4 Ticknall, Derbyshire (1845-1897)

William of Ticknall

The rain had stopped but the road through Ticknall, the A514 between Leicester and Derby, is a busy one and I was finding it difficult to get my bearings. I drove hopefully up a side-road and noticed what appeared to be a non-conformist chapel; I found a place to park and went to have a look. It was locked, and there was no churchyard. I walked down to the main road and found a village shop, where I got directions to the Church of England church, St George’s. The Ticknall Garrards were clearly not Baptists like old William. I made my way up the next turning along the road, and at the top of a cul-de-sac I found a little iron gate leading into a large, open churchyard.

As soon as I walked through the gate I had the very strange feeling that I had been there before. The last remaining ruins of an ancient church were at the centre with old gravestones stacked up against a piece of its wall – removed from the graveyard, so it would appear, to make space for fresh burials. On the far side from the entrance is the old church’s replacement, an imposing Victorian structure built of grey stone with a square bell-tower and a spire atop it so tall that it might almost interfere with the clouds.

It is a very distinctive place. I could imagine it with its Victorian congregation filing in for Sunday service, the ladies all with their best bonnets and full dresses. Maybe I had indeed been there before, perhaps on some family visit instigated by my father and now I was remembering it from remote childhood; though I checked with both my mother and my step-mother as to whether we had ever been there, and the answer from each of them was no.

Today I felt very much like a visitor, though nobody else was around to welcome me in. I can’t remember if I even checked the door of the church to see if it was open; I was much more interested in the graveyard outside. I still have a letter from my Aunt Edythe telling me that near the east end of the church there are several Garrard graves; there were indeed a couple, though if there had once been more they had been removed.

Those I found were both the graves of young children: one was Ada, youngest daughter of William and Harriett Garrard, who died on 13th May 1861 aged only five years. The other is somewhat enigmatic: ‘Alice Mary Garrard, infant daughter of Henry and Kate Button, died January 29th 1887.’ Kate, I later learned, was one of William and Harriett’s two surviving daughters and she married Henry Button in 1886.

The graves of Rowland and Susanna Ordish of Derby House, Ticknall were also there, as well as that of their son-in-law William Garrard – though I didn’t see his at the time, it’s hidden away and much overgrown. In fact, these were all the Garrards who had ever died in Ticknall. I scribbled down the inscriptions from the children’s graves and then left, in a hurry by now to get back home to Somerset. On my way the rain returned, in torrents. The visit to Ticknall had been oddly hurried and unsatisfactory, and not one that left me with the impetus to return. Even so, perhaps I will; Ticknall would certainly come back to my attention in a few years time, in spades.


Ticknall church Priory House

My mother has written her own family notes, though she was only one of the Garrards for ten years or so, during her first marriage; so most of what she noted down concerns her own parents, her aunts and uncles, and her grandparents. However, on a page of miscellaneous items and with no apparent relevance to anything else, she wrote that ‘Great Grandfather Garrard was a vet’. I had only recently discovered this for myself, and I asked her where she had got the information from.  She said, ‘I can’t remember. Probably from your father’. My father – who had died more than 25 years before – was, of course, William of Ticknall’s great grandson.

In 1845 the younger William had taken up the veterinary practice in Ticknall. He replaced the previous vet Thomas Sheffield, who had recently retired. By that time the Reverend William, together with Mary and her three boys, were reasonably well settled in Leicester, and this was quite likely his son’s reason for taking up a practice only twenty miles away from him – just across the county border in Derbyshire. Whatever his motivation in choosing to live in Ticknall, he was to do very well.

In contrast to his father, the achievements of the Reverend William’s son were very much those of the material world. He seems to have soon become well respected in Ticknall and beyond; there are several newspaper reports of him appearing as an expert witness in court cases: one, for instance, an allegation of culpable negligence involving a contagious disease that had been transmitted from one herd of cattle to a neighbour’s; another after he had carried out a post mortem examination of dogs poisoned by strychnine. Later in life he was appointed by the courts as an inspector under the 1869 Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, the first time the law had addressed such problems as Foot and Mouth disease.


My visit to Leicester and Ticknall had been in 2011; I had recently self-published my own first book and then, heeding the advice that a self-publishing author really needs a website, I had created one. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process. Included on the site is a collection of articles and stories going right back to when I was at school; the most recent, when the website was published, was the short original version of Two Hundred Years of Family History. The Reverend William’s Reminiscences had indeed rounded out the narrative sufficiently for it to become the bones of an interesting story.

