Charlotte Constance James born 1840

My third great grandmother Charlotte Frances Dana (1820 – 1904) married John James (1808 – 1855), a solicitor from Newnham on Severn in west Gloucestershire, on 14 May 1839 at St Peters church, Worfield near Albrighton Shropshire.

They had three children, Charlotte Constance (1840 – 1935), John Henry (1841 – 1842), and a still-born son born 2 July 1842 .

In November 1847, discovering she was pregnant by her lover Philip Champion Crespigny, Charlotte deserted her husband and daughter Charlotte Constance and fled to France. Their daughter Ada Isadora was born at Paris on 15 May 1848. [At the time, France was in the throes of a violent revolution. Paris especially was greatly disturbed in June 1848 and it has been estimated that more than 10,000 people were killed or injured.]

Before 1857, when the Matrimonial Causes Act reformed divorce law, divorce in England was expensive and difficult to obtain. I have written previously on the Divorce of John James and Charlotte Frances née Dana.

Letters quoted in the Parliamentary debate make two mentions of their daughter. Charlotte wrote in her farewell letter to her husband: “I cannot live, John, and feel myself a blight upon you and our sweet innocent child…Oh, live to protect and guard our child. She will be a comfort and a blessing to you.” To her servant she wrote “Do not be frightened, Estcourt, at my going away. I know you will be kind and good to my darling child. Let her believe I am gone home – though it is to my long and last one. I leave you money (£5), which will pay all till your master comes again. I ask you to be kind and good to the child, and do not let her feel for her poor mother.

Letters from the Times report of the James Divorce

from the report in The Times, 21 March 1849, page 7 , on the debate before the House of Lords on the James’s divorce

Divorce law at the time required that there should be no evidence of joint collusion between husband and wife in organizing the divorce proceedings. At first sight, the divorce of John and Charlotte James is a model petition for divorce, fulfilling all the requirements: evidence of adultery, including the birth of a child which is not the husband’s; good – indeed excellent – marital relations right up to the time of separation; generous and most affectionate conduct by the husband, even acknowledged by Charlotte Frances’s parting letter; an attempt to pursue Philip Crespigny for criminal conversation damages.

It seems likely that for several weeks beforehand, John James, Charlotte Frances and Philip Crespigny were conspiring in the elopement and the divorce. John James would not have wanted to continue with an adulterous wife and someone else’s child, and everything that happened on the Isle of Wight (where Charlotte Frances James had been staying before her flight to France) and subsequently, must have been arranged in collusion. Whether the witnesses were suborned or simply deceived by the married couple acting a charade is impossible to tell, though we may suspect the number of people aware of the truth would have been kept to a minimum: bribery is one thing, blackmail an unwanted complication.

The weakest point was Charlotte Frances’s farewell letter. She may have intended to confirm the good conduct of her spouse and their mutual affection, but the exaggerated style fitted badly with the events that followed. One feels she should have taken some advice and guidance, though it must be acknowledged that the requirements for a successful petition of divorce – that the husband must have behaved well and there be mutual affection, but that adultery must be proved – are somewhat contradictory. On the
other hand, as Disraeli commented upon being told about J.S. Mill’s affair with Mrs Harriet Taylor, ‘The plan of having a husband and also a lover is not entirely without precedent’.

Charlotte Constance James was born 6 July 1840 at Newnham in Gloucestershire. She was seven years old when her mother abandoned her on the Isle of Wight in the care of a servant. The letter to the servant suggests that she be told that her mother had died. Mother and child never saw each other again.

On the 1841 census when she was an infant, she was listed as Charlotte. At the time of the 1851 census when she was ten years old she was listed as Constance. It may be that she had always been known by her middle name or it may be that after her mother left she was known by her middle name not her mother’s, now taboo.

In 1851 Constance James was living in her grandmother’s house in Clifton, a suburb of Bristol, with her father and uncle.

1851 census for John James

1851 English census Class: HO107; Piece: 1952; Folio: 383;Page: 33; GSU roll: 87352 retrieved through


24 The Mall Clifton


The Mall Gardens, Clifton , Gloucestershire opposite 24 The Mall where young Constance James probably played

Her grandfather, John James, a lawyer, had died on 20 March 1849 at Clifton. Her uncle Charles, also a lawyer, died in late August or early September 1851 at the age of 34 and was buried at St Peters, Newnham.

