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July 2001 Headley's Old Rectory
With picnic packed, wine chilled, folding chairs in the boot of the car, we were ready to go to the Old Rectory for the summer meeting of the Headley Society. Then the heavens opened what a cruel twist of fate that, after all the wonderful weather over the past few weeks it should rain on this very special evening.
Fortunately, as the members arrived, the rain stopped and Phyllida and Robin Smeeton, who had generously invited us, were able to show us round their beautiful walled garden. We marvelled at the stupendous Kiftsgate rose tree, which had climbed at least 40 feet into the adjoining trees and was covered in creamy white flowers.
We sat under a huge Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) while Robin and Phyllida gave us a short history of the house, which dates from 1704. Parts of the house however were built very much earlier; for instance, some of the guttering dates to the time of the Fire of London. One of the chimneys is Tudor, with pegs driven into the inside walls to enable poor little urchin boys to climb up to clean it. Many rectors of Headley had lived in the house over the centuries, making alterations and building extensions to suit their needs; in fact at one time the dining room had been used as a school, but the latest refurbishment was made in 1965.
We then adjourned to the house to eat our supper in the most elegant surroundings, imagining we were characters in a Jane Austen novel and some of us secretly hoping Mr Darcy would stride in from the garden.
August 2001 Secrets of 'The Village' on TV
"Why do we do it?" Captain AE Thomson both asked the question and gave the answer to a packed audience at the August meeting of The Headley Society.
His face is familiar to any who watch 'The Village' on TV, but he was a late-comer to the series, brainchild of Nigel Farrell, which started life as a radio programme eleven years ago. It was not until the Bentley bypass opened in March 1995 that he was seized upon to re-enact the scene where he and his wife danced down the route of the old A31, which passes directly in front of their house.
Amusingly, he told us, the re-enactment was not filmed until some three months later - and the celebrations shown on the screen rather exceeded those which had happened in real life. In fact, he warned us, only about a quarter of what we see in the programmes is true, about a half partly true, and a good quarter is complete fiction.
He gave us an example where he had to get 'lost' while driving to an appointment in Caterham, and drove up and down a local stretch of the A31 while the camera recorded him and his wife pretending to argue over the route, so that the programme could end on a 'cliff-hanger' - "will the Captain get to his parade on time? - watch next week ..."
There is no script, and the 'actors' are not paid for their work. In fact they are not referred to as actors - they are always 'interviewees' - and they have no control over what appears in the final programme, or the sequence in which the episodes are shown.
So, why do they do it? "Because it's fun!" says Captain Thomson. And the publicity can also be used to good effect in the village: for example, to air particular issues such as planning proposals for housing, or to attract money for worthy causes.
The next TV series of 'The Village' begins on Thursday 16th August.
September 2001 Local Rambling
Mr Ian Baker - a member of the Liphook & District Rambling Club for about 17 years - presented a most interesting and informative talk giving information on do's and don'ts while "out" in the countryside, and stressed the importance of suitable boots, wet weather wear, etc. He also emphasised the fact that walking/rambling is a totally relaxing exercise, far removed from zig-zagging round a golf course carrying a load of golf clubs!
In relation to golf, and many other recreational pastimes, rambling is very
Ian illustrated his talk very effectively with a wonderful selection of excellent colour slides from many locations, showing what very special countryside we have within just a few miles of Headley.
His talent in photography was emphasised by the variety - for example: ice on a puddle, close ups of orchids and dragonflies, comparisons in the view along an avenue of trees through the four seasons, sunsets, autumn colours, reflections in lakes such as Waggoner's Wells and Forest Mere, etc.
At question time, Ian was asked what camera he used and his answer, "an old Pentax," caused some surprise, but he explained that "no automatics" gave him much greater flexibility.
It was pointed out at the meeting that questions raised in the Headley Appraisal - published last April - indicated that Headley residents enjoyed walking and would like to see a rambling club set up in the parish. Ian noted that their Club's full title included the words Liphook 'and District', and that several ramblers from Headley were already members, including their secretary Caroline who can be contacted on (01428) 713727.
Evidently from Ian's talk, the Club is a very active and happy one, and the writer and others in Headley are grateful that we are able to be members.
October 2001 Antique Jewellery
We enjoyed an interesting evening when Mr Stephen Thurlow, formerly of Sotherbeys and currently with Bellmans, showed wonderful slides of jewellery through the ages from the 17th century and possibly earlier.
Mr Thurlow's slides included some Georgian, Scandinavian, Masonic, Bohemian
and Limoges enamel
work pieces, together with some Oriental altogether a fantastic collection of the most beautiful jewels.
He then explained the possible origin of several pieces which had been brought by members to show him. These included an Edwardian pendant, a dainty Swiss gold fob watch on a stand, a most interesting late-Victorian shell cameo and a sweetheart pin believed to be in the shape of a torpedo from about 1906. There was another cameo said to be made of volcanic lava from the 19th century, and an interesting gypsy ring thought to be about 1915.
November 2001 Badgers
A fascinating insight into the life of badgers was enjoyed at the November
Commander Norris illustrated his talk with excellent slides and gave pointers to tracking down these illusive creatures.
Badgers are to be found throughout Eurasia, as far north as Siberia and south to Iran and Iraq. In the UK they are common on the North and South Downs; in Hampshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire.
Badgers prefer deciduous woodland, living on a staple diet of earthworms, insects, young rabbits, birds, cereals and fruit. They dig their setts into the side of hills up to 5 or 6 feet deep, with entrances at least 10" wide and 8" high. Only the dominant boar and sow breed, with gestation taking anything from 2 to 10 months. A male boar can weigh between 25 and 28 pounds. The front paws have long sharp claws for digging and it is not advisable to handle even the cubs, as they can cause injury. In September badgers take bedding such as leaves, grass, etc. into the sett for winter warmth. Cattle may pick up bovine TB from badgers, who grub for worms amongst the cow pats, but this is not found in Hampshire. They can be very destructive animals, but can be kept away with the use of electric fences where necessary.
December 2001 St Nicholas' Evening
We are most grateful to Mr & Mrs Dumas for allowing us once again to use their superb barn for our December meeting. It was warm and cosy from the roaring log fire, ablaze with light from the candles, and redolent with the aroma of spices from the mulled wine, when over 60 people sat down to a delicious supper. Entertainment on the theme of a traditional St Nicholas evening was organised by Wendy Bennett.
January 2002 RADAR
At the first meeting of the New Year the Chairman, Betty White, welcomed Professor Mike Withers to address the subject of radar. In a wide ranging presentation, Prof. Withers traced the evolution of radar and its application to industry, commerce and war. During the later part of the 19th century Heinrich Hertz became the first person to generate radio waves. The earliest radar patent was taken out in 1904. In 1935 Robert Watson Watt demonstrated that aircradt could be detected.
World War 2 brought about constant and increasing scientific reearch, with the establishment of a radar defence system for the UK. The first detection occurred at Alexandra Palace when enemy aircraft were recorded within a radius of 100 miles. Kept secret from German intelligence, the invention of the Magnetron in 1939 was a major development. This was a small complex instrument carried by aircraft, capable of detecting the tip of a submarine's periscope in darkness. In more recent times, the deployment of short pulse radar was used to clear plastic mines which dotted the Falkland Islands.
February 2002 Edward Barnsley Furniture Workshop
Mr John Barnsley gave an entertaining talk on the Furniture Workshop established by his father, Edward Barnsley, in 1923.
An ex-Bedales pupil, Edward had always wanted to design and make fine hand-crafted furniture so his father, Sidney, helped him financially to buy a workshop in Froxfield. At that time there was no electricity and lighting was by paraffin lanterns. As the wood shavings were knee-high most of the time, they were very lucky there wasn't a fire.
The business was hit by the Depression in the 30s and nearly had to close in the Second World War when the men went into the services, but Edward managed to get a job at Loughborough Training College and was able to keep things ticking over.
After the war the Workshop started making cabinets for Books of Remembrance, and in fact both the desk for the Memorial Book and the font cover in All Saints Church were made there. By this time electricity and machinery had taken over some of the work, but the finishing was, and still is, done by hand.
In the 1970s Edward created a Trust to ensure that apprentices could be taught the craft. The Workshop is now self-sufficient and furniture has been made for the Palace of Westminster, several Cambridge Colleges, numerous cathedrals, as well as many commissions for private clients.
The Workshop will be open on Saturday and Sunday in the second week of October 2002 when visitors can be shown round. It is in Cockshott Lane, Froxfield near Petersfield.
March 2002 A Quick Leaf through Book Selling Antiquarian Books
Antiquarian Books was the absorbing topic for the March meeting. The Illustrated talk by Julian Wilson was a fascinating insight into the world of rare antique books. The company which employs him, Maggs Bros., is the largest and oldest booksellers of its kind in the world. It was founded 150 years ago by Uriah Maggs and is situated at present in Berkeley Square, London in an 18th Century house with Adam fireplaces and beautiful ceilings. Maggs Bros. have held a Royal Warrant since the 1930s for supplying antiquarian books to the Royal Family.
The introduction of dust wrappers in 1832, originally for purely practical purposes, have now become more a work of art and integral to the value of a book. We were told of some jaw-dropping prices being paid for rare items such as 9 million pounds for an Audubon illustrated book of birds.
Mr Wilson's talk followed our AGM at which the Chairman, Betty White stepped down after 3 years in the post, and serving on the Committee since the inception of the Society in 1985. She was presented with a bouquet and a garden token with warm thanks.
Jo Smith was elected Chairman, with Mike Withers, as Vice-Chairman, Carole Lishman as Secretary and Ken Blatch the Treasurer. The rest of the Committee are Leslie Barnes, Brian Nicholson, Ann Viney, Sue Allden, Roddy Warry and Nicky Wilson.
April 2002 A Peep into some National Trust gardens
Mrs Pauline Turner gave a very interesting talk on 'A Peep into some National
Trust Gardens' with excellent slides which she had taken herself. These and
her knowledge of the gardens made it a fascinating evening.
She explained the features of the gardens, many of which were within easy reach of Headley.
Polesden Lacey, Surrey, where King George VI and the late Queen Elizabeth spent part of their honeymoon, has a walled garden and a rock garden. Claremont, Surrey, has a turf amphitheatre and a Belvedere tower where the gentlemen used to gamble - special summer evening events are held by the lake. Clandon, Surrey, has a Maori house. Nymans, West Sussex, has glorious flower borders. Sheffield Park, East Sussex, has five lakes, many azaleas and rhododendrons and brilliant autumn colours. Hinton Ampner, near Alresford, has gardens of all-year-round interest. Scotney Castle, Kent, has wisteria and roses rambling over the ruins of the 14th Century castle. Anglesey Abbey, near Cambridge, has a snowdrop collection and many sculptures which are wrapped in bubble-wrap during the winter to prevent frost damage. Biddulph Grange, near Stoke on Trent, has Egyptian and Chinese gardens.
May 2002 Selborne & Headley Workhouse Riots of 1830
In a late change to the published programme, John Owen Smith gave a talk on the Selborne & Headley Workhouse Riots of 1830.
Details of this talk can be found here.
June 2002 HMY 'Britannia'
Following the successful Golden Jubilee celebrations in the village the previous weekend, what better subject for Headley Society's June meeting than a talk about the Royal Yacht 'Britannia'?
A packed house at Headley Church Centre heard Rear Admiral Brian Perowne give a fascinating illustrated talk about the ship, its role and its occupants, both royal and not-so-royal.
'Britannia' was launched in 1953, its hull based on a design used by North Sea ferries, but its interior planned somewhat more luxuriously by Sir Hugh Casson.
With a crew of 230, the ship could accommodate 50 passengers aft, and we were shown photographs of some of the staterooms and their contents.
We were also shown pictures of the gleaming engine room - and told the tale of the 'golden rivet' now found in the bowels of her hull.
She was decommissioned in 1997, and made her last trip to dock at Leith near Edinburgh, where she may now be visited.
Brian Perowne had spent nearly two years on the 'Britannia in the early 1980s, holding the post of Communications Officer among other roles, and he gave us some interesting insights into the Royals who had travelled with him during his time there, which included the honeymoon cruise of Charles and Diana.
He left the Navy last year, and is now Chief Executive of The Home Farm Trust, a charity helping adults who have learning disabilities, to which funds from his speaking engagements are donated.
July 2002 Summer visit to the Rural Life Centre, Tilford
For their July meeting, members of the Headley Society gathered at The Rural Life Centre, Tilford.
Chris Shepheard, Curator, gave an introductory talk, outlining how the owners of the Centre had been searching for a plough for their garden and ended up with the 40,000 artefacts now on display at the Centre!
Members enjoyed looking at all the interesting buildings; from a pre-fab home to a chapel taking in a pavilion, various workshops and a shepherd's hut on the way. There were many items to appreciate including old dolls, carpentry tools, lawn-mowers and many more fascinating articles.
After picnicking, Mr Shepheard kindly answered questions, giving a brief history of some of the buildings.
August 2002 Gemstones - Fact & Fiction
"Gemstones - Fact & Fiction" was the subject of the talk and display given to the Headley Society on the 1st August by Colin Winter from Isis Jewellers, Dorking. Colin has been teaching about gemstones and buying around the world for the past 30 years. He is also the chairman of the Members Council of the Gemological Society of Great Britain.
Colin explained that diamonds and semi-precious stones have been created over millions of years by volcanic activity. They are the result of crystals solidifying after extremely high temperatures and pressures have been acting on simple chemicals such as carbon for diamonds to exotic chemical combinations for sapphires. Gemstones are found all round the world but are generally more abundant in geological fault regions such as Thailand, Burma, Laos, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone and Angola. South Africa is particularly well known for extremely high quality diamonds and the extraction methods are highly mechanized. Whereas in other places in the world extraction is very labour intensive employing very low paid workers and sometimes children.
Naturally occurring gemstones, especially diamonds and sapphires, can have a wide range of colour tints depending upon where they come from in the world. In fact sapphires can range from clear through pink to deep red, when they are known as rubies. This colour change depends on how much chromium is present in the crystal and the colour change can lead to confusion because one dealer may call a stone a pink sapphire while another might describe it as a pale ruby. It all depends which description would give the best market price!
Synthetic gemstones are popular for lower cost jewellery and a synthetic ruby can be grown in a couple of hours.
Colin Winter showed slides highlighting some of the characteristics that allow natural and synthetic gemstones to be identified. He also talked about jade, coral, pearls, cultured pearls and freshwater pearls. The evening concluded with an opportunity to view an extensive collection of gemstones from around the world.
September 2002 Old Houses in Hampshire
At the September meeting of the Headley Society, Mrs Linda Hall gave a very interesting talk on old houses in Hampshire, with excellent slides showing the fixtures and fittings.
She began with the Mediaeval Hall of St Cross near Winchester, showing a panelled minstrel gallery with leather buckets hanging from it.
There would have been a fire in the middle of the floor, with the smoke rising
to the roof. At the end of the hall opposite the high table would have been
the screen with two doors leading to the buttery and the pantry.
A few of the buildings shown were pubs, but many were private houses, including a local Headley one of the 15th century. All would have been timber framed, but later a brick face sometimes disguised this.
Very large roof timbers inside were still black from the original central fire, but these Hall houses now have an upper floor inserted for bedrooms. Tree ring dating is used to determine the age of the timber.
The lodging house at Bishops Waltham Palace still has many old features. In other houses, old staircases were shown with different banisters and finials, also window fittings. Mullioned windows with diamond leading were used until the late 17th century. Some old doors remained, some being the entrance to the screen passage.
Mrs Hall displayed photographs of many of the items she had mentioned.
October 2002 When did we start eating that?
Sarah Edington, Blue Badge Guide of London, winner of English literature degree prize, cook and food writer, gave the Headley Society a fascinating insight into food throughout history at the Society's October meeting.
From 3550BC to the 20th century, Mrs Edington detailed the progression of food and eating implements. Small mammals, fish, wild berries were superseded by gruel, mead, beer, swans and snails. By 1066 skewers were in use and spit roasting was the means of cooking. Food was prepared and cooked in a kitchen which was a building separate from the main house. By 1485 the kitchens had a roof and trivets were made which enabled cooking to be better regulated by sitting the pot higher off the flames of the fire. Now herbs were being grown in the gardens and were used both for cooking and medicinal purposes. Feasts became popular consisting of many courses. Amongst other items, pigeon and carp stews, white bread and marchpane (the forerunner of today's marzipan) were eaten. Members of the Society were able to sample some delicious marchpane which Mrs Edington had made.
In the 16th century the East India Company was founded and different foods were introduced to the country. The turkey, sweet potatoes, artichokes, sugar cane all became popular. By Charles II's reign, dining rooms were used to eat in instead of the great halls. By the 18th century, women were working in the kitchens and serving food whereas previously it had been the preserve of men. Around this time, roast beef became very popular. In the 19th century the Victorians invented many gadgets and kitchen ranges took over from open fires; these in turn were replaced by the gas cooker in 1890.
Mrs Edington contests that English home cooking today is as good as anywhere in the world. She illustrated her talk with excellent slides and displayed recipe books which she has written for the National Trust.
November 2002 History of Post Boxes
At the Headley Society Meeting on the 7th of November, Mrs V Willis gave a talk to a large audience on The History of Post Boxes, excellently illustrated with slides.
Mrs Willis is a member of The Letter Box Study Group and is also a Primary School Teacher.
It was explained that 'carrying' letters started with Charles the First, who
had riders solely to carry Royal correspondence, but it was Henry the Eighth
who saw the potential to make money by charging postage.
Horses had to be changed, mainly at inns, and these became Staging Posts - Post Offices - where one could pay and leave letters for delivery. These were often remote and out of reach for most people.
In 1840 the Penny Post was introduced, and then mainly under the influence of Anthony Trollope the first Letter Boxes were produced in 1852, making the Postal Service 150 years old. Two 1854 & three 1855 boxes survive today.
Letter boxes have taken various forms to try to keep rain out, some also have spikes inside to deter robbers and others have bristles to prevent slugs & snails, which apparently like the glue on envelopes, and also to deter birds from nesting inside.
Letter boxes are round, square, oval, free standing, built into walls, etc, and most are dated by the Royal Crest or other means.
Mrs Willis's interest started some 15 years ago, quite by chance, and her ability and determination was evident when she gave her audience an observation quiz, issuing forms showing eight slides of boxes within a 2 mile radius of Headley nobody located all of them!
When it was stated that our box in Headley High Street is to be removed, we were advised that they are very valuable and we should ensure that it is not discarded or damaged.
One further point arose on some boxes the Royal Cypher has been highlighted in gold paint, which is apparently not done by the Post Office. Mrs Willis is interested to learn if this is done by someone privately, or whether a company is doing it.
January 2003 'Local Mysteries'
Chris Shepheard of the Rural Life Centre, Tilford, author of "Peeps from the Past" in the Herald newspapers and industrial archaeologist, gave a fascinating talk to the Headley Society entitled "Local Mysteries".
Mr Shepheard showed numerous, excellent slides depicting oddities, mainly in Surrey. They ranged from a liquorice factory in an old cottage in Westfield, Woking to a railway station which was built in the expectation that the railway would come to Chobham, but which in fact never materialised and has been a public house for many years. An egg machine, a lighthouse, a horse pond in Epsom used by elephants, the very first crematorium (which was built in Woking but was not used for ten years until a law permitting its use was passed), banana ripening sheds, the World War II 'sea-wall' on Hankley Common, remains of roads which were started and never finished, were also amongst many other very surprising and interesting items.
February 2003 'Queen Elizabeth Country Park'
Since the end of the last Ice Age, some nine thousand years ago, parts of the Hampshire countryside have changed drastically while others are much the same. Rod Green, the Assistant Manager of the Butser Hill National Nature Reserve, gave an enjoyable and informative talk to the Headley Society about the highest point on the South Downs.
Butser Hill is the main feature of the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and is located adjacent to the A3 road about 10 miles north of Portsmouth. There are indications of human civilisation for thousands of years with finds of stone-axes, bronze-age items, Anglo-Saxon burial mounds and Roman artefacts.
There is also evidence of various types of farming over this extended period. It is thought that the very earliest example of growing crops arose because there would have been numerous small clearings amongst the scrub, due to the height of the hill. These areas were suitable for cultivation whereas lower levels would have been heavily forested and impossible to clear with simple implements. Farming has steadily developed to produce the landscape we are familiar with today allowing the abundance of flowers and insects found in this short-turf grassland in a chalk region. An area known as "Old Man's Bottom" has remained virtually unchanged for 9,000 years and is populated with tundra plants. Many unusual and rare species of plants, birds, butterflies, moths and bees exist in the Park and Rod Green showed superb colour slides of many of them. Conducted tours of the Park are available throughout most of the year.
March 2003 AGM & Display of Headley Archive Material
I'll start with a question: Are you all happy with the way we are running the
I ask, because we seem to have got into a bit of a routine I won't call it a rut in the way in which we run things, and I think it's always worthwhile to take a step back from time to time and take a critical look at ourselves.
I believe that a society such as the Headley Society works on two fronts: what I might loosely call a social front and an issues front.
At the social front, we organise speakers to come once a month, rain or snow we listen and learn the committee takes the opportunity to keep you up to date with some of the things which are going on in their world and we look forward to tea and biscuits at the end, and having a good old natter to our friends before going home for another month. And I actually think we do this rather well.
We also organise other social events this year there was the trip on the River Wey in a horse-drawn narrow boat, and we got a team together for the Twinning Association's skittles evening, and we ran a stall at the Jubilee Weekend in June. These are events at which we can get together and enjoy ourselves, and we'll hope to do more of this kind of thing in future years.
At the issues front, we keep our eye on such things as current planning matters, and we also try to play our role as a historical society. And I'd like to spend a little time talking about this, because it tends to take place away from the glare of publicity, and some of you may not even realise what's going on in your name.
One of the many excellent ideas which Betty came up with in her time as Chairman was to start the Headley Miscellany magazines. These have given us a vehicle to publish short articles on the history of the parish which would otherwise have gone in somebody's drawer, or worse still their dustbin, and never seen the light of day. This year we published our 4th volume, and we're now working on the fifth.
But the information needs to come from somewhere, and that's where you come in. In this room are more stories and memories of Headley than you can shake a stick at some of them even publishable! And even if you think they're mundane and boring, they won't seem like that to people in the future. Or you may know someone whose history you think should be recorded. Get it down on paper go round for a cup of tea and take a tape recorder with you. Bring us the information, and we'll add it to a future Miscellany or it might even merit a book on its own like Joyce's 'Parcel of Gold for Edith'.
We also have a website. If you're wired up, you can have a look at it but more to the point, so can the rest of the world. And our chickens are coming home to roost. Last year, over 60 people contacted us to ask about the history of Headley or information on their ancestors here about a third of them were from America, Australia or New Zealand. We're probably taking on average two or three message a week, and it's growing.
And it is two-way traffic. Not only do we give them information on their great-great-greats, but we also try to get them to add information to our records and contribute to the Miscellany with their stories and you'll have seen some of those in previous issues.
But in order to help them, we need to have the information to hand that they're looking for and that you'll be looking for too if you're researching local history here. Some of this you'll see around you today, and I think you'll agree that we have an interesting and varied coverage.
However, there are gaps in what we have, and your committee has decided to use some of the Society's funds from time to time to purchase information to fill them. We now have for example all the parish registers from 1539 to the 1960s on microfiche these are fundamental to doing any local historical research. We also have a rent roll for the parish from 1552. In the future we would like to buy the 1901 census for the parish, and also fill some gaps in the range of old maps which you'll see there in the other room, which will then be available in our local archives for local researchers.
