She went deaf in middle age; was eccentric; was possessive over her son; and had a profound influence on her granddaughter (Grace Enid Baglin). In spite of all this, her family moved in with her several times (at 14 Sweets Road, Kingswood. near Bristol). She use to grow gladioli every year and would cut several bunches and walk to the Florist's in Broad Street, Staple Hill, to sell them.
The story of Gran Pratt's life (Gertrude Rosa Burgess) as told by Grace Russ (Grace Enid Baglin)©
“When she was young she lived in the farmhouse at Latteridge, Iron Acton, with her three sisters and Eddie (their elder half brother) who was left in charge of them while their father was at work. Their father worked (during the week) as a Phrenologist in the Arcade, Bristol. Gran always said Eddie had a cruel streak in him (towards animals) but he seemed all right with the girls (his half sisters). At weekends their father would come home to see and check on things. In the summer months he would walk to and from Bristol, but during the winter and wet weather he would take a train from Yate.When Gran was young she found it difficult to form all her words properly and for a long time said "Tu afternoon" for 'this afternoon'. Apparently Eddie tried very hard to teach her to speak properly and often lost his temper with her. At such times she would run into the orchard, climb a tree and shout down at him from the top branches "Tu afternoon", over and over again; while he would stand below shaking his fists at her and getting into a rage.
They were supposed to go to a country school, but it was quite a while before the authorities caught up with them because they were so isolated in those days. However, when they did go to school, they had to travel (on foot of course) some distance, over fields, down lanes and along country footpaths to get there.
Several attempts were made by their father to provide them with a Governess, but no one would stay. This was partly due to the general isolation of the farm, but mainly due to the four girls; who did not want someone in authority living in and spoiling their fun. I remember Gran telling me the last one only stayed one night. The youngest girl was about 9 or 10 with the oldest being in her early teens, so they considered that they were old enough to look after themselves. Therefore they were determined to scare this one away, especially as she seemed the nervous type. Their plan was to undermine her confidence the day she arrived with tales of ghosts and hauntings. Then, when she had settled down for the night they draped a sheet over a broom and with much ghostly wailing, tapped the broom on the transom window of the Governess' bedroom and waved it about. When they got up the next morning the Governess had already gone, leaving a note for their father. Gran said he was puzzled to hear of the house being haunted and asked if they had heard or seen anything of this nature. As he seemed to have such faith in his children he put it down to another 'nervous townie'. In fact he was a bit of a softie with his girls; on one occasion he allowed them to tie his beard in rags, in the way girls used to do their hair at night to curl it. However, in the morning they were unable to get all the rags out. They were tied so tightly and so tangled up with his beard that he had to travel all the way to work with them in. It was a good few days before he could get them all out.
One of the pastimes of the girls, during the summer was to spread treacle/honey along the top of the stile. Then watch from the safety of the bedroom windows as people, particularly ladies with long dresses, got all 'sticky' as they climbed the stile. Gran said they must have known the Burgess children were the culprits, as theirs was the nearest house for some distance; but as children, they didn't think of that.
It probably helps to explain why they had quite a reputation in the nearest village for 'being wild', Gran told me that sometimes they would fix the trap to the pony and go into Iron Acton to collect friends. This was not always successful as the parents were not keen on allowing their daughters to go with the 'little wild Burgess's but on the odd occasion they were able to 'kidnap' the odd willing victim, The irate parents were soon knocking on the door to rescue them.
When they were older they started to make their own clothes. According to Gran they were told they could chose whatever material in whichever colour made them happy. I'm not sure where the material came from for all the purchases, but do know that on at least occasion the girls made a special trip into Bristol to buy their requirements in a Drapers in the Arcade. I suspect this to have been one of their early 'material buying' days because Gran told me they chose the most unsuitable materials on that occasion. Her choice was curtain material that was too heavy for a day dress, but she liked the colour and texture and so was allowed to order a length 'because it pleased her'. Back in Latteridge of course the girls quickly realised their mistake when it came to the cutting out. None of them had actually been taught dressmaking so it was 'trial and error', laying the length of material on the table; the person whose dress it was to be, laying prone on top with one or other of the sisters cutting around her shape. Then, each one would help to sew the garment together. The end results were rather peculiar so Gran told me, but over a period of time they became quite proficient and as she said 'got an eye' for it, cutting out, sewing up, adding the odd dart here and there to give the garment shape.