On 22 July 1852 Constance’s father remarried at Newland, Gloucestershire, to Arabella Veronica Deighton (1826 – 1923). On 3 June 1853, Vera Maria James, half-sister of Constance, was born.

On 23 March 1855 John James died, only 47. Constance was then 14 years old.

On 17 February 1858 Charlotte’s step-mother remarried in Bombay, India to Stanley Napier Raikes (1824 – 1891), a Captain of the 18th Regiment of Native Infantry.

On 27 January 1859 Charlotte Constance James married Francis Gamble Blood at St Andrews Church, Clifton, Gloucestershire. He was a captain in the 69th regiment. The marriage was performed by her step-mother’s brother, the Reverend Charles Dighton, Rector of Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire.

Blood James marriage Cheltenham Examiner 2 February 1859 page 8

Cheltenham Examiner 2 February 1859 page 8 from the British Newspaper Archive retrieved through FindMyPast

I will write separately about Charlotte Constance Blood née James’s adult life.

Charlotte Frances Dana married Philip Crespigny in Paris on 18 July 1849. They had five children between 1848 and 1858. They sailed for Australia on 3 December 1851 and never returned to England. When they emigrated, they left behind an infant son, Constantine Pulteney Trent Champion de Crespigny who had been born on 5 May 1851. It would appear that they considered he would not be strong enough to survive the voyage. He was brought up by his Crespigny grandparents in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and was reunited with his parents in 1875 at the age of 24.

Charlotte Frances Dana

Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny née Dana, photograph in the collection of my father Rafe de Crespigny

Charlotte Frances Champion Crespigny died on 9 November 1904 at her son-in-law and daughter’s property at Eurumbeen East, near Beaufort, Victoria, Australia. Philip Champion Crespigny died at Brighton, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne, on 14 September 1889 from general paralysis, which had lasted nearly 13 years.


Visiting Manchester

On Thursday 9 May we set off from West Didsbury to explore Manchester proper.

We caught the train in, a frequent, fast, cheap, no-graffiti, light-rail, with free wifi, which took us into the very centre of the city. This was public transport far superior to ours in Ballarat, Melbourne, and the rest of Australia. It was easy for a visitor to buy a ticket.

The gritty north of England of our long-held prejudices was nowhere to be seen. To a casual visitor, the North seems prosperous, clean, and orderly or, in more fashionable language, young, vibrant, and inclusive.

We visited Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Cathedral, both magnificent.


“Balaclava” 1876 by Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler

Who doesn’t enjoy whimsical misericord carvings? One seat in Manchester Cathedral has a gang of bunny-rabbits roasting a hunter over a spit.

20190509034810_IMG_2924 (1)


Travelling north with lunch at Whitmore

On Wednesday 8 May we drove north from Bath, calling in at the village of Whitmore in Staffordshire, near Stoke-on-Trent, to visit some of my cousins. On the way we stopped at Tewkesbury, near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, to look at the abbey there. From Whitmore we went on to West Didsbury near Manchester, our next base.

One of my fifteenth great grandfathers, William Vaux (1435 – 1471), who fought in the War of the Roses for the Red Rose of Lancaster, was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471. He is said to have been buried at the Abbey, but I have been unable to find any record of this in the Abbey archives, and the list of inscriptions in the Tewkesbury Abbey church does not mention his name. This didn’t matter, for if you had an untraceable ancestor said to have been buried somewhere you couldn’t do better than not have him in Tewkesbury. It’s a lovely old church, said to be the one of the finest Norman abbeys in England.


We drove on to Whitmore and had lunch and an edifying chat with my cousins about Brexit, which turns out to be a plot to deprive England of its sovereignty, like 1066. At least one Australian present was reminded of the joke about a headline in an English newspaper that read, ‘Fog in Channel. Continent cut off’. On the other hand, the German car we had hired was showing unmistakable signs of having been designed and assembled by a committee of bureaucrats in Brussels, so who knows?


