Easter in Aldbourne

2019 – Photo Credits:
The deliberations of the Easter Bunny and Cross at the pond are from Alison Edmonds.
The glorious sun-rise from Four Barrows Track on Easter morning is from Ros Oswald.
The Duck Race – which was a slow, stately journey given the low water level – Jo Hutchings.

Egg Throwing on the Green 16 April 1990. Picture shows Lesley Smith winning the women’s event. Lesley tells me that the final group for the men’s event had to be moved to the school playing field; since they were running out of range on the Green. This brilliant event, which also included the revival of the Easter Bonnet Parade, was organised by Peter Ludlow and his team in aid of village charities.

A Maiden’s Blush: the first book of Roses

Eureka moment in the Rare Books Room at the British Library!  This post from the Gardens Trust https://thegardenstrust.blog popped into my in-box this morning; just as I was thinking about Ida Gandy and Miss Todd. No real connection with Aldbourne (as far as I can see) but such beautiful drawings that I just had to share! A very accomplished artist.

Also, in Heart of a Village (1975) Ida Gandy did mention that two plants were named after Emily Sophia Todd; one a variety of the Wood-cowwheat (Melampyrum sylvaticum), another a wild rose, Rosa Toddie.

An opportunity for more research, perhaps!

The Gardens Trust

detail of Rosa centifolia, the Bishop Rose

The British Library Rare Books room is not usually the place where people get over-excited, but occasionally there are Eureka moments. Sometimes they’re the result of long patient reference checking when you realise your original hypothesis is true, or ploughing through vast tomes for a good quote to prove a point or grab a reader’s attention and   sometimes they are simply serendipity. Today’s post is one such.

Rosa pendulina, or the Rose without thorns

Following a discussiion in one of the clkasses I teach, I had an idea for a worthy post on how and why women became widely involved in botany in the late 18thc and thought I’d call up a selection of books and magazines by women from the period to see if I could find anything interesting to write about.  They included a couple by an artist…

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Ida H’s story

Great surprise this morning, a tag on Twitter leading me to this article about a special lady who lived at ‘the heart of the village’ where she spent her final years. Interesting to read about her passion for education. The newspapers of the day feature many stories about the talks and courses held in the village by the Workers’ Educational Association. It is very interesting to read about Ida’s role as a pioneer in that organisation.

Thank you! The Women Who Made Me (opens in new tab)

The Women Who Made Me

A campaigner and activist for women’s education, and later a playwright and author, Ida H’s roots were very much in her beloved Wiltshire.

Born in the mid-1880s, she grew up in a village in the middle of the county, just outside Devizes, as one of seven children (including a set of twins) of the village vicar and his rather-unconventional wife. The fact that she was a vicar’s daughter means that her exact time of birth is recorded alongside her baptism. She later recounted tales of her not-particularly straight-laced Victorian childhood in a memoir. One of these involved the whole tribe of her siblings regularly running about the village bare-footed and exacting the ridicule of some passing gypsies. The gypsies’ reaction incensed their nurse so much that she insisted all the children return home and put on their Sunday best stockings and shoes, to be paraded in front of the travelling…

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Exercise: Digging Band of Brothers

Visiting Aldbourne with local experts and members of the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group in January 2019.

75 years after the 506th PIR, 101st Division, including Easy Co, dropped into Normandy, a team of military veterans, service personnel and volunteers from Operation Nightingale/Breaking Ground Heritage are examining the sites where the soldiers lived here in Wiltshire. 

This exercise is already well underway, the team having already undertaken a careful scrutiny of the Heritage Environment Register (Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre) and aerial photos at the Historic England archive; plus geophysics surveys in Ramsbury and Aldbourne. 

Richard Osgood, Senior Archaeologist at Defence Infrastructure Organisation, and his team would like to say a special ‘thank-you’ to Aldbourne Parish Council, landowners, local experts and the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group for their great support thus far on this project.

Operation Nightingale is an initiative from the MoD to help assist the recovery of injured soldiers by getting them involved in archaeological operations.

If you would like more information about Exercise: Digging Band of Brothers, Operation Nightingale/Breaking Ground Heritage or if you have village history to share about the American presence here in WW2 we’d love to hear from you.