I hope you approve of our aspirations in this direction. Of course, if you are sitting on any historical information yourselves, we'd be glad to know of it it might save us from having to fork out to get it from other sources. Or indeed it may be unique, and not available from anywhere else.
But enough of history. Back to the present. This is the end of my first year as your chairman largely an absentee chairman, it has to be said, as far as the monthly meetings have been concerned and I must say a big 'thank you' to my committee who have striven magnificently on your behalf, and my behalf, over the last twelve months. To pick out names would be invidious it's been a team effort and you see the results in the programme of speakers, the organisation of social events, the behind-the-scenes activity in setting up the evening at Curtis Barn, the efficiency with which your subs are collected, and indeed the monthly ritual of setting up and clearing away in this hall.
Carole is stepping down as Secretary, as you know, but the rest of us have offered ourselves up to you for reselection for another year.
And of course it's not just committee members who look after you. For example, where would we be without Lee and Fran? And we are always eternally grateful to the lady whose inspired notion started it all back in 1985, our President Joyce Stevens, and also to Betty White who is now our vice-President and together with Joyce nursed the Society through from its formative years.
My thanks to them and indeed my thanks to you, the members, for continuing to support us in such numbers. I feel we must be doing something right!
Jo Smith, Chairman
At our AGM, Jo Smith was re-elected Chairman, with Mike Withers, as Vice-Chairman, and Ken Blatch the Treasurer. The post of Secretary was unfilled. The rest of the Committee are Sue Allden, Leslie Barnes, Pat Hargreaves, Caroline Lemka, Brian Nicholson, Ann Viney, Roddy Warry and Nicky Wilson.
The AGM was followed by a display of material from the Headley Archives.
April 2003 'Shades of History'
Michael Pierce, the prominent silhouette miniaturist gave a very illuminating and informative talk to The Headley Society on Thursday April 3rd. He is one of a small number of artists dedicated to the preservation of this two hundred year old craft and is now one of the few artists practising this skill. He explained that in about 1760, artists specialising in silhouettes (or shades as they were then called) offered their services. A person could have his or her features reproduced in profile as either a black paper cut-out or as an ink painting. This was often undertaken at a person's home by first obtaining a profile of his or her face and upper body from the shadow cast by candlelight, the subject having to remain immobile for a minute or so. Later the profiler could reduce the profile to a miniature by means of a pantograph.
He described how, in the 18th century, before photography was invented, silhouettes had become the cheapest, quickest and most accurate method of preserving one's likeness and was a popular form of keepsake for the population in general. Sometimes soldiers and dignitaries were profiled in uniform. Many silhouettes were simple; others showed finer details that were painted on to enhance the profile such as streaks of hair, military medals. He emphasised that, in its simplest form it provided an inexpensive memento of husbands, wives, children and parents. Any alternative would have involved a series of expensive sittings at the studio of a portrait artist. From Royalty downwards people sat for silhouettes much as we do for photographs today.
Throughout the talk, members were shown slides of delightful work ranging from simple black profiles, painted or pasted on paper to beautiful and intricate black, or bronzed masterpieces, painted on to fine ivory, plaster, card or glass and sometimes framed in precious metals. These were included in pendants, brooches, rings and cravat pins. Some of the finest examples of the art could be traced to profilists of high calibre such as John Miers who produced detailed work.
The speaker pointed out that in Bath in about 1800 there were at least 23 full-time practising profile artists but that with the development of cameras around 1850, the silhouette artist finally gave way to the photographer. However he explained that nowadays many people, including our own Royal family request silhouettes to be made for special gifts and for important occasions. He gave examples of silhouettes on letter headings, promotional materials, gift cards, and in one instance described how he was asked produce a silhouette of an eagle on an aircraft tailplane.
Members were also intrigued by his anecdotes about projects including one in 1977 when he was invited to produce silhouette profiles of The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh for the Silver Jubilee. He also described his contribution to a literary project when, in 1990, together with a select group of authors and photographers, he produced the Limited Edition Fine Art Folio entitled So Few, This book was dedicated to all who fought with the RAF in the Battle of Britain. In this he included numerous silhouettes including profiles of pilots in aircraft. The book was hand crafted to high standards and the sale of the 401 copies generated over one third of a million pounds for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. He told how, in 1992, the Prime Minister John Major presented a copy to the US President. There are also several copies at museums in the UK. Michael Pierce and his team also helped to produce a companion volume to the So Few volume entitled So Many - similarly with many silhouettes included. This book is dedicated to all those who served with RAF Bomber Command in World War II. One of the authors of these volumes was Bill Gunston OBE who lives near Haslemere.
The speaker concluded by giving a practical demonstration of profiling using shadow cast on paper, with a volunteer member as a subject. He emphasised that nowadays very accurate silhouettes can be made not only from shadow-induced, freehand profiles but also from appropriate photos of a subject. It would be difficult to imagine a more delightful gift.
For more information on Michael Pierce and his work see his website
May 2003 Roman coins of Frensham Common, and other recent finds
At the Headley Society meeting on 1st May, the speaker was David Graham, FSA, a well-known archaeologist.
His photographic slides taken from a light aircraft showed the value of aerial photography in identifying archaeological sites which are not visible from ground level; crop marks seen from above indicate barrows, ditches, dew ponds, marl (chalk) pits, etc.
He spoke of the cultural periods in Britain with particular reference to our area, and showed Paleolithic axes (Stone Age, 50,000 BC) from when early man was a hunter-gatherer.
In 20,000 BC, arctic tundra covered this land and evidence of the permafrost is still visible from the air showing as a formation of cracks. In one picture there was also the outline of a Roman villa superimposed on it, near Basingstoke. Wooly mammoths roamed this area at the time their tusks have been found under the site of the Natwest bank in Farnham.
In the Neolithic period (New Stone Age, 4,000 BC) there were long barrows, and in the Bronze Age (2,000 BC) round barrows, which are found locally particularly in the Bordon area. An archaeological excavation of a barrow on Thursley Common revealed in the turf core that the area had been covered in oak and lime trees.
Large linear field systems of the Bronze Age can be seen from the air, particularly near Winchester. These would have covered much of the country at the time.
There were numerous Iron Age (700 BC to AD43) farms locally, similar to the reconstruction at Butser, and in the Roman period (AD 43410) there were many villas close by, some of them very large.
However, the most fascinating part of the talk related to a man with a metal detector who had found 50 Roman coins on Frensham Common some years ago. Recently, David carried out an excavation there and found 468 further coins. He also found 60 tiny Roman earthenware pots, five of which had contained cannabis! These pots are a unique find in Britain. It is thought that it is a religious site, and that the coins and pots were votive offerings to the gods.
At the end of his talk, David answered members' questions, and was thanked for a most interesting and informative talk.
June 2003 A Butler at an Edwardian Country House
A large audience enjoyed a talk by Hugh Edgar, the butler in the Channel 4 series "The Edwardian House." Attired in the uniform of the day (1905) he outlined the important aims of a butler in his position as head of the servants, with only the valet above him. In this particular TV series, he also carried out the duties of the valet including a scene where he shaved his master, having been sent to "Trumpers" to learn the skill with a cut-throat razor.
Discipline is the key to a butler's success. Teaching a 21st century non-professional staff, the expectancy one took for granted in the Edwardian era was indeed a task in itself. He gave us instances of a French temperamental chef, and a hall boy who was expected to sleep on a mat in the hall of the house with no privileges whatsoever and who took orders from the second footman and not the butler himself. A scullery maid, often a child of 13+ years, would wash pots and pans from 6.30am to late at night with a break from the sink to wash floors. With free time at the butler's discretion, when all work was completed, were it ever finished!
We were told that the series was such a success that further episodes are being filmed at present, entitled "The Regency House 1810-1820". Something to look forward to.
After refreshments, Dick Smith the Chairman of STOAT (Save the Old A3), plus two committee members, enlightened us with regard to the difficulties which could arise if the present A3 is closed when the two tunnels are built at Hindhead. However, local residents on either side of the A3 will face "rat-runs" plus terrific congestion at the complex of Hazel Grove Junction, and with motorists losing patience, accidents will occur. The Emergency Services are worried too. Both tunnels will need regular maintenance which means only one tunnel in use when the work is being carried out. If we want to protest we are asked to write personally in the hope that our plea will override the Contractors, National Trust, etc.
July 2003 A Visit to Moor House Farm and the River Wey watermeadows
The weather was kind to us for once as we disported ourselves in the evening sunshine on the lawns at Moor House Farm for our annual 'summer visit' to a local property.
Our thanks to Nicky and Bob Wilson for permission to go round and through their premises, and for their historical introduction to the house; to Adran Bird of the River Wey Trust for taking our more hardy members on a foraging trip beyond the water meadows and along the (rather overgrown!) river bank; and to David Hadfield for allowing us access to his farm fields while doing this. A good time was had by all.
August 2003 Space for Everyone
Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, Managing Director of Surrey Space Technology Ltd, explained to an audience of over fifty members of the Headley Society that there was 'Space for Everyone'. He was describing the use of small, low-cost, vehicles that have been designed and built in Guildford and launched into space to orbit around the Earth. This novel approach to space communication technology, pioneered at Surrey University over the past 15 years, allows small countries to participate in space programmes previously only available to the major powers in the world, such as the USA and Russia.
The University spin-off company now employs 150 staff and has subsidiary offices in Toulouse and Beijing with a Washington office to open soon. The Company overseas business represents 98 per cent of its income. All this has been achieved with virtually no financial help from the British Government, who in Mrs Thatcher's term of office decided to withdraw all direct support for space research and instead contribute to the European Space Programme.
The small satellites are classed as mini, micro and nano range in size from about the size of a refrigerator down to credit-card size. They vary in weight from 100kg down to less than one kilogram and are launched by being fitted around major satellites being launched on large rockets by the USA, Russia or Eurosat. These small satellites will do most of the tasks of their large, expensive brothers, such as radio communication, weather observation, and photography, but use electronic and mechanical components made for home computers, digital cameras and video recorders. They perform very reliably despite not being especially for space use, at a fraction of the cost! The talk was illustrated by very striking space pictures taken of Earth over rain-forests, cities, deserts and snow-covered areas.
Surrey Satellite Technology are working on the next challenge; a low-cost space vehicle to orbit the Moon.
September 2003 Photography for the Enthusiastic Amateur
The Headley Society were fortunate when Major Jeremy Whitaker gave us an illustrated talk on the art of good photography.
A professional himself, he learned his art the hard way by observing and learning as he mastered the pitfalls of this subject.
He began the talk with illustrations of his home, the Land of Nod, and of National Trust gardens, architecture at its best both in England and various parts of the world, children taken when least expected, either a back view or with the camera focussed from the hip: all excellent shots. To obtain good results it often requires taking several pictures of the subject.
If one had a Digital camera it was suggested one try macro photography whereby an insect of the minutest dimensions is enlarged on a leaf or an orchid, portraying its beauty which the human eye cannot appreciate in normal viewing.
When photographing a border of flowers, he suggested one took the picture standing amongst the blooms, not from afar, and using a tripod was highly recommended. Great care was needed not to trample flowers and foliage!
Finally the audience was invited to browse through various portfolios of famous people, including the late Queen Mother, and inside cathedrals portraying natural sunlight balanced with an electric light here and there.
October 2003 Finding of Longitude
Ken Atherton of the British Cartographic Society gave an interesting and informative talk to The Headley Society showing a range of papers, books and maps. He described the problems facing early seafarers when trying to establish their positions at sea.
Then, the science of navigation was based on knowledge of the stars, the direction of winds and currents and the use of a simple compass. Whereas it was a relatively simple matter to obtain the latitude of a ship, using a quadrant, the mariner's astrolabe and the cross-staff, calculating the longitude was a different matter. Sailors relied on dead reckoning and calculated estimates of the position of the ship in relation to the land. The cost of ignorance was high. Sometimes it resulted in a prolonged voyage with outbreaks of diseases that claimed the lives of seamen.
All too often the voyage ended in disaster, when a ship was swept upon the rocks of an unexpected landfall. The speaker described how, in 1707, the loss of the Association and three other warships on the Isles of Scilly with the death of almost 1700 men, including Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell, precipitated the Longitude Act of 1714, in which Parliament offered a prize of £20,000 to the inventor of a workable method of determining a ship's longitude.
Although Ptolemy and Galileo had proposed methods to determine longitude, it
was the Lunar Distance method that became the astronomers' real candidate. Unfortunately
neither the positions of the moon or stars were known accurately. In order to
overcome this problem the Greenwich Observatory was built in 1675 and the first
Astronomer Royal, spent the next 50 years making over 50,000 observations of
the stars. By 1738 the
second Astronomer Royal had completed his observations of the moon. Now the set of accurate observations required for the Lunar Distance method was available. A means of accurately positioning the moon amongst the stars was solved with the invention of the quadrant in 1731.
Another approach to the problem was to carry time on board ship, however no existing chronometer was suitable for use at sea or was accurate enough. However, John Harrison, the son of a carpenter, decided to construct a chronometer that would meet the requirements of the Longitude Act. The speaker concluded his talk by giving details of the development of Harrison's chronometers. He described how, between 1735 and 1772, Harrison constructed at least four different chronometers and told of the opposition he faced from those who supported the Lunar Distance method. Finally, after the intervention of George III and three years before his death, Harrison received the full prize. Harrison's invention signalled the end of the pre-scientific era of navigation. Sailors now had the means of "Finding The Longitude"
November 2003 The Royal Woolmer Way
Members of Headley Society took a virtual walk along the Royal Woolmer Way led by the Deadwater Valley Trust Ranger, Mike Wearing.
The 13-mile walk started in Liss, along the Riverside Railway Walk. Initially, the members followed the old Military Line, which connected Bordon to Liss. On Sundays returning soldiers using this station, could number 4,000! Before long we came to a meeting of the waters where the peaty waters of the River Blackwater meets the clear waters of the River Rother, and took a detour to see a memorial to a WWII airman who "gave his life so that others might live". Shortly there was a break in the thick Rhododendrons giving a wonderful glimpse of a heron on a private lake looking for his supper. Further along we passed a beautiful iron stone cottage with the ironstone coming from Weavers Down. Next came Wolfmere Lane, Wolfmere being the ancient name for Woolmer and meaning Mere where the Wolves lived. The next high spot was the Victorian church at Greatham with its shingle spire and a detour to see the original 13th Century church, which is now in ruins.
We have now reached Woolmer Forest and Woolmer Pond, the largest Ephemeral lake in Europe. If you are lucky you may see Natterjack Toads, crested Newts, dragon and damselflies. The "wasp spider" which is normally a coastal habitant, has been seen here and hoards of Roman coins have been found in the area too. This brings us to Deadwater Valley, dead meaning dark as the stream is fed by the Woolmer peat bogs. At the right time of the year, walkers should be able to see the Southern Marsh Orchid, not to mention a flourishing bird life including the song thrush and bullfinch.
Onward to the Bordon Enclosure and Alexandra Park, where we saw the most amazing of oak trees. With the sun shining through, it was a spectacle from any angle. Next Broxhead Common where sand lizards have been re-introduced. Watch out for the vivid green male. And again, at the Sand Pit Pool, dragonflies and damselflies abound. Beyond we entered Headley Park and Rabbitfield Hill, reclaimed sandpits with countless rabbits. The Sand Martin nests on one side of the old sand pits were very noticeable. Before long we have crossed the county boundary from Hampshire to Surrey and find ourselves passing the impressive Edwardian church in Dockenfield. The end is in sight and what an end. First we come to Frensham Mill and its pond, where Grey Wagtails may be seen and then, via the final stretch of footpath passing Moor Pond and its mute swans, on to Frensham Pond. Here Julian Huxley did his early studies of the Great Crested Grebe. What a scene, the sun is setting on the pond and, with lowering temperatures, ice is forming, or so ended our virtual walk. "Nature is never far away".
December 2003 Bletchley Park Code Breakers
The Church Centre was filled to capacity on the 4th December when some ninety Society Members and visitors listened to John Davis talk about the TOP SECRET work undertaken in World War II.
Bletchley Park is world-famous for the work of Alan Turing and his team in breaking the encoded messages sent by German and other enemy forces. All military messages were coded by a special typewriter, called 'Enigma', which would be set up to type a different letter from the key pressed, according to the encoding being used on that day. The encoded message was then sent by the radio operator using Morse Code. On receiving the message it was decoded using another Enigma machine set to the code-of-the-day.
In Britain, radio operators intercepted the Morse code short-wave wireless signals, which had been sent as a series of five-letter grouped words. Dispatch Riders then rushed the messages to Bletchley Park where the deciphering, translation and military assessment took place. By the year 1942 over 4,000 high-grade messages were being processed each day. This was a 24 hour a day task and first involved the very difficult process of breaking the code being used that day. This involved searching for patterns in the messages, such as the frequency of use of alphabet letters in the German language, the style of the military message, and any other military intelligence available. The process was aided to a great extent by code-books that had been acquired from the Germans by clandestine methods. Even so, tremendous dedication and attention to detail was needed by the Bletchley Park staff, 80% of whom were female, to ensure that the messages were decoded very rapidly due to their significant military importance. To aid the work the very first special computers were developed by Alan Turing and his team.
Two members of the audience, Mrs Jarman and Mrs Potter, worked at the Park during the War. At the end of the meeting Mrs Jarman related her experiences. It was only recently, when she visited the exhibition at Bletchley Park, that she realized that many of the messages she handled were sent from Hitler to his Field Commanders. She also discovered, during the visit, that her husband had worked in intelligence in Burma, when he admitted he recognised an Enigma machine!
February 2004 Our Own Wood
The speaker at Headley Society's meeting on 5th February 2004 was Professor Julian Evans, OBE, who told us of the trials, tribulations and joys of owning his own wood in Hampshire.
Nestling next to the London to Southampton railway line in Micheldever Forest is a plot of land of some 22 acres known as Northdown Plantation. In 1985 Professor Julian Evans decided to buy it, or more accurately to buy the remaining 967 years of its lease from the Forestry Commission.
As Chief Research Officer with the Forestry Commission at Alice Holt, he had some knowledge of trees and woodland, but nevertheless the prospect of managing his very own wood with only family and friends to help him was a daunting one.
The plot had been planted in the 1950s with rows of fir and beech. At the time he bought it one in three of the fir rows had already been felled, and over the next few years he set about clearing the rest leaving a more open aspect for the beech rows to mature further.
Ironically, the fir (sold for firewood) fetched a far higher price than the beech did when he sold some later. As it was not large enough to be of interest to furniture-makers, it was sold to be pulped and used as an ingredient in low-grade cardboard.
The main enemy of the broad-leaved tree is the grey squirrel. A pair of these can strip a ring of bark from bottom of a tree in minutes, and if the ring is complete the tree will die. Even if the tree survives, the core wood will be ruined for decorative purposes when cut later.
Another, perhaps surprising, enemy in Northdown Plantation is wild clematis ('old man's beard') which can smother trees if unchecked.
As well as learning about the wildlife and biodiversity of his property, and meeting his family on film, we were also introduced to some snippets of 'trivial pursuit' information such as: Britain is the fifth windiest country in the world; the sale of wood is not subject to income tax; there are three legal ways of killing a grey squirrel; the plastic planting tube for trees was invented at Alice Holt; and a 'Hoppus foot' is used for measuring the useful bulk of round timber.
Professor Evans's talk was well illustrated with slides, and his delivery held the audience's attention to the end. He also mentioned that his story will complement (and compliment) that of our November speaker, Ben Law, who will expand on different aspects of woodland management.
Professor Julian Evans, OBE, formerly the Forestry Commission's chief Research Officer and an expert in managing broad-leaved woodlands, has written several books including "A Wood of our Own" (now out of print) and "What happened to our Wood" published in Sept 2002.
March 2004 Annual General Meeting
The President and Founder, Joyce Stevens, welcomed the 52 members present (out of a total membership of 145) and noted with pleasure the continued health of the Society since its inception in 1985. She recalled being told at the time not to attempt monthly meetings throughout the year - precisely the format which we are now pursuing so successfully. In fact we had failed only once in all that time to put on a month's meeting, due to snow.
John Owen Smith took the chair, thanked Mrs Stevens, and proceeded with the night's agenda.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Leslie Barnes, Pat Hargreaves (secretary), Brian & Yvonne Nicholson, Cliff White and Meg Wilkins.
In the absence of the Secretary, Mr Smith read the minutes of the 2003 AGM. Approval of the minutes was proposed by Betty White, seconded by Wendy Bennett and carried unanimously.
Mr Smith thanked retiring members of the committee, Ken Blatch and Roddy Warry, and also Lee Clark and Fran Borra for their work in providing refreshments each month. A small gift was presented to each. Mr Smith then gave a brief account of some of the Society's activities over the preceding year.
As promised, we had purchased the Headley section of the 1901 census from Hampshire Record Office and a team of six had taken several merry months to transcribe it. The result was on the Headley website, and copies of the originals sheets were available for inspection at the meeting.
Nicky Wilson had had prints made from Norman Wilson's engraved blocks which Sue Allden had brought to us, and these had been on sale during the year, and indeed remained on sale today. A fifth 'Headley Miscellany' had been published in October, and an updated version of Joyce's 'To the Ar and Back' was now available.
We had secured the safety of the old post box from the High Street. It had spent many weeks flat on its face in Roddy Warry's garden, but now we had successfully removed the front and Mike Withers was busy designing a frame to display it in the foyer of the Village Hall. We knew it was a genuine George V box because on dismantling it we found a George V penny-red stamp attached to the corner of a postcard still inside it!
And last but not least, we had once again organised a speaker throughout each of the twelve months of the year and had already planned the next twelve. This was down to a sub-committee of Leslie Barnes, Yvonne Nicholson and Nicky Wilson, whom he thanked particularly for performing this unsung role with such success.
He ended by repeating the old adage - if you have any complaints, tell us; if you like it, tell others.
Mr Blatch presented the 2003 accounts to the meeting, audited by David Lishman. The Society funds were still in a healthy state and the committee proposed to keep the Annual Subscription at £5 per member for the following year. However they were aware that speakers' charges in particular were generally increasing and would review the situation again next year.
There were no questions raised on the accounts. Christine Leonard proposed they should be accepted, seconded by Caroline Lemka. The vote was carried unanimously.
The chairman noted that Phil Peddy had agreed to audit our accounts next year.
Programme for 2004/2005
Nicky Wilson read out the speaker programme for 2004/2005 including 13 meetings up to April 2005. A number of programme cards were available at the meeting.
Caroline Lemka told us of the series of walks which she was organising along portions of the Royal Woolmer Way.
Election of Officers and committee members
Nominations had been received for John Owen Smith (chairman), Mike Withers (vice-chairman), Pat Hargreaves (secretary), Sue Allden, Leslie Barnes, Caroline Lemka, Brian Nicholson, Ann Viney and Nicky Wilson, and for two new members David Lishman (treasurer) and Joan Thorne. The meeting duly appointed the committee.
Any Other Business
There was no other business and the chairman closed the AGM at 8.25pm.
Following the official business of the evening, two members gave short illustrated talks about their interests. Marguerite Withers showed us a history of Machine Embroidery including some of her own work, and Sue Allden talked on the links between Alice Holt Forest and Roman pottery.