What now looks like a short summary of the Garrard family history – for since then it has much expanded – went up on the internet in 2012. By now genealogy was becoming very popular, and Family History websites were a substantial and growing business. I took no notice of them at the time – after all, I already had the family’s own records going back to well before 1841 and the first national census. However, I had become googleable by others, including Family History enthusiasts, and from time to time I would receive emails from distant relations who I’d never known existed.

In early 2018 I had a phone call that sounded at first like such a connection; but I found myself speaking to a woman called Jill Adams. Jill is a freelance researcher who had been commissioned to put together a history of the inhabitants of Derby House in Ticknall; these included Rowland and Susanna Ordish – who were William of Ticknall’s parents-in-law.

She was hoping I could give her new information about the younger William Garrard, though as it turned out she knew far more about him than I did. For instance, it was she who volunteered the fact that he was a vet; that he had trained in London and then come to take a rural practice in Ticknall. She also sent me a thumbnail picture of William, that she had found on a Family History website (she referred to it as an ‘FH site’). It was she who would later investigate, with some enthusiasm, the lives of the three Challis brothers, and who provided me with their father James Challis’ Will.

With Jill’s active input, things began to happen far more quickly. She sent me a stack of information about Ticknall, and about William Garrard and his wife Harriett (née Ordish). I remembered the name Ordish, and dimly recalled an ancient photograph in a decorative gilt frame that used to be in our family home in Wiltshire. Keen to repay Jill’s generous offerings, I asked my sister if she knew whether the photograph still existed. Sadly she didn’t remember it and didn’t know.

After a lull, Jill got in touch again to let me know she had discovered that William of Ticknall had been an early enthusiast for photography; did I know of any photographs he might have taken?

I was in the middle of replying that I had no idea at all when I remembered being contacted by some distant relations in Canada, Malcolm and Jane Roberts, who had got in touch four years earlier. I re-read their emails and I was reminded that they had a collection of old photographs including one very early one on glass: a picture of the brothers Nathan, David and Eliezer Challis and their wives. Their married lives roughly coincided with the period when William would have been active as a photographer, and Jill was now checking the relevant dates of marriages and deaths.

She also told me that the Roberts had visited Ticknall during a trip to Europe in 2016, and had appeared in the local magazine Ticknall Life as descendants of the Ordishes and William Garrard (1). Before long we were all in communication with each other. I now knew that Jane Roberts (née Garrard)’s Aunt Margaret had collected quite a lot of information about the family in East Anglia and Leicester – visiting various County Record Offices by bus, with no car and before the days of Family History sites. Malcolm and Jane visited England again that year (2018) and we met in Glastonbury for a pub lunch; the food was not great, however, and I still don’t have copies of any historic photographs, nor of Aunt Margaret’s notes. All these are somewhere in the chaos of their Toronto basement following piecemeal rescue from a flood in 2014. In the longer term I still remain hopeful.

Information from Jill, however, was voluminous and very helpful. She had uncovered pictures, maps and articles relating to William Garrard and his life in Ticknall, enough to fill a couple of small parcels. One particular picture had been taken by William himself: the limestone ‘dripping wells’ – a worked out underground lime quarry – that he photographed in about 1860. This had become a popular picnic spot, until it collapsed in 1952 due to erosion of the limestone; Jill had also managed to find contemporary photographs of the hillside with a huge hole.

I am indebted to her for much of the information that follows, as well as many of the photographs.


Susannah and Rowland William and Harriett

In 1848 William married Harriett Ordish, daughter of Rowland Ordish who was a farmer and also Ticknall’s ‘lime master’. Where available, local lime pits and lime kilns in those days supplied the community with agricultural lime for ‘sweetening’ the land and the higher quality product required for making cement and plaster for building work.

Rowland Ordish leased the limeyards from the minor local aristocrat, Sir John Harpur Crewe, Bart. In the course of her professional researches Jill had found numerous maps and other details, which she shared with me.

William and Harriett went on to have six children: Norman, Arthur, Alice, Kate, Ada and Charles – all of whom except Ada survived into adulthood. They lived in a substantial house known as ‘The Priory’ in Ticknall. The original Priory used to be four miles away and had been destroyed in the sixteenth century, soon after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, supposedly to prevent ‘papists’ from re-occupying it. The site of the main Priory building was used for the construction of Repton School, which is still there. ‘The Priory’, or Priory House in Ticknall, had been built in the early nineteenth century on a parcel of land that had once been in the possession of Repton Priory.

