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The Story of the Knight – Ellis Family of Pilton (1944 onwards)

The Story of the Knight – Ellis Family of Pilton (1944 onwards) /media/flashcomm?action=mediaview&context=normal&id=807

This is a photograph of Vera Ellis and Earnest Knight at their wedding in St Mary’s Church, Pilton, on Saturday 19th August 1944. Vera was the only daughter of Mr and Mrs J Ellis of 4 Lake Cottages, Pilton. Earnest was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs E Knight of 14 Shawe Avenue, Weddington, Nuneaton, in Warwickshire. The bridesmaid was Miss Valerie Varley, a friend of the bride, and the best man was Mr H Merrick, a brother-in-law of the groom.
Earnest was a Guardsman in the Coldstream Guards. He had been a prisoner of war in Italy for two years and only returned to England early in 1944. Shortly after their wedding, Earnest left the Coldstream Guards and the couple moved to Salisbury where he worked as a gardener in the cathedral grounds. Their daughter Rosalind Knight, now Horton, has told The Pilton Story the story of their lives. She was born in Salisbury in 1947. Rosalind’s grandparents, Annie Ada Ellis and John ‘Jack’ Ellis, both worked at the Pilton Glove Factory, Jack as a Supervisor. Annie had also worked at a dry cleaning shop, possibly called GEM, in Barnstaple, where she did alterations to garments. However, Vera’s parents both died in the early 1950s and are buried in Pilton Churchyard. Earnest and Vera and their family moved back to Pilton, first to live in 4 Lake Cottages and then later in Yeo Vale Road, during the 1950s, and then Northfield Park, probably around 1963.
Vera Knight worked as a dinner lady at Pilton Church School, adjacent to St Mary’s Church, and then at Pilton Bluecoat School after it opened in January 1969. She also served as the secretary of Pilton Mothers’ Union at sometime during the incumbency of the Rev. James West (1956 – 1981). She died with cancer in 1976 aged 60.
Earnest Knight worked on the railway at Barnstaple Junction Station. Following the cut backs as a result of the Beeching Report in 1963, which led to the closure of the station and the railway line to Ilfracombe, he moved to work for Barnstaple Town Council, mainly on road sweeping and setting up the Pannier Market on market days. After the death of Vera, Earnest moved to live in Vicarage Street, Barnstaple, and continued working up to his death in 1986 at the age of 70.
The couple were closely involved in the Pilton Liberals as great supporters of Jeremy Thorpe, the MP for North Devon from 1959 to 1979. It was as a result of this that Peter Bray, Rosalind’s ex-husband, became involved in politics. He served for many years as a Liberal agent and a town and borough councillor and served a term as Barnstaple Deputy Mayor. Peter died in March 2020. Follow the link below to see an entry in The Pilton Story archive with Vera and Rosalind at a Liberal Fete in 1968.
Among Rosalind’s memories is the maypole dancing at Pilton House in the 1950s. A photograph of maypole dancing in 1957, which she gave The Pilton Story, is already on the archive (follow the link below). She was also for some time the Akela of the Pilton Cubs.
Rosalind re-married and moved away from Pilton but returned in August 2015 to live in Fair View. We thank her for contributing the photograph of her parent’s wedding and their interesting life story.

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