Bygones Exhibition

An exhibition of bygones was staged in the old village hall in the 1970s. It was held after 1971, but I don’t know exactly which year. The village school had been converted to a village hall and opened in 1971, it was replaced in 1999 by the present village hall.

village hall from tower
The old village hall from the church tower

The following photos of the 1970s exhibition are a recent addition to the archive collection thanks to AS, who tells me that many of the items on display came from 98 Chitterne, the home of the Feltham family.

bygones exhib 1970s 1

Villagers and visitors at the exhibition in the main hall. The two gentlemen may be Philip Purle (leaning over) from the Village Shop and Brian Gorry of 29 Robin’s Rest. Could the lady in the bottom right corner be Joan Robertson of Glebe House? Winnie Spratt of 70 Bidden Lane by the window also appears in the next photo.

bygones exhib 1970s 4

Here she is on the right running the raffle with Nora Feltham of 98 Codford Road.

Various old costumes were on display.

bygones exhib 1970s 5

Containers and implements of all sorts.

bygones exhib 1970s 6

A sale of the Chitterne estate poster of 1815 and various editions of newspapers, photographs and journals.

AS tells me that some of the items were so precious that he slept in the hall overnight to protect them. I came to the village in 1976 and I don’t remember this exhibition being staged so it may have been between 1971 and 1976 when colour photography was in its infancy. The photos have that kind of hue from those days, compared with the first photo of the hall which was taken a lot later.

If you recognise anyone else on these please let me know, and if anyone can date the exhibition exactly it would be good to know. I can be contacted via the menu in the top right corner or on facebook.

Bygones Exhibition

Home Guard and Anti-Tank Gun

Chitterne Home Guard going through their paces on the 2 pounder Anti Tank gun

Amazing what you can find on the internet. GS spotted this photo and passed it on to his uncle in Chitterne who passed it to me saying, ‘I’m sure that’s Brook Cottage in the background.’

The photo was described as: ‘Chitterne Home Guard going through their paces on the 2 pounder Anti-Tank gun’, which looks like a publicity shot, but who are the men?

home guard

Here’s a photo of the Chitterne Home Guard outside Manor Farm, right next door to where the other photo might have been taken. Let’s give them names, left to right:

Top row: H Burton; Geoff Helps; John Patterson; Bert Bailey; Bert Diaper; Leslie Sheppard; George Gagen; Ernie Polden.

Second from top row: Les Mundy; Walt Herrington; Walt Ledbury; George Dowdell; John Lecocq; unknown; Don Wallis; Will Ashley; Alban Polden; Len Moore; Herbie Feltham; Bert Lush (not in uniform); Mr Fagg.

Third row: Fred Bowden (in flat cap); Rowland Pearce; Jack Beaumont; Douglas Piercy; George Diaper; Dickie Bailey; George Macey; ‘Pat’ Patterson; Burt Grant; Willie Ashley; William Poolman; Fred Feltham; Stan Waite; Frank Helps; Lewis Feltham; Frank Ashley.

Fourth row: Len Searchfield (seated on chair); Harry Sheppard; Percy Churchill; Cecil Windsor; Lewis Daniels; Sgt Blatch; unknown; William Limbrick (leader); Tom Limbrick; Mr Snelgrove; Ev Feltham; Jack Poolman; unknown; Bill Bartlett.

Front row: Cecil Saxby; Laurie Wallis; John George; Tony Bailey; Gerald Feltham; George Feltham; Billy Windsor; John Oakes; Gerald Polden; Bobby Gorry.

Could the man standing with arm outstretched behind the gun be William Limbrick, and the man squatting to the right of the case be his son Tom Limbrick?

 

Home Guard and Anti-Tank Gun

Villagers Photographed

We celebrated 20 years of Chitterne Village Hall here this summer with entertainment and a fantastic display of village history arranged by AC. My tatty collection of old photos provoked quite a bit of interest (I really must spend some time sorting and arranging them for public view), and as a result AS offered me this photo to add to it.

villagers 1999

It must have been taken from the top of the church tower. At first I thought maybe at the opening of the new hall in 1999, but on reflection the trees wouldn’t have had leaves in February, so now I don’t know. Does anyone know what the occasion was?

villagers enlarged
Here’s a slightly larger version

I could hazard a guess from the age of the children present. Some who look to be pre-school age are now adults so it must be at least 15 years ago. Villagers Fred and Kath Babey, Doris Windsor, Peter Heaton-Ellis, Geoff Francis, Geoff Parker and James Carter have passed away in the meantime, and the Jubilee Tree and red telephone box have since gone. So when was it?

