My Beautiful Bookcase
By Iris Lloyd
This article was originally published in the December 2004 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
On 23rd May 1990, I visited nearby Hungerford (Berkshire), well-known for its plethora of antique shops, in search of a bookcase, and entered the prestigious showrooms of Malthouse Antiques. There I found just what I was looking for!
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” said the owner. It certainly was – two shelves behind glass doors and two small drawers above, two small and three large drawers below – and not too large. “And look,” she continued, “it has a secret.”
She pulled out the bottom drawer and turned it round. Written on the back was the life story of the bookcase. Wow! I couldn’t resist it! Since then it has been filled with interesting old books above, video tapes in the drawers, and has graced a corner of my lounge.
This is what I read:
John Lavy January 1822
Anne Anslow January 1822
Anne Eliza Sole Christmas 1854 when the Book Case was added
Came to the daughters of Eliza Anne Morris (nee Sole) at her death March 3rd 1908
Edith Mary Haywood Morris (decd. Oct. 3rd 1921)
Mabel Haywood Morris (died 1950)
Catherine Haywood Morris (married to H.T. Curtis June 1908)
Julia (Leila) Haywood Morris
Came to the daughters of Mary Elliott (nee Sole) 1951
I have added my own details and am leaving it to my granddaughter in my Will.
Being greatly interested in the family that had owned the bookcase for almost 170 years, I decided to investigate further, and obtained the following certificates, which I found easily; I did not go to great lengths to discover those that eluded me:
1873 Edith Mary Haywood Morris
1874 Mabel Haywood Morris
1882 Julia Haywood Morris
1840 William Sole/Anne Anslow
1869 Haywood Morris/Eliza Anne Sole
1908 Eliza Anne Morris
1921 Edith Mary Haywood Morris
Recently, when clearing out old Family History magazines, I noticed details of the Sole One-Name Society and contacted Fred Sole. He has sent me a copy of the above Branch of the Sole family tree and I have sent him details of the certificates I obtained.
Probably, John Lavy was the cabinet maker. It was a great surprise to find that the piece was not made as a whole and that the top part was added thirty years later. In 1950, Mabel died and the bookcase was passed to her cousins. Forty years later, it turned up in Hungerford.
Incidentally, I have written a play about it, entitled THE BOOKCASE. It is a murder mystery and the bookcase is the central character. A lost Will is found hidden between the two sections when it was restored a century after the top was added, and it was evident that the large estate had been inherited by the wrong branch of the family. The play didn’t win the competition I entered, but I enjoyed writing it. Are any readers involved in amateur dramatics?
So – thank you, Sole family, for my lovely bookcase – and it’s not for sale!
William Sole and Anne Anslow were members of a Fenland family whose origins can be found in the villages around Ely.
William Sole was born in Caldecote, CAM, in about 1803 and was the only son of Francis Sole and Elizabeth Cole. When Francis, a farmer, died in 1815, he left his ‘personal estate’ for the use of his wife during her life and after her death it was to be shared between their daughters, but his ‘landed estate’ was bequeathed to William with the stipulation that until William reached 21 the profits from the land were to be used for his education and maintenance.
It was presumably the money from the estate that enabled William to train to be a doctor: he studied at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and at the University of Paris and became an FRCS. By 1851, William was a general practitioner and was living in St Neots, HUN, with Anne and their children. They had two daughters (Eliza Anne and Mary) and five sons (William Anslow, Francis, Ernest Samuel, Arthur Baron and Robert S Lindsay)
Of the sons, Francis died when he was 17, William and Arthur became Church of England clergymen, Ernest a cotton broker and Robert an Army surgeon. William died of cancer in 1855 and in later life Anne lived in Winchester with son Arthur’s family. She died there in 1899.
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