Please send us an obituary or life story of a loved one if you would like it to appear here.
Mrs Gloria Thompson 1947 - 2019
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Mrs Gloria Thompson, born 1947; died January 25th 2019
Sandra and I have been here 4 years, knowing no one in the village. We were told Willersey is a friendly place to live,
Gloria was the first to contact us from over the road, I'm not sure we would have survived if she hadn't. Just to have her and Terry's friendship was wonderful.
Where to go for the best butcher.
What time to be at Clive's barrow to ensure you get the best tomatoes.
Your house alarm light is flashing I'll show you how to fix that.
Have you forgotten your alarm code? I know it.
No ‘over the hill’ means that direction.
Ken You’ve put the wrong bins out!
Lovely bell ringing this morning she'd say – knowing that I was a trainee ringer and not very good.
Gloria asked for our birthdays and sent us cards every year.
The list goes on, these simple examples of advice to ensure a smooth, warm welcome and ongoing friendship. That friendship has grown through the years.
Gloria was like that with everyone. Gloria had the time for everyone. She gave of herself, connected with people where they were, what they were going through.
This warm hearted friendly lady.
Yes Willersey is a friendly village and Gloria is and her memory will remain, at its heart and soul.
I had the great privilege to visit her in hospital on the Monday. I stood for a while at the foot of the bed as she slept, praying that she'd wake. She did,
and her smile of recognition lit up her lovely face and the ward. A wonderful unforgettable vision that I'm pleased to be sharing with you. She sat me down
and painfully moved to swing her legs off the edge of the bed to be close to me. And Hey! It was Gloria. We chatted about everything and nothing. We could have just met in the middle of the village.
What a glorious 15 mins with Gloria, what a memory. What an honour to know her if only for a few short years. Who's going to feed the birds in the street now?
RIP love, God bless you. Ken Spensley.
Helen Rhoden 1924 - 2018
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Helen Mary Rhoden, born 13th April 1924; died 12th March 2018
Helen was born in Sheffield and educated at Sheffield Girls' High School. She was in the Voluntary Army Division as a nurse during the Second World War where she met my mother
and was a bridesmaid at my parents wedding in 1947. I came along in 1948 and Helen was asked to be my godmother so she has been a large part of my life for seventy years.
She read music at Edinburgh University from 1947-50 and while there saw a horn in a music shop window and bought it with a loan from her father! She was a natural and went on to play it
in the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra in 1952 where she met Maureen McKeown, a violin player and they became firm friends. They moved together to play in the BBC Welsh Orchestra in 1955 before
deciding to have a complete change and buy and run a guest house in Wingham, Kent, which they called Minstrels in 1959.
However music was never far away and Helen worked freelance playing in ensembles and orchestras at various London venues including the Festival Hall, as well as teaching at the King's School and the Choir School in Canterbury.
In 1976 she retired from performing after a brain tumour operation and became an Associated Board Examiner travelling around the UK and abroad to places as far away as Australia and New Zealand
and was a Festival Adjudicator in Canterbury.
Helen and Maureen McKeown decided to move from Kent in 1984 & blessed the day they discovered and moved to Willersey. How happy they both were in this lovely, caring community until the end of their lives.
Helen looked after Maureen at home , assisted by carers, as she became increasingly disabled and she once told me she hadn't slept a night away from the bungalow for 13 years.
After Maureen's death Helen threw herself into village life; something she hadn't had time for before.
She loved all the village events like the music on the green and shows in the Village Hall. She amazed me with how much she achieved in her 80s!
She became good friends with Pamela Baldwin, whom she hadn't known very well when Maureen was alive. Pamela kept a watchful eye on her as she became more housebound and helped with shopping, taking things
to Helen when she was admitted to hospital and letting me know how she was.
She belonged to NADFAS (now the Arts Society) in Evesham and to The Willersey Lunch Club.
She was a driver for the Cotswold Volunteers until ill health prevented her.
She was President of the Wednesday Club for 11 years, which is still going strong with members Helen coerced, still on the committee!
Being a very bright lady herself she was keen to make sure people kept their minds active. She started an 80 Club at her home. She spent hours preparing quizzes for the meetings and was always surrounded
by note pads, extracts & pictures cut from the newspaper that my might be useful together with crosswords and her hand written pieces of paper on a trolley. Helen never contemplated a computer!
She also visited Yates Court Retirement Village in Evesham regularly to give quizzes and chat to people.
Music was her main love so when a couple who had run the U3A music group she attended, moved from the village she took it on and eventually organised two groups a month at her home. This involved a lot of
work as she was meticulous in the timing and to make sure she played music from a wide range of composers. Latterly Freda Jelfs helped & printed the programmes so the groups could continue in her home.
She was very determined not to give up!
When a piano was left to the church Helen paid for its restoration and for it to be tuned regularly in memory of Maureen.
She was a member of the U3A Historic Churches group and we would often visit a church when I took her out for a drive. She also loved bird watching and would often take part in the in the Big Garden Birdwatch
organised every year.
For a time she delivered The Willersey News in Willow Road and occasionally asked me to do it if I was visiting at the right time.
Helen was very sad when Anthony Harvey died earlier this year. He was a regular visitor, chatting to help her find her words again after her long stay in hospital last summer.
Thank you to her friends and particularly her neighbours who looked out for her in the last few years getting her daily paper, putting out the bins, picking her up if she fell, popping in for a chat
and many other kindnesses.
Sam Russell became a friend and carer, having started off as a cleaner for Helen and Maureen 16 years ago. Latterly she went to Helen nearly everyday to prepare her lunch, do the washing, cleaning, some
shopping, put something in the fridge ready for her supper; in fact whatever needed doing! Helen was extremely grateful for everything she did.
I have enjoyed visiting Willersey since 1984 and in that time have met some of you at various events and celebrations including the Christmas drinks parties they organised for a few years, at which I would
be asked to help and Helen's 90th birthday. Helen died peacefully on March 12th, 2018, aged 93 years. She will be lovingly remembered.
Finally thank you all for supporting me at Helen's funeral.
With best wishes, Jennifer (Hurst) Helen's god daughter.
Mrs Joan Leek 1926 - 2018
Mrs Joan Leek, born October 8th 1930; died February 13th 2018
THE LADY ON THE RED TRACTOR
(Based on a reading at her graveside)
-- oOo –
Joan, these few lines are just for you, from Vee,
Who listened to your thoughts and memories.
For it was my pleasure near the end –
To become your carer and your friend.
You wondered “Will God be angry with me?
I wasn’t one o’them Churchgoers, you see”
“God loves you” I said “You gave your all –
To His fields and creatures large and small”
Your last wish granted, the final factor –
Carried off to Church behind your tractor.
With no more suffering, no more pain.
You have done it your way, once again.
Joan's life in Willersey
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Joan Leek, another village character lost to us. Joan was village born and bred. She worked hard all her life until a few years ago.
She was respected by fellow cattle and sheep farmers and if you bought either from her at market sales you knew you had quality.
Joan had her own language for lots of things, for example apples if brown in the middle were mawsy. A few years ago
when she broke her wrist I helped her with various jobs. It was close to Christmas so that involved the turkeys. They looked a bit pale so on one
morning so I mentioned it to Joan “ Ah, they'll redder up later.”
Joan and hsuband Bill had a chequered life. They didn't agree on many things and Bill had felt the broom handle many a time. It was then brought in for repair.
We would come back home and sometimes Joan was hanging over the fence asking “ 'as yer gotta minute ” whch usually meant bale carting or something to do with the animals.
We all got used to seeing Joan in her khaki smock and trousers with her hair in a turban, but when they went
out usually on a Friday, she always looked very smart. Her favourite colour was green.
Joan was usually on her tractor, in the old days a grey Fergie giving her hand signals very clearly, but when it came to having a new tractor there was cause for concern.
It had a cab on it. How was she going to do her hand signals? They then realised it had indicators. It was a well known sight of Joan being seen driving the tractor with Bill and their dog
in the box at the back. She was even known to drive the tractor to Broadway to go to the bank.
I mentioned earlier that she had broken her wrist so that meant reinforcements were called in. I was therefore promoted to riding in the box to help muck out and feed the cattle
with Joan giving the instructios. There was always the right way to do a job in Joan's eyes.
Joan didn't stray too far from Willersey although she did go to Scotland with her freind Margaret on one or two occasions. She liked horses and followed all the races on television
setting up her own bookies service for a bit of a thrill. She knew the horses, jockeys and trainers and was always pleased if one of the local trainers had a winner.
Lots of things happened in her lifetime and she could remember them well. It always amazed me how she remembered it all. She liked to keep up with what was goin on until recently.
She had a difficult life with her arthritis, but nevertheless things were done to a time. This was Joan's thing. everything done at the right time.
It will be hard having new neighbours after a good fifty years. Although they never had children, she was interested in what out Caroline and David did. I have a lovely photo of her
leaning on the garden fence between us having a chat with Mackenzie aged about four.
Canon Anthony Harvey 1930 - 2018
The Reverend Canon Anthony Harvey DD, born May 1st 1930; died January 9th 2018
Anthony was born on 1st May 1930 to Cyril and Nina Harvey, three years after his sister Jean. He went to Eton College as a scholar before
winning a scholarship to Worcester College, Oxford to read Classics and Philosophy. He achieved a double first. Prior to this he spent
a year studying the violin in Brussels. He then won a scholarship to work in Munich on Greek Lyric poetry and then worked for the Third Program at the BBC.
During this time he met and married Julian and decided to go for ordination and trained at Westcott House, Cambridge. Here Marina was born.
He then became a curate at Christ Church, Chelsea and during this time two more sisters were born, Helen and Christian.
He moved to Oxford in 1962 to become a Research Student, teaching in Christ Church College, Oxford and was also Mental Health Chaplain at the Warneford Hospital.
At Oxford he began his distinguished career as an author of books on the New Testament, Christian doctrine and ethics.
His first major work was “A Companion to the New Testament” under the name of A.E.Harvey. This involved an eight month
stay in Jerusalem with the family, 1966-67. Shortly after their return Victoria was born.
In 1969 he became Warden of St Augustine's College, Canterbury, a theological college preparing students for ordination.
In 1976 he was appointed Lecturer in Theology in the University of Oxford. During this time he was also chaplain of Queen’s College,
Oxford and a member of Wolfson College, Oxford. From 1982-99 he was Canon and Librarian of Westminster Abbey, and Sub-Dean 1987-89.
He retired to Willersey with Julian who died in 2015. Here he continued to write and take a keen interest in inter-faith dialogue,
social justice, the George Bell Institute, environmental and charitable work especially ACES, Aid for Children in El Salvador.
He took a full part in village and Church life right up until the day he collapsed.
A Service of Thanksgiving for The Reverend Dr Anthony E.Harvey
was held on Tuesday 15th January 2019 at 6:30pm in Westminster Abbey.
This Memorial stone was dedicated by the Dean of Westminster in the Great Cloisters
Here is a copy of the Order of the Service
The text of three Tributes from his daughters
and Victoria. Here is the tribute from his
The Address was given by The Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Williams of Oystermouth
Alison, my father's neighbour rang me on 8th January to tell me the sad news that my father had had a severe stroke and that she and Brian,
Sue Burdett and Mr and Mrs Kelly were
looking after him. This immediately brought home to me and my sisters the amazing sense of love, friendship, caring and community that exists in Willersey where so many people
have helped and looked out for my father with such kindness.
When my mother had Alzheimer's so many people very kindly helped my father look after her or, if she got lost walking around the village, would bring her back home.
My father would talk so enthusiastically to us about the many people he loved and admired in the village. He was deeply committed to both the Church and the Willersey community.
He did all he could to support the local shop as he knew the crucial role that it played in supporting the community spirit and the independence of those without a car
and believed that if it were lost this would seriously harm the village. He loved going down to the shop first thing in the morning with his basket and saying good morning to those he met.
My father was a New Testament scholar/lecturer at Oxford University, and throughout his life wrote many books on theology; the best known of these was a large commentary
on the whole of the New Testament “A Companion to the New Testament” which later earned him his doctorate. He wrote under the name
A.E Harvey. He was Canon/Sub-dean of Westminster Abbey from 1982 to 1999.
He was always passionately concerned about community, asylum seekers, refugees, all those who are marginalised, and justice. He was the theologian on the Church's influential
report into inner-city poverty in the mid 80s called “Faith in the City”.
In 1998 he was instrumental in the installation of ten statues of modern martyrs (including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero) above the West Door of
Westminster Abbey. Recently the issues close to his heart were justice for the memory of Bishop George Bell,
ACES the society for children in El Salvador and above all Willersey;
the village, the church and his vicar.
The prayers of those in the village, and our vicar the Rev. Scott Watts taking morning prayer with him (so sensitively) helped to make his death at the end so beautiful
and peaceful. Hospitality was just one of our father's many gifts, and as he breathed his last there was not only a great sense of Confirmation that his work on earth was done,
but a vividness that he has gone on ahead of us to that “house of many mansions” to help prepare a place for us all.
My friend and colleague Anthony Harvey, who has died aged 87, was an outstanding classicist who switched to theology and became a leading New Testament scholar,
and subsequently an influential church theologian and ethicist.
His books on ministry and on the gospels included Jesus and the Constraints of History (1982) – based on his Bampton lectures at Oxford University – which was rated among the best historical
Jesus books of its generation. A monograph on St Paul, Renewal Through Suffering (1996), and several articles (including one on the Lord's Prayer to appear shortly) maintained his
scholarly independence and impeccable academic standards. Is Scripture Still Holy? (2012) showed his concern to relate this to the life of the church.
Anthony was born in London, son of Cyril Harvey, a barrister, and his wife, Nina (nee Darley), attended Eton and then studied classics at Worcester College, Oxford. Following ordination in 1958
to a curacy in London, he returned to Oxford in 1962 to continue research at Christ Church.
After a spell as warden of St Augustine's College, Canterbury (1969-75) he became a lecturer at Oxford and chaplain of the Queen's College before moving to Westminster Abbey as
canon librarian in 1982; from 1987 until his retirement in 1999 he was also archdeacon and sub-dean.
At Westminster he was the statutory theologian on various church commissions, including the archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie's initiative which led in 1985 to the Faith in the City report.
The two years of intensive fieldwork behind that report redirected the activism of an always compassionate but privileged and somewhat remote intellectual.
Shocked by the extent of many communities' alienation from the life of society, he gave time and effort to local social projects. By What Authority? The Church and Social Concern (2001)
and Asylum in Britain (2009) offered his theological reflection on this frontline experience. Books on the ethics of Jesus, retaliation, sexual morality and peacemaking also stemmed
from his active involvement in church, and society, which continued up to his death.
Following the death in 2015 of his wife, Julian (nee McMaster), a gifted artist and poet, he wrote a memoir of his ministry, profession and marriage,
Drawn Three Ways (2016).
Readers of that book may see how the stoic philosophy and religious faith that he learned and taught when young came to shape his response to his wife's long illness and the
death in 2008 of Christian, the third of their four daughters.
He is survived by his daughters Marina, Helen and Victoria.
Dr Andrew Chandler writes in The Church Times:
Canon Anthony Harvey, who died on 9th January, aged 87, was a distinguished scholar and teacher of New Testament studies, an author of diverse books, a contributor to significant debates, and a participant
in the public contexts in which they were to be found. He lived a life defined, perhaps, above all by a long and costly labour to integrate and reconcile quite distinct dimensions of experience, even as they often pulled in different directions.
In this lay a coherent integrity that was not, at any point, achieved cheaply.
Anthony Ernest Harvey's father was an eminent lawyer; his mother died young. Anthony was educated at Eton, and there excelled at the violin, piano, and organ. Later, he would say little of his schooling,
and he resented the quality of superiority which it inculcated. Unfit for national service, he studied the violin with Maurice Raskin in Brussels, watched over by Belgian cousins.
In 1949, Harvey won a scholarship to Worcester College, Oxford, where he secured a double first in Classics. On graduation, he won a two-year scholarship to travel abroad, and set off in a
Morris 8 to Munich to study with Rudolf Pfeiffer, whom he had first met as a refugee teaching at Oxford, and who had now returned to his homeland.
Driving over the Alps, he made his way to Florence, where he met the British consul, Ian McMaster, and Julian McMaster. He acknowledged Julian's intuitive intelligence, prized her creative gifts,
both literary and artistic, and admired her resistance to snobbery. They married in 1957. By then, Harvey was preparing for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge. His marriage to Julian brought
four daughters: Marina, Helen, Christian, and Victoria.
Harvey was ordained in 1958 and served his title in Chelsea. He attended the 1961 General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi, where his multi-lingual skills came into their own.
He remained, deeply, a scholar. In 1962, he became a student of Christ Church, Oxford. Soon he was hard at work on a companion to the New Testament, a study commissioned to accompany the publication
of the New English Bible, and in 1966 he travelled with the family to Jerusalem to immerse himself in the task.
It was an experience that confirmed his internationalism, and it proved to be formative. When he published the companion, he acknowledged that, in many ways, he had written it for his father, and had tried throughout
“to ask the questions which he would have asked and to seek the answers which he would have regarded as honest”. It sold 40,000 copies.
While Oxford suited Harvey, he felt that his academic writing should be applicable to the realities of everyday life. In 1969, he was appointed Warden of St Augustine's College, Canterbury, for those in the
final year of ordination training. Here he relished the opportunity to attempt innovations, but found himself unsure how to interpret a new generation who looked to the enthusiasms of the late 1960s.
In time, however, many of those who studied under him came to value what he had given them, and also the spirit in which it had been offered.
Harvey felt the closure of St Augustine's in 1976 as a personal blow. It brought him to a further period at Oxford, when he combined a university lectureship and fellowship of Wolfson College
with a chaplaincy to the Queen's College. He gave the Bampton Lectures, later published as Jesus and the Constraints of History, in 1982, and did much through his writing to develop the thought of the Church
of England's Doctrine Commission. But it was in Oxford that Julian suffered a succession of severe nervous breakdowns, whose treatment proved harrowing.
In 1982, Harvey entered into possibly the most creative period of his life, when he became Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey. In important respects, the post suited him perfectly.
He could watch over Julian, whose health remained precarious, and he could preach, think, and write with freedom. But he could also become, perhaps more than ever, immersed in the world at large,
with all its debates, controversies, and crises.
It was he who came up with the title “Faith in the City” when he became theological adviser to the new Archbishop's Commission on Urban Priority Areas. He was shocked by social deprivation,
and was glad to find that, as a theologian, he could play a part in fashioning a principled and practical response to it. Harvey came to love the Abbey itself, and found its many
intricacies endlessly provocative to new ideas. He was glad to foster the development of its museum, and enjoyed making the Jerusalem Chamber a place for the launching of books or the holding of discussions.
By the late 1990s, he was embarking on his most enduring contribution to the fabric: the creation of ten statues of 20th-century Christian martyrs. Unveiled by the Queen in 1998, they expressed impressively
a sense of the place of the Abbey itself, both in the imposing contexts of royalty or official authority and in the turbulence of the modern world. In later years, it was under his auspices that refugees and those who worked
for them met each week in Cheneygates. In such things, Harvey found himself to be deeply alive. Those who found him austere failed to recognise the claims of simplicity by which he lived.
