Village Celebrations

Marcus Rouse

During the Festival of Archaeology it was my privilege to share memories about two of our village #HumansOfArchaeology, Andrew Sewell and Howard Gibbs.  Today seems an appropriate day to recall another gentleman in the village, who many will remember, and whose inexhaustible ingenuity supported many projects:  Marcus Rouse.

In the very earliest days of the ‘Aldbourne Archive’, Marcus was kind enough to offer much advice on photographing objects.  This included our original effort for 3D photography.  The Aldbourne Carnival Crown he made, commissioned by the Cheney family, was our very first project (2005).  Marcus explained the symbols in the metalwork.  Dabchicks, The Square, Bells, and the Cross on the Green, the coloured cord around the base of the metalwork represents the sallies or bell-ropes in the Church Tower.  Hours of fun with a turntable, DIY lighting and a VERY DIY background, and a PowerPoint followed.  I can remember long chats when we bumped into each other around the village, once Marcus was inspired by a project his enthusiasm knew no bounds! Much missed.

Marcus contributed a bell wheel for the exhibition in the Memorial Hall during the 2010 Festival.  He made a wooden cut-out of a bell, to show the relative size of bell and wheel.  He also brought along a bell clapper on wheels; so that small people could safely judge the weight.  As I said, a man of great ingenuity.

One of my prized possessions is an acrylic block shaped like a barn which Marcus presented as a memento of a barn dance celebrating my 40th. The year will remain a mystery!

For the first Aldbourne Festival in 1970, Marcus created a bell foundry on the Green.  There was a photograph of this in a fundraising calendar for 2001 and the Aldbourne Heritage Centre have one of his bells, and a model foundry, on display.  I hope to find time to search through pictures in the Aldbourne Photographic Club collection at the Heritage Centre to find a photo of the man himself.  There’s also a fleeting glimpse of the foundry in the film taken by Moya Dixon during the 1970 Festival

Moya Dixon (original cinefilm 1970. With thanks to Ron Morley and Sam Hutchings for their help digitising and publishing this lovely window on Aldbourne history.
Calendar (2001). One of several created by Maureen Albright as a fundraiser for St Michael’s Church, Aldbourne
Bell founded by Marcus Rouse at Aldbourne Heritage Centre
http://aldbourneheritage.org.uk

I’m putting together a collection of Dabchicks (if anyone has a spare number 39 – April 1997) that would be fab!  Today is an appropriate day to publish these reminiscences following this article by Marcus that I discovered whilst sorting through the collection.

Marcus Rouse Dabchick Magazine October 1996

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.

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

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

 

Tree Planting by the Pond 1937

We have two pink horse chestnuts by the Pond in Aldbourne, one dates from 1935 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of George V, and another sapling was ceremoniously planted in 1937 to mark the coronation of George VI.  Sadly, the later tree didn’t thrive and has been replaced at least once in the intervening years.

I remember Wally Palmer telling me about the trees by the Bus Shelter and Pond House, planted for two Kings.   The tree by Pond House may have died and been replaced in 1938; however, if you take a look at the BBC film Village in the Downs (1967) there’s some great footage of Wilf Jerram chatting to Desmond Hawkins.  The tree in the film certainly doesn’t look that old so perhaps the smaller horse chestnut we have now was planted in the 1950s or 1960s.

Looking back to 1937, the two oldest children at the village school wielded the spades and then went on to enjoy the sports.  Beryl Perrett did particularly well, placing second in the Girls under 14 race.  Many thanks to John Brown for confirming the location of the Coronation Field in 1937, and for sharing his recollections of a very good tea,

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Beating the Boundaries

An auspicious day for starting a new venture –  the happy band for the 50th Beating of the Bounds since the custom was revived in 1964 has set out on their journey.

So I’m facing my own challenge today:  ‘Beating the Blog’!

There are bits and pieces of the Aldbourne Archive all over the place: Facebook, Twitter  Flickr and the Aldbourne Forum

The village website is Aldbourne Net

I’m going to try to use this blog to take the Aldbourne Archive into the future; we’ll see!

Photo © Alistair Greener 2013

Alistair Greener 2013