and had two children before moving to Muirkirk in the Scottish Borders and having another child.  In 1886, Sarah and James and the three children moved to Hoar Oak Cottage  where they lived for nearly 20 years had ten more children.  In 1904, when the last child was just ten months old, James died and Sarah was left on Exmoor with her thirteen children – a long way from parents and family in Wales and Scotland. Sarah died in 1945 after a long widowhood spent living and working in Lynton before going to live with her daughter Agnes Sedgbeer in Gunn and finally with her daughter Jane Johnstone in Porlock.  You can read Sarah and James story and find out more about their 13 children  on this link.
Looking for Sarah
The search for Sarah and her story and the hope to find a photograph of this amazing and courageous woman was, in many ways, what started two of her descendants – Bette Baldwin and Will Bowden – on the search into Hoar Oak Cottage and the setting up of The Friends.  Now after many years it is time to return to that simple, original aim – of looking for Sarah.

Might there be a photograph out there somewhere?  Might there be a photograph of Sarah and James out there somewhere?  When James died in 1904 photography wasn’t all that common – certainly not for poor people.  But when Sarah died in 1945 it would have been much more common.  The hope is there may be a photo of her somewhere and we can track it down.  We know so much about her life but we do not know what she looked like. How nice that would be.

If you think you may be able to help or need more information please get in touch by contacting Bette Baldwin on:

Email:   bette.baldwin@btinternet.com
Tel:        07967182903

 

 

 

Posted by Bette Baldwin
Johnstone Messines WW1

Thomas Johnstone on The Somme

Thomas Johnstone

100 Years Ago at Messines, Belgium   June 1917
On the night of 9th June 1917, the 5th Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment took over the forward trenches at Torreken Farm just north of the wrecked village of Messines on the night of 9th June 1917.

They faced enemy artillery which was located on the Messines Ridge overlooking the area and as a result had heavy casualties – men killed and wounded – every day.  They remained in these positions for 10 days until relived by an Irish regiment on the 19th June.

This is a link to the a You Tube clip which tells the hideous, courageous, unbelievable but successful story of the battle at the Messines Ridge.  It is told from the perspective of the Irish regiments but gives a clear picture of what life would have been like for Thomas in the June of 1917.

These two links tell Thomas Johnstone’s story:

Thomas Johnstone Goes To War
Letters to Sarah Johnstone

Posted by Bette Baldwin
1
Heritage History Johnstone Old House Names

A new house sign for Hoar Oak Cottage

For many years, Hoar Oak Cottage has slept in silence in its remote patch of Exmoor.  A few people knew its name and history but many didn’t.  Since the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage started working to save the cottage and its history and prevent its stories from being lost – there has been an ambition to have the cottage’s name somewhere on the site.   The aim? To let people know what the cottage was called.  And to give them a clue as to where they could find more information. On 9th May 2017, the aim of having a house sign at Hoar Oak Cottage was achieved.

Thanks to Steve Pugsley and his team at Ardosia Slate , a beautiful piece of local, recovered slate was supplied and engraved and donated to Hoar Oak Cottage.  The Ardosia folks cleverly incorporated the Hoar Oak Cottage web-address into the house sign enabling people to find out where to go for further information.

Thanks to Ben Williams at Badgeworthy Land Company, the Friends were given permission to transport the heavy sign out to the cottage by Landrover.

It was put in place by Will Bowden and Bette Baldwin, founder members of The Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage, and ‘dedicated’ by Margaret Waters – all three are  descendants of Shepherd James Maxwell Johnstone and his wife Sarah, who lived at Hoar Oak Cottage from 1886 to 1904 and had thirteen children there.

 

And last but not least thanks go to Jim Baldwin for bringing additional lifting power to the day and to Matt Harley from the Exmoor National Park Authority for giving The Friends permission to put a house sign at Hoar Oak Cottage.

If you would like to find out a bit more about how Hoar Oak Cottage got its name please visit this page on our website.

 

Posted by Bette Baldwin