Harvey's Anglicanism was recognisably that of William Temple, George Bell, and Michael Ramsey. His was not narrowly an English life, and his piety was not narrowly an English piety. He was at hom
in French Catholicism, and liked to quote a prior of Taizé, that the definition of a priest was one who was always listening.
He relished the quest for justice at work in liberation theology, and was much influenced by those whose thought had known the severe testing of political and social injustice. Eberhard and Renate Bethge
were an important part of his cultural world, while the East German pastor Werner Krätschell knew him as a friend, and Dom Helder Camara stayed at the Harveys' home.
The wonder of his published work at large lay in its lucid, elegant prose, its freedom from jargon, and its alert, responsive empiricism. Indeed, he always found his basis in exploring
the questions that people might ask. “Strenuous Commands: The ethic of Jesus” (1990) remains widely admired. “Promise or Pretence? A Christian's guide to sexual morals” (1994) had first appeared
as articles in Theology magazine, and provoked a brief stir.
Harvey retired in 1999 to a cottage in Willersey, Gloucestershire. These years brought the death of his third daughter, Christian, in 2008, and they were increasingly dominated by Julian's decline.
But there was still much work to be done. In 2000, he taught himself Spanish to preach at the 20th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Romero. He published a succession of further books,
often with the SCM Press, of which he was particularly fond. Their subjects included war and peace; asylum-seeking; a moral case against British government policy; and the New Testament.
His autobiography, “Drawn Three Ways” appeared in 2014.
He remained a fundamental presence in the life of the George Bell Institute. He established a charity to support the work of an orphanage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
only to see it crash in corruption. He returned to his violin studies. After Julian's death in 2015, he published privately a volume of her poetry. An article on Daily Bread,
for the Journal of Theological Studies, was in press at his death. Harvey's last work for publication was a final work of protest: an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury,
provoked by the Church's treatment of Bishop George Bell.
Harvey seemed wholly well when, suddenly, on 7th January, he suffered a severe stroke. When the end came two days later, his daughters Helen and Victoria were with him.
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Jean Moore 1939 - 2017
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Mrs Jean Moore born 17th June 1939 died 22nd October 2017
Jean was born in Broadway to Henry and Elsie Beasley. She spent most of her early life at the family home at 26 Badsey Road, Willersey along with her brother Keith and sister Elizabeth.
She attended the little village school and went on to attend Chipping Campden Grammar School. At school Jean loved sport and especially hockey. This was a sport she continued to play
well into her 50's as a goalkeeper for Blockley Ladies. She was also an avid Manchester United fan.
While growing up she met and fell in love with local lad David Moore and they were married in Willersey Church in 1958. Their first home was a wooden bungalow which stood in an orchard
around the top of the Village and two years later they moved into a newly built house at 7 Timms Green, Willersey, which was to become their family home for the rest of their lives.
They had four children Duncan, Darren, Danny and Sue (at last a girl!).
I first got to know Jean when we moved into Timms Green in 1976. She was always kind, friendly and helpful. She did not suffer fools gladly, but I soon found out that she had a really
soft middle and we became good friends.
When David became ill, she would very often bring him over to sit in our back garden to watch Willersey play Sunday morning football and the kettle was soon on.
She would make me laugh to start with because she would ring and say “Are you in?” and I would reply “Well yes Jean. You're talking to me. I will put
the kettle on.” After a while she would just wander over and we would sit and put the Village affairs right over a cup of tea.
She was born and bred a Village girl and enjoyed the village social life where she played skittles and loved a Quiz always going under the name Mosads (the Moore and Sadler families).
Over the years she particularly enjoyed her Friday night social drink at both Village Pubs with good friends Mildred and Mary and we were soon nicknamed the girls Bananarama – Cheesey
chips were very often their supper when out on the town.
She was passionate about keeping the Village alive and naturally got involved in many things. The Parish Council was a big part of her life, and in May 2017 Councillor Lynden Stowe paid
tribute to Jean for her 26 years continuous service by presenting her with a silver picture frame to mark her retirement. Several year ago the village Hall committee was searching for
a treasurer and you won't be surprised to know that it was Jean who again came to their rescue. She was also a very active member of the WI, again serving on their committee and soon
becoming treasurer. Nothing got past Jean as treasurer.
So as we all know, she loved Willersey and always strongly supporting all the village organisations to keep them going. She was quite a crusader in her own way. She made many friends over
the years all of whom will miss her greatly. We will always remember the laughs and good times we shared together along the way. So thank you Jean for your friendship.
God Bless You.
Eulogy written by Mal Jelfs (Friend and Neighbour) for Jean’s funeral.
David Hammond 1936 - 2017
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Tribute to David Hammond
It is a real privilege to give this tribute for David Hammond whom I have known for over 55 years. Firstly as a colleague and then as a very special friend.
I am indebted to Anne, Tim and John and the grandchildren for their many fond memories of David. Harriet wrote an excellent biography of him as a school assignment;
also to Nick and Angela Sexton who were good friends at Bognor Regis Teacher Training College.
Dave was a good man, a devout Christian, good husband, father and grandfather who will be sadly missed. We extend to the family our deepest sympathy.
It is not a time for weeping however but for rejoicing over his good life. He had a good sense of humour and once said “I don't want anything crying at my
funeral and if they do I won't speak to them again”.
Dave was born in Wisborough West Sussex in 1936 and his favourite subject at school was Science. After leaving school he joined a research laboratory
and this was followed by two years compulsory National Service in the RAF, where he became an air radar mechanic. He then went to College to
train as a Secondary School Science Teacher. It was there that he met Jane his future wife.
I first met Dave when I joined the Staff at Lancastrian Boys School as a Science teacher. Dave was well established and made me very welcome. We shared the
science teaching throughout the School, Dave teaching Physical Sciences and me the Natural Sciences. One of the most difficult Classes was 4C on a Monday
morning. I did the teaching and Dave patrolled with a big stick! You could hit children in those days although we never did. We really taught Science as
a discovery learning exercise and were very innovatory. To give one example we once took 20 boys to Pagham Harbour at 4.00 am to record the magnificent
dawn chorus. We then played it at morning Assembly. It was all well organised except we forgot to tell the Police, but two of them came along to listen.
We both sang in the School Choir; Dave had a fine tenor voice and continued to sing in two Choirs until quite recently. We also played cricket together
including playing Ford Open Prison. We had two away matches a year! He was an incredible hitter of the ball and only hit fours. He once ran me out as I
was happy to scamper singles but he stood his ground. Tim and John spent many happy hours playing cricket with him but asked him to bowl underarm as he
was a poor bowler. Cricket was a good metaphor for his life. He always played a straight bat, was a team player and has had a good innings.
During this time in Chichester we both married and honeymooned on Jersey.
We were both provided with adjoining teachers flats and usually met on Sunday evenings for Supper and Sunday Half Hour. Dave was a superb
technician and kindly rigged us up with an old television set.
Dave and Jane had three lovely children who in turn produced seven grandchildren who gave Dave immense pleasure. They were a constant joy
to him. There were fun and games at Christen Mares, holidays at Instow, North Devon where they had a holiday cottage
and country walks with Dave teaching all the way. He was a keen radio ham and the children remember him talking to people all over the World. Anne
was thrilled when Dave asked such people to say “Hello” to her on air. He was an able gardener and DIY expert. He could make and repair anything.
A delight for the family was when Dave produced his famous chocolate eclairs. All the children enjoyed the rides down the Drive in the tractor trailer
as well as watching TV with him with a box of Quality Street to hand. The grandchildren were thrilled when Dave built a tree house in the garden for them.
He was a lead campanologist here and would have been delighted to have heard the bells ringing so beautifully to welcome him here today.
Dave was one of my best friends ever and we even called each other “Bro”.
We all miss him greatly but rejoice in the loving care of his family, his multiple talents and because the world is a better place because he has lived.
We are glad that he is now reunited with his lovely wife Jane in Heaven.
Farewell Dear Friend. Rest in Peace. Your memory is our keep sake.
Biography of David Hammond - October 2003
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This Biography is dedicated to David George Hammond: a father, husband and grandfather.
David was born in Wisborough Green in Sussex, in 1936. Three years before, in 1933, Barbara, David's elder sibling was born. His earliest memory was of being
on West Wittering sea side. He was on holiday and enjoyed the sea side so much he later lived by the sea. It was his favourite place as a child.
David went to school at Horsham Grammar which was
10 miles away from Wisborough Green so David never saw his school friends. He would only see his village friends whom he was still good friends with from his
primary school. David belonged to many clubs during his childhood such as Cubs, Cricket and Drama club. He was also part of the church choir.
As a teenager he was the treasurer of the Football Club. When David was growing up he helped a lot on farms where he did a lot of work with tractors.
He belonged to the Young farmers club. They had annual variety nights where he danced and performed in plays.
David was not a very ambitious child but he enjoyed cricket so much that he would have loved to have played cricket for a living.
David attended Wisborough Primary School. It was a small village school, but never-the-less David enjoyed it tremendously. When David first started at
Wisborough Primary School he found it extremely hard going and frightening. His favourite teacher in primary school was Mrs Lewis who was the head teacher's wife.
David then went on to Collyers School and finally Horsham Grammar School. But he still felt that he was not very clever and also admitted he wasn't very
attentive! He did all the subjects including Latin. One of his teachers was Mr Soaper, a biology teacher. David particularly remembers him because Mr Soaper
brought his pet squirrel in to show the class. Out of all these subjects he enjoyed Science the best. Which he later went on to teach.
David left school at 17 in 1953. He did not immediately go to college or university but later went to a teacher training college, where he met his wife, Jane Mary Ingles.
David, at 17, went to work in a physics Laboratory as a Research assistant. He enjoyed it enormously because he had always liked physics at school.
In 1955, David did his National service. He worked as an Air Radar Mechanic in the RAF. He was stationed in Upwood, Huntingdonshire. This is now known as
Cambridgeshire. He worked there from July 1955 to July 1957. At the time he resented it. He didn't want to be there but as it was compulsory he had no choice.
He was chosen to become an officer but decided he would not like to be one because he would have had to work longer in the RAF. Although, looking back on it he
feels he had a very good experience and also said it was enjoyable.
His career as a teacher was mainly teaching science. But he also taught music occasionally. His most memorable experience of being a teacher was being promoted
to head of the science department. David was permitted to hit his pupils with a cane, however, he refrained because he did not agree with it.
David retired at the age of 57 in 1993.
David proposed to Jane Mary Ingles and in 1961 they married. He met her at a teacher training college where Jane was also training to be a teacher. They got
married in Willersey Methodist Church and went to the Channel Islands in Jersey on their honeymoon. They recently returned there after 40 years as a gift from their children.
Unfortunately David's father died when David was a young child. David's mother was alive to see David and Jane get married. When David was asked who he had thought
had made the biggest influence on his life he said he felt that his wife, Jane, had. In January 1964 they bought their first house in Chichester. They later lived in
Boshom. The hardest decision David said he had made was to move house from Boshom to Christen Mares.
In the same year they got married they had Elizabeth Anne known as Anne. David had two other children after Elizabeth; Timothy David Hammond and John Michael Hammond.
Jane and David have seven 7 Grandchildren altogether. Fredrick who is John's son, Harriet, Rose, Florence and Charlie who are Anne's children.
George and Benjamin who are Tim's sons.
Present Day 2003
At present Jane and David are living at Christen Mares, Willersey Hill. It is a large house in the countryside with a lot of land surrounding. David also has a
house in Instow, Devon. It is a lovely cottage looking out on the Estuary. Just a five minute walk from the beach and a short car's journey away from most other
beaches. They enjoy going there very much but when they are not down there, friends, relatives and connections go down there to stay.
David's interests include gardening and bell ringing. David has a big garden to look after and he does it very well. He grows copious amounts of fruits and
vegetables including tomatoes, cherries and apples. Also he does a large amount of bell ringing at the local village church. David also takes part in a
lot of D.I.Y as he helps a lot in Anne's house and does a lot in his own house and garden. David has had a lifelong interest from the age of about 10 in
amateur radio. But recently computers have taken its place. David has always been a church goer.
David supports Manchester United Football Club. He has supported them ever since the 1957 air crash in Europe. He watched the team rebuild
and become a successful team once again.
Harriet Taylor 20th October 2003
Judy Munt 1933 - 2017
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Eulogy to Judy Munt
by Robert McNeil Wilson
I stand here as Judy's friend.
It was a blessing to be able to count Judy Munt as a friend and so,
it is a profound honour to have been asked to give the Eulogy to her and her remarkable life.
Judy was born, Judy MacLaren, in 1933. It is important to make reference to her maiden name because it is well-known to many that she
was proud of her Scottish origins, her Clan MacLaren and her beloved father, whose memory I know she always cherished.
Judy was always mindful of the suffering her father had endured when he had arrived in Singapore in the War, just in time to be
captured and confined in Changi Jail before being sent to work as a slave on the Death Railway in Burma. I know that Judy felt
his later health problems stemmed from those terrible times and I feel sure she would want us all to spare a moment, on this day,
to commemorate his sacrifice and suffering.
Judy grew up in Beeston Fields Drive, Nottingham. In her early years, she shared a governess with her life-long friend, Shanne.
Judy had fond memories of those times and the days spent playing with her friend in the rural setting of Beeston Fields.
In her teens, Judy was an active and impressive sportswoman, playing county-level tennis for Nottinghamshire.
Later, Mike would play tennis with his wife and he told me, with some satisfaction, that he had even been known to beat her.
However, further research revealed that this only happened after Judy had been somewhat fatigued by having already defeated
a number of other more serious contenders on the day and that the number of times could actually be counted on the thumbs of one hand.
(And it must occurred to Mike that she had, in fact, let him win one because she loved him so much).
After leaving school, Judy went to London, training to become a nurse at St Thomas' Hospital, on the other side of the Thames
from the Palace of Westminster. Later, when her poor father was suffering from cancer, she returned to Nottingham to put her
caring nature and skills to use and nurse him.
After this, Judy got a job with the famous, Nottingham pharmaceutical company, Boots. She just was about to go off to her beloved Scotland,
to take up a more senior managerial post with Boots when a tall, dark gentleman intervened and upset it all - by proposing marriage. Judy
first met the man she was to marry when he was only three years old and she was only one. She went from being his little pal, to being his
friend, to being his girlfriend, before becoming his wife. I always thought that Judy's email address which was for both Mike and Judy said it all
“mike-judymunt at xxx.co.uk” – they were a single, very real unit.
We've all heard Judy and Mike calling each other “Darling” in public.
She was the love of his life and he was hers.
Judy and her young man had enjoyed dancing and attended many Young Conservative dances after the Second World.
Judy and Mike went on to marry and have three children, Janne, Fiona and Alastair, with Judy becoming a full-time mum,
devoting herself to her children's welfare and upbringing.
The family accompanied Mike on an RAF posting to Singapore and Judy enjoyed a tropical life-style with her family;
Mike teaching the children to swim and Judy coaching them in tennis. Judy's beloved son, Alastair took after his
mother and excelled at tennis, cricket and rowing.
When they moved here, to Willersey in 1964, Judy took a job caring for Colonel Lord and his wife. Judy took this job because
it meant she could always be around, when she needed to be, for her children.
In talking to Mike and his girls, I get the sense of an idyllic, almost children's story-book-style of family life;
full of fun, adventure and happiness as a consequence of the fun and loving natures of Judy and Mike as parents.
During her children's younger years, Judy kept ‘open-house’ at the end of each school day, playing host to all her son's and daughters' young,
‘latch-key’ friends, welcoming everyone, as Fiona puts it.
Fiona told me that her family have had letters and phone calls from school friends, particularly Anne, Aline and Lucy who remembered,
fondly, her mum's famous Teas (with a capital “T”); coming in from school to the smell of freshly-made flapjacks, caramel shortbread and chocolate cake – and recalling going home to their own mums and saying,
“Why can't we have tea like Mrs Munt's?!”
When their children were in their teens Judy and Mike enjoyed many narrow boat holidays; including the children taking their French
and German pen friends with them when they visited and helping their dad to run “Centenary”“; – a charitable narrow boat.
Judy and Mike built on this, during Mike's school years at Bilton Grange, near Rugby, when they roped in Janne, Fiona and Alastair to help them run
canal-based adventures for the boys. Judy would undertake the duties of First Mate and first aider as well as cooking amazing meals from what
seemed like nothing at all. When they were old enough, Judy's children would crew and operate an additional narrow boat, enabling them to
take an extra boat-full of boys on these adventures. In her long and happy life, Judy and her family were blessed with many other happy holidays and trips.
I have mentioned Judy's love of Scotland and she and Mike, sensibly, capitalised on this by purchasing a holiday property bond that enabled them
to stay in their own Scottish castle for a couple of weeks a year.
Judy enjoyed spending time with friends and family on her family's numerous Pembrokeshire holidays over the course of over fifty years.
She loved cruises and she and Mike sailed the Mediterranean and explored the fjords of Norway together and, on their fortieth anniversary
they cruised around Australia and New Zealand.
When Judy's children left home, she returned to nursing and was in much demand for the Special Clinic and in Orthopaedics.
In Willersey, Judy is well-known as a real force in village life and for her career of service to her community.
Judy was an active member and former Chairman of our village's Mothers' Union and the Women’s institute. It was Judy
who beat me to it in suggesting that the beautiful Mother's Union banner that had been hidden away was restored to
the Sanctuary. Whenever I look at that banner, I shall always think of her.
In the W.I., Judy was famous for her marmalade and jam-making and contributions to the W.I. market – in particular a remarkable creation called Red Dragon Pie.
She provided huge support to the Girl Guide and Brownie movement and was Brown Owl for 25 years, leading her Brownie pack to victory in numerous
competitions, as well as holding the prestigious and senior position of District Commissioner.
She was Chairman of the Parish Council with all the onerous responsibilities of that role.
Judy was a true RAF-wife and gave Mike enormous support in his work with the RAF Benevolent Fund and was passionately
involved in ensuring the preservation of the Vulcan bomber at Wellesbourne Airfield, yet another shared aspect of their long, shared life.
In recent years Judy was active at Signpost, a kind of Citizen's Advice Bureau in Broadway.
As recently as a year ago, Judy was still working as a volunteer driver for the Cotswold Friends – helping those in need
with hospital runs, surgery visits and other essential trips.
On a recent day, after Judy had passed away, Fiona was out walking with a friend of her mum's. Whilst remembering Judy,
the friend mentioned Judy's amazing ability to ‘hold court’ in a room in official meetings, likening it to the ‘flicking on of a switch’.
Judy would go into a different mode altogether, never raising her voice, but getting her point across with quiet authority.
And then she would join Mike again, the switch would flick off and she would go back to being ‘the wife’ again!
Certainly, this rings true of my experiences of the years I've enjoyed working with Judy. In many Parochial Church Council meetings,
other councillors would be holding forth with great enthusiasm and verbosity – particularly Geoff Dear and Penny Burch – and me – and
Judy would sit next to Mike looking thoughtful until my wife, another Judith, said to Judy,
“But let's hear from Judy. What do you think, oh Wise One!”
