Cornwallis Terrace

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Goldney Avenue / Hensman’s Hill, Clifton.

Symonds’ mother, Harriet Sykes, passed away when he was less than four years of age.1 His only clear recollection of her took place on a hill bordering Cornwallis Terrace – either Goldney Avenue or Hensman’s Hill.

“The one thing which I can clearly remember about her is, that we were driving alone together in my father’s carriage (a chariot with glass windows at the front and sides, drawn by two horses) down a steep hill by Cornwallis Terrace to the Lower Crescent, when the horses plunged and broke into a gallop. Her fright must have made a deep impression on me. I can still see a pale face, a pink silk bonnet, and beautiful yellow hair. These have for background in my memory the glass windows of a coupe, and the red stone wall overhung with trees which embanked the garden of Cornwallis Terrace. I do not know now whether the road has been altered. It is long since I walked there. But the instantaneous flash of that moment on my brain persists as I describe it. I can also remember the morning of my mother’s funeral. We children were playing in our nursery with tin soldiers and clumsy wooden cannon, painted black and yellow. These were on the floor beside us. We were dressed in black. The nurses took us away to my grandmother’s house in the Lower Crescent.

This is all I recollect about my mother. I have been told that my name was the last upon her lips when she was dying. But my father never spoke to me much about her, and only gave me a piece of her hair.”

  1. “June 6, in Berkeley Square, after a short illness, Harriet, the beloved wife of Dr. Symonds” Bristol Mercury – Saturday 08 June 1844 []