Thomas Fairchild 1667 – 1729

19 May 2022 update: I’ve been tidying up my notes today, and have completely forgotten how to re-blog on WordPress. If you want to know more about the Ingenious Mr Fairchild, who was born in Aldbourne, a really good reference is the Gardens Trust blog. Both articles were published in June 2017.

https://thegardenstrust.blog/2017/06/03/thomas-fairchild and https://thegardenstrust.blog/2017/06/17/the-vegetable-sermon

9 June 2019 update – editing my notes about Thomas Fairchild on the anniversary of his baptism in Aldbourne 352 years ago. The Wellcome Collection : The wisdom of God in the vegetable creation. A sermon preach’d in the parish-church of St. Leonard Shoreditch, on Whitson-Tuesday, May 19, 1730. At the first opening of an annual lecture on that subject, founded by Mr. Thomas Fairchild – Denne, John, 1693-1767 Date 1730 https://wellcomecollection.org/works/tnpdku9g/items?sierraId=b30374777&langCode=eng†

Portrait of Thomas Fairchild (unknown artist) Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford
https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/thomas-fairchild-c-16671729-220972

November 2018: Aldbourne Community Heritage Group – ‘who lived in Aldbourne‘. An excellent presentation by Jan Lambourn, exploring Mr Fairchild’s ingenuity and curiosity.

June 2017: https://thegardenstrust.blog/2017/06/03/thomas-fairchild and https://thegardenstrust.blog/2017/06/17/the-vegetable-sermon

Walrond Family Ancient and Modern

Walrond Memorial in St Michael’s Church, Aldbourne (2022)

I have photographed the Walrond Brothers, Edward and William, many times. Usually at Harvest Festival when their inscriptions are obscured by vegetables and flowers. Or at Christmas when the knitted Nativity figures progress along that handy flat surface. I’ve not yet closely studied their ancient family history, or the connection with the other large memorial inside the church: that of the Goddard family. However, there is this fascinating article on the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group website – Aldbourne Chase Disputes

Last weekend, my friend Peter kindly emailed me this photo of a Walrond family plot in Brighton (having spotted the Aldbourne connection) and it was time for me to start to investigate the family tree. Starting with Robert and Clara Walrond, together with their sons Robert Dudley (b1879) and Francis Hiller (b1882).

With thanks to Peter Turvey who spotted this grave at the Brighton (Woodvale) Cemetery (2022)

Robert and Clara were married in 1873. They had three daughters (Ethel, Hilda, Lilian) then eldest son Robert Dudley. The newly widowed Clara was living with Lilian and her family at the time of the census in 1911.

Robert and Clara’s youngest son Francis died at home of wounds on 15 August 1916. Francis is also buried at Woodvale, Brighton.

Robert Dudley Walrond married Hilda Dorothy Blundstone on 19 June 1909. It looks as though they had three children: Robert Edwin (1910), Karen Dorothy (?) (1912) and William Eric (1915). Robert Edwin Walrond returned to England from Buenos Aires in 1932, giving his address as ‘Aldbourne, Bramcote Road, Putney, SW’. It seems likely that Robert Edwin was returning from his family property in the Argentine.

Article about the late John Fisher – Dabchick April 1993

Robert Dudley Walrond died in 1954, and his funeral took place in St Michael’s Church, Aldbourne. In the Parish Newsletter (July 1954) Robert is described as “the head of the last remaining family descended from that ancient Wiltshire family that included Edward and William, who lived during the reign of Elizabeth I”.

1954 Aldbourne Parish Newsletter – with thanks to Aldbourne Community Heritage Group

Robert Edwin Walrond continued as a benefactor of St Michael’s Church, and was mentioned several times in newsletters until the announcement of his burial (ashes) appeared in April 1965. The family tomb in the churchyard bears the names of Robert Dudley, Robert Edwin, William Eric and his wife Rosemary (nee Larcom), Karen Duras (nee Walrond) and Karen’s only son, Peter.

Aldbourne Churchyard 2022

Fundraising for the Aldbourne War Memorial Hall – Past, Present & Future

Aldbourne War Memorial Hall Account Book

Aldbourne’s aim from 1917 onwards was to build a hall in remembrance of the lives lost in the Great War, and also ‘fitted in every way for public meetings, with arrangements for concerts and theatricals – a building which all hoped would be a real and lasting centre for community life and interest in the village’ (North Wilts Herald 2 May 1919/British Newspaper Archive).

I think those long ago fundraisers would have enjoyed the idea of a Duck Race.