We would all know that we could count on Judy to dispense a dose of cool, clear, practical, common sense; a gem of wisdom that
would give us cause for thought and steer us to a sensible way forward.
Judy, simply, never gave in. Tini, the leader of our flower arrangers, told me that Judy said about her own
involvement in our Church's flower arranging team, “I'll never give up, you know!”. Her friends have put their
own memorial to Judy in Judy's own window – the north window in the South Transept, where they have placed a beautiful,
fresh spring arrangement that we should gaze upon with Judy in mind.
Judy continued to place great emphasis on children, particularly in introducing them to a faith in Our Lord, Jesus.
She remained the leading light in the Christingle Service and its preparations before each Christmas and, right up
to her final illness, was still going into Willersey School to enlighten the children with ‘Open the Book’, an introduction to the Bible.
It came as no surprise to learn that this most Christian of ladies was a fine godmother. Her godson, David Powell wrote of
how Judy has been a constant presence and thread throughout his life and the subsequent, consequent significance of his Christian faith.
Judy had always taken a keen interest in his musical achievements.
Judy's friends were important to her; she retained longstanding and lifelong friends, including her childhood friend Shanne.
It will have been a great comfort to Judy that she was granted the opportunity to talk to Shanne and so many other, loving friends in her last few days.
Judy was a wonderful grandmother to her 10 grandchildren; always supportive and ‘hands-on’. She would have her grandchildren, four
at a time, for overnight stays, cooking with them and entertaining them with arts and crafts projects.
For Mike and Judy, the terrible accident that robbed them of their beloved son, Alastair, was a cruel tragedy.
Yet despite that devastating blow, there was never the least sign, to the outside world, that it had dented her faith – or Mike's faith.
They just carried on, serving their church, their community and family with sadder, brave smiles.
On the morning Judy died, her daughter. Fiona, said, “She's with my brother now.”
For me, it was a significant, little miracle, evidence of God working in his remarkable and occasionally clear
and interventionist way when He caused Bishop Rachel, our Bishop of Gloucester, to be here, in this Parish,
for some of the last hours that Judy was with us and actually conscious.
Bishop Rachel knew and respected Judy and was here chairing the selection panel for our next Vicar and,
before I could ask her, she offered, at the end of the day, to visit Judy's home to pray with Judy and her family.
What an amazing indication of the value that God put in His servant Judy, that he should make sure that this powerful,
Christian and Churchwoman should have her Diocesan Bishop attend to her and be there with her to lead her in prayer
and help her to make her peace in her last, conscious hours.
I say again; I am honoured to call myself a friend of this remarkable lady.
As my respected & valued and very close co-Churchwarden, Judy always supported me.
She stood shoulder to shoulder with me, a formidable ally in our hard-fought battle over the glebe
land, on behalf of the village, against the Diocese and that same Bishop who ministered to her at the end.
She lent the greatest credibility to our fight. Whenever I questioned whether I was fighting too hard
or aggressively or doing the right thing, it was a constant reassurance to have her approval and support;
confirmation that what we were engaged in, on behalf of her beloved village was right, given how much I valued and respected her views.
In writing this eulogy, I have used that word numerous times. I have not sought to vary this because it sums up the capacity of Judy for love.
How should we remember her?
I am sure that many of you will be like me; I shall always remember the twinkle in her eye and the warmth that washed
over me whenever I was blessed by one of her kind, gentle, beautiful smiles.
For me, Judy was the most inspiring, committed churchwoman and Christian it has been my honour to meet.
Bereavement is made up of many emotions. When you have been with, and loved, and been loved by someone all your life it can feel inexplicable
that they should have left you. Mike and her family might be left wondering how she could do it; how could she leave them?
But, perhaps we should all have known that when her God decided it was time for her to join him in paradise, that she would answer that call.
We should celebrate Judy's life; a life-time of love for Mike and for her family and friends
– but particularly for dear Mike.
A life-time of service – to her country, her community and her beloved church.
A long, truly good life.
A life lived to the full.
Mike was, indeed, the love of Judy's life.
Mike has shared his disappointment with me that Judy was taken from him before they were able to celebrate their diamond jubilee of 60 years of marriage,
even though it was some years away.
But, as I told Mike on the day she died; no one can take away your wonderful, shared years together, and you know that her death has not and will not
bring an end to the love she always had for you. God rest.
Maurice Andrews 1923 - 2016
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MAURICE CHARLES ANDREWS MBE
Maurice was the ninth child of eleven born to George and Mary Andrews (with another adopted) at Wells Gardens, Broadway on June 10th 1923.
His childhood was happy but materially poor and was recorded in his book, ‘A Village Remembered’ which he wrote in the 1970’s.
He was a Cub and Scout and sang in St Michael's Church Choir.
He went to Broadway School under an inspirational Head Teacher, Archibald Bridgeman and left at 14 to become a Grocer's Boy for the Midland Stores before
joining Charles Steward's Building firm as a Clerk. Here he was given the opportunity to attend evening classes in Evesham to gain qualifications.
When WW2 started he joined the LDV or Home Guard before enlisting in the RAF on 1941, aged 18. He wanted to be a pilot but chronic colour blindness prevented this
so he became a ‘Backroom Boy’ dealing with security issues.
In 1942 he was posted to India. Here he served on the staff of South East Asia Command under Lord Louis Mountbatten and was proud to have had a conversation with
him about Broadway. Maurice also attended one of Gandhi's mass rallies and had never seen so many people in one place at the same time. The Indian experience
left an impression on him for the rest of his life and was a considerable eye-opener for a young lad from a small Cotswold village.
He returned to the UK in 1945 and signed on for another year at the Air Ministry where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant. Here he met a WAAF Corporal,
Eira Wyn-Evans, and they were married in 1947 following demob.
His first job on civvy street was as a Production Controller in Luton & then near Swansea where their first child was born. However,
Maurice wanted to return to Broadway and the family set up their first real home in Sandscroft Avenue in 1948, where their second
child was born a few years later.
He got a clerical job with the building firm of W.A.Cox in Evesham and then moved to the office of Gordon Russell's before going
to Arthur Parker's building firm where he became Director and Secretary until 1957.
Maurice became self-employed as an Accountant and Secretary in the late 1950s before setting up two companies, Dunelm Estates and Dunelm Trading.
The latter, an ironmonger's, was with his brother, Harry, in Leamington Road.
Maurice started his Community Service by being elected onto Broadway Parish Council in 1952 and he served on it until 1963. He was also
elected to Evesham Rural District Council in 1955. He served on several committees and was Chairman of the Housing Committee in 1958.
He was also on various charity committees and a School Governor.
He was a keen member of Broadway Cricket Club and rose from Teaboy in 1933 to Chairman in 1960. He negotiated the renting of the cricket
ground before the club eventually bought it. He was also a member of the Football Club.
In 1963 ill-health and a wish for better education opportunities for his children led to a move to Eastbourne which had been a popular family
holiday venue, Here he joined the Dental Estimates Board and investigated dentists who were trying to defraud the NHS.
He continued playing cricket for the DEB and also qualified as an Umpire in the district.
Maurice became a voluntary worker at the Citizen's Advice Bureau in Eastbourne and also joined RAFA and other local societies.
He left the DEB in 1968 and had some part-time jobs until the early 1970s when, with both children starting their own lives, he and Eira returned
to the Cotswolds and finally settled in Willersey.
Now fully retired, he became Clerk of Willersey Parish Council in 1979 that began 33 unbroken years of service as Clerk, Councillor and Chairman.
Just two of the many issues he was involved with were the flooding problems in Willersey and the weight restriction for lorries in the village.
He also set up the Willersey Forum where inhabitants could come to raise queries and discuss matters as well as setting up a welcome booklet
for people moving into the village. He was very proud that he had not missed a meeting until the very end.
Maurice also keenly supported Willersey Footlights and Wednesday Club. He belonged to the British Legion, RAFA and was President of the Evesham
Branch of Burma Star. Along with his wife, Eira, he attended many Remembrance Services including two march-pasts at the Cenotaph.
He continued his connection with CAB by helping to set up the Evesham branch. He was also Village Correspondent for the Evesham Journal.
Maurice, along with Eira, attended many funerals of local people and ex-service personnel – sometimes being virtually the only mourners - as he felt
it so important to recognise the life of each person.
He was greatly influenced by his mother, Mary, to help others as well as the extended family. She had not only raised
a large family and taken in washing to help ends meet but had helped at births around Broadway and lay out those who died
as well as helping other villagers in many other ways. Maurice wanted to help ‘ordinary folk’ and did this in many ways – offering advice,
when sought, and applying for help from organisations were just two of them. All of this in total confidence and much remains unknown.
Maurice also managed to research his family tree back to the C15th and held a lot of information regarding the history of Willersey and Broadway,
giving many talks to local groups.
Due rewards, though not sought after, came in Maurice's later life. He received Maundy money from the Queen in 2003 at Gloucester Cathedral.
Although being on the border of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire had its drawbacks for some Parish Council matters, it did mean that he was
put forward by both Councils and went to two Garden Parties at the Palace! The proudest day, however, came in 2007 when he received the MBE
from Prince Charles and had a brief conversation with him about Lord Mountbatten.
In 2012 ill health forced him to curtail all activities though he maintained his interest in them. He and Eira moved to Mill House Care Home in
Chipping Campden at Christmas 2013 where they were wonderfully cared for until each passed away. They also received excellent care over the years
from their GPs in Mickleton, Broadway and Campden as well as at various local NHS Hospitals.
Maurice was a devoted husband, a wonderful father, a proud grandfather and also proud to come from the Cotswolds but, above all,
he was a good, caring, gentle man.
Christine Dalton (daughter).
From the Cotswold Journal of Friday 9th March 2012
Friends and family turned out in force to ensure a double celebration for Willersey couple Maurice and Eira Andrews was a party to remember as they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary yesterday,
while it was Mrs Andrews' 90th birthday on Friday, February 24th 2012.
Mr and Mrs Andrews decided to hold one big party to mark the two events, and so about 85 people packed into the village hall last Saturday to raise a toast to the couple. Mr Andrews, who is chairman of Willersey
Parish Council, was born and grew up in the Broadway area. He met his wife-to-be after returning to England at the end of the Second World War after serving with the RAF. He ended up being posted to the same
location as Mrs Andrews, who had grown up in London but had just returned from serving with the Women's Airforce (WAF) in Belgium.
They married in Luton before moving back to Broadway in 1947. In 1962 Mr Andrews' work took them to Eastbourne, but they returned to the familiar surrounds of Broadway about six years later and then moved
to Willersey in 1979. They have a son and daughter, David and Christine, who helped them celebrate on Saturday, as well as three grandchildren.
The couple are well-known locally, with Mr Andrews having formerly served on both Broadway Parish and Evesham Rural District Councils. Journal readers will also recognise Mr Andrews as a long term contributor
– it was only at the end of January that he retired as a village correspondent, having covered the Broadway area since as far back as 1959.
Mr Andrews believes the secret of their long-lasting marriage is a little give and take. “I think it's that and also looking to help the community rather than yourselves and your own,” he said.
A Tragic Coincidence
My father, Maurice Andrews, late of Willersey, Gloucestershire, was very interested in family history and amassed considerable records. One of his ancestors of whom he was most proud was his Uncle,
Harry Andrews (1890 – 1917). Harry was born in Willersey and prior to joining up, worked as a farm labourer and also worked with the heavy wagons that took timber to the sawmills.
He served as a Private (12106) in the 5th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry and joined on 3rd September 1914. He was injured by shrapnel in February 1916 and invalided back to England with
trench feet in June 1916. Harry fought at the Battle of Loos and ‘went out five times under heavy fire to bring in wounded’. At the Battle of Arras he was killed, aged 27, on April 9th 1917 by enemy
rifle fire while advancing on the third enemy trench. It was Easter Monday and the weather was atrocious – rain and hail turning into snow.
Harry was laid to rest in Tilloy British Cemetery near Arras. His nephew and my father's brother, Harry Andrews (who had been named after him as he was born three months after his death) visited the
grave and also did research at the Regimental Museum in Shrewsbury.
I thought that was the whole story but, as happens with family history, another strand to the story appeared. My father only really concentrated on researching the direct line of the family. However
he did have a file of connected family members that he collected on the way and which he meant to look into when he had more time. Sadly, that didn't happen.
I have been carrying on his work and extending out the family tree by recording siblings of the direct line so his file was extremely useful. In it was a sheet from a pamphlet produced by a member of
the Gazey family – Harry's maternal line. Someone obviously did a lot of research and regularly produced these pamphlets to circulate amongst that family but sadly I couldn't find their name on it.
If anyone can put me in touch with this researcher then I would be most grateful.
On this sheet was a record of William Alfred Gazey, Private (52499) 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. He was the son of Alfred John and Elizabeth Gazey who lived in Stratford upon Avon.
The next bit stopped me in my tracks for he was also killed on April 9th 1917 and is also buried at Tilloy! I was then eager to see if there was a connection between them and started trawling through
the Internet records of births, marriages, deaths and censuses. This is what I found:
We need to go back to the 1800s to find George Gazey, born about 1804 in Saintbury, near Willersey. George was a stockman and shepherd who was married twice. He had four children with his first wife,
Mary Gardener, but she sadly died in 1845 from a ‘disease of the brain, seven years certified’. Their second son, William, married Ann Smith and they moved from Saintbury to the Stratford upon Avon area
where he was a farm labourer. They then had a son, Alfred John Gazey, who married Elizabeth Harrington Warren and they are the parents of William Alfred who is George Gazey's Great-grandson.
George's second wife was Harriett Clements and their fifth child, Harriett Gazey, married William Thomas Andrews who were the parents of Harry Andrews. Harry was George's Grandson. I therefore believe
that Harry and William are something like step cousins.
I have no way of knowing how well they knew each other; if they knew they were fighting so close to each other or if the two families even heard the tragic news of each other. Certainly my father didn't
mention it – in fact, he hadn't discovered George and Mary's son, William, at all in his researches. His brother, Harry, also didn't refer to William in any researches he did or when visiting Tilloy Cemetery.
My only caveat is that although I have been over the research several times, it is possible there might be an error but I don't think so.
I am really glad that I have discovered this new evidence, as I will be visiting France on the centenary of the Battle of Arras in April 2017. I had already planned to visit Harry's grave as my father had
wanted to go but didn't get round to it so it is partly in his memory as well. However I can now go and visit both graves and put a cross on both on behalf of all their descendants.
Freda King 1915 - 2016
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A Remarkable Life in Willersey
Freda King, our indomitable grandmother, celebrated her 100th
birthday in August 2015. She lived her entire life in this wonderful village of Willersey not without
hardship, but with much love and laughter too.
Born at Homeleigh, opposite the Village Hall, during the First World War, she was the 8th
of 11 children born to Tom and Emily Proctor. Their names are Nellie, Rod, Ruby, Jessie,
Florence, Janet, Doreen, Freda, Harry, Edgar and Ena.
At that time Homeleigh was a farm with fields behind (where Hays and Collin Close
now lie) where she worked hard herding cows and delivering milk from an
early age to villagers and to the railway at Willersey Halt by the bridge in
Badsey Lane to be taken to market. It was also home to white ducks who
enjoyed the pond and came back each night. This is something we would love to
One of her earliest memories is the tarmacadam road being
laid through the village and getting stuck in it and playing with friends Joan
Andrews and Lily Kilby on the greens. She attended Willersey School until
she was 14 and had her left hand tied to the desk for most of her school
years. Consequently she was unable to join in many of the activities with
the other children.
She married Pat King in 1939 and was a loving mother to Anne and Josie,
grandmother to Elizabeth, Lucy, Dominic and Christopher and has five
great grand children.
Freda lived happily in the cottage next to the
shop for over 72 years. Barely five feet tall, she was a force of a woman. She
lived through the depression, two world wars, rationing and had seen so many changes.
She taught herself to drive, raised a family and became
proficient at weaving on a hand loom (not a mean feat for her size) to
name a few. She was one of those women you would want by your side, loyal and capable.
She casually told of walking through the village to find the
midwife, while in labour, in the middle of the night with her first child Anne on her back
and bombers overhead.
Living through hard times and losing the love of her life Pat,
too soon after he returned from the war gave her a
resilience not to be underestimated. Her longevity is testament to the fact that she was tough both mentally and physically.
Age however did not dull the sparkle in her eyes and she continued to
support and care for her family and make us laugh. We celebrated
her wonderful years in Willersey, with all her friends joining her
for 100th birthday celebrations on Sunday 23rd August 2015
in Willersey Village Hall.
Freda was the oldest surviving resident who was born and brought up in the village.
She was delighted to have celebrated her 100th birthday last year with all her family and friends.
It was her greatest wish to end her life peacefully in her cottage in Willersey and that wish was granted on the 27th February 2016.
“The life of one we love is never lost .... her influence goes on through all the lives she ever touched.”
Philip James Gould - Memories of his time at school - Tuesday 25th Feb 2014
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Mr Gould has kindly let us share his memories of his time at Willersey School:
I was born in Willersey in 1928 and lived with my parents and my brother in Cheltenham Cottages (known by all as ‘Little Cheltenham’) on the Broadway Road.
In 1931 just before I was 4 years of age my two cousins, Marjorie Southern (later Mrs Bate) and Eileen (later Mrs. Burrows) who lived in the next cottage took
me to my first school day at Willersey Church of England School and I remained at school there until 1939 when I went to Chipping Campden Grammar School.
The school had three classrooms with a central cloakroom, the playground area was rather limited with a small brick paved area at the side and another small area
at the rear where there was a toilet block.
I remember an overgrown area between the school and Ley Orchard which at that time was a grass field between the school boundary and Saintbury Road
with still a few fruit trees from the original orchard. The older boys were given the task of clearing the area and laying an ash base to create a larger
area for ball games.
The children attending the school came from the village and from outer areas. I recall Bert Dyde who lived in a farm opposite the Dormy Guest house and the
family from ‘Guns cottages’ plus Bert Newman from Saintbury and the Bruton family from Willersey Fields. All of them walked to school. There was no
school bus or other transport.
The staff at that time and during my time at the school were Mr F.Z.Stephens the headmaster, affectionately know to us all as ‘Freddie’, but never
in his hearing, Miss Beak who travelled daily from Bengeworth Evesham in her little Austin 7 who looked after the infants and junior class and Miss Edmunds who
cycled daily from Stanway and took the middle class. We also had regular visits from the vicar as we were a church school. The school bell would summon
all the pupils at the start of the day and we quickly found that if it started ringing when you were at the end of Church Lane there was time to run to arrive in time.
The building was much as I recall it was when I last visited with the roaring fire in the big room which was used in winter to warm the school milk. The ⅓rd pint bottles were delivered by Mr Ingles.
It is not until later in life that one appreciates the value of education in early years but each classroom obviously had pupils of considerably varied academic ability yet everyone received a good educational grounding.
In the top class we even had a form of art appreciation when we were given prints of old masters and had to comment on the content. The result of the excellent teaching was that a considerable number of the pupils passed
the Scholarship (later known as ‘The 11 plus’) although not many parents took up the offer of a place I was fortunate that my parents did let me attend at Campden.
