Ernest was the third of Jesse and Annie’s children to be born at Northam Farm in 1893.
He attended the Burnham National School, and maybe a time at Uphill School (travelling across the ferry to get to school from Brean Down after the family moved from Northam in 1906).
He made a recording for the National Trust in 1978 about Brean Down, including his memory of the accident at the fort in 1900 including
“l was seven years old when it blew up but I lived in the village. I went to the village school and all that sort of thing, but people in Brean did not know anything about the fort – they were not interested …… we used to hear trivial bits about the men out there and that they were very lonely and that a boat had been seen coming in there but very few people at this time, which was before the time of the visitors, just did not take any interest in the Down until after we went there.”
When he left school he became the shepherd at Brean Down and kept sheep on the Down. The Down was also a source of bracken which was cut for bedding. He and his brothers also went rabbiting and a letter from Jesse to Ferrand in 1914 said that the boys had killed 1500 rabbits in that season. In this letter Jesse describes how Ernest played the piano in the evenings and wrote comic songs and he is much in demand for parties.
In the first World War he was a sergeant in the West Somerset Yeomanry, and later the Machine Gun Corps. He organised the family photo taken in front of the farm. A few weeks after his father’s death the regiment were sent to Egypt. They went via France and the Mediterranean to Alexandria for a few weeks of exercises before going to the relief of the Holy Land from the Turks where he was wounded. He was awarded the military medal for the fight of November 28th. In hospital he contracted diphtheria.
While still in the army he married Lily Wooltorton who was working as a telegraphist on the railway. Her family were from Norfolk.
Ernest arrived back in England on Sept 4th and was sent to hospital in Nottingham and then transferred to the Red cross Hospital at Norwich. Lily was living with her parents in Norfolk.
In 1919 Ernest and Lily were living at Crockford, Waltham St Lawrence near Maidenhead and Ernest was doing farming contract work.
They then lived at Paradise Farm and had a milk round in Burnham and ran Paradise Stores until they retired.
The family were involved in the theatre at Burnham. Ernest was fond of Gilbert and Sullivan and was a performer.
They had seven children:
- Annie Elizabeth (Betty) 1918, married George Brooks in 1939
- Margaret Lilian 1920-1978, married Fred Lawrence in 1941
- Ivor Ernest 1922-1971
- Brian William b1924
- Esther Grace 1927-1991, m Victor Ruskin 1948
- Mary Valerie .1934, m Alan Fox
- Marion Jessie, b1938, m Kenneth Pittey in 1961.
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