The Northcote Family. Publicans of the Bell, Bulkington

 

Early in the 1920’s, The Well public house was known as The Bell and run by the Northcote family. John Northcote ran the pub for over twenty years from 1924 until he died in Bulkington in 1945. Before taking over the pub he was a serving officer with the Metropolitan Police. During WW1, when soldiers were being trained at Keevil, they would come through the village of Bulkington on training exercises. John is rumoured to have pints lined up for them to gulp down when they jumped over the pub garden wall.



John Northcote was born in Millom, Cumberland in 1877. We have recently been informed that his parents were Henry Northcote and Margaret Alice Wilson who married in June 1874. Both appear to have come from around Bootle, Cumberland.

John married Annie Elizabeth Forster (1885 - 1942). They had four  sons named Hartley, Victor Hugh, Leonard John and Henry Wilson. Hartley took over the pub when his father died and ran it until the late 1950’s. They also had four daughters - Joan, Ivy Ethel (known as Betty), Patricia and Phyllis Ann. Tragically, Phyllis Ann died in 1915 when she was only two years old and Patricia died in 1938 aged only 14 years old. Annie Northcote died in 1942. 




 
  John and Annie Northcote  and family outside the Bell, Bulkington  


Before she married John, Annie Northcote was an assistant for vaudeville and silent screen siren Maisie Gay. Later in life Maisie took over as landlady of the Northey Arms in Box. Amongst her theatrical friends was Noel Coward who regularly visited  her there and is rumoured to occasionally have served behind the bar. Maisie Gay visited Ann at the Bell in Bulkington after she was married.

 
John’s younger brother Henry Felix Northcote was born in 1883; he died in 1944. He married Emma Moss (1883-1946). He too was a London Policeman.


Hartley Northcote married Edith Ann Skilling (a second cousin). Before he took over the pub from his father he was in the Secret Service MI5. He also served with the Scots Guards and at one time was Batman for Lord Strathmore ( formerly Bowes-Lyon), the Queen Mother's father. He sold the pub in the 1950's and moved to Trowbridge. He died in 1980.


Victor Northcote worked for Spencers in Melksham but moved to Marshmead, Hilperton, when a housing scheme was developed there. He died a few years ago but is survived by his daughter who still lives there.


Henry Wilson Northcote was in the RAF but also served with the Canadian services. After the war he moved to Canada. 


Leonard John Northcote was another serving Police Officer.


Ivy Ethel (Betty) Northcote was Joan Northcote’s sister and married Jack Orchard at Christ Church, Bulkington. Jack was a 'Gentleman Farmer'. Betty eventually moved to Beckhampton where she ran the 'Wagon and Horses' public house.
  
      Ivy Ethel (Betty) and Jack Orchard's
Wedding in Bulkington 





The grave of John Northcote (1877-1945), Annie Elizabeth Northcote (1885-1942) and their son Hartley (1915-1980) is in the churchyard of Christchurch, Bulkington, where there is also a large memorial to Patricia Northcote, Victor Hugh Northcote (1927-2006) and his wife Josephine Dawn Northcote ( 1928-2001).





Joan Northcote was born in Bulkington in 1930. She grew up there, and was married at Christ Church. She was actually born in the pub - in the bedroom upstairs, on the left side of the building. She lived there from 1930 to 1951 and fondly remembers all the villagers at that time. The Breach's, Jefferies, Griffiths, Hughes, Baths, Orchards, Newmans, Miss Brooks (she ran the village shop) and "old" Miss Willis who lived behind the Pub. Her sister, Ivy Ethel, got married in 1928 at the church to Jack Orchard, then moved into the big house next to the Pub. Most of her family is buried in the church yard. Joan now lives in Canada. The following information is based on Joan's memories of growing up in Bulkington.


The Hughes

Emma and Teddy Hughes purchased the land across the road from the Bell before Joan was born. They had five children - Mollie, Callie, Frenny, Violet and Mikey. They converted a huge galvanised barn into living quarters. Half the barn was their home and half was storage. They slept in their Gypsy Caravan but after Teddy Hughes passed away Emma built the bungalow that sits there today.


Joan Northcote’s mother Annie passed away in 1942 when Joan was only eleven years old and Emma Hughes was of great comfort to her afterwards. She would go to the galvanised barn home to visit her and has always remembered the large black lead cooker and coconut mat floors. Emma would treat her with tea, jam butties and cake. It was furnished nicely with lots of antiques and silver. The caravan was burned on Emma’s death.


Frenny’s pride and joy was his garden. He and Mikey also had a wood fire business. Frenny was also an excellent dancer and dressed to a ’T’ in tailor-made suits. He also had a business in Swindon so would travel there often. However, he rarely left the county.


Violet was in the Land Army during the war and was Joan Northcote’s best friend. Joan recalls her as “always a happy person”. Callie travelled all over painting barns. Mikey could sing very well and often entertained during events at the Village Hall. All the Hughes family liked to socialise at the pub.

 
Joan last visited Frenny and Violet in 1995. Both Frenny (1923-1996) and Violet (1916-1998) are buried in Christ Church, Bulkington.


Miss Willis

Miss Willis was a spinster who lived in the house behind the Bell pub. She was always dressed in long Edwardian skirts and wore button-up boots. She had a big garden and the village children loved her strawberries. She played the church organ on Sundays at Christchurch. Though she lead a solitary life her best friend was Miss Brooks who ran the village shop.


Miss Brooks

Miss Brooks ran the village store as her father did before her. Every year at Christmas a big black car could be seen pulling up to the store. It was always thought to be a relative but no one seemed to know for sure.


The Breach’s

John Breach was John Northcote’s best friend. His son Bill purchased John Northcote’s motorcycle and side car. He had at least four sons - Bill, Tom and two others. Their mother died tragically. All the boys worked on the farm which was noted for the smell of the silage plant. The smell was frequently a talking point at the pub. The Breach family still live in and work the farm in Bulkington.


The Village

The Minister of the Wesleyan Church, Mr Brimbel, also ran the Post Office and Library. The books in the library were changed about every three months and it was Joan’s goal to read all the books before they were changed but that never happened. During the war spies were found with their vehicle parked in the lane between the Village Hall and the shop. The lane went down to Miss Willis’s garden. They were apparently taking wind measurements as the weather forecast was not broadcast during the war.One day Joan’s brother Victor and his friend Eddy Rose were getting in a vehicle to go to work when a German fighter plane swooped down and machine gunned them. Fortunately they missed and Victor and Eddy dove into a barn to escape. The same plane dove over Mill Lane farm and targeted Mr Golding. He dove into a ditch and escaped but his cows didn’t fair so well and one was hit and died.


According to Joan’s daughter, Suzette Milner, there are so many stories from her Mum’s years in Bulkington. These are just a few of the people she grew up with and fondly remembers.




    





 
www.bulkington.org.uk
Community Web Kit provided free by BT