A pupils involvement with the school did not end after leaving.(which was then 14 years of age) because I know that Mr Stephens arranged for me to gain employment with the Post Office
in a combined capacity as a postman for Snowshill and counter clerk in the Broadway office in 1944. I know he also used his influence to help many others.
I regularly kept in touch with the school and staff by visits whilst serving in the army and later during my service in the Oxford City Police. The young people of Willersey
and Saintbury were very lucky to have a local school with such dedicated staff who served the village for two or three generations of families.
Philip James Gould
My life in Willersey in the late 19th century by A Mary Heath.
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I was born in 1891 in Harvey's Farm which is now known as Sycamore House.
There were about 80 houses in the village – now there are as many council houses.
It was a very quiet spot, with scarcely any traffic except for vehicles carrying workers to and from the 11 village farms. Now only one remains as a farm – Lower Fields Farm.
Willersey Hill is now the Dormy Guest House. Top Farm was sold in lots. The house was pulled down and rebuilt as before with the addition of a wing and is now Willersey House.
White House Farm is mostly fruit. Jordans Farm was sold in lots as were Ninds Farm and Warners Farm next to the school. Poll Farm and Harveys were both sold and the latter pulled down to build what is now “Bedale”.
Condicoup is the only one I'm not sure about.
The cottages were very poor and had no water or drainage. Some had wells in the garden, otherwise the water had to be carried in from one of the six iron stand pipes in the street.
Most of the men worked on the farms. I can remember when 12s 6d and a house was the wage. They worked long hours and took pride in the animals.
Their wives went to work on the land and also did glove making to bring in the extra money needed to feed their large families. The women wore starched bonnets and long dark dresses.
A common village visitor had the first free-wheel bike. In those days the tyres were solid rubber. No one could understand why he didn't have to pedal all the time.
A lantern show he held was so good that nobody minded when they came out with black faces from the smoky lamp.
The old midwife, Betsy Sollis, was a dear old soul. She always wore a large white apron and a curtain bonnet. She dressed a sore foot for me when I was 6, with a lily leaf straight from the garden.
My foot got better in spite of it! Another amazing cure was a dirty cobweb I saw put on a badly cut hand.
The blacksmith's shop which stood where the seat and chestnut tree are now, was built and tiled with stone. The old blacksmith was a sour man and the boys used to tease him.
The language he used to them and the horses was terrible.
The village crier was very smart in his top hat ringed with a yellow band. We used to try and stay awake to hear him come round on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
He would ring his bell three times and shout “arise, arise” so everyone could make their plum puddings and mince pies at about 2:00am. He always passed comment on the weather.
The bakehouse made bread for the local villages and delivered it on a horse and cart similar to the carriers.
A pound loaf cost 2d then, though many people made their own. I still remember the lovely smell in our kitchen on baking days.
The oven was a huge brick affair heated with faggot wood. When the bread came out, pies, tarts and cakes were put in.
There was enough to last the week. The flour was from our own wheat which the miller collected every week.
We had our own butter, milk, cream, eggs and poultry. There was no tinned food in those days.
The butcher and grocer delivered once a week and collected any butter we made. There was no proper shop nearer than Broadway, and we hardly knew what sweets were.
The doctor lived in Broadway and always rode a mare called Maudie. I often saw an expectant father pacing up and down with her when the baby was arriving.
Every time a car came by we used to run out to have a look. I remember going to Stratford with some friends in a car and doing about 20mph.
I think that was as fast as they could go in those days. There used to be a motor cycle trials on the hill and although the riders used to pedal like map, they rarely got to the top.
There was no work on Sunday except milking and feeding the animals. Most of the farmers went to Church in the morning and their wives went at night.
The old Gloucestershire dialect has died out, although a few of the old ones still use it a little. I remember one old woman who had an uncanny way of forecasting the weather.
Everyone used to ask her what the weather was going to be like but I don't know how often she was right.
Her brother was a roadman who spent most of his time sitting in a pile of stones cracking them with various sizes of hammers, all with long handles.
The greens were not mown but the animals kept the grass down. The pool was usually green.
The children could play safely in the roads during the summer if they could see for dust after a trap went by.
I wish I knew more about the old silk mill which belonged to my Grandfather who died in 1874. It was not in use after that.
The cottage now called Little Cot was the drying room for the silk as my cousin told me.
The brides were able to show their dresses which were often quite plain and tight fitting. They reached the ground and had high boots of course.
The Post Office was very small. The postman brought the mail from Broadway and he also delivered to Weston Subedge and Saintbury.
He called for our letters on his way back. He had to walk for many years before they provided him with a bicycle. He used a hand cart at Christmas.
Jordans Farm had eight very strong cart horses, which were used for timber hauling.
They used to bring home two loads every evening, take them to Espleys of Evesham the next morning and then go up the hills to collect loads for the next day.
The Wake on June 24th was a great affair. All the greens were covered with vans, stalls and coconut shies each side of the street.
The swings and roundabout were pulled about by a pony. People came from all the villages round about and it was one day in the year that we saw a policeman.
The noise was terrible and there were usually fights.
My father went to school in a little thatched cottage which stands by itself just below the pool.
The master was a tailor and used to sit cross legged on a table working while the boys stood around reading.
One boy upset him so he hit out at him. The boy ducked and the old man fell backwards off the table.
They were all punished for laughing. He was one of the lads who when the railway was opened to Worcester, walked to Honeybourne Station to ride through the tunnel to Campden.
They then had to walk home again.
Housework was really hard using only brooms and brushes. Floors, tables, everything had to be scrubbed. Grates were black leaded.
Any brass items and steel fenders were cleaned with brick dust. Furniture was cleaned with beeswax and turpentine.
Washing had to be rubbed and boiled. There were no powders, only soda. Irons were heated in the fire.
We had oil lamps and candles until long after the 1914 war. Before then we sold milk at 1½ d a pint and 2d a quart.
For skimmed butter the price was 1s per pound. My sister and I had a very happy childhood and I wouldn't wish to live it differently in the present times.
Haymaking was a busy time for us all. We had a mowing machine and a horse rake, but otherwise it was just manual labour.
After school and during the holidays we used to go and help turn the hay and take large gallon tins of tea.
We also helped to turn the handles of the chaff and mangold cutter.
All the animals' food was mixed together on the floor of the barn.
Cider making was a thing we did not help with except to sample it – sometimes to our regret. No one has days off or holidays but we were quite content.
Alice Mary Heath
Sir George Pinker 1924 - 2007
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Sir George Douglas Pinker, obstetrician and gynaecologist, born December 6th 1924; died April 29th 2007
Sir George Douglas Pinker, who died aged 82, was a kindly, discreet, charming and courte-ous obstetrician who was appointment surgeon-gynaecologist to the Queen. He had no pretensions.
He was trustworthy and a ‘safe pair of hands’ who knew when to call in additional help. He held the post from 1973 to 1990. During this time he delivered the Princess of Wales of her
two sons, and attended at the birth of nine royal babies: Earl of Ulster; Lady Rose Windsor; Lady Davina Windsor; Lord Frederick Windsor; Lady Gabriella Windsor; Peter Phillips;
Zara Phillips; Prince William; and Prince Harry. All of these births took place at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, a significant break with royal tradition as all prior royal births had taken place at a royal residence.
When Diana threw herself down the stairs at Sandringham in January 1982 when three months pregnant with William, he attended, and found that although she was badly bruised, her baby was uninjured.
Pinker had been under pressure from the Princess to induce labour, but insisted: “Birth is a natural process and should be treated as such.” Princess Diana had a difficult labour the following June.
It lasted 16 hours and at one stage Pinker and his medical team considered performing an emergency Caesarean section, but in the event the Princess gave birth naturally to a boy weighing 7 lb 10 oz.
Pinker was appointed in 1973 on the retirement of Sir John Peel, the previous incumbent. He was 48 and the youngest person to be given the post. The Queen had completed her family by then, but a year later
Pinker attended the Duchess of Gloucester, who gave birth to a son, the Earl of Ulster. The baby's arrival took everyone by surprise: at 4pm that afternoon the Duch-ess had been in the House of Lords
watching her husband take the oath as a new peer. By 1am her child had been born.
Two years later he delivered Princess Anne of her son Peter Phillips after a six-hour labour, and looked after the Duchess of Kent when, aged 44, she miscarried at five months. Pinker's prescription for
a normal pregnancy was simple: “Lead as normal a life as possible without indulging in excesses, neither eating for two nor walking two miles a day if you are not used to it.” He was a keen advocate of more
medical research into miscarriage. During moves to-wards more natural births in the 1970s, he argued that “it is very important for mothers to ac-cept modern medical assistance and not to feel guilty if they
need an epidural or a Caesarean.”
In 1964 he and several distinguished colleagues founded the Childbirth Research Centre. Changing its name to Birthright in 1972, it is now Wellbeing of Women. Diana, Princess of Wales, became a patron in 1984.
In 1978 he gave his full backing to the world's first test-tube baby, Louise Brown. On Woman's Hour he said he thought there were no ethical problems and offered his whole-hearted support to the technique, although
he thought it would take years before it became readily available to women.
Pinker was born in Calcutta the second son of Queenie Elizabeth née Dix and Ronald Doug-las Pinker, a horticulturist who worked for Suttons Seeds for 40 years, and headed the bulb and flower department
for 25 years. His older brother Kenneth Hubert was born in Reading on 15th September 1919.
From 1928 aged four, George was educated at The Reading School and from there went to St Mary's hospital medical school, Paddington, qualifying in 1947. As a student in 1946, when the Music Society
put on its first post-war production The Mikado, he sang one of the leading roles in his fine baritone voice.and he is reputed to have turned down an offer from the D'Oyly Carte Opera. Queen Elizabeth, the wife of George VI
attended the performance as patron of both the hospital and the medical school, accompanied by the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.
Following house jobs he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the Far East, where he did much of his specialist training in obstetrics. He was President of the Old Redingensians Association in 1985.
He remained closely attached to St Mary's for the rest of his career. He did house jobs there and later, delivered his private patients, including royalty, in the hospital's Lindo wing. He was consultant
obstetrician and gynaecologist there and at the Samaritan hospital from 1958 to 1990, and also consulted at the Middlesex Hospital for women in Soho, Bolingbroke hos-pital in Battersea, and the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.
He was appointed to fellowship of three medical royal colleges - Surgeons of Edinburgh 1957, Surgeons of London 1989, and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 1964. He was presi-dent of the last from 1987 to 1990,
and previously served as its honorary treasurer, when he founded the college's charitable arm, the Birth Right (now called Wellbeing of Women). He contributed to many books including Diseases of Women by Ten
Teachers (1964), Obstetrics by Ten Teachers (1964), A Short Textbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (1967), Preparing for Pregnancy (1990) and Clinical Gynaecological Oncology (1990). He was a past president
of the British Fertility Society and supported the research that led to the birth in 1997 of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby.
In 1986 Alvada Kooken, a convicted American killer who escaped from mental hospital nurses with a revenge hit list that included Princess Diana's gynaecologist Sir George Pinker, was arrested wandering in a London hotel.
Kooken gave six nurses the slip during a day trip for 17 Broadmoor maximum-security mental hospital patients, including killers and psychopaths.She caught a train to London and evaded capture for more than 24 hours,
although her picture had appeared on the front page of many national dailies and on television. As well as a nationwide hunt, her escape sparked a round-the-clock police bodyguard for Dr. George Pinker. Police said
Kooken's escape forced Pinker, to keep his movements secret and to hire extra bodyguards for his home, office and family.
He was an examiner in obstetrics and gynaecology at several universities. In his retirement, from 1992 to 1995, he was president of the Royal Society of Medicine. He was appointed CVO in 1983 and KCVO in 1990,
when he retired from the royal household.
He loved music and had a huge knowledge of opera. He became assistant concert director of the Reading Symphony Orchestra, and then in 1988 vice-president of the London Choral Society. He was a keen skier,
sailor, gardener and fell-walker.
His married Dorothy Emma Russell, a former nurse in London 0n 31st March 1951. She died in 2003. In his last years George was disabled by Parkinson's disease and partial blindness.
Pinker died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. A Memorial Service was held in October 2007 at St Marylebone Church, London, attended by the Duchess of Gloucester and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.
In August 2008 it was reported that he left nearly £1.5million in his will to his four children, Catherine & Ian (twins), Robert and William. He also requested that eight of his close friends
be treated to a weekend break at the Lygon Arms, a 16th Century hotel in Broadway near his home in Sycamore House, Willersey.
Miss Mary (Molly) Biggs 1908 - 1979
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Miss Mary Biggs was born in 1908 and finished her education at Somerville College, Oxford.
Somerville is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford and was founded in 1879 as Somerville Hall.
It was one of the first women's colleges in Oxford. The first male students were admitted to the college in 1994. All
Oxford colleges now take both male and female students. |
Mary came to Willersey during the Second World War and worked for Mr Harry Ingles on the milk round, picking fruit and doing secretarial work.
Her first Willersey home was Pool Cottage and later she moved to Walnut Cottage. Molly, as she was known to her friends had a quiet, smiling,
gentle manner and was a great friend to the Village. She hand wrote a diary and scrapbook for a national Women's Institute competition
where Willersey came third.
Mary Biggs had a great love of the Village and the community. She was a member of the Parish council and the W.I. and involved herself
with many local charitable activities. She was very concerned that the village greens should not disappear under motor cars and was saddened
at the development of Nind's Farm buildings into private dwellings. She would have preferred them to be used partly
as a local craft centre, but that was not to be.
Mary (Molly) Biggs is remembered lovingly by many. She died in 1979 and her memorial stone is to be found in St Peter's churchyard.
Miss Nancy Hewins 1902 - 1978
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Margaret Nancy Hewins (14th February 1902 to 17th January 1978) was a British theatre director and actress. She lived in the Long House in Main Street in Willersey.
She founded the first all-woman theatre troupe who toured the UK presenting Shakespeare particularly to schools.
Nancy Hewins was born in London. Her parents were Margaret and William Hewins. She had a brother and a sister. Her godmother was Beatrice Webb the social reformer who coined
the term collective bargaining. Beatrice was among the founders of the London School of Economics and played a crucial role in forming the Fabian Society.
(Nancy's father had been appointed to be the director of the London School of Economics in 1895 by Sidney Webb.
Nancy became interested in the theatre while she was at St Hugh's College in Oxford. In 1924 she graduated and set up an amateur theatre company called Isis after the name in Oxford of the River Thames.
She founded the first British professional all-woman set of players named “Osiris” in 1927 and was helped by £40 which Lord Rothermere gave her to help. Rothermere was a friend of her father.
The troupe toured in two Rolls-Royces because Hewins said that they were big enough to take them and their props and they were reliable. They toured the UK presenting Shakespeare plays
particularly to schools. The troupe was never larger than seven women and they were both the actors and the crew. The troupe would sleep on the floor of village halls as the budget
never stretched to paying for board and lodging. She had a few actors who were the core of the troupe but most would be employed for a couple of years and then they would be replaced
as they could not endure the conditions of the employment. The troupe never received grants but survived on its own fortunes. Hewins would occasionally take work as a lighting expert
for other productions. She worked for pageants and for the director Edy Craig. Others found Craig abrupt, but Hewins welcomed her direct criticism.
Hewins died in 1978 in Oxford and the players were disbanded by former Osiris member Wynne Griffiths. Her troupe had toured throughout England but they never appeared in the West End.
In 2004 Imogen Stubbs play “We Happy Few” was performed at the London's Gielgud Theatre. The play was based on Hewins and her troupe's life during the second world war. A production of
“Much Ado About Nothing” was inspired by Hewins. It was directed by Brigid Larmour at the Watford Palace Theatre in 2018 and it was set during WWII and included an all-woman cast.
Nancy Hewins is just a footnote in theatrical history. Yet her all-women troupe once inspired a generation, while her approach to drama still seems radical today.
St Peter's, Willersey, is one of those Cotswold churches where the graves are set in what looks like a field. Sheep in a meadow on one side, cows on the other, the dead in this.
I walked down in the hot sun until I found the simple headstone: “In loving memory of Margaret Nancy Hewins, 1902-1978”, with a quotation from Cymbeline. I tucked my flowers
into the metal holder and filled it from the church's red plastic watering- can. It was, I felt, the least I could do, by way of tribute.
It was also the end of a quest. The Osiris Players, which Nancy Hewins directed, have vanished, like stage ghosts, from the theatrical reference books, if they were ever in them.
Yet they are an important slice of our social history. They appear to have been the first all-women professional theatre company in this country. Such groups were common in the
Sixties and Seventies, but Osiris was founded in 1927, long before radical feminism was launched.
One day, more than 60 years ago, the younger children at an obscure Yorkshire grammar school were told they would see a production of Macbeth
that afternoon. We went off in crocodile file to the local Co-op Hall. It had a small stage, mainly hired out for amateur performances of The Student Prince,
though the hall itself was mostly used for dances. We sat around on the polished floor in a half-circle, and I watched the first production of Shakespeare - and the first
professional theatrical performance apart from pantomime or variety - I had ever seen.
I was riveted by it - the swirling, bright costumes, the wonderful lighting, the high melodrama. It was all carried out by six or seven women,
taking every part, playing the music, changing the scenes. This gave it an even more exotic power. I never forgot the performance, or the name of the company, Osiris.
But who were they? Where did they come from, and what had happened to them? From time to time, over the years, I asked people about them. The name meant nothing.
I came to assume that they were a group who had come together for two or three years, as so many do, and then disbanded. Then, recently, on a wet London afternoon,
I was working in the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden on something completely different. I looked up Osiris in the card index. There was a single entry: an unpublished
typescript autobiography by Nancy Hewins. As I read through it, I began to realise what an astonishing and little- recognised achievement had lain buried.
I plunged into tracking down people who had known her, her family, old members of the company. It was even difficult to find photographs, though I discovered a (mis-captioned)
photo-spread from Illustrated magazine, taken by the Blackpool-born cameraman, Reuben Saidman, in 1943, during Miss Hewins's finest hour. In wartime Britain, travelling
by horse and covered dray because of the lack of petrol, she put on 1,534 performances of 33 plays (16 of them Shakespeare). As Jane Freeman, a former Osiris actress who now plays Ivy,
the cafe owner, in Last of the Summer Wine, says, “It was in touch with the tradition of strolling players. It was theatre for the people. Nancy was a slightly minor
Lilian Baylis.” (At the Old Vic, Baylis created the precursor of the National Theatre, and at Sadler's Wells the precursor of English National Opera.)
Freeman says fondly that she bases the character of Ivy partly on her old boss. Another ex-Osiris member, Susan Date, now assistant principal at the Guildford School of Acting,
compares Nancy to Margaret Rutherford. “She had a lovely simplicity and directness, and she knew how to get what she wanted, but she always looked a mess - seven layers of clothes and all of them showing.”
But all that mattered was how it was on stage. The novelist Jane Gardam saw the Osiris Players on Teesside, where she was a child in wartime. She, too, had never been to a play before.
A van drew up outside the school, she recalls, and “seven threadbare women got out”. They reminded her of Mr Crummles's troupe in Nicholas Nickleby. They looked odd, even ridiculous.
