Boldre Parish Historical Society Newsletter Autumn 2014 - Spring 2015 Volume 2 - Issue 1 It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition. Henry James
In this Issue
Welcome from your Chairman James Horsfall From small acorns a few years ago your Society has grown into a vibrant group with over 100 members. This edition of the newsletter marks a sad but also an exciting milestone for us. The sadness is due to the chronic illness of George Gates. As reported in our last issue George has prepared the newsletter for the past seven years and now feels he is unable to continue. I would therefore, on your behalf, like to thank George for all his hard work, the interest he has shown in the Society and all the ideas and innovations he has introduced. Thank you so much George. The exciting milestone is the new format newsletter. I hope you like it and that you will continue to support the Society. Without your interest the Society would not be able to explore the history of Boldre and beyond.
It’s subscription time again The subscription has remained unchanged for the last four years. During that time the number of annual events has been increased and now, as you can see the Newsletter has doubled in size. We hope you will agree these changes are to the benefit of all members. However, unfortunately these alterations incur additional costs, which together with other increases in general expenditure mean that, with reluctance, the committee must request a small increase in the membership fee, which is due by the time of the Annual General Meeting. The new fee will be £8.00 per annum. This entitles you to free entry to all the events organised by the Society and a copy of the Newsletter, which is published twice a year. Guests are charged £3.00 for entry to each event. It is therefore financially beneficial to renew your subscription rather than pay for each event, as a guest. Please note all Events in the Boldre War Memorial Hall start at 7.00pm.
Welcome from your Chairman P1 Forthcoming Events P1 Subscriptions P1 Events Review P2 to P6 News P7 Commemoration P8 Society Officials P8
Forthcoming Events at The Boldre War Memorial Hall at 7.00pm Annual General Meeting Wednesday 12 November 2014 Talk by Brian Goodall - Life on a Small Family Farm Wednesday 14 January 2015 Talk by David Ridout “Boldre to Pilley via The Pacific” Wednesday 28 January 2015 Talk by John Smith “The Special Operations Executive in Beaulieu” Wednesday 11 February 2015 Talk by Peter Roberts “New Forest Life in the 17th Century” Wednesday 4 March 2015 Talk by Angela Trend “Lymington in the Age of Queen Victoria” Wednesday 25 March 2015 Talk by Jonathan Gerelli “Work of the Verderers and Agisters” Wednesday 8 April 2015 Talk by Sarah Farley - Wessex Film Archive “Local Films from 1930”
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Events Review Each season your Chairman spends a great deal of time arranging talks and other events, such as visits to important houses and grounds in the local area, for your delectation. This season he is to be congratulated for finding us some exceptional speakers who have entertained and enlightened us on a variety of subjects. A reminder of the highlights of the talks follows.
1 Hospitable Brockenhurst ………. In January Tony Johnson spoke to us about the First World War Hospital (Tin Town) in Brockenhurst. The Hospital was situated south of the village where the Hampshire County Council Tile Barn Outdoor Centre is now located near St Nicholas Church in Church Lane. It is believed Brockenhurst was chosen for the Hospital because of the peaceful location and proximity to Southampton where most of the wounded were disembarked. The Hospital was named The Lady Hardinge Hospital. Lady Hardinge was the wife of Charles Hardinge, 1st Baron Hardinge of Penshurst, Viceroy of India, 1910-1916. Construction started in October 1914. The majority of patients were Sikh Indians from the Meerut and Lahore district of India. They travelled from Southampton to Brockenhurst Station in cattle wagons with straw beds to lie on. The hospital had 20 main wards and some 500 beds. Other large buildings in the village, such as the Balmer Lawn Hotel, Forest Park Hotel and the Morant Hall were also acquisitioned for hospital bed use. These buildings catered for Belgian and UK nationals with some lumberjacks and pilots from Beaulieu. A total of 2629 patients passed through the hospital.
In June 1916 the Indians were transferred to the Brighton Pavilion because of the winter conditions, which they found very harsh. In the same month the New Zealand Medical Service took over the hospital, which became the New Zealand No 1 General Hospital and the HQ of their hospital service in the UK. At that time the hospital boasted an operating theatre, X-Ray room, Dental Surgery, Laboratory, Dispensing and a Neurological unit. There were also laundry and Post Office facilities. A number of events and other activities were organised for the patients, including Art and Craft lessons, picnics in the Forest, rugby and cricket games and concerts. The cost of rations for the patients in 1918 was £50230 19s 9p and 1153 tons of food products were issued. Vegetables were grown at Tile Barn to supplement the rations.