Eureka flag at Whitmore

The Eureka flag was flying, a present we had sent to England some time previously. There is a family connection other than cousins from Ballarat; a Cudmore cousin fought at Eureka (on the Government side).

Lunch was served on the family’s Minton china, commissioned by my great uncle Rafe Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1906 – 1995), a copy of a setting that his great great grandfather (my fourth great grandfather) Rowland Mainwaring (1783 – 1862) had ordered. Time moves slowly in the pottery towns, and Minton apparently still had the records from the first commission to run up a second one. When you got to the bottom of your plate, there was the family crest, an ass’s head on a crown. The motto is ‘Devant si je puis’ [Forward if I Can], a useful reminder to wait for the next course.


We had a tour of the house and stables and saw many family portraits. The house, now listed with Historic Houses, is open to the public. Our guide seemed very knowledgeable on the family history. In one or two places a section of the modern wall had been removed to expose the original structure. This had an interesting consequence. Breaching the wall had allowed a ghostly lady from an earlier era playing ghostly old music to wander into the present. There has been a house on the same site for over 900 years and it has belonged to the same family since the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, so I suppose you’d expect an apparition or two.




My fourth great grandfather Rowland Mainwaring kept a diary, now stored and displayed in an upstairs sitting room. Several volumes have been stolen unfortunately, probably souvenired by visitors. While we were at Whitmore my son Peter photographed some pages of the diary for me, including, sadly, the last entry, written by Rowland Mainwaring on the day he died.




Before we left we visited the churchyard and some family graves.



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A walk in Bath

When you’re travelling and you’ve set up a comfortable base somewhere it is tempting to make short excursions from it, to go off exploring somewhere else. Of course the alternative is to look around you, where you are already. On Tuesday 7 May, still in Bath, we made an effort to explore the city where we were staying.

Charlotte and I first visited the Roman Baths and the museum associated with it. For no extra money we got the company of crowds of French schoolchildren. The Baths I’d seen before; the Museum, was new to me. It says much for how thoroughly I enjoyed it that I didn’t particularly mind the noisy school children.

We tried tasting the pump water. No good. Very healthy, I’m sure, but I think I’m quite healthy enough already without the added 43 minerals in my drinking water.

The New Assembly Rooms, our next destination, was a long walk up a steep hill. Some of my forebears had themselves carried there in sedan chairs. A fine idea, but my normal retinue doesn’t include a pair of chair men, so we had to foot it. Part of the reward for making the ascent was a look at a Gainsborough portrait of one of my relatives, Captain William Wade who, for a time, was the Bath Master of Ceremonies. He was put in the shade, so to speak, by a pair of magnificent chandeliers, said to be insured for many millions of pounds.

After lunch we went to Bath Abbey, where an organ concert was in progress. Listening to this gave me time to sit quietly and gaze about. The fan vaulting and the east window are particularly wonderful.

Then we walked back up the hill to the Circus, to the Crescent and to Portland Place, all marvellous examples of Georgian architecture. 5 Portland Place was built by my (appropriately) 5th great grandfather Philip Champion Crespigny in 1786. He died there in 1803. The steps in front of 5 Portland Place had – and it’s still there – a ramp for the sedan chairs.

Back down to the Assembly Rooms again to visit the Fashion Museum and then on to the Victoria Art Gallery.

We came home via Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon, designed by Robert Adam and built by William Pulteney né Johnstone (1729 – 1805), one of my 7th great uncles. I’m glad he put it there. After all my walking I didn’t want to have to swim.


We bought some Bath buns to have with tea.



20 June 1756 Black Hole of Calcutta

Remembering Patrick Johnstone, who died in the Black Hole of Calcutta on 20 June 1756. He was only eighteen years old.

Anne's Family History

On 20 June 1756 Patrick Johnston(e) (1737-1756), my 7th great uncle, died in the prison of the Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah, later known as the “Black Hole of Calcutta” in India.

Three years previously, at the age of sixteen, Patrick had joined the East India Company as an accountant. He was eighteen when he died.

Memorial to the victims, St John’s Church Calcutta
Photograph in 2011 by Pdr123 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Patrick’s name is listed on a memorial to victims.

