I’ve always been aware of a small but elegant memorial in the north aisle of St James’ to men from the village who died in the Boer war, but have done nothing about it. A few months ago a good friend of the History Group, researcher Nigel Meyrick, suggested we investigate their stories. The task was relatively easy as there were press cuttings from the Chester Newspapers of the day giving us the sad news that all three Christleton men, Joseph Hinde 5th Dragoon Guards, George Bradshaw 21st Imperial Yeomanry, and Percy Thomas Harding 7th Dragoon Guards all died of enteric fever (typhoid) whilst serving in South Africa. Joseph at Ladysmith, George near the Orange River, and Percy at Kroonstad.
Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, bilious fever or Yellow Jack is an illness caused by salmonella bacteria, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated by faeces from an infected person. The figures revealed following this terrible campaign are astonishing to us today. From the British Force of 556,653 men who served in the Anglo-Boer War 57.684 contracted typhoid, 8,225 of these died. Meanwhile 7,582 men were killed in action.
Whilst carrying out the research Nigel came across another newspaper cutting in the Chester Courant of two Christleton men who survived the war, George and William Postons. This was a fantastic lead for me, as I have already a number of stories and photographs in our files of the Postons Family. Many older residents will remember Frank, Captain of the Bellringers, of his father James who lived until he was 105, and Margaret Davies, Frank’s sister, who looked after James at The Old Surgery in Village Road.
Let me first of all reveal the story of George (b.1872) and William (b. 1874). They were the first two sons in a family of 15 children born to Walter and Frances. Walter was a Gardener and Farm labourer, who later became Butler at Christleton Hall. Frances, after caring for her children, became Housekeeper at Christleton Hall. Their last address is given as The Surgery Christleton, but they lived at Littleton when first married.
It was their older sister Anne Jane Brierley of Hoole Lane who told their story having received interesting letters from the front. It seems that both George and William were Troopers in the 16th Lancers and were serving with General French’s force which relieved Kimberley. One of them writes “ I don’t think these Boers can shoot a little bit. I think it’s mostly chance shots. You should have seen them run the day we charged them. Some of them waved white handkerchiefs and went on their knees for mercy.”
Again by coincidence I have an early family portrait of the family, and the two older boys George & William are on the back row. James is on the left of his mother and Anne Jane and Emily are the older girls with Vera probably the girl in white in front of their parents as the date of the photograph is around 1892. James or (Jim) Postons was a legend in the village, living to the grand old age of 105 years. He had been a gardener at the Old Hall and can be seen on the left of the main picture of the servants. He attended Christleton Girls and Infant and Boys Schools and left at 13 years to work on a farm. He became gardener at Christleton Hall, now The University of Law, and in 1912 won the Chester Paxton Society award for the best apples in the village. He was a verger at St James till he reached 90, and kept gardening at home until his late 90’s.
An announcement on television news was the highlight of his 105th birthday celebrations, and visitors are said to have arrived in their dozens to wish him well. He also received a congratulatory telegram from the Queen, with bouquets of flowers from Canada and Australia.
I remember visiting him sitting in his rocking chair by the side of the fireplace at The Old Surgery, and his mind was very alert, and a great story teller. One story he told was about an incident from 100 years ago of him being afraid of the butcher (probably Joe Mosford). He said ”I was just a toddler and the butcher was late arriving to kill the family pig. My mother had prepared a scalding bath for skinning the pig and when the butcher arrived I heard him say ‘Is he ready’….. I was frightened because I thought he was referring to me” He was in great health until he was 103 when his hearing started to fail. Mentally he was very alert right till his death. Margaret who looked after her father said he never smoked in the home, but occasionally he would have a Woodbine in the garden. He said “ It kept the greenfly down”.
Boar War Memorial
Christleton Hall 1900's
Poston Family group photograph
James Poston 100th Birthday