One of the quirky things about villages is the way names crop up in the most odd, but interesting ways. The ‘Nancy Moore Steps’ is one of Geddington’s quirks. The steps are named after a young wife who lived in the cottage next door to the steps: even the cottage is in her name.
Now one of the quirky, and exciting, things about websites is the contact that’s possible by people all over the world. What would Nancy have made of the fact that some of her descendants now live in Canada? It’s thanks to Patricia, a great-great-great-granddaughter of Samuel and Anne (nickname: ‘Nancy’) Moore, that we have a more accurate picture of the family tree.
Samuel and ‘Nancy’ certainly lived in Wood Street all their married life, however, ‘Nancy’ married at the age of 25, in 1832, and it is unlikely that photography was available to the masses at that time, so reluctantly, I have to admit that our picture is not that of Nancy Moore of the Steps fame. However, all is not lost, as it is more than likely that she is a descendant of the original Nancy and could well be the grand-daughter-in-law, Frances Amy, née Lee, wife of grandson, Samuel Moore. (For more of the Lees, see the NB below.)
Samuel’s father, William, was an avid bell-ringer and there is a plaque in the Geddington church that records the fact that he rang the bells every Christmas Eve for 50 years. His son, Jackson, became Head Gardener at Barnwell Manor in 1892, when he was 22 years old. Subsequently he moved with Colonel Henry Wickham and Lady Ethelreda Caroline Gordon to Cotterstock Hall, staying there until he died in 1960, aged 92, thus staying in the same job for 68 years.
One of Jackson’s sons, Sydney, who was born in Cotterstock, served in the Royal Engineers in Northern France during the 1914-18 war, whilst his cousin, Thomas, son of Samuel, served in the Royal Carabinieres (Dragoon Guards). His duties included reconnaissance and dispatch riding on his horse called Sammy. For a short time during the war, their regiments were just a few miles from each other and Tommy gained permission from his C.O. to ride out and meet up with his cousin. There was a joyful reunion and Tommy stayed for tea – evidently a few tins of peaches had turned up unexpectedly – which was a treat not to be missed. Afterwards, Tommy mounted Sammy to return to his unit. A few minutes after his departure, all hell broke loose with German shells coming thick and fast, and Sidney feared the worst. No one, he decided, could survive the onslaught and he assumed his cousin was a ‘goner’. But what happened is stuff out of ‘Boys Own.’ Sammy was circus trained and was used to obeying a variety of commands. Tommy guided Sammy into a ditch and told him to lie down and not move until further orders. This wonderful horse obeyed until the bombardment stopped and they could resume their journey back to the unit.
It is thanks to the great-granddaughter of Nancy Moore, who died only last autumn, in September of 2012, at the age of 90, that we are able to reveal this wonderful human story that happened midst the horror that was the Great War of 1914 – 18.
NB One of the ancestors of the Moore family was Samuel Lee, who was the Ranger for Geddington Chase and died in 1708. He left a legacy to the poor of Geddington, of £100, to be distributed on Christmas Day. You can find more about this generous benefactor on the Samuel Lee Charity page, under the Village Life column.
NB To find the Nancy Moore Steps, go to our Walks section and scroll down to the Brigstock Circular Walk.