April 2004 A
On 1st April, the Audience in a full Church Centre was given a rare musical treat by our neighbours the Dolmetsch Sisters, Jeanne and Marguerite. They introduced us to some of their collection of reproduced early musical instruments and played to us selections of early music from the XVIth to XVIIIth centuries interspersed with interesting and often amusing family anecdotes from the years since Grandfather Arnold settled in England and continued to make and play replicas of early instruments long before the contemporary enthusiasm for baroque and renaissance music had developed (an enthusiasm he probably did much to initiate and foster). Arnold had started to give concerts of early music in London in 1890.
Jeanne played, as example, a series of variations on Greensleeves, accompanied
by a ground bass played by Marguerite on the bass viol.
Jeanne read an excerpt from a letter dated 10 May 1899 from George Bernard Shaw inviting Arnold to visit and consider giving a concert in the area. He offered to have him collected from Haslemere Station in the dogcart or, if accompanied, in a larger conveyance. So began the family association with the Haslemere area although it was to be many years before the first festival.
The Sisters then played music associated with Shakespearean plays on the various sizes of recorder. The pieces included the sad tune "fortune my foe" and two Italian dance measures favoured by Queen Elizabeth I, the corrente and Lavolta. They also demonstrated the bass recorder and the small high sopranino recorder.
1917 found the Dolmetsch family and their workshop still in Hampstead. The threat of the Zeppelin raids led a friend in Thursley to invite them down to Surrey to find a safer property in the country. They quickly found a house in Haslemere and Grandmother prophesied that once they were settled therein, the family would never move away - 87 years later this seems to have been true. It is a reminder of a past era that when the family moved, with all their furniture, instruments and tools loaded on horse-drawn carriages, because of a snowfall the horses could not get up the hill. They stopped at the blacksmiths at the foot of the hill. He suggested re-shoeing the horses leaving the nails slightly proud, a tactic that was apparently successful. The house was frozen up and they were without water, but settled in happily. The workshop was at first in the library but a studio was built on to create more workshop space. All the family were involved in instrument making and it was commonplace to see viols drying on the washing line.
The artist Byrne-Jones introduced William Morris, of Arts and Crafts fame, to one of the early music recitals. The latter said that he had not previously been able to understand music, but this early music was a revelation to him of a lost art and he requested such music be played to him when he was on his death bed. The promise was eventually fulfilled, but not before he had encouraged Arnold Dolmetsch to try his hand at building harpsichords. One of the instruments on display on this evening was a small harpsichord of the spinet type designed to be so compact that it could be transported in a London taxi cab. On this delightfully-toned instrument Jeanne played Byrde's divisions (variations) on the once popular melody known as the carman's whistle.
Life was not without setbacks. On returning from a London concert in 1917 a bag containing the tools and the rare and precious Bresson recorder was inadvertently left at Waterloo station. Arnold despaired, trying to recall the accurate dimensions of this model instrument. On August Bank Holiday, 1919, with a shout of "Eureka" he got the bore right. It was to be five years later before a friend saw this historic recorder in a pawnshop near Waterloo and was able to redeem it for five pounds and give it back to its owner.
During the second World War the family factory turned to the manufacture of aircraft components using fibre and pastes and produced some two and a half million parts. This experience had two sequels. One was occasional bombing raids because the Luftwaffe were evidently aware of this war work, but did not realise they were looking for a country house, with the result that several buildings in the area, including the hospital, were damaged but their target was unharmed. This was probably the explanation for the recent discovery of an unexploded bomb nearby, which caused considerable temporary disruption for local residents. A second spin-off from this work was use of the experience to make plastic recorders, which promised a plentiful and cheap supply. Bakelite apparently has excellent tonal qualities, but the less brittle more modern plastics cannot reproduce the tone of bakelite, according to Marguerite whose main task is the voicing and tuning of the recorders.
The hurricane of 1987, so disastrous in many ways, did provides a plentiful supply of excellent wood. Satinwood and Rosewood are valuable raw materials but boxwood is very special by virtue of its grain. Ivory for mouthpieces and ornamentation is unfortunately now banned, a fact particularly regretted by keyboard players, though not presumably by elephants.
Apart from joining in the manufacture of these famous instruments, Jeanne recalled the gruelling musical training of their childhood. Music practice and performance took the place of bedtime stories. She recalled their special delight and pride when they mastered a Telemann duo for recorders; the Sisters played this elegant work to us. She also recalled her Father's account of having hastily to learn the recorder part for Bach's fourth Brandenburg Concerto at the age of 15 to play alongside brother Rudolph for the second Haslemere Festival, duly recorded by the BBC.
These insights into the life of this pioneering musical family given by two such charming ladies and interspersed with beautiful musical illustrations enthralled and delighted us all and finished the evening on a happy note.
May 2004 The Hobby of Metal Detecting
For the month of May, the Society were treated to a talk on the Hobby of Metal Detecting and our Speaker, John Forster, told the audience of his great love for this pastime over the last 26 years.
We were handed round three articles to identify and display units were available showing the various finds from Bronze Age to the present day. Buttons of every shape and size are by far the largest find. In medieval times old clothes were thrown on the fields to rot down with buttons left intact and in recent years army buttons of all kinds have been found around areas of the World War II camps.
It is important to read up the locations which may surrender treasure beforehand, mostly on farm sites or river banks, and seek permission from landowners beforehand. It is advisable to be a member of the Federation of Independent Detectorists who will issue you with an identity card and photo of the holder and supply free Public Liability Insurance up to £2,000,000 all for a membership fee of £3.00. There is a code for responsible metal detecting that is observed.
At the end of the talk we were shown slides of historic finds and samples of detectors from a basic instrument to the most sophisticated.
It should be noted that one can ask a detectorist to survey their own land free but a reward would be expected if successful and the money is generally given to charity.
June 2004 Magic and Food
On 3rd June we had a treat with Robin Maddy a former Brigadier in the Army Catering Corps who trained in the hotel trade, joined the army, liked it so much that he stayed for 35 years, and has been a member of the Magic Circle for 50 years.
The talk: a history of army catering from 1660, when the Duke of Wellington said that the British soldier requires, no demands, to be fed.
In the Peninsula Wars studies on feeding armies were carried out.
1854 Aldershot, and Wellington Lines barracks introduced the first Army Catering, bacon and beef twice a week but pay stopped to cover costs. Kettles boiled everything, meat, potatoes, etc. and by Crimea the army were reasonably prepared but still poorly fed.
Alex Soyer chef at the Reform Club went to the Crimea at his own expense to improve things, produced the first manual for army catering and invented the Soyer Stove which boiled or stewed and burned any fuel, in service from 1885 until 1992 it stood the test of time.
The Army School of Cookery was formed in 1883, its motto Skim, Simmer and Scour. By 1900, rations of ¾ lb of meat per day including bone and gristle were in place.
In the 1914 Great War the British troops were well fed but cooks were the lowest form of life.
1937 Isadore Salmon of J. Lyons & Co studied army catering and by 1939 the Army School of Cookery was training at St Omer Barracks Aldershot.
Cooks have become Chefs at the Defence School of Cookery, all trained as soldiers first and chefs second.
Interspersed in the talk were magic and tricks and the Magic Circle formed in 1905 has obtained Lottery funding and now has premises in London, open to the public twice a week.
An entertaining and informative evening, enjoyed by around 50 members.
July 2004 Shulbrede Priory
Laura Ponsonby kept the Headley Society entertained at their July meeting with stories about her home, Shulbrede Priory, intertwined with the history of the house. The Priory, constructed in the 11th century from local sandstone, was home to Canons of the Augustinian order founded by Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Although the surrounding land suffers from flooding from time to time, the land on which the Priory was built is at a higher level so does not get flooded. It was eventually closed on the instruction of Thomas Cromwell and the Priory and its extensive estate became part of the Cowdray estate.
The Ponsonby family moved to Shulbrede in the late 1800s when Laura Ponsonby's grandfather decided he had had enough of London. He travelled to Midhurst from where he took to the countryside on his bicycle to view suitable properties. By this time, little of the Priory remained other than what is now their home.
Several generations of the Ponsonby family have lived at Shulbrede Priory since then and have carried out much restoration and extensive excavations on this historic property. From these excavations they were able to establish the layout of the Priory and the Church. Today there is nothing left of the Church, all the stone has been removed and used elsewhere in other properties. There were many slides a few of which showed the crypt, the attractive tiles, the magnificent oak beams, mullioned windows and 16th century wall paintings.
The Priory is open to the public twice a year in May and August, and I for one know that I shall be there in August.
September 2004 A Future for Whales?
Vic Machin, a member of 'Campaign Whale' and former campaigner for Greenpeace gave a very informative talk to The Headley Society entitled 'A Future for Whales?'
He is one of a number of campaigners dedicated to the worldwide conservation of whales, porpoises and dolphins and emphasised that whales would have a bleak future without the support of conservationists. He explained that in 1946 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up to promote the orderly development of the whaling industry throughout the world. It protects certain species and designates areas as whale sanctuaries. In addition, the IWC promotes studies in matters such as the humaneness of the killing operations.
The speaker explained that membership of the IWC is open to any country in the world but, although many were happy to conform to a recent ban on commercial whaling, several, including Japan, are calling for a relaxation of regulations so that they would be allowed to hunt whales. He emphasised that, for conservation to continue, the public should remain aware of the pressures on the IWC by some countries to relax the rules.
The audience were intrigued by Mr Machin's anecdotes about his numerous and sometimes unpleasant experiences as a campaigner for the protection of whales. He showed some film of the barbaric killing methods used for hunting and killing whales and dolphins. Later he impressed the audience with a collection of Scrimshaw, the name given to a variety of objects made and decorated by people involved with the whaling industry .The speaker concluded by emphasising the need for peaceful protests to protect whales.
October 2004 Jane Austen's Alton
Jane Hurst, a local historian and member of the Jane Austen Society and a former teacher, talked on Jane Austen's Alton during the Georgian period, late 1700s and early 1800s. We were told that photos give a clue but were not available at that time, and while maps do exist they are often inaccurate.
We took a conceptual trip from Chawton, where Jane's brother Edward lived at Chawton house, into and through Alton and back. Much information is gleaned from Jane's letters to her family and friends many of which are preserved.
When walking to Alton from Chawton we first come to the Butts, in those days with no trees, where the Alton Westbrook fair was held in April. Just beyond this was the tollgate, Alton was on the Farnham to Winchester section of the turnpike, the North gate being at Willey Mill, the first buildings were at the Duke's Head and Jane's brother lived opposite.
We travelled on to the main road and Westbrook House, then a private Asylum and later the council offices, left into Cross and Pillory Lane and into the Market Square. The Town Hall opened in 1813 and Jane would have seen it built. Into Lentern Street and on to Wyards to friends of the family. Back past Flood Meadows to The Olde House, her brothers, and Weybourne House, the Digweeds. Down Market Street to the High Street to see the Swan Hotel and up Crown Hill past No.10 her brother Henry's Bank. Next to the Crown lived Dr. Curtis her doctor, who was a keen early photographer. On to St Lawrence's Church where many family were baptised and brother Henry became Curate.
Opposite the Crown were friends at 1, High Street, and then Crown Close open in those days and the site of Alton Eastbrook fair at Michaelmas, now the Assembly Rooms and Museum. The High Street was much as today but with coaches leaving the Swan for London and Portsmouth.
An entertaining and informative evening, enjoyed by around 50 members.
November 2004 The House that Ben Built
There was not a spare seat to be had at the Church Centre in Headley to hear Ben Law speak at the Headley Society's November meeting on the subject of his self-built house in the Sussex woods.
He began by explaining how his thoughts on self-sufficient lifestyles had developed during visits to the rain forests of South America and in the East Indies, and how he had determined to try out some of the same philosophies back in this country.
He owns a few acres of largely chestnut coppice woodland near Lodsworth in Sussex and manages a hundred acres in total. Here he began to develop a trade in woodland crafts, quickly learning the lesson of going for 'added-value' products such as ready-made furniture rather than for standard items such as fencing posts.
Every item taken from his woods has its use - larger poles for construction purposes, 'brash' bundled into faggots for river-bank reclamation, smaller poles for making Mongolian-style yurt tents (for which there is a surprisingly good market in the UK), oddly-shaped pieces for using in individual garden furniture - and anything left over goes into the charcoal kiln to make either barbecue or artists' charcoal.
He also uses his land to grow food crops among the trees in order to be as self-sufficient as possible. Certain varieties of soft fruit do well in a woodland environment, and he has created raised beds in the clearings for vegetables. He keeps bees ('one of the easiest animals to look after') for their honey and for their pollination of the various blossoms which appear throughout the season. He has an ingenious way of farming fungi by injecting spores into lumps of wood and then throwing them into his pond to start the growth when required. He taps birch trees for their sap to make wine, and makes a range of potent brews from the various fruits and leaves found on his property.
Ben has lived in his wood for many years, first in a 'bender', then in a caravan, and then a yurt. But he had always wanted to build a 'proper' house there - one which would fit into the woodland surroundings and be constructed from the materials to be found there. However he discovered that planning regulations in the UK were somewhat more severe than in the remote East Indies, and so began a long battle with the authorities for the right to build on his own land.
In the end he won, and the resulting construction project was shown to the nation on Channel 4's Grand Designs programme.
January 2005 The English Civil War
A glimpse of life in England at time of the English Civil War.
Dennis Wraight, dressed in black as a lieutenant in the Parliamentarian Army and his wife, dressed as a wench (peasant of the day), described the history, the techniques of warfare and the food of the period. In support of their outstanding presentation they showed replicas of clothing, helmets, guns, swords, pikes, lead-shot and cannon balls, cutlery, cups and plates, and food recipes of the day.
The Parliamentarians were supported mainly by merchants and were financially reasonably well-off and dressed accordingly, whereas the Royalists, who supported King Charles were from the landed gentry, dressed much more flamboyantly and enjoyed a rather better standard of food in their army.
The population of England was about 5 million at the time King Charles came to the throne in 1625; Parliament and the Church were stable. However the King's arrogant attitude that he could do as he pleased soon created problems. It culminated in the dissolution of Parliament by the King in 1629. It remained closed for 11 years and as the problems became ever more severe the Parliamentarians took action. There was no standing army in England at the time and both sides operated bands of volunteers, fighting mainly in the summertime. Eventually the Parliamentarians formed the New Model Army and gained control of the situation. This was the start of the British Army that we have today. Battles raged from Scotland, through the Midlands and into Wales.
Several well known skirmishes took place around Headley; at Farnham Castle, the battle at Cheriton and the defeat of Royalists at Alton Church, where the musket damage to the Church can be still be seen today. Eventually the Royalists accepted defeat in 1647 after a series of battles in Wales. However the second Civil War started in 1648 and was won by the New Army. Finally in 1651, Cromwell ended the third Civil War at Worcester.
February 2005 Flora Thompson, Beyond Candleford Green
At their February meeting, the Headley Society had a speaker who needed no introduction. Instead of sitting in the audience, the Chairman of Headley Society, Jo Smith, stood at the front and gave a fascinating insight into the writings of Flora Thompson.
Originally from Oxfordshire, Flora came to live and work in Grayshott as a post office assistant in 1898. However it was not until very much later when she was in her 60s that she wrote about her childhood in a book called Lark Rise. There were two other books about her childhood and youth called Over to Candleford and Candleford Green, before she wrote Heatherley about her time in Grayshott. She always referred to herself in the third person, as a young lady called 'Laura'.
Throughout her writing she gave people and places pseudonyms and what was so fascinating about this lecture was not just the interesting insights she gives into life at the end of the 1800s, and great descriptions of the people with whom she came into contact, but the work that had been done by Jo Smith to identify the different people and places and corroborate the facts. Although it would have been relatively easy to learn the identify of 'Mr Hertford', the Post Master during her time at Grayshott post office, and to be able to put the name George Bernard Shaw to a writer she described as "a tall man on a crutch with a forked red beard", learning who the real "Richard Brownlow" was took a little luck and a lot of hard detective work and cooperation of others.
Following the talk I bought a copy of Heatherley and alongside On the Trail of Flora Thompson, in which Jo Smith describes how he separated fact from fiction, it is compelling reading.
March 2005 AGM and Members' Evening
The President and Founder, Joyce Stevens, welcomed the 42 members present (out of a total membership of 138) and noted that it was excellent of members to make the effort to come on such a cold night. She said that she was proud of the Society and its work, particularly with regard to its ability to provide such interesting speakers on a range of topics.
John Owen Smith took the chair, thanked the President, and proceeded with the agenda.
He reminded members that the Society was twenty years old this year and that
a celebration was being organised for later in the year by the Committee. He
went on to talk about some of the projects completed during the past year: the
installation and display of the George V post-box (originally from the High
Street Post Office site) in the foyer of the Village Hall; the new digital voice
recorder (a demonstration of this was given later during the evening); and Headley
Miscellany volume 6, which contained an index to all previous issues.
David Lishman presented the 2004 accounts and said that the Society funds were still in a healthy state - however it was agreed by the floor to increase the annual subscription from £5 to £6 next year to cover general rises in speakers fees.
Nicky Wilson announced the new speaker programme for the period up to April 2006.
The existing committee members were voted in for another year, with the exception of Pat Hargreaves who stood down due to pressure of work.
Following the official business of the evening, there were four short talks by members about their various interests:
Joan Finney gave told us of the avenues she had used for delving into her family history, providing examples of the search for her great-grandfather who had served for much of his life at sea.
Joan Thorne and Nicky Wilson demonstrated the digital voice recorder Ann Viney volunteered to be an interviewee and her voice was recorded and played back. Other excerpts played back included Joyce Stevens' memories of her childhood in Headley.
Marilyn Metcalfe told us about her ironstone cottage in Hollywater which, though careful exploration of the building and local documentation, she had found to be at least 300 years old. She spoke about her efforts to get the building listed and of her eventual success.
Finally, Mr Smith spoke about the time that can be needed to transcribe family records, providing an amusing example of his four-hour effort to transcribe a marriage of two local people in the early 1800s from registers.
April 2005 "What's Your Best on This?"
The Headley Society, now in its 20th year, maintained its reputation for varied,
interesting speakers when Mrs Gillian Rawcliffe gave her
presentation "What's your best on this" at the society's April meeting.
Gillian grew up in Bath and became fascinated by Junk shops at an early age. She was encouraged by her Grandmother and saved her weekly pocket money to buy anything that took her fancy.
After her marriage, she and her husband owned the two shops in Crossways Road,
Grayshott, 'Columbine' and 'Harlequin' the latter was a
gentlemen's outfitters while Gillian turned 'Columbine' into an Aladdin's Cave containing items of craft and antiques.
At the meeting Gillian, helped by her long-time friend Dorothy who had been
with her in 'Columbine', brought along an assortment of interesting
objects which she laid out on a couple of tables. The audience were asked to guess the function of a number of the objects which were passed
around the room.
She gave several useful tips and warned of present-day reproductions she had been fooled on one occasion.
After years of collecting, from fans to dolls, miniature cake decorations to cutlery, the painful time has now arrived when she is trying to offload her treasures, but she will never cease to spot an intriguing bargain.
Gillian has a wealth of knowledge which she willingly passed on to her audience, who showed their appreciation at the end of the meeting.
May 2005 With Love from the Trenches
On the evening of Thursday 5th May, despite the date being chosen for Election Day, a large audience of members and guests came to the Headley Society meeting to listen to Geoff Salter give a talk on embroidered postcards of the First World War entitled 'With Love from the Trenches'.
Mr Salter, a retired librarian, and his librarian wife decided some years ago to collect a theme. His wife chose picture postcards, embroidered by French and German widows to help supplement their income. After a long day's work the embroidery would be carried out by candle-light or gas lamps.
These cards were presented to us in a Japanese lacquered album with silk pages. Because of their fragility the 'book' was opened by Mr Salter personally but many of the cards were projected on screen, some in minute detail, to show the intricacies of such fine work.
They were divided into categories: Emotional Cards, Symbols of Love (pansies, roses and forget-me-nots), Patriotic Cards and Flag & Seasonal Cards (Christmas and birthdays). Some cards, more expensive, were perfumed but over the years the scent has vanished, some had silk handkerchiefs enclosed with bobbin lace around the edge. The cards were originally placed in transparent envelopes and not many of these survive today though we were shown a few examples. Once the cards were embroidered they were starched and sent to a local factory to be placed on linen and mounted on paper with various patterned surrounds.
Soldiers would write their cards home amid the mud of the trenches or wherever they could shelter from the battle raging around them - yet the cards were received in perfect condition. The soldiers were instructed to write just a few words which were censored before reaching our shores. No mention could be made of their whereabouts, weather conditions or health. In 1917, when America joined the war their troops would buy cards which were a little more elaborate as their wages were higher than their British fellows. The American flag, for example, was often portrayed in different patterns which boosted sales.
Embroidered cards were first made in Austria in 1903 but didn't take off in popularity until 1914. During the Second World War the idea was revived but never really caught on.
These cards today are valued from £20 each for the flower variety to £40 or more for the Flag & Patriotic type. We were shown one with an aeroplane among forget-me-nots, a much rarer variety and worth substantially more in today's market.
June 2005 From Feast to Famine: Food from Elizabeth to Victoria
Margaret Henderson introduced the audience to Food & Famine from Elizabethan to Victorian times. Illustrating her talk with slides, she spoke of the importance of hunting and wheat to the Elizabethan diet and of the huge quantities of meat that were consumed. Food was washed down with beer produced by the monasteries, rather than water which most likely was contaminated. This was the diet of the rich. The poor had to survive on bread and water.
Tudor knives and spoons were circulated around the audience for a closer look. The knives are amazingly sharp and when you went to dinner you would take your own knife with you.
Meat was often rotten and salt, sugar and spices were used to hide the smell. It was considered extremely rude to sniff meat on your fork before you ate it.
From the Stuart to Georgian times, drunkenness was a major problem. Tea had been introduced but could only be afforded by the wealthy as there was 129% duty on it; small wonder that tea smuggling increased. Chocolate was also drunk. When cocoa beans were first introduced, some sailors finding them, thinking they were sheep's droppings, threw them overboard! The Quakers took on the manufacture of chocolate when they were unable to attend universities as they would not swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown.
Although icehouses were around in Stuart times, the 18th C saw them flourish. The audience saw a slide of one, which took 13 people 8 days to fill with ice from a nearby lake. During Victorian times, ice cream was available to ordinary people. "Glass licks" in which it was sold were passed around the audience. In Victorian times these were returned to the seller when finished, wiped clean and re-used!
July 2005 William Lee, Surgeon-Apothecary
William Lee, Surgeon-Apothecary, conjures an image of a knowledgeable and professional medical expert. He was born at Headley Wood Farm in 1723 and buried in All Saints churchyard, Headley, in 1780.
Daphne Reggler gave an intriguing talk on medical matters, William Lee and his patients, who lived in an area up to 15 miles from Odiham where he practised for over 30 years. The Lee family were yeoman farmers and William was well educated, with an excellent ability in Latin. He was apprenticed to a local surgeon for seven years and the initial fee would have been about £100. He established his practice some time between 1740-1750 after obtaining a license from the Bishop of Winchester. He would have had a number of sponsors, including the surgeon he trained under, as well as prominent patients he had treated. He also performed dentistry and veterinary work.
At the time there were physicians, university trained, who only provided consultancy
but did not physically examine patients; Surgeon-Apothecaries who performed
surgery and dispensed medicines; and Apothecaries who only dispensed medicines.
