Month: July 2018

Guided hike to celebrate Emily Bronte’s association with Halifax

As I was setting  out for Hebden Bridge railway station there was an almighty clap of thunder, the heavens opened and I found myself in a major thunder storm. The heat wave had broken violently. A quick change of plan had me travel to Halifax on the bus instead because it stops right outside my place. By the time I reached Halifax half an hour later the sun was shining and I had to make a quick dash into Poundland (horror of horrors!) to purchase some sunglasses.

We met our guides outside the Old Cock Inn, which traditionally was one of Branwell’s drinking haunts.



I thought the we’d be walking around the streets but we soon  found ourselves on a cobbled path that led up Beacon hill. It became a track, quite slippery in places with the recent downpour. This was originally a drovers’ road to Wakefield. From the top I could see Queensbury Mill where we’d seen a Black Dyke Mills concert, Stoodley Pike, and High Sunderland, the old hall which now is thought to be the building that emily Bronte had in mind when she describes Wuthering Heights. The old hall was demolished in 1952 and our guides showed us a drawing of the original hall, while reading Emily’s description from her book. We were close to Southowram where she was governess for 6 months at Law Hill School, and had visited the vicarage where Father Guy had invited Rachel and I to see the parlour where Emily had visited the then vicar’s daughter.



Great view of the Piece hall and Square Chapel beneath a menacing sky.



The guides – Craig Bradley (poet) and Nicky Harlow (novelist and creative writer) currently working on a work about Emily Bronte in Halifax. 



Down into the Shibden Valley to Shibden Hall. I was last here a year ago when I gated crashed (accidentally) the filming of a Bollywood movie. It’s currently closed for filming a new movie by Sally Wainwright about Anne Lister whose home this was. 



Making friends with the Shibden lion.

After lunch at Shibden Hall we walked back into Halifax where a few minutes later, as I headed for the station another roar of thunder heralded the next thunder storm. How fortunate we had been – dry weather for our walk (71/2 miles), but rich black clouds for photos.












12 hours in the Yorkshire Dales – and 12 miles hiked


The route


My type-written journal of the family’s 1992 trip to England, with mentions of both Ribblehead and Dentdale  –  and Rachel’s famous fall into the river Ribble. It’s a pity the accompanying photos are still in the U.S


But the cloud cover dissipated and we got some wonderful skies throughout the rest of the day


Lunch was at the remains of the only building we came across on the trail



Dentdale opened up before us . . .


. . . and we headed down into the valley, me sliding down the hillsides on my bottom where it became too steep for walking!


Crazily angled stile


Pink hillside – a mixture of rosebay willow herb and early heather



Once down the really steep section and into the tiny hamlet of Cowgill we had to climbed back up out of the valley to Dent station where we boarded the train home.

New genealogy research – mostly about music!

Newspaper articles mentioning Samuel, (my gt gt grandfather 1863-1921)) John, his brother (my gt gt uncle,1848-1925) and brother Daniel Frederick Denton, (my gt gt uncle, 1846-1912) and their father Daniel Denton (my gt gt gt grandfather, 1804-1869).


