Stacey, John (b.1910)
Like his father and grandfather, John Stacey worked as a builder and monumental mason.  John worked on many buildings in Nether Stowey and the surrounding area.  In 1898 Jack’s father built the water system in Nether Stowey, digging a reservoir and laying piping supplied by the Bridgwater Rural District Council.
Nether Stowey Nether Stowey
Sound File
Listen to John Stacey - 2.42MB Duration 5:16 min.

AH: So in fact your father travelled quite a way working?


JS: Yes, he did quite a bit of work over at Little Quantock that belong to the Estdales.  Talking about walking to work, some men walked down from Nether Stowey to Lord St Audries to help build those walls that they have just demolished.


AH: Did most of the men that lived here, did they work here in this?


JS: Well yes, because you couldn’t get anywhere unless you had a horse.  In fact, I met an old man some years ago, in fact, his father owned the shop down in St Mary’s Street and apparently some of his relatives had taken him down to Watchet and he said that was only the second time he had been to Watchet in his life, because unless you had some means of transport you walked everywhere or rode a horse.


In fact, if you have read that book about the Over Stowey vicar, ‘Paupers and Pig Killers’, the only form of transport was a horse and not many people had a horse.  On the top of the village up here you will see a number of strips of land probably about an acre each, well they belonged to the trades people of the village who had a horse, like the butcher have a horse to take his meat around.  Various people like that.  You were quite affluent if you had a horse.


AH: What was the acre of land used for?


JS: For keeping the horse either with grass or hay, you had to work it so that you could grow some hay for the winter.  In fact where we are here [23 Lime Street] my father bought this and the house next door when he got married.  That was the house and here was a stable where an old lady years ago, a Mrs Griffith, she used to run a horse bus or pony bus to Bridgwater.  She kept a little cart out here in the driveway, because the roof went over on to the next house, and above here was the loft where she kept the hay.  In some of the pictures you can see where she put the hay in from outside through a door.


MG: So did your family make all the tombstones?


JS: Well, years ago my grandfather, I think it was, had three monumental masons working in the Barkhouse, cutting headstones and inscriptions, that sort of thing.  My father carried on for quite a while but after a while the Italians who supplied the marble, they would withhold raw marble and supply the memorials themselves, they’d send them over headstones and crosses already worked so it reduced the work available for the British stone masons.


It was a very slow process cutting marble, they didn’t have diamond tipped saws, it was cut by a plain saw with no teeth and it was going backwards and forwards and you had cutting sand with water running down a sloping disk towards the saw and you cut about an inch an hour.  So if you had a three-inch slab it would take three or four hours to cut through.  They did the same with the crosses.  They had a sort of a double sort of saw to do that.  Very hard work and very slow.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley & Mary Gryspeerdt in October 1988. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.