They kept pigs and chickens and each week would have one or the other for their Sunday dinner, alternately. Eddie always did the slaughtering and as they grew older, the girls were taught how to pluck and clean, or singe and prepare the carcasses. There was a gun kept over the fireplace, which on occasion Eddie used, when he went hunting, the girls being banned from ever touching it. However one day, as Gran was the mischievous one, she decided to try it out. She took it into the Orchard and tried to do the same as she'd seen her half-brother do. When she pulled the trigger, the butt rebounded and smacked her so hard across the cheek she thought all the bones in her face were broken; she had a black eye and a badly bruised swollen face for days, and a hiding from Eddie for touching it in the first place.
George Burgess was quite deaf. One night (after the girls had gone to bed) they were woken by a cat screaming. They rushed downstairs to find their father fast asleep in his rocking chair with the cat's tail pinned under one of the rockers!
When Gran first started work, she worked in a Drapery shop in Bristol, somewhere at the back of Castle Street, Bristol, where she lived in. Later, before she married, she had her own dressmaking business.When she was in her 20's she was in love with Eddie Moore. She would have married him but he developed a TB arm, and died. So Gran said she would never marry; that is, until she met William Edward Baglin (a Widower, aged 65), and she was only 30. Prior to her marriage she was living in Downend, Bristol, and when married she moved to 7 & 8 Agnes Terrace (later renumbered 58 and 60 Soundwell Road, Staple Hill, Bristol; number 60 Soundwell Road being a shop.
On the 17th March 1906 she gave birth to her only son, Edward William Burgess Baglin. She was already quite deaf by then, and she told me that when my dad was about three months old he must have moved about in his cot (a wicker basket rocker cradle) and somehow tipped it over onto the floor with the cradle on top of him. As she was deaf she couldn't hear him crying and when she found him she had no idea how long he'd been trapped there. As he grew up he 'came and went' as he chose and was often away all day, wandering off to Rodway Hill or Snuff Mills or wherever, Gran said people used to say she should 'look after him', but she told them 'he'll come home when he's hungry'; and he always did of course. She would often walk into town for shopping taking her pet dog Sam with her.
Her husband died on 23rd August 1908. She was eleven years a widow, and then on 13th December 1919 married a widower (Charles Water Pratt). He was the same age as her, and had two children by his previous marriage. She was from then on known as Gran Pratt.
In the 1950's my Dad (Edward William Burgess Baglin) took Gran and me back to Latteridge to see if the old farmhouse was there. We were pleased to find it still was; and in use. We met the occupiers and were shown over the house. According to Gran it was just as she remembered it, apart from a few modern improvements in the kitchen; so she was delighted.
In old age, Gran was looked after by her daughter-in-law (Florence Evelyn Jenner, known as Eva) until her death at the age of 84 from Myocarilitis. During the last few years of her life she would send notes to the neighbours accusing her daughter-in-law of poisoning her; they knew she was eccentric and brought the notes back, giving them to Eva."
The Antics of Grand Pratt
Late Adult life of Gertrude Rosa Burgess as seen through the eyes of her daughter-in-law (Florence Eveline Jenner aka Eva Baglin).I had Grand Pratt from the time we were married. I had both our mothers in their last years (at 14 Sweets Road, Kingswood, Bristol), but our mum wasn't so bad, wasn't like Grand Pratt. We did suggest making the front room into a sitting room for the both of them. A place where they could sit and chat to each other, and keep each other company, and that sort of thing. But grandmother (Grand Pratt) wouldn't have it - No, she wouldn't have that at all. Ted wasn't like that; he couldn't be, because we always had people in. His drawbridge (privacy) was with his rabbits, in the shed at the bottom of the garden. He used to spend hours there, so it worked out all right.
