We were out and about yesterday, walking from Wilton Windmill and enjoying a different range of wild-flowers in the sunshine. To my delight, we spotted a patch of sainfoin along a field edge. So that’s another box ticked from Chapter Ten. I was on the look out for this elusive bloom after reading the blog post ‘Local Tastes’ – a family history blog that focuses on Firmin family research and ‘Finding the Wiltshire Relatives’ and which in the re-blogged article below talks about Ida Gandy’s book, and the many flavours of Wiltshire.
Sometimes you may meet a bit of sainfoin on downland verges, reminder of a time when rosy-pink fields added much to the Wiltshire landscape
I had the good fortune to taste some local honey the other day. The flavor of fireweed honey was simply marvelous. It reminded me that my Wiltshire ancestors would have eaten seasonally and locally (as we are so often urged to do). On the bright side this meant that they had access to some items that were exceptional; on the down side, this meant at times that their choices, and even their food in general was very limited. This post will explore a few of the things that have come to my attention that were notable about living in northern Wiltshire.
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.
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.
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
Exhibition ends 9th November 2019. Admission FREE. Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Bath Road, Swindon, SN1 4BA. Open Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 16:30. Free lunchtime talk 20th September 2019, 12:30 – 13:00
In 1959, the Swindon Collection of Modern British art began a tour of 16 towns and cities of the United Kingdom. From Falmouth to Sunderland, Southend-on-Sea to Bolton, thousands of museum visitors were introduced to paintings by Paul Nash, LS Lowry, Gwen John and Graham Sutherland. This exhibition celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of this tour, which introduced the people of Britain to Swindon’s remarkable art and established the reputation of the ‘Swindon Collection’.
The original foreword to the tour in 1959 (by Harold Joliffe, Librarian and Curator) paid tribute to the contribution by Mr H.J.P. ‘Jimmy’ Bomford, of Aldbourne who generously gave a number of works to the Swindon Collection in 1946. These include paintings by Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, L.S. Lowry and Paul Nash. “Composition” by Jankel Adler forms part of the exhibition. Adler, a protégé of Jimmy Bomford, lived in Castle Street, Aldbourne until his death in 1949.
This exhibition brings together the 44 works of art sent on tour in 1959 and presents them alongside some of the most important acquisitions made by Swindon Museum & Art Gallery in the decades since. The exhibition explores the history of the collection and the ambitions and challenges of touring so many pictures to so many places.
I started a Flickr Gallery in 2008. It now has just over 4,000 photos in it. Flickr has been acquired by something called Smug Mug, and I’ve decided not to add any more photos since there seems to be a risk that the Gallery might disappear; free accounts being a bit vulnerable to that, it would seem.
Many aspects of village life are represented; particularly Carnival and the Beating of the Bounds. If there are any photos or albums you’d like to chat about, please drop me a line, firstname.lastname@example.org
My first visit to Tides of Time this morning, via Twitter (it’s great what a quick search on Aldbourne can produce!). Interesting articles featuring visits to Aldbourne, including the gathering in June 2019.
Here’s what their website says:
Welcome to the online home of The Tides of Time, a Doctor Who fanzine published by the Oxford (University) Doctor Who Society. We publish online and in print. The current editors are James Ashworth, a graduate of Worcester College; and freelance writer, editor and researcher Matthew Kilburn. The Oxford Doctor Who Society emblem is by Francis Stojsavljevic.
The Tides of Time – sometimes known without its definite article – has been published by the society since January 1990. This website was founded in July 2010 as an unofficial catalogue for the fanzine, but it has since grown to become the main point of distribution for current issues and an archive of every issue in PDF from the beginning of the run to the present. Every issue is now available online.
The end of August is approaching – a hot, hard sun (we love you, Neil Cross) or else the cold rain and autumn-apprehending clouds of the legendary English bank holiday weekend. Time for our long-planned summer supplement! The Tides of Time Special Edition Summer 2019: Conventions and Other Events is here, having grown from a few pages which had to be left out of issue 43 into 64 colour pages looking at some of the events our writers have been to recently or in some cases several years ago.