Jo Hutchings aldbourne.archive@thedabchick.org.uk

Fact is Stranger Than Fiction

Aldbourne Parish News April 1979

On 1 April each year, the social media channels are packed with silly season articles and messages. A friend of mine commented that it’s the one day a year that users can almost be relied upon to digest information before accepting it as true. This year I particularly liked a story from the official Tower of London account; renaming the Raven Master ‘Pigeon Master’ in advance of a new exchange programme with the Trafalgar Square pigeons. ‘Latest News’ for Stonehenge and other archaeological sites appeared to such an extent that the Council for British Archaeology was moved to post:

Today our sympathies are with the archaeologists who uncover amazing finds and have to work really hard to convince colleagues and the public that they are genuine…

Some time ago, the late Trish Rushen and I were looking at Tony Gilligan’s Parish News and spotted this ‘Happenings of Yesteryear’ piece. I couldn’t believe the description of Pushball, and we suspected that it was Tony having a bit of fun (it was the April 1979 edition, after all!). However a few local enquiries proved otherwise. Pushball really was a thing in Aldbourne and further afield. There wasn’t a great deal of information, apart from Wiki, on the internet when we were researching the subject. However yesterday when I looked again more background to the sport in Aldbourne and further afield came to light. Here are some examples from the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group Website and MovieTone/Pathé

In 1923 a comic pushball match was held in the field behind Mt Pleasant and our [Aldbourne] band as always led the procession there, in aid of the hospital fund, this game involved the use of extremely large balls. A similar event in 1930 was well reported on and was a very humorous affair indeed. Band members dressed as ladies and village ladies dressed as men. Fred Jerram, the referee, dressed as a member of both sexes so as “to show impartiality”. Apparently the match consisted of the men frequently stopping in order to powder their noses or to issue complaints of “rough play” by the ladies as they were “clever with their handling of not only the ball but of the mens skirts as well”. Fred Barnes was advised to put a tuck into his skirt after expressing concern about his lower garments and the general consensus of opinion on both sides was that the ref should be reported to the football authorities for gross misconduct. The score? 11-5 to the ladies of course.

Chapter 7 Aldbourne Band – A History by Graham Palmer
http://aldbourneheritage.org.uk

How to be civil in a Civil War? Always have a lemon drizzle cake to hand…

During my association with archivists and curators, I have noticed a definite trend towards lemon drizzle as a favourite (and I’m always happy to join in!). It’s fabulous to read a blog with such a slice of good humour

Gloucestershire Archives

When was the last time you smacked your funny bone? That’s an unfair question really, as I can’t remember when I last did it. Maybe you did it last week though. Or yesterday. There might even be someone reading these words right now and they are just about to reach out for a cup of tea and – wallop – the sharp edge of a table or chair goes right into their elbow joint.

I could write anything now, as they won’t be reading this at all. They will be grabbing their elbow instead, which will be fizzing with pain. The pain will slowly grow and steadily move up their forearm and into their fingertips. It will feel as though their entire arm has been attacked by twenty crazed cheese graters. Their face will be screwed up in agony and they will be attempting to recite all of the known…

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West Street, Aldbourne (c 1906?)

Kate Collier West Street Aldbourne

I believe this photograph may have been taken around 1906. I have no idea who the photographer was or his reason for setting up his camera in front of the Aldbourne village shop on that particular day. However, this copy of an old sepia photograph has a special meaning to me, as it has captured a moment in my great grandmother’s life. As she stood in the doorway of her shop, watching her children and their playmates pose for the photographer, she could not have imagined that, over a hundred years later, her great granddaughter would be writing these words in the hope that someone in Aldbourne might remember something or someone that was there on that day.

My great grandparents, Arthur and Kate Collier, only stayed in the village for eighteen months. Two of their children went to school there, and were taught by a formidable lady who went by the name of Miss Grant. No doubt Eva and Sydney made friends there and were perhaps remembered by Aldbourne families, once they moved away.

I ‘interrogated’ my father for information about this chapter in his family’s life only to be told that he couldn’t remember much. Interestingly though, as he talked to me he began to recall things that his father had told him about life in Aldbourne, namely that Arthur used to ride his bicycle, with a large basket on the front, all the way to Swindon for the shop’s provisions!

I believe that my family were happy in Aldbourne and had fond memories of the time they lived there.

As I look at the photograph on my desk I ask myself, once again, what was my great grandmother thinking, why is the boy holding the chickens and, most importantly, how did the photographer manage to keep thirteen children in order long enough to snap the photo?

Sadly I shall never know what my great grandmother’s thoughts were, although she may have been weighing up the possibility of her daughter falling off of the pump before the photographer had completed his task. However, with regard to the chickens and the identity of the brave man behind the camera I appeal to the readers of this article for enlightenment.


Julia Connolly – via Aldbourne Net (2012)
Parish News August 1971 – which pinpoints 1909 as a possible date for the photo
Parish News Collier Aldbourne

As a follow up to the story, I found this ‘letter of the month’ published in Tony Gilligan’s Parish News – written by Sydney Collier.