2 Literally speaking ………. On a wet and wild night in February with trees blocking lanes and roads awash with water more than 50 members braved the elements to attend a talk given by Georgina Babey entitled “The Literary Forest”. Georgina is always a joy to listen to and this talk did not disappoint us. Georgina’s uncomplicated, fluent and articulate presentation told us about writers in the New Forest including Capt. Frederick Marryat, Charles Kingsley and Arthur Conan Doyle. Capt. Frederick Marryat, author of one of the best known of all children's classics Children of the New Forest. A naval captain, Marryat was staying with his brother George at Chewton Glen around the time of the bi-centenary of the Civil War and this is when the seed was sown to write a children's book set in the 17th century. Charles Kingsley, author of such classics as The Water Babies & Westward Ho! has a strong connection to the Boldre area. His father, also Charles, lived at Battramsley House. Charles junior was actually born in Devon and became a curate at Eversley in North Hampshire, but always maintained close connections with the New Forest. He wrote a series of poems The New Forest Ballads in the mid-1800s.
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Events Review continued ………. 2 Literally speaking continued ………. Mary Braddon, a novelist as famous in her day as Catherine Cookson was in the 20th century, came to the New Forest in the early 1880s and settled at Bank, near Lyndhurst. She and her publisher husband, John Maxwell, were responsible for many of the Victorian building restorations in Lyndhurst High Street. Two of her Forest novels were Vixen and Mount Royal. Lewis Carroll. The connection with Lyndhurst and 'the Real Alice' began in 1880 when Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford and inspiration for Lewis Carroll's famous novel Alice in Wonderland, married Reginald Hargreaves. Hargreaves was heir to the Cuffnells estate in Lyndhurst (near the Swan Inn) and Alice lived there until the early 1930s. Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, had a home in the New Forest, at Brook, and is buried in Minstead churchyard. He wrote several historical novels and one, The White Company, is set in the New Forest and opens in the Cistercian Monastery at Beaulieu. Virginia Woolf was a consistent visitor to the New Forest from her early years, visiting family friends at Manor House, Ringwood and later, Fritham House. Her aunt, Sarah Duckworth, owned a house at Bank where Virginia stayed for several weeks over the two winters of 1904 & 1906. One of Virginia's tutors, Janet Case, became a life-long friend and she bought a house in Minstead where Virginia visited her. Vera Brittain the feminist and pacifist writer and mother of Shirley Williams MP (Baroness Williams of Crosby) bought Allum Green Cottage, Allum Green in the late 1930s with the proceeds of her book, Testament of Youth. She finished her book Testament of Friendship, a biography of her friend and fellow writer, Winifred Holtby, in the garden of Allum Green Cottage.
3 In The Frame ………. Our Membership Secretary, Patrick Kempe, entertained us in March with a very interesting talk about his film making activities over the last 25 years. Patrick’s enthusiasm for his subject was clear for us to see and hear as he showed us clips from several of his films including Boldre, The New Forest and Lymington. As we watched the clips, Patrick explained how he had made the films and how his film making equipment had evolved over the years. The film of red deer stags in the New Forest and the launch and take off from Calshot of the last Sunderland flying boat were particularly impressive, as were the clips of Boldre and Lymington. We would have been happy to watch more of them. It was interesting to see how the shops in Lymington had changed over the years and how the first floor architecture had remained the same. The finale of the presentation was a spectacular clip of the sunset behind Lymington Church with fireworks accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Patrick’s DVD’s are available through the Pilley Post Office or may be purchased online at www.patrickkempe.co.uk. Friends can also keep in touch on Facebook.