Blood letting was a popular
treatment and was often provided by the barber-surgeons who undertook haircutting and minor surgery.
William Lee's records show that he regularly made house visits and one patient
he visited 13 times in one week. Another he made 85 daily
visits, some 10 miles distant by horseback, following major surgery to her upper arm after being run over by a farm cart. No record exists of
the success but her employer, a local farmer, must have been satisfied as he paid the medical expenses of £21, a sizeable sum since William
Lee's income for that year was £250. Often employers paid the medical expenses of their employees. The poor were treated and the local
authorities paid the bills the charges being related to the distance travelled.
Although smallpox was a problem at the time there is no record of William Lee performing any inoculations; neither did he attend any childbirths.
When he died his estate was £1,000 and the Headley Wood Farm, which he left to his brother.
August 2005 20th Anniverary evening
At their August meeting, one hundred members and visitors of The Headley Society enjoyed a Hog Roast at Headley Church Centre to celebrate the Society's 20th year.
Chairman, John Owen Smith, introduced the evening saying that 'In 1985, Joyce Stevens had a good idea. She decided to start an organisation "for the public benefit and interest in the area comprising the civil Parish of Headley and the neighbourhood". And so the Headley Society was born. Now 20 years on, she can be reassured that her baby is healthy and doing well.'
Joyce Stevens, the life President, replied by saying how people had tried to dissuade the first committee from holding monthly meetings as this would be impossible to sustain. Now twenty years on we had proved them wrong, and the Society was going from strength to strength.
A magnificent celebratory cake had been made by Christine Leonard showing the Society logo on top and scenes from the village traced in icing around the sides. This was cut by the president and served to all present at the end of the evening.
The mild weather allowed tables to be placed on the grass outside the Centre as well as within the building, which added to a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.
A number of exhibits were on show inside the Centre, including a panel display of Headley history (which will be mounted in Bordon Library later this year), an off-line version of the Headley website, wood engravings & lithographs of Headley by the late Norman Wilson, and an original painting by member Wendy Bennett which was raffled for Society funds. There was also a 20-question quiz on the History of Headley devised by the Chairman.
September 2005 Sound and Movies from the Past
Sound recordings and films from the past are always fascinating. David Lee from the Wessex Sound and Film Archives, based in Winchester, gave an entertaining and informative presentation at the Headley Society September meeting. Being part of Hampshire Record Office, David explained that sound and film are an important addition to the written word from a sociological history viewpoint. To see and hear the experiences of people actually involved at events, often as they were occurring, was an important aspect of history.
The Wessex Sound and Film Archives are a public service with over 26,000 items of interest; copies of many of them can be borrowed through our local libraries and 27 specially made videos compilations are available. Some of the earliest records include an 1890 wax-cylinder sound recording of Florence Nightingale giving her experience of Balaclava; an 1899 Royal Navy film of a torpedo trial; and a 1905 film of the centenary re-enactment of the death of Nelson aboard the ship "Victory". Other items in the Archive are a collection of 7,700 videos donated by Meridian Television and 5,000 sound tapes donated by BBC Radio Solent in 1970. Details of all these items are available on the Archives' Web Site.
There are many other sources of archived film and sound recordings, including the National Film Library and the National War Museum, who have an extensive collection of World-War II material.
David Lee said that Headley did not have any entries in the Archive but there was a sound record from Radio Victory in which David Shepherd was being interviewed about his 15-foot high picture of Christ after its dedication in the Army Garrison Church of St. George at Bordon Camp. This was played to the Headley Society members. This was followed by a 1944 black-and-white film made for Children's Cinema about life for children being treated at the Treloar Hospital in Alton. Then a half-hour colour film made in 1957, which won a BAFTA Award, was shown, entitled "Journey into Spring". This was made in Selborne and reflected on the observations of nature by Rector Gilbert White, some 200 years earlier. The scenes and colour were outstanding.
October 2005 Secrets of the Georgian Bedchamber
Alan Green gave a large audience a slide show and talk on "Secrets of the Georgian Bedchamber".
Born and bred in Chichester, Alan Green is a member of the Georgian Society and members were shown slides of many different four-poster beds now in National Trust properties and private Stately Homes.
A Georgian bedroom was furnished with the essentials for the bedchamber and also as a social meeting place for friends to be welcomed after the occupants had risen but during the time of preparation including a very quick wash! The ladies' make-up was reckoned to take up to 2 hours and the hair-dressing even longer, as in those days the fashion was to have highly brushed hair at the top of the head, stuffed with sheep's wool and, as depicted in a cartoon of the period, a servant was shown standing on the top of a step-ladder in order to arrange the current hairstyle.
Today an average good night's sleep would be 8 hours but in Georgian times the average was 10 hours. After a sumptuous meal the ladies would retire to the drawing room to chat, whilst the men drank their port, many over-indulging. The men would then join the ladies for a game of cards and afterwards the ladies would retire first, taking a candle and holder to light their way. This was usually made of porcelain with a feminine design, whereas the gentlemen took a brass candlestick to light their way when they were ready for bed, often in a drunken state. The lady's maid was called upon to remove her Mistress's make-up and undress her, which often took up to an hour. Her nightwear consisted of a nightie and a lace cap whereas the men wore a night-shirt and a cotton hat to keep them warm as their heads had been shaved in order to make the wearing of a wig more comfortable during daylight hours.
We were shown various Georgian silverware, some very rare today but in general use at the time. For example a small box which would be filled with a sweet smelling herb or pot pourri which could be opened on arrival in a bedroom during the social hours, or in a sick room as the smells would be beyond belief in this day and age. The silverware was made in Birmingham and was a vast industry at that period. We were shown a 'spot' box where ladies would place black 'spots' on their faces, in strategic positions. They had meanings on social occasions, i.e. "I am free" and likewise the men! A box of spares would be taken to a party, as when she became hot the spots would fall off and needed replacing.
The chamber pot was usually kept in a cabinet, at eye level to the bed, and a maid's first task each morning would be to empty it, often out of a window, and clean a spittoon with her hands as the bowl was designed in such a fashion that there was no other option. A shaving bowl for the men was shaped to fit under the chin and a barber reckoned on his task taking a quarter of an hour.
A Georgian bedroom wall was usually papered whereas reception rooms had silk paper. One room was generally set aside as a Chinese room with silk hand-painted paper on the walls which took two or three years to paint and deliver, at a terrific price to the owner. Most Georgian houses were built with 5 storeys allowing three floors for bedrooms to house the family and guests, who when visiting would always stay overnight, and the servants of the Master and Mistress as well as visiting servants of their guests. Nowadays the Georgian properties of Bath and alike have been converted into flats.
To conclude, Mr Green pointed out that life began and ended in bed.
November 2005 Lines in the Landscape
At the Headley Society meeting in November the speaker was Chris Webb, who is the National Trust warden for Selborne, Ludshott, Conford and Passfield Commons, Bramshott Chase and Waggoners Wells.
Chris has an MA in Field Archaeology and his talk was entitled 'Lines in the Landscape'. He spoke about the Selborne area where his family has lived for generations.
The medieval Selborne Priory was closed in 1486 (some 50 years before Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries). Documents relating to it can be studied at Magdalene College, Oxford.
There is evidence of medieval ridge and furrow ploughing around Selborne, which is rarely seen in Hampshire now. Common rights existed for centuries and cattle are still grazing on Selborne Common (up the Zig-Zag and through the trees). Some of the trees have been pollarded at various intervals.
Boundary banks are still visible which would have enclosed Selborne Park, and there is evidence of strip lynchets which are horizontal terraces on a hillside.
A particularly interesting discovery of his is evidence of a Roman field system, as the boundaries of the ancient landscape have not been damaged by recent land management.
Chris showed excellent slides, especially of the orchids on Noar Hill. He was warmly thanked.
January 2006 Nanotechnology - A new 'ology'!
Members heard a talk on Nanotechnology on 5th January 2006 by the Vice Chairman, Prof. M. J. Withers. Whilst the title may have sounded stuffy and scientific, the discussions were witty and based on observations of normal life.
Nanotechnology is about making small things down to atom size, in the 0.1 to 100 nanometre size range; 1 nm being one thousand millionth of a metre. The USA and Russia consider this will be a 3 trillion dollar industry by 2010, so it will be big business.
Man has made things since the stone-age, stone tools, bows and arrows, leather and fur goods. In the bronze-age, using fire, he made metals from tin, copper and zinc to form bronze; and pottery from clay. The advent of better furnaces led to the iron-age and then, many centuries later, to making steel and stainless steel plus other alloys. Plastics came in 100 years ago and about 75 years ago the atomic age arrived with splitting the atom and then the atomic bomb. Valves and the Cathode-Ray Tube date from1900: 1950 semiconductors: 1953 DNA was discovered: 1960 printed circuits: 1970 integrated circuits: 1980 Micro-miniaturization (The Chip): 1984 DNA fingerprinting: 1990 Genetics and the test tube baby: 2000 Genome decoded, all the genetic information on how to build a human!
At each stage man has manipulated a shrinking world, either making things smaller or making smaller things using atoms as the basic building block. Prof. Feynman, a Nobel Prize Winner, first lectured on this idea in 1959. Headley Society Members were shown video exerts from his famous 1984 talk that he gave at the California Institute of Technology.
Carbon fibre is an example of building from atoms; it is a material that is lighter but stronger than steel. IBM Research Laboratories in Switzerland have shown recently that it is possible to write by positioning single atoms. Silver nanoparticles can kill bacteria and are being used in wound dressings. Other applications are found in: sport products (golf clubs, tennis racquets, etc); paint finishes; TV screens; lighting; electronic paper; computers; food packaging and all manner of interactive foods; bio electronics and medicine, etc. Self-cleaning glass, stay-clean clothes and fabrics, filtration, etc. are already with us. Many other amazing applications are being investigated.
See update 3 years on
February 2006 'Voices of Petersfield and District'
Headley Society members were encouraged to get out and record their own local history by Pamela Payne, the speaker at their February meeting.
Author of "Voices of Petersfield and District", Pamela entertained a packed meeting with tales of her career as a journalist and writer. She told of the time when she went to report on an aerobatics display in Buckinghamshire, and found herself in the cockpit flying the plane. Locally, it was when she was writing in Petersfield for the Herald group that they decided to start the Petersfield Herald title.
Her husband's career in the Forces took her abroad, and she organised multi-national creative writing groups in English, finding it interesting to try to get them to retain the lilt of their mother tongue in their work. One such group in Naples decided to publish a book of their work and nearly ran foul of the 'family' printers when it looked like the bill for printing might not be paid on time!
Back in Petersfield she was approached by Tempus, a publisher of local history books, to write the first of a series of titles they were planning. These, the Oral History 'Voices of' series, would be based on interviews with local people giving their oral memories of times past. At the time there was no other general history book covering Petersfield, and after some deliberation she decided to accept the commission.
She began a fascinating round of interviews with local people, some of whom she already knew but many of whom replied to requests for information in the media, and she had many hints for her Headley audience from her own learning experience on how best to do this, and which pitfalls to avoid.
At the end of the meeting the chairman John Owen Smith, himself a writer and publisher of local history, thanked Pamela for a stimulating talk and added his own encouragement for members to get out there themselves and start recording vanishing history.
March 2006 The Changing Headley Parish
John Owen Smith, chairman of Headley Society, gave an illustrated talk on the Headley parish and how the boundaries had changed over the past several centuries.
Up till 1991 the Frensham Pond Hotel and part of Frensham Pond were in the northern boundary of the parish. Until 1929 the town of Bordon was in the western area of the parish, and until 1902 the parish also included Grayshott in the east. Jo showed sketches and photographs of buildings through the ages on the borders of the parish. It was most surprising how many corn, paper and iron mills there were; all relying on water power for their motive force. Several buildings have suffered form fire; All Saints Church had a wooden spire until 1836 and the old Headley Park house was destroyed later in the century.
Some houses have changed name, Benifold in Headley Hill was once Pinehurst. For four years it was owned by "Fleetwood Mac", the pop-group. The Grange, in Liphook Road, has had many changes of use; once the workhouse for the poor at the time of the Headley riots; it was a sound studio where Led Zeppelin recorded "Stairway to Heaven" and now is a private house. Many shops have also become private houses as the pattern of retailing has changed. Grayshott Hall has reversed this trend, changing from a residence to a health spa.
Mr Smith's talk was based on the public exhibition he organised last year for the Bordon Library.
April 2006 Life in the 1930s through advertisements
Jane Hurst, Alton's local historian and genealogist, took the members of Headley Society on a nostalgic and amusing tour through the Alton Gazette of 1935, at their March meeting.
Jane showed many fascinating pictures of advertisements covering every conceivable feature of day-to-day life in the Alton area in 1935. She tempted members with J H Knight's ice creams, White's of Aldershot skunk fur chokers at 25/9d and the very latest design in prams. Some members recognised from their childhood the art deco styles in dining room furniture, three piece suites in moquette and bedroom suites- many of which were burnt as firewood in the 1960s.
We were tempted to take a Southern Railway trip to Margate or Worthing, to visit the Palace Film House, or, to celebrate the Silver Jubilee, to try our hand at the Gymkhana or the Humorous Fancy dress competition for Gentlemen. There were opportunities to visit the Tidworth Tattoo or swim in the "Mauritania" swimming pool at the Alton House Hotel and we were exhorted to try for a free air flight with Sir Alan Cobham's Flying Circus. One elder statesman of the Society recalled that he had done just that!
The ladies were urged by the International Stores to spring clean with soap flakes at 1/-; they were pressed to buy corsetry or hats at White's, where they could enjoy coffee with friends while watching a mannequin parade of the latest fashions.
The men were transported back to the days of the Popular Ford motor car at a cost of £115 for a "single entrance saloon", a Bantam Singer at £120 or an Austin Seven with synchromesh on third and second gears at £120£172.
Names like Timothy Whites & Taylor, Valor, Alton Autos, Bradley Trimmer, Kerridge's and Webber's all brought the past flooding back.
May 2006 Spies in Petticoats
Carol Brown of the Guildford Museum kept over 50 members and visitors of the Headley Society enthralled with her stories and anecdotes about the brave women of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). 39 women had travelled to France during the WWII to support the French resistance in their fight and to help "set Europe ablaze" as instructed by Churchill.
Supported by slides, Carol Brown talked about a number of the women. Recruits were either French or had a good French background. Initial training took place locally in Warnborough and included being encouraged to drink and being woken in the middle of the night to see how they kept their cover. They were taught how to use guns and explosives, sabotage, even the technique of silent killing. All training was very secret not even the locals had any idea what was going on. As it was so secret, recruits not deemed suitable for undercover work were sent to Scotland to work for the duration of the war.
Churchill had agreed to women being used as agents as they were less conspicuous than men as they were expected to be out and about on the streets. Also women worked better on their own.
New recruits were the responsibility of Vera Atkins, ensuring that they had good cover stories and would blend in well. This included dressing like a French woman. Entering France by many means including parachute, the women were used as radio operators and couriers. The radios used by agents weighed 30lbs and fitted into a small suitcase. One slide showed a cyclist with a big bundle of sticks on his back, which was used to hide a radio transmitter. The women agents although highly trained were still women. After being arrested, a group of them shared a lipstick.
Of the 39 women sent to France, 15 were arrested and 13 executed. They were tortured and raped yet never betrayed their country. They were sent to various concentration camps. At one, Natzweiler, four women were given a lethal injection and put in the crematorium furnace. Others were taken to Dachau and shot.
After the war, Vera Atkins interrogated German officials and guards to discover what had happened to all the agents that had not returned to England. As the SOE was not considered a military organisation, no military honours were given in England, although a couple of the women were posthumously awarded the George Cross.
June 2006 Farnborough: The early years of British aviation
Gordon Knowles of Surrey Archaeological and Surrey Industrial History Societies kept the members of the Headley Society interested with his account of the early days of flight at Farnborough. Supported by photographs and anecdotes, Gordon Knowles spoke of Col. Samuel Cody and his association with aviation and Farnborough.
The members quickly learnt that Col. Sam Cody was neither a Colonel nor a military man. Neither was his real name Cody, but Cowdery. He was an American from Iowa, a sharp shooter who modelled himself on Buffalo Bill Cody. Photographs quickly showed the similarity.
Initially Cody worked on man-lifting kites, which he offered to the War Office. The Navy, rather than the Army, put his ideas to use. Col. Capper, Head of Ballooning at Farnborough, took a keen interest in his kiting activities. As a result of this collaboration, in 1907 the airship Nulli Secundus (second to none) took to the air. With both Cody and Capper on board it reached a height of 800 ft and did a couple of circuits of Farnborough Common to the applause of a large crowd. It is said the sappers anchoring the airship, ran along on the ground underneath as no one had told them to let go.
Cody's greatest achievement was the first manned aircraft in the UK, "Army Aircraft No 1" which took to the air in October 1908. Amazingly, photographs of this aircraft show wires all over the place and very visible chains which connected the engine to the propellers. However, the Union Jack was in a prominent position! The first flight, with Cody at the controls and Col. Capper as a passenger, covered 496 ft. Later in the day, Mrs Cody took the passenger seat becoming the first woman to fly from British soil.
This era in aviation history and Farnborough came to an end in August 1913 when Cody was killed as a result of crashing whilst testing his new "water plane". He was attempting to land on the Basingstoke Canal.
July 2006 Queens at War
At the July meeting members heard a very interesting talk by Commander Bruce Nichols, OBE on the Cunard line.
The first ship was launched at the end of the sailing era. The Cunard and White Star line, as it was for several years, gradually acquired bigger ships. The larger liners of Cunard competed with America to win the Blue Riband for the fastest Crossing of the Atlantic.
During World War II the Queen Mary carried thousands of American servicemen in very cramped conditions taking a northerly route to avoid the German submarines. In 1959 the Queen Elizabeth was the world's largest liner at 83,673 tons.
With the advent of air travel crossing the Atlantic by sea became less popular. The Queen Mary was sold to America where she lies at Long Beach, California. The Queen Elizabeth was acquired by a Hong Kong business man, but his business rival, possibly Triad, set fire to this beautiful ship.
Now cruising is popular again, and the QE2 and QM2 are enjoyed. Before too long they will be joined by the Queen Victoria.
September 2006 Butterflies - how to save them
The September meeting of The Headley Society was introduced by Mike Withers pointing out the partial eclipse of the moon, which was happening at that very moment. As it was a wonderfully clear evening, members had a good view of the eclipse through the large windows of the Church Centre.
The subject for the evening was Butterflies and the work being done to protect them and their habitat by Butterfly Conservation. The speaker, Lyn Fomison, Reserves Officer for the Hampshire branch of Butterfly Conservation, outlined the problems facing butterflies and moths, and their habitat.
There are 56 species of butterfly in this country and 7 out of 10 are in decline, many because of changes to their habitat. Some such as the Comma, have managed to change with it, but others have not been so fortunate. The Comma used to lay its eggs on hops but changes to hop growing practices had a great impact on the Comma and it declined significantly until it managed to change its egg laying to nettles. The same cannot unfortunately be said for the White-letter Hairstreak, which used the elm tree which is of course almost non existent in our countryside.
Supported by many beautiful slides of butterflies, Lyn Fomison outlined the work being done at the three Hampshire Conservation Sites in Magdalen Hill Down and Yew Hill near Winchester, and Bentley Station Meadow to control scrub and keep the flower rich grassland in good condition and to monitor the butterfly population. In addition she gave advice on creating a butterfly haven in our own gardens. However the pièce de résistance were the slides of the Swallowtail Butterfly now sadly only found in the wild in Fenland in Norfolk. That definitely brought out the ooohs and aaahs in the audience.
October 2006 The History of Whitehill & Bordon
Dig around enough, either literally or metaphorically, and you find that everywhere has an interesting history. Certainly Adam Carew and Chris Wain were able to convince an audience at The Headley Society of this fact when giving us the sometimes surprising history of Whitehill and Bordon.
We were taken from the stone age through to modern times in an evening, and several of those in the audience who assumed they 'knew it all' were admitting by the end that they had learnt many new things.
Broadly, if I may be so bold as to summarise, the history of the area can be grouped into three main categories of interest: the pre-historical human occupation from the stone age through to the Romans; the current military occupation starting in the 1860s; and the exceptional natural history of Woolmer Forest. In each of these Bordon & Whitehill has something unique to offer.
The area is the site of a great number of barrows, and the 'finds' within some of them indicate burials of high-status people. The enigma of the Walldown earthwork still puzzles us as to its purpose and original extent. Discoveries of Roman coin hoards lead us to wonder if here was the scene of a battle between dissident Roman armies. Woolmer Pond is the 'largest ephemeral lake in Europe' and the land around it is the only place in Britain where all 12 species of native amphibians and reptiles can be found in one place. The army found unconventional ways to move large huts around, and built a railway loop to instruct servicemen on how to drive trains and repair damaged tracks. And much more…
The Woolmer Forest Heritage Society exists to investigate and record the history of the area and intends to add further facilities to augment its current display area in Bordon Library. For further information see their website.
November 2006 Ropes
& Lines, Knots in Twines
How do you tie together two pieces of rope of the same thickness? Not with a Reef Knot apparently - use a Fisherman's Knot instead. This was just one piece of information given to members of The Headley Society at their November meeting by Gordon Perry of the Guild of Knot Tyers.
In a meeting of three parts entitled "Ropes & Lines, Knots in Twines", the speaker first gave an illustrated talk on the types of material used to make ropes, both in the past (with natural materials) and currently (with composite man-made materials), and passed round samples of each for the audience to handle.
Then, during a break for refreshments, he set up a small rope-making machine and used it to demonstrate in miniature how a 'rope walk' worked.
Finally he gave us a demonstration of knot-tying, concentrating on four 'useful' knots which we could use around the house and garden. Each member of the audience was given a piece of string to try their hand at it, with varying degrees of success.
Mr Perry had brought along a table full of examples of knots and artefacts made with rope, and these along with the talk and demonstrations contributed to an entertaining and informative evening. For further information on the Guild, see their website.
December 2006 The Magic Lantern & Victorian Humour
Christmas Tree, paper hats and mince pies were all in evidence for The Headley Society Christmas supper party which took place in the very atmospheric surroundings of Curtis Barn in Headley. The Vice Chairman, Mike Withers, welcomed over 70 members for the occasion. They were served a choice of Chicken & Leek Bake or Beef in Ale Cobbler, both provided by the Grayshott Village Kitchen caterers.
Alan Brindle who gave a wonderful insight into the Victorian world of the Magic Lantern provided the entertainment. He showed many slides, some over 150 years old. Although by the standards of today, the Magic Lantern show may have seemed very simplistic, to the audiences of the early 1800s, they were literally Magic, being the earliest form of moving image on screen. One slide of a tiger opening and closing his mouth had frightened the early audiences. Other, later slides, depicted comic strips while others projected a very beautiful kaleidoscope image.
Following the Victorian Magic Lantern show and to end the evening, home-made mince pies and coffee were served. And finally, before everyone left, the Vice Chairman, thanked our hosts for allowing us to use their barn and Christine Leonard who had made the mince pies.
January 2007 Film and TV Props
ENTERTAINMENT AND ENTERTAINING. Just two words which describe the talk given by Louise Lusby to the Headley Society in January.