Stroud Journal – Saturday 25 April 1868

CHALFORD INSTITUTE. The course of lectures and entertainments arranged by the committee of this Institute was terminated on Thursday evening. It is not long since that we recorded the opening of the society under very favourable auspices, and the success that has attended it until the present time has exceeded in every respect the sanguine expectations of its warmest friends and supporters. Previous to its formation Chalford lacked the means of affording useful information and rational recreation to its inhabitants generally, and it is encouraging to find that the efforts made to supply this want have been largely appreciated and are still highly-valued. The arrangements for the winter season were entered into with much spirit and discretion, and carried into effect in a manner that has elicited entire satisfaction. The committee have evidently taken ” Excelsior” as their motto, and determined that every bill of fare should be superior to the one that preceded it. With commendable wisdom they reserved the best evening’s entertainment yet given, with which to close the programme of the season. It was a decided success; everybody seemed to enjoy it most heartily, and if the enthusiastic applause that greeted the execution of each selection is to be taken as a criterion the audience were never happier or better satisfied in their lives. The mom in which these gatherings are usually held being too small to accommodate the large number that on almost every occasion seek admission, it was deemed desirable to overcome this difficulty by securing the spacious schoolroom belonging to and adjoining France Chapel, Chalfont Kill, which was kindly placed at the service of the committee. Although this building is some considerable distance from the centre of the village, and has to be reached by walking up a steep hill, that reminds the pedestrian of climbing to the summit of a mountain, it was well-filled some time before the hour for commencement. Mr. W. Dangerfield, the respected President of the society,—and whose deep interest in its welfare remains unabated—in stepping forward to address a few words was received by the audience in the warmest possible manner. He said they were met to enjoy the last entertainment of the season, and the great success which had attended the formation of the Institute was encouraging to the offers and committee, and afforded them much satisfaction. It was a proof that their labours had not been in vain, and he hoped that in the future the society would increase in numbers and usefulness. Not to be behind other societies in the neighbourhood they contemplated holding an open air fete in the course of the summer, publicity of which would be given in due course. He trusted that the library belonging to the Institute was properly valued, and if at any time any member should have a complaint to make, or a suggestion to offer for its improvement, and would convey it to the right quarter, it would immediately receive at the hands of the committee the attention which it deserved. The reading-room would remain open during the summer season the same hours as it had through the winter months. He wished, before sitting down, to congratulate them on the accession to their numbers of several lady members, and he trusted that the fair sex would continue to support the society, and manifest constant interest in its progress. (Loud cheers.) The musical entertainment then commenced, and was under the efficient direction of Mr. Samuel Denton of the Thrupp,

Samuel and Joanna Denton younger

Samuel and Joanna Denton about 1863

to whose skill and labours the committee and the audience were indebted for the excellent treat provided. The four glees “Hark the lark.” ” I love my love,” ” May day,” and ” From Oberon” went off smoothly and well, the second being loudly encored. The trio “Winds gently whisper” by Mr. D. Denton and his sons was nicely sung and well received. Mr. G. Warner sang with much feeling “My own, my guiding star” for which he was rewarded with warm acclamations. The duet “Tell me where is beauty found” was sung by Mrs. and Miss Morse. These ladies are well known to Stroud audiences, and they had not done with the execution of their task at Chalfont before the company became delighted with their performance. On each appearance, whether together or alone, they were warmly encored. Mr. J. Denton’s cornet solo, “Le Carnival de Venice,” was highly-appreciated for the skilful manner in which it was executed. This was followed by a duct given by Messrs. S. and D. Denton ” I know a bank.” The appearance of Mr. Charles Gardner in ” The Bay of Biscay” brought down the house. He sang in his own hearty style ; and being repeatedly redemanded, gave ” Kit the Cobbler,” which seemed immensely to amuse the audience. In the second part of the programme, Mr. Gardner was equally well received, and sang even more effectively than before. His song was “The Mermaid,” the chorus being taken up by the audience with great gusto. Again he was encored, and gave that sensible song Do as you would be done by,” resuming his seat amidst the plaudits of an appreciative assembly. Miss Morse was redemanded in her effective rendering of ” The bailiff’s daughter.” The singing of the duet “The Gipsy Countess”—Mrs. Morse and Mr. Denton—was a most pleasing part of the entertainment. The nice style in which it was done enamoured the audience, and they demanded its repetition. Mr. D. Denton was encored in his singing of “The death of Nelson.” The programme was exhausted by ” The tickling trio,” the parts being taken by Messrs. Teakle, Warner, and Govier. The audience caught the contagion, and roars of laughter at times drowned the voices of the singers. If the audience desired to show their appreciation of a selection of good music, by repeated encores, they did it with a vengeance, for out of a programme of fourteen pieces there were no less than eleven redemanded, in each case the request being complied with. Mr. T. Law’s moved a vote of thanks to Mr. Denton and his friends, for their excellent entertainment, kindly given at the cost of much time and labour. Mr. Drew, Jun., seconded it, Mr. W. Dangerfield supporting, and putting it to the meeting. It is needless to say that it was carried with the utmost enthusiasm. Other votes of thanks were also carried, including, amongst the number, one to Mr. Dangerfield for the valuable help he had rendered in promoting in every way the prosperity of the society. The recipients having suitably acknowledged the .votes, the entertainment was concluded, by the company singing ” God save the Queen.”

Samuel and Joanna Denton older

Samuel and Joanna in later life – and their dog!

