Violet (Stiles) Allen
Violet aka ‘Vi’ was born on 24 Jun 1921, and this was registered in Chew Magna, Somerset. Though her family lived at Pensford a large village in the Chew Valley. She was formally registered on 12 Jul 1921:
She was christened on 31 Jul 1921 at the Church of All Saints at Publow, near Pensford, a church that dates back to the 14th c.
Watercolour of Publow Church
Christening Notice (no sponsors noted?)
‘Pensford’ means the furthest point of the road or ‘top of the road’. Or alternatively may mean the animal pens at the ford. It has a history in the cloth and woollen trades. It was where the rebel forces camped during the Monmouth Rebellion in June 1685. It was a coal mining village in the 19th and 20th centuries. Set in the Somerset coalfield its colliery operated from 1909-1965.
This ocatoganal 18th century lock-up, was where locals were detained because the nearest prison was considered too long a walk for trivial offences. It is extant and is a Grade II listed building.
Monarch’s Way marker
Pensford is on ‘The Monarch’s Way’, a 625-mile long footpath that is said to be Charles II’s escape route, following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester (3 Sep 1651). It runs from Worcester, north to Boscobel, south to Stratford-upon-Avon, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cirencester and Bristol, then crosses the Chew at Pensford, carries on through Wells, Yeovil, Charmouth (Dorset) and on to Shoreham-on-Sea.
Pensford was alsohome to John Locke (1632-1704), the Enlightenment philosopher and physician, hailed as the ‘Father of Liberalism’. He advanced epistemology (the theory of knowledge and political philosophy).
But the family cherishes none of these Pensford facts, Instead it focuses on Violet’s next-door neighbour that she knew as little Billy Bilk. Actually Bernard Stanley Bilk, but known to the world as the trad-jazz singer and clarinetist Acker Bilk. His instrumental ‘Stranger on the Shore‘ became the UK’s biggest selling single of 1962, spending more than 50 weeks on the UK charts andpeaking at number two. It became the second-ever number-one single in the United States by a British artist.
Vi won a scholarship to the prestigious Bristol school, The Red Maids’ School. in Sep 1932. But left the school at age 14 in Jul 1935, in those days working was expected at that age. This report card shows her grades across her three years. She scored over 85% in Arithmetic and Housewifery (good preparation for her tins – see below). Her language skills appeared to decline across the three years – which made talking with her French great-grandchildren something of a trial, until their English improved.
In 1939, Vi at 18 yrs old is shown as living at 7 Lower Redland Road in Bristol with her mother, Adeline, and her father, Albert, a gardener. ‘Addy’ is shown as then pursuing unpaid domestic duties.
Violet married F – Ivanhoe Wilfred Allen on 5 Sep 1942 in Bristol.
After Ivan returned from WWII, they,pretty soon after, had Jane Alison Allen on 11 December 1948.
Vi is remembered in the family for her tins and for her frugality. Ivan would bring his earnings home, in those days in cash of course, and hand them over to Vi. She sorted this between her tins to cover off each of their overheads. It worked, though neither of them were ever big earners, they contrived to buy a substantial and desirable townhouse home in fashionable Clifton at 77 Alma Vale Road, Bristol.
Having regularly visited us with a friend at our holiday home in Spain, when we bought our second villain Javea, the plan was to live down there full-time, so we deliberately bought one with a granny flat. This would permit her to come and go, with friends. But regrettably, the day we completed on it, Violet had a stroke that incapacitated her speech and movement, needing permanent care, she spent her last four/five years in a Nursing Home in Bristol. They treated her extremely well, but this fiercely independent woman would have hated her incapacity, hopefully she was, as she appeared, unaware for much of the time.
We had advised the BAC Social Club of the date and time for her funeral, because she had many friends who were members, and particularly as we learned her particular friend would be away on holiday. But regrettably they announced the time as 13:00, not 3pm, a number of her friends did apparently turn up at 13:00 but, also in their 90s, had moved off by 3pm. Just one hardy couple had waited there for us to arrive. Jane and me (flown back from Spain), Sarah and Laurent (over from France) and Matt (over from Dubai) completed her rather depleted congregation. Perhaps not the send-off that she deserved, but those years spent in the nursing home, while completely uncommunicative, had taken their toll.