One of the prisoners, J. Z. Holwell, wrote an account of the incident. He reported that 146 were imprisoned and in a room only 4.30m. x 5.50 m (14 feet x 18 feet) 123 died overnight from overcrowding. It is suggested that Howell exaggerated these numbers and that probably only 69 men were imprisoned. Howell listed P. [Patrick] Johnston in his account.

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The Salisbury Plain

On Monday 6 May we drove from Bath to Salisbury to look at the Cathedral. About ten miles west of Salisbury we passed the Fovant Badges, regimental badges and other images cut into a chalk hill there. One of these incised badges is the Rising Sun, the official insignia of the Australian Army. Australian units stationed near Fovant from 1917 dug the turf and created the badge. Greg’s great uncle John Percy Young (1896-1918) was stationed at various military camps on the Salisbury Plain during 1917; he was possibly one of these soldiers.


We enjoyed Salisbury Cathedral and the many monuments it contains.

The Cathedral has a copy of the Magna Carta, one of only four copies surviving from 1215; there had been thirteen copies. It took neat writing and small letters to fit all the Barons’ demands on a single sheet of vellum. If Bad King John had been Even Badder King John another stretch of sheepskin would have been required, I suppose.


We couldn’t take a picture of the Magna Carta at Salisbury – it is very fragile and housed in a small darkened room in the Chapter House. This is an image from the British Library of another copy.


We visited Mompesson House, a National Trust Queen Anne house in the Cathedral close.

After lunch in a pub at Cholderton we drove north to Avebury. The gardener at the pub didn’t seem to understand plain English. No matter how loud and slowly we spoke to him he couldn’t tell us where we were. Our car’s GPS gave us a clue, but even it was a bit off course.


Avebury – possibly the cause of these strange geographical phenomena – is the site of a neolithic stone circle, the world’s largest. Avebury has a museum and nearby there is a manor with its garden. We looked in the museum, wandered around the garden, and walked half-way around the stone circle.


West Kennet Long Barrow just south of Avebury

It was May Day and we saw some May Day festivities, with maypole dancing and Morris dancing.

Back in Bath we went for a walk along the Avon and Kennet canal below our house on Widcombe Hill. Greg and Peter helped with opening the locks for a boat making its way up the canal. The help was possibly more of a hindrance: Greg caught a line from one of the boats and with a very fine Lighterman’s Hitch made it fast to a bollard. The bloke on the boat had to drag himself over and cast off.


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A spa in Bath and visit to Clifton

We were staying in Bath. One of its attractions is the Thermae Bath Spa, built on the site of the Roman baths, and supplied, as were the Roman baths, by warm spring water.

On Sunday Charlotte and I walked down Widcombe Hill and across the River Avon to the Spa for what we expected would be a nice hot plunge. The spa opens at nine o’clock. We arrived at ten past. This meant a queue – the English queue for everything – and so we stood in line for an hour waiting for a change room.

Why hadn’t we booked? You can’t, except for special treatments. And we couldn’t leave the queue for a cup of coffee because we’d have lost our place.

At £40 each I expected something better, but perhaps the Sunday of a Bank holiday weekend in May was not a good time to go. Oh well, the rooftop pool was fun.


The rooftop pool at the Thermae Bath Spa photographed in 2010 from Bath Abbey – image from Wikipedia; photograph by user:Simple Bob CC by 2.0


The Cross Bath adjacent to the Thermal Bath Spa



Looking down Bath Street toward the South Colonnade entrance of the Grand Pump Room. Bath was almost deserted on the Sunday morning except for the queue at the Thermal Bath Spa.

In the afternoon we drove to look at the Clifton Suspension Bridge (designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, completed after his death) near Bristol.


Nearby in Clifton, we found the house of John James (1808 – 1855), the first husband my 3rd great grandmother Charlotte Dana.

John James divorced Charlotte in 1849. At the time of the 1851 census he was living with his mother, brother, and daughter Constance aged 10, at 24 The Mall, Clifton. They had 4 live-in servants. The house overlooks a pretty garden, where I imagine Constance played.

1851 census for John James

1851 English census Class: HO107; Piece: 1952; Folio: 383;Page: 33; GSU roll: 87352 retrieved through


The Mall Gardens, Clifton , Gloucestershire

Visiting Oxfordshire

On Saturday 4 May we visited Oxford. On the way we passed by the Uffington White Horse and stopped in at Faringdon.

