Brigadier George Powell

Transcript of interview with Brigadier George Powell who used to live at Coggswell, Tytherton Lucas

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Photograph of Coggswell taken when George Powell was living there

I came to Tytherton Lucas in 1964 at the age of 48, as a Major still serving in the army, in the 1st Queens Dragoon Guards. Coggswell1 cost £5,000 and £1,000 for the stables. It was a present from my father. Coggswell was my favourite house. It had a dressing room and two bathrooms. The rooms on the top floor weren’t done up as now. It had two cellars. My two sons were brought up there: James and Simon. They went to Charterhouse and Monkton Combe schools. They both hunted. We had three horses between myself, my wife and the boys. Charmian, my wife, did all the mucking out! I hunted with the Beaufort for 30 years.

My next door neighbour on the East Tytherton side, at Curricombe Farm, Alan Hutchings was a great friend. When the hunt came on a Thursday, he saw them having such fun that he sold his cattle and changed to arable. We bought The Beeches next door, where the Tennants now live, for £2000 at auction. My youngest son, Simon, lived there for a while.

Terry Golding was like an adopted son. He ran a housing business, he was a carpenter and helped people when they moved house. I used him to make changes at Coggswell, particularly renovating the stables.

Miss “Tinkerbell” Livingstone lived at Broome Corner2. A vicar’s daughter. She was an organiser. She objected to me extending the stable block, but the planning officer did nothing about it.

Serena Henley had married and they lived at Coggswell with her sisters, and their children Cordelia and Listra Mary. Just before me, it was two old ladies. I found an Italian airforce revolver left by the ladies!

A previous inhabitant of Coggswell was a gentleman farmer called Thomas Crook3. He was friends with the Duke of Bedford. Thomas Crook drew pictures of cattle and sold them to the Duke. James Ward did paintings. Thomas could get oxen fit and ready for work before others because he fed them boiled potatoes! Oxen were used to do all the work on the farm. Thomas Crook was also a horse breeder. “Skyscraper”4 won every race, including the Derby in 1789. He was owned by the Duke of Bedford but he couldn’t get Skyscraper to settle and serve the mares. So Thomas Crook brought him to Coggswell5 where he settled and was very successful. He was painted by George Stubbs. The railings in front of Coggswell are higher to keep a stallion in.

Bob and Ann Davies from Manor Farm were very good neighbours. Bob Davies also served in the WW2 – at Caen , in France. They hosted an annual event for the church. I took over from Bob as the churchwarden. I had the church roof retiled – replaced all the stone slates. A bottle was put in the new roof with contributions from the children including a 10 times table and a list of everyone who lived in the parish – like a time capsule. I cycled to church every Sunday from Coggswell. The other church congregation, normally about 11, included the Davies from Manor Farm, the Arengo-Jones from Stokes6 and Angie, Ruby and Doris from The Laurels. I rang the bell when the Afghanistan war was over and again when the Falkland war was over.

Gastons was a separate farm before Bob Davies bought it.

Edgar and Nesta Davis worked for Bob Davies and lived at Manor Farm Cottage.7

Mrs Cottle owned Bosmere Farm. As a young girl she had worked in Paris and was the spy for the latest ladies patterns and would draw what she saw and send them back to England. Then Bosmere was run by Emillio Vanzillotti, ex Prisoner of War. He lived at Bosmere cottages. He knew how to dance – I saw him dance in the barn at Bosmere! His family came from Florence. He married an Italian lady, Tina. They used to make hay and when the binder tie didn’t work, Tina had to tie the twine around the hay.

I first met Christopher Kent through Angie and I gave her away at their wedding. And sadly I gave a speech at Angie’s funeral. Angie’s mother, Ruby, worked as the cleaner for the Davies. She met her husband who was manning a search light in the fields by Catbrook. Serena Henley remembers the Home Guard meeting monthly in the cellars at Coggswell. She took them very strong cider, in a bucket. The cider fermented on the inside of the galvanised bucket and they all got very drunk. Angie’s grandfather, Eli Baker, had been the cowman at Manor Farm.

Stokes was no longer a farm, but Brigadier Arengo-Jones kept horses. He was retired and had been wounded in the war, lost his eye in a mine explosion and had a false eye. At one stage Stokes ran a seedy bar and had a reputation for loose women!

The Scott’s Mill farm labourers lived where Tim and Ros now live8, which used to be two cottages. The son from Scott’s Mill made a lot of money as an entrepreneur. When it ceased to be a farm, Ann Davis’ brother9 bought it. His wife, Barbara Phillips was a doctor. The machinery for the mill had all been sold.

Dr Ian Grandison from Broome Corner was our doctor

Field Farm was the last independent farm, owned by Pam and Doug Sawyer. There were three cattle farms: Field Farm, Curricombe Farm and Manor Farm, with the herd moved to Gastons Farm.

A village lunch for the Queen’s Jubilee was held in the front paddock at Coggswell.

Interviewed by Helen Stuckey and Dr Christpher Kent 19th July 2018

These notes were read back to George and he agreed we could use them for the Bremhill Parish History project.


  1. Also spelt Cogswell
  2. Now called Lucas House
  3. Thomas Crook 1749/50 to 1821. He farmed mainly from Coggsell but owned much land in Tytherton Lucas.
  4. Named after the tall sails on a ship as he had long legs. See “Skyscraper of Tytherton Lucas” by Louise Ryland-Epton.
  5. In 1802
  6. Stokes is now called Westfield House
  7. Now called Broome House, where the Cooks live
  8. Home Cottage
  9. He was a magistrate in Chippenham