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Events Review continued ………. 4 A tale of conviction ………. A second event in March once again saw the Memorial Hall full, as we listened to Bev Major’s intriguing talk entitled “From the Forest to Australia in 1787 with the curate of Boldre.” We were amazed to learn of the influence the curate of Boldre, the Rev. Richard Johnson and Admiral Arthur Phillip of Lyndurst had on the birth of the modern Australia. The Rev Richard Johnson was born in 1755 at Humberside. He was an evangelist and in 1780 he entered Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating in 1784. His first post was as curate of Boldre, where William Gilpin was vicar. Gilpin, apart from being an artist, was concerned about local poverty and education, which impressed Johnson and influenced him later in his life. In 1786 George III decided to establish a Penal Colony in New Holland (Australia). People who committed lesser crimes, such as stealing rabbits, were, instead of being given death sentences, first held in prison hulks (old warships) before being sent to the new penal colony. The fleet, in which the convicts travelled, consisted of nine merchant ships and two Royal Navy escort ships. Approximately 700 convicts were taken on board together with a similar number of crew, marines and a massive amount of stores. The prisoners were kept below deck in very confined spaces. Royal Navy Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip, who was also a part-time farmer at Vernalls Farm in Lyndhurst, was appointed commander of the fleet and Governor-designate of the proposed British penal colony. The Rev. Johnson was appointed chaplin of the prison colony. They sailed on on 13 May 1787, via Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, and arrived in Botany Bay in January 1788. It was soon apparent that Botany Bay was not suitable for a colony so Phillip decided to sail further north eventually arriving in Sydney Harbour, which was much more suitable. Fortunately, they arrived three days before the French. Johnson then set about ministering to the convicts and held services in the open air until he had built a church, which held up to 500 people. He built a school along the lines of the William Gilpin school in Boldre and also started to educate the Aborigines. He was granted some land and worked it successfully with the help of convict labour who planted the orange and lemon seeds obtained earlier in Rio de Janeiro. The resulting plants later produced good fruit crops. Johnson returned home in 1794 having sold his extensive farm at Canterbury Vale, now a Sydney suburb, to good advantage.
5 A fateful journey ………. The last event of the Autumn 2013 to Winter 2014 season was aptly called Titanic’s People because the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic was commemorated on 14 April 2014, five days after the talk. Titanic’s People - a look at some passengers and crew, some survivors and some victims of the tragedy was given by John Avery, a specialist in the presentation of heritage talks. We heard about how fate played a hand in whether passengers and crew lived or died. The Titanic disaster of April 1912 is familiar to many but disasters of equal or greater loss of life have over the years become faded in the memory. Of the Titanic’s crew 724 lived within the Southampton area. Of this number only 176 returned home to their friends and families. Titanic is still a wound in the history of the city even a 100 years or so on. The name Titanic was derived from Greek mythology and meant gigantic. Built in Belfast, the RMS Titanic was the second of the three Olympic class ocean liners of the British shipping company White Star Line.
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Events Review continued ………. 5 A fateful journey continued ………. Captain Edward John Smith (1850 – 1912) was an English naval reserve officer who served as commanding officer of numerous White Star Line vessels. He was given the prestige of a new ship on her maiden voyage despite many maritime mishaps in his long career. It is uncertain whether he was to retire after completing the voyage and uncertainty surrounds the way he died. Some say he was seen clinging to the ship’s wheel when the wheelhouse broke due to the pressure. Others reported seeing him dive into the sea from the starboard side of the bridge just as the water began flooding the open bridge. It is possible his last words were “Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you”. John George “Jack” Phillips was born in Godalming Surrey. He finished school in 1902 and began working at Godalming post office where he learned telegraphy. In 1906 he started training to work in wireless for the Marconi Company and in March 1912 was sent to Belfast to be senior wireless operator on board Titantic. On the evening of 14 April Phillips was sending messages working to clear a backlog of passengers’ personal messages. Although he received and acknowledged an ice warning from the steamship Mesaba telling him of a large number of icebergs and an ice field directly in the path of Titanic, the message, which was one of the most important warnings Titanic received, was never delivered to the bridge. Jack Phillips was still working in the wireless room as water was beginning to flood it. He managed to make his way to an overturned lifeboat where he died sitting in the water. David (Davy) Blair (1874-1955) was a British merchant seaman with the White Star Line, which reassigned him from Titanic just before its maiden voyage. Due to his hasty departure, he accidentally kept a key to a storage locker believed to contain binoculars intended for use by the crow’s nest lookout. This is believed to be the reason why there were no binoculars available to the crew during the voyage. One of the lookouts at the time of the collision was Frederick Fleet.
