Ian Lawrance recollections of the Lawrance family

Ian Lawrance

James Lawrance in 1870s
(Sharon Simms)
Harry Lawrance in the High St forge
Ian Lawrance
Harry Lawrance in forge
(Ian Lawrance)
7 Royston Road with Lawrance wrought iron gates

Gone but not forgotten…. James Lawrance (who moved to London, actually Barnet) was my grandfather. He married, and had 5 children, the second of whom was my father, William James. We are now a firmly established colony in southern Hampshire, currently myself, Ian James Anthony & my wife, Pauline. We have a son, Stuart, & a daughter, Sarah. We also have 7 grandchildren, 3 of whom continue to carry the Lawrance surname. 3 of the boys also were given James as a second forename.

I remember visiting the forge twice, probably around 1959 and again in 1963 (and possibly in around 1953 as we had a holiday in East Anglia at that time.). My father died in 1963 (when I was 15) & we lost touch with the Harston family.

As a teenager I thought it would be good to be able to take over the forge, but of course this couldn’t happen…

We passed through on the way back from a holiday in Norfolk in the mid-1970’s but by then the forge had been demolished, and not knowing about “our” road (Lawrance Lea) or the ironworks in use, we didn’t stop. It does seem odd having a road named after us…

My father used to say that you could address a letter to “James Lawrance, Cambridge” and he was sufficiently well known for it to be delivered to the forge… I don’t think I really believed that, but evidently the family really was well known in the area so maybe it was true…

Obviously any memories are highly unreliable, but I can picture the forge with the furnace, and the giant bellows powered by a lever with a cow horn on the end. The racks of horseshoes, numerous tools with obscure uses, the pillar drill, the anvil, the tank of water for quenching, the wooden former for bending hot iron strips into shape…

There’s a living history museum near us, The Weald and Downland, where there’s a reconstructed forge that reminded me very much of the family forge. Incidentally, one of the buildings there is the filming location for the BBC Repair Shop.

I also remember the production of wrought iron gates, I think for one of the Lawrance houses (which if I remember correctly still had an earth privy & no mains drainage!) 7 Royston Road where some of Lawrance family lived had the gates in 1995.

I think there was also a talking Jackdaw….

One puzzle remains: why my grandfather left Harston… was there a rift, or did it cause one? I was never aware of any bad feeling but equally I wasn’t aware that my father was in regular contact with the Harston family, or any other Lawrance families other than his own sisters and their families, and the Dunkleys, who descended from my grandfather’s sister, Sarah Susan.

It’s interesting how many of the family ended up as teachers, but no more blacksmiths as far as I know!

One Lawrance descendant is well-known in classical music circles: Sally Dunkley, who was a founder member & still performs with the internationally-recognised classical choir, The Sixteen.

If anyone wants more information about the family they can contact me & I’ll do my best to help.


This page was added on 15/11/2022.

Comments about this page

  • I have quite vivid memories of taking ( pushing )our donkey down to the blacksmith to have his overgrown hooves cut by Mr Lawrence. It was a huge job and the donkey kicked all the time. We all hung over the door watching, as this experienced man caught or dodged the flying foot. The donkey ran all the way home and knocked us off his back by running under a low branch to get his own back.

    By Barbara Connelly (23/03/2023)

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