Our members are participating in the A-Z Blogging Challenge for 2018 with the theme People of My Place. Today's entry is from Steve Pickthall.

Levi Henry Nutbeem of New Fishbourne, Sussex is the man in question. Levi was baptised in Chiddingfold, Surrey in 1860 and spent his early life in Petworth, a town about 17 miles away from New Fishbourne where he is shown on the 1891 census as a "baker and confectioner". I don't know what prompted the move to New Fishbourne, but he appears in trade directories from 1899 up until at least 1938 (the latest directory I have available) in various combinations of baker with either grocer or post office. Perhaps he became aware of an opening in New Fishbourne and was looking to better himself - a baker is not listed specifically in any of the earlier trade directories for New Fishbourne.

The 1911 census summary places the baker's shop very precisely between the Wesleyan Chapel and the Woolpack Inn - food for the soul, food for the body and food for mind all in a row. The Wesleyan chapel was demolished 1971 but the Woolpack is still there, although now in a more modern guise as it was rebuilt in 1937.

Levi Nutbeem and his wife Louisa (nee Soal) are listed in the 1911 together with three of their five children - their eldest son Albert Edward was an Insurance Agent and is enumerated as living next door. He also appears in a number of the trade directories mentioned above. Another son, Harold died in his middle teens.

Levi died in 1949 (preceded by his wife in 1948) and left £4079.25. Probate was granted to his son Albert Edward and daughter Louie Fletcher.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, I am fascinated by newspapers and the "flesh" that they add to the "bones" of our ancestors. In the Chichester Observer of 16 December 1914 it shows that the property was for sale (Levi was a sitting tenant at £30 per annum) and there is a description of the shop, living accommodation and outbuildings including stable, hayloft and pig-pens.

Various newspaper articles point to a celebration of a Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1932, Concerts for the Band of Hope Society (a temperance organisation), sporting triumphs (and disappointments) in football, cricket and indoor bowls, being involved in organising public events such as theatrical performances and talks – too many to mention, but it paints a picture of the family being at the heart of the community and well-known. There is even a report of one of the boys feeding buns to passing elephants. Not that New Fishbourne was noted for its exotic animals, but the circus was coming to town and so the animals and artistes paraded through the village.

One last thing to mention. Local author Kate Mosse uses the Nutbeem bakery shop in her book “The Taxidermist's Daughter” (2014).

“One of Levi Nutbeem's sons was behind the counter. 'I'll be right with you, Miss Gifford.' 'Thank you.' ...
The tiny shop was stacked floor to ceiling, every square inch accounted for. At the back, next to the post office window, were pails, packets of pins, drums of Zebra blacking and Seidlitz powders. Shelves of tins filled the side wall, and on a the long wooden counter, Cobourgs and flat tin loaves; a marble slab with blocks of butter, lard and cheese ready to cut; a brick of salt too. On the floor, hessian bags filled with sugar, loose tea and flour.”


I know it doesn’t count as true historical research and not an author that I have read before, but I feel that I will now simply have read the book…

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