Thanks once again to the lovely Chris Rogers, and Hothfield Memories, and in this particular case “The Hothfield News Vol 2, No. 16 – October 2011 – The Monthly Newsletter for the Community, by the Community”. An article appeared about a gentleman named Jamie Willis, who had sadly passed away. He was an active member in Hothfield, played footy, and helped to organise their flower shows and other carnivals.
The article goes on to talk about how “early generations of the Willis family built the terrace houses on the South side of West Street (nick-named “Willis Row”) and which still stands as a lasting memorial to their impact on the village.”
I don’t presume to think that these are the terrace of houses built by the Willis Family, however on searching google.com and checking for West Street Hothfield, a number of properties which were for sale were shown, and this photograph was at 8 West Street, so I couldn’t help but add it as a bit of a mystery picture. Who knows?
There was also this wonderful picture titled – Entering Hothfield on West Street. Copyright Nick Smith. I loved this picture for the typical English lane /road I expect to see after watching too much English TV. When in Kent I did get to drive down some of these lovely little roads. So pretty.
Thanks to Nick Smith copyright as follows: (<div xmlns:cc=”http://creativecommons.org/ns#” xmlns:dct=”http://purl.org/dc/terms/” about=”http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/28/26/1282692_a205da5b.jpg”><span property=”dct:title”>Entering Hothfield on West Street</span> (<a rel=”cc:attributionURL” property=”cc:attributionName” href=”http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/4474″>Nick Smith</a>) / <a rel=”license” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA 2.0</a></div>)
“Early records also show that the Parish Council helped to pay for some of the Willis family to leave for Australia in 1838, and one of their descen-dants in Australia has contacted the History Society after tracing her roots back to Hothfield”.
I believe this last paragraph is about myself, as I have previously mentioned in an earlier post about the kindness of the Hothfield Memories members and Chris Rogers in particular in getting me so involved in Hothfield, having previously no knowledge of the family connection, only ever being told about Westwell, Kent which is about 5 km away, I believe. And to think I missed seeing this town on my trip to the UK in 2008 and yet so close when visiting Westwell.
It is so exciting to see this sort of information written up, and to realise that your family members had so much contribution to their town. It also helps me understand how both Thomas Henniker and his wife Jemima (Willis) had the courage to leave their families to emigrate to a very new country. Especially in regard to South Australia, as they emigrated only 3 years after the colony was proclaimed in 1836! They emigrated in 1839, and reading records and direct accounts, the town of Adelaide was still only a few wattle and daub and timber homes, and the early immigrants, including Thomas and Jemima and their young children (more of whom were born in South Australia) had to camp at a place called Emigration Square (see my earlier post on this). Quite a few reports were written about this settlement, and it was a tough difficult way to live after nearly 6 months on the ship. I often wonder how they coped, coming from a lush green England to a dry, barren place, where venomous snakes still abound, at the time hostile Aboriginals (scared no doubt and unsure of who these strange looking people were), many diseases, not enough food or water, and no proper accommodation. Certainly no hospitals, and children were born on the banks of rivers. In fact one of Thomas and Jemima’s children was born on a river bank, as described in the BDM of the time, when asked: Place of birth..the information given is: riverbank. Bushfires were and still are a fact of life in summer. Blistering heat. Adelaide lies on a plain, between the sea and low hills. Near the sea there are lovely sea breezes, and at night in summer we can get “gully winds” from the hills. However, and even as I write this post, we are in February experiencing 36 deg C., and at 9.30 pm it is still 30 deg C. Arriving as they did in June, it was winter, which hopefully was kinder. Although they would have found very cold nights at times, frosts and mists. Often though winter can be very dry, therefore rivers are not necessarily full of water. But once again, being on a plain, Adelaide can experience very cold weather, although probably nothing they had not experienced at home in Kent, and certainly, unless living right at the top of the largest peak, Mount Lofty, no snow. Occasionally the news will report snow falling on Mount Lofty, but by the time people have driven up to see it, it has usually started to melt once the sun comes up. There is so much influence in many of the older cottages and homes, and certainly many people here love their mixture of native plants and English cottage gardens. The Heneker family moved around quite a bit, and would have experienced many different parts of the state, however most of it would have been bush, (overgrown native trees and low growing bushes), many ants, flies, snakes, mosquitoes to name a few. However I am sure they saw the graceful Kangaroo’s hopping through the trees, saw and heard the beautiful galahs and cockatoos flying overhead, seen the amazing sunrises and sunsets, and experienced some of the wonderful spring and autumn days that we can have. I hope they enjoyed their experiences in South Australia, but I still think of the women in their long dresses, the men with high collar shirts, their houses with no heating or cooling, a wood stove on day and night for heating water, cooking, bathing, not to mention birthing of children, schooling their children, helping each other and their neighbours out. I am sure they had already learned their skills back in their homeland, and wonder if at night they sat and thought of family, parents, brothers and sisters they had left behind, and knew they would probably never see again. It is something I think of so often, every time I see an old photograph, or read some piece of history, and wonder if they think of not only the people they left behind, but the comforts as well. To us today, their comforts probably seem “rough” but to them it was home. I hope eventually they found in their heart to also call a piece of South Australia home. The respect the Heneker and Willis family gained from other members of South Australian society shows me they were strong, helpful and amazing people, full of strength and a desire for new experiences and new places. Reading about their families in England helps me feel closer to them, and makes me also feel part of a wider larger global community.
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