E.J.Wilkins

05 Nov 2006 2,518 views
 
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photoblog image Brusher Mills

Brusher Mills

Buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas in Brockenhurst is Brusher Mills.

I have blacked out the upper part of the background because there are War Graves close to this headstone.

Harry "Brusher" Mills was born near Lyndhurst in 1840. As his stone says, he was a snake catcher, carrying those he captured on a stick over his shoulder. His customers included museums and medical establishments. He was desperately poor, but managed to earn enough to 'get by'.

He was called 'Brusher' because another of his jobs was to keep the local cricket wicket brushed, probably using a home made besom.

Brusher lived for many years in a tiny hut in the Forest, sometimes called a 'bender' (shown on the left of the the tombstone). When it was destroyed by fire he moved into an outbuilding (shed) at the Railway Inn public house in Brockenhurst. It was there that he died shortly after, the pub was re-named in his memory.

According to the Church Warden, Brusher's family erected this rather grand headstone.

Brusher Mills


my vfxy


Brusher Mills

Buried in the churchyard of St Nicholas in Brockenhurst is Brusher Mills.

I have blacked out the upper part of the background because there are War Graves close to this headstone.

Harry "Brusher" Mills was born near Lyndhurst in 1840. As his stone says, he was a snake catcher, carrying those he captured on a stick over his shoulder. His customers included museums and medical establishments. He was desperately poor, but managed to earn enough to 'get by'.

He was called 'Brusher' because another of his jobs was to keep the local cricket wicket brushed, probably using a home made besom.

Brusher lived for many years in a tiny hut in the Forest, sometimes called a 'bender' (shown on the left of the the tombstone). When it was destroyed by fire he moved into an outbuilding (shed) at the Railway Inn public house in Brockenhurst. It was there that he died shortly after, the pub was re-named in his memory.

According to the Church Warden, Brusher's family erected this rather grand headstone.

Brusher Mills


my vfxy


comments (15)

  • Ginnie
  • United States
  • 5 Nov 2006, 03:06
Again, Ellie, some interesting history behind your photo! It is such a clear, sharp and readable angle. What a legacy for a humble man. Well done smile
EJWilkins: Thanks Ginnie, it's a sad sort of story isn't it?
NIce piece of history here.
EJWilkins: Thanks Daniel, he's 'accepted' as a local character, although I think many people would have treated him differently during his lifetime.
Very nice one Ellie, I enjoyed reading the bio as well. Well framed and interesting subject matter. Regards, Neil.
EJWilkins: Thanks Neil. With luck there'll be something interesting each Sunday.
  • Roland
  • France
  • 5 Nov 2006, 07:54
Hi Ellie, Nice grave, good work and explanations about this Man. Nice picture.
EJWilkins: Thank you Roland. I am pleased you are interested in the picture and explanation.
A lovely story, Ellie. Now I'm thinking he could have been a disinherited son, heir to an enormous fortune, gone native! His rich family then, in a final attempt to redress the balance, gave him that gorgeous headstone, plus the burial plot in the graveyard. Gravestones like that one, and burial plots could cost a good deal in those days, so he would never have had the money for that. What I do think is astoundingly cheeky, is that the sculptur has advertised his name on the fella's gravestone (bottom left)! Thanks for sharing this, Ellie.
EJWilkins: Thanks, it does raise all sorts of questions. Life was very different then, but I think the family's 'displeasure' in his lifestyle shows through the inscription.
I think most stonemasons still put their name on headstones, but not always so obviously. I'll have to have a look.
  • Sidak
  • India
  • 5 Nov 2006, 08:57
wow, thats deep.

just when i was talking about identity and anonymity.

great angle, story and night.
EJWilkins: Hmm, yes Sidak, it does make you think a bit.
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 5 Nov 2006, 10:17
Well presented in all aspects. Great shot and a great history. ...And well edited.
EJWilkins: Thanks Louis, glad you appreciate this shot and script.
  • Eileen
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 5 Nov 2006, 12:19
Very well taken Ellie. Thanks again for the interesting story behind it.
EJWilkins: Thanks Eileen, not a particularly 'inspired' shot, but a piece of local history.
  • chris p
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 5 Nov 2006, 12:26
Hi Ellie, like this story of Brusher - sadly in the sterile world we are losing these characters and this is all that remains.

Well spotted again. smile
EJWilkins: Hi Chris, I think you're right. I'm not sure how somebody like him would survive here today, too many rules and regulations about what/where and how to live.
Good story ellie ! Nice shot too, it looks like a museum shot
EJWilkins: Thanks Dafredo, I appreciate your comment.
well framed.
EJWilkins: Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment Dotun, I really appreciate it.
  • Martu and Andrew
  • Granollers, Catalonia
  • 19 Sep 2007, 14:43
I think you´ll find you´ve made an error. On our pilgrimage to England and Brusher´s grave we stopped by the Snakecatcher and spoke to a wise barmaid. She informed us that Brusher died in another pub, due to the following; back in the day, you had to pay for the funeral if a pauper died on your property, so the landlord put Brusher in a wheelbarrow in the dead of night and took him down to the Snakecatcher and dumped him in the outhouse...

Thereby, as our colleague Philip J.Allen said "the landlord threw away a prize-winning ticket".

Regards
The Brusher Mills Fan Club of Mid-West Catalonia
EJWilkins: There are lots of rumours about where and when he died, but 'local history' assures me that he died at the Railway Inn, where he'd been living in an outbuilding, and some time later the pub was renamed The Snakecatcher, presumably for publicity.
You might find more information if you look at the New Forest Museum site, it's in Lyndhurst.
I'm intrigued though, why you might have visited Brusher's grave as part of a pilgrimage.
  • Stephen James Coates
  • Fareham, hants
  • 30 Sep 2007, 17:34
Do you have any more photo's of Brusher as my wife would like to paint him.
EJWilkins: No, I don't, but there are pictures at the museum in Lyndhurst. You could contact them to see if they're still on display. They're really helpful there. Good luck.
  • Philip.J.Allen
  • Hampshire England
  • 7 Oct 2007, 16:41
Brusher 4 life!

Annual pilgrimage 1st July .....Nevre Forget the man that swept that cricket crease better than Paul McGrath sweeping up Man Utd's back line after a night out on the lash with Robbo & Norman Whiteside!
EJWilkins: Many thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. smile
  • A brusher mills relation
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 20 Feb 2008, 15:25
brusher mills was my great-great uncle,interesting comments,would like to know brusher,s grandparents. his father was thomas mills mother ann (nee stote)thomas born 1804 mottisfont nr romsey. best wishes brusher mills relation
EJWilkins: Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment here on my site. I didn't reply straight away because we've been on holiday.
I would be more than happy to add any information you have about Brusher Mills and his family to the text at the top of the page, if that is what you would like me to do.

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