“One had a queer leg. Another seemed to have lost her hair. Another smoked secret-agent black cigarettes. They were all plain - well, ugly - and they wore, good God, trousers!” She went
and sat in the front row. It was “She Stoops to Conquer”. She saw “the seven colourless women transformed into painted 18th century beauties, into bumpkins and beaux, into thigh-slapping
squires, into silken flirts”. They rollicked, frolicked, wept and danced their way through the play. Twelve-year-old Jane and the rest of the young audience clapped, stamped and cheered.
They begged for more. The adult Gardam recalls the performance as “a pattern of the earthly paradise”. Like me, she never forgot these women.
Nancy Hewins, their leader, was the daughter of the first director of the London School of Economics, William Hewins. He had, she wrote in the typescript I read,
built it up from being “two chairs and a desk”. She admired her father (about her mother she was mildly disparaging) and must have inherited something of his capacity for improvisation.
Hewins was close to the radical politician Joseph Chamberlain in his campaign for imperial tariff reform and later became, briefly, the Tory MP for Hereford. Her father's connections with men such
as Beaverbrook, Rothermere and Baldwin came in handy for Nancy “When she started to tour in Scotland,” her nephew, Richard, says, “and he gave her a contact, it was the Secretary of State.”
Her godmother was Beatrice Webb, the pioneer Fabian socialist and co-founder of the LSE; Nancy kept her silver teapot christening present all her life. Through Mrs Webb,
she got introductions to local Co-op education departments, in the days when every Co-operative Society had a reading-room. She went to St Hugh's College, Oxford, in the Twenties, and the theatre bug
bit. "My love was lighting and settings" (hence the delicious storms I saw in her Macbeth). But Sybil Thorndike, a neighbour of the Hewins' at their house in Chester Square, Belgravia, told her that
she couldn't produce properly if she didn't also learn to act. On coming down from Oxford in 1924, she started an amateur company called the Isis Players. It played Shakespeare in East End elementary
schools, often still lit by gas, where the audiences were "lively, critical and tough". The London County Council education office let her use a redundant school in Wandsworth for rehearsals and for
making floodlights out of old biscuit tins. (Her father was a co-opted member of the education committee.) The switch to professionalism, helped by £from Lord Rothermere, brought the change of name.
The Osiris Players' first production was The Merchant of Venice in December 1927.
They were always all-women, and “seven members were the most we could afford.” Shakespeare was always the heart of their repertory. Scenes were cut and minor speeches transposed, to make the doubling work.
It was almost certainly Nancy I saw as Lady Macbeth (it was one of her parts), in a ferocious red wig. Re-making-up at top speed, she could change from Lady M to Porter within a few lines.
Her principle was that no one could understand Shakespeare unless they enjoyed it: “The play had to come alive to the children.” It became a life of driving through snow and ice to sooty industrial towns.
Everybody did everything: acting, props, cooking. Nancy played the flute, to music specially composed for Osiris by a cousin. They moved on from performing only in schools to all kinds of local audiences,
from unemployed miners in the Rhondda (Sweeney Todd) to munitions factories (Maria Marten). They celebrated the company's 21st birthday, at a women's institute in Kent, with Twelfth Night in the morning,
Everyman at lunchtime, Macbeth in the afternoon, Shaw's Captain Brassbound's Conversion after tea, topped off by Badger's Green, R C Sherriff's comedy about village cricket, in the evening. Not surprisingly,
few of the players, outside the steady core of three or four, survived more than a couple of years with Osiris. “We were permanently exhausted,” Susan Date remembers.
Why all-women? There were other small companies touring schools when they began, with both men and women players. But the men tended to go off faster into "proper" theatre. And Nancy maintained
that male replacements "were difficult to get". The slaughter of the Somme, and Passchendaele, was not long past. Men were being killed until the last moment of the 1914-1918 war. Statisticians
have since cast doubt on the myth of the "missing generation". But this is how it was perceived then; and if something is thought to be real, it is real in its consequences. The problem of
the "surplus woman" was much debated, as Robert Graves and Alan Hodge noted in their social history of the inter-war years, The Long Weekend. And, they
added: "Among the middle classes after the war, daughters were expected to take up business careers, or at least do something."
Nancy came, in any event, from a background of girls' schools and women's colleges - now mostly co-educational - based on the assertion that women could do anything men could.
Even in the 1950s, Jane Freeman recalls, "a lot of us were convent girls, we were used to playing fellers in school plays". And once the company started travelling seriously, sleeping
in barns, school floors, even a park cafe (digs were too expensive), a single-sex company perhaps risked fewer complications. "It was like a nunnery on wheels," Freeman says. If emotional
complications did arise, Nancy's little remedies were sal-volatile or a teaspoon of brandy. Was there more to it than that? In an all-women company in the Seventies or Eighties,
lesbianism would probably have been part of a theatrical-political agenda. In Osiris's day, it wasn't. Nancy seems to have directed all her energy and her "motherly feelings" into the
company. "I always loathed being tied in any way," she said, in explanation of not marrying, and couldn't have "run a career and a household". But two of her longer- standing colleagues
were a definite pair. One of them was Kay Jones, ex- Somerville College, Old Vic trained, with a boyish haircut. She played parts such as Prince Hal or St Joan. Kay was with
Osiris till the end, and "did much of the donkey work to feed Nancy's brilliance", according to Susan Date. But lesbianism was not an agenda. Publicly it would have been death.
Privately no one seems to have been propositioned. The agenda was Shakespeare. "He became part of our lives," Jane Freeman says. "He was like a friend of ours."
At first, Nancy continued to work as a lighting director elsewhere. She lit a Holst ballet, a Monteverdi opera, a cabaret at Claridge's. But her speciality was pageants. In 1933 she lit an Empire Day
pageant in Hyde Park, sponsored by Beaverbrook's Daily Express. The producer was Arthur Bryant, the popular historian, the music directed by Malcolm Sargent, and community singing led by the father
of Michael Young, the sociologist. Then she lit another Bryant pageant at Greenwich Royal Naval College. Many of Osiris's costumes came from Greenwich, mended and added to (often by Kay Jones) over
the years. They were in the old Shakespearean tradition of bright, Renaissance glamour. They were hessian or canvas, painted in vivid reds and golds. Uncomfortable to wear, but they folded flat.
Everything had to be tough. When Nancy played Claudius, she wore the Ghost's armour underneath her hessian, for quick changing.
When Osiris began, local reps still flourished. There were traditional bits of "business", so that if a new actor arrived, he knew, for example, just what
Sir Toby Belch did at any given moment to get the laughs. The decline of the rep and the rise of the almighty director, seeking new interpretations, has ended this.
Nancy wasn't keen on all the routines of old business, but anything new had to be justified by the text. And if she played in the round (as in that Co-op Hall, long ago),
it was because it fitted the day. "We were not Elizabethan on principle," she wrote. "It just happened to be convenient."
Outside the war years, Osiris travelled in two Rolls-Royces, one cream and white, one sheer black. Nancy said they were the only cars that could take the strain of pulling caravans,
while piled high with suitcases with players lying flat on them, learning their parts. But they were also good for publicity. I remember them turning in at the school gates. Children
would come and stroke the cars - and the Belgian griffons she never travelled without. (One of them played Moon's dog in A Midsummer Night's Dream.)
Her out-of-London tours began in Wolverhampton, where her father had been at grammar school. She was proud of her Midlands origins. One great- grandfather was a Black Country
ironmaster. She liked to think that the John Hewins who married Shakespeare's Aunt Agnes was part of the family. Just before the war, she moved from London to the Cotswolds
and toured from there. She always came back for the Chipping Campden festival, where Reuben Saidman caught up with her as Falstaff.
Osiris was, technically, a co-operative, with shareholders limited to current members of the company. (Two of the board were teachers at a girl's school in Yorkshire, which is no doubt why my
nearby Macbeth happened when and where it did.) Players weren't paid much until Equity, after the war, insisted on a minimum wage. But they were fed and clothed. During the war, when funds were
low, players took jobs in local Cotswolds shops, or made gas mask cases, pooled the money and ate lots of black puddings. In this co-operative, there was never any doubt who was the
boss. "She could be incredibly difficult and dogmatic," Susan Date says. “But if Nancy said to do something, you did it."
"We really did belong to the Thirties," Jane Freeman says. "Think of Dorothy Sayers if you want to get the flavour of Nancy. The original girls were prosperous young women, taking education
to the masses - doing their best for the people they saw as under-privileged. Osiris had nothing smart about it. It was kept going by loyalty, a sense of duty. We did make a difference,
I think, to a lot of people's lives. But when the new secondary moderns and comprehensives started to open - all glass and light - we began to look a bit peculiar, a bit out of date."
Nancy was proud of operating without subsidy. Theatre should be "rooted in the lives of ordinary people", she wrote, not dependent on "the reluctant taxpayer's purse". She relied on the numbers
who would pay to come. With schoolchildren, of course, the money usually came from school funds, but (apart from a basic guaranteed minimum) it was a fee per seat filled. "I dare say if the company
had had a Russian name," she wrote rather tetchily in her autobiography, "it would have been regarded as a remarkable experiment." She had a point. She also suffered from doing her main touring work
at a time when "the provinces" rated nowhere beside London. Acting on improvised stages to unconventional audiences made her even less "legit". Yet she was not only in the direct line of descent from
strolling players, but also a forerunner of companies such as Cheek By Jowl, which are devoted to the idea of touring.
Osiris stopped travelling regularly in 1963, after 36 years. The final repertory was 55 plays. Nancy reckoned she had played 128 parts. Latterly, many of the tours had been in Ireland,
which she loved for the unequalled immediacy of the response she got. A map of Osiris's travels shows the British Isles peppered with dots, like a bad outbreak of measles.
But Nancy never quite gave up. The next year, at the age of 62, she was putting on Macbeth with only four players, and only one minute for costume changes. She taught at the Birmingham Rep
school for a while, and eventually made a modest living from hiring out Osiris costumes. She lived for many years in an old stone-built house at Willersey. The players used to sleep in
various bits of it, and in the barn alongside where a local nurseryman once made up wreaths.
Wynne Griffiths lives in the house now. She joined Osiris in 1952, after a wartime spent in anti-aircraft work, followed by drama school at Bradford. "We chose well-built girls, what our Yorkshire friends
called 'right lassies', of average height," Nancy said, perhaps with Wynne Griffiths in mind. She became an unofficial adoptive daughter. She was two years with Osiris (a photograph shows her
as the Queen in Richard II), but came back to help with the costumes business. Nancy left her the house when she died, just before her 76th birthday.
Willersey isn't infested with tourists like neighbouring Broadway. There was a primary school fete on the green as I tried to find the house. A bouncy castle, and a sheep in a pen for you to guess
the weight (20p a go, or six goes for £1). The path to the house was hemmed in with shrubs. It was like the start of a fairy-tale. Miss Griffiths was in. Now in her late sixties, she showed
me a sketch of Nancy in the small hallway, done just before she died. Margaret Rutherford to a T.
We sat in the low, shadowy front room. The mantelpiece was full of bright rosettes from dog shows: Miss Griffiths keeps beagles. "Osiris was extraordinary," she said. "Nancy made sure that nothing was
going to stop it. A lot of companies would have just given up. Nancy was very unorthodox, not at all the theatrical dame. As my mother in Oldham would have said, 'There was no flum about her.' "
We looked through mementoes of the company. In a brochure, Stanley Baldwin lavished praise on "Nancy Hewins and her gallant band of sisters". (He also made sure that the Pilgrim Trust charity
gave her a small grant when it was desperately needed.) A fading photograph showed Miss Griffiths on her first day with Osiris, packing up cases to put in the Rolls.
She had kept the garden as Nancy left it, she said. We walked up to the end to look at the beagles, including prize-winning Betsy. Behind the Osiris barn is a fir tree.
"Nancy planted that," Miss Griffiths says. The house "will surely be haunted one of these days", Nancy wrote. It is.
Villagers in Willersey benefitted from the largest single bequest ever given to the Parish Council, but they had to wait more than 27 years to receive it in January 2006. Miss Nancy Hewins, a
long-time resident of the village until her death aged 76 in 1978, left a third of her estate to Willersey Parish Council “for distribution and use as it thinks fit for the benefit of deserving organisations in the parish.”
Because of delays caused by the sale of Miss Hewins' property, her estate has only recently been settled. Last week her executors, nephew Patrick Hewins, Susan Date, a former member of her touring theatrical company,
and solicitor Tony Newell, met at Miss Hewins' graveside in St Peter's churchyard to present a cheque for more than £120,000 to parish council chairman Maurice Andrews.
“It is by far the largest single bequest we have ever received, and it will be for some major project that will benefit the entire village.” said Cllr Andrews. The money would be kept
separately from money raised from the parish precept and that the 12 village organisations, ranging from the Womens' Institute to the youth club, would be consulted on how best to spend it.
“What we will probably do is get a representative from each organisation to find out what they would like but at the end of the day the parish council will decide,” said Cllr Andrews, who knew
Miss Hewins personally and described her as “a bit eccentric”.
“She was generous and forthright in her views. She knew what she wanted and she usually got it,” he said.
Miss Hewins, who lived at The Long House in Willersey, had strong family connections to the village going back centuries. These included W.A.S. Hewins MP, who was
at one time a junior government minister during the 1914-18 War and whose father once lived in the Manor House, Willersey.
Flight Sergeant Edgar Willieam Proctor 1921 - 1944
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This is the story of my father, as told to me by my mother.
Eddie was born in the tiny village of Willersey, Gloucestershire on 25th August 1921. He was the youngest but one of eleven children, eight sisters and two brothers.
He attended Willersey School until he was 15 years old. On leaving school he went to work for the husband of one of his sisters, who was a farmer. Eddie loved driving tractors.
Being in a reserved occupation he could have been exempt from joining the forces, but when the War broke out in 1939 his one idea was to join the RAF as an Air Gunner. On 1st April 1941
he volunteered and was accepted for training as an Air Crew Cadet, age 19 - a shining youth on the threshold of life.
After training as an AC2 in Blackpool for about 6 months he was sent to No 8 AG School, Evanton, Scotland to start training as an Air Gunner. After this he was stationed at OTU Moreton-in-Marsh
where he continued to train. He flew in Wellington bombers every day doing circuits and landings, learning to fire Browning guns and fly across country.
After about a year's training he was given 3 stripes and an Air Gunner's badge and told to go and win the War.
During this time he married my mother and in May 1942 his first daughter was born.
In June 1942 he was stationed at Harwell. On the 21st he flew from Portreath to the Middle East, with B Flight, 40 Squadron Middle East, as a Rear Gunner. At first they were bombing
Tobruk as at this time the Germans were well in command there. On 12th July 1942 they crashed in the desert. On 14th August they crashed again and he was trapped in a burning plane,
only to be rescued just in time. He sustained back injuries but as soon as he was fit again was sent on more bombing operations. Every day from that date they were sent on operations,
bombing enemy transport and troop concentrations.
Eventually he and his crew were sent to Luqa, Malta, although it was heavily bombed by the Germans. Malta was our base for the RAF to bomb German-occupied locations such as Tunis and Tobruk.
This went on until January 1943, when he returned home after completing a total of 41 operations over enemy territory, including on one occasion being lost in the desert for 3 days until they were found by British troops.
In April 1943 he was sent to Upper Heyford as an Instructor Air Gunner to other young cadets.
In November 1943, as the battle for Berlin was becoming more intense, he was sent to begin a second tour of ops, this time in a Lancaster as a Mid-upper Gunner, with a new crew. By 19th December 1943
they were at Dunholme Lodge, Lincoln as part of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron. On 29th December 1943 he was sent on his first op as a Mid-upper Gunner in a Lancaster to Berlin on a 1000-bomber raid.
On 1sup>st January 1944 they were again sent to Berlin and, according to his log book, the flak was terrible, they were attacked by fighters and many planes were lost.
After 9 days leave they were again sent to Berlin on 20th January and managed to return through the flak and many fighters. The following night, 21sup>st January, they were sent out again, this time to Magdeburg.
They did not return home. That night 57 of our planes were lost.
He was reported missing with all of his crew and nothing was known of their fate until 5 years later, when a grave was found in a small village in Germany called Waddekath where they had all been buried together.
Eventually they were all re-interred together in the Berlin Heerstrasse British Military Cemetery.
He was aged 22 and left a wife and baby girl of 20 months. His other daughter was born 6 months after he was reported missing.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC.
The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/ .
Squadron Leader Henry Eric Maudslay 1921 - 1943
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The Dam Buster Pilots
Transcription of an interview that took place on the 5th February, 2005
Present: Neville Usher, Ann Tallis, Adrian Tallis
Neville Usher: We are with Ann and Adrian Tallis, and we are talking about The Dam Busters.
I wonder Ann if you would like to tell us a little bit about how you became interested.
Ann Tallis: I became interested because there was a plaque in Sherbourne Church commemorating one of the Dam Busters, a Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay and nobody seemed to know very much about him,
and it made it very poignant to me because he was killed when he was 21, and our son died when he was 22 so I felt it was important to find out more information about Henry.
There was a flower festival at Sherbourne Church in 2003, so I thought it would be a good idea if we had a booklet to sell at the flower festival to raise funds for Sherbourne Church.
And we found that Henry's parents have a gravestone in Sherbourne Church, and then we subsequently found that his family lived in what must have been a beautiful Victorian house in Watery Lane,
which is now a language school, but the person who really helped me was Jack Pratley from the Wellesbourne Air Museum. And it was like playing a game of chess really, because to find out
information, first of all I asked the vicar, and he said well get in touch with the Air Crew Association, there's a man living in Barford, so I phoned him and he said well,
it might be an idea to contact Mr. Pratley which I did, and he came with his …, piles of files, and he had a file on Henry Maudslay, and the information he'd got was from the 617 Squadron historian,
and that was where, you know, the information started from.
In the Sherbourne churchyard, there was also a plaque commemorating Henry's sister, who died in Scotland - her ashes were scattered in Scotland, and I thought well, as I am compiling
a booklet about Henry it seems courteous to contact the family as I am writing about one of their members, and we went and had a look in the local phone book; my husband was you know a great
support because at first he thought it was …, he said I was becoming obsessive about this. I said I do know, I do feel it's important that more people should know about Henry, so we went
to Warwick Library and in the phone book for Scotland we found the name Mrs. Parrot. Mr. Pratley from the Wellesbourne Museum said that he'd contacted her via the 617 Squadron,
so I rang her out of the blue and said was she related to Henry and she said yes, and then we had a nice chat and she was very interested to hear about the booklet.
So I contacted Mr. Pratley again and he said well, you're very welcome to use any information in the file that I have.
And then we were shopping in Stratford, and we saw this book called ‘The Dam Busters’, and it was a beautiful book, and it was the first time I had seen a picture,
a photograph of Henry Maudsley, and my husband thought oh, for goodness sake, you know, she's becoming obsessive about this. And it was an expensive book which I said well I will use the birthday
money to buy this book. I then wrote to one of the authors of the book, and he eventually wrote back and said oh, any information that's in the book you are very welcome to use it because I think
you know it's important that Henry should be remembered.
