Woodford Halse Archive

St Mary’s William Marriott Gravestone
St Mary’s William Marriott Gravestone

Woodford Buildings

St Mary’s

The fourth stone is that of William Marriott, who died on 11th December 1871. He is described on the stone as Poet, Singer, and Thatcher, and so far as is known, he is the only poet Woodford has produced. One of his poems [The Steeplechase] is recorded in one of the village scrapbooks and is as follows:

‘Twas on the seventh of Bright May
At half past six that day.
As I stood in a certain place
I saw a splendid steeplechase.
I hope I shall be free from blame
As I record each runners name:
The victor’s name you first shall hear.
‘Twas Mr. Bolton Lancashire.
Young Crispin followed in his track.
Young Grinder too, and Spring Heeled Jack.
Went up the hill as if they flew.
And very soon were lost to view.
They hurried round with might and main
And soon appeared in sight again.
But when they got into the mead
Young Lancashire put on more speed.
To win he always felt inclined.
And very soon left all behind.
Young Grinder drove him sharply in.
His prize he did most nobly win.
Spring Heeled Jack came in like a bird.
He had the luck to come in third.
Young Crispin then came in, we know.
Oh dear, how he did puff and blow!
Then came the little Dorset Pet:
No-one dare on him to bet!
Light Blue came weary, far behind.
For he was rather short of wind.
Sir Isaac Newton lost the fun:
He hurt his foot and could not run.
Three cheers for Bolton Lancashire!
His fame has spread both far and near.

Two of the names mentioned are of local men, Spring Heeled Jack was the father of the late Mr. Jack Bird and his brother George, for many years the local carpenters and undertakers. Young Grinder was Mr. Thomas Ward, a member of the blacksmith family, he had his nickname because he was a miller. He was later, killed when he was caught in the cogs of the mill where he worked. The Dorset Pet was so called because he was beloved by everyone, he, and all the other runners, were students with the Reverend H.H. Minchin.

By kind permission of Woodford Halse Archive