Captain Edward John Smith
Frederick Fleet (1887-1965) was employed as a lookout aboard the Titanic and was the first to sight the iceberg, ringing the bridge to proclaim, “Iceberg, right ahead!”. He testified at the inquiries that if binoculars had been issued he would have seen the iceberg sooner because it was a blue iceberg in calm seas on a moonless night. Fleet was later to be shunned and disowned by fellow seamen who queried his alertness. He left the sea in 1936 and worked for Harland & Wolff in Southampton and he served during World War 11. When he was about to retire he became a newspaper salesman, going through difficult economic times, falling into a downward spiral and into depression, unfortunately hanging himself in the garden of his brother-in-laws house in 1965. Sir Arthur Henry Rostron (1869 – 1940) was a Captain for the Cunard Line and was the master of the ocean liner RMS Carpathia when it rescued the survivors of the Titanic. Carpathia was about 58 nautical miles from the Titanic at the time the distress call was received and travelled through dangerous ice floes, at maximum speed, to reach the Titanic’s radioed positioned in about 3.5 hours. Speaking of the risk taken by running through dense ice at speed at night he is reported to have said “I can only conclude another hand than mine was on the helm”. Joseph Bruce Ismay (1862-1937) was an English businessman who served as chairman and managing director of the White Star Line. He was the highestranking White Star official among the survivors of the tragedy and was rescued by RMS Carpathia. On board the Carpathia Ismay was led to the cabin belonging to the ship’s doctor, Frank McGee. On several occasions Captain Rostron suggested to Ismay that he send a message to White Star’s New York office. Eventually Ismay sent “Deeply regret advise you Titanic sank this morning after collision with iceberg resulting in serious loss of life. Full particulars later”. Ismay would not leave the cabin for the entire journey to New York, ate nothing and was kept under the
Sir Arthur Henry Rostron
Joseph Bruce Ismay
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Events Review continued ………. 5 A fateful journey continued ………. influences of opiates. A fellow survivor, Jack Thayer, visited Ismay to try and console him and reported he was staring straight ahead, shaking like a leaf. When I spoke to him he paid absolutely no attention. I have never seen a man so completely wrecked. Hudson Trevor Allison (1911-1929) was the only survivor from his family. His father and mother, Hudson and Bess Allison, millionaires from Canada and his sister, Helen Loraine, all perished. After the ship struck the iceberg Trevor’s father delivered his wife and daughter to lifeboat 6 and left before it was launched. Trevor was taken by his nurse Alice Catherine Cleaver and in the commotion they were separated from the rest of the family and eventually found themselves safely in a lifeboat. Whilst waiting by lifeboat 6 Mrs Allison was told Mr Allison was in a boat being lowered on the opposite side of the deck. With her little daughter she rushed away from the boat only to find when she reached the other side that her husband was not there. Meanwhile lifeboat 6 had been put off. In 1940 a woman named Helen Loraine Kramer claimed she was Helen Loraine Allison and that, at the last minute, her parents gave her up to a man calling himself Hyde, who raised her on a farm in the American Midwest. Her claim was not accepted by the Allisons and she eventually moved away and the Allisons never heard from her again. Alice Catherine Cleaver was hired by Hudson and Bess Allison, as a last minute replacement to look after baby Trevor. Alice boarded Titanic at Southampton. It was alleged, some 70/80 years after the tragedy, that Alice Catherine was Alice Mary Cleaver, who had been convicted in 1909 of murdering the infant she had borne out of wedlock. In fact Alice Mary was incarcerated in Aylesbury Women’s Prison at the time of Titanic’s departure. Alice Catherine died in Winchester in 1984 at the age of 95. There are many more similar stories resulting from those dreadful hours on that April night in 1912. However, many survivors lived into their 90’s even 100, but sadly many of the male survivors, like Frederick Fleet, later committed suicide. Violet Parker, age 94 at the time of writing from Southampton says “Nearly every family in our street and throughout the Chapel and Northam districts of Southampton were grieving for someone they lost on the Titanic when it went down on the 14th April 1912. A terrible silence hung over the whole town. As I walked down the street with my mother we could hear sobbing coming from some of the houses. I saw women kneeled in the street in prayer and our lodger, a crew member who had survived the disaster, felt so guilty of surviving that he hung himself."
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News ………. Book Presentation ………. With the approaching anniversaries of 100 years since the outbreak of the Great War and 70 years since D-Day, Dr. James Horsfall and Ian Wild representing Boldre Parish Council and the Boldre Parish Historical Society, visited William Gilpin and South Baddesley schools to present them with a copy each of ‘Boldre and the Great War’ and ‘Boldre and the Second World War’ compiled by John Cockram, Richard Williams and your Society and Boldre Recollections’ by George Gates. The visit to William Gilpin was made on 11 December 2013, whilst the visit to South Baddesley was made on 31 March 2014. On each occasion the books were presented during school assembly. Pupils at both schools have been studying both wars and we hope that the books will be a good reference in the search for knowledge. With our visits it is hoped the Boldre Parish Historical Society can forge closer links with both schools. In fact, in the summer term of 2013, members of the Society talked to the History Group at William Gilpin about the history of Boldre Parish. Many of that group participated in the last exhibition and it is hoped that both schools can be encouraged to take part in the next exhibition in October 2015.