In 1855 William Garrard bought the lime producing business from his father-in-law and became the last ‘lime master’ to operate in Ticknall. In 1856 he bought the Ordish family’s farming interests as well. Rowland Ordish died in 1859, aged 76.

William had almost certainly been brought up on a farm in his native village of Gissing, by his grandparents the Normans. In Ticknall he prospered as a farmer, but it was the lime business that did particularly well (though on a smaller scale than it had been for Rowland Ordish). In 1861 William’s lime yards employed eighteen men, compared to three on the farm. In 1872, when the Harpur Crewes provided a Thanksgiving Day celebration for people in Ticknall, the newspaper report added that ‘Mr Garrard also gave a holiday to his numerous labourers’.

Jill was sure that some examples of his photographic work still survive, especially if they had appeared in local newspapers. William may have developed this interest whilst he was a student; his time at veterinary college coincided with the opening of the first public photographic studio in London (2) and, fuelled by an increasing demand for portraits that far outstripped the possible output of miniature painters, this new technique generated a lot of interest.


Repton Priory map William and Harrietts marriage

Harriett Ordish had been born in 1826 in curious circumstances. In terms of social status, Rowland and his wife Susanna were second in the village only to the Harpur Crewes. However, the Ordishes had been childless after more than ten years of marriage and Harriett’s mother is acknowledged to have been Joanna Ordish of Newton Solney, five or six miles away.

Joanna was the unmarried daughter of a cousin of Rowland Ordish (though she once had banns of marriage published for one week, but not the necesary three). It is likely that the liaison with her cousin Rowland was an arrangement made in an attempt to continue the Ordish family line; she successfully got pregnant but gave bith to a daughter, so it was actually the Garrard line that eventually benefitted.

Joanna was known to later generations of Garrards as ‘Mrs Orchard’, presumably a family fiction intended to camouflage the truth. Harriett’s youngest son Charles, when he wrote in his old age to his nephew Oswald, included this: ‘The photograph [one described to him by Oswald] I cannot recall, I think it is probably my mother’s mother Joanna Ordish of Newton Solney. Her mother my great grandmother I dimly remember about 1863. They were known as Mrs Orchard, both of them I think. What the connection with the Orchard family generally was I don’t know, but it was a very close one. It might possibly have been a bar sinister.’

This letter written by Charles Garrard I have already mentioned in relation to the Reverend William Garrard, and when I first read it I’d had no idea that the story behind this brief sidetrack was so interesting. Of course there was in fact no Orchard family, and during Joanna’s lifetime no such pretense was felt to be necessary. William and Harriett were married in Newton Solney church so that she could be present as the bride’s mother; indeed, she signed the marriage register.

Having established himself in Ticknall and having married Harriett Ordish, William gradually came to occupy the social position in the village until then held by his father-in-law.


The eastern end of the village was originally one of several detached parts of the parish of Repton, reflecting early ownership by Repton Priory (3). This area was included in the Priory’s purchase following the Dissolution, and was not incorporated into Ticknall parish until 1880. The house called ‘The Priory’ was built in the early nineteenth century, when the land had been occupied by Thomas Cope who was working part of the limeyards at that time.

With the advent of the railways and more efficient transport, lime production was being industrialised; the price of lime was falling and local pits would gradually become uneconomic. As the owners of other limeyards encountered financial difficulties, the Harpur Crewe family had been able to take over their quarries until they owned all of them in the entire area, and the yards were leased to tenants. The main tenant was Rowland Ordish, who by 1851 employed 36 men, burning 700 kilns a year, processing 21,000 tons of limestone. This was the height of lime production in Ticknall.

The last independent operator was Thomas Cope, and when he died in 1852 his business was bought by Sir John Harpur Crewe and his limeyards leased, along with the others, to Rowland Ordish. From 1855 when William Garrard had bought the Ordish lime business and taken over the leaseholds, he traded under the name of the Ticknall Lime Company.

He did very well for some time, but in the end the primitive horse-drawn tramway that was used for transport meant that Ticknall lime could not compete with lime quarries that had ready access to the railways. By the mid-1880s production had stopped except intermittently when it was required by the local estates.

William died in 1880. His Will left the farm and the lime works to his wife Harriett, with the wish that she should continue both businesses if possible. By this time lime production on a local scale was becoming less and less viable however, and she continued the lime business for only a further three years; the farm continued for six before she sold all the livestock, equipment and other assets at public auction. She moved to Derby, where she died in 1896 at the age of 70.


