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).
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 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.
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”.
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’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
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.
If you partake of Facebook, you may like to visit the Aldbourne WI Group. I was browsing recently and followed up an announcement there about the Resolution Selection Results for 2022.
Women and Girls with ASD & ADHD – under-identified, under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed, under-supported
Women and girls presenting with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are going undiagnosed. The NFWI calls on the government and funding bodies to fund research into the female presentation of ASD and ADHD, and for action to be taken to improve the diagnosis process for women and girls, to ensure that they are equipped to better manage these conditions and do not suffer in silence. The NFWI further calls on WI members to raise awareness within their WIs of the issues facing women and girls with ASD and ADHD.
The Women’s Institute is democratic and member-led, and the resolutions process is unique in putting members at the heart of decisions about our campaign activity. Every issue that we campaign on stems directly from a resolution put forward by members and adopted at the Annual Meeting. WI members have a unique opportunity to turn a concern into a national campaign every year, backed by the whole of the WI.
A resolution is a call for change on a current issue in society. Once a resolution has been adopted at the Annual Meeting, the Public Affairs Department turns it into a campaign. Through national and local campaigning, members play a key role in achieving change on important issues.
Honor Liddiard (writing for the Parish News in 1968) recalled that “The WI was formed here in 1918 … On reflection, I think I was the first delegate to go to London from Aldbourne. I was chosen one summer day at Upham House, where we were being entertained by Lady Currie. The meeting I attended was not in the Albert Hall, but at Central Hall Westminster. Reporting on the meeting to our own WI, it may have been nearly fifty years ago, but I was just as nervous as I am speaking today.”
Ending with a final note about the Women’s Institute and Resolutions, this newspaper cutting reports on a WI meeting in 1937 when members spoke on the resolutions put forward in that year. Click here to read the WI Centenary report published in 2018. Additionally, this document lists all NFWI Mandates from 1918 to 2021.
A search through the Aldbourne Archive this morning, in praise of PIES in all their glory – some more palatable to modern tastes than others. I’ll start with some more modern recipes and end with two definite ‘dishes of necessity’ that sustained desperate folk in desperate times, in days of yore. The thought is never far from my mind that we are fortunate to be able to make food choices for ourselves and families.
Recipe reminiscences gathered by the Aldbourne Oral History Project (2006)
Wartime memories – the Americans gave large tins of pineapple. Mother made pineapple pie.
I remember my oldest sister making a banana pie, and she had got some banana essence and some parsnips and somehow mixed them up, mixed them up together to make it seem like it was a banana pie. How that worked I don’t know, but I know she did it.
Delicious recipes and pie pastry hints, taken from ‘Do Me a Flavour’ published in 1986 by the Aldbourne WI
I have seen mention of Rook Pie, very definitely a ‘dish of necessity’ and possibly the source of the nursery rhyme’s infamous ‘four and twenty black birds’. Necessity turned to sport for the gentry during the 19th Century and Mrs Beeton’s recipe was published as late as 1936. I did some research with Mr Google, but it made me feel faintly queasy; so Dear Reader – I’ll leave you to your own devices on that one. I’m with the black bird that went in for sinus surgery, quite frankly I’m not surprised rooks took every opportunity for vengeance. Although, part of me wishes the visitation took place in the parlour or counting house, rather than the maid in the garden. (And thanks to Jenny Wren, well known plastic surgeon).
Over 100 years ago the village worked together to honour the memory of those lost in the Great War, and those who died following injury or illness.
At the same time, the aim was very much to provide a room ‘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). After due deliberation and a review of the money raised, the Memorial Hall Committee accepted the tender of Messrs Moulding Bros. The sum of £1,000 was in hand from the fundraising that began in 1917; the cost of building had fallen, and the successful tender was for £1,200. The contract was signed on 13th December 1921.
By 9th January 1922 it was decided that the names should be outside the Hall and suitable stones were on order. Miss Todd of Hampstead Cottage proposed that the list of names in Church (unveiled in March 1920) should be inscribed and ‘those who had died since’ also included. The building committee were authorised to arrange for a foundation laying ceremony when the right time arrived. It must have been such a relief that the long years of loss and huge efforts for raising funds were finally moving towards that common aim: community remembrance and a venue for people to gather.
With the festive season just over, is it too soon to write about food?
The Senior Citizen’s Christmas Dinner (then known as ‘The Old People’s Tea) moved into the Memorial Hall during the 1920s, has endured since, and took place again in 2022, with great success. Well done to all concerned!
When war came again, the Hall was requisitioned for use by the troops billeted in the village from October 1939. There was a Canteen Manager, Chef, Barman and Vegetable Cook; it certainly seems that the troops were very well fed and watered!
American veterans returned in June 1974, and by their special request sat down to lunch with Fish & Chips in the Memorial Hall. In 1994 the Parish Council hosted the Troop Carrier Veterans’ Association with tea and scones for the presentation of a commemorative plaque to the 436th that operated from Membury. In 2015 villagers and visitors alike dined on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, organised by the Aldbourne Community Heritage Group and a tour group from the World War II Museum in New Orleans. Photos can be found on the Aldbourne Village Gallery https://www.flickr.com/photos/aldbournevillagegallery/albums/72157651910392603
How many of us in the present day have attended community events in the Hall, or hope to in the future? There have been a full range of refreshments, from comfortable chats with tea and biscuits to themed concerts with three course meals. Luncheon Club, Soup & Puddings, Barn Dances and Quiz Night Suppers, Scouts and Guides pop-up cafés and that great favourite, Big Breakfasts. The Memorial Hall is now fully open for all activities – for more information or to book, please visit https://wvha.org.uk/listing/aldbourne-memorial-hall/
Originally published in the February 2022 Dabchick Magazine
If anyone has memories (or photos) to share from past events, please get in touch. We are looking forward to writing more articles, and plans are afoot for events and exhibitions to mark this anniversary year (with tea and cake of course!).
