Transcription of letter
South Farm, Arbury, Nuneaton
We lived there from 1922-1924. Owned by the Newdigate family who lived at Arbury Hall. He was governor of the Bahamas for 2 years while we lived there. Mary Ann Evans was born in the room shaded by trees. The sitting room had a large fireplace meant for burning logs and a huge fire guard. Close by is a little walled garden and stone (unknown – saging?). She was born at South Farm. She wrote books under the name of George Eliot including Mill on the Fosse. The mill is close by (at that time). She was christened at Coton Church. Les was christened there.
Entrance to Arbury is on the way to Nuneaton from Bedworth via Colly (sp?) Croft and entrance through Lodge Hall after by Griff (sp?) Colliery (now closed down) about one mile along turn to the left to South Farm otherwise road leads to Arbury Hall and out to Stockingford and Bermuda village. A monument is now being put in her memory at Nuneaton. Arbury Hall is now open to the public at certain times.
My Great Grandmother, Beatrice Annie Mabel Wilson nee Bailey, usually called Mabel or Granny Wilson, was born in 1900, and seems to have spent time moving around the country. The most well known of her homes in the family is at Honey Street at Pewsey in Wiltshire, but she also lived at South Farm at Arbury Hall in Warwickshire from 1922 to 1924. When Granny Wilson heard I’d met a girl from near Nuneaton, she wrote me a letter around 1992, telling me about Arbury Hall, and its most famous resident, Mary Ann Evans, more often remembered as George Eliot who was born at South Farm on the Arbury Estate in 1819.
Les was Mabel’s son, Leslie John Wilson, born 16th December 1922, according to the notes in the family bible. Mabel’s oldest child, Marjorie Ivy Hastie nee Wilson, was born in October 1921 at Honeystreet, Wiltshire, but by the time my grandmother, Hilda Doris Biggerstaff nee Wilson was born in June 1926, they had moved to Kidderminster. Mabel’s fourth and fifth children, Norman Albert Wilson 3rd August 1927 and Gwendoline Margaret Joan Wilson was born in 1928 at Bickenhill. Uncle Norman and Aunty Joan never married.
The area today
The road from Bedworth to Nuneaton has been cut by the A444, but the road to Arbury (Griff Lane) can still be seen as a private road, and appears to pass through the lodge. Apparently South Farm still exists. Bermuda Village still exists as several rows of terraced houses, likely to be Victorian in age. All Saints, Coton Church is at Chilvers Coton, and was apparently heavily damaged in the Second World War and rebuilt with the aid of German Prisoners of War.
I don’t know why they moved around so much, or why they settled in Weston- On-Avon by the time my grandmother was a girl in the 1930s.