Samuel and Joanna in later life – now living in Ardwick, Manchester

Stroud Journal – Saturday 07 August 1869

Mr. Daniel Denton, of the Thrupp, died yesterday (Friday) morning from the result of a singular accident. He ran a tenter hook into his thumb a fortnight ago, and slight though the accident wax it led to mortification, and then death. Mr. Ball held a formal inquest at the Fountain inn, the Thrupp, last evening.

(My gt gt gt grandfather)

Elizabeth denton, Daniel's wife born 1806

Daniel’s wife, Elizabeth, born in 1806.


Stroud News and Gloucestershire Advertiser – Friday 24 May 1872

STROUDEND CHURCH AND SCHOOL. In noticing the Whitsuntide festivities which took place in connection with the Stroudend National School, we cannot allow this opportunity to pass without taking a somewhat retrospective glance at the spiritual and educational condition and requirements of this portion of the borough of Stroud. As our readers are aware, the spiritual wants of the inhabitants have been in a great immure provided for, by the erection some few years ago of the Iron Room which was designed in the first place by the Rev. T. D. Wintle as an orphanage, but on the re-building the Stroud Parish Church, it was kindly placed by him at the disposal of the inhabitants of the district, and he generously gave his services gratuitously. On his retirement Mr Croome purchased the building, and it has been continued by him ever since as a kind of Chapel of Ease to the Church at the Shad. Of late years, however, owing chiefly to the rapid springing into existence of the Uplands, and the consequent increase in the population of this suburb, the general school accommodation of the town was found to be both inconvenient and inadequate, and on this account, and doubtless stimulated by the late Education Act, some of the leading gentry of the neighbourhood, principal amongst whom were Mr. T. M Croome, the respected minister of the Iron Room ; the Rev. R. D. Mono , vicar of the Sled ; and Mr. William Capel, of the Grove, acted as a committee for erecting a suitable school, the first-named gentleman generously giving the land ; and after certain negotiations Mr. John Berryman was ultimately accepted both as architect and builder. The work was at once proceeded with, and on the 22nd of December last the opening of the present Stroudend National School was inaugurated. The school is a stone building, in a very plain ordinary Elizabethan style, with an open span roof, boarded and varnished, the whole of which is wrought. It is 45 feet long, by 25 feet wide in the clear, and 12 feet high in the side walk The cost of the building including the land and everything, we understand was about £400. Soon after the school had been erected, it was thought clearable to desirable to remove the Iron Room from its somewhat isolated position in the Slad Road to where it would be in closer proximity to the school, and this was accordingly effected a month or two after the opening of the latter, and now both stand contiguous to each other, at the Uplands. The church—or rather the Iron Room, by which it is better known—is now well filled at every service, many worshippers from the more central parts of the town flocking together to hear the outpourings of a generous and truly Christian heart, for none can deny that the beloved minister, Mr. Croome, is imbued with those virtues, seeing that he not only devotes his whole heart and soul to the spread of God’s Word, for no stipend whatever, but visits the parishioners, and in fact perform the general work of a clergyman ; while in a great measure he pays the necessary expenses of the building in which he so faithfully, so zealously, and so successfully, carries on his ministry. In connection with this place of worship, a choir is formed, and hitherto has been under the gratuitous tuition of Miss Davies, whose untiring energy in the cause of both the church and school has been equalled only by that of the worthy minister himself. She has, indeed, brought out the members of the choir to a state of efficiency alike creditable to her own exertions as to themselves, and though we cannot but regret that she has relinquished her onerous post, yet at the same time we cannot but feel satisfied that the arduous duties of each an office has been taken out of her hands. We indeed, trust that her self-denying efforts may be directed in an equal degree, in some other channel perhaps more congenial to her taste and feelings, to the furtherance of God’s work. Mr. Samuel Denton has been appointed choir master, to succeed Miss Davies, and if he devotee the same painstaking energy to the choristers which his predecessor has done, success will undoubtedly crown his efforts. The services at the Iron Room are of a most hearty character, and are conducted on Church of England principles, but as the Minister has not taken up all the Church degrees, he is prohibited from reading some portions of the Prayer Book services, and they are necessarily omitted. A fine-toned harmonium accompanies the choir, which is alternately presided at by Miss Card and Mr. George Holloway, jun. The hymnal in use is ” Hymns of Grace and Glory,” which was compiled by the Rev. Graves Walker, the newly-appointed pastor of Trinity Church. As to the school, we have already stated that it was opened some four or five months ago, and we can truly say that even in this short period, it as already proved its necessity. Though no old school previously existed, there is now something like a hundred scholars. Mr.