So I contacted a lady in Sherbourne village who is one of the elderly residents, and she said that she remembered picking flowers with Henry and his sister and their nanny, and at that time obviously
Sherbourne was very different from what it is now because there were fields and wild flowers where children could go, you know and pick them, but she didn't really have much information about the family.
But it subsequently transpired that Henry's family had connexions with the Maudslay Motor Company in Birmingham, and his father's cousin had started The Standard Motor Company. And then of course we
found that Henry had been to Eton and he was a member of Pop, which is like principally to be a member of Pop you have to be elected by your contemporaries, so obviously Henry was quite a popular boy.
We then went to Willersey to photograph the war memorial there, because that's another place where Henry's commemorated, and we found one of the church wardens who was very interested, because
they hadn't much information about Henry and then he said, oh I remember when the Maudslay's moved from Sherbourne to Willersey, and how Mrs. Maudslay used to take their little dog for a walk,
and he said I remember Henry cycling down steep hills with his feet on the handlebars, because obviously you know he was a bit of a dare devil.
And then the author of the definitive history of the Dam Busters invited my husband and I to go on a trip to Germany to see the crash sites, and also to visit the crash site of where Henry's plane
came down, which was on the German/Dutch border. The plane had been damaged and then Henry was obviously trying to get home, but unfortunately he was caught up by the flak.
And it was very moving, when we went to visit the crash site and I felt very privileged that you know I was given a cross to place on the crash site and Chris Ward said, you know you are the first
person to commemorate Henry on this spot. And the whole trip to Germany was very emotional, and we visited a German family who had had bad experiences of …, the father of the family, his parents,
well his mother had been killed but they were very hospitable, and gave us coffee and his young daughter-in-law, when she was shaking hands as we were leaving, she said well we must make sure that
this never happens again. And I am trying to think of anything else that's relevant.
Adrian Tallis No I think that covers most of what we did on the Dam Buster Raid you know, but we also looked at the Emms Canal, the Emms/Dortmund Canal, which was a subsequent raid where 9 planes
were involved in the particular raid over two nights. The first night they went out the raid was aborted, and Maltby who was the pilot that breeched the Mohne Dam, he …, when they aborted the trip,
when turning at low level over the North Sea, touched his wingtip in the sea and cart wheeled into the sea and was killed, so he was killed without actually getting on the raid. The following night,
Micky Martin who had been on the Dam Buster raid, he joined the flight and again 8 planes went out to Dortmund/Emms Canal, and they …, only about two of them hit the target, which didn't do any damage,
didn't breach the canal and only 3 returned, all the others were killed, crashed. One of them was Les Knight - he crashed, he was the one who blew up the Eder Dam, and Les Knight's plane, he
managed to keep his plane in the air to allow all his crew to bale out except for himself, and to land the plane away from the village of Ham, and the villagers then erected a monument at the side
of the road to him, in memory of his bravery in avoiding the town and avoiding killing any of their people, so we saw his crash site on the field, and the stone which is commemorating him, and also
his grave in that particular cemetery where the locals maintain all these graves in such perfect condition, they look after them very well indeed, much better than graves in this country I am afraid.
Ann Tallis So looking at the booklet again and going back to what you said about the event, the knock on event of the Dam Busters Raid, I had forgotten all this information, but it says that it gave a real
boost to civilian and service personnel in the dark days of 1943, which you know was important. And also I think one easily forgets that the 617 Squadron which was founded in a way, is still an operational
squadron nowadays, and recently RAF jets of 617 Squadron pounded Iraqi defences with the latest precision weapons, and so you know it is an ongoing story really.
But another interesting point, the photograph which was in Chris Ward's book, Henry Maudslay is in civilian dress, because apparently they had to carry a photograph of themselves in civilian clothes
in case the plane crashed and they were able to, you know, escape more easily rather than, you know, having RAF uniform entirely, and I can't think of anything else, Adrian, can you?
Adrian Tallis Not really, no.
Neville Usher It’s really nice that you have established a local connexion with this though, beginning with the plaque in the church.
Ann Tallis That was the starting point.
Adrian Tallis That was the starting point, and looking from here you can see the chimneys of the house that he lived in from our own dining room.
Ann Tallis And another interesting point was we went on holiday to Wales, and was it the Vyrnwy lakes we were looking at?
Adrian Tallis No, it was the Rhayader Lakes.
Ann Tallis Rhayader lakes, where the aeroplanes used to practise their low flying over water, and there were two young men there, bikers, very modern young men.
Adrian Tallis All in black leather?
Ann Tallis All in black leather, and I heard them chatting, this is where the Dam Busters used to train you see. So I said to them, oh excuse me I said, in our village that was where one of the Dam Busters used to live. Oh was it they said.
Adrian Tallis We were there for a half hour lecture!
Ann Tallis No, no, no I was just chatting, and my husband said there she is, off again, but I just felt that it was fascinating to find that two modern young men, still, you know, very interested
in this story behind the Dam Busters.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC.
The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/ .
Murray Davey 1877 - 1945
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Opera singer Murray studied in Paris under Ernest Masson and Jean de Reszke. He made his debut as a bass at the Paris Grand Opéra in
1905 as Hermit in “Freischütz”
and sang the part of Hamlet in 1908. In 1907 he made a guest appearance at the Opéra Monte-Carlo as Raimondo in
“Lucia di Lammermoor”. In 1909 he reached London Covent Garden, where he was stayed until 1914.
In 1909 he sang the part of Abimelech in “Samson et Dalila” and in 1914 he appeared as Titurel in “Parsifal” which he
repeated in 1925 at the same opera house. In 1912 he appeared as guest in a Sunday Night Concert at the Metropolitan
Opera in New York. In 1922 he made guest appearances at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. He was still appearing up to the beginning of
the 1940's. His repertoire included Masetto in “Don of Giovanni” and Boris Godunov & the Arkel in “Pelléas et Mélisande”.
Murray's wife, Elizabeth died on March 20th 1945 at Bethanie Nursing Home in Highgate aged 69. Her funeral service took place on Friday March 23rd 1945 at St Joseph's Catholic Church, Highgate.
In 1907, the Arts and Crafts architect, A.N. Prentice exhibited a design at the Royal Academy for a proposed house at Willersey
that was intended to be built on the site of the present Willersey House, on Campden Lane about halfway up the Cotswold escarpment.
The house that was finally completed in 1912 for the opera singer, Murray Davey,
was not to these designs, although it is in a similar Cotswold style. There is a formal approach from the country lane to a large built-up forecourt,
which faces the drive, with the service wing running forward to the left. At the rear the ballroom wing helps enclose
a small west-facing loggia which takes advantage of the view. Formal gardens are situated beyond the ballroom wing, and adjacent to these
is a long lawn terminated by a gazebo.
Willersey House: the house as planned.
Willersey House: the house as built in 1912. Image: © Michael Hill & Nicholas Kingsley
The building was an old farmhouse from the village (Top Farm) re-built and enlarged on a new site. Examination of the fabric shows
that a great deal of old stonework has indeed been re-used, including architectural features such as mullioned windows and doorways. The salvaged
local gables with small single-light windows have been correctly re-set above the main mullioned windows.
Despite its incorporation of so much old material, the house was in reality not a copy of an old building but was built to a revised design by Prentice.
The structural walls are all brick and only the outer facing is stone, while the roof structure is entirely from 1912.
Internally, the flavour of the main ballroom – to the rear of the house
– is Renaissance, a style that was a particular favourite of Prentice, especially in his interior design work on liners of the Orient Line.
Elsewhere, there is a bolection-moulded fireplace in a more sober drawing room, and a well-crafted oak staircase in a gabled turret.
There is much generous detailing. The house was thought to lack a suitably
imposing hall or main staircase, something which was remedied during extensive improvements in 1994-5 by Peter Yiangou for Mr & Mrs George Hacker.
These included the creation of a two-storey entrance hall and a more impressive staircase, giving the house the features that one would have
expected of Prentice's original work.
Built for the opera singer Murray Davey it was sold about 1922 to Richard Alleyne Arkwright (1884-1965) and then to his son, Peter Arkwright OBE (1913-87).
After Peter Arkwight's death it was sold to Mr & Mrs George Hacker, and in 2002 to Mr J.Bloor.
Algernon Fred Gissing 25th November 1860 to 5th February 1937
Algernon Fred Gissing was an English novelist and the younger brother of George Gissing. He wrote twenty-five novels,
two collections of short stories and several pieces of travel writing. He died from heart disease.
Gissing was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. His parents were Thomas Waller Gissing (1829-1870) and Margaret Gissing (1832-1913), and he had two older
brothers named William and George. His initial education was at Back Lane School in Wakefield, but from 1870 he started attending Lindow Grove School in Cheshire
as a boarder, as a result of his father's death. He went on to study Law at London University, graduating with an LLB in 1882. He practised as a solicitor in Wakefield
for a while, but failed to attract enough clients to sustain his practice.
On 8th September 1887, Gissing married Catherine née Baseley (1859-1937), later moving with her to Broadway, Worcestershire. Together they had five children.
Having been unsuccessful in his legal career, Gissing decided to pursue an interest in writing literature. During his life, he wrote and published thirty books,
but the income from these was negligible. He received a number of grants from the Royal Literary Fund.
In 1924, Gissing's Cotswold walking guide, The Footpath Way in Gloucestershire was published. This is one of the first walking guides for the Cotswolds.
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. Much extended to the rear, Smallbrook Cottage is now only 100 yards from the A44 trunk road, the Broadway
bypass, opened in 1998 to preserve Broadway from the predations of heavy freight traffic. When George Gissing visited Algernon and Catherine in late January 1888 he recorded that he was
delighted with this cottage, daintily furnished …[with] an excellent servant called Sarah. It was here, on 11th September 1888, that Catherine gave birth to their first child, Enid.
At that time Algernon was shutting himself away from his family while writing his second novel, A Lion of the Cotswolds, published in 1889 as Both of this Parish - A story of the byways.
George noted that, when Mrs Shailer and Mary came to tea, Alg. kept at his desk and did not see them; the necessities of work compel him to do this, which of course seems inexplicable to relatives.
In May 1889 George received an astonishing letter from Alg. who says he is abandoning Smallbrook Cottage, giving up housekeeping and will move in two week's time to Harbottle, Coquetdale. Selling
furniture and books. This kind of thing fills me with gloomy forebodings. His ability to persevere in any course is remarkable. I fear that he will be the same throughout his life. Thus, after
less than two years living in Smallbrook Cottage, but having had his first two novels published, Algernon and his family first visited Northumberland then in January 1890, moved to the village of
Wickwar, 5 miles from Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol and 50 miles southwest of Willersey. Unfortunately their landlady here proved to be a drunkard so two months later, Algernon, Catherine and
Enid moved to the village of Bredon's Newton, Gloucestershire, at the foot of Bredon Hill, some 7 miles northeast of Tewkesbury. From this new base, Algernon continued moving frequently around the
country, presumably seeking further locations, plots and the muse for his novels as he spent time in Northumberland, Cumbria and Leeds. Catherine did occasionally travel with him but may have
generally remained in Gloucestershire. At times Algernon was staying with brother George in Exeter, but Algernon and his family came together again on returning from Jersey in May 1890, to
temporarily reside with Aunt Shailer in Broadway whilst waiting to move into the village of Willersey, as George recorded “until he can furnish his cottage in Willersey, whither he is going
after all.” They were settled in the cottage by June that year and in November 1891 he took the cottage on a five year lease. Algernon's proofs for A Village Hampden was assessed by George
as “an improvement but awkward lapses of style here and there.” Meanwhile Algernon was working hard to complete the novel whilst his wife had fallen ill which caused his servant to fall “into hysterical mania.”
We cannot be absolutely sure which cottage was Algernon's home but a logical interpretation of the recently released 1901 census, combined with clues in his writings, strongly suggests
that they were living in Rose Cottage in Willersey on the night of 10th April 1901. Algernon then giving his occupation as ‘man of letters.’ Rose Cottage is on the eastern side of the broad village green, the Long House on the right being that of his friend, the florist and market gardener Mr John H Andrews.
In October 1892, George spent a fortnight with Algernon and Catherine in Willersey and recorded that, on 30th of the month, he “Climbed the hill with Alg. and amid clear sunshine looked down
upon the plain covered with mist Bredon, the Malvern summit standing out precisely like islands from a sea … beeches, elms … at 9 in the evening Alg. and I again went up the hill to hear
the owls crying.” On the day that George left to travel to Birmingham to see his mother, Algernon set off for Jersey. He returned to
Willersey in late February 1893 and was soon seeking another £10 from George.
A month later, he told George that he was trying to find some supplementary source income. George
continued his short visits to Willersey for some years and, on Christmas Eve 1894, George recorded that Alg. was thinking of changing his abode to Edinboro but, two months later,
Alg. is giving up his northern projects and is again at Willersey. One constant in Algernon’s life over many years was his frequent resort to loans and gifts from his family.
In September 1895 George loaned his brother ‘£25 to settle his debts in Willersey and get away to the north for a change’ but a month later Algernon had the author William Henry
Hudson staying with him in the village. Whether Hudson, Godfather to young Alwyn, was accommodated in the small Rose Cottage is not known but there were (and still are) two inns,
the New Inn and The Bell Inn (sometimes called by Algernon The Blue Bell), in the village so, unlike George, Hudson may have been accommodated at one of those establishments. In January 1899
George was in Wakefield recording that ‘Alg. was here a week or two ago in very bad health. Nelly granted him £150 for the next six months to enable him to rest. I contributed £50 of this.’
Algernon and his family seem to have remained in Willersey (he using it as his base or primary residence in between travels) until some time in 1904, before they moved on to Northumberland
and Edinburgh for varying periods. Enid's birth in 1888 had been the only one of the five children that their father Algernon, describing himself as ‘Gentleman,’ himself reported to the
Registrar in Broadway, The task of reporting the birth of the four subsequent children, all born in Willersey, fell to Catherine and the table below gives Algernon’s profession as recorded
in the official records while, at least he thought, his literary reputation grew.
||Date of Birth
||Place of Birth
||Algernon's Declared Occupation
||11th November 1888
||14th May 1895
||6th April 1897
||12th March 1900
||13th September 1901
||18th April 1901
||Man of Letters
Details are taken from the Birth Certificates of Algernon Gissing's Children and the 1901 Census Return [All five children were registered in Broadway]
Although based in the Willersey cottage, Algernon continued to travel, often residing either with brother George in London and Exeter, or by visiting Jersey or the many parts
of northern England that he frequented. He sometimes took Catherine and their growing
family with him as he sought the muse and settings for further novels but it was to the Cotswolds that the couple returned for Catherine to give birth to their five children
over the 13 year period. By 1904, George Gissing had died in the South of France and Algernon was well into his own career as an author. That year's edition of Who's Who,
presumably compiled early in the previous year, gave the brothers equal length entries but, interestingly, Algernon's list excluded his first two novels.
But by 1904, when Algernon and his family appear to have finally left Willersey, the area had made a considerable impression on him and continued to provide Algernon
with locations for the majority of his later novels and for two of his topographic works published in 1904 and 1924. Of his 30 novels, Algernon based some 16 of them in or around the Cotswolds.
Possibly as a result of the Consecutive Entries from Who's Who (1904) - Reproduced by permission of the publishers A & C Black
Advice and tutoring
George had given him during Algernon's formative years, he had a wide range of intellectual interests, and whilst living in Willersey, Algernon was a
friend of the Rev. Charles O. Bartlett, Rector of Willersey from 1891-1907. Their common interest was in antiquities and the local history of the village. A photograph of
Rose Cottage, circa 1901 and from a postcard, is probably one of many taken by Rev Bartlett who was a keen photographer.
Before turning to the many local Cotswold associations in Algernon''s novels, particularly those of the three hillside villages of Broadway, Willersey and Saintbury, it is appropriate to highlight
their distinctive characteristics which recur in the works. Broadway was, and remains, a charming tourist spot attracting many overseas visitors and artists with its ancient church (St Eadburgh's)
and its houses of locally quarried soft yellow limestone backing the greens as the long main street climbs the escarpment up to the old Fish Inn. The distinctive features of Willersey were, and
fortunately still are, its old church of St Peter's, its two inns, the wide village greens lined by the Cotswold stone houses and cottages and the annual Willersey Wake traditionally held on
the village greens around St Peter's Day (29 June). Originally a religious vigil held before a Holy Day, the wake developed into an excuse for villagers and visitors to drink and enjoy the
sideshows which were set up on the village greens – Algernon later described these events, and the villages of Willersey and Saintbury, in several chapters of The Footpath Way in Gloucestershire.
The distinctive feature of the nearby, and much smaller, village of Saintbury was, and remains, its ancient church of St Nicholas, set high on a terrace on the hillside which, in Algernon's time,
had William Smith as its parish clerk, bell ringer and local road-mender. At the lower end of the Saintbury, on the road from Broadway to Stratford-on-Avon is the ancient Saintbury Cross ,
a feature which makes several appearances in the novels.
Source: British Library Catalogue Algernon Gissing's Works
||Novels with Cotswold locations
or significant Cotswold association
||Joy cometh in the morning: a country tale
||Hurst & Blackett
||Both of this Parish - A story of the byways
||Hurst & Blackett
||A Village Hampden
||Hurst & Blackett
||Hurst & Blackett
||3 vols A Moorland Idyll
||Hurst & Blackett
||3 vols A Masquerader
||Between Two Opinions
||Hurst & Blackett
||Hurst & Blackett
||3 vols At Society's Expense
||Hurst & Blackett
||3 vols A Vagabond in Arts
||The Sport of Stars
||Hurst & Blackett
||The Scholar of Bygate
||Chatto & Windus
||A Secret of the North Sea
||Chatto & Windus
||The Wealth of Mallerstang
||The Keys of the House
||Chatto & Windus
||An Angel's Portion
||Knitters in the Sun: a Pastoral
||Chatto & Windus
||Arrows of Fortune
||Chatto & Windus
||The Master of Pinsmead
||Chatto & Windus
||The Dreams of Simon Usher
||The Unlit Lamp
||Love in the Byways - Some last-night stories
||One Ash - A barn-door story
||The Top Farm
||A Dinner of Herbs
||Broadway: a village in Middle England
||Ludlow and Stokesay
||The Footpath Way in Gloucestershire
||Letters of George Gissing to Members of his Family
||Constable & Co (with Ellen Gissing)
Along the top of the escarpment runs the Roman Buckle Street, here marking the parish boundary between Willersey and Saintbury. On either side of this road lie the two parish quarries which were the source,
not only of building stone but also,
when broken up by William Smith, of road filling stone. Smith was also the sexton, bell-ringer and parish clerk of Saintbury for 60 years who, in late 1887, was going about his stone breaking at the quarry,
when Algernon first encountered him. Algernon recalled this first meeting whilst he was walking on the hills in 1887 and several of his Cotswold novels feature parish quarries and a parish road-mender or stone
breaker – a solitary task in a rural area but one which, usefully for a narrator, allows observation of the locality and its people whilst work continues. It would be tempting to suggest that Algernon's use
of The Top Farm as the title of a late novel was based on the farm of that name in Willersey, however there was a Top Farm at the base of the hillside in several local villages.