Villagers Photographed

Street

street early 20th small

Here is another old photo from the early 1900s. It was taken when horses were still the main form of transport and farm work was still the main occupation in the village. In those days the locals called the road from the White Hart Inn to the Round House “Street”, the main street of old Chitterne St Mary.

Nowadays it has no name, which can lead to frustration when form-filling. Wiltshire Council planning lists it as “Unnamed road, Chitterne”.  On roadmaps it’s the B390.

On the left we have three farm cottages, numbers 1, 2 and 3 Oak Terrace. In 1911 Sarah Williams née Parsons (1841-1937), widow of Joseph Williams (1840-1903), lived in 3. Joseph had been a gardener to the Wallis family of farmers at The Manor. Next door in 2 lived his daughter Bertha (1872-1928) who was married to Leonard Searchfield (1872-1963), a painter and decorator. Bertha and Leonard had two sons, Leonard George Wickham (1895-1976) and Gordon Leslie (1896-1963). I am pretty sure that they, and one of their sons, are the people standing at the gate. The third cottage was uninhabited in 1911. Oak Terrace is now St Mary’s Lodge.

Beyond Oak Terrace we have thatched Ivy Cottage, now replaced by number 104, and beyond that are 1 and 2 Vicarage Cottages, later known as 105 and 106 Glebe Farm Cottages and now Dolphin House. Lastly, on the left side, is Tower House, now 109 Round House.

On the right of the photo is a house marked with a cross by the sender of the postcard. It was two unnamed dwellings in 1911, now it’s 107/108 Glebe House.

street 7-8-2019
‘Street’ today
Street

Peace Celebration Sale 1919

On the 3rd of May 1919 a sale in aid of the Peace Celebration Fund was held in Chitterne. A little book recording the sale was amongst the treasures discovered in Raymond Feltham’s house after his death. It gives a fascinating insight to village life 100 years ago.

Each of the 101 items donated for the sale is listed, alongside every buyer and what they paid. We would recognise many of the sale items such as the cakes, preserves, eggs, vegetables and books.  But rabbits, cockrells, barley meal, fowl’s corn, wings and tips and a boudoir cap? (The wings and tips went to Mr Hinton for 1s.6d and the cap went to Waddington and Dunn for 7s.)

Sidney Smith paid the most, £3 for a wagonette. Other items that caught my eye were: a flock mattress bought by Frank Polden for 6s, a model engine by Mr Brown for 12s, a pair of puttees by F Ashley for 1s.6d, a milk churn by Farmer Wallis for 17s, a wheelbarrow wheel by Farmer Collins for 5s.6d, a dog trough bought by Mr Daniels for 3s, a pony carriage by Mark Wallis for 12s.6d and a tricycle bought by Mr Shipham for £2.7s.6d. Altogether the sale raised £37.12s. for the Peace Fund.

Added to this total were subscriptions collected by the ladies of the village. Mrs Wallis and Miss Canner raised £22.15s.11d; Mrs Long and Miss Collins £33.6s.6d; Mrs H J Smith and Miss Feltham £14.13s.4d; Mrs S G Polden and Miss Robberts £1.9s; Miss Robberts also raised 6s.1d with a mystery box. Altogether £111.4s.4d was secured and signed off by chairman Frederick Wallis and treasurer Charles Collins on the 9th of May 1919.

memorial cross stonemason receipt
Bill for the War Memorial

The little book makes no mention of how the money was to be used for the Peace Celebration. The pages beyond the details of the sale are blank, but between them are two receipts pinned together concerning the War Memorial dated 1920. So perhaps that’s where the money was spent.