Herbert Vernon and ?

Louis Denton and sister Kathleen on the bench dedicated to Samuel Denton and his son Herbert Vernon at Holy Trinity Church, Stroud. The bench is no longer there. Photo by Bernard Denton, Louis’s son, taken October 1989

and Miss May are the respective master and mistress, and under their supervision the school appears to be kept in good order, and the children soundly and intelligently taught. A Sunday School is held in the same building on that day, which is well attended both by the day scholars and others. In both the Church and School an able auxiliary has been found in Mr. C. Card, who devotes a great deal of attention to their welfare. A drum and fife band has also been formed out of the scholars, under the bandmastership of Mr. Govier, and considering that the performers are all young lads, and that they have been under training only a few months, we must congratulate, both master and boys on the high pitch to which they have attained. But to our theme. The children both of the Day and Sunday Schools assembled at the school-room on Whit Monday afternoon, to the number of about 150. A number of prizes were presented to them by the Rev. R. D. Monro, and some brief addresses were made by that gentleman and Mr. Croome. This being over, they arranged themselves in processional order, and headed by their respected minister, marshalled by the several teachers, and accompanied by their drum and fife band, marched round the Uplands and the neighbourhood, the band playing some very lively tunes in first-rate style. The procession was relieved at intervals with flags and bannerettes, bearing suitable mottoes and texts, in varied colours, amongst which we noticed, “By love serve one another.” ” Righteousness exhalteth a nation,” ” Let brotherly love continue,” and “Hitherto the Lord hath helped us,” whilst one neat design bore the words, “Stroundend Sunday School.” When this marching along was concluded, all adjourned to the schoolroom to partake of a bountiful supply of cake and tea., and which had been in the meantime provided under the superintendence of Mrs. Croome, Mrs Lindsey Winterbotham, and Miss Davies. The little ones, of course, enjoyed this part of the proceedings immensely, their pleasure being undoubtedly enhanced by the many kind words a which ever and anon fell from the lips of their generous benefactors, who, as well as the teachers, were most assiduous in caring for the wants of the children. After tea they proceeded to a field near Mr. Haycroft’s house, but there came such a downpour of rain which compelled then, to return to their school The band, however, and some of the children marched to the Sled, and, on returning, were reinforced by the drum and fife band connected with the village. In this amalgamated form they again discoursed sweet music in and about the Uplands, bringing their performance to a close near the school about nine o’clock, and from whence the Sled band went home. A further supply of refreshments had been provided in the school, and the children were entertained a second time. A few remarks were then made by Mr. Croome, and the children having sang the National Anthem and given hearty cheers for their benefactors, this happy juvenile gathering dispersed, evidently delighted at the day’s proceeding, even though somewhat “dampened” by the occasional showers which visited us. On Whit Tuesday, a musical entertainment was given at the Stroudend School, by the members of the choir and some friends. The room was filled with a highly appreciative audience, and the following was the programme :

Selection: Darling Nellie Gray

Glee: Men of Harlech – The Choir.

Song: Excelsior – Mr. S. Denton.

Pianoforte Duet -Overture from “Il Tancredi.” Miss F. Davies and Miss C. Handley. Song: Angels ever bright and fair.” Mrs. Croome.

Vocal Duet: Music and her Sister Song. – Miss Davies and Mr. S. Denton.

Song: The Pilot.” – Mr. Govier

Vocal Duet-” The Swallow’s Flight.” – Mrs and Miss F. Croome.

Part song: God bless the Prince of Wales – The Choir.

Selection-” The Warrior’s Joy.” – The Band.

Song- “The Dream.” Mrs Croome

Glee: “See our oars with feathered spray” – The Choir.

Pianoforte Duet: Miss C. Handley and Miss Davies.

Song: “The Blacksmith’s Son” – Mr. Govier.

Duet: “What are the wild waves saying?” Miss Davies and Mr S. Denton.

Chorale: “Slow In the Eastern Sky,” The Choir.

Vocal Duet: “The Elfin Echo” Mrs. and Miss F. Croome.

