VOL. IV - CHAPTER 13
William Douglas Veness and Alice Emma Stranack
William Douglas Veness, my maternal grandfather, was born on 24 July 1902 at Hooe, the son of James William Veness and Charlotte Edith Pocock. He was baptised on 28 September 1902 at Hooe (Chapter 12).
By 1911 William, aged 8 was living with his mother Charlotte Edith Veness and his sisters at The Old Toll House, Ninfield.
Although too young at the time, William tried to enlist to fight in World War I but was turned away.
In 1921, William was an 18-year-old butcher, already working for "M Pont", butchers, Ninfield. He was living with his mother Charlotte at Pay Gate House, Ninfield. Charlotte aged 47 is described as "on home duties". Both his surviving sisters had left home.
At some point, the Pay Gate was demolished to allow for road widening. William is understood to have been offered a plot of land quite close by. He borrowed some money from his employer, Ponts Butchers and had a new family home "Recovieu" built. He told me the initial build cost £50.00 rising to a total cost of £500 when the services, gas and electricity were installed some years later. Having had the house, built he proposed to my grandmother with the words "do you want to come and keep house"? This was the accumulation of a seven year romance which started when my grandmother chose William over the postman who was also coming courting.
On 9 March 1929, William married Alice Emma Stranack, at Ninfield Parish Church. William, aged 26, a 'butcher' from Ninfield. His father James William Veness is described as a butcher. Alice, a 24 year old spinster gives her occupation as 'housekeeper'. Her father was William Stranack (deceased), accountant. The witnesses were Elizabeth E Hurford (Alice's sister), Charlotte E Veness, Arthur J Pocock and Mark Pont.
Alice Emma Stranack's ancestry is covered in Appendix H .
The article in the local paper is headed "Ninfield Sportsman weds" and goes on to say
"At the parish Church , Ninfield on Saturday, Mr William Douglas Veness, only son of Mrs Veness of "Recoview" was married to Miss Alice Emma Stranack, youngest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Stranack of London. Mr Veness is very popular in the parish, and at outside left has played many fine games for Ninfield Football Club. Since leaving school, he has been employed by Mr M Pont, butcher of Upper Street.
The bride, given away by Mr Pont, looked charming in a dress of white crepe de chine with veil and wreath of orange blossom. She wore white stockings, silver shoes and carried a bouquet of arum lilies and roses. Miss Irene Hurford (niece of the bride) was bridesmaid, wearing a white serge coat with beret to match with bunch of forget-me knots to the side. Master Archer Pont acted as page. He was dressed in white knickers and white shirt with blue tie and belt, white socks and black shoes. Both carried prayer books, the gifts of the bridegroom. The duties of best man were discharged by Mr J Pocock, a cousin of the bridegroom.
The reception was held at the bridegroom's residence at which about thirty guests were present. The happy couple who received over 60 presents, later left for their honeymoon, which was spent in London. The bride travelled in a blue coat and hat to match. They will reside at "Recoview".
William and Alice relied on a motorbike in the early days of their marriage, notably bringing large pendulum wall clock back to Sussex from Portobello Market in London.
William and Alice Veness had two children
- Barbara Joy Veness (my mother)
- Keith William Veness
Alice and Barbara are pictured below with "Aunty Ponty" (Mark Pont's wife - see below) in 1935.
In 1939 the family are all shown at "Recovieu", The Green, Ninfield. All entries are open (even though strictly the children's should not be). William is listed as a butcher (first hand) and poultry keeper. Alice is shown as "help with poultry" and unpaid domestic duties.
Save for a period in the RAF in WWII, William worked for Ponts Butchers until retirement age, initially for Mark Pont and more latterly for his son Archer Pont.
The Pont family had been butchers at their shop on the Green for three generations. They also had the slaughter house next door. Bullocks, sheep, pigs were killed there. An article on Ninfield Local History Group website describes how Mr W Veness was a good hand with a pole axe. Mondays were the usual killing days. https://ninfieldhistorygroup.org/shops/4572403471
The 1939 register taken September 1939 just after outbreak of WWII was used to produce identity cards and once rationing introduced in January 1940 to issue ration books. It was also used to administer conscription and for the direction of labour.