School c1919
Chitterne School c1919 with headmistress Florence Shayler on the left and assistant mistress Beryl Feltham on the right

Another possibility is the purchase of peace mugs and beakers for the village children. There is a photograph which shows the children after the presentation in 1919. At least one of the beakers has survived, and was kindly brought back to the village by DS some years ago.

ww1 mug

Peace Celebration Sale 1919

Passion for Nicknames

frank bailey
Pimple Bailey

 

I first heard of the village passion for nicknames from my mother who told me a tale about two good-looking footballer boys from Chitterne who regularly came to Warminster to play when she was a teenage football supporter. They were ‘Pont’ and ‘Pimp’ Bailey (this was the 1920s before ‘pimp’ had seedy connotations!) It wasn’t until I came to live in Chitterne that I found out that ‘Pont’ was short for ‘Ponton’ and ‘Pimp’ was short for ‘Pimple’ and that their real names were George (born 1896) and Frank (born 1904, killed in WW2). Frank was the youngest of the Bailey tribe hence the nickname ‘Pimple’ but I still have no clue where George Bailey’s nickname ‘Ponton’ came from.

george bailey
Ponton

 

The nicknames, for men only as far as I know, were so commonly used that sometimes the man’s original name was unknown, even by his children or his relatives, as in this story told to me by the late Raymond Poolman.

One day Ray was stopped by a stranger to the village who asked Ray if he knew where he might find Alfred Charles Poolman. Ray had no idea and replied: “Never heard of him.” But later discovered it was his own uncle, who, to all and sundry was known as ‘Bob’ and lived less than 100 yards away.

gunner poolman
Gunner Poolman

In another tale gleaned from the Poolman family, Anthony George Poolman (born 1925) always thought that his father was using a nickname when he called his wife ‘Minnie Matilda’. He said it was a shock when at her funeral the vicar intoned “Minnie Matilda Poolman” over her body, as he at last realised it was his mother’s real name. She was born Minnie Matilda Bachelor (1885-1968). Anthony’s father did have a nickname though, he was Harry ‘Gunner’ Poolman (1880-1971). I have no idea why ‘Gunner’, as he was a cowman, perhaps he was good shot.

This Anthony Poolman is not to be confused with another Anthony Poolman (1933-2000), who would ever be known as ‘Pip’ Poolman, thanks to a comment made by his grandmother. On seeing him for the first time she said: ” What a little Pip!”

The reason behind some of the nicknames is very clear, as in the case of Fred ‘Bammer’ Poolman, (1883-1969 below left), a good batsman; Ray ‘Tunnox’ Poolman (1933-2017), a well built chap; Burt ‘Chirpy’ Grant (1890-1966 below centre left), a cheerful character and George ‘Spriggy’ Dowdell (born 1899 below centre right), who was never still. Frank Maidment (1861-1952) had two nicknames depending on which hat he was wearing, ‘Crummy’ when a baker and ‘Daddy’ when a Baptist Preacher; Reg ‘Tippy’ Billet (1897-1965), the postman, wore large steel tips on his hobnailed boots and William ‘Tec’ Brown (1872-1941 below right) was a real Scotland Yard detective.

Some nicknames were almost cruel and you wonder if the men were actually called that to their face. Was Alfred ‘Crabby’ Burt (1885-1957 below centre), the blacksmith, really crabby? And Frederick ‘Duffy’ Paterson (1885-1952), the shepherd, a duffer? And what prompted Hubert ‘Starchy’ Burton’s (1908-1995 below right) nickname?

Other names echoed the surname, Walter Henry ‘Sugary’ Sweet (1878-1918), or John ‘Chippy’ Oakes (above left) for instance, but some didn’t, ‘Snowy’ wasn’t called White, he was Charles Gordon Goodenough!

If any blog-readers know of more Chitterne nicknames, I would be glad to hear of them. I can be contacted via ‘Contact’ on the menu in the top right corner of this page.

Passion for Nicknames

Maria Cockrell Part 12: Maria in the Channel Islands and Normandy

At Whitsun in June 1878 Maria went home to see her family in Chitterne and Imber. In Chitterne in those days Whitsun was the big summer festival of the year and everyone would be on holiday from work for a day to celebrate with music, dancing and other amusements. No doubt Maria’s son Jimmy would have been playing in the Chitterne Brass Band.

A week later Maria is aboard the Hamilton family’s favourite Yacht Diana. She writes to Jimmy on the 16th June 1878 from aboard the yacht anchored in Portland Bay, Dorset:

Here we are in the midst of the Channel Fleet. They left Spithead on Friday last. We left Portsmouth Harbour about ½ past 12 on Saturday and anchored at ½ past 9 in the evening, a splendid run of 60 miles. It has been a lovely day here and we hope to leave tomorrow morning, if all is well for Guernsey, on our way to Jersey.