The White Horse is carved into the highest hill in Oxfordshire. We walked across a few paddocks towards it, from where we had a magnificent view of the valley across to the Cotswolds and towards Oxford, but close up it’s hard to make out the horse.



Nice to have a powerful zoom on my camera to capture the view


My 10th and 9th great grandfathers, Robert Pye (1585 – 1662) and his eldest son Robert Pye (1620 – 1701), fought each other in the Civil War, with son besieging father at Faringdon from May to June 1646. After 360 years, of course, nothing remains to suggest there ever was a war, except, perhaps, that the fighting destroyed much of what might have been there to see today.

In Oxford, we met one of my cousins, walked around the the University town, and had a pleasant lunch together. We visited Magdelen, one of the colleges. I was passing the World War I Honour Roll and caught the name Cudmore out of the corner of my eye. I had forgotten that some of my great grandfather’s cousins had studied in Oxford. I have written about both Collier Cudmore, a notable rower, and Milo Massey Cudmore, who died at St Eloi, near Ypres, in 1916.

The place where Thomas Cranmer was burned to death in 1556.


Balliol College


A graduation in progress


Rhodes statue still standing on the Rhodes building Oriel College


Magdalen College



WWI Honour Roll at Magdelen College listing Milo Massey Cudmore


My cousin’s pretty garden


Triangulating Matilda’s DNA

Three years ago my husband Greg and I sent off our DNA for analysis. There were three family history puzzles I thought DNA techniques might solve. One concerned the parents of Greg’s great grandfather Henry Sullivan. Who were they? I didn’t know. I thought DNA data might help.

We knew Henry was brought up in an orphanage in Geelong, but its records told us only that he had been abandoned by his parents, nothing more. We could not find a likely birth certificate for him.

I revisited the problem, reviewing digitised newspapers at Trove and widening my date search slightly. I wrote up the results at `Poor little chap‘.

Henry was committed as a State Ward on 11 June 1866. He was said to be four years old. Both his parents were living but he had been deserted. Looking at the newspapers for the month before Henry was committed I found a report that mentioned a ‘‘little one’ who had been abandoned by a woman named Sullivan.’ The newspaper stated that ‘The decrepit and indiscreet creature walked off with the child clinging to her.’. Perhaps this child was our Henry.

Following through various newspaper reports I came to the view that this Henry was the child of William Sullivan (born 1839) and Matilda Frances Sullivan formerly Hughes (born 1845). Matilda Sullivan was the daughter of Matilda Priscilla Hughes nee Moggridge formerly Derby (1825 – 1868) and the step-daughter of David Hughes (1822 – 1895). Matilda Sullivan had another son, Eleazer Hughes (1861 – 1949). Eleazer Hughes had left descendants. I hoped that by matching Greg’s DNA with the descendants of Eleazer Hughes I might be able to confirm the hypothesis of Henry Sullivan’s parents.

Greg and his brother Dennis, his first cousins BS and MS, and his second cousin LB all share DNA with various descendants of Eleazer Hughes.

The challenge with DNA matching is to be confident about which of your forebears you have inherited the shared DNA from.

For close relations where you knew the test-takers beforehand and when the amount of shared DNA corresponds to the amount expected to be shared given the relationship, a shared DNA match is taken to be evidence of the relationship. If you have access to the shared chromosome details then you can attribute the shared ancestry to the shared DNA.

When the relationship is more distant you need to be confident that the DNA is shared from a particular ancestor and not from some other shared ancestor. That other ancestor may be on a part of the tree you or your match have not yet documented, that is, you do not know about your shared relationship. A measure of this is tree completeness -how many of your forebears have you documented for the necessary generations. If you are looking at an expected third cousin relationship then you expect to share great great grandparents. The question then becomes whether you and your match have both documented all sixteen of your great great grandparents. Only then can you be completely confident there is no another possible explanation of why you share DNA.

When it comes to fourth cousin relationships you are one more generation back. Both you and your match need to have documented thirty-two third great grandparents but also you need to take into consideration other possible relationships that might account for the amount of DNA that you share.