The present-day Memorial Hall Committee invites everyone to enjoy the very welcome return of the Easter Extravaganza on Saturday 16 April 2022.  On the Green if fine, in the Hall if not. The Ducks will race again!

 Our Memorial Hall is still ‘fitted in every way’ to cater for public meetings, concerts, theatricals, Yoga, Lunch Club, hire for parties and wedding receptions – the list is seemingly endless. 

My focus for this month is fundraising; both by the groups who book the hall and for and on behalf of the Hall itself.  A quick study of the history surrounding the early days of the campaign in 1917 and how funds were raised, shows the great ingenuity of the population of Aldbourne.  Bearing in mind that this was during a time when the countryside was still recovering from the effects of the Great War, and many families were suffering great hardship; their menfolk being dead, injured or enduring incapacitating illnesses of the body or mind.

One report from March 1919 relates that on one day concerts were held in the afternoon and evening at the schoolroom; followed at the weekend by a dinner for the Aldbourne lads who had been on active service.  At the same time as raising funds to create a memorial for the fallen, our village was also looking after those who had returned.  It is also interesting to see that Aldbourne Band “resuscitated after four years .. received a cordial welcome”.  Speeches were made, bravery was acknowledged and by the close of proceedings the sum of £15 was handed over to the scheme for which Aldbourne people were working so heartily.

Jumping forward to 1928, a kitchen was added to the Hall and declared open by Miss Evelyn Fox from the Old Rectory.  The newspaper of the day lists all the festivities arranged to celebrate the opening, with generous prizes awarded for a ‘Knock-out Whist Tournament”, parcel tying and a balloon race.  More music, this time from piano, banjo and violin.  At the end of the day another £13 5s was raised for the kitchen fund.

Whist Evenings seem to have been a real attraction and have raised considerable funds over the decades, both for the Hall itself and for village organisations.  In December 1932 no less than 42 tables were occupied for an evening aimed at reducing the debt on the Hall.  A fine turkey was won by the highest scorer, Mr R Hutchins.

So successful was the fundraising that by October 1935 after a year of hard work and several particularly generous donations, the treasurer Major Ingpen was able to announce that the Hall was, for the first time, free of debt.

With thanks to Alison Delorie for helping to collate the information for this article. Also thanks to Alan Heasman and the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group for sharing their encyclopaedic collection of newspaper articles and Parish Magazines.

Originally published in the April 2022 Dabchick Magazine

Eleanor Maud Cheramy (nee Hawkins) 1906 – 1987

RAF Odiham – on our visit 2015
Parish News April 1976

The portrait is signed ‘M E Wilson’, and I have been wondering if the artist could be Margaret Evangeline Wilson (1890 -1977). The Art UK website has a number of paintings by this artist; including some portraits. I am also wondering if it is the same portrait of Eleanor Maud Cheramy described in the February 1974 Aldbourne Parish News:

Your readers might like to know that Madame Cheramy’s portrait, showing her wearing her war decorations, was painted by a famous artist in 1963. It was hung in the Grande Palais (Academie Royale) in Paris, where it was awarded the Gold Medal, the Top Award.

L.M. Gillingham, Dorset December 1973

Eleanor Maud Cheramy nee Hawkins was the subject of a run of articles and shared memories in the Parish News during the early 1970s. She and her husband, Eugene Charles Cheramy, are mentioned often in books and articles describing the Pat O’Leary Line and the French Resistance during the Second World War. An inspiring woman, who overcame great hardship and injury to return to Britain and live quietly by the sea in Southern England. She died in 1987 and it is believed her ashes returned to France with her son, Michel, who died in 1990. It has been my privilege to chat with Susan Hook (nee Hawkins), a third cousin twice removed of this courageous Dabchick. Sue came to visit the Aldbourne Heritage Centre in 2018 and has conducted a huge amount of research which she has been kind enough to share.

Parish News October 1973

A Mystery Postcard – Aldbourne Carnival?

1909 postmarked postcard Wiltshire Museum – Wiltshire Life Society AVGB GBP367

This mystery began (for me) in July 2014 in the library at the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. One of my colleagues showed me this photograph of a young person with a decorated bicycle. The photograph is a laminated reproduction, part of the Wiltshire Life Society collection.

We spent some time trying to track down more information, to no avail.

In October 2014, the curator of the Aldbourne Heritage Centre confirmed that a similar copy photograph was part of the village collection.

The Millennium Book of Aldbourne has a note about the origin of Aldbourne Carnival and mentions a parade of decorated bicycles in 1905. So it is possible that this photo is therefore one of the earliest showing an entry for the village carnival. In fact, the image was used to promote the 100th Aldbourne Carnival in 2015. It has remained in my Aldbourne Archive as a mystery to be solved ‘one day’.