Song: “An Englishman am I” – Mr. S. Denton.

The National Anthem.


The various pieces were capitally performed throughout, especially taking into consideration that several of the artists made their debut in public on this occasion. In the fine song of the ” Pilot ” Mr. Govier’s vocal powers were heard to great advantage, and evoked a hearty encore. Mrs. Croome received a like compliment in her song of ” The Dream,” which was very nicely rendered, and in response sang “The Danube River” with charming effect . In the glee ” See our oars,” the choir were re-demanded and Mr. Govier shared his former fate in singing ” The Blacksmith’s Son “—he was loudly encored. Mr. Denton, too, met with quite an ovation after his second song, and replying he gave his old favourite, “The Village Blacksmith” with great spirit and vigour. Miss Davies sad the other performers were more or less cordially welcomed, and without exception the entertainment passed off admirably and gave general satisfaction. After the entertainment, the singers were invited by Mr. Croome to supper, where they were treated in the most liberal manner, the choicest of viands being placed at their service. A pleasing feature in the evening’s entertainment was the presentation to the pastor of a handsome Bible and Prayer Book, by the teachers of the Sunday School. Mr Croome, who was evidently taken by surprise and labored under considerable emotion expressed his heartfelt thanks to the teachers for their valuable present and spoke of the high esteem in which hw should ever regard the books though he felt that he was hardly deserving of such a gift. He also spoke at some length on the great assistance he had received from miss Davies, paid a well deserved complement to her for her zeal and Christian piety and returned her his most heartfelt thanks. In the course of the proceedings votes of thanks were accorded to Miss Card and Mr George Holloway, jun., for their kind assistance in presiding at the harmonium; also to Mr Govier for his perseverance with the band; and suitable presents were also given to the five most regular attendants at choir meetings. Benjamin Evans, Andrew Price and Alfred and Maury Bemis. Altogether the Whitsuntide festivities of 1872 will long be remembered in connection with the Stroudend church and school and we hope it will be but the inauguration of many more equally bright and happy Whitsuntides in the future.

Stroud News and Gloucestershire Advertiser – Friday 15 June 1877

THE WHITEHALL CONCERT. —The boys of the Whitehall school broke up on Wednesday for their few weeks of midsummer holiday, and yesterday there were shown in the room the pencil and crayon drawings which they have executed during the half-year under Mrs. Chapman’s supervision. The collection was numerous, and suggested care and industry and intuitive power on the part alike of the teacher and the pupils. A ” Diana Vernon,” by Mabbett, was shown by Mr. Norton in George-street. We may mention also a couple of dogs after Landseer, a French hound, and an “Ecce Homo” that were very beautiful ; the landscapes , too were neat; and some copies of “Our Jack” and a winter scene from music sheets were creditable, as were likewise two copies of a sick terrier and rats. Last evening, at seven o’clock, the boys and their parents and sisters and friend, crowded into the Bedford-street chapel schoolroom, lent for the purpose, and formed for two hours a thoroughly interested set of listeners to the items of a long programme offered to them by a numerous glee party made up of the pupils and helpers, old and young, girls and men and women. The scene was merry, for the boys had come to listen and laugh and clap, and they carried out their purpose to the full. The Rev. J. Park took the chair, and the conductor and accompanyist was Mr. Samuel Denton.

The programme ran thus:

duet pianoforte. Miss Holmes and Mr. Denton ;

part song, “The village choristers,”

glee, “May Day;”

duet, “Come o’er the moonlit sea,” Miss Burrell and Master Smart ;

song, “Oh ! charming May,” Miss Bessie Chaman

quartet, “Come where the cowslip bloweth,” Miss Burrell, Master Smart, and Messrs. Denton and Nash ; Samuel’s wife’s maiden name was Nash and she had 14 siblings!

part song, ” Let the hills resound,” song,

“Oh, how delightful,” Mrs. Powell;

duet, “I know a bank,” Misses Chapman and Burrell ;

glee, ” The chough and crow” ;

song, ” The mail of Arcadie,” Miss Kate Marmont ;

song, ” Love’s request,” Mr. Denton;

trio, “Winds, gently whisper,” Miss Beane Chapman, Master Smart, and Mr. Gooier ; song, ” Hark the evening belle,” Miss Burrell ;

part song, “I love my love.”