You would be much interested if you were here, as there are 9 ships of the line and four or five turret ships and some Gun Boats and a training ship. I should think such a fleet of heavy armour was never seen in Portland before.

I suppose all your Whitsuntiding is over now and you are settling down to work in good earnest.

channel islands map

She writes to Jimmy again on the 20th June from the yacht anchored in St Malo Bay, France:

We left Guernsey last Monday and went to Jersey, but the heat! I never felt any thing like it, not even in Italy. We had a splendid sail across and lay in the Harbour close to the Pier, which was not at all pleasant, there being so many Steamboats constantly loading with the produce of Jersey, one going every day to Covent Garden in London.

I am so glad you have got your Pig and hope it will do well and that you will always be able to get one. I am glad you go to see poor George Feltham (died aged 22 years in June 1878), and what a comfort he is ready to go. May we all be ready when the time shall come.

Many villagers at the time kept a pig or two to provide them with bacon and pork. Jimmy was no exception. He was a member of the Pig Club from 1891 until 1928 when it folded. For more on this see my blog Chitterne Pig Club.

Maria describes Guernsey to her mother in a letter dated 21st June:

guernsey coin
Guernsey 8 Doubles coin

We left Portland last Monday and were rolling about all night in a dead calm and a heavy swell, but a little breeze sprung up and we arrived quite safe on Tuesday afternoon. This is the most lovely place I have seen out of Italy, a sort of half French half English place. They have a different coinage to ours, a penny is called 8 doubles and they call the Queen the Duchess of Guernsey. But such Fruit, Flowers and Vegetables! Geraniums grow like Nettles and Fuchsias every where and such Roses! Mrs Hamilton hired a Carriage and Pair and took the Captain and I a beautiful drive yesterday. I do like seeing new places. The sky and water are intensely blue, and there is plenty of Fish. The town itself (St Peter Port) reminds me of Dieppe in France.

Maria wrote again to her mother from Yacht Diana anchored at Portsmouth on 11th July 1878. Meantime the yacht had sailed the party to France as Maria explains:

I have enjoyed my trip to France very much. We went to Cherbourg from St Malo, had a splendid sail. At Cherbourg we were most hospitably entertained at the English Consulate. Very nice people, distant relations of the Lapgary (?) Hamiltons. On Monday we left Cherbourg about 20 minutes past ten and anchored in Portsmouth harbour at quarter past 6. The dear little “Diana” just flew over the waves, sometimes going 12 knots or 12 miles an hour. It was glorious, although the decks were one sheet of water, as going so swiftly made her throw the spray proudly over her. We passed closer to the “Eurydice” than I have ever been before, and I must confess, going at such speed at such a place made me feel a little nervous. I fear here is not much hope of her ever being raised.

HMS_Eurydice
HMS Eurydice sinking 1878 from the Illustrated London News

HMS Eurydice was a 26-gun Royal Navy corvette, the victim of one of Britain’s worst peacetime naval disasters when she sank on 24th March 1878 off the Isle of Wight. The wreck was refloated later that same year but had been so badly damaged during her submersion that she was then subsequently broken up. So it appears that Maria saw the ship during the short time after it had been raised but before it was salvaged and broken up that same year. This enabled us to accurately date the year of these letters of Maria’s to 1878. As usual she hadn’t bothered to add a year.

normandy headress
Headdress of Normandy, France

Maria goes on:

I wish you could see how quaint and funny the people dress in the part of France where we have been. The maidens about 14 wear close fitting muslin caps and the married women thick muslin caps without Borders, the crowns about a foot high. I should think they must be starched and then dried in a shape. And short petticoats of course. No Bonnets either to Church or Market, and all wear wooden shoes, the toes pointed and curled up, but very clean looking. So you see, they are not like us, change the dress with every Breath of Fashion.

I hope you will be able to read this, but I am writing on deck and the wind seems very much inclined to toss it to the waves for a plaything.

I don’t know where we are bound to next, but I think towards Scotland, calling at most of the ports on our way. I expect we shall be here for some days.

Maria Cockrell Part 12: Maria in the Channel Islands and Normandy