Joseph Bayley, my great grandfather, went

thumbnail_Bayley_Dr. Joseph_photo_1863_

as a very young man, with or without his little dog,


to be a surgeon to the navy during the Crimean War and witnessed the bombardment of Bomarsund.

On his return he married

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Sarah Jane Oliver, the daughter of the superintendent of the Salop Asylum. He then  was chosen from among forty seven candidates to be superintendent of St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton.


He lived with his family


in Priory Cottage in the grounds of the hospital. It looks more like a substantial villa than a cottage to me. Therefore my grandmother, like her mother before her,  grew up in a mental hospital. Though there is a great deal too much ivy about the place, I’m glad the windows of Priory Cottage are mostly open.

Bayley_Joseph&Sarah_photo_1893_Bayley Family portrait at St. Andrews Hospital

What quantities of children Sarah and Joseph had! (Ten actually). My grandmother, Gretchen, stands on the right. Their names were Eleanor, Joseph, Harold, Beatrice, Percival, Maude, Leslie, Gretchen and Claude.

Beatrice was the mother of the artist Cecily Peele.


I especially like Lawrence of Arabia – whose childhood home at 2, Polstead Road, I lived in when I was an art student. (But that’s another story entirely).


What a lovely detail.

Beatrice was also great friends with Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale, another splendid artist.


But I digress…

Gretchen was my mother’s mother.


When they got quite old

Bayley_Joseph&Sarah_photo_1895_ Shrewsbury

Joseph looks tired and Sarah has got rather fat. The poor cat (lower left) seems to be running away.

And that is quite enough storytelling for today.