Hello, I’m Tim, Julianne’s other half, roadie and (extremely) overworked PA.
I and everyone close to her have known for years how fabulously talented she is, but as she’s also one of the most self-effacing and modest people you could ever meet, it’s taken us a long time to convince her to share her amazing music with the rest of the world and we’re beyond proud that other people from all over the globe now seem to be catching on to her fabulous work too.  
I usually work hard to stay in the background, but on this occasion for one time only, I appear to be part of the inspiration for Ju’s work. She didn’t decide on Eyam just on a whim – and there’s a back story which, after much discussion, we thought we’d share with you.

Tim and Sally's Eyam Story

My sister Sally and I lived most of our early lives in and around the South Yorkshire/North Derbyshire area and we are the offspring of a man called Frank Hancock. Besides being a habitual teller of the tallest of tall tales, Frank was also a volatile and violent individual and neither Sal nor I have good memories of him. There may well have been whispers back then about a family connection to a ‘village from history’ but they would have been lost in the chaotic whirl of exaggerations and blatantly bouncing tap dancing porkies that surrounded us as kids, such was the extent of Frank’s fantastical imagination and seemingly endless desperation to impress. From a very early age Sal and I had sussed out that any claims from Frank had to be taken with an industrial sized pinch of salt.

What is true is that when I was nine and Sally was seven, our mother Alison disappeared. Many around us, especially her mother (our Nana Shaw), thought he’d murdered her in one of his drunken rages. His appearances at our house in Dronfield had become more sporadic and increasingly violent when one day the police arrived. Finding that we’d been locked in the house for days, they kicked in the kitchen door and took us off to a Children’s Home called Springhill, in Duffield near Derby.

Given what the world knows now about places like this in the seventies, then for us at least, it wasn’t so bad. We got three meals a day, plenty of encouragement to join in with activities such as archery, pottery and (my favourite) we’d get to play 5-a-side football every day if we wanted to, on a pitch with real nets in the goals. This seemed very posh at the time. We got to see home games at the Baseball Ground and there were frequent trips out into the beautiful Peak District in a rickety old minibus. It was on one of these journeys that we first experienced Eyam.

Edale, Castleton– the zoo at Riber Castle and all the other touristy jewels that made the Peak District such a magical place, were all enthusiastically embraced, but it was Eyam that I remember most of us really being taken with. If you wanted to hold a disparate bunch of lively 6-16yr olds in rapt attention, then grisly stories of death by pustulent boils, flea ridden killer rats and poultice ‘cures’ made from human poo were and probably still are a very good way of doing it.
We were told about Eyam’s history, especially the Mompesson’s part in it and most of us got a turn in the village stocks to pelt each other with orange peel and cabbage leaves. It was massive fun.

We were in Springhill for around six months. Frank himself now out of the picture, Alison had been found in Sheffield with a new man in tow and they’d decided to go into the pub trade. A couple of years later, Sal and I were living with them in their second venture, a place called The Peacock at Owler Bar, an isolated spot on the edge of the moors between Baslow and Sheffield. 

Grandad Shaw, who lived in Rotherham, would visit us often. He was an avid fan of local history and loved a beer too. He’d usually pick Sal and I up in his zippy Hillman Imp and we’d scoot off deep into the Peaks. There’d normally be a pub involved – his favourite was the Barrel at Bretton and all day long he’d regale us with (this time, true) stories such as the mass trespasses at Kinder and when Ladybower still had a church spire sticking out of the water. Calver Mill was another favourite place of his and although we sat outside on a couple of occasions working out which bits of it had doubled as Colditz Castle in the then famous TV adaptation from a few years before – I always remember it for the time Sal and I gazed at him in horrified wonderment as he relayed the tale of the poor young lad who got stuck in Speedwell Cavern and had to be sealed up for eternity in the same spot where he died.

The delicious icing on the cake was that we got to go back to Eyam – and it was Grandad Shaw that first took us to the Riley Graves. We hadn’t previously known they existed. They were off the main drag of the village and up a narrow track. It wasn’t as busy with humans as it seems to be nowadays and I don’t ever recall seeing anyone else around on our visits. It was just us, the graves and a few bored looking sheep nonchalantly chewing at the grass.

At the time, I couldn’t work out why they were called the ‘Riley Graves’ when it was all Hancocks that were buried there. I’m sure once, when I’d asked if he thought Sal and I were related to them, Grandad had said something along the lines of ‘there stands a good chance’ and he took us there not once but twice at least. From my now admittedly sketchy recall, I think he seemed to think it important to show us.
I’ve only heard the story (or stories plural) of Elizabeth Hancock over the past year or so and don’t remember any mention of her back then or the full tale of how the graves came to be placed in the middle of the field. If I’d thought anything at all, or in subsequent years about a family connection I would’ve probably dismissed it. Sally and I assumed the whole strand of that Hancock family were buried there and that was that. 