I have vivid memories of the Summer of 1976 in Wiltshire, although we weren’t in Aldbourne back then so I didn’t get to see this great carnival float in person. (Who made it, can anyone remember?). A summer of long sunny days, stand-pipes, followed by rain at the end of August on my sister’s wedding day. Then a visit to the Lake District and seeing half empty reservoirs.
Drought is a Killer, Everyone knows, but with this up the garden everything grows.
“Let the Flowers Die” – says Denis Howell (Minister for Drought August 1976)
During research into the village during WW2 I’ve run across the sterling work by the Red Cross hospital supplies depot in Aldbourne. According to the North Wilts Herald (16 August 1940) ‘the credit for its origin must be given to Mrs Ruth Rogers, its energetic secretary, assisted by many ladies interested in Red Cross work, and to Mrs Varvill, who kindly placed her house at the disposal of the organisers’. So I looked up Mrs Maude Varvill on the 1939 Register to see where she lived (Castle Barn, Castle Street), and then noticed that Ruth Rogers was her neighbour at Half Moon – personal occupation given as ‘Literary Agent, Writer’. Several cups of tea later I’d Googled Ruth Rogers and used the online newspapers via Find My Past (beware, very addictive!) to find out a little more about that lady.
Ruth Rogers wrote a long letter to the Ramsbury Rural District Council in March 1934, stating that she was unable to use her cottage at Aldbourne, because the well had gone dry and there was no other means of obtaining water in the village. Reference was made to ‘Medieval Conditions’ . Another letter, from a Mr W Durham of Aldbourne, indicated that he had to rely on the kindness of his neighbours. It was moved by Mr Hawkins (not sure if that would have been Oliver or Christopher?) ‘that the letters should be sent to Aldbourne Parish Council. There was a shortage of water there, and great inconvenience was being caused and he did not know what would happen if the dry weather continued for another fortnight. There were more than 200 wells in Aldbourne and every other one was dry at present.’ Reported in the North Wilts Herald 2 March 1934.
It’s raining again in Aldbourne this morning, after one beautiful sunny day yesterday – a (false?) harbinger of spring – with the Thames Water filtration unit on standby outside the library, muddy puddles everywhere and all eyes to the water table. (Not to mention will there be enough for a Duck Race this year as part of the Easter Extravaganza?).
But back in February 1934 it was a very different story. Mrs Phyllis Tobias (nee Bull) gave us a glimpse of the past in her letter to the Parish News in 1989.
Mr Cyril Barrett (Aldbourne Oral History Project 2006) shared his memories of Aldbourne when all the water came from wells, with no mains water in the villages at all. Cyril also recalled a visit by Oswald Mosely’s men, when the tanks arrived on a lorry, were filled up and taken up to Baydon – ‘they were in a sorry state up there for water’.
The local newspapers from the time are full of stories about Baydon, and the extent to which the villagers suffered during times of drought. I have found a fabulous resource in the back copies online of ‘Scene in Baydon’, the serialised history as told by the late R J Naish, JP.
The folk down at Aldbourne were willing helpers to their Baydon neighbours in times of drought. Water carts went to and fro in an arduous routine during such times, despite the fact that the ‘Dabchicks’ had, themselves, to husband their supplies. In times of extreme shortage both villages had to look to the kindly help of Chilton Foliat, which was always, mercifully, enriched by the clear waters of the Kennet.
A Baydon resident still recalls how he had been sent down to Aldbourne by his boss to fill a farm water cart with about 200 gallons. Having done this, with the kind permission of an Aldbourne farmer, he was preparing to leave when the fire alarm went. His load was quickly commandeered to put out a thatch fire in a Castle Street cottage, so he returned to Baydon empty.
The Union Flag will be flown from the tower of St Michael’s church, Aldbourne, on Sunday 6th February, to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II on 6th February 1952.
At 5.30pm 70 rounds will be rung on the church bells – the same bells that have been rung for various occasions over the past few hundred years, but this is the first time they’ll have been rung for a Platinum Jubilee.
“Rounds” is the name given to the bells ringing in order down the scale from the smallest bell (with the highest note) to the largest (with the deepest note) – in our case this is our Tenor bell, cast in 1516 – the one you hear when the clock strikes the hour.
On Sunday 6 February 2022 you will also hear the bells being rung down. Please note there is no Evensong service at St Michael’s Church on the 6 February 2022, but the bells will be ringing in the morning as normal to call worshippers to church for the earlier than usual (10am) Holy Communion service.
Once again, proof that the good people of Aldbourne knew how to throw a party! I would love to see photos of the ‘Musical Chairs on Bicycles’. Sadly, at least for the moment, I’ll have to content myself with the write-up about the ‘Ladies XI’ in the Parish Magazine. Somewhere in that photo there is a well known BBC presenter, famous for his Animal Magic. As the Vicar said, ‘it is up to the reader to identify them in the photograph’. The mention of the village pond renovation refers to the creation of the concrete basin, which caused some controversy at the time. The pond went from a natural feature to a ‘little concrete prison’ [Ida Gandy] in 1953. It was modified into a more natural form (as it is today) following the Festival in 1990.