Louise, a designer of props for TV and film based at Shepperton Studios, started by showing the audience a selection of props which her company had made. Within seconds building bricks were hurtling towards the audience and although they were made of a very lightweight resin, they were so realistic looking, one's initial reaction was to duck fast. Also on show was a skeleton arm and hand that had been used in "Silent Witness". This was made with latex, but the nails attached to it were ordinary cosmetic nails that can be bought in any branch of that well-known chemist chain. There was a large thumb which had belonged to Benny Hill, a resin Staffordshire figure from Lovejoy, and a "gotcha Oscar" from Noel's House Party.
Louise gave a brief history on how she got started in the business. Her first job was with the BBC as a Holiday Relief Design Assistant fortunately her time with the BEEB was a little longer than it takes to say it. She worked on many interesting and well-known programmes, starting with children's programmes such as Play Away and Jackanory. She did the first colour Jackanory design and using psychedelic pink and orange (this was in the 70s!) they were going to know that this was in colour, even if only a dozen people watching had colour TV! She went on to do designs for Parkinson including one of his interviews with Mohammed Ali.
She started her own film and TV prop-making company based at Shepperton Studios, with her husband Keir, in 1970. From here they worked on many films as well as TV shows, designing and producing the coffin used by Madonna in Evita. However, where the original coffin had glass, they used perspex as even their huge indemnity insurance wouldn't cover any damage to Madonna's face should the glass break. Other credits include "the watch" for Only Fools & Horses, the 1st Pudsey Bear, glasses for Dane Edna Everage, the galleon which formed part of the wig worn by Elton John for his 50th birthday party (and he said he didn't want to look ridiculous!) and many artefacts used in Lovejoy. For Lovejoy one set of the artefacts was a real icon and a copy. However, as her company had made both of them, they were identical! The evening had to come to an end, but this is one speaker that Headley Society members would love to see again.
February 2007 All Tanked Up: the Candians in Headley during WW2
Sixty-three members of the Headley Society were treated to a talk on the Canadians in Headley in WW2 by their chairman John Owen Smith.
Jo wrote a book, All Tanked Up, on the subject in the early 1990s whilst still able to talk to many who were there at the time; some veterans still live locally.
A lively discussion ensued as some members were in Headley during WW2 and can offer their memories.
The British had tanks locally first but the Canadians were here most, with three regiments forming a brigade training at any one time.
The camps were planted in every available space with Brussels Sprouts, and graffiti in houses gives names of troops, etc.
Strangely the locals took few pictures but the Canadians took a lot.
Many walls were knocked over and roads widened by the tanks which were all named. The last vehicle through was the Quartermaster who noted damage etc for compensation or repair later. The Mounties had a presence to keep law and order.
All in all, a very entertaining and lively evening.
April 2007 "A Parcel of Gold for Edith"
At the April meeting of The Headley Society members listened avidly to Jo Smith telling the tale of Ellen Suter, the Great Great Aunt of Joyce Stevens.
The tale started 30 years ago when Joyce found seven letters written between 1853 and 1875 by Ellen after she had emigrated to the gold fields of Australia and ended, after 30 years of research, in a book called "A Parcel of Gold for Edith". It was a delight not only to have the author, Joyce Stevens, in the audience but also to hear the very interesting anecdotes she could add.
Ellen had grown up in Portsea where her father, William Suter, was a shipwright. However, following the Napoleonic Wars, prospects were very poor for the navel shipyards and their workers. Conditions were so bad in one area they lived that there was only one privy shared by all the houses on the road.
Small wonder that in 1841 at the age of 19, Ellen left Plymouth on the good ship Westminster destined for Australia.
By the time the first of these preserved letters was written, she had been in Australia for 12 years and married to John Read, a man many years her senior and living in "Bendigo Gold Diggins" in Victoria.
From these letters we learn about life in the Victoria gold fields, her children she had fourteen children of which five survived and of the relatives she left behind in England, particularly her niece Edith.
We must presume that the family were prospering as in the first letter she writes about sending £300 to her mother, sister and brother to help them out about £5,000 in today's money. In her letters she writes of her children, their schooling, the price of vegetables, the extreme weather conditions and the various illnesses, major and minor, which afflicted the family.
In one letter she remonstrates her brother for sending a letter via the Panama route as these go to Sydney and are charged to the inhabitants of Victoria at double the postage.
In the fourth letter she mentions the visit of Prince Albert, second son of Queen Victoria, and his subsequent shooting by an Irishman. At first in 1868 she is delighted to write about drinking champagne at a reception attended by the Prince. However by his second visit in 1869, she is very critical of him acquiring nuggets of gold from every mine he visited. Throughout she refers to him as "your prince" giving the impression that she no longer considers herself English.
In the fifth letter Ellen's youngest daughter Rosa sent a "small parcle of gold for Edith" but there is no mention that it ever arrived.
However, we were told that in January 2004 a granddaughter of Rosa, seeing the book advertised on the internet, contacted Joyce and was able to come to England with her husband to be present at Joyce's 90th birthday in Headley. A satisfying ending to a fascinating tale.
May 2007 Lost Wey to the Sea
In 1810, Britain was at war with France and privateers in the channel were disrupting trade along the coast. In order to convey gold bullion and other valuable commodities safely from Portsmouth to London, it was decided to build a canal to link the Wey and Arun rivers. However by the time this link was completed in 1816, the war was over and the main purpose of the canal had disappeared. It struggled on uneconomically until 1871 when it was officially abandoned, and over the years since then became derelict.
In 1970, the Wey & Arun Trust was formed with the aim of restoring the waterway to full navigation, and Tony Pratt of the Trust gave sixty members of the Headley Society at their May meeting a stimulating audio-visual presentation of progress to date.
Highlights of their work include restoration of a number of locks and bridges using original materials where possible, the construction of a new aqueduct and, most recently, the lowering of the canal bed at Loxwood by 6 feet to allow boats eventually to pass under the existing road.
Interestingly, Tony told us that funding is not available from Heritage sources
for this as they are not restoring the canal to its original state.
He would not be drawn as to a likely date for complete restoration of the waterway there are particular problems with land ownership at the northern end but progress since the Trust's foundation has been impressive.
June 2007 The Flag Man and hs Flags
In 2006 Cdr Bruce Nicholls visited The Headley Society to talk about "The Queens at War", the story behind the Cunard Line. In June 2007, he returned by popular demand, to talk about his life long passion, flags and flag making.
He started by showing slides of his first flag which he made as teenager, an illegal white ensign, illegal because you cannot make a flag which resembles an existing one. This was hoisted on a broomstick attached to a very high branch on a very high tree in his family garden which he had climbed in order to erect it. Later when he was a crew member on a mine sweeper based at Hyde, there was a group of sailors who had quite a lot of time on their hands, spent inevitably in the local pubs, who prided themselves in being the "Hampshire Boozeliers". When the young Cdr Nicholls and his fellow sailors were stationed in the Mediterranean, they formed the "2nd battalion of the Hampshire Boozeliers" and he designed and made a flag showing the many battle honours acquired as members of this battalion!
Cdr Nicholls talked of the time he was serving in the Bahamas when they were celebrating their independence. Throughout the islands, including the joint US/UK naval base, all US flags and the Union Jack were replaced with the new Bahamian flag. However Cdr Nicholls pointed out that the base was still US/UK territory and therefore it was right to fly the both flags. In the end, all three flags flew from adjacent flag poles.
Not many daughters get the gift of a flag on the occasion of their marriage. However Cdr Nicholls' daughter did! On a blue background, the Greek letter Sigma embracing Pi. Pi represented his daughter as she was "a small number which went on and on" and Sigma his son-in-law as he was a man who was good at many things and therefore "added up to a lot".
Cdr Nicholls seems to be able to design a flag for every occasion. He helped design a new flag for the island of Guernsey as they used the St George's cross which caused confusion particularly when their teams were competing in sports events. They opted for the St George's cross overlaid with the gold cross of William the Conqueror.
This was a two part evening, and after a break for coffee, Flo Woods and Terry Davies took a few minutes to talk about the Headley Village Design Statement and to seek the views of the residence of Headley. Questionnaires were distributed to those present to be completed and returned to the Parish Office or, indeed, to the next meeting of The Headley Society.
July 2007 A Taste of India
At their July meeting, 55 members of the Headley Society were treated to a talk by Laura Ponsonby entitled 'A Taste of India' about her travels to the sub-continent, which she has visited many times with a friend who was born in India.
Her special interest is in plants and vegetation and the work of Victorian artist Marianne North.
India is a land of wealth and poverty. We were taken through many places, from Madras, Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta into the Himalayan mountain region and many places off the beaten tourist track. Wonderful slides of plants, trees dripping with Orchids, rocks from the oldest to the youngest and tribal people very friendly, some still hunting with bows and arrows, houses built of coconut palms and bamboo. Markets with spices and flowers, palaces made into hotels, their religion, travelling by train, car, rickshaw, river trips the Taj Mahal this only gives a small insight into her talk and the country which was fascinating to listen to.
The last slide was of sunrise over the Himalayan mountains. As Laura Ponsonby said, India didn't disappoint. All in all, a very informative and entertaining evening.
September 2007 Grayshott Archives and Society
For its September meeting, The Headley Society welcomed representatives from its sister organisations in Grayshott to hear what they do, what they plan to do, and how they do it.
At the moment there are two separate organisations, the Grayshott Archives and the Grayshott Society, and although they work closely together we were given individual presentations: first from David Barrett on the Archives and then from Amanda Haddon-Cave on the Society.
David told us the idea of forming the Archives had germinated from a series of recent centenary celebrations in the village. Although the original idea was simply for them to maintain an index of artefacts stored elsewhere, it was soon discovered that they needed to find storage space themselves for material given to them. They started as 'lodgers' in the parish council office, but subsequently received grants and have been able to move out into a room behind the stage in their village hall. Here they have plans to facilitate public access both to the physical material and also to information which they are scanning for storage on computers.
David amused us with a number of stories from the archive, and encouraged us to view their website at www.grayshott-archive.org.uk in order to keep up to date with its current contents.
He then handed over to Amanda who gave us the background to the Grayshott Society, which is less than a year old but has achieved much in that time.
It aims to "protect and enhance Grayshott and the surrounding countryside, by encouraging the interest and support of residents," and started life following publication of the village design statement when it was discovered that this document alone did not seem sufficient to give the public a proper voice at planning applications. They now have about 140 members, have already made significant inputs into three major planning projects in the village, and have started to put up a series of 'blue plaques' on historically significant buildings in Grayshott.
Before the meeting started, chairman John Owen Smith informed Headley Society members of the sad death of its founder, Joyce Stevens, at the age of 93. A memorial service was held in All Saints' church the following day, and donations are requested to be given to the Macmillan Cancer Trust in her memory.
October 2007 Weather Permitting
"Weather Permitting" was the title of the slide show presented by the outstanding amateur photographer, Philip George, at the Headley Society October meeting. He showed many landscapes in the south of Hampshire where the effects of weather conditions produced almost unbelievably dramatic images. When wind, thunderstorms, snow and general poor weather make most photographers stay at home, Philip is out chasing the effects that the unusual lighting provides. Clouds are a special attraction and the United Kingdom is an ideal location to obtain some of the best images in the world. By day Philip is a driving instructor, based in Southampton, but it gives him the opportunity to travel around the local countryside and it is not unknown for him to suspend driving instruction for a few minutes to capture another most amazing scene: with the agreement of the pupil he hastens to add!
East Meon, The Meon Valley, the Dorset to Southampton Coast and the New Forest have been Philip's favourite and most photographically productive areas. He is a member of the Winchester Photographic Society and has won many awards for his work. His photographs are in great demand and many have been published in magazines and used for front-covers. Some locations he has photographed in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and the variations are so dramatic that it was difficult to recognise that it was the same place: it was just a single bush or tree that acted as the continuity link but even then the change in foliage, or lack of it, added to the transformation. Philip was somewhat concerned that many of the building, structures and other objects that he has photographed over the past twenty-five years have been demolished or restyled. He worries that perhaps he is putting a curse on them through photographing them! However his work is ensuring that their images are preserved.
November 2007 By Butchering, Baking and Candlestick Making Working for a living in Britain
On 1st November the Headley Society were privileged to welcome back Alan Green who, on this occasion, entitled his talk "By Butchering, Baking and Candlestick Making Working for a living in Britain."
He illustrated his very interesting talk by showing slides throughout the Georgian period (18th century), paintings by famous artists of that time and sometimes cartoon pictures.
It was mentioned that when a customer went to buy meat from the butcher, the smell surrounding the area, be it from the hanging birds in the shop, or the gutters outside, made the idea of ordering the meat and having it brought to the door become ever more popular, amongst the upper classes in particular.
King George III was popular with the people and often known as "Farmer George". After a succession of wet summers and poor harvests, he suggested that the richer people ate more meat and allowed bread to be kept for the poor.
Some of the finest brass was manufactured in Bristol during the Georgian period but later moved to Manchester. Georgian silver candlesticks, if found today, can command a high price as they are of the finest quality.
Canals were being dug to transport coal and clay to new industries and the labourers were known as "Navvies", short for Navigators, many from Ireland. Once the canal systems were complete these employees those that had survived, as there were many accidents, fatal and otherwise joined the staff of the railway companies which were building a network throughout Britain.
January 2008 Wetlands & Waterways
Some 40 plus members of the Headley Society were treated to a slide show and talk on Wetlands and Waterways by Nigel Choat a local photographer. This was at short notice due to illness of the booked speaker.
Mr Choat specialises in insect photography and showed some spectacular slides of insects, also ducks and birds of prey. However some of the river and landscape scenes were also very good and the running commentary on what, when, where and camera settings etc, added to the interest.
Almost all are taken on slide film with a Ricoh camera and no digital enhancement. All in all a captivating evening and I am sure Nigel Choat will return to show us other subjects.
February 2008 BFBS
- Broadcasting to the Troops
A large audience turned out to hear Alan Grace of the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) talk to the Headley Society.
Supported by slides and artefacts, he spoke of the early days in North Africa when the only broadcasting available to the British troops was from the Americans or Radio Belgrade. But the troops wanted to hear news from home, particularly the football results! The British War Office eventually agreed. However, there was no money or equipment and, unless medically unfit to fight, there were no men available under the age of 30. The equipment and the people were found and the 1st programme was broadcast from an Algerian harem in 1944. Rule Britannia was chosen for the signature tune in preference to Lili Marlene which was not considered 'appropriate'. There were many restrictions on what could and could not be played or said on air: no Germanic music, no mention of products other than blanco and presenters couldn't say "see you tomorrow" as they might be broadcasting to some who might be dead tomorrow.
British Forces Broadcasting soon moved to other areas. For India and the Far East, Lord Louis Mountbatten had a transmitter set up in Ceylon, and in Iceland, Icelandic Radio gave over a hour/day for broadcasts to troops in the north Atlantic. Many familiar names were involved in presenting programmes for these stations, including David Jacobs, Desmond Carrington, Tito Berns, Sam Costa and a bored photographer/writer who jumped at the opportunity to write comedy, Frank Muir.
Broadcasting for the 2nd front was the responsibility of a certain colonel David Niven. Four mobile broadcasting teams were shipped to Northern Europe; three active with one as a backup. They would broadcast until late in the evening, de-rig, move on to the next encampment, re-rig and be ready to broadcast by 6 am.
At the end of the war, a permanent base was set up in the Musikhalle in Hamburg, where they found the last recording made by a rather drunken Lord Haw Haw. The SIB confiscated it and when it was returned some years later, it was 1½ minutes longer! At the end of the evening Alan Grace played a number of recordings including this one. In it Lord Haw Haw is advocating that the Germans and British should join forces and fight the Russians! Many famous names were involved in working from the Musikhalle. Cliff Michelmore, a sportsman with a knee injury, did commentaries instead. One day he stood in for the presenter of "Family Favourites" and as they say 'the rest is history'. He introduced himself to Jean Metcalfe using his air force rank; she very politely told him that "we don't do rank here". Other familiar names include Raymond Baxter and Nigel Davenport. BFBS at that time had little difficulty in attracting big orchestras to play for them for very little money. When the Berlin Philharmonic were playing one evening they started with the main piece and finished with the overture, so that all their strength could be put into the principle piece.
One of the artefacts shown by Alan Grace was a 16" disks which was used to record broadcasts. Why so large? So that they wouldn't be stolen as they were too big to play on normal equipment.
BFBS is currently in Iraq and Afghanistan and life in these areas isn't easy for presenters. Amongst the many photographs on display was one of a reinforced bunk bed in a studio - reinforced to protect the occupant from shrapnel! At the end of the talk, members were able to peruse early photographs and copies of the BFBS Radio Times, many printed on the battlefield.
April 2008 Smuggling
The Church Centre at Headley was packed to hear Dolina Clark talk about Smuggling in Hampshire. She started by telling the audience that she was a descendent of a family of Isle of Wight smugglers!
The Isle of Wight was well placed to play a very active part in this trade. And trade it was too, providing employment for many people. Although smuggling had been around for centuries, it took off in the 17th and 18th centuries when the Government of the day imposed large taxes on many items over 2,000 at one stage, and curtailed in the mid 18th century when such taxes were either removed or reduced. A bit like fuel today, the taxes were greatly in excess of the cost, eg the duty on 1lb of tea was 4/9 and it sold for 5/- and brandy, which cost about 10/- a gallon was selling for 32/-. Although it is impossible to know how much was smuggled, in one year the customs officers picked up over 12m gallons of brandy, 21m lbs tea and 313,000 lbs of coffee.
Smuggling involved a whole raft of people from the venturer who financed the exploit, agents who organised and recruited, captains and seamen who transported the goods down, and then the people on land who moved the goods about. It was not unknown for the financier to be the local squire. At Medsted, the son of the Squire became involved in smuggling, and even received assistance from his sisters. At Ropley, the church tower was used to hide contraband goods so the Vicar would have been getting his cut too.
The goods to be smuggled were stored in large warehouses in France, many the same places we visit today to buy cheaper goods, eg Calais, Cherbourg, Dieppe and Boulogne and shipped across the channel. Much of the contraband in Hampshire came ashore in the Gosport area Portsmouth was less popular due to the presence of the navy.
If caught, the sentences passed by the courts varied. Sometimes £100 fine, or six months imprisonment often with hard labour. However, if violence had been used, the punishments could be deportation or even hanging. And some smugglers could be very violent. On one occasion the customs officer was thrown down a well and stoned to death, on another, he was buried alive!
Of course smuggling is still going on today, except today it is people and drugs.
May 2008 History of Aldershot & District Traction Co
Peter Trevaskis took members of The Headley Society back to a time when the green livery of the Aldershot & District Traction Company (the 'Tracco') was a regular sight on our local roads.
He used a combination of slides, audio recordings and his own spoken memories of life and times on the buses, with many an amusing anecdote, some of which would not perhaps seem so amusing to the health & safety-conscious culture of today.
Background information was supplied comprehensively by a packet containing timetables, maps and service details for the buses relating to Headley and the immediately surrounding area which was given to each member of the audience at the start of the talk.
He would be grateful to receive any photographs of 'Tracco' buses which members might have, and gave us details of the Aldershot & District Bus Interest Group website at www.adbig.co.uk.
June 2008 The Bridger Diaries of Dockenfield
On Thursday the 5th June, two sisters, Maureen Stone and Sheila Haytree gave a talk to the Headley Society entitled The Bridger Diaries of Dockenfield 1896 to 1943.
A very large audience listened with great interest to the day to day happenings of Bill Bridger, a farm worker who began these diaries at the age of 29 years, when he met his wife to be. Over the years they had first a girl, then two boys, another girl and then another son.
One of the farmer's favourite pastimes was to collect moleskins (catching the moles first) and for each skin the employer would award 1d, and on one occasion Bill collected 200. A nice addition to his wages!
He mentions the hop fields that were all around the area at the time, and cattle, sheep, wheat and potato crops. From time to time he mentions the wet seasons. He went to church twice a day on a Sunday, not necessarily the same church. When it was necessary to buy new clothes the family would shop in the Bentall Departmental store in Farnham. He would visit the cattle market held in Farnham once a week, and on historic occasions like the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria a day of celebration was declared and fireworks would be part of the day's events. He mentions the day King Edward VII came to Frensham Common with Queen Alexandria to inspect the troops.
When the Boer War in 1902 came to an end men were needed to build Bordon Army Camp and Bill worked there as a carpenter's labourer, building huts and eventually the garrison church. Each day he would walk from Dockenfield to Bordon, 6 miles each way. When all the building work was completed, he found himself redundant and returned to Frensham to work as a gardener, the duties of which he carried out until his death at the age of 76 years.
His three sons became fighting men during the First World War and each one survived. Alas the girls were not so lucky. Una, the elder, had been in service in Frensham for some years before telling the family she wanted to work in a London household. Within two years she suffered appendicitis and was rushed to hospital where she died, aged 20 years. Her younger sister, the apple of her father's eye, died during childbirth.
To improve their living standards, Bill and his wife Jane would grow vegetables on their own plot of land behind their cottage, and sometimes after a long hard day Bill would take a lantern out into the garden to tend the crop or pick the produce.
Soft dolls were displayed with the names of each member of the family, old photos were shown relating to the diaries, and a photocopy of Bill Bridger's death certificate.
We all learned a great deal of history from these thoughtful diaries found
in the loft of the younger son, although unfortunately two are missing.
We gave our Speakers a heartfelt vote of thanks, and much applause.
July 2008 The work of the National Trust on Ludshott Common and other local areas
To mark the centenary of the acquisition of Ludshott Common by the National Trust, head warden Chris Webb came to talk to The Headley Society about the work of the Trust on this and other local open spaces.
He began by explaining how the underlying geology of the land created the different types of landscape on the surface. In particular, hungry acid soil gives rise to the heathland we see on Ludshott Common. He also showed maps illustrating how the areas of such heathland have diminished drastically over the last couple of centuries, making those which remain all the more precious.
The term 'common' implies an area on which certain people ('commoners') had rights to graze animals. For centuries, while these rights were exercised, the animals cropped the vegetation and maintained open spaces in a natural manner. Now that grazing has virtually ceased, the Trust has to find other means if the spaces are to be conserved. This can be done by using mechanical devices, or by volunteer labour, or by organising ways of returning animals to the land.
Management of the spaces is needed if the diversity of plant and animal life is to be maintained. Left to themselves, the areas would become overgrown and support only a limited number of species. Some of the larger trees also need attention if they are to survive. Starting life as pollards for supplying timber to commoners, some of the magnificent beeches are now 300 years old but they need help if they are not to become top-heavy and fall in gales.
Asked if the Trust would take over MoD land if the Army were to pull out of Bordon, Chris explained that there is a so-called Chorley Formula used to decide whether the Trust can afford to take over property. This takes into account the on-going cost of owning and maintaining the land.
Members thanked Mr Webb for a stimulating and entertaining evening, and felt they had learned a great deal about the workings of the countryside on their doorstep.
September 2008 Fifty five years of Recording Surburban Life
On Thursday 4th September, the Headley Society were privileged to watch archive film, presented by Mr David Piggott, of Acorn Films, to an audience of approximately 60, relating to the town of Chingford, originally in the county of Essex, from 1950 to the year 2000.
We saw annual events, over the years, including a football match between a team of players versus celebrities, the judging of the town's beauty queen and her runners up, a camel race performed in a local school field with Arab costumes accompanying the animals and their riders, two men under a cloth in the guise a camel, who paraded around the town, tramping down the High Street and actually into shops like Woolworth's store which proved hilarious both to the bystanders at the time and the audience here in Headley. We were shown the opening of the new open air swimming baths in 1936 with lawn banks surrounding it and hundreds using it. The new hospital, filming all the different departments, opened in 1958 and the busy telephone exchange once known as Silverthorne before it was changed to automatic.