As can be seen from the table listing Algernon's works, he started to locate his novels in areas other than the Cotswolds from 1892 but, when he moved away from the area in around 1904, he again used Cotswold
locations for the majority of his novels, these at a rate of almost one a year through to 1913. The choice of Broadway for the first of his topographical books for J.M. Dent in 1904, in their Temple
Topographies series, was natural for Algernon as he knew the area so well. With illustrations by Edmund H. New, this attractive little book on Broadway was dedicated by Algernon to W.H. Hudson. We
can also reasonably assume that Algernon was familiar with the Ludlow and Stokesay area in Shropshire, the location of his second work for Dent in the series in 1905. Algernon's Aunt Elizabeth, his
mother's sister, lived in Ludlow and was visited by Mrs Gissing and her daughters, as well as presumably, by that frequent traveller Algernon. He and Catherine themselves returned to Gloucestershire in 1914,
initially returning to the Bredon area before moving a short distance to Winchcombe, again at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment and just 17 miles south of Broadway. In 1927, the year in which he and Ellen
published their Letters of George Gissing to Members of his Family, Algernon and Catherine made their final move, to the village of Bloxham, near Banbury, Oxfordshire.
George Gissing's Cotswolds
When George's mother and her daughters Ellen and Margaret visited ‘Aunt’ Emma Shailer, they often stayed for weeks at a time. But George took much shorter breaks in the area, staying with Algernon
and Catherine and making a point of visiting Emma as well as cousin Mary and her brother Tom, whilst that young man remained in the area. George obviously enjoyed taking the fresh air of Broadway
and Willersey as he visited at least once a year and often more frequently, even arranging for his son Arthur to stay longer with Algernon and his family. George presumably enjoyed the break from
his urban or suburban writing routine that such visits involved, even walking on occasions the seven miles from Evesham to Willersey, more frequently walking the 3½ miles across the fields from
Honeybourne Junction. He records in his diary that he and Algernon used to walk up the hillside to Saintbury church, from where they could view the Malvern Hills across the Vale of Evesham. George Gissing
certainly valued his breaks in the Cotswolds and, writing from France in his final years, he admitted that he could no longer manage to climb the hills that he had so enjoyed in earlier years.
28 December 1901 “… I am constantly dreaming over my old walks; I could not now go from Willersey to Broadway and back without exhaustion and fever – a dolorous state of things.
Algernon's Cotswold Novels
It has been shown that Algernon was familiarising himself with the Cotswolds whilst writing his first novel Joy Cometh in the Morning - A Country Tale (1888) before he married. It displays all
the marks of an early work and the rural romance has some real place whilst those of many lesser characters’, including Messrs Snodbury and Bredon, Dr Buckland and Mrs Blockley, are those of
neighbouring villages. Broadway is here called Nether Faintree and the story opens with a description of the London to Worcester mail coach being involved in a fatal catastrophe at:
… the lone Fish Inn on the brow of Faintree Hill … the steep and dangerous descent of the Fish to Nether Faintree [which] consisted of one wide straggling street stretching for upwards of a
mile from end to end in as nearly as possible a straight line. It is extremely picturesque with its few quiet shops and thatched gabled cottages, amongst which were interspersed the better
houses which the place offered. Behind it rose the well wooded ridge of the Cotswold Hills and in front lay the beautiful Vale of Evesham with its gardens stretching away to the hills of Bredon and Malvern.’
This description of Nether Faintree is virtually that which Algernon later used in his topographical book Broadway for J.M. Dent. Whilst convalescing in Nether Faintree Roland, the hero of the first novel takes
‘numerous walks which took him round by Cotswold Manor up the hill to the Kifsgate Stone .. the path to the desolate residence of Cotswold Manor … from here (Kifsgate Stone) he walked along the top of the
ridge until he joined the high road at the Fish Inn and so descended into the village of Nether Faintree.’ The Kifsgate Stone still exists and once marked the site of local meetings of the people of the
ancient ‘Kifsgate Hundred’ which included Willersey and Saintbury, The ‘Cotswold Manor’ is undoubtedly Farncombe Manor which is set on the hill above Broadway. Other obvious local connections are that
Roland rides into Avonford (i.e. Evesham) and heavy rain causes him to stop off at the ‘Sandys Arms, the half-way house.’ The inn of that name still stands half way between Broadway and Evesham. Finally,
the local church which is restored at Roland’s expense is named St. Eadburgh’s which is the name of the ‘old’ church in Broadway in whose graveyard lie Aunt Emma Shailer and her husband Frederick.
Written as A Lion of the Cotswolds, Algernon's next novel Both of the Parish –a story of the Byways (1889) was set in the village of Wancote, which is obviously Saintbury, with its ‘old stone cross of Wancote [which]
lies on the cross road from Cheltenham to Stratford on Avon.’ Scenes are set in the church bell tower with its four stone steps to the little door in the wall, just like St Nicholas’ in Saintbury, and the
hero eventually marries the young heroine, taking a farm and becoming a pioneer in agricultural improvements.
A Village Hampden (1890) features one Giles Radway, the byway roadman of the rural parish of Shipcombe (Willersey), situated ‘in a remote part of the County of Gloucestershire’ who is found breaking up
his last heap of stones in October and looking forward to spending the next six months spreading them on the roads. The hero is Gabriel Bewglass, the son of the late vicar and whose mother lives in
Rose Cottage in the village of Shipcombe. Rose Cottage is ‘one of the picturesque cottages which stood at the foot of the village of Shipcombe, by the green, such as are common in the villages of Gloucestershire.
It faced the village green being separated from the road by a garden enclosed by a low stone wall.’ The nearby market town is Dormantley (Evesham) with its Abbey and pasture sloping down to the river.
It is Saintbury that is specifically named two years later in the next novel, A Masquerader (1892) which is not really Cotswold inspired or located but it does has some direct Cotswold references including
making a special excursion to Bredon Hill in Worcestershire and, on a public seat by St James’ Park, London, a woman with no money and large debts has her small daughter with her, when she is approached by
a kindly nurse who asks her to name a wish. Her answer is ‘that my child and I were buried under the elm-trees in Saintbury churchyard.’ Where is that? ‘On the side of a green hill in Gloucestershire’
The nurse had just been given a large payment of back wages which she donates to the woman. In the 1893 novel Between Two Opinions, the hero ‘had Cotswold ancestry’ and is set at Pool Farm in the
village of Murcott - Murcot with one ‘t’ is a village two miles from Broadway. The story has a disabled girl, one Eulalia, who ‘was compelled to make some contribution towards the domestic outlay, had
fallen into the work of glover, that being a form of labour still open to cottagers of this district.’ Glovemakers were regularly listed in the census returns for Willersey’s central farm was Pool Farm by the duck pond.
Algernon set The Sport of Stars (1896) on the wooded slopes that surround the remote village of Winwold (Willersey) in ‘a cottage at the extreme end of the village, just where the road begins it ascent
of the hill beyond.’ Workers seeking ‘a bit of land to raise our bread and potatoes’ meet ‘by the gate of the Upper Marbrook’- the name of the field next to Willersey churchyard. There is, of course,
an annual wake and the hero meets his future wife in the overgrown parish quarry. Later she buys from the artist a picture of the landscape kind which the artist had named ‘The Parish Boundary.’ This
picture ‘embraced merely a portion of an upland road, passing as by a natural patch through a dense row of full-grown beech trees’ - the Willersey/Saintbury quarries where she first met her husband.
It was another seven years before Algernon's next Cotswold novel appeared. Knitters in the Sun – a Pastoral (1903) is set in ‘a remote village in the Wolds .… Windean (Willersey) is some 6 miles
from Woolbourne’ (Evesham) with its weekly newspaper The Journal. In Windean is Sawpit Green which is still the name of the part of the village green in Willersey opposite The Bell Inn and mention
is made of the church bell-ringers drinking at The Blue Bell. In these later Cotswold novels, some of the locations recur e.g. in The Master of Pinsmead (1906) the heroine drove to see her lawyer
at Woolbourne then has to meet the local aristocrat Lord Kifsgate (see Algernon’s first novel) and the village of Elmsey (Willersey or Saintbury) has an annual wake. Similarly in Second Selves (1908)
is set in Norbury (Saintbury) which is ‘three miles from its wayside station … [and]… Elmsey has a wake, with ‘caravans, swing boats and vans … [en route to which] ‘all the way he could see Norbury
church spire on the green hillside.’ Similar settings are used in The Unlit Lamp (1909). In Love in the Byways – Some Last-Night Stories (1910) Algernon presented twelve short stories which Punch,
using words that now have a somewhat different meaning, stated that ‘Mr Algernon Gissing has a very enjoyable way of making love in the byway.’ The Times critic welcomed these ‘Twelve short stories
of good quality, mostly of the countryside’ in which Wancote, Woolbourne and Elmsey recur but several of the stories are not set in the Cotswolds but move to Newcastle and East Anglia. An unusual
situation is encountered in Rosanne (1911) when the heroine, Lady Lillian St Cloe, vanishes from the local Cotswold villages (Marcote, Harbury and Winwood) to become an Anglican Sister with the name
Rosanne. The village of Harbury is presumably Willersey as it has an annual wake and mention is made of a place ‘where the hill road passes under a natural archway of beech leaves – there began the
parish of Harbury lying on the undulating Wold.’ Also published in 1911 was One Ash – A Barn-Door Story, subtitled A Cotswold Tale, which is an unusually dark tale involving the killing of a blind
horse and a peasant who hangs himself. The village of Elmsey is again featured and the lesser characters include a Master Driscoll of Hayway (still a farm near Willersey) and one ‘Sawpit Sarah.’
The Top Farm (1912) returns to rural romance set in Elmsey (Willersey) which, like the real Willersey, has a village pond. Also featured is the village of Stanbury (Saintbury) where ‘its few cottage
were scattered amongst the trees, with the old church standing apart on its green terrace.’ Woolbourne (Evesham) is where the lawyers advise on complicated wills and one elderly character is
‘Old Jezz Gunn’ who is of interest as William Smith, the Saintbury road-mender, lived for many years at Gunn's Cottages, a pair of semi-detached cottages that still stand on the boundary of
Willersey and Saintbury, a short distance from the parish quarries. In the novel, a young woman, Prisca, sets up a rural a theatre club, the Barn Door Club, for theatrical performances in
the country but this late novel darkens when one of the male characters, Prisca’s friend Howard, borrows money but Prisca takes up horse riding and gets killed whilst riding with Howard who
then kills himself. Howard is found dead by the pool at Upton Wold which is (still) a farm on the top of the Cotswold escarpment on the road to Moreton-in-Marsh.
His final novel, A Dinner of Herbs (1913) is set where ‘all roads lead to Shipcombe (Willersey) as well as every footpath and byway through the meadows.’ The local town is again Woolbourne
(Evesham) and the narrator is even more forceful about the nuisance caused by the Shipcombe ‘village wake in mid-June whose entertainments include a roundabout, blatant music, a shooting
gallery.’ Exploring the many footpaths in the area formed the subject of, and provided the title for, his next book, the topographical work The Footpath Way in Gloucestershire (1924). In
this now dated but interesting work, Algernon devoted two chapters to Saintbury and three to Willersey as well as extending south along the Cotswold escarpment to the Winchcombe area where
he was then living. The illustrations by John Garside include two drawings of Algernon’s old friend, the long-serving Saintbury sexton, parish clerk and road-mender, William Smith, showing
him both breaking stones at the quarry and digging a grave in the Saintbury churchyard in which Smith and his wife were eventually laid to rest. Algernon's final book, The Letters of George
Gissing to Members of his Family (1927) was written with his sister Ellen and published ten years before Algernon’s death which occurred, at Bloxham, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, on 5th February 1937.
This article has not attempted any original literary criticism of Algernon’s work but has merely mentioned brother George's occasional references to Algernon's career and, more particularly,
the propensity to borrow money from his family to support his literary career. It is tempting to suggest that Algernon himself recognised his own shortcomings when, in describing Prisca's
father in The Top Farm (1912), he was perhaps just a little autobiographical when he wrote, replacing literature with the stage, that the man was ‘Of respectable parentage, he had begun
life as a fully fledged lawyer himself but strong thespian proclivities had hindered his giving the necessary attention to his profession … but he failed of distinction and success.’
Harry Sadler 1900 - 1918
Harry Sadler moved to Badsey from Willersey in about January 1917. He was a Private in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and his name is recorded on the war memorial
in St James' Church, Badsey where he is buried in the churchyard.
Harry Sadler was born at Willersey, the second of four children of George and Jane Sadler. He had an older brother, Frank,
and two younger sisters, Florence Daisy and Ivy Blanche. Harry's father, George, died in 1906 and Jane married again in 1908, to widower James Jordan who had two sons.
At the time of the 1911 census, James and Jane were living in Willersey with James's two sons and Jane's four children.
By January 1917, the family had moved to Badsey, when the youngest in the family, Ivy, enrolled at Badsey Council School. The family lived at 8 Bowers Hill.
Although only 17, Harry Sadler enlisted with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment sometime in 1917. From November 1917 onwards, several reports appeared in the
Parish Magazine about Harry's war wounds. He was severely wounded by shrapnel in the left thigh and in both feet in about October 1917. One large toe was amputated
and it was thought he would lose a foot. He was sent to Netley Hospital and then to Romsey and discharged from the army on 3rd July 1918 because
of his wounds. He died just three months later as a result of pneumonia following influenza at Northumberland War Hospital, Gosforth, aged only 18. He is buried in
Badsey Churchyard. Local members of the Volunteer Training Corps formed a bearer-party but, in accordance with the wishes of Private Sadler's mother who wanted the funeral to be as
quiet as circumstances would allow. There were no volleys and no “Last Post” was played. The choir attended and sang a psalm and hymn in church and another hymn at the
graveside and the organist played the Death March. Six months later, the military authorities erected a wooden cross over his grave. Even though he spent most
of his life in Willersey, Harry is not recorded there.
1918 was a sad year for the Sadler family: three Sadler brothers each lost a son. Arthur Sadler (son of Arthur), aged 23, died on 22
nd March 1918;
Ernest Charles Sadler (son of Charles), aged 19, died on 13th April 1918; and Harry (son of George) died on 17th October 1918. In 1916, Thomas Sadler (son of William),
aged 22, died on 30th July at the Battle of the Somme. The three cousins, Arthur, Ernest Charles and Thomas, are commemorated on Willersey War Memorial.
Jane Jordan's other son, Frank, also suffered injuries during the Great War. Shortly before his brother's death, he was
wounded in the arm and head on 6th October 1918, but was progressing favourably at a hospital in Bristol. Frank continued to live
in the Vale of Evesham until his death in 1970. James and Jane Jordan continued to live at 8 Bowers Hill until at least 1931.
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Hannah Elizabeth Smith 1838 - 1901
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Lula Condie begins. “My grandmother, Hannah Elizabeth Smith, was born on the 22nd June 1838 in Willersey, a farming village at the foot of the Cotswold Hills. Willersey Parish records show that
she was christened on the 28th June 1836. She was the youngest daughter of Samuel Smith and Elizabeth Baldwin Smith and had two older brothers and four older sisters.
The Smiths were a poor hardworking people. Some members of the family owned their own land while others worked on the land or in the homes of their landlords. When Hannah was about
three years of age her mother died. A few years later her father married Susannah Rolls who was twenty-eight years younger than Samuel and only fifteen years older than Hannah.
This stepmother was cruel to Hannah and would not allow her to go to school. She was determined that she was going to learn to read and write. Somehow she obtained some pencils
and hid them in her bed. One day while she was out playing her stepmother found them and broke them into pieces.
My grandmother was tall and slender. Her dark hair may have curled if given a chance. Pictures show her hair done in the style of the day, parted in the middle and drawn lightly back on each
side of her pleasant but serious face into a neat little bun in back. While Hannah was young she was sent out to service. It is believed she did dressmaking while she worked in a Mrs. Boswell's Shop.
We know that her sister Sarah did dressmaking and Hannah was an expert seamstress. Caroline Boswell was a good friend to Hannah. Hannah Smith belonged to the Church of England until she was converted
to Mormonism. On the 30th November 1862 she was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by Thomas Carter. As far as we know she was the only member of her family to
join the Church or come to America.
In 1863, when about twenty-four years of age, she left her father, brothers and sisters in England and sailed for America with Captain Eats Company on the ship Amazon. The voyage took 47 days.
They landed at Castle Garden, New York on July 18th 1863. The church Chronology published in 1899, gives this account. “Thursday June 11th 1863. The packet ship Amazon sailed from London,
England with 882 or 895 saints aboard under the direction of William Bramwell on July 18th 1863.” This may well be the company Hannah Smith came to America with.
“It seems that Grandma always had sewing to do. A friend Martha Houslay, who came to America on the same ship, told how Hannah drew the attention of others on board because she was alone
and while sitting on the deck was always doing fine handwork. During the voyage she made a long christening dress of fine eyelet embroidery in which all her children were blessed.
All of daughter Annie's children, grandchildren and most of her great-grandchildren have been named and blessed in this dress. According to Mormon Church History, immigrants in 1863
came by rail to Florence, Nebraska where wagon trains were made up for the journey to Utah. Hannah crossed the plains with Captain Horton D. Haight's church train and it is possible
she walked much of the way.” Hannah's name does not appear in the Mormon Overland Pioneer database.
The Horton Haight company left Florence, Nebraska August 8-9th 1863 and arrived in Salt Lake Valley October 4th 1863. “Besides being lonely, Hannah was sick with Mountain Fever. Hannah Smith
and John London were good friends while they lived in England. John had come to Utah a year earlier, so soon after Hannah arrived she went to live in Echo, Utah, where John was helping to
build the railroad. Plans were soon made for them to marry. John did not have a suitable pair of pants for the wedding so Grandma sat up at night and made him a pair, doing all the sewing
by hand and by candlelight. On November 8th 1863 at Coalville, Utah, John London, age twenty-three and Hannah Elizabeth Smith, age twenty-five were married. The ceremony was performed by Edwin Wilde.
Later on the marriage was solemnized on December 12th 1878 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. They lived in Echo after they were married and while John worked on the railroad, Hannah
helped to earn a living by doing laundry for the stage drivers. The men would leave the laundry enroute to Salt Lake City and she would have it ready for them to pick up on their return trip East.”
Hannah also took in sewing and made men's suits as well as women's dresses and coats as well as sewing for her own eight children. Lula continues, “Hannah and her husband lived in Echo about four years
and while there a son and daughter were born to them. About 1867 they moved to a little settlement on the Lost Creek later known as Croydon. There they had a small farm and home of their own.”
My mother tells of the first home she remembers, “the house was built of logs, one room with a dirt roof, a fireplace at one end and a cook stove at the other. The floor of wide pine boards was very pretty
and well scrubbed.” The walls were whitewashed and when the rain came the mud and water ran down the walls. Their homemade beds consisted of four posts with ropes laced through the sides and head boards to
serve as springs. Their mattress was a good strong tick tilled with straw. It was refilled with clean straw each year after the grain was threshed. Sometime later another log room was built about eight
feet from the rest of the house. This room served as a bedroom.