Last year an original postcard appeared on eBay and is now with local historian Graham Palmer. It was a fantastic find!

There are still mysteries to be solved. Who were Miss Annie Cox, Lizzie W and Harry?

Any and all suggestions welcome!

Carnival Postcard Mystery Solved

DZSWS:AVBGB.GBP367
Photograph, carnival costume including a decorated bicycle, Aldbourne, Wiltshire, 1909, an image from the Wiltshire Life Society collection.

The discovery of this photo is one of my happiest memories from early days of volunteering at the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes. My fellow volunteers often found items relating to Aldbourne and, knowing my interest, called me over to have a look. This laminated photo was part of the Wiltshire Life Society Collection and formerly part of a display at Avebury. No clues as to the location of the picture, or identity of the young person. Just a date: 1909.

Fast forward our village preparations for the 100th Renewal of Aldbourne Carnival in 2015. A copy of the same photo was found in the collection at Aldbourne Heritage Centre. I carried a copy of the photo with me and showed it to more or less everyone I met, trying to find out if it rang a bell from any family album. It went into the local paper, and even got a mention on BBC Wiltshire.

From memory, there’s a snippet in the Millennium Book of Aldbourne that acknowledges research that carnival in Aldbourne in its present form can be dated back to 1915; whereas, with decorated bicycles (like Pewsey) a slightly earlier date of 1905 was mentioned. If only there was some way to be sure that the note ‘postemark 1909’ was accurate.

Roll forward again to October 2020 and eBay (almost ten years to the month that I first met our young friend with the decorated bicycle). There’s the Aldbourne postmark 1909, and now all we have to do is solve the mysteries arising from the card itself: who is ‘Lizzie W’, who is ‘Harry’ and who is ‘Miss Annie Cox’?

With thanks to Graham Palmer
With thanks to Graham Palmer

Edith Rosa Duce

Aldbourne Monuments Digital Record

Memorial stone in St Michael’s Churchyard with the engraving “Death is swallowed up in victory”. Edith was killed, aged 53, on 12 November 1940 in the Sloane Square tube bombing.

At the time of writing (April 2020) we aren’t sure why Edith is remembered in Aldbourne. Research will continue and hopefully by the time this scheduled post appears, a little more will be known about Edith and her connection to the village.

Yellow Flags with a Royal Connection?

By the pond, Aldbourne – May 2020

Look out in May for yellow iris around the pond in Aldbourne. They make a real splash of colour, together with the pink blossom of the horse-chestnut trees. This year at about the time they first appeared, I spotted a fascinating article by Karen Andrews (aka ‘Botany Karen’) setting out some other common names for this flower; including ‘Yellow Flags’. You can read Karen’s full article here. Karen connects to a 14th century tile in the Louvre, which reminded me of six tiles of a similar age found in Aldbourne and now in the British Museum. I’m not sure when these tiles were found, but it may have been sometime in the 19th century. There’s a mention of ‘medieval tiles’ as part of Mr Walter Lawrence’s collection, proudly displayed at the Crown to visiting members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in 1894. Possibly the first instance of a ‘pop-up’ Museum in the village. The six tiles found at the Court House were acquired by the British Museum in 1947, are just a tiny part of the huge collection belonging to the 9th Duke of Rutland (1886-1940). We’ll probably never know if Mr Lawrence discovered his tiles at the Court House, or if the newspaper article refers to other discoveries; or (if they were the Court House tiles) how they found their way to the Duke of Rutland. Dating tiles is a mystery to me. At least one of the six in London is listed as ‘made in Clarendon’; how do they know that? Mind you, I’ve seen an article that speaks of tiles from the mosaic at Littlecote House having been made at Minety, which is fascinating, but that’ll be another article for another day!

Devizes Gazette Cutting July 1894 in the library at Wiltshire Museum, Devizes

Returning to the Yellow Iris, or Fleur-de-Lys, there was an interesting display during 2018 at the Aldbourne Heritage Centre, researched by Warwick Hood and reproduced in part here with his very kind permission.