The distance between two gene loci on a chromosome is measured in centiMorgans (cM), defined as ‘the distance between chromosome positions for which the expected average number of intervening chromosomal crossovers in a single generation is 0.01’, that is, how likely the segment is to recombine as it passes from parent to child.

If two sets of DNA are compared, a higher number of shared centiMorgans means greater confidence in the match, that is, greater confidence that the match represents a closer relationship.

Any given number of centiMorgans though can represent a variety of relationships. The Shared cM Project is a collaborative data collection and analysis project created as part of research into the ranges of shared centiMorgans associated with various known relationships. A tool called the ‘Shared cM Project 3.0 tool’ v4 allows users to compare the amount of DNA shared with a match with the accumulated results of the data collection of more than 25,000 relationships and their shared DNA. Using the tool is an aid to understanding what relationships are most likely to be represented by the amount of shared DNA.

The more generations back  the higher the chance that no DNA is shared between descendants. It is possible for third cousins not to share DNA and the likelihood that fourth cousins share DNA is only in the order of 50%.

If three people share one segment of DNA and they know how they are related, then we have more confidence that the shared DNA comes from particular ancestors.

Matilda DNA triangulation

Greg and L B are second cousins. They have tested their DNA at AncestryDNA and uploaded to MyHeritage and GedMatch. At AncestryDNA they share 242 centiMorgans across 9 segments and at MyHeritage they share 254.6 centiMorgans across 9 segments. (I have previously discussed my experience of variations in DNA matches between

Greg and L B are half third cousins to D J G. D J G’s great grandfather, Eleazer Hughes, was the half-brother of Greg and L B’s great grandfather Henry Sullivan. At MyHeritage Greg shares 89.2 centiMorgans across 4 segments with D J G. L B shares 64.1 centiMorgans with D J G. The amount of DNA shared between the cousins falls within the probabilities predicted using the shared cM tool.

Greg, L B and D J G share one triangulated segment on chromosome 10. The segment is 47.7 centiMorgans long.

DJG and LB triangualted segment with Greg

I believe this DNA segment on chromosome 10 was inherited from Matilda by Greg, L B and D J G.

I checked that there was no other likely relationship to explain the DNA match by tracing the grandparents of DJG. Greg’s family tree and the tree of LB are both complete and documented up to their great great grandparents.

LB and Greg do have other matches with descendants of Eleazer Hughes but so far I have not been able to triangulate the DNA to a single segment. AncestryDNA, which has the most DNA matches, unfortunately lacks the tool, a chromosome browser, to demonstrate the triangulation.


Postscript: the poor little chap grew up, married and had a family. It seems he had a contended adult life. You can read about him at H is for Henry.

Navillus with Sullivan family

Florence Sullivan (nee Hickson), Elaine Sullivan, Anne Sullivan (nee Morley), and Henry Sullivan at “Navillus”, 7 Evelyn Street, East Bentleigh from the collection of a cousin and used with permission



A visit to Cheltenham

My 4th great grandparents are buried at Leckhampton near Cheltenham. On Friday 3 May I met one of my Hughes cousins at the churchyard. She had previously photographed the graves for me. I was pleased to see them in person.




The inscriptions are starting to wear. In the casket are buried my 4th great grandparents Eliza Julia Champion Crespigny nee Trent (1797 – 1855) and Charles Fox Champion Crespigny (1785 – 1875), and their grandson Constantine Trent Pulteney Champion Crespigny (1851 – 1883). The daughter of Eliza and Charles, Eliza Constantia Frances Champion Crespigny (1825 – 1898), is buried nearby with a simple cross marker.


The church was open and, inside, surprisingly warm. There was soon to be a wedding and the ladies of the church were doing the arrangements.

Over lunch at a pub nearby my cousin and I chatted about family history.

Then we visited Cheltenham, very close to Leckhampton, where we saw the house of my 4th great grandparents at 11 Royal Parade. Cheltenham, a Regency spa town, is pretty with many Georgian terraces.


On the way back to Bath we stopped at Chedworth, a National Trust Roman villa site.



We drove through pretty countryside and along more narrow lanes.


Back in Bath Peter and I bought some local gin from a distillery not far from where we were staying. Delicious.




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