History On Our Doorstep: the stories of Archibald Walters & Archibald Leach

One recent cold grey afternoon I took the kids on a little history walk around Horfield. It is amazing just how much history Bishopston and surrounding areas offers right on our doorstep!

On our little history walk we learned about two Bristol boys, both named Archibald, however that is the end of any similarities in their stories.

My children and I began our walk by heading to Horfield Parish Church and venturing inside for an explore and some brief respite from the cold.

We have done this before; the church is usually open and the kids enjoy lighting candles there, plus it’s such an old building and is interesting to have a look around.

While we were there we learned about a local ‘Boy Hero’, named Archibald Walters who has a plaque inside Horfield Parish Church dedicated to his memory. The story goes that on a cold Winter’s afternoon on 23rd October 1874, Archibald and a younger boy bowled their hoops up from Stokes Croft in the direction of Horfield Common.

As night fell arrived the two friends discovered themselves utterly lost and finally lay down under a hedge on Horfield Common to shelter for the night and wait until morning came. That night the younger boy was frightened and scared so Archibald took off all of his clothes apart from his shirt and covered the little boy in them and cuddled him to keep him warm.

The boys were discovered early the next morning by a farm labourer on his way to work who immediately carried the boys to the farm. Every effort was made to resuscitate and save both boys but due to severe hypothermia, Archibald died. However, owing to the extra layers of clothing that Archibald had given to him throughout the night and the care he had given him, the younger boy was able to make a full recovery and lived.

After our visit to Horfield Parish Church, myself and the kids continued our walk onto Hughenden Road, finding the very house that the famous film star, Cary Grant was born and spent his childhood.

Cary Grant’s real name was Archibald Alexander Leach and he was born on 18th January 1904 at number 15 Hughenden Road.

When he was 4 years old Archie (as he was known then) went to Bishop Road School in Bishopston which was within walking distance from his house.

He went on to enjoy a glittering Hollywood film career many years later, only changing his name to Cary Grant when signed by Paramount Pictures.

There is a plaque about Archibald Leach outside his house on Hughenden Road and my children were inspired to learn about his life and career.

Both of the ArchibaldsĀ I have written about today have left their mark in the local community and their names live on, albeit for very different reasons.

My children enjoyed our little history walk and learning about the people and events many years ago which have shaped the place they live and play today.

Do you know any interesting historical facts or stories about Bishopston and surrounding areas for children to learn about? Please do share if so.