Having remained in Sussex during the Battle of Britain (10 July 1940 to 31 October 1940), at her sister in law Meg's suggestion, Alice later returned to "working in service". At the invitation of Mrs Stephenson, Meg's employer, she took her children to Scotland in April 1941, just after my mother's 10th birthday.
Alice and the children were at "Tanglin", Dunblane in 1943 with the Stephenson's when news came of the death of Captain J Bruce Jones (Chapter 12).
William initially remained at home to look after goats, but on 1 October 1941 he enlisted and became an airframe fitter in "519 Squadron 18 Group" more latterly in the Azores for the duration of WWII.
The Azores are a chain of nine volcanic islands stretching some 370 miles across the Atlantic ocean. They were Portuguese territory and Portugal remained neutral until 1945, but allowed long standing allies including the British to use bases on the Islands To read more click here
William was released from service on 26 December 1945 having been on reserve since 11 October 1945.
Whilst William and Alice were away from "Recovieu", William's mother and "Old Mrs Scott" lived there for a time (Chapter 12).
"Recovieu" was a three-bedroom bungalow with a large garden overlooking the Normanhurst Estate. I remember my grandparents' keeping chickens, something they had done since my mother was a child. There were also a couple of large vegetable patches and makeshift greenhouses behind a more traditional garden dominated by my grandmothers' roses.
William and Alice remained at "Recovieu" throughout their married life, only moving to a care home for the last final few months. They were married for over seventy years celebrating their Diamond wedding anniversary in March 1989
and their Platinium wedding anniversary in March 1999.
The article reads "A romance that blossomed between a butchers boy and a cook general has resulted in a congratulatory telegram from the Queen. Alice and William Veness married at St Mary's Church, Ninfield on March 9 1929. On Tuesday in company with their family and friends they celebrated an amazing 70 years of marriage. Alice is now 94 and William 96, in deference to their age, their son Keith and daughter Barbara organised Tuesday's at home "low key" celebration, their guests popping in at intervals throughout the day to offer their congratulations to the couple who are a Ninfield institution.
William's mother once kept the toll gate which stood in the middle of the road opposite "The Kings Arms" and lived in the toll gate cottage. The couple met when Alice was a cook/general at Tilton, Catsfield and William did the deliveries for Ponts, the butchers shop, which still serves Ninfield. After his retirement from Pont's, William became the Village postman, maintaining the local round until the remarkable age of 73.
Alice and William have lived in their bungalow at The Green, Ninfield only a stone's throw away from St Mary's since the day that they were married".
William Douglas Veness died in November 2000 aged 98 (Reg Gen Nov 2000 Eastbourne A80E 21).
Alice Emma Veness died in December 2001 aged 97 (Reg Gen Dec 2001 Eastbourne B77E 172).
Their daughter Barbara Joy Veness married William Arthur Barton on 15 November 1958 at St Mary's, Ninfield, Barbara was a 27-year-old milk recorder. William, also aged 27 was a bricklayer, the son of James Richard Barton, deceased (Volume III Chapter 5).
The marriage was reported in the local press
"Miss Barbara Joy Veness, principal boy in the Ninfield pantomime for several years changed her role on Saturday when she was principal girl at the wedding at Ninfield church. She was married to William Arthur Barton, son of Mrs J Barton of Bywood, Ninfield".
As well as being the "principal boy" in the NATS for many years, Barbara, along with her mother, was also a member of Ninfield Singers.
"Bill" and Barbara were 7th cousins as illustrated by the attached diagram (not they knew it at the time)
They had two children:
- Nicholas James Barton
- Caroline Joy Barton (the compiler of this family history).
The family initially lived at "Bywood", Ninfield, but moved to Buckinghamshire in November 1972, settling in Little Horwood in December 1973 where they remained throughout the remainder of their married lives. William Arthur Barton died on 10 December 2008 in Little Horwood, Milton Keynes.
Barbara's brother, Keith worked for British Airways as a steward. It was there that he met his future wife. Keith married Marianne Burrows on 14 April 1963 at Brighton. After their marriage, Marianne was no longer allowed to work for British Airways and so built a second career in nursing.
Initially living in Brighton, Keith and Marianne moved to Ninfield to their newly built home "Millstone" where they remained throughout their married life.