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Come the turn of the century, Philip had developed a wander-lust and he sought  opportunities to work outside as his father had done. He had a love of plant life and he held, over the rest of his life, many jobs working on the private gardens of the landed gentry in Southern England.

Early jobs saw him travel as far as Sussex and back to St. Ives in Cornwall in search of suitable employment. At St. Ives, he found early contentment and during this period he lodged with a fisherman and his family by the name of Hodge.


St. Ives 1900  M. Brine

St. Ives 1900 M. Brine


This period was to affect the rest of his life for it was from the Hodges that he learned the teachings of the Plymouth Brethren* and he followed these teachings until his death. Life was very frugal, work was hard (but never on the Sabbath) and pleasures were almost sinful. However, Philip was contented with this life and seven happy years were spent in St. Ives. At this time, he began reading the Bible on a daily basis and became very knowledgeable about the stories and the predictions for the future.

My Grandfather Philip Stentiford. c. 1910

My Grandfather Philip Stentiford. c. 1910


The period of the Great War, however, found Philip working in the Whiddon Down area of Devon at a country house, now a hotel called "Great Trees". As he was in a reserved occupation, he was not called up, and did not volunteer because of his deeply-held religious beliefs.

Each Sunday, he would walk into Drewsteignton to attend the Gospel Hall prayer meetings. It was here that he became acquainted with the Lasky family - John and Harriet and their youngest daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth worked as a maid at Rushford near Chagford and although she lived in, returned home to Drewsteignton and also worshipped there at the Gospel Hall. In 1918 they were married and this prompted a job change for Philip and a move to Parford House near Sandy Park. It was here that two of his daughters - Mary and Grace - were born in 1919 and 1922.

Entrance to Great Tree Hotel

Entrance to Great Tree Hotel


Lucy, his third daughter, was born in 1925 whilst he was working at Holystreet Manor in Chagford. Sadly, his happiness with his wife Elizabeth was short-lived and when Lucy was seven years old, her mother died of cancer. She is buried on the hillside of Leusden Church. The family were living at nearby Hannaford House at the time and the children walked to school in Holne.

Philip's daughters Grace, Mary and Lucy with their mother Elizabeth

Philip's daughters Grace, Mary and Lucy with their mother Elizabeth


* The Plymouth Brethren developed in the 1820s from a breakaway group of Irish Protestants who believed that anyone could administer Holy Communion or preach. A follower called Benjamin Newton had a home in Plymouth where a few people met to study Biblical prophecy, hence the name, but as the movement grew, a chapel was acquired in that area, attended not only by lay people but by local clergy. By 1851 there were over 7000  followers throughout England and Wales, divided into two distinct sects - Open Brethren and Exclusive Brethren. Readers of "Oscar and Lucinda" by Peter Carey will already have met the Brethren.

Except where stated, this page is Peter Woodhall

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