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.

At some point, the Old Toll House 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 Veness had two children

  • Barbara Joy Veness
  • Keith William Veness

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 when he volunteered for the RAF, during World War II, 

William worked for Pont's Butchers until retirement age and thereafter spent many years as the village's postman before finally retiring at 73 years old.   

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

Initially leaving her husband in Ninfield, at her sister in law, Meg's suggestion, Alice returned to "working in service" during the War. At the invitation of Mrs Stephenson, they moved to Dunblane in Scotland and were there in 1943 when news came of the death of Captain J Bruce Jones (Chapter 12).

Whilst they were away from "Recovieu" William's mother and "Old Mrs Scott" lived there for a time (Chapter 12). 

William and Alice were married for over seventy years celebrating their Diamond wedding anniversary in 1989 

and their Platinium wedding anniversary in 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 2000 aged 98 (Reg Gen Nov 2000 Eastbourne A80E 21).

Alice Emma Veness died in 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 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 1972, settling in Little Horwood in 1973 where they remained throughout the remainder of their married lives. 

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. 

Click here to go to "Appendix A - Card"

Click here to go back to "Chapter 12 - James Veness and Charlotte Edith Pocock"

To find out more about the Stranacks, click here to go to "Appendix H - Stranack"

To find out more about the Bartons, click here to go to "Volume III"