Grand Pratt had a mirror in every corner of the room. If you was down the road and happened to be facing her way, she'd know what you'd been saying. But what used to really get me mad all inside was when she saw Ted cycling down the road; she'd open the sash windows and sort of sing out "Teddy Baglin Waggling Jiggling Jaggling". I used to say to Ted "Go on; put your little five year old trunks on then, and go out and play."One time she was going on at me like `Old Nick'. I then chased her up the stairs; sitting her down half way up, I said to her "You've had your say, now I'm going to have my say". And you know, I started laughing; I had to speak through that blooming ear trumpet, I could never speak through that blessed thing without laughing. Then there was that time we were in the kitchen with her, she was moving up and down on her toes, while making jam, up and down, up and down, singing; out of key because she was deaf; all while she was stirring the jam. That used to annoy me. Then Grace was being rude to her, calling her a "Silly old goat" or something; knowing that Gran couldn't hear her, or see her and thus not lip-read. I was telling her off for being rude to Gran, and Gran said to Grace "I know she's talking about me". I got so mad; I just picked up the nearest thing to me, the frying pan, and through it at her. It missed her head by inches and hit the back door. The frying pan buckled and fell to the floor with an almighty clatter; Gran said, "Did you drop the pan my Dolly". Oh; that made me so mad, made me so mad; mind you we used that pan for years after, and Ted and I would always have a chuckle whenever we used it.
I never forgot when I was in town with her and we went to the drapers shop to buy some material. She had every blessed roll of the stuff off the shelves. I got so exasperated, I said to the sales girl "Tell her there's no more rolls left". Gran said "I'm not deaf you know; I'm only hard of hearing". I thought `my gosh' and with that walked out and left her and went home. Arthur's like that too. I remember the time he was in Uley Post Office and he had every blessed toy off the shelf. In the end he didn't buy any (because he couldn't fine what he wanted). I couldn't be like that; I'm different all together.
Oh yes, that was it when she took a little case with her, to buy a marrow. I felt so sorry for the poor kid behind the counter; She was one of my singers. The marrow Gran bought was far too large to go into the case, but she wouldn't have it; it had to go in. The people behind her were held up for ages, about quarter of an hour, I think. They were going "tut, tut, tut, tut…". I don't know what did happen in the end because I just left her; I think she had to have it in a carrier bag in the end!
It was absolutely appalling when Gran Pratt washed herself in the front room; I use to be ashamed that people looking in could see Gran Pratt with no cloths on. She would use just an ordinary washing-up bowl on the dining table. She would take her cloths off and wash, but never pulled the curtains so people going by could see her; if they looked in. Gran Pratt use to say, "If anybody looks in and sees me, then it's their fault for looking"; she would maintain that it was a private house, a private room; and nobody should look into other people's private rooms. I think that was because of the way she was bought up, with no curtains at Latteridge, Iron Action, Gloucesteshire. At Latteridge, George Burgess didn't have curtains because he believed they were dust collectors, and Gran Pratt said they didn't need them as the only things that could see them were rabbits; because they were so isolated.
But what use to really annoy me was her blooming keys. She kept them all on a piece of string around her waist. Every time she went in and out of her bedroom, or to the kitchen, she'd lock the door behind her. I busted the lock and broke down her door twice, where I got so savage. Yes; but she didn't give me any privacy; she'd come in and out of my room because it was Teddies (aka Ted); And what was Teddies was hers. She'd keep saying to me "He's my boy not yours, he's my boy not yours". And I'd always said "I never had Grace until Gran died". The tickling part was when she would tie cotton to the door; so she'd know when Elsie came (Bill's sister); she wouldn't have her in the house. I don't know why, but she just wouldn't. It was most awkward; it led to bad feelings between us, but they understood and we stayed good friends, and when Ted was in hospital Bill went and seen him two or three times. Elsie and Bill (Elsie May Pratt and William Pratt) were the children of Charles Walter Pratt by his previous marriage; Charles Pratt being Grand Pratt's husband.