Then Mr. Philip Powell stepped from a side room, and his pleasant face was the occasion for a general clap, and everybody laughed as he sang ” I’d like to be a little boy again,” accompanied by his wife, and he had to go back again and give the comic song, ” They all have a mate but me;” and, after the glee ” From Oberon in fairy-land,” he and she repeated the effect by the duet, ” Love and pride,” and were called for again, but had to excuse themselves. Then the national anthem was sung, and the concert was over about nine o’clock. There had been some speaking during the evening. The chairman had said a few words, and Mr. Thompson had offered thanks to him and to the chapel trustees and to those who helped in the singing. The master of the Whitehall school likewise, the Rev. W. Chapman, had spoken thus as to his work and his pupils—”The school that I have for some years conducted is this town testifies to its practical usefulness. With honest pride, I can point to many young men educated at Whitehall who are honourably making way in the various spheres they occupy. It is a source of real pleasure to myself to know that their scholastic career is a pleasant memory. Many are the seductions that parity young persons into wrong courses; but I do not know a boy at present under my care whose future is not hopeful– and this is much to say. I regret that classics are at a discount in Stroud, and that boys do not remain a longer period at school before they fluidly leave their studies. Stroud manufacturers make goods that will sell—little now of the old broadcloth once so famed. So teachers are compelled to educate their pupils for immediate utility in the counting house and other commercial spheres. Yet their refined tastes, accurate knowledge, and true perseverance find an ample remuneration—perhaps more ample than is the eve in professional life. Hereafter, none but boys who will endeavour to learn and work and who can appreciate what I can teach them shall remain in my school. My reason for this determination is that I wish to be more deeply graven still on the hearts of those who during the remainder of my career shall be my scholars. I can bide my time for select pupils, and, if my health holds good, I will.” A charge was made for the tickets in order that the profits might be given to the Stroud Hospital.

Samuel denton's business card



















An action -packed three day weekend

Saturday morning was spent at the Mytholmroyd Gala. I’ve been involved in a research project, funded by Manchester University, to find out if the rural areas of Calderdale are age friendly. Part of the project was to take photos depicting snippets of life in  this area that involve people over the age of 60. 4 of my photographs were selected for the exhibition which will now go on tour of the area.  The results of the research were presented at the International Festival of Public Health.


Photos on display


The mayoress’s entourage!

In the evening my song Lily Hall was given its first performance by a local choir which I accompany.IMG_6825


Singing choral evensong in Halifax Minster

On Sunday as part of Halifax Minster’s Summer Festival people were invited to join the choristers and participate in the singing of choral evensong. I’d gone to this event last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an amazing experience to sit in the choir stalls and sing in this lovely building where so many of my ancestors were baptised and married. Our rehearsal was followed by tea and cake, before the actual service. These children are  choristers with amazing soprano voices. Top G? No problem! Singers of all ages gathered for tea. Unfortunately during the rehearsal the organ develped some technical problems because of the heat of the afternoon, but they were able to fix it before the service. After the service I thought I’d get a drink in the Piece hall before catching the train home, and i stumbled upon a TV recording session of The Antiques Roadshow. people had been queuing for several hours in the heat of the afternoon sun to have their precious possessions assessed by experts. of course, Fiona Bruce was on hand to meet and greet.


Fiona Bruce snacking!

Monday was a trip to Manchester with 5 other ladies. First of all, just on the spur of the moment I directed them to Manchester cathedral. Before my daughters had come to visit me in May I’d requested that 2 of the marriage registers showing the marriage of my ancestors  there in the 1820’s be put on display. However, we never got to go to see them.

So today I popped in, by chance found the chief archivist, who, within 10 minutes had


Marriage of my great great great grandparents, 1821


Marriage of my great great great great uncle and aunt, 1818

located the marriage registers and put them on display in the Cathedral’s museum, wow!  Then,  breakfast at Harvey Nichols, a trip around Manchester Central Library and  the


In the Portico Library – founded in 1806.

Portico Library and finally  an elegant afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel – where Rolls met Royce, no less!

Of course, a little window shopping was involved too! Lovely day out.