The highlight of the evening was the first funeral procession to the local cemetery of Charlie Kray, one of the three ruthless Kray brothers, whose parents' grave is there. The countless funeral cars laden with wreaths and the many, many onlookers the funeral attracted. Ronnie Kray was already buried in a grave alongside his parents, and Reginald Kray was brought out of prison for the day, handcuffed to a police woman, and many security men with red arm bands were present everywhere. Within six months, Reginald joined the rest of his family and another large funeral procession took place. Thugs were there in plenty to mourn their ruthless associates and again the security men were there. Some of the wreaths were 'amusing' i.e. "Free at last" and a dog made up of flowers with handcuffs on his two front paws!
We also saw part of the parish church service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with the descent and raising of the flags and the singing of the choir and congregation.
The film company was set up originally by a group of young men with an interest in photography and cine film and they gave up their free time to capture history in the making. They gave film shows to local audiences, initially, but as time went by these records became precious and film companies approached them for snippets of various scenes. Countries in Europe began to enquire for the archives and the idea of selling the productions was established. First a mere few but demand grew from audiences and companies alike.
Perhaps a similar enthusiastic film crew exists in this area - does anyone know of such a group?
The audience showed their appreciation with a hearty round of applause for a most interesting evening down memory lane.
October 2008 Tales of the Unexpected
Nearly 60 members of the Headley Society attended the October meeting to listen to Alan Copeland's illustrated talk about "Tales of the Unexpected" and he wasn't telling ghostly tales either. An accomplished photographer, his amusing talk was about curiosities which he said was anything which does not quite fit with its surroundings.
He started with the early days of motoring, showing a relatively local slide of a very decorative garage in Stockbridge, painted white with white and red balcony and displaying old oil cans. Alas the garage closed quite recently. Next came a beautiful bridge in Sturminster Newton displaying a plaque alerting anyone who might wilfully damage the bridge that they would be punished with transportation for life.
It would appear that the inhabitants of Horsebridge in East Sussex did not want to litter their village with milestones. However when ordered to do so by people in high places, they opted for very decorative ones. Instead of writing London, the place name was depicted by a bow on top of three bells ie Bow Bells, the centre of London. In Harrow, there is another plaque commemorating the death in the first fatal car accident, when a car rolled backwards down a steep hill, overturning at the bottom and crushing the driver. The amazing thing is that the name of that driver is unknown.
The next set of slides feature the dark days of war and heroes. On Shooters Hill, London, there is a WWI milestone showing it is 130 miles to Ypres, and in Meriden, West Midlands, a memorial to cyclists lost in both wars. Another heroes memorial is the Heroes Cloisters in Postman's Park, London where there are many decorative tiles commemorating ordinary people who gave their lives to save others.
Buildings and places also featured as curiosities. In Clayton, West Sussex, a house has been built right over a railway tunnel. Alright for the railway enthusiast but what about the re-sale value? After this things got a bit crooked in Canterbury, we saw a very quaint old shop with a strong lean, followed by the leaning wall of Bridgnorth which looked as though it would topple over at any second.
The true pièce de résistance was Gold Hill in Shaftesbury the location of the cobbled streets of the Hovis ads. As a result of this, tourism has increased considerably and the wear and tear on the cobbles is substantial so Hovis are contributing to restoration efforts and as part of this, they have provided a very large collection box in the shape of a Hovis loaf where visitors can deposit sums large and small.
November 2008 The Greening Campaign
There was a full house at November meeting of the Headley Society when Richard Weavis Co-director of the Greening Campaign was there to explain how the Campaign started, what it is trying to achieve and where it has got to so far.
The purpose of the campaign is to bring together local communities and help them to reduce their carbon footprint.
It all started when Terena Plowright of the Sustainability Centre, nr Petersfield, received a phone call from a lady called Tash. Tash had seen the Al Gore film on Climate Change and wanted to know what she could do to reduce her carbon footprint. Terena was able to list a number of things she could do but afterwards realised that other than that one phone call, Tash was on her own. And from that came the idea of starting 'Greening Petersfield'.
The Campaign starts by engaging the community, so that they feel included and achieving. Actions need to be simple, affordable and cheap and should start to address sustainable living. Small actions by one individual make little difference but when taken as part of a community wide effort, they make a much bigger difference. Initial actions proposed include replacing 3 light bulbs, turning off unnecessary lights and not leaving the tap running when brushing your teeth.
Greening in the community doesn't mean putting a wind turbine on the nearest hill, at least not initially, but solar panels could be a source of renewable energy. Buying locally produced produce and looking at travel options would also be helpful. He pointed out that a new mindset for living a more sustainable life would be needed probably sooner than we think.
The Greening Campaign is now established in many communities in the South East and will probably go national in a year's time. And when is the Greening Campaign coming to Headley? Well, plans are already under way and Linda Farley at the Parish Office is the contact.
January 2009 An Update on Nanotechnology Where size matters!
Nanotechnology is the skill of making items, measured in thousand-millionths of a metre, by machining or manipulating individual molecules and atoms. It covers applications in medicine, cancer treatment, DNA investigations, crime investigations, computers, food modification, cosmetics and many other everyday areas. Genetically Modified Crops, the human genome and DNA " fingerprinting" are the headline-grabbing topics which we are all familiar but few understand their importance and even less have heard about the thousands of other applications in our everyday lives.
The Vice Chairman of Headley Society, Prof. M. J. Withers FREng, at the January meeting, explored the subject in a talk, "Update on Nanotechnology". It highlighted the amazing developments that have taken place through advances and the convergence of the technologies involved in medicine, biology, nuclear physics, chemistry, engineering, electronics, computing and others since the last lecture he gave to the Society three years ago.
The Universe and especially the World, with life as we know it, are just one enormous nanotechnology factory; Darwin and his observation of the development of species is based on genetic modification, although he was not aware of the details of the process. Prof. Withers explained that our understanding of matter started to come about with the discovery of atoms and electrons just over 100 years ago. Quantum theory was developed around 1930 allowing a better understanding of atoms and led to the atomic bomb. Then the transistor was devised in 1947, DNA as the code for life was decoded in 1953, which in 1984 started the science of DNA "fingerprinting" for forensic use. Today we are able to determine the DNA of bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and search humagenetic disorders. Advances in making electronic and mechanical devices smaller and smaller, now to the level of being able to move atoms in molecular chains, allows interaction with the biological chains of life and medicines.
The most recent developments are making it possible for babies to be born without hereditary defects, cancer treatments specific to the patient, extremely powerful computers, disease resistant crops, micro-miniature TV cameras and screens for use for entertainment as well as in medicine and endless applications in protecting the environment.
February 2009 The Bordon eco-town: how would it affect Headley?
The Headley Society held an Open Meeting this month to discuss the proposed Eco-town for Bordon and Whitehill and how it would affect Headley.
Marilyn Metcalfe gave a presentation of her views on the plan, which she opposes on the grounds of the unsustainability of so many houses, following which the meeting was open to questions from the floor.
Mrs Metcalfe said that when it was announced that the departure of some Army units might leave an area which could be used for development, a Green Town Vision was suggested by the District Council. At the time there was no mention of an Eco-town which was a later Government idea where the community live in a planned local community, work close to home and use primarily public transport.
The number of houses now suggested to be built on the vacated MOD land could be about 5,500 putting an urban development in the middle of one of the most sensitive ecological areas of Hampshire, much of the surrounding area being protected by European Law.
Habitat Regulations for such land require that there should be "no building at all within 400 metres, and only that which is absolutely necessary and can be shown to have no adverse impacts within 5 kilometres." Bordon is all within the 5km of protected land and in several places the proposed development site adjoins protected land.
Mrs Metcalfe felt that Bordon also does not comply with the Eco-town specification as they must be new settlements separate and distinct from existing towns but well linked to them, but it is proposed that the Bordon Eco-town should encompass the whole of the existing town as well as the proposed new development.
She also noted that the area is now proposed as a Strategic Development Area, one of the conditions set out in the proposals being that there should be room for further growth. As Bordon is surrounded to the south, west and north by protected land, there would appear to be only one direction in which it could grow to the east that is, towards Headley.
Ian Dowdle, a District Councillor for Whitehill and Bordon, explained that rather than leaving the decision solely to commercial developers, the council wanted to have an early say in the nature of development of this potential brown field site. They felt that a green town vision would protect green spaces and yield more facilities for the town.
Jack Warshaw, an architect and professional planner who lives in Standford, made a number of points suggesting that in this case the planning process was being driven from the wrong perspective, and that we needed to take a more measured view about an Eco-town vision which comes from the Government and which nobody had asked for.
Other speakers from the floor contributed to a lively discussion which went
on for nearly two hours and was both good-natured and informative.
Residents of Headley were promised that on the next round of consultation the surrounding Parish Councils will be invited by the District to give their views. On the basis of this meeting, members of the audience will await the opportunity for further discussion with great interest.
March 2009 They
lived at Hatch Farm
At their AGM, members of The Headley Society were treated to a talk by Marion Warren on the characters who had lived in the past at her house, Hatch Farm in Standford.
The oldest part of the current house has been dated from around 1550, but there has probably been a dwelling in that location by the ford since Saxon times.
William Warren, a papermaker, first arrived from Devon around 1810 and took over the house from Eli Smith, a farmer. (See article on local paper industry by Alan Crocker.) Marion has a copy of the fascinating diary of Eli's grandson Anthony, who emigrated to Australia in 1846 but came back again briefly to settle his grandfather's affairs.
There followed several generations of Warrens at Hatch Farm, working the paper mills at Passfield and Standford until they sold the business in 1907. The Warrens were staunch supporters of the Methodist Church, and were instrumental in getting a chapel in Standford, much to the distress of the rector of Headley! They were also hoarders of documents, and Marion holds a great deal of information on the papermaking business which went on there, as well as much else to do with the history of Standford at that time.
Marion's husband John had made notes on how to farm at Hatch Farm while he was interned as a PoW in Germany during WW2, and on returning tried to make a go of farming there. At one time they had a herd of 100 pedigree Jerseys and supplied milk to two local dairies until EU quotas were introduced.
April 2009 Food from the Middle Ages to Mrs Beeton
Bread, bread and more bread was the staple diet of the middle ages according to Anne Jones curator of the Museum of Farnham. Talking to the Headley Society about "Food from the Middle Ages to Mrs Beeton" she covered several hundred years in an hour! In addition, she had brought along Medieval Ginger Bread (made in recent days rather than the middle ages), Tudor biscuits and Victorian "Petite Bouche" to be sampled by the audience.
In medieval times cooking was simple and basic. Lots of bread and whatever could be cooked in a pot over a fire. The type of bread you ate was dictated by your social standing. The Lord of the Manor would eat white bread whilst those at the lower end of the social strata would have the most basic of brown breads. Meat was available to the landed gentry but would not be eaten often. The time of the year also influenced eating habits and not just the seasons. No meat was eaten in Lent or Advent. Dairy products were also banned. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays were non-meat days. Bread was used for everything; it was used to thicken sauces, biscuits were slices of bread baked a second time and trenchers, specially baked hard brown squares of bread cut in half, were used as plates. The trenchers were never eaten but given out to the poor.
Bread and potage were still very important in Tudor times. Sweet fruit and sugar was also introduced. Sweet oranges came from Portugal, along with quinces, pomegranates and red currents. Tomatoes and potatoes arrived from the new world. Turkeys were introduced into Norfolk where they are still farmed today! Sugar was first refined in London in 1540. As it was very expensive it was only available to the very wealthy. It is said that Elizabeth I used plates and glasses made from sugar. Though the sugar consumption averaged at 1lb of sugar per person, it was only eaten by a very few who could have afforded it and they would have consumed copious amounts. Nitric acid would then be utilised to whiten teeth which had been blackened by the use of sugar.
By the 18th Century, the diet of the middle classes and above was wholly meat-based no vegetables or fruit. The only exception to this was puddings. Lots of butter and rich sauces were used and people suffered from gout and apoplexy. With the introduction of the railways, the transfer of food around the country improved vastly. A glut in one part of the country could now be used to offset a famine elsewhere. Not all new technology was good. A new milling technique meant that wheat germ could be sieved from flour allowing it a longer 'shelf life'. However, much of the food value was removed and malnutrition followed.
May 2009 Dormice, Wagtails and the A3 Tunnel
Ian Whyte, Community Relations Manager for Balfour Beatty, spoke to a packed house at the May Meeting of the Headley Society. Supported by slides, he gave an amusing and interesting update on the A3 tunnel and associated works, covering environmental issues as well as the practical aspects of the work.
The total cost of the A3 improvement scheme is £341 million with the cost of the tunnel running at £186 million. At 1.2 miles long, it is the longest non-estuarial tunnel in the UK (the longest one is under the River Mersey) and the biggest road project in Surrey since the M25. On a daily basis, 30,000 vehicles pass through Hindhead on the A3 which had to be taken into account when managing traffic flow.
He explained the plight of the hibernating dormice sleeping the winter away in the tree roots. When felling the trees, roots had to be left in the ground so that come spring they could "move home" along 'dormice bridges' which had been built for them. In addition to the dormice, 20 adders, 6 grass snakes, 115 slow worms and 38 common lizards had to be moved. One of the slides showed a nearly completed underpass, bar one section as a wagtail had built its nest in the structure.
Very much an environmental success, nothing has been removed from the site other than wood from the trees, some of which was used to make furniture or taken to Germany to be made into ships masts all the soil from within the tunnel is being re-used in landscaping the site.
The whole project has generated considerable interest in the local community. To prevent people from wandering onto the site, viewing platforms had to be built at the Northern and Southern portals. A visitor's centre near the site office has since been opened. The interest in the project has been so great that when the A3 was closed for a weekend in March this year so that the Hazelgrove roundabout could be tied in, 100s of people walked down the A3 to view the work.
June 2009 Hampshire Mills
The Vice President of the Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society, John Silman, described the intricacies and variety of windmills and watermills in an illustrated talk to over fifty Headley Society members and visitors. He explained that crushing and grinding seeds by hand to make flour for baking was first recorded on drawings found in the pyramids in Egypt, dating back over 5,000 years. The use of mills to mechanise the task, operated by slaves, started in Roman times, but the use of water and wind power started only some 500 years ago.
John explored the wide range of designs found around the world and explained the different approaches adopted to suit the local conditions. If a convenient and reliable water supply was readily available then this was the solution of choice; relatively flat countryside demanded the use of a wheel fed at the bottom, while in hilly terrain the wheel could be conveniently overfed at the top. This was a more efficient design and could be made even more effective by incorporating buckets into the wheel rather than just using paddles. The French, at the time of Napoleon, introduced further efficiency improvements for the bottom-fed wheel.
Every windmill in Britain was built to a different design and so no parts are interchangeable, making restoration much more difficult, whereas the water pumping "windmills" in Holland are mainly of one design and parts can be interchanged. The variety of windmill designs in Hampshire and across the south of England is very extensive and examples existed of two, three, four and even a five-bladed version; sadly many have been destroyed by fire following lightning strikes.
There are various designs of millstones and different types of stone used in their construction. The grooves cut in their surface are arranged so that they act like scissors and chop the grains. The millstones have to be "dressed" regularly, that is re-cut, to maintain the cutting edges.
Until recently the watermill in Headley was the last commercially operating mill in Hampshire but now its future is uncertain. It will be unfortunate if we lose the last link to a bygone technology.
July 2009 Lutyens
"They say he was better than Wren, I think he was certainly as good as". These were the opening words by Michael Edwards when he talked to the Headley Society about Edwin Lutyens. Supported by slides he outlined Lutyens career from the early days when he lived in Thursley to the end, when at the age of 75, he died 'at the drawing board'.
In 1895/96 he worked on Munstead House for Herbert Jekyll, Munstead Wood for his sister, Gertrude Jekyll, and on various cottages for Jekyll retainers. Mr Edwards showed a number of slides of this property which included views of the beautiful and geometric design of the garden.
Gertrude Jekyll being well connected was the source of many commissions for Lutyens. He went on to design country houses including Fulbrook in Elstead, Berrydown at Ashe in Hampshire and Orchards at Munstead in Surrey. The very tall, decorative chimneys can distinguish many of his buildings - a design feature which would not be passed by today's planning authorities.
Lutyens was a very prolific designer, working on up to 6 designs at a time. His designs were not restricted to England or even the British Isles in 1916 he received a very considerable commission from the Viceroy of India to build the Viceroy's palace and other legislative buildings in New Delhi.
Following the Great War, when there was a decline in the building of country houses, he received commissions for commercial properties, one of the most notable being the Midland Bank in Piccadilly. Another post war commission was the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
September 2009 The Meon Valley Railway
Our Speaker for the evening was Ray Stone, a most likeable gentleman, who gave us an interesting lecture on the Meon Valley Railway.
Navvies were employed to cut through the chalk from Farringdon (just south of Alton) to Fareham. School children aged 12 to 14 years were allowed to leave school to become labourers on the new railway. This railway line had no level crossings. The contours of the line rose gradually to Privett Station which was 590 ft above sea level. A viaduct was constructed at West Meon (demolished 1954) followed by a straight tunnel 600 yards long. In order to give the workers light and air bearing in mind only candles were used at that time a shaft was constructed half way along to allow materials also to be dropped down on ropes and chalk waste to be brought up to the top by the same method. A serious accident occurred when a large lump of chalk was being hoisted within a 'basket' to be hauled upwards. The basket overturned, crushing one man and a second managed after 3 days, to be rescued by means of climbing the ropes and hacking his way up the shaft by means of a small knife he had with him at the time. Rescuers worked from the top of the shaft and met the victim half way. Once at the top of the shaft in the open air, filthy dirty and in a very weak state, his family welcomed him and he walked 3 miles to his home! A second accident was recorded when a worker fell onto the buffers of a train and his legs were severed.
Referring to the 1901 census the navvies working on this railway came from Bristol. They were housed in wooden huts along the line with tin roofs. Their families shared this accommodation.
The line was opened on Whit Monday 1st June 1903 at a cost of four hundred and ninety four thousand pounds two shillings and three pence half penny! There was no official opening, as one would expect but blame was laid on the local fairs that day as the main distraction. On that first day all passengers were offered a free single ride along the line but it would cost four pence half penny to return. Two original railway tickets from that first day's travel were shown to the audience, offered to our Speaker, by an old lady who had kept them when she purchased them as a young girl. She mentioned at the time of handing them over that she had been told the tickets were worth £100 each but we were told emphatically that those tickets were not for sale!
On day trips to the sea-side an extra coach was standing by at West Meon station to cope with passengers.
During World War I troops were taken from Alton to Fareham and possibly they changed trains for Portsmouth, en route to France. On the return trip, however, the severely wounded were brought up the Southampton Water by boat and landed at Netley Military Hospital but others were taken by train to Alton and transferred to Alton hospital.
The Speaker's grandfather was a goods carrier for the railway, meeting the train mid-way along the line, loading his horse and cart with whatever goods needed to be delivered to local customers. One day, in 1916, whilst having a lunchtime drink in a local pub, two men approached him with the idea of him loading coal from the train to deliver locally. There were two different traders employed in this work in the area but they were not reliable. The men in question knew of the reliability of the Speaker's grandfather and suggested they supply him with utensils and enough coal for 20 sacks which, once sold, the grandfather could give the contractors their money. He eventually agreed and a new business was born. The Speaker's father took over the business in future years, followed by the Speaker himself until he sold the business in 1992 when he retired.
In World War II troops were transported down the line to the coast on numerous occasions, especially for the D-Day landings in 1944 .Before that date however Sir Winston Churchill was known to visit the secret location of Southwark House near Droxford. He arrived by car but insisted on walking across Droxford station where his chauffeur met him in order to take a shorter route to the house, Plans were made for the D-Day landings there. The local milkman had to have an armed military escort to deliver milk to the house.
One day during the Second War years, a train was passing by a chicken farm. A German aircraft saw the West Meon tunnel and aimed a bomb at the target. The bomb missed the tunnel but landed on the chicken houses, ejecting the bodies of the chickens to the sky as the train passed by. Another incident occurred when a German plane crash landed near Horndean in a field. Three crew escaped the wreckage and were hastily met by the Home Guard. Asked to surrender their revolvers, on handing over the gun one crew member commented, in English, that he had been a pupil at Winchester College and he didn't think the Home Guard would take him back there to visit!
October 2009 The History of Alice Holt Forest
Helen Wallace, Education Manager of Alice Holt, gave an illustrated talk on the History of Alice Holt Forest.
She started by displaying a slide of the geology of the area. Although surrounded by greensands, the geology of the forest is mainly gault clay which is used for pottery.
The forest has been occupied for 400,000 years and tusks from woolly mammoth have been found. There is evidence that hunter gathers inhabited the area and that the woodland was used by Neolithic farmers. Bronze-age jewellery from around 2300 BC has been found in nearby Woolmer Forest.
The name Alice Holt is thought to be a corruption of Aelfsige's Holt Aelfsige was a Bishop of Winchester with rights over the woodland.
The Romans inhabited the forest using the gault clay for pottery. Whereas much of the Roman pottery had a reddish colour, gault pottery is grey. As a result 60-70% of the Roman pottery found in London has been identified as coming from Alice Holt. Wood from the forest was used to fuel the kilns and in the 1970s, a replica kiln was used to fire 'Roman' pottery made by students at the Farnham College of Art. Helen showed a number of slides of dignitaries visiting the kiln which included a very young, but easily recognisable, Michael Mates.
After the Romans, the forest would have reverted to dense oak. Timber from the forest was used for St Stephen's chapel, Westminster and during Tudor and Stuart times, for shipbuilding including the 'Sovereign of the Seas' which cost the astonishing sum of £40,000.
October 23rd, 2009
Arts & Crafts Houses & Gardens by Paul Atterbury
Paul Atterbury, of Antiques Roadshow fame, gave the first Joyce Stevens Memorial Lecture to a packed audience in Headley Village Hall.
He was a fitting choice since he had visited Joyce Stevens some years ago to look at the Book of Remembrance in All Saints' Church. As he said, that was 'with a different hat on,' concerning his interest in memorials. His subject for today's visit was Arts & Crafts Houses & Gardens, which he talked on with great fluidity, passion and knowledge.
Starting with August Pugin (1812-1852), he traced the course of the Arts & Crafts movement in Britain though to the First World War, illustrating his talk seamlessly with slides.
The movement, he said, arose as a reaction against the 'foreign' style of 18th century. He regarded The Grange at Ramsgate as the prototype of the movement's architecture, designed by Pugin in 1843 for himself to live in. It was planned 'from the inside out' with a 'fitness for purpose' and using local materials.
Paul then traced the movement's course in such designs as 'garden suburbs' where country-like living was brought to town-dwellers. The British seemed to like this kind of style, and it is with us still.
He described it as the 'head, heart and hand working together,' with particular reference to designers and architects such as William Morris (1834-1896), Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) a 'totalitarian', Charles Voysey (1857-1941) whose methods are still followed today, and Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) who had his roots nearby in Surrey.
Moving on from architecture to garden design, he described how this had also changed from the old 'classical' style to more informal designs which were nevertheless still strictly planned, by such people as Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) who worked closely with Lutyens. Her house at Munstead Wood is a fine example.
The Victorian era, he said, above all gave us colour: in plants, in materials and in print. It also gave us the concept of conservation, with the creation of such bodies as the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings founded by William Morris in 1877, and the National Trust founded in 1895.