Brief encounter ………. In October last year your Deputy Chairman Ian and his wife Ann were visiting St John’s Church to research aspects of Canon Hayter’s living for the Society exhibition. During the visit they met, by chance, Hazel and Malcolm Gee who with Malcolm’s sister were looking for Hazel’s grandmother’s grave. This brief encounter has lead to Hazel writing to Ian, in January, with details of her family history, including photographs together with an article on her grandmother reaching the grand old age of 103. Hazel’s grandmother was Mabel Hewitt who married Charles Figgins at St John’s in 1911. Mabel died in 1987. The letter highlighted many coincidences for Ian and Ann and brought back many memories for them. The Society would love to hear from members of the Hewitt family and Figgins family who may still be living in the local area.
Call the Midwife ………. In the last exhibition in October 2013 many of you will remember we did a small display on ‘Nanny’ Gould and those born at her maternity home in Portmore. Since then we have found more people who were born there and who have given the Society photos and information about themselves. Hugo Duplessis has provided more about Thomas and Elizabeth Gould. Thomas was the head gardener at Newtown Park and of course his wife Elizabeth was ‘Nanny’ Gould. If you know of anyone who was born at the maternity home in Portmore or has any information of Thomas or Elizabeth please let our Deputy Chairman, Ian Wild, 01590 673247, know so that we can give a much fuller picture in the next exhibition in October 2015
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Commemoration ………. As we have just commemorated the centenary of the commencement of the First World War, we asked John Cockram, joint publisher of the First and Second World War books about Boldre, to share his thoughts with us. It is important that we commemorate the First World War as it is the catalyst that changed England from the perceived stability of its Victorian social, moral, economic and political guise to the present country that we live in. Before 1914 Boldre was primarily an agrarian economy where villagers worked the land for farmers as well as for themselves, as most cottage gardens were well worked for self-sufficiency of fruit and vegetables and often expanded to the care of chickens and pigs. Some people were employed on the railway and for the Post Office but domestic employment for the ‘big houses’ was dominant. Families of four to ten children were not uncommon and fathers encouraged sons to follow their own trade. The Vicar’s wife would identify girls for domestic employment, whilst the clergy generally were very responsible in their social as well as spiritual duties towards the well-being of their parishioners. But life for the villagers was often hard and boys were encouraged to enlist in the Army, Merchant Navy (two local crewmen survived the sinking of the Titanic) or Royal Navy to reduce pressure on accommodation at home and contribute to family finances through regular weekly allotments of pay. Thus there was a positive acceptance of military life in the Services, reinforced by local lads joining the Territorial Company in Lymington – who enjoyed the pay and camps of the Territorial Force. When war came the navy was already at its war stations and those villagers in the Army either went with the British Expeditionary Force to France or were with units returning from overseas garrison duties. Those in the local Territorial company were sent to India to replace garrison formations, whilst many villagers responded to Kitchener’s call to join the New Armies. This depopulation of Boldre had serious effects as many families lost their breadwinners in the exodus, whilst the requisition of farm horses from the local area did not help agricultural production. Although no sailor from Boldre was lost in 1914, the first Army casualty, Lieutenant Odber Knapton of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed at the Battle of the Aisne on 18th September. He was followed later in the same battle by Sam Wallis of Portmore with the Hampshires and on 27th October, Reg Cooper of Pilley Street, died whilst serving with the Royal Fusiliers at Neuve Chapelle. These three deaths would have shocked Boldre, but it was only a foretaste of what was to come. Before November 1918, eight sailors were to be killed at sea and 65 villagers were to die in France, Belgium, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, or at home from wounds or whilst under training. The effects of the loss of 76 men from the local area in the prime of life, with their skills, self-discipline and sense of family responsibilities remains with us today. The loss of such numbers of young men cannot and must not be a cause of celebration. The commemoration of the Great War enables us to remember these men in their own context as members of the community we live in. The sacrifice they made enables us to live in a democratic society today.
Society Officials and Committee Members President Robin McGarel-Groves 01590 672249
Chairman James Horsfall 01590 676728
Part Time Secretary
Ian Wild 01590 673247
Tim Farquhar 01590 673744
Patrick Kempe 01590 675854
Patricia Langfelder 01590 688292
James Puttick 01590 623272
Ted Cantrell 01590 672388
Norman Gannaway 01590 677401
Committee Members Alison Bolton 01590 674607 Margaret Orman 01590 675743
George Gates 01590 678047
Angela Grainger 01590 675708
Pamela Keen 01590 626654
Steve Marshall - Associate Member St. Barbe Museum, Lymington.
Every attempt has been made by The Society to secure the appropriate permission for material produced in this newsletter. If there has been any oversight we will be happy to rectify the situation. Written submission should be made to the Chairman.