My great-great-grandmother, Kate Holtom, was born in Brailes, Warwickshire in 1862. Her father, Daniel Holtom and Daniel’s mother, Charlotte Clifton were also born there. Charlotte’s parents Joseph Clifton & Mary Davis were married in Brailes in 1795. Joseph’s parents may have been Leonard & Esther Clifton. A 2 line article in the Hereford Times of 1785 says that Mrs Clifton, wife of Mr Leonard Clifton, of the George Inn at Brailes, in Warwickshire, was last week safely delivered of three daughters, all living. Mrs Clifton had before 19 children, all born alive and baptized. It is recorded in the parish register that all the triplets died within a few days.
Brailes parish includes the two villages of Upper Brailes and Lower Brailes, and also the hamlet of Winderton.
The parish church of St George’s is in Lower Brailes, and there has been a church on this site since Saxon times.
There is also a Roman Catholic chapel in Lower Brailes, the chapel of St Peter & St Paul, in the upper storey of a medieval malt barn. It is one of the earliest post-Reformation public Catholic churches in England, constructed in 1726, over 50 years before the Act of 1791 which first made Catholic chapels legal. My 4g-grandmother Charlotte Clifton was baptised in the chapel in 1804.
In 1876-7 there was a diphtheria epidemic in Brailes which killed 37 children. A note in the parish burial registers says that in one family all six children died within 11 weeks, five from diphtheria. Although by 1876 my direct ancestors were no longer living in Brailes, my great-great-grandmother’s cousin, Richard Simms, aged 8, was a victim of the epidemic. St George’s church has a memorial window for the children.
To the Glory of God, and in Loving Memory of Thirty-seven dear Children, who died in this Parish of Diphtheria, AD 1876-7, this window is dedicated by their Teachers and Friends.
Still to come in part 2: William Decimus Godson goes to Canada, the death of Henry Clifton, and the much-travelled Joseph Simms.
Old photographs of Brailes on Windows on Warwickshire
Brailes in A History of the County of Warwick
Brailes on A Vision of Britain Through Time
Brailes on historic maps
Photographs of Brailes on geograph.org