The re-imagined story …
I really didn’t want to visit Miss Blount. I liked her well enough; she was a kind, patient teacher, but she was dying. We all knew it. She had been ill for a long time and this would probably be the last time anyone other than her family would be invited to visit.
As the senior pupil teacher I was selected to deliver the presents the children had produced. The infants had drawn pictures while the older children had written diary entries telling her what was happening at school. The girls in Standard IV had baked a Victoria Sandwich cake, named after the Queen who was known to have a sweet tooth. My contribution was a bunch of dahlias grown in my dad’s greenhouse.
The Blount family lived at 14 Park Lane. I expected the house to be shrouded and shuttered, the family sombre and in premature mourning, but it wasn’t like that at all. Miss Blount was sitting in the sheltered back garden where her mother served the tea. The flowers were placed in a cut glass vase and set upon the garden table while both ladies exclaimed over the lightness of the sponge cake. The younger children’s pictures caused much delight and the diary entries were pored over with great interest.
Our little tea party was so relaxed and jolly that I began to think perhaps the reports of Miss Blount’s ill health had been exaggerated. Then suddenly she was overcome by a paroxysm of coughing, and her mother rushed to her side. When eventually the attack subsided I noticed the handkerchief she held to her mouth was spotted with blood. She looked exhausted and Mrs Blount thanked me for calling, which I took to be my cue to leave.
Miss Blount was very pretty and so young, just 27, but of course as a 14 year old school girl I didn’t truly appreciate the sorrow.
There’s a beautiful monument on her grave, a floating angel, delivering her soul to heaven. When I visit my parents’ grave I take some flowers for Miss Blount. She told me she thought the dahlias were a cheerful flower, that day of the tea party.
The facts …
Eleanor Marian Blount was born in Hereford, the eldest of William and Ann Blount’s eight children, but she was not the first to die.
William married Ann Lane on August 6, 1866 at St Peter’s, Hereford. They moved to Swindon in about 1868 where William started work as a Moulder in the railway factory. Their first home was in Havelock Street in 1869 before they moved to 43 Cheltenham Street. Their third child, Mary Emma Blount was born in Cheltenham Street but died at 8 months old. She was buried on August 22, 1871 in the churchyard at St Mark’s. In 1881 the family was living at 22 Cheltenham Street and by 1891 they were living at 14 Park Lane.
Three of their children went on to become teachers, Eleanor, Lily and Edgar. William John Lane Blount turned up in the US sometime around 1888-91. George followed his father in the Works as a Brass Finisher, but later he also emigrated to the US. Alexander (Henry) Blount worked as a mechanical engineer in the railway factory. Youngest son Frederick Walter, also worked in the railway factory as a fitter.
William died on April 27, 1913 aged 69. Ann survived him by more than twenty years. She died in 1934 aged 87. They were buried with their daughter Eleanor in a large double plot E8158/8159.
Blount Feb 9, at 14 Park Lane, New Swindon Eleanor (Nell), the dearly loved eldest daughter of William Blount aged 27 years.
Swindon Advertiser Saturday February 23, 1895.
William Blount of 14 Park Lane Swindon Wiltshire died 27 April 1913 Probate London 13 August to Ann Blount widow and Edgar Blount Schoolmaster Effects £611 8s.
Park Lane, Swindon
Coming next …
A Literary Legacy and the Misses Baden – Everyone with the name Jefferies wanted to tell us their memories of the man, even those who were unrelated and had never met him. The Swindon Advertiser had already published a fulsome obituary notice on the local writer Richard Jefferies but Mr Morris wanted me to come up with something more, something from a different perspective.
published on the Radnor Street Cemetery blog Thursday March 21, 2019.