I’ll add more of Eleanor’s story shortly, but just wanted to mark the 75th Anniversary of her release from Mauthausen concentration camp.
It was an absolute privilege to visit RAF Odiham in 2015 and see the portrait of this brave Dabchick in the Officers’ Mess. Since then the Aldbourne Heritage Centre has included the photo of the portrait in their permanent display, and I have had the further privilege of working with a descendant of the Hawkins family to trace more information about Eleanor.
180 years ago today (10 January 1840) the Uniform Penny Post was introduced. https://www.postalmuseum.org/…/britis…/uniform-penny-postage I will try to research Honor’s ‘four generations’ more fully. So far I’ve worked out that: Honor’s parents were John and Sarah (nee Aldridge) Orchard, who retired from keeping the Post Office on the Green in 1939. Honor’s grandmother was Elizabeth Aldridge, who ran the post office when it was in Back Lane and is described as ‘postmistress’ in the 1891 Census. William Aldridge, Honor’s grandfather, is described as ‘postmaster & smith’ in the 1881 Census. Prior to all that, Kelly’s Directory 1867 names Thomas Bacon as ‘mail receiver’ for Aldbourne.
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.
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.
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.