|Memories of Fazeley, written by Joseph T. Hunter in August 2008 when he was 88 years old.
The PeelsNow I must tell you about the Peels and the 5th and 6th I knew, for that is the main object of the book.
The first Peel saw the possible introduction of cotton mills in the area and settled in a former manor at Drayton Manor. It had been the former residence of Lord Essex, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1.
The previous landed gentry in the village were the Bassett's but no sign of their graves or mention of them in the church is seen. However, a number of years ago when a housing complex was being built near the church, the foundations of the Bassett medieval mansion were revealed.
In Drayton church tablets are raised to the Peels but only four instead of six, the missing two being the infamous 4th who squandered the Peel's money and helped to bring down their family and the other was the 6th Sir Robert Peel, an ordinary sailor serving on H.M.S Tenedos, which sank off Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). I was serving on a bomber station at R.A.F Abingdon when the news of his death came over the radio.
The first Peel, as already mentioned in a previous chapter built cotton mills, farms, renovated the mansion, owned land as far as the eye could see and passed all his skills on to his first born son Robert who was to become the most famous of the Peels. All of the first born sons were named Robert.
Sir Robert Peel 2nd was Prime Minister twice and also Governor of Ireland. He founded the police force, hence 'bobbies' or 'peelers'. Before this London had watchmen to try to keep the peace followed by the Bow Street Runners. It is good to see that Bow Street runner lives on for part of the Castle Hotel.
Sir Robert repealed the Corn Laws. Grain ships were anchored outside the ports waiting to get in to feed the half starved nation. Years ago I was told by an old gentleman that as a child he was told by his father of the rejoicing in the fields as the news came through.
During Sir Robert's tenure the Window Tax came into being. An example of this, when windows were blacked out could be seen in the warehouse over the dwelling where I was born in Free Trade Place and also at Dosthill Hall.