THE COURT HOUSE TILES

The four decorated floor tiles shown here are the best examples from six medieval tiles that were found in the garden of Court House. The six date from between about 1280 and 1412 and are now held by the British Museum.The tiles form part of the Rutland Collection, assembled by the 9th Duke of Rutland (1886-1940) and originally kept at his family seat, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.  The collection was sold to the British Museum in 1947 by his son, the 10th Duke.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Two of the six tiles date from before 1300, evidence that a substantial house or hall existed on the site at that time.  The pattern of one of the other tiles, dating from the 14th century, resembles a fleur-de-lys.  This was a prominent feature of the coat of arms of the Dukes of Lancaster in the 14th century, as can be seen in the tunics of Henry of Grosmont and John O’Gaunt, both pictured below

The Hall, the oldest part of the present house, has a fine fireplace into which have been carved a rose and a fleur-de-lys.  Both the Rose of Lancaster and the fleur-de-lys are closely linked with John of Gaunt. The presence of these carved symbols has therefore been cited as evidence for the link between John O’Gaunt and Court House.

The puzzle is that the fireplace dates from 100-200 years after John’s death in 1399! Maybe the symbols were added later to celebrate the earlier link with John?  Or perhaps they mark a later connection with the Crown, which held Aldbourne Manor for much of the Tudor and Stuart period up to 1627?  All of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs used the fleur-de-lys and the rose – by then the Union Rose combining the roses of Lancaster and York – as important symbols.

Warwick Hood

The yellow flags by the pond, and the fleur-de-lys have also made their way into the exquisite ‘Awborne Gospels’. a current illuminated manuscript project by Jenny Greaves, inspired by the beautiful works of Medieval scribes and artists.  The manuscript initially set out to present John Wycliffe’s fourteenth century translation of the Four Gospels into English – this unauthorised translation enabled Aldbourne’s Medieval residents to hear, for the first time, the Bible in their own language. The challenge of these “Awborne Gospels” is to illustrate each page with something to do with our village. As Jenny’s project progresses, the breadth and depth of our village’s history and culture are proving to be near infinite.

Copyright Jenny Greaves

With thanks to Karen, Warwick and Jenny

Digging for Britain (in Aldbourne!)

UPDATE: Site Excavation Report on the Band of Brothers dig 2019 by Operation Nightingale. A great effort by all the team, the villagers of Aldbourne and everyone sustaining the memories of those American lads who spent months living in rural England (PDF on Google Opens in new tab)

Operation Nightingale, in partnership with Breaking Ground Heritage, aims to use heritage based projects to promote physical and physiological well-being among those who are, or were, members of the armed forces.  It was my privilege to assist with their visit to our village in 2019.

Archaeology in Aldbourne with Operation Nightingale appeared on national television on Wednesday 11th December 2019, a WW2 special. (Still available on iPlayer as at March 2020).

Digging for Britain follows a rich variety of excavations working to unearth some of Britain’s most unusual and exciting finds.

Professor Alice Roberts follows a year of British archaeology, joining up the results of digs and investigations the length of the country.

Digging for Britain BBC Four

In Aldbourne, Wiltshire, the search is on for the most famous American unit of the US army, ‘Easy Company’, who were stationed there in 1943 and 1944. Archaeologists are particularly looking for any personal items of this renowned regiment to gain insight into their lives in the months and days leading up to the D-Day invasion.

Digging for Britain Wednesday 11 December 2019 9pm BBC Four

Before a shovel hit the turf back in May 2019, there were visits to Ramsbury and Aldbourne with Archaeological Surveys Ltd, research meetings at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre and prolonged scrutiny of aerial photos in the Historic England archive. Exercise Digging Band of Brothers gave locals the opportunity to work with professional archaeologists and service veterans.  It all came together with the excavation on the football field in May 2019. (See The Dabchick issue 173 August 2019 for a full report by John Dymond).

Richard Osgood, Senior Archaeologist at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (Archaeologist of the Year 2019) and his team would like to say a special thank-you to the people of Aldbourne.

The men of Easy Company, 506 PIR, 101 Airborne were given warm hospitality during their stay at Aldbourne in 1943-4 and this welcome continued 75 years later when an archaeological team of veterans sought to investigate the ‘Band of Brothers’ camp site on the sports pitches. In glorious weather the team looked for any trace of their American predecessors beneath the turf. And did they find anything? Well watch Digging for Britain on BBC Four on 11 December to find out (though safe to say that the excavation wouldn’t be on had it drawn a blank!). It was wonderful to welcome local villagers, schools, scouts, and the general public to site in that week and we really hope to return in 2020.

Richard Osgood November 2019

The Aldbourne Community Heritage Group have confirmed that the artefacts uncovered have been returned to the village and work is starting on their conservation.  All finds (including those shown on TV) will be on display in the Aldbourne Heritage Centre throughout the 2020 season. Find out more: http://aldbourneheritage.org.uk/band-brothers-finds-arrive

Some links for more information