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Henry Parker 1868 – 1900

John Stuart Mason was succeeded at The Vine as Steward by Henry Parker. Henry Parker was the father of Prebendary Thomas Parker and some interesting snippets of information about life at The Vine in the second half of the 19th century are contained in the “Notes”.

Henry Parker (see Plate 8) was apparently born on 1 January 1817 in Lincolnshire. He started as a farmer in Yorkshire but then moved into estate management for large landowners. From 1852 till 1867 he was the Agent for Sir Tatton Sykes Bt. On 1 January 1868, his 51st birthday, he started as Steward for Lady Emily Foley and moved with his family into The Vine. At that time the family was already fairly large, consisting of Henry’s wife Elizabeth, his daughters Elizabeth Annie (born in 1858), Mary Ellen (born 1860) and Alice (born 1864), and sons Thomas (the later Prebendary, born in 1862) and a new baby, Richard Ernest, born just the previous year. It seems likely that they also brought with them from Yorkshire the children’s Governess, Clara Marshall.

Henry Parker

Henry Parker

According to the “Notes”, the terms of Henry Parker’s employment were:-

“…a salary of £450 with the Vine at Tarrington, and its premises, orchards and meadow thrown in. He might have had the hopyard, along the station road as well, and the kilns with their swinging hoods were in his yard; but he knew nothing at first of hop growing, so he let that go to the Leys Farm. In his orchard were many varieties of apples and pears, and in his garden he found a pear tree bearing a large yellow pear, a brown russetty and a bergamot.”

In 1869 the family received the addition of a further son, Herbert John, who was baptized in Tarrington Church on 21 September of that year.

In 1871 we again have the great benefit of the Census returns. That for The Vine is as follows:-

Henry Parker                54        Head                Land Agent      Born Lincs. North Coates

Elizabeth Parker           41        Wife                                         Born Yorkshire ER Garton

Elizabeth A.                  13        Daughter          Scholar Born Yorkshire ER Stedmere

Mary Ellen                    11        Daughter          Ditto                 Ditto

Thomas H.                   9          Son                  Ditto                 Ditto

Alice                            7          Daughter          Ditto                 Ditto

Richard E                     4          Son                  Ditto                 Ditto

Herbert J                      1          Son                                          Born Hereford Tarrington

Clara Sophia

Marshall                       27                                Governess        Born Yorkshire ER Hull

Ann Smith                    22                                Cook               Born Hereford Yarkhill

Jane Davis                    18                                Housemaid       Ditto

Margaret Vaughn          13                                Nurse               Born Hereford Burghill

A few years after the 1871 Census, in 1874, a further daughter, Edith, was born to Henry and Elizabeth – bringing the family to the respectable total of four daughters and three sons.  As they grew up, The Vine must have seemed quite crowded at times – especially as the Governess, Nurse, Cook and Housemaid all presumably lived in also.

The “Notes” give us a little information on life at The Vine at this time:-

“Edward Fawke, known to us at the beginning as the young man from the Foley Arms, was gardener, groom, coachman and general factotum at the Vine from the 70s.  He married Jane, our housemaid, and they lived at first in a thatched cottage up Church back lane; and had some very nice children, and a bush of “old man” in the garden”.

“I can remember Mrs Hill from the Common coming to wash at The Vine in the old days, say in 1875.  A gaunt woman, rather like Mrs Squeers, and vigorous.  In her softer moods she was known to speak of her husband Thomas Hill, a painter, and mild.  “H” she said, “Thomas Hill has been a good man to me.  Never said a hard word scarcely, and never laid a hand on me.  My word” she added (or do I imagine it), “I’d have given him something if he had””.

In January 1881 Henry’s wife Elizabeth died, aged 50 – she was buried in Tarrington Churchyard on the 22nd of that month.  The Census for that year reflects quite a few other changes in the household:-

Henry Parker                Widower                      64        Land Agent and Farmer of 18 Acres

Elizabeth Anne              Daughter                       23

Mary Ellen                    Ditto                             21        Governess and Secretary

Herbert John                Son                              11        Scholar

Edith                            Daughter                        7        Scholar

Emily Jenkins                                                    23        Cook, Domestic

Sophia Brown                                                  18        Housemaid

The sons Thomas and Richard were presumably away at school by this time. Why the third daughter, Alice, does not appear in the return we do not know. If still living, she would have been 17 by this time – therefore perhaps married (if so, doubtless to the envy of her elder unmarried sisters!). It is interesting that the second daughter Mary Ellen is acting as Governess and “Secretary” (this latter a very modern term for the times) – presumably in the household. It is interesting also that the land attached to The Vine had shrunk to only 18 acres, compared with the fairly extensive lands so attached at the time of the 1838 Tithe Apportionment. One must assume that land had been re-allocated to Lays Farm, where the 1881 Census shows Samuel Cot [sic – in the 1891 Census the name is given as “Cox”] in occupation as “Farm Bailiff of 415 acres”.

An 1885 map of the village (Map 4) shows the disposition of buildings round The Vine exactly as they presently are – including the present Vine Cottage and Heritage Cottage, which were then the Estate Office and Accounts.

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Tarrington in 1885

By the time of the 1891 Census, the household had contracted further. Only 5 persons are recorded living in the house – as against 12 in the 1871 Census. They are:-

Henry Parker                71        Widower          Agent

Mary E Parker             31                   

Herbert J Parker           21                                Assistants’ Agent [sic]

Edith [or Ethel]

Harford                        24                                Servant Born Ashpurton

Fanny Mason               24                                Servant Born Clifton on Teme

We know that the eldest daughter, Elizabeth Annie, had died in 1888 (at only 30). Poor Mary Ellen now looks as though she has been assigned the role of spinster housekeeper to her widower father. Young Herbert is perhaps preparing for the possibility that, as with the Edwards and Mason families before him, he may succeed to the Foley Agency after his father’s death. If so, it was not to be. Richard is presumably already in Queensland, Australia, where we know that he too died young, in 1893 aged just 26.

Meanwhile, back to Thomas, Prebentary, Parker. We know that, presumably some time in the early 70s, he went to the Cathedral School in Hereford and was ordained in 1885. His childhood at The Vine, among the apple orchards and lush meadows of the Frome valley, clearly left him with a love of horticulture that lasted all his long life. After curacies and incumbencies outside the County, he came to Breinton as vicar in 1932 and remained there till his retirement in 1938 when he went to live at Vineyard Croft in Hereford. There he grew apples, of which he was apparently a connoisseur. He died in 1965 – at the age of 103 – at which time he was the oldest clergyman in Britain!

Preb. Parker had married Caroline Masefield in 1929, the poet John Masefield’s sister. She herself was a noteworthy personality, having received violin lessons from Edward Elgar, when she lived in Tupsley and before Elgar’s rise to fame, and also having played in the orchestra whose performances of his own music were broadcast to the great man on his death bed.

Henry Parker’s life was not quite as long as his eldest son’s, but of quite impressive duration nonetheless. He died at The Vine on 25 September 1900, aged 83. There is a tombstone for Henry, his wife, Elizabeth Annie and Richard Ernest in Tarrington Church graveyard.

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