Harvey Nichols

Meeting ‘new’ relatives

For all the problems, issues of privacy associated with the World Wide Web and Social Media, good things can happen. For the past 8 years I’ve been tracing my ancestry. There were always family stories about the Denton family being ‘musical’ as it was so nicely termed but neither my dad or his dad played an instrument, though there was an ancient piano in my grandma Denton’s parlour. Unfortunately no photos of this ancient instrument with its yellowing ivory keys and brass candlesticks survive. I knew that my great grandad had been organist and choirmaster at St Paul’s Astley Bridge but it wasn’t until I went there with Rachel in 2010 that I got to play that organ, saw his books in the organ bench, saw the stained glass window dedicated to him and . .  .discovered a framed headshot of the man himself just lying there in a tattered box on top of a cupboard in the vestry. He looked so much like his grandson – my dad.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago when I received a message from a Denton on from someone whose granddad was the organist’s brother! Last Sunday I spent a wonderful day with him and his wife delving into our family’s history. They came bearing lots of photos and handwritten documents which, of course, has recharged my interest in this side of my family tree. elizabeth-denton-daniels-wife-born-1806.jpegThis is Elizabeth Denton, the organist’s grandmother. She was born in the Cotswolds in 1806!

Samuel and Joanna Denton youngerHer son, Samuel and his wife Joanna. – perhaps newly weds. If so, the date is 1863. They began life in Stroud, Gloucestershire but between 1877 and 1880 they moved to Lancashire, to the Manchester area. This was during the height of the industrial revolution in Manchester. Perhaps he thought there’d be more work for him up North.

Samuel denton's business card

Here’s his business card. That’s his home address.

Samuel and Joanna had 12 children. That cannot have been easy on an organ tuner’s income, though he designates himself as a ‘professor of piano’ on Census returns so presumably he taught piano too.

list of organs Samuel tuned

Before he moved up North he had made a list of all the organs he tuned in 1877. Rachel and I visited the one in Rodborough in 2011, and took a photo of the organ, little knowing that Samuel had worked on it.

Orgaan at Rodborough

Organ at Rodborough – taken in 2011

Herbert Vernon and ?This photo, taken in 1989, shows Samuel’s grandson on a bench at Holy Trinity Church in Stroud. The dedication on the bench reads ‘In memory of Samuel Denton, 1843-1921, and his son, Herbert Vernon, 1873-1961.’ Unfortunately the bench is no longer there.


I wrote a work for concert band about my family ‘Memoirs.’

2 gentle walks

Walking back from Todmorden:IMG_6699IMG_6704IMG_6707IMG_6711


World Cup flags in a canal-side garden


Walk #2 Hebden Bridge through Hollins on some trails new to me.



Early harvest


Imagine walking up and down these steep cobbled paths in your clogs, on pitch dark nights and mornings, from your home on t’tops to the mill i’t’ bottoms


A new perspective of Hebden Bridge 


Three days in the recording studio

Halifax Concert Band had been going to record a CD during the winter but that weekend all the roads over the Pennines were closed due to snow, so our recording weekend had to be postponed. Now it was upon us: Thursday and Friday evening, and all day Saturday. Our ‘studio’ was St Mark’s church in Siddal, just out of the centre of Halifax. Our sound technician was fantastic, achieving just the right balance between serious work and frivolity. The weather was again very hot. I even bought a little hand held fan to cool me down! Sitting on the pews in a church for 8 hours wasn’t the most comfortable, but I really enjoyed myself. Having a picnic lunch outside was a situation that doesn’t happen often in Northern England. Of course, the heat has meant moor fires, and two massive fires have broken out in Saddleworth and Belmont. The army is helping to fight them.


6 mile hike through Haworth and Stanbury

IMG_6610On a day when the temperature in Hebden Bridge was going to soar into the 80’s I decided to go for a hike. I took the bus up across the moors to Haworth and had planned on having a light lunch in my favourite tea shop, but there was absolutely no shade in Haworth’s main street so I had a glass of lemonade, picked up a pastie from the vegan pastie shop and headed out towards Stanbury, thus avoiding all the tourists in the centre of town, close to the parsonage. I met a few other idiots like myself hiking along the footpaths out towards the dam and the Friendly pub where I’d celebrated my birthday.

I ended up doing a shorter walk than I’d planned, and I was grateful for an icecream once I’d got back into Haworth. I sat in the graveyard and enjoyed the peace and quiet before returning back to Hebden on the bus.

Too hot for this little kitty in Haworth.