It can be downloaded free of charge in one of two formats:
A recent tweet/FB/Instagram by Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre reminded me of this article (2013 The Heritage Journal), featuring the redoubtable George Brown of Avebury. Shared here as I get stuck into thinking about research for the #RidgewayHistoryTrail.
I have purchased an excellent and indispensible book Walking the Ridgeway, by Steve Davison which suggests an alternative start from the centre of Avebury village; and describes the official start at Overton Hill as ‘not very inspiring’. Each to their own. I have to admit that up to a few years ago, I would have agreed; at the Sanctuary – concrete posts – what’s that all about? So disappointed visiting as a child after watching Children of the Stones and hearing about the Avenue and Sanctuary. However, I’ve been fortunate enough to find out what it is really all about, thanks in part to the helpful information boards installed at the site. As a total fan of Trowel Blazer, Maud Cunnington, I find much to inspire me there; so much, that I’m finding it difficult to move away and start the journey exploring the stretch of the Ridgeway Path as it travels away from Overton Hill. Maud will be much on my mind as we journey past Aldbourne, and towards Foxhill.
Eureka moment in the Rare Books Room at the British Library! This post from the Gardens Trust https://thegardenstrust.blog popped into my in-box this morning; just as I was thinking about Ida Gandy and Miss Todd. No real connection with Aldbourne (as far as I can see) but such beautiful drawings that I just had to share! A very accomplished artist.
Also, in Heart of a Village (1975) Ida Gandy did mention that two plants were named after Emily Sophia Todd; one a variety of the Wood-cowwheat (Melampyrum sylvaticum), another a wild rose, Rosa Toddie.
The British Library Rare Books room is not usually the place where people get over-excited, but occasionally there are Eureka moments. Sometimes they’re the result of long patient reference checking when you realise your original hypothesis is true, or ploughing through vast tomes for a good quote to prove a point or grab a reader’s attention and sometimes they are simply serendipity. Today’s post is one such.
Rosa pendulina, or the Rose without thorns
Following a discussiion in one of the clkasses I teach, I had an idea for a worthy post on how and why women became widely involved in botany in the late 18thc and thought I’d call up a selection of books and magazines by women from the period to see if I could find anything interesting to write about. They included a couple by an artist…
Great surprise this morning, a tag on Twitter leading me to this article about a special lady who lived at ‘the heart of the village’ where she spent her final years. Interesting to read about her passion for education. The newspapers of the day feature many stories about the talks and courses held in the village by the Workers’ Educational Association. It is very interesting to read about Ida’s role as a pioneer in that organisation.
A campaigner and activist for women’s education, and later a playwright and author, Ida H’s roots were very much in her beloved Wiltshire.
Born in the mid-1880s, she grew up in a village in the middle of the county, just outside Devizes, as one of seven children (including a set of twins) of the village vicar and his rather-unconventional wife. The fact that she was a vicar’s daughter means that her exact time of birth is recorded alongside her baptism. She later recounted tales of her not-particularly straight-laced Victorian childhood in a memoir. One of these involved the whole tribe of her siblings regularly running about the village bare-footed and exacting the ridicule of some passing gypsies. The gypsies’ reaction incensed their nurse so much that she insisted all the children return home and put on their Sunday best stockings and shoes, to be paraded in front of the travelling…
During my association with archivists and curators, I have noticed a definite trend towards lemon drizzle as a favourite (and I’m always happy to join in!). It’s fabulous to read a blog with such a slice of good humour
When was the last time you smacked your funny bone? That’s an unfair question really, as I can’t remember when I last did it. Maybe you did it last week though. Or yesterday. There might even be someone reading these words right now and they are just about to reach out for a cup of tea and – wallop – the sharp edge of a table or chair goes right into their elbow joint.
I could write anything now, as they won’t be reading this at all. They will be grabbing their elbow instead, which will be fizzing with pain. The pain will slowly grow and steadily move up their forearm and into their fingertips. It will feel as though their entire arm has been attacked by twenty crazed cheese graters. Their face will be screwed up in agony and they will be attempting to recite all of the known…