My Mother said when she was a little girl she had a homemade candle to light her way to bed and often the wind would blow her candle out and she had to return to the kitchen for another light.
Daughter Alice remembered, “Many times I have helped my mother make candles. We had a small mould and I would thread the wick in and tie it at the bottom. Then mother would pour in the melted
mutton tallow.” Besides other cooking that was done on her wood burning stove, she made bread for her family of ten. Washing was done in a wooden tub with the aid of a washboard. Water for all
purposes had to be carried in buckets from a neighbourhood spring or some saved in a rain barrel. Milk, butter and other foods were kept in an underground cellar. Milk was set outside in pans
and when the cream set it was skimmed. One day the cow got loose and almost fell through the dirt roof of the cellar and dirt fell into the milk and other provisions kept there. Wood was hauled
from nearby canyons. They had no matches and when the fire went out, one of the children was sent with a bucket to the neighbours for hot coals to start the fire again. Hannah adorned her home
with beautiful knitted lace, patchwork quilts, knitted socks and stockings, scarves and gloves. Her daughter said, “She did not have anyone to teach her to knit but learned how by watching others.”
Because she was such an exceptional seamstress, she was always called upon to make burial clothes for those who died in Croydon. Grandfather made the coffin and grandmother lined it.
My Mother told me how she watched her as she puffed the silk abound the sides and made a pillow for the mattress. If it was for a child she would add a bit of lace and ribbon. There
were no doctors in Croydon in the early days so when one of the family was ill, Hannah cared for them as best she could and perhaps called the midwife or one of the townspeople who
had had experience caring for the sick.
In 1878 when the dread disease diphtheria spread through the town, one year old Mary Louisa contracted it. Kind neighbours came to help but there was no antitoxin to give her and she died.
This was the first death in her family. A year later while Hannah was in bed following the birth of her youngest son, another son George was bitten by a rattlesnake. Daughter Alice
remembered him coming to the door of his mother's room where she was in bed with her new baby and telling her he had been bitten. They made him a bed on the floor and buried his leg
in black mud obtained from a ditch bank. George became very ill. All known remedies were used including whiskey which John got from a friend in Echo, but when the poison reached his
abdomen Hannah thought he would surely die. Lula's story continues, “Minutes of the Croydon Ward Relief Society records this, ‘July 7th 1879, all adjourned to the home of Hannah whose
son had been bitten by a rattlesnake and wished to be administered to. President Helen Thackeray administered the oil and Mary Hopkin the blessing.’ The prayers of these sisters were
answered and her son recovered.
Grandma loved flowers and had a large flower garden beneath her bedroom window and geraniums always bloomed in her kitchen window. One of the ladies who lived in town used to lean over
the white picket fence and point out the pansies of her garden that resembled the faces of some of the townspeople. Many of the flowers grew from seeds sent to her by a nephew, Harry
Andrews who lived in England. Next to the home the most important building in town was the schoolhouse. It was a log building with a dirt roof. The schoolroom was perhaps eighteen by
thirty feet. This was the meeting house and recreation hall as well as schoolroom. Desks and benches were made of split logs. Slates were used to write on. In spite of the fact that Grandma
had no formal education she learned to read and write. She could quickly find passages in the Bible for her sons George and Alfred. She attended night school where she joined in the
spelling bees and would stand up with the best of them. The social life of the town consisted of spelling bees, quilting bees and rag bees. Square dances were held in the schoolhouse
and musicians and friends came from Henefer and other nearby towns.
When the Croydon Ward Relief Society was organized on October 14th 1875 Hannah was appointed secretary and treasurer of the organization and also served as one of the quilt supervisors.
She held the office of treasurer until the time of her death. While she was treasurer she had her husband build a wheat bin in their back yard. Hannah was responsible for gathering and
storing wheat as was the custom in the relief society. After her death my mother became the second treasurer of the Relief Society of the Croydon Ward. The wheat they stored was sold to
the government at the time of World War I. Eliza R. Snow organized the L.D.S. Primary Association on October 28th 1879 and Hannah Elizabeth London was chosen first counsellor to the
president Elizabeth Blackwell. Because she lived near the Church Grandma often served Sunday dinner at her home for visiting Church Officials. About ten years after Hannah left England
her father died and she never saw any of her brothers and sisters again but she corresponded with members of her family until her death. Grandma longed to see her old home again. Her
nephew tried to get a picture of the old home to send to her but she never received one. Hannah was sick all summer before she died at the age of 63 on October 3rd 1901 in the home she
had made so many years before. She was survived by her oldest sister Ann, her husband and eight sons and daughters. In the following letter we learn a little bit about her family home
in Willersey, England. In a letter dated September 26th 1881, Charles Smith told his sister that he had been to Willersey and found the folks there busy getting in the crops and the harvest was good.
He continues, “Sister Sarah had seven or eight children at home and had raised twelve. They are still living in the old cottage where we were reared and where our father lived about fifty-five years.
They are all little farmers at Willersey.” He tells how neat and clean his sister Ann keeps her home and children. Her brother goes on to say, “Dear Aunt, I must tell you that the old home is still
standing and we have been living in it until Mother's death on December 2nd 1980 for nearly twenty years and the little flower beds are still there beneath the window.”
The information for this next story came from Lula Condie and a great grandchild as well as letters from Hannah's brother Charles Smith in England.
Dear Sister we have had a fortune left us from Sarah Robbins of Willersey. The amount coming to us on our mother’s side was £6 which when shared would be one pound each. Can you tell me the
best way to send your share? Could you do with it in stamps or can we send a post office order. If you will kindly tell me I will try to send it to you when I know the best way to send. I had
a great deal of writing and trouble about the matter, We were determined to know the right of it so we got the will of Late William Robbins of Tredington by whom the money was left in the first place.
It was left to Sarah Robbins for her life and at her death it was to be divided amongst the survivors. And our mother being dead her share came to her children and this is the same of which they have
all had their share but you and when I know the best way to send you shall have your share so on receipt of this you will please write and say the best way to send and oblige your everloving Brother.
And if you can 1 should very much like you to write to your sisters. Mary's address is Mr. Richard Dunsbee Over End Street W.B. Myrias is the same as before and those at Willersey. So I now conclude
with best wishes and our kindest love to you all from all and believe me to be your ever loving Brother C. Smith.
February 9th 1887 Dear Brother, I dare say you think rude for a long while before I acknowledge the receipt of the post office order you sent me but I have been very unwell all Christmas.
I have not felt inclined to write or anything else much for a month or 5 weeks. I am thankful to say that I am very much better now than I was. I had a touch of bronchitis and very bad
cough that is much better now. I am not quite right yet. I will say now that I received the order all right and safe for which I thank you. Also I was pleased to hear that you was all
well then and hope this will find you still the same. I am thankful to say that all our families are all pretty well just now. We have had a very sharp winter this time with a great deal
of snow and very sharp frosts and lasted on us a long time. This has been rather an old fashioned winter with us to what we have had for some years. It has taken many people off this winter.
It has been very hard times with a great many poor people which have not had sufficient food and fire to warm and comfort them. Trade has been very bad and work very scarce so that many had
to fare vary hard indeed. We hope there will be a stir in trade. I hope this Jubilee year will be more prosperous. I have doubt in many instances but what it will be very much better
in many branches of business. Well I hope that it will be and prove to be a blessing to many who are now suffering for want and that are destitute of the common necessaries of the life may they
all be comforted and blest with plenty. And then they will have great cause to remember the Jubilee year of (Queen Victoria)as long as they live.
Dear Brotherr I received a letter from Willersey this morning and am very thankful to say that they are all very much better than they as been for a long time. Sarah and unwell for a long time
she has had a very bad turn of bronchitis. Samuel her husband has been very laid up all last summer. He lost nearly all the use of one side so that he has not been able to do anything for a
long time not it is not supposed that he will ever be able to work anymore. So we may all know that it has been very bad for them. I have sent them a little at times what I could afford.
I sent them a nice piece of beef at Christmas and a few other things for which the was very thankful for and also Sister Ann had a very bad misfortune and broke her arm. I do not know
whether you ever heard of it or not. But it was very bad for a long time but it is now vary much better and she can begin to use it a little but it will never be rite again for she is
getting on in years now..She will be 66 on March 1st next so she is now going down the hill of life vary fast. The way we are all going. Dear Sister Sarah and Ann wished me very much
when I wrote to you again to ask you to send your portrait if you possibly could do so. They would so very much like to have one and I for my part should very much like to have one if
it was not too much trouble and expense for you to get them. I think they would be prized by all of us if we could get them but I must leave the matter with you but hopes you will try
and get them. I was pleased to hear that you liked the knives and forks I sent. But you said that the children would much rather have had white handles. I think those were very good handles
and vary durable ones to but of course if you should send for any more why then you can have them then. A a good set of white handled forks would be more expensive than those were. I leave
all with you until I hear from you again - and draw this scribble to a close. And all join in love to you all - from your ever loving Brother and Sister Charles and Eliza Smith West Bromwich
February 16th 1892.
Dear Aunt, It is a most painful duty I have to perform to impart to you news of a melancholy nature. I sincerely wish the news was of a more cheering description. (this being my first time
of writing you since you left our Cottage many years ago). I am aware my Father has kept up a correspondence with you uphill recently the date of his last letter I do not know. But that
you will not receive any more from him I can say unless you hold communication with the spirit world. He has perhaps informed you that he has suffered for many years with bronchitis and
asthma, On the 24th he was laid by with an attack of bronchitis. His illness was of a very short duration as he was only lying ill from Monday to Friday. Which you can imagine was very short
notice for us. When I say that we had no idea that he would be taken from amongst us so soon. He had certainly been weakening for a long time, but he still continued to follow his employment,
being at work on the Saturday previous to taking his bed on the Monday. His attack was very acute he was only partly conscious nearly the whole of his illness. His mind wandering on all kinds
of subjects, but he gradually sank weaker and weaker until he ultimately passed peacefully away with¬out even a struggle. The Funeral took place on Tuesday 2nd at the West Bromwich Cemetery,
in the presence of large assembly of our people and friends. Upwards of 100 girls and others attended service in the Cemetery chapel. Finishing the service with singing a hymn, “Safe in the
Arms of Jesus.” There was present at the funeral His sister Mary Dunsbee, husband and daughter, two representatives from Willersey, Andrew and Ingles, Uncle Henry Beesley, and cousin Eliza
from Smetherick, Sister Mary Ann and husband, Brother Harry and wife, Brother Charley, and myself. He was carried to his last resting place by six of the work people and every¬thing passed
off very satisfactory. It is a very heavy blow for especially my mother to bear, under her afflicted circumstances but I am pleased to say she bears it with fortitude. So I think she is improving
very slowly, but not sufficient to move about without her crutches. But I hope she may soon be able to dispose of her sticks. The other members of our family are all at present fairly well. We have
just received a letter from Brisbane Australia from brother George. They not knowing then of prior news Father's death, but the letter I have written would cross on the way. They will be surely be
cut up when they get the news. I hope things in general over your country are in a prosperous state, and that this will find you all well and enjoying some of the good fruits of this life. I must
conclude this with
Love from all to all.
Yours Affectionately, Tom Smith (Enclosed is card).
The Rimell Family – 1843
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In the early hours of Wednesday 29th November 1843, seven people lost their lives in a house fire. It is almost certain that this appalling loss of life, in a single fire, has not been equalled in the area since.
Living in the house at the time were farmer Thomas Rimell, his wife and his eight children. Also staying there was Elizabeth Jelfs of nearby Weston sub Edge, who was employed as a charwoman. They went to bed at about
10:30 on Tuesday night, but were woken up at two o'clock to find the house on fire. Mr Rimell tried to get down the stairs but was forced back by flames. Finding his wife at a window he pushed her to where
he thought she would be safe, and told her to wait while he fetched a ladder. He jumped out of the window to the ground; a height of about twelve feet. But before he could return to effect a rescue, his wife was
overcome either by smoke or by flames. The children had been sleeping in another part of the house. Richard, aged ten, jumped to the ground, found a ladder, and put it up to the window where two of his brothers
were trying to rescue a box containing their Sunday clothes. They also escaped through the window. The fire spread with such speed and ferocity that the other five children, David, Anne, Mary, Sarah and Betsy,
along with their mother, were lost. Elizabeth Jelfs, the family's employee, also died, despite being the one, it was said, who had first raised the alarm. The house was totally destroyed before the arrival of
fire brigades from Campden and Evesham.
A Coroner's inquest was held at The New Inn two days later, where a verdict was returned of ‘Accidental death from burning, in consequence of a beam taking fire in the chimney’. The chimney of the house had been
on fire on Tuesday, the day before the tragedy. At about 7pm Phillip Cooke, a miller and neighbour, had informed Thomas Rimell that sparks and flames were still issuing from the chimney. But, he claimed,
Mr Rimell disregarded his advice. The fire was so intense that it was not possible to identify the victims. Three days after the fire their remains were buried in a single coffin in Willersey churchyard,
where the gravestone still stands. A fund was set up to help Thomas Rimell, who had lost almost everything. His house was insured, but not his furniture and stock. Elizabeth Jelfs, a widow, left six orphaned girls,
four of whom were still living at the family home in Weston sub Edge, and who had lost their mother, and their only source of income.
Author's note: When I heard about this incident in about 1997 I found the gravestone in the churchyard at Willersey. The inscription was still perfectly legible although the surface of the stone was starting to
flake off. It is fortunate that I photographed and recorded the inscription as, on a subsequent visit in 2005, I found the stone to be completely bare. Presumably, frost had completely removed the surface.
The inscription was as follows:-
TO THE MEMORY OF
ANNA RIMELL WIFE OF THOMAS RIMELL
FARMER OF THIS PARISH WHO DIED
NOV 29th 1843 AGED 42 YEARS.
ALSO OF SARAH AGED 11, MARY 8,
ELIZABETH 1, AND DAVID 3 YEARS.
CHILDREN, WHO WITH ELIZABETH
JELPHS OF THE PARISH OF WESTON SUBEDGE
AGED 50 YEARS, PERISHED IN THE AWFUL FIRE
WHICH HAPPENED ON THAT NIGHT
AT WILLERSEY, AND WHOSE
MUTILATED REMAINS WERE
HERE BURIED TOGETHER
It is not clear why Anne's name is not inscribed on the stone as according to the parish record, she was buried on the same day. A possible explanation is that, unlike the others,
her body was able to be identified so was buried in a separate grave with its own headstone.
Richard Flavel, 1610? – 1670?
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Richard Flavel was the father of the famous author John Flavel and his brother Phineas, also a Gospel Minister. Described as “a painful and eminent minister” he
first ministered at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, then at Hasler in Gloucestershire before moving to Willersey, where he continued until 1660.
John Flavel was born to Richard and his wife in 1630 at Bromsgrove. At the Restoration he was put out of the church because it was a sequestered living,
and the previous incumbent was still alive. When to 1662 Act of Uniformity was announced, Flavel refused to conform to the Anglican Settlement of the Church of England
and together with 2000 dissenting ministers of the Church of England was ejected from his parish and living.
His main concern was to find a pace of ministry. He is described as “a person of such extraordinary piety” that those who knew him said “they never
heard one vain word drop from his mouth.”
A little before 1662 and being near Totness, Devon, he preached from Hosea 7:9 The Days of Visitation arc come, the Days of Recompence are come, Israel shall know it.
His application was so close that it offended some and occasioned his being carried before some Justices of the Peace but they could not reach him and so he was discharged
He afterwards left the county and his son's house, where he had retired and went to London, where he continued in a faithful and acceptable
discharge of his ministerial duties until the time of the plague in 1665 when he was arrested and imprisoned.
He was at the house of a Mr Blake in Covent Garden, where some were gathered for worship. While he was in prayer, a party of soldiers broke in on them with
swords drawn, and demanded the arrest of the preacher, threatening some and flattering others in order to discover him, but in vain.
Some of them threw a coloured cloak over him, and in this disguise he was, together with his hearers, carried to Whitehall. They were all sent to Newgate
prison, which was so disease ridden that Richard Flavel and his wife became seriously ill.
Although they were bailed shortly after they subsequently died. It is said that their son John was given an intimation of their death in a dream.
Abbot John de Brokehampton, 1282 – 1316
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Abbot John de Brokehampton, 1282 – 1316 monk of Evesham, who was confirmed at Rome by Pope Martin IV. Evesham Monastery during his presidency seems to have been free
from incumbrance: and the increase of its revenue must have been great; judging from the extensive acquisitions made by purchase or donation in his time. To
enumerate a portion only, the manors and advowsons of Saintbury
and Willersey were acquired by him, as also the fee of Aston Somerville, windmills at Poderi in Honeybourne and at Willersey. Eight granges were also entirely
built by him upon as many manors belonging to the abbey. These were originally spacious tithe
barns or granaries, but at a later period residences were attached to
them, with hall, chapel, stabling and appurtenances. They were fit for the
temporary retirement of the abbots. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries several of
these became family seats for the new owners of abbey-property in the neighbourhood.
A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the middle ages for storing rents and tithes - one tenth of a farm's produce which was
given to the Church. Tithe barns were usually associated with the village church or rectory and independent farmers took their tithes there. One of the
finest tithe barns in the country, Middle Littleton is a Grade I listed barn dating around 1250. It was built for the monks of Evesham Abbey which was
the third largest abbey in England. The barn was granted Grade I listed status on 30th July 1959.
The Tithe Barn was built by John de Brokehampton to store hay and cereals. The Abbey extracted the ‘tithe’ on both crops and livestock to provide
an income from the Littletons to finance the hostilarius for the accommodation of guests at Evesham Abbey. The barn is constructed of Blue Lias
stone with Cotswold stone dressing. It has a triple purlin roof which is tiled in stone. It is 130 feet long and 42 feet wide and originally
had a pair of gabled porches on each of the long sides but sadly now only the south porch survives. It is truly a magnificent building,
an imposing reminder of the power of Medieval abbeys.
At Evesham John de Brokehampton built the abbot's hall, chapel,
and chamber, as well as other chambers, and a range
of stabling westward of the monastery. The church at Norton was
rebuilt by him, as well as the chancels at Honeybourne,
Willersey, and Hampton. During this abbacy the convent appears
to have sustained some undue exaction ; for in the twenty-fifth year
of Edward I. letters patent addressed to the bailiffs, were issued specially to protect the possessions of this monastery, and to continue
in force till the feast of All-saints following. During the same
abbacy the estates of the monastery are assessed in the service of
nearly five knights' fees, to be performed by nine armed deputies,
mounted on " nine barbed horses ;" while the lands of the bishoprick are assessed at only three knights' fees, to be performed by six
deputies armed and mounted. From this period the convent acquired
the privilege of retaining its temporalities during vacancies
in the abbacy. This was affected by purchase from Edward II. at
a cost of £200, and upon condition of future payments of £160 to
the crown at each successive vacancy. Abbot Brokehampton, after
a prosperous abbacy of thirty-four years, which he seems chiefly
to have passed in enriching his monastery, died on the 15th of September, 1316.
As Thou art so was I. As I am so shalt Thou be.
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