Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Exercise: Digging Band of Brothers

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

UPDATE June 2019 – photos from the Dig by Harvey Mills, ARPS

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

‘Extraordinary Whirlwind’ & Last Word from Miss Foster

weather aldbourne 1863 whirlwind

Cutting at Wiltshire Museum

A century after the hurricane that ‘blew so hard at North’ this report appeared in August 1863.  The article was collected into Rev E H Goddard’s scrapbooks and can be found in the library at the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes (along with many, many other fascinating snippets about the village!).  I’ve seen another item about a lady who was carried some distance by a strong wind under her skirts (!).  I’ll track it down again eventually ….  In the meantime, I’ll leave the weather for today with a final word from Miss Foster; taken from Tony Gilligan’s Parish News December 1985.  A copy of the ‘Fisherman’s Diary’ referred to can be found in the Aldbourne Heritage Centre (open Easter – September and by request); drop them a line if you’d like to know more.

parish news aldbourne december 1985 muriel foster weather

Parish News December 1985

Aldbourne Tradition Revived: The Mummers Are Back!

mummers return 131218

It was great to find out why the December gathering of the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group was entitled ‘Mum’s the Word’ and witness the performance of a Mummers Play.  I have heard a rumour that the Mummers will return again at the Blue Boar this Twelfth Night, thus participating in an ancient celebration.

Some sources suggest that the idea of ‘keeping mum’ comes from the old English word ‘mum’ meaning to remain silent – hence ‘mumming’; but since there’s very little peace and quiet associated with the Mummers I’ve met, I’ve always wondered if an alternative explanation holds true.  You’ve got the Greek word “Mommo”, meaning a mask, to consider.  Since the plays when spoken tended to include local references and gibes, it’s possible that the tradition of blacking the face, or wearing a mask, to avoid recognition (and retribution!) has it’s origin there.  Who knows?  Whatever the derivation it’s all jolly good fun!  Maybe I’ll find time to have a really good chat to some Mummers I know and do further research before next year.  A good starting point is the library and archive at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes and in the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine. Warning: the Rev Goddard’s notes are addictive – fascinating stuff; loved the reference to ‘up goes the donkey’ which was a topic for Twittering during the Terry Pratchett Exhibition at Salisbury Museum last year – but that’s another story …

 

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The only reference I’ve personally found to Mumming in Aldbourne comes in part from Ida Gandy, chapter 3 of The Heart of a Village mentions William Walters, who in ‘his early days played in a band of village mummers’.  I think this was a mistaken name since a newspaper account from 1933 carries the same words, and relates to William Walker.  Thanks to Hannah White-Overton, William’s great-grandaughter, I am able to include a copy of the newspaper cutting below.

 

waes hael to all and sundry on Twelfth Night and for 2019

Early Call from Aldbourne Band

Band on Church

Aldbourne Band were out and about this morning, following their time honoured tradition to herald Christmas Day.  For those of us who partake of social media, it was fun to watch the comments appearing as the group of stalwart players made progress through the streets and of course to hear the soft notes (we’re not near a streetlamp these days) of ‘Silent Night’.

Read the account of a ‘new American friend’ who visited the village in 1985 to explore the custom (with thanks to Graham Smith for the copy of the article).  Brass Caroling with Aldbourne Band – Douglas Smith (pdf opens in new window).  For lots more information, please visit Aldbourne Band – A History by Graham Palmer on the Aldbourne Heritage Centre website – particularly chapter 13, Christians Awake!

Perhaps shy of being in Bethlehem itself the experience of responding to the musical strains of ‘O Come, Let us Adore him, Christ the Lord,’ played beautifully from atop the church tower on that snowy Christmas morning, will linger in my memory as no other. The band did not sing, they did not have to.  Their playing, the dedication which motivated it, said to their American observer everything that needed to be said about the good news of Christmas.

Dr Douglas Smith, professor of church music at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, writing for the British Notebook in The Church Musician September 1985

 

Aldbourne Oral History Project 2007

Autumn in the Square, Aldbourne

The Aldbourne Oral History Project contains accounts from many contributors sharing their memories of events and life in this Wiltshire village (prior to 1953).

Two cds were published in 2007 by David Lee, supported by the Oral History Project Group, on behalf of the Trustees of the Aldbourne Memorial Hall, Oxford Street, Aldbourne, Wiltshire. This undertaking would not have been possible without the personal support of many members of the community and the financial support given by village organisations, businesses and individuals.