Our time at the Peacock was bitter sweet. For two young kids it was a very isolated place to be and although in the spring and summer it would be a thrill to get out on the moors for hours with the dog or explore the woods and streams in the valley below, there wasn’t a lot else to do.

Alison had her demons and was in the earlier stages of the alcoholism that would eventually consume her. Without warning her moods could change in a blink and being ex-army she wasn’t backward in lashing out if the fancy took her. Her new man, as Sal and I had already discovered, was an even more malevolent variation on a theme of Frank. He was older – and not as fond of an embroidered yarn as his predecessor but in possession of a hair trigger temper and a tendency for arbitrary violence, especially when he’d had a drink, which living in a pub was most nights. He patently didn’t like Sal and I invading the nest he’d landed in with Alison and never usually needed much of a prompt to let us know it.

The upstairs of pubs where the gaffers and their families live are not usually in any way luxurious, all the money gets spent front of house and the Peacock (back then) was no exception. There were frequent infestations of mice who, seemingly fearless, would flash their teeth and tails at us as they gnawed at the cracked lino and bare floorboards. The poor ventilation made it cloyingly hot in the summer and bone numbingly cold in the freezing winters. Although the ice that would collect on the inside of the leaky and draughty old windows could melt into interesting shapes if morning sunshine made an appearance, Sal and I were used to waking up with two or more jumpers and a coat on beneath our blankets and with more old coats and a musty old sleeping bag or two on top of those too for vital insulation.

All of the above made for an atmosphere and edgy undercurrent that would forever simmer at varying degrees and Sal and I instinctively became adept at making ourselves unseen and keeping out of the way. This would be more problematic in the winters, as we’d often get snowed in and couldn’t get out to school or the surrounding areas. Even if we managed to trudge a decent distance into the drifting snow we’d still be at risk of being unable to get back to base if the winds from the moors quickly whipped up into blizzard strength as they could often do.

Being outside was nearly always safer than being indoors. The only time this got turned on its head was when there were panda cars and police vans everywhere on the roads around the pub as they combed the snowy moors for the murderous escaped prisoner Billy Hughes. Sadly, he would go on to murder four members of a wholly innocent and unassuming family of five in another isolated spot a few miles from us, before he was shot dead by police. I don’t think Sal and I were unduly bothered by it at the time. In hindsight I think we both understood that he wouldn’t have found such easy prey if he’d gotten into our place and encountered Alison and our own resident psychopath.

As an adult now, I think actual ‘idyllic’ childhoods are quite rare – it seems more people than not have baggage of many sorts that they bring from their early lives, but because there’s younger eyes that may be reading this I’ve toned down and redacted a lot of what happened to Sal and me. It’s still fair to say though that those times left us with more than a few issues that have had to be dealt with in later life.

The huge and constant saving grace, was always and forever, Derbyshire itself and being in such close proximity to the Peaks and all its lush and magical serenity. To be out and about whatever the season, month of the year, day or night, was to feel nurtured, nourished, energised and most of all, safe. It was our own topographical comfort blanket.

Those much anticipated visits from Grandad, times out with Sal, or even the younger bar staff and their families who’d sometimes let us tag along to go swimming in the River Noe or eat crisp and ketchup sandwiches and be dive bombed by maniacal wasps in Padley Gorge – they were the safety valve that made life worth living and helped to keep us out of harm’s way.  
Even though I’ve lived in the Midlands for most of my adult life and Sal in West Yorkshire, I’ve always felt a massive draw to the region and if Julianne and I have been coming back from visiting Sal or when I’ve been working nearby, it’s always felt like therapy to me to take time and detour into those sumptuous, welcoming landscapes and firmament we were once a part of and feel recharged and reinvigorated 

We left the area sometime in 1977 but of all the cruel and pernicious moves Alison ever inflicted on Sally, one of the worst was still to come a couple of decades later.
Sal, now not only a brilliant mother to three well-loved and loving young children of her own, was also respected as a skilled professional dedicated to protecting children that had gone through similar experiences to her own and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Given the harrowing nature and stresses of her work, her (back then, quite forward thinking) employers had made the decision to bring in mandatory counselling for her and all her colleagues.
It was the first time Sally had really addressed her past and particularly her younger years. When she felt ready to do so, Sal steeled herself, chose her moment and told Alison of the trauma and hurt she’d carried for years and how it stemmed from what had happened to her back then. Alison’s response was a shrug of her shoulders and an indifferent ‘Well you turned out alright didn’t you?’ as she casually changed the subject.
Later on when Sal broached the issue again, Alison had replied with a flat ‘Huh – Frank’s not your Dad anyway’.

Not being related to Frank certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing but when Sal, not unreasonably, asked ‘Well. If not him, then who is?’ She was met with a ‘that’s for me to know – you really don’t need to’ response that would set a pattern for many more years to come. Alison regularly dangled this ‘I know more than you do’ carrot in front of Sally until she (Alison) passed away in 2008 taking any further secrets she had with her.  