Ticknall Dripping Wells

The Reverend William Garrard and his wife Mary never had children of their own together; nevertheless they are both my ancestors, for William’s grandson Norman married Mary’s grand- daughter Annie Mary. Annie Mary Challis was 24 when she married Norman Garrard in 1879. Norman was the eldest son of William of Ticknall and his wife Harriett. In 1878, the year before his marriage, he had become a wine and spirits merchant in partnership with Thomas Cox of Derby (4).

A few years later Norman was able to purchase an interest in Lane and Challis, David Challis’ wine and spirits business in Leicester, so helping David to weather the financial storm that had eventually caught up with him following his father-in-law’s death. He had borrowed a large sum of money in order to buy out Francis Lane’s share of the business, and had trouble meeting the repayments, at one stage coming close to bankruptcy as a result.

Like the rest of the family, Norman was not one of his grandfather’s spiritual followers in Leicester. Nevertheless Annie Mary and Norman must have met through family connections. His brother Arthur’s wedding in 1877, for instance, merited a detailed report in the Derby Mercury: guests included William and Harriett Garrard, Mr and Mrs Challis (this must have been David and his wife Sarah), Mr and Mrs Thomas Cox and Mr Wartnaby; with Arthur’s sisters Kate and Alice (who later married Mr Wartnaby) as bridesmaids, along with Miss (Annie Mary) Challis and Miss Cox (presumably Beatrice), and also two sisters of the bride, Mary Meakin.

Norman Garrard’s marriage to Annie Mary Challis in 1879 would have been a similarly lavish celebration. The wedding, at St Peter’s church in Leicester, was carried out by the Reverend Nathan Challis, the bride’s uncle, who came from his parish near Peterborough to officiate. Thus the Reverend William Garrard’s grandson married Mary Challis’ grand-daughter, forty years after their own much more low-key wedding in 1839. Norman and Annie Mary were to have six children: their first son John Challis Garrard was born in 1880. Their youngest, Oswald Norman Garrard, in 1892.

Cox Garrard 1 (1)

Norman and Annie Mary had moved from Ticknall to Derby by 1882, when their second child Mary was born. Both Norman’s brothers, Arthur and Charles, became doctors and also moved away from Ticknall; his sisters, Alice and Kate, both left to marry doctors. After closing down the farm, their mother Harriett had moved to a house in Hartington Street in Derby, a few doors away from Norman, Annie Mary and their children; so the Garrards all left Ticknall.

Norman appears to have done very well as a wine merchant; in the family he was said to have been the first person in Derby to own a motor car. However he died in 1897 just a year after his mother’s death, and when he was aged only 48. Soon afterwards his wife returned to her former home of Leicester, with their children.


As a result of Jill’s input, I had been able to do much to enlarge and illustrate the once-brief article on my website – and I showed the improved version to my cousin Alan O’Neal. When he saw the thumbnail picture of William Garrard he recognised him from a photograph he had himself, passed on to him by his uncle Tony and noted as ‘unknown members of the O’Neal family’. It is in fact William and Harriett Garrard with their five surviving children. Alan also sent me the photograph of a painting of Susanna Ordish. At last I had something worth passing on to Jill, in return for all she had helped me with.

So far as I know, there are no images of any sort depicting the Reverend William Garrard. It is possible that his son William could have taken a photograph of him, but if so I have come across no sign of it. I imagine that the two Williams looked similar, but that the Reverend – whom ‘The Lord had seen fit to keep poor all his days’ – would have been thinner and leaner. This is the thumbnail picture of William of Ticknall:

William thumbnail


1. Ticknall Life is a not-for-profit online community magazine for the village of Ticknall: https://www. ticknalllife.co.uk
Jane and Malcolm Roberts featured in the issue dated 17/2/2016.

2. See https://www.britannica.com/technology/photography/Photographys-early-evolution-c-1840-c-1900
In March 1841, Richard Beard, a coal merchant and patent speculator, opened Europe’s first public photographic studio at the Polytechnic Institute in Regent Street, London. Beard employed a chemist, John Frederick Goddard, to improve the process and to actually take the portraits – so that he became the first professional photographer.

3. See Janet Spavold and Sue Brown, Conservation Histories: Ticknall, District of South Derbyshire, pp 2-3.

4. Thomas Cox’s daughter Beatrice was later to marry Norman’s younger brother Charles.