Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Coffin House, West Peckham - updated

Norman Hall wrote in his letter of 1972 regarding the family ancestry:

"On mothers side, I have but little information. Her father was Thomas Uriah Banfield (Fa-Fa Banfield) a sterling character and very much the countryman. He was born in Kent (Tonbridge Wells), date approx. on 'tree' (note: 1867), his father being a bit of a drunk and his mother a hard working woman. They worked and lived on the estate of the local 'SQUIRE' (squires were fashionable in those days) - Squire DALLISON was his name. The (Banfield) family occupied a quaintly built house locally known as the 'COFFIN HOUSE' because of its resemblance to that gruesome article of death. The coffin house is still standing, though not now occupied by the Banfields."

Indeed, English censuses show the Banfield family of Thomas BANFIELD (1829-1891) and Mary Ann nee COOMBER and children were living in the 'Coffin House' in the 1891 census (their son Thomas Uriah came to Australia just a few years before), and 1901 census.

Two sons of Thomas and Mary Ann came to NSW; Thomas Uriah (1867-1942, mentioned in the letter) came with his wife Ellen nee HARRINGTON around 1890, and his brother John Frederick Banfield who arrived with a young family in 1912. After some time, the two brothers settled on a farm at Bootoowa some 30 km south west of Lake Cargellico and 500km west of Sydney. John Frederick's son Edwin John 'Ted' Banfield ran the farm till he passed away in 1998.

Ted Banfield gave cousin David Sherley a photo of the coffin house taken about 1886:

Coffin House 1886

'The coffin house photo is from around 1886 and has Herbert William Banfield and John Frederick Banfield (18.08.1876 - 4.11.1948) in it, there is also a lady but I am not sure who it is. John Frederick was the father of Edwin (Ted) Banfield (21.08.1909 - 19.04.1998) who ran the farm after his parents died (mother Elizabeth Harrison). Ted Banfield told me who was in the photo'.

The address of the Coffin House is: Park Road, Hadlow, Tonbridge, Kent TN11 9SR (England). In Sep 2008 my aunt Liz Hall who lives in England visited the Coffin House which is still standing. Little seems to have changed in 120 years.

Coffin House 2008

I was also recently contacted and informed that a painting of the Coffin House was produced by artist/author Denton Wench:

The Coffin House, Denton Welch, 1946, Watercolor and ink on paper.

Turns out the Coffin House had a bigger reputation than we realised.


Anonymous said...

I'm descended from a parallel branch of the Kent Banfields, and there must have been continued contract between the family, as I have records of people staying at the Coffin House.

Philip Parker

m@ said...

Thanks Philip, I'd be very interested to see how your family connects in. You can email me at cispt2@gmail.com - and as always i'd be happy to post up an entry on your Banfield famiy!