Fast forward to Summer 2023 and I get a phone call from Sal. ‘Guess what?’ I decided to finally check out my DNA and do our family tree.’  
She went on. ‘I am Frank’s daughter! And more importantly, through the Hancock side we definitely are related to people who lived in Eyam and died in the Plague’.
‘Wow’ (or words close to it) I said and we both hung on the line having our Danny Dyer/Edward III moment together.
I was truly blown away. The first thing I thought was, wait ‘til I tell Grandad – which unfortunately, would be impossible because he passed away many years ago – but for a brief moment an image popped into my head of him looking down on us from on high and giving us a knowing wink as he took the top off a heavenly pint and wiped the froth from his moustache.

Sal was exactly right. Definitely, conclusively and incontrovertibly our 11xGrandparents were Anthony and Margaret Blackwell who lived in Eyam and died of the Bubonic Plague in 1666. Our lineage with them goes back even further than that to 1590 and probably before that too. We’re still learning about that side of things, but we know so far, Margaret was one of the Merrill family and Humphrey Merrill was the village herbalist who bravely put himself in the firing line of the Plague, making his own ‘cures’ and concoctions to try and ward off the unrelenting spread of this horrible disease before succumbing to it himself.

There isn’t a way yet we can actually prove an absolutely definite link to Elizabeth and her Hancocks in Riley Field, but we believe it to be true and of course, we very much want it to be. The research we’ve done so far and people we’ve talked to in Eyam does point to it being so and we couldn’t be more proud to be descended from her and Anthony and Margaret too. We hope to officially confirm once and for all one day but as I read only recently that this may also mean we could also be related to the appalling Matt Hancock, we’re not pushing it too much for now. We may need to go for counselling again.

Over the generations there have been numerous conflicting accounts of Elizabeth’s final days. Some stories suggest that obviously, being a ‘mere woman’ she found the stress and trauma she’d been through too much to bear and, breaking Eyam’s robust cordon sanitaire, she ended her days as a histrionic harpy, doomed to be lost on the moors forever. This makes great, if ever so misogynistic fodder for a pulpy book or two, but the story we prefer, is that although she would’ve been undoubtedly traumatised and affected for the rest of her life by what had happened to her husband and her babies. She simply waited for the Plague to subside and then, in her own time, safely and without fuss, made her own way to Sheffield to live with her and John’s eldest son, Joseph, who had left Eyam to be an apprentice cutler before the Plague arrived.

Last summer was an exciting time for us. Julianne and I met up with Sal and her husband Richard in Eyam a couple of times and spent time soaking up the atmosphere and adding flesh to the bones of the many stories that we’d now managed to read and research. Elizabeth’s particularly.
We made for Riley Lane, took some flowers and spent time with the Hancocks in the field. We laughed a lot and picked up a couple of empty coke bottles and a stray crisp packet or two but we were also profoundly moved to be so close to a real piece of history, a feeling made all the more surreal by our putative family connection.
Others who’ve had an unsteady time of things in their earlier years may understand, that for Sal and I and our present day kin, it’s an unusual, but exhilarating and soul nourishing feeling to feel owned and actually be part of something positive related to our family name for a change.    
Julianne picked up on this too and apart from us driving around Derbyshire and Sheffield with her forever humming the theme tune from ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ at us and giving a running commentary on ‘what Sally and Tim did next’. She started to sketch out a couple of musical ideas inspired by and in tribute to our new found antecedents. A couple of piano sessions morphed later into ‘Riley Lane’ and then a violin based riff she started with became ‘Gritstone Halo’. She’d written them for us really, a private family thing, inspired by Elizabeth and knowing how happy finding our new found roots had made us. But as we read, researched Eyam and Elizabeth’s history and Sal and I traded more personal reminiscences, Julianne came up with more and more incredible ideas until she’d got four tracks finished, then five and then another and then another until we and she realised she’d written enough for a whole album.    
We had more than a few lengthy discussions about whether or not we should mention Eyam and Elizabeth in the title at all. There’s a lot of books, fact and fiction, been written about Eyam and some are brilliant and some not so. I’m 100% certain most modern day Eyam residents must do an inner eye roll when excited townie tourists like us show up claiming to be related to whoever from whenever blah blah blah or another piece of literature or work of ‘art’ appears claiming to be inspired by the village and its history. I totally understand and empathise with that, but the fact remains that we’re hugely proud of the links we have and if Julianne’s collection of stunning and heartfelt music can help to spread Eyam and Elizabeth’s story further and for many more years down the line then that would make us all, especially and most importantly Julianne, very happy indeed.  

Thanks so much again to Julianne Bourne, Elizabeth Hancock, John, Alice, Oner, William, John Jr and Elizabeth Hancock Jr, Anthony and Margaret Blackwell, Nana and Grandad Shaw and Sally (Hancock) and Richard Shipley/Clan Shipley. We are family X

Tim Hancock – May 2024.