My first post of 2021 was going to be about a murder in Yoxall but things are grim enough at the moment and so I thought I’d write about something nice for a change.
They say love can be found where you least expect it and under the floorboards of a house on Beacon Street surely qualifies as unexpected. In 1980, a bundle of letters between William Davis and Ann Bayley of Longdon were discovered by Mrs Sheila Paterson when she was replacing her stairs.
In one of his letters, William wrote, ‘Some people, like me now, fall into love even as a fly falls into a honey pot. What can be sweeter? Indeed, love is a pretty pleasant thing’. Then there’s a bit of drama because William complains, ‘You would not speak to me when you came from the church which gave me a great deal of grief till I came before your pretty face’. At the end of the letter he writes, ‘I hope I shall love you to my end. I hope you will take this in good heart’. In Ann’s letter to William she says, ‘ You say my company is sweet to you and yours is to others no doubt; if your pen and your heart agree I shall be glad, but if not you won’t lose your time or me mine for I keep all others at a distance for your sake and I hope you will do the same’, signing off ‘Your constant lover’.
The Lichfield Mercury report on the discovery of the letters say they were undated but thanks to a brilliant bit of detective work from Baddiley Ram (on Twitter and Instagram) we now know that they were written in the mid-eighteenth century. It also gives us an answer to the did they live happily ever after question the Mercury was unable to answer.
Reader, she married him.
The registers at St James the Great record the marriage of Ann Bayley and William Davis on 2nd April 1768. I can’t help wonder whether Ann would have touched the Bride’s Hand in the church porch at Longdon as she arrived on her wedding day.
The unsolved parts of this staircase are who hid the letters and why? And where are they now? If you do know anything more, do drop me a line.
Thanks to the person who first contacted me about this story
Lichfield Mercury 5 December 1980