Trip to Bury Records Office, Culford, Wordwell and West Stow

Records Office - Ancient Order of Foresters

A beautiful day of around 7-8 degrees celsius, much above the average for the year and we decided to go out on a mini field-trip to Bury St Edmunds records office to have another look through the Barnham parish registers and to try and find out a little bit more about The Ancient Order of Foresters, a fraternal organisation that my Great Grandfather, Kenneth Bird was a member of. We knew from family information that Ken attended the 91st High Court , sitting in Birmingham in 1926, so it would have been really nice to have found some reference to him in the literature. We found a copy of the 1926 Birmingham High Court issue of 'The Miscellany', the Foresters regular bi-monthly publication. Although very interesting, unfortunately we couldn't find any reference to Kenneth in the magazine, perhaps not surprisingly as there were over 1000 delegates in attendance that year. On scanning through the magazine's though we did notice an obituary section at the back, so with any luck on a subsequent visit, maybe in the coming week, I hope to locate a mention of Ken there.

Records Office - Barnham Parish Registers

While at the office I had a quick look through the Barnham parish registers and managed to confirm a few christening dates for Benjamin Bird and Ann Pegg's children. I also managed to find a burial record for Ann who it would seem is buried in Barnham; I didn't see Benjamin there but it's possible so it would seem a trip to Barnham could be on the cards soon.

Culford, Wordwell and West Stow

After the trip to the office we still had a bit of time left over so we decided to visit a few villages just north of Bury St Edmunds, mainly to get some pictures for the records and for the website but also just because it was a lovely day (following links for pictures of Culford, Wordwell and West Stow . While there we did quite a lot of grave hunting at All Saints, Wordwell and St Marys in West Stow and Culford. Again, this was, to an extent a bit disappointing as according to the records there are some Bird family members buried in Wordwell, yet I've never been able to find a headstone for any of them. Either I'm not looking in the right place or we were to poor to afford a permanent memorial. Although not able to find any Bird headstones, we did find a fair few surnames that we recognised and catalogued a few incase there was a link not yet realised. Some of the surnames common to the area and linked into the tree are Craske, Arbon and Petch. Also noticed at West Stow were several stones bearing the name Hayhoe, which rang bells as an Ebenezeer Hayhoe was lodging with the Bird's in Culford at some point during the 1860's.

While in Wordwell we took an opportunity to visit John O' Groats Cottages which were the residence of the Bird family for a period of at least 60 years, between 1840 and 1900 and probably even longer. I still don't know an awful lot about the cottages history today and it's one area that I'm quite keen to look into. Nowadays the cottages show their age, though it is hard to imagine a more peacful and tranquil setting. It seems a beautiful place to live but I often wonder what it would have been like there 150 years ago, before electric and the amenities that we have today. It's also worthwhile remembering that although today it's likely that only a few people live in the cottages, back in 1891 there are 16 people listed as living there! It must have been a very different world.

John o'Groats - Kings Forest, Wordwell, Essex

  • #1 John O' Groats Cottages near Wordwell, a Bird family residence for at least 60 years.

  • #2 The front of John O' Groats Cottages.

  • #3 Another view of the front of John O' Groats Cottages.

  • #4 A side view of the cottages.

  • #5 From the back of the cottages.

  • #6 The 'West Stow water pit', next to the cottages.

John O' Groats cottages were a residence of the Bird family for at least 60 years. They are a set of small, isolated cottages in the middle of Kings Forest, Wordwell, just north of Bury St Edmunds. By a strange coincidence, in 1891 the cottages are shared by both the Arbon and Bird families, although no connection between them existed at the time. Later on, the two families link up within the tree, leading to an Arbon descendant being my great-grandmother.