The “Complete Highlights” contains the accounts from 44 contributors and was designed to be played on a computer; the “Edited Highlights” contains 36 accounts and was designed specifically for audio playback on a cd player. This enabled the project to be distributed to the widest possible audience. Copies of the CDs are still available to buy from the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group. The sound files have also been published on the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group website. www.aldbourneheritage.org.uk

Aldbourne Remembers: Armistice 100

Our village is moving towards a weekend of commemoration and the culmination of months, in some cases years, of hard work by individuals and groups alike.  Stunning displays of poppies have appeared on St Michael’s Church and the Green (thanks to Lorraine Kimber for the photos below).  There will be a concert with Aldbourne Band and the Community Choir on Friday evening 9 November; exhibitions on both days but sadly, due to poor ticket sales, the celebratory dance on Saturday 10 November has been cancelled.

Click on the posters above for a nice clear view of all the information you need!

The United Remembrance Service will take place at the Memorial Hall from 10.45am on Sunday morning, 11 November.  See www.whittonteam.org.uk.  St Michael’s Church bells will ring prior to the service and again at 12.30pm, for the national event Ringing Remembers. There’s one amendment to the poster above: the bells won’t be ringing again on Sunday evening at 7.05pm – if that changes, I’ll update this post.

I’m contributing to the exhibition in the Memorial Hall on Saturday 10 November and Sunday 11 November, joining Phil Comley with his collection of WW1 artefacts, photographs and stories from Aldbourne.  Phil will also be giving illustrated talks during the weekend.  I’ll be bringing along photos from the opening of the Memorial Hall in 1922 and the 90th Anniversary in 2012.  I’m also hoping to bring along some of the information I’ve gathered by using social media  – the Aldbourne Archive on Facebook has produced some surprises over the past few years.  I’ve also had some chance encounters with visitors to the village looking up their relatives; it’s amazing who you bump into whilst walking a dog!

Phil’s talks will be at 11am & 3pm on Saturday 10 November and 3pm on Sunday 11 November.  Afternoon refreshments will be served in the Memorial Hall, including Trench Cake and Anzac Biscuits. (Personally, I’m very much looking forward to sitting down with a cuppa and biscuit – huge heart-felt thank you in advance to the refreshment team!).

The Aldbourne Community Heritage Group have an exhibition in the Methodist Church Hall  with static displays and unveiling their new interactive digital displays which will showcase: The Aldbourne Roll of Honour, Aldbourne in the First World War and After, Stories of Aldbourne Men and their Families.

Exhibitions at both venues:  10am – 4pm Saturday 10 November & 2pm – 5pm Sunday 11 November. Admission free.

Aldbourne Memorial Hall Committee have received support from donations from within our community, Aldbourne Parish Council and a grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.  This grant under the Armistice and Armed Forces Communities programme has provided There But Not There silhouettes that will feature as an installation in the Memorial Hall over the weekend.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. For more information on the Armed Forces Covenant please visit www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk

John Veitch – Burnham & Aldbourne

During the past two decades I have been privileged to share many family memories.  One of the wonderful things about living in Aldbourne is that so many descendants still reside here.  Through the power of social media it is possible to reach further afield, and sometimes instantly overseas. I’ve also been fortunate to have the support of like-minded individuals and professional library, museum and archive staff who have taken considerable time and trouble to help me tell just a few of Aldbourne’s stories.

Years ago I was given an insight into the Brown and Veitch family history; first via the Aldbourne Community Website Forum and emailing Paul Brown and, then more recently by directly corresponding with John Brown, Paul’s father.  It was great to meet John this year for the first time at the Aldbourne Heritage Centre and chat about John’s father Clifford Brown – but that’s another story … Thanks to all of you for including me in the distribution of family photographs and this wonderful video and song.

For today, I’m thinking about one of the most evocative faces I’ve seen, a face that represents for me a haunting reflection of the generation of young men lost to their families in the 1914-1918 conflict.  This young man is John Veitch, remembered alongside his father on the Aldbourne War Memorial Hall and also commemorated in this beautiful song.  Watch. Listen. Remember.

John Veitch of Burnham-on-Crouch and Aldbourne in Wiltshire was my grandmother’s favourite older brother.  Beautiful and poignant new music written and performed by Mark Hickman and his son Ben which inspired our friend here in France to create the video.
(Paul Brown 11 November 2017)