Mr Pratt and Gran Pratt sort of kept everything apart. What was his was his, and what was hers, was hers. The best of his stuff had gone down to Bill (his son) before he died. I'd say that I'd never advise anyone to get married if there have kids on both sides because there is always trouble. When the two of them were together (Mr & Mrs Pratt) she was always up against him (Antagonising), and it was then so difficult to get on with either of them. And when he got funny (touchy) with her he'd go up the garden (to calm down). However, when he was down Ham Green I got on with him lovely.
But I had an awful time when he died. She wouldn't have his coffin in her room; so it had to stay in the Hall. It was so embarrassing when people came to the door. Mind you the funniest thing was when Tommy Harris (the undertaker) came to take the coffin away; Gran Pratt was reading a book called `Dead on Time' and on the day he was buried she was out the front mowing the grass.
Then there were always conflicts with our neighbours, she would cut off anything that grew over into our garden, and throw it back into their garden; and things like that. I'd recently came across one of her letters; where she'd say we were poisoning her, by putting something in the vinegar and said she was out cold for 24 hours. She was always writing letters like that, and sending them to our neighbours’. But they'd bring them all back to us, so we'd know what the letters said. And then she accused our mum (Lillian Maud Jenner, formally England) of putting flies in the milk; Oh, she was a terror. In fact she got awful towards the end. She suffered from incontinence. I'd say, "It's all down your stockings", and she'd say "There's nothing on my stockings". I had the same problem with Uncle Arthur (Arthur Edward England, 1885-1969) when I was looking after him; he had cancer of the prostrate gland. I used to say to him, "Now look Uncle, I'm used to dong this kind of thing, let me clean it up", but he was so particular that he wanted to do it himself; but it only made it harder for me; I had to clear it all up in the end. But going back to Gran Pratt; the day before she died I said, "Have you got any dirty washing, because I'm doing some washing to put into the machine", she said "Nop, nop"; And when we came back from our mum's funeral (Lillian Maud Jenner we found Grand Pratt dead, and a bucket full of muck in her room.
|Offspring of Gertrude Rosa Burgess and William Edward Baglin (1839-1908)|
|Edward William Burgess Baglin (1906-1969)||17 March 1906 7 Agnes Terrace, Staple Hill, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom||11 February 1969 Frenchay Hospital, Frenchay, Bristol, England, United Kingdom|| Florence Eveline Jenner (1901-1994)|
- 1. Gertrude Rosa Burgess (1874-1958)
|Offspring of George Burgess and Mary Crouch (1836-1862)|
|George William Burgess (1859-1859)||February 1859 Bristol, England, United Kingdom||December 1859 Manchester, England, United Kingdom|| |
|Samual Edward Burgess (1861-)||17 May 1861 St George, Bristol, England, United Kingdom|
|Offspring of George Burgess and Eliza Knight (1844-1878)|
|Eliza Caroline Burgess (1871-1910)||3 April 1871 Elicar Villas, Berkeley Road, Horfield, Bristol, England, United Kingdom||2 May 1910|| Mr. Barnet|
|Catherine Middleton Burgess (1872-)||8 April 1872 Horfield, Bristol (Elicar Villas+ Berkeley Road Horfield+ Bristol+ England)|| Mr. Phillips|
|Gertrude Rosa Burgess (1874-1958)||23 May 1874 Hillborough House, 106 Egerton Road, Horfield, Bristol, England, United Kingdom||29 November 1958 14 Sweets Road, Kingswood, South Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom|| William Edward Baglin (1839-1908)|
Charles Walter Pratt (1875-)
|Maud Lilley Burgess (1875-1962)||11 December 1875 Latteridge, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom||30 July 1962 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia|| Albert Thomas Arthur Stickler (1882-1910)|
Arthur Darlington Bryer (c1893-1965)
Diary of George Burgess (1829-1905)
- Phrenology reading of Gertrude Burgess by George Burgess 6 April 1901.
- Poison Letters! dated 22 June 1957.