Paul Atterbury ended his talk by showing examples of Lutyens' work relating to the First World War, including the Cenotaph in Whitehall and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in France, both of which exhibited in their design his debt to the Arts & Crafts movement.
November 2009 The
Marine World around the British Isles
Len Deeley gave a talk on the underwater life around the British Isles illustrated with his superb photographs taken while diving.
Although the waters are generally murkier than in more tropical areas, some of the colours to be seen were surprisingly bright.
Wrecks are a haven for marine life, and there are plenty of these along the British coasts.
Len ended by showing an audio-visual, then took questions from the floor. Altogether an entertaining evening.
February 2010 Wild Britain
Nigel Choat, a Guildford Photographer, gave a very fine slide show on "Wild Britain".
His splendid photographs included very clear close ups of many butterflies, including the rare "glanville fritillary" and "duke of burgundy".
Also there were slides of red kites, pintail ducks, grey squirrels, seals, damsel flies, daffodils and frosted leaves.
He showed how different the same scene can look when taken portrait mode against landscape mode and demonstrated the dramatic effect of storm clouds.
March 2010 Mountaineer's Eye view of South East England
From the title you might expect to see photographs taken from mountain tops. Although a mountaineer, on this occasion, Chris Hutchinson was very much at ground level.
Chris started by pointing out that most people might think that there are no mountains in the South East. However if you take the train from London to Brighton you will go through 12 or more tunnels!
His illustrated talk was really a wonderful walk through South East England, covering many very unusual sights. His talk/walk started by the canal basin near Paddington and took him through Little Venice following the towpath, passing the mosque at Regents Park. A little further on he came to a derelict building the sort of building most people would just pass by expecting it to be demolished the next time they passed. The sign over the door said 'Hotel' with another word in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet with no indication of the meaning. I am sure the building soon disappeared, the sign certainly will, but it will live on in photographic form.
Next we visited Highgate cemetery, well worth a visit, to see the memorial stone on the grave of Karl Marx. As everyone knows, there are many foreigners in London. So next came a slide of a large group of Daleks marching along by the Thames (although I am sure the inventors of these 'foreigners' would maintain they were conceived in Britain, so technically are not really foreigners!).
Many of the slides included memorials to people and events. When he reached the Naval College near Greenwich, he found a memorial to Bellot, not someone many people are familiar with. Joseph René Bellot was a Frenchman who led several (unsuccessful) expeditions to find Sir John Franklin who had disappeared in his attempt to discover the Northwest Passage.
Walking around the Greenwich peninsula, he came across another memorial, this time to the cattle who had died not of the foot & mouth disease but to cure it.
Before long, he came across a memorial to Dick Whittington's cat and a little later, or so it seemed, he found a cross-section of a ship standing as a memorial in the Thames.
His slides included other areas such as the fascinating stone structures at Lulworth, the Royal Mineral Water Hospital at Bath and Georgian houses which were once occupied by the gentry of Brighton but are now home to students.
The last of the slides were humorous ones a pub sign outside the 'Queen's Head' depicting Freddy Mercury, a bicycle chained to a fence but missing its wheels and handle bars and a sign outside a shop saying 'These shops are guarded by a bulldog with toothache'.
April 2010 Illustrated Tour of Headley Parish
In a change to the originally published schedule, the Society's chairman Jo Smith took us on a photographic tour around the old boundary of Headley parish, starting at the Royal Oak in Hollywater and progressing in an anticlockwise direction via Standford, Ludshott Common, Grayshott, Whitmore Vale, Barford, Frensham Great Pond, the Rivers Wey and Slea, Oxney Pond, Bordon and Whitehill then back to Hollywater.
He also gave a quick 'tour' of the water mills past and present, and finally showed some of the significant buildings in the parish.
May 2010 Book Collecting for Profit & Pleasure
Paul Robinson gave a humorous and interesting talk on 'Books, collecting for Profit & Pleasure'. He began by saying he was a biblioholic. When an individual is being interviewed on television in front of a shelf of books, a biblioholic is someone who takes more interest in the books than the interview! Although as a youngster he was not exposed to books, his interest now borders on an obsession. When he left school he went to work at W H Smith. This was the start of the slippery slope and soon he was collecting books.
There is talk that books will eventually disappear with the introduction of e-books. However book sales are currently increasing by 3% last year. E-books are not for him. With a physical book, you can see at a glance the size of the book, and how much you have read. Recently someone demonstrating an e-book clicked on a button and instantly the page corner is turned down! This is an absolute no-no with the real thing.
For a lot of people collecting is an absolute obsession. They buy a 1st edition and put it in a plastic bag, never reading it. 18 months later, they buy the paperback and read that. He suggested if you are interested in collecting books, buy what you get pleasure from reading and then if it is worth more one day all the better. Never buy BBC publications as they are printed in huge volumes and will never be worth more than you pay for them. In most cases, only the first three titles of a writer will be worth anything. A 1st Edition of the first Harry Potter novel recently sold for £20,000. The publishers only printed 400 copies as they intended it as a paperback. Proof copies are even rarer with only 1520 copies being printed!
Book selling on the internet is second only to genealogy. However when looking for a book on the internet, you only ever get the book you are looking for. Whereas browsing in a second hand book shop can turn up all sorts of books.
He pointed out that books don't like heat or damp. They do like smoke and will hold onto the smell forever. He advised that books should not be left in sunlight as the dust covers will fade, page corners should not be bent and the price should not be snipped off the dust covers. Market is tolerant of inscriptions if written around the time of publication. Do not remove dust wrappers. Do not lend books. Someone famous once said the only books I have in my library are books other people have lent me!
Paul Robinson finished the evening by commenting on and giving valuations on books members had brought in.
June 2010 The Trees at Alice Holt
Dr Richard Jinks gave members of the Headley Society a fascinating visual and verbal tour of the north-east quadrant of Alice Holt Forest, describing the many varied and rare specimens of trees growing there as well as giving us an insight into the history of the area.
Alice Holt ranks third in the list of national arboreta (after Westonbirt arboretum and Bedgebury pinetum) and boasts 31 'champion' trees (ie the largest of their type in the country). It is also home to the national poplar collection.
Walkers in Headley will have noticed their 'Headley Nursery' near Headley Park where they experiment on coppice cuttings.
In describing the many different tree types, Dr Jinks produced from his bag samples of leaves and cones some of which he had picked that morning, and we were invited to distinguish between fir species by the smell of their crushed needles.
He said that while we may think of conifers as 'boring' they were relatively rare in terms of the number of species there are only around 600 species of conifer worldwide compared with nearly 600 species of oak alone.
Much reference was made to the effect of global warming on tree species, and in particular how some which at the moment are only just sustainable in our climate may flourish in years to come.
July 2010 Local EarlySaxon Landscapes
Ethnobotantist, Chris Howkins talked on the subject of Local Early Saxon Landscapes.
Chris started by pointing out that archaeologists say they have no idea what Surrey looked like in the 5th and 6th Centuries. However, with the wonders of technology, many of the old preconceptions have been thrown out and it has been possible to get an idea of what the land was used for, what the people ate and what clothing they wore.
Rather than a violent arrival in Britain, it is now thought that the Saxon arrival was a gentle influx. There are no signs of violent battle sites in Surrey, nor habitation sites, ie where homes were burnt.
"What does a Saxon look like?" asked Chris. Not the smelly, dirty, unkempt peasant we might imagine. To begin with they were tall; the men were around 5'8"5'10". Men wore their hair about jaw length and it was clean they bathed regularly. They were also healthy skeletons show they were not riddled with disease.
Amongst the items found in graves were fine combs. As they believed life on earth was a reflection of life on the other side, a comb was included so that they arrived clean and tidy. Men wore linen tunic and trousers in summer and wool in winter and women wore very finely woven dresses stitched with bone needles and finished off with brooches on each shoulder in Surrey/Hampshire these brooches were circular.
Women always wore a headdress. They didn't wear wedding rings and nothing is known about how to identify if a young lady is available, engaged or married. Most clothing was either blue or green, with a small amount of red, the latter being the domain of the privileged.
Much of the land would be heathand with sheep grazing. Before the Romans, the sheep in Britain would have been black, or brown and white. Romans introduced white sheep as it was important to them to be able to dye the wool and coloured wool could not be dyed. The Saxons kept the white sheep although the rest of mainland Europe reverted to mixed coloured sheep. They would also have grown crops not dissimilar to those grown today, ie wheat, barley and rye the local rye market was at Guildford.
August 2010 The Headley Society celebrates 25 years
Members of The Headley Society along with friends and family, celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Society, in the church centre. A beautifully warm evening allowed visitors to sit in the grounds as well as in the hall itself. Outside, caterers were ready with a sumptuous Hog Roast, a choice of salads all followed by chocolate fudge cake, citrus meringue or fruit salad. Jo Smith, chairman, welcomed everyone and the President of the Society, Betty White proposed the toast. Jim Grevatt, Parish Councillor and founder member talked about the early days of the Society. A celebration cake, made by Christine Leonard, was cut and enjoyed by everyone.
Outside a number of vintage cars were on display: a 1926 Rolls Royce, a 1930 Peugeot and a 1932 Riley, along with a very 21st Century motor home. On show inside on the stage were photographs of various events which the Society had organised or taken part in over the 25 years, including floats entered in the Headley Camival in the early 90s. There were scrapbooks of news cuttings, a video about Headley and postcard albums. A number of articles from the Headley Archives were also on display. Particularly of interest were the old parish maps.
September 2010 Chingford Newsreel continued
BBC Home Movie Roadshow highlights shown at Headley Society
Film clips of local news events over the last 60 years in the London borough of Chingford have been shown in the recent and popular Home Movie Roadshow series on BBC 2 television. David Piggott, a major contributor to the series, was the speaker at the September meeting of the Headley Society describing the Acorn Film Unit's making of home movie film newsreels every year over two generations. The film unit is a group of enthusiasts who have recorded local events which now form a continuous and unique history of everyday life in what was a village in Essex and is now a north east London borough. David has made this his life-long hobby filming, editing, commentating, showing and archiving all the material. It is now a popular and valuable source of historical material for film and TV companies. Much of it has been used and shown in many countries around the world. Every week new enquiries are received and the number is increasing to a point where it will soon have to be transferred to a national archive if it is to remain available.
Chingford residents have seen many changes over the years, not least having two notable Members of Parliament, Norman Tebbitt followed by Ian Duncan-Smith, representing them. David showed film clips of them at local events, speaking at protest meetings and at political hustings. Other events shown included the preparations for celebrating the Queen's Silver Jubilee; remembering Diana, Princess of Wales, on her untimely death; the damage caused by the Great storm in 1987; the demolition of an historical house to make way for new housing; the closing down of a shoe shop that had served the community for nearly a century by one family and its re-opening as a hair and beauty salon. A more light-hearted item was the purchase of a Sir Clive Sinclair first electric car, the C5, by a Film Club member and road testing it in true Top Gear fashion!
The Acorn Film Unit are now recording the progress of the Olympic Village at Stratford, which is the adjacent borough, and will follow how the event is seen through the eyes of the local community.
October 2010 Frensham Common The Future is Bright
The speaker for the evening was Waverley Ranger, Steve Webster who has had 100% responsibility for Frensham Common since 2003, and has just won a new grant aid for the common of £200 per acre 4 times the current aid. The Common is 950 acres and although owned by the National Trust, it is mostly managed by Waverley Council. Illustrated by slides, Steve gave an interesting and amusing talk about the past, present and hopefully future of Frensham Common.
The common is mainly lowland heath which is rarer than rain forest with 8090% of it being lost in the last 150 years. The Common is made up mainly of three types of heather: Ling, Bell and Cross-Leaved. There are two types of gorse: Dwarf and European, with the rare Dartford Warbler nesting in the latter. There were only 30 pairs of nesting Dartford Warblers in the UK in the 60s. By 2008, Frensham Common alone had 30 pairs. However The Dartford Warbler is very susceptible to weather and after the harsh winter of 2009 there were only 4 nesting pairs, and after the even harsher winter of 2010 there seemed to be none. Eventually, one pair was found.
The Common's reptile group is most important as it supports all six British species: Common Lizard, Sand Lizard, Slow Worm (a legless lizard), Grass Snake, Adder and Smooth Snake. There is also a small population of Natterjack Toads they are the ones with a little yellow stripe on their back. Tadpoles were re-introduced some years ago, but before they could be released, the Ranger had to count them there were six large plastic pails of tadpoles! Digital photography came to the aid of the Ranger.
The Romans were in residence on Frensham Common and a large hoard of Roman coins and pottery was excavated. Several very small sealed pots were uncovered and were found to contain cannabis resin! No one is saying whether it was still viable.
November 2010 Woodland Crafts & Industries
Picture postcards were first sent through the post in 1894 and Tim Winter illustrated his talk using slides of these postcards covering every aspect of woodland scenes.
His first postcard showed three young men cutting down a large tree 2 using a two-man saw with the third knocking wedges into the gap they created. The following postcards illustrated how the tree was removed using a pole wagon and various techniques for cutting the large tree trunks into planks. In one instance a brick-lined pit was used, the trunk fixed lengthways over the pit, and a two-man saw used to slice through it one end of the saw held by a man in the pit below (the underdog) and the other by a man above (top dog). Eventually steam-driven saws would have been used with open unguarded saw blades. Such saws can still be seen at agricultural shows around the country but these days the wood is pushed against the circular blade using another piece of wood ensuring that the woodsman keeps all his fingers!
World War I created heavy demand for wood and at this time women became involved in timber production. The Forestry Commission was established in 1919 to oversee the replanting of woodland.
Every part of the tree was used. The bark was stripped and used in the tanning industry. Workers, living in temporary huts in the woodland, would make the wooden soles for clogs. Others made trugs, baskets or hurdles. Small branches and off-cuts were made into faggots for heating. There were charcoal burners who stacked the wood very carefully around a central pole, covering it so that it is nearly airtight, before setting it alight, and always staying very close at hand in case fire took hold. Charcoal was used in iron smelting and the production of gunpowder. In WWI, the men in the trenches used charcoal-burning stoves to heat food, as it was very light to carry. Charcoal was also used in gas masks.
There were postcards of bodgers who turned wood, usually beech wood, into chair legs for Windsor chairs. Once the logs were split into eight, a hand axe roughly made them cylindrical and a pole lathe added the decorative finish.
Surrey and Hampshire are the most wooded counties, and the Upper Greensands were very fertile and great for hop growing and therefore needed lots of hop poles. When the hops were ready for picking, the poles and hops were lowered to the ground and Tim had postcards of whole families on hop picking holidays.
There were other industries using the wood to make barrels, sheep hurdles, hay rakes and brooms. We saw postcards of them all.
January 2011 The Headley War Memorial
Despite the very damp weather outside, it was a packed house for the first meeting of the year for The Headley Society. They were there to hear Mark Banning, a Battlefield Tour Guide specialising in the Western Front, give an illustrated talk about the Headley War Memorial and in particular about 12 men whose names appear on the memorial. Mark started by explaining that war memorials became popular following the First World War, primarily because of the great loss of life which touched every town or village and everyone in it. Travel not being as accessible as it is now meant that the sites where their loved ones had fallen or were buried could not be visited easily, so War Memorials became a focal point for friends and relatives.
The Headley War Memorial records the names of 97 men who were killed in action in the First World War. Of these there are at least 6 sets of brothers and many others were cousins or related by marriage.
Supported by slides of battlegrounds, war cemeteries, battalions and burial sites Mark talked about 12 men who died in action at various stages throughout the war. Using war diaries references he was able to establish where and in which battle the men met their demise. He pointed out that although a large proportion had 'no known grave' that did not mean that there had been no burial. In many cases, following a battle, the large number of fallen were buried in graves, perhaps marked with a simple crosses as demonstrated in one of his slides. Others, although named on the headstones, were buried in communal graves.
Walter Dowler was the first person Mark chose to talk about. He died in Nov 1914 at Ypres and because he died in the early days of fighting, it is likely that he was a regular soldier at the outbreak of war. He has no known grave and is one of over 54,000 names commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.
Another of the soldiers mentioned was Frederick Edward Fullick of the 7th Battalion Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment. He was shot by a sniper and died in October 1915, aged 29. He is buried at Norfolk Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt. Because this was a new battalion, Mark was able to surmise that he most probably enlisted when war broke out.
Albert Marshall, one of the brothers referred to earlier, was a member of the 1st Hampshire Regiment and was killed on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, along with over 300 other members of his regiment.
These are just three of the names mentioned but their story is typical. And sadly in a number of cases, the battalions were withdrawn from the action within 24 hours of the demise of these men!
February 2011 History of the American Folk Guitar
Members of The Headley Society and a good number of guests were thoroughly entertained by Andrew Perry at their February meeting.
Having set up ten of his many acoustic guitars on the stage, he proceeded to give a potted history of the development of the acoustic guitar in general, and in particular as it related to North American music.
With the need to get more volume out of the instrument, the makers went for larger sizes, for more strings and then for resonators. He was not prepared to mention the abomination of electric amplification!
As he talked, he played samples of music on each of his instruments, including a couple of Hawaiian-style guitars.
After a coffee break, many of the audience stayed behind to hear Andrew carry on playing.
Altogether a most enjoyable evening.
April 2011 The River Wey Navigation
Allan Williams, who is a National Trust volunteer at Dapdune Wharf, took the audience on a historical and pictorial journey along the Wey Navigation which was opened in 1653 and still used in the 60s to transport stone for Guildford Cathedral.
It was one of the first rivers to be made navigable and initially connected Guildford to the River Thames. Sir Richard Weston of Sutton Place was one of the prime movers behind the initiative. He had already built a 5 km link between his estate and the River Wey and realised that Guildford, which at the time was a rather poor place, could benefit greatly from a waterway connection to the River Thames and of course London.
The 15½ miles waterway transported timber for shipbuilding, charcoal, coal, saltpetre and gunpowder from the local gunpowder mills at Chilworth. After the fire of London in 1666, oak for building was being transported.
In 1764, Godalming Wharf was opened adding a further 4 miles to the navigation. It is most southern point on British waterways, giving access to 2,500 miles of waterway.
Dapdune Wharf, which was the barge-building site for the Navigations, is now a visitor centre where visitors can see what life was like for the bargemen of the Wey Navigation and climb aboard Reliance, one of the last surviving barges.
Dredging has to be carried out at regular intervals. The American crayfish is a big nuisance as they carry a parasite which kills the English crayfish. They also breed very quickly and can burrow up to a metre into the river bank. Dredging over 1¼ miles turned up 3.5 tonnes of them!
May 2011 Going for a Song
It was a meeting with a difference for Headley Society on this occasion the members were asked to work for their entertainment with a version of 'Going for a Song'. Peter Raw had brought along a dozen or so antique items and after giving a short resumé of each, the audience were asked to give the price at auction. And there were many surprises.
A Chinese bronze cup from the late 12th/early 13th Century which everyone thought would be very valuable because of its age was worth only £300. Being bronze, despite its age, it and many like it had survived and therefore it was not rare.
At the other end of the scale was a Swillington Bridge Pottery mug circa 1850, an everyday item, albeit it good quality. Being an everyday item very many were produced; however, very few survive thus making it rare indeed with the valuation coming in at £750.
The prize for the most unusual item of the evening went to a small picture made entirely of Chinese postage stamps. Not of great value but interesting.
And last but not least was an oil painting of a very large ox with legs so
short that one wonders how they could carry an animal as heavy as the one depicted.
According to Peter Raw, the artist would probably be commissioned by farmers
to paint their prize-winning animals and it was likely that he exaggerated the
size to please the farmer. Being an oil painting of some size and quality, most
people realised that it would have a big price tag, but none got even close
the £25,000 which it would get at auction.
June 2011 World War 2 defences in Surrey
Chris Shepheard, Director of the Rural Life Centre at Tilford, gave members of The Headley Society a slide show telling us the reasoning behind the erection of the country's last great defensive work during the Second World War.
He showed a map of the country with 'stop lines' drawn on it which were to be defended in the event of a German invasion. 'Stop Line Blue' ran close to Farnham and many pill-boxes and other defence constructions are still to be found locally. The pill-boxes were built very quickly in 1940, but to a standard which still defies their easy demolition.
The land by Waverley Abbey in particular formed a key defence area and can be visited to see the an interpretation of the various anti-invasion defence devices.
Other points of interest were the holes made in strategic bridges to contain explosive charges to blow them up and some of those charges may still be lying there!
On Hankley Common are some 'Atlantic Walls', built to replicate those to be faced by our troops on Normandy beaches. Here a number of schemes were devised to blow holes in them, some of which were successful as can be seen today in the shattered breaches.
Chris ended by showing us a 'mystery object' found in the attic of a garage in Frensham, which turned out to be a dummy mortar bomb, thankfully filled with sand instead of high explosive.
July 2011 The Parham Estate 16801720
A glimpse of life on the Parham Estate in Sussex was illustrated by Jane le Cluse using extracts from their Financial Records. Parham House was built in 1577 and has remained in private ownership through three families to this day.
The financial accounts kept by the Bishop family from 1680 to 1720 have been studied by Jane and they show the income, expenditure, cost of materials and the pay of staff and local workers. For example, the income for the estate in 1689 was £2,300, derived from rent from farms, horse and cattle breeding, selling crops, brewing and cider-making, fish bred in the ponds, timber production, selling deer to London restaurants, etc.
The cook was paid £20 a year, maids £3, the accountant £30 pa and workers brewing 1/6d (one shilling and six pence in old money!) per day, cider making 1/- (1 shilling). Living-in staff income was relatively low since their lodging and food were free. Workers were usually employed on a seasonal basis and paid about twice the rate, as they lived outside. There was a sawmill and relatively exotic crops, like melons, were grown in hotbeds covered by glass. Also the Golden Pippin apple was developed at Parham and is still available today.
The role of women was significant at this time; Sir Cecil Bishop "married well" as his wife had a private income of £2,000 pa. He also borrowed several thousand pounds at one stage from a woman friend; widows and spinsters were often the bankers providing loans with the interest supplementing their income.
September 2011 The Basingstoke Canal
The Vice Chairman, Mike Withers, introduced Roger Cansdale, who has been associated with the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, guardian of the Basingstoke canal, for 30 years.
Supported by slides and video clips Mr Cansdale told the story of the Basingstoke Canal. By connecting Basingstoke to London joining the River Thames at Weybridge, the Basingstoke Canal was seen as a means to stimulate agriculture in Hampshire. John Pinkerton was appointed as main contractor and building started in 1788, finishing in 1794. The canal was never a commercial success as it suffered from a lack of water and still does today. The original design included a loop to Turgis Green, but to due disputes with land owners, this was cut out. However it would have taken the canal to within a few miles of the Kennet and Avon Canal which might have been the saviour of the canal.
The canal was used to carry timber to London with coal and fertiliser being transported to Basingstoke. Although the railway was the demise of many canals, one of the occasions this canal was successful was during the building of the railway when it carried materials for its construction. It again made money when the military camp at Aldershot was being built in 1869. The last boat left Basingstoke in 1910.
The Canal Act of 1778 declared that if a waterway was not used for five years, the land could be returned to its original owners. Because of this in 1913, Alec Harmsworth, in his boat 'Basingstoke', tried to navigate the length of the canal. Encountering many obstacles, and after three months, he managed to reach Old Basing which was sufficient to keep the canal open. Mr Cansdale showed a movie clip of the Basingstoke trying to get through a swing bridge. Because of disuse, the 'Basingstoke' had to ram the bridge to get it moving. In 1923, Mr Harmsworth, a boat builder from Ash, bought the canal.
The talk ended with a couple of slides of Mark Hicks who had started work with the Basingstoke Canal company in 1866 when he was ten and was still working on the canal 4 days before he died at the age of 92 a total of 80 years employment. A fact recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. The final slide showed his funeral. Mode of transport what else but a canal boat on the Basingstoke canal!
October 2011 Medieval
David Graham, a 'professional amateur' archaeologist who has worked in Surrey, Hampshire and the Farnham area for many years, gave an amusing and informative illustrated lecture on Farnham which time-travelled from pre-history through to medieval times.
Farnham, the second oldest named town in Surrey (Chertsey is the oldest), means 'settlement on the ferns' and made its first appearance in a Saxon charter dated 688 AD. At that time three monks were given land rights in order to found a minster or mother church. St Andrew's Parish Church is the likely site of the early Saxon church core village. The Domesday Book records Farnham in 1086 as a relatively small settlement with 6 mills.
Located at the cross roads of the main road from Winchester to London and an easy North-South crossing of the Wey, Farnham prospered from the 11th Century onwards. Much of this prosperity was linked to the Bishops of Winchester feudal lords of the Farnham Hundred till modern times. David Graham reminded us that Winchester had been the capital of England and that the Bishops of Winchester were often more powerful than the Archbishop of Canterbury due to their close connections with royalty.
The castle was built in 1122 and, as with New Arlesford, Farnham town was planned in a T-shape with the Castle and High Street. The castle was originally thought to follow the standard motte and bailey structure found elsewhere, but excavations have shown that there is the shell of an earlier keep or tower within the motte. [Visitors can now gain access to this deep shaft, all that remains of the keep, when they visit the castle.] However, by 1250 the white-painted shaft of the tower which would have been visible for miles around was in use as a well, and its sides had been earthed up into the mound we see today.
The castle was in regular use by the Bishops of Winchester and their large entourages en route to and from London and clearly they dined in style, often consuming 5 or 6 oxen and 30 pigs during an overnight stop! All that remains of the early palace is the fine brickwork tower dated 1473.
One advantage of the historical connection with Winchester is that Farnham has a very complete set of accounts. These records confirm the archaeology showing that key products in early times were roof tiles some of which may still be seen on local roofs and fish from Frensham ponds (which lie within the Farnham Hundred.)
The Black Death in the 1350s clearly ravaged Farnham as it did elsewhere and it was not till Tudor times that the town revived wool and hops now adding to the economy.
November 2011 'Surrey Safari'
November's meeting of the Headley Society saw yet another strong turnout at the Church Centre, to hear local amateur naturalist and photographer Geoff Lunn present his illustrated talk, "Surrey Safari". Introducing the speaker, committee member Joan Thorne noted Geoff's family's deep roots in the village of Sands, where three generations managed the village pub, the Barley Mow. It is the back garden of Geoff's house just across the road from the pub which has served as an outdoor photographic studio for many of the slides that he used to illustrate his talk.
Now retired from the world of work, Geoff started photographing birds and other wildlife when he still worked for Thames Water. Over time, he has amassed an impressive library of images of dozens of species, from the very well-known to the seldom-seen. It is almost as if birds seek out the Lunn garden when they want their photos taken, although in reality of course Geoff has done much to attract them. A dead branch fallen from a tree finds a new role in Geoff's garden as a prop for avian visitors, who obligingly perch on it and pose for the camera. By providing the right food and cover, Geoff has been able to entice into his garden quite rare visitors such as the redpoll, spotted flycatcher and willow warbler.
The bird that has clearly played the biggest role in Geoff's life was a green woodpecker, ejected by its parents from the family home in Binton Wood because of a deformed foot and fostered by Geoff and his wife for more than 3 months, until it was ready to fend for itself. During that time, Geoff would take the bird by then named 'Binton' to work each day, where it would sit on his shoulder, making noises off when he was on the phone to his boss and disabling his computer keyboard by using it as a lavatory. Binton's maiden flight took place in Geoff's house and culminated in a crash-landing among the sherry glasses. Happily, Binton's flying soon improved and she was able to set up home nearby and raise a family of her own.
Geoff also ranges more widely around the local countryside, capturing wonderful images of kingfishers and sparrow hawks. In the latter case, Geoff spent many hours in a tree-top hide, swinging in the breeze and in fear of a swift and involuntary return to ground level. He also devoted more than 100 hours to capturing badgers on film. Such dedication and perseverance has been rewarded by stunning photographs of which a professional wildlife photographer would surely be proud.
Impressed and amused in equal measure by Geoff's superb photographs and witty presentation, members of the society showed their appreciation by giving him a hearty round of applause.
January 2012 The Headley Village Website
Alistair Young has been a resident of Headley for many years and voluntarily uses his professional expertise to manage the Headley village website. He gave an excellent and accessible illustrated talk which featured a fascinating video of just how data moves around the web.
www.headley-village.com has been running for 14 years and went online just 3 years after the world-wide-web was launched. The site has a simple philosophy which is to 'show and share'. The Headley site is not actually a single site, but brings together many sites with common or overlapping interests including All Saints, the Parish Council and the Headley Society. It also links with the football and other sports clubs as well as Headley's twin village of Corné.
The site generates about 1,000 hits (or visits) per month. Most of these are from local residents seeking information on events etc, but the site also gets many overseas hits particularly from Canada and Australia.
A popular part of the site is the 'village pump' where visitors can post questions, seek information or send in memories of village life. The 'pump' has been used a number of times by those seeking long-lost friends and relatives and recently played a crucial part in re-uniting three sisters (including twins) who had been separately adopted!
As well as using the site to check on events, it is a great way of accessing Parish information such as Council minutes and agendas. The site provides an easy route into learning about local history and accessing archived material. In addition it provides a real opportunity for artists and photographers to display their images since new pictures are always welcome in the picture library.
It is hoped that 2012 will see more visits to the site since so much village information can be easily accessed. As well as current and historical information about Headley itself, the site includes directories of local services and facilities including information on many essential services.
Alistair is keen to encourage greater use of the site and closed his talk by reminding us that the site is about not just about 'where we are', 'who we are' but also about 'let's join together'.
February 2012 Napoleonic Prisoner of War Work, with interesting Hampshire connections
Tony Cross, who was curator of the museums in Alton until 2011, gave an illustrated talk to The Headley Society for their February meeting.
The Napoleonic Wars occurred at the beginning of the 19th Century, and a little-known result of them was the need to cater in Britain for a very large number of French prisoners seized in the conflicts. The capture of one French man-of-war alone could result in taking several hundred men, and in order to accommodate them the Government of the day resorted to several different strategies. One was to build special prisons (Dartmoor is an unexpected example), the first being constructed at Norman Cross near Peterborough, which was where Tony first became involved in this research. Other prisoners were held in convenient old forts, or on the 'hulks' of retired naval ships moored in harbours. At one time there were 13 'hulks' moored in Portsmouth harbour alone, holding up to 1,000 prisoners each.
With time on their hands, these prisoners used scraps of material at their disposal to manufacture artefacts which they then sold to the local population. Tony showed pictures of some exquisite ships and most intricate automatons made out of bone there was even a bone guillotine! and they also used split straws and paper in sophisticated ways.
While the ordinary soldiers and sailors were simply incarcerated in this way, the officers were allowed to live reasonable normal lives in designated 'parole towns', of which Alresford and Odiham were local examples. There are French graves in the churchyards there as a result.
Tony ended his fascinating talk by reminding us that 2015 will be the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and we should prepare ourselves for it he gave us a list of five things to do in memory of the Duke of Wellington: visit his statue in Aldershot, his country house at Stratfield Saye, Apsley House and the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner in London, and of course the site of the battle in Belgium.
March 2012 AGM & 'Movies without Movement'
The Headley Society held its AGM on 1st March 2012 at the Church Centre, Headley. The current committee were voted in again for another year's service, with the exception of Mike Withers who stepped down for personal reasons. The Chairman, John Owen Smith, talked of work currently in progress to transcribe the parochial notebooks of a previous rector of the parish, WH Laverty (rector 18721928) and read out some amusing examples of the entries found so far. He asked for volunteers to help with the transcription.
After the end of official business we were entertained by an excellent 'modern
lantern show' described as 'Movies without Movement' and given by two members,
John Gamble and Kathleen Bird, where a series of still photographs were projected
accompanied by amusing sound tracks.
The evening ended with cheese and wine.
April 2012 The History of the Army in Bordon
Chris Wain shared with members of The Headley Society a section of her comprehensive knowledge of Bordon history, when she gave an illustrated talk on the History of the Army in the town.
There was no habitation there when in 1863, following the Crimean War, several thousand acres of land was purchased by the Government for the purposes of Army training. They build no permanent structures at the time these only started in 1899 at the time of the second Boer War.
The first huts were constructed at Longmoor, and became known as the 'South African Huts' since they were intended for soldiers returning from the war there. However the terrain at Longmoor was marshy and unhealthy and, following protests by the occupants, the huts were moved to Bordon Camp as single units on a specially constructed set of railway tracks, taking over a day for each unit to complete the journey. One of the huts fell off the line and was re-used where it stood, to become the first Whitehill Police Station.
Further purchases of land by the Government and further construction and reconstruction of barracks created the Bordon Camp we have today though not for much longer.
Among the fascinating selection of buildings and amenities which Chris pointed out to us were the various CO's houses for each barracks (Amherst House being the best remaining example), the several recreation rooms, and the 'Badminton & Roller Skating' club.
One of these brick-built facilities became consecrated in 1983 as St George's Church, and houses the magnificent reredos painted in the 1960s by David Shepherd, whose works now attract high prices.
Chris finished her fascinating presentation by showing us some of the more recent interactions between the civilian and Army populations of the town. As she says, we will miss them when they move away as planned within the next few years.
May 2012 Gertrude Jekyll her Life & Work
Members were treated to an enthralling presentation from Marion Emery on Gertrude Jekyll. The focus of the evening was not on the gardens for which Gertrude is so famous but rather on a very unconventional Victorian lady.
Gertrude was born into a large, loving and well-off family in 1843 and lived till she was 90. Because she wasn't pretty Gertrude is often thought of as a glum spinster. In reality she loved children, cats and, when no one was looking, 'to climb over a five-bar gate or jump a ditch.' Though she always had poor eyesight, Gertrude overcame both this and Victorian attitudes to build a career that went far beyond garden design and planting. Gertrude learnt practical and creative skills, not then or now common amongst young women. She never expected anyone to do something she could not do herself, whether ironwork, furniture making, thatching or wall building!
As a young woman, Gertrude visited many gardens, but she preferred English cottage garden plants to fashionable massed bedding, and it was simple rather than exotic plants that she used in her own gardening. A trip to Algiers developed her love of water in the garden and it was these influences that ensured her style and creative skills led to a successful career.
Gertrude's work allowed her to be independent, and as she entered middle age she met the young Lutyens who helped her design and build her own home, Munstead House in Godalming, where she oversaw every detail from the fireplace to the maid's room. This partnership lasted for the rest of her life and alongside her writing brought her style to a much wider audience than those who could afford her commissions. Her influence is still with us.
June 2012 Odiham Castle & Basing House
Despite the rain and wind, a good audience turned out to hear David Allen, Keeper of Archaeology for Hampshire County Council's Arts & Museum Service, give a very interesting and informative illustrated talk on Odiham Castle and Basing House. He started the evening by giving a very brief account of the local area from the Stone Age to the Saxons.
Starting with Odiham Castle he gave a very exciting account of the role the castle played, not only in the history of the local area, but nationally too. Initially built in 1207 by King John at a cost of £1,000 which in today's money would be £millions. The Keep was added around 1217. It was from here that King John rode out to Runnymede on that eventful day in 1215 when he put his seal to the Magna Carta in an attempt to appease his Barons. Next year in 1216, as part of the First Barons War, the French laid siege to the castle. The King was elsewhere and after two weeks when the garrison surrendered it became apparent that the castle had been defended by just 13 men. The castle was next occupied by Eleanor, youngest daughter of King John, who lived there with her husband, Simon de Montford. While there Eleanor kept the most detailed diaries, recording who visited the castle and what they ate. In the 14th century, Constable of Odiham, Robert Le Ewer unsuccessfully tried to retake the castle and according to records, the garrison used 8 dozen of the 20 dozen arrows and rewarded themselves with 2¼ casks of wine from the cellar. By the 15th century, the moat had been filled in and the castle was in use as a hunting lodge again. All that remains today is the keep.
Further along the Basingstoke Canal lie the remains of Basing House, a medieval house, built by William Paulet. Its interesting past lies with the people who visited the house, from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I, and with the role it played in the Civil War. Royalist to the core, it fell to the Cromwellians after the third attack, in 1645. Fire destroyed the house, but much of the brick was re-used and is in evidence around Old Basing. In 1999, Time Team unsuccessfully excavated the site in an effort to find the 2nd Basing House built after the Civil War. Following on from that, an excavation in 2000 by HCC's Arts & Museum Service was successful and found the house.
July 2012 Visit to Arford Lodge
On Thursday 5 July, in a near miraculous break in the weather, 30 plus members of the Headley Society spent a delightful evening picnicking in the grounds of Arford Lodge as guests of the Records.
Nick & Jenny Record moved into the Arford Lodge in 2006 facing a huge challenge of restoration and refurbishment. In six years they have created a charming home and a garden just bursting with potential. Of course garden doesn't quite cover it, as Arford Lodge sits in 7 acres bordered by the Ar stream and Fullers Vale.
The Grade II listed Lodge was originally the stable block for the abutting Arford House and was built in the 1820s by William Ewsters - who moved from Chiswick to indulge his passion for sailing. This fact convinced Nick and Jenny that they had made the right decision in taking on this large project. They too love sailing and moved from Chiswick and were delighted to find old spars from William Ewsters' day built into the property.
When they moved in, the walled garden was full of thistles and Himalayan balsam. Today raised beds and neat paths have restored order and the 'pottager' is producing. A particularly interesting feature of the walled garden is the remnants of the old water pump and heating system for the long demolished glass house. The Records believe water was pumped from the pond which sits just outside the walled garden and which they dredged last year. Beneath the terrace stairs is a hidey-hole perhaps the pump room which shows signs of becoming a Victorian fernery.
The garden is gradually being landscaped to fit Jenny's vision of 'faded grandeur'. Whatever the vision, the reality is that Arford Lodge is a lovely setting for the family, the cats, dog, chickens and when they can find the time, some more delicious pigs!
August 2012 From Hop Fields to Lavender Fields
Tim Butler of Hartley Park Farms gave an illustrated talk about growing lavender on the farm near Selborne, mentioning that his family had been farming in the area for over 200 years.
He started his talk with history of lavender in the UK. Popular during the reign of Elizabeth I, it was brought to the UK by Benedictine monks in the middle ages for use in cooking, and re-introduced by the Huguenots on their arrival. By 19th Century it was a major industry. He gave a summary of the Butler family and its association with the farm near Selborne. Part of the Ralph Dutton Estate, initially they rented it in the 1930s. In 1962 when Hinton Ampner, the home of Ralph Dutton, was destroyed by fire, he needed to liquidate some funds in order to restore it. The Butler family bought the farm and as they say, the rest is history. They currently farm about 1,400 acres.
Like many farms in the area, they had originally farmed hops and are still doing so today the only farm in Hampshire to do so but just one acre which is grown for decoration not brewing.
They moved into lavender growing in 1999. Renting an existing farm in Whitchurch, they planted 5 acres, and the rabbits ate 3 acres. In 2001 they started growing lavender at Selborne and now have 20 acres. Tim showed slides of the varieties they grow, including 'Folgate', a vibrant blue variety, and 'Maillette'. Both are used to produce essential oil which are used to make the soaps and various body care products.
During the meeting, Tim passed around samples of Lavender oil and Lavandin oil for people to try. There were also slides of the fields in flower and the machinery used to harvest the lavender. He outlined details of open days which take place at the end of June/early July before harvesting starts in August. They include a stroll through the lavender fields, a visit to the distillery, a talk about lavender, a tractor tour around the farm and a traditional cream team. There is also a shop where you can buy lavender products. At the end of the meeting, members were able to purchase a range of lavender products and lavender plants.
September 2012 Never at Sea: the Wrens
Katherine Minchin had joined the Wrens in the 60s and came to talk about her very interesting time with them.
She started by identifying other members of the WRNS in the audience, of which there were 4, and asked each of them if they could remember their registration numbers and yes, everyone could why? Because they didn't get paid without them!
Katherine had decided to join the Wrens for no other reason than that her brothers had the bedroom over the garage and when she returned home late at night with a young man, they would always be there to give her a welcome she didn't want!
Following interview she was accepted and told to report to HMS Dauntless at Reading. They were sent a clothing list which included 'sensible' clothing, 'sensible' shoes, brush, comb and knickers! She was very surprised at the latter item as she didn't think anybody needed to be told to bring those.
Although I am sure there were many very serious moments with the Wrens, from her talk it seemed as though life just went from one hilarious incident to the next. She was sent to Wales at one point because there was 'accommodation for Wrens' with running water. They never found the accommodation for Wrens, but the running water was plentiful in through the back door and out the front!
Throughout the talk, the members of the Headley Society laughed at the endless antics she got up to during her time with the Wrens and I think we all wished she had spent longer with them as nobody wanted the evening to end.
October 2012 Haslemere People & Places
Tim Winter delivered an insightful talk on Haslemere history using just a few of his very large collection of postcards which illustrated in fascinating detail both the life of ordinary residents and the grander aspects of life in Victorian and early 20th Century Haslemere.
Till the coming of the railway in the 1850s, Haslemere was just a sleepy Surrey village. The railway changed all that. Within a few years, Haslemere became a commuter base and the crowds on the railway platform would be familiar to travellers today. The station building is still recognisable but what is today's car park was a busy goods yard where everything from parcels to the giant boiler for the Kind Edward VII sanatorium were shipped on by local carriers.
The railway brought an influx of wealthy Victorians. Some were famous like Alfred Lord Tennyson, others self-made men. They employed many local workers whether in making bricks from Hammer clay to build their large villas, or the many services (and servants) they required. Many of the new residents were lavish benefactors supporting the local community through the founding of the first fire service, cottage hospital and cricket club. These included, James Stewart Hodgson who built new alms houses alongside the existing Tudor ones and the town's Comrades club.
Tim's postcard collection also covers more recent events, such as the rise and fall of the local cinemas from the Empire on Shepherds Hill to the Regal on Weyhill and the 1930s Rex in Haslemere centre and many shops and buildings that are standing today. He closed his presentation with a series of postcards featuring local shops including one run by his own family.
November 2012 Help for Heroes
Mike Betts started his presentation by outlining how he became involved with the charity. He explained that for every serviceman killed, there are many others who are severely injured, often with loss of multiple limbs. These servicemen, on returning to the UK, are sent to the rehabilitation centre at Headley Court in Surrey or one of the recovery centres. When Mike heard about these injured servicemen, as an ex-military man himself, he wanted to help and contacted Headley Court. However, as he was neither a physiotherapist nor a medic, there wasn't a role for him, so they suggested he contact the charity "Help for Heroes".
Since its launch in 2007, "Help for Heroes" has raised millions of pounds. It started with just one project: raising funds for a much needed swimming pool at Headley Court. Now it supports many projects and rather than replicating what already exists, it works in partnership with existing charities.
In support of his presentation, Mike showed a number of short films, two of which documented how the charity had helped a couple of multiple limb amputees with their rehabilitation and helped them to re-integrate into society. Both servicemen had taken part in the closing ceremony of the Paralympics, one of them climbing to the top of a very tall mast!
January 2013 A Man for all Seasons
January's meeting of the Headley Society saw the welcome return of local amateur naturalist and photographer Geoff Lunn, who presented his illustrated talk, "The Seasons". Many of the photographs were taken in the back garden of Geoff's house at the Sands, near Farnham, or in other local nature hot-spots. Others were taken in the wide-open spaces of mid-Wales or Scotland, where a very different landscape, flora and fauna allowed Geoff to capture sights not available in our neck of the woods.
Geoff describes himself as a "fair weather photographer", but one recent winter the freshly-fallen snow tempted him out with his camera and the resulting images were so pleasing he simply had to go out again. The idea of a presentation based on the seasons was a natural progression.
Starting with images of Spring, Geoff explained the nesting habits of various species of birds, some familiar from our own gardens and some such as the nightjar and the Dartford warbler less so. Geoff had also recorded the song of most of these birds, which provided the soundtrack for much of the show. The new life that Spring ushers in was well illustrated by pictures of lambs, calves, foals, fox cubs and a young deer who was surely the original model for Bambi.
Summer brought images of butterflies, birds of prey (increasingly seen in these parts) and seabirds including some very photogenic puffins, snapped on the Northumbrian coast, while Geoff's pictures of Autumn showed just how beautiful that season can be. Dew-drenched cobwebs, spectacular fungi, bright berries and cute field mice all graced the projection screen.
Our tour of the year ended with Winter. Vivid images of hoar frost and of the frozen waters of Frensham Pond followed portraits of some of the avian visitors to these shores, including the redwing, fieldfare, brambling, siskin, redpoll and perhaps most spectacular a flock of waxwings at, of all places, North Camp railway station.
February 2013 Rev Laverty and his Notebooks
The Headley Society chairman, Jo Smith, gave a fascinating illustrated up-date on the Reverend Mr Laverty and his papers to a large turnout of the Society.
Wallis Hay Laverty was born in Jersey in 1847 and won scholarships including to Oxford before becoming a mathematician of some note and publishing a book on Cones & Curves. On his marriage in 1872, Laverty became rector of Headley Parish and when his children had grown up he then published 'Laws of Motion'. Astonishingly these books can still be purchased on-line! Just as astonishing is the fact that his son was a real life 'black sheep'.
Until his death in 1928, Laverty was a conscientious rector aiming to visit every parishioner twice a year. It is likely that he started his notebooks as an aide memoire to this visiting and he would up-date the pedigrees and family information over the years. This archive provides researchers with an invaluable snapshot of Victorian village life and residents with a unique source of information on the village, its inhabitants and homes. For instance we now can link road names such as Eddey's Lane and Glaysher Hill to real people. The 13 notebooks include family trees and many newspaper cuttings, the latter providing further useful historical insights. In addition Laverty, founded the cricket club, started the parish magazine, recorded 200 gravestones and listed all the footpaths.
Jo thanked members of the Society and others who had helped in transcribing the 2,125 pages and was delighted to announce that this job was complete. All the information was now available on the website including additional links to famous local residents. He encouraged everyone to visit this site and then to contact him if they could add new material, make amendments or could solve unanswered questions.
March 2013 Scams Awareness
After their AGM, at which the current committe was unanimously re-elected, members of the Society listened to an informative talk from Julie Gallagher of Hampshire Trading Standards Office (TSO) on 'Scams'.
Julie wanted to raise awareness particularly about 'doorstep crime' and 'mass market fraud'.
Doorstep crime can often take the form of bullying householders into making unwanted purchases including goods, services and tarmac for drives, etc. Hampshire TSO is always keen to hear from residents in order to keep their 'intel' up-to-date. Current scams include deliveries of flowers or chocolates which need to be paid for.
The Council were currently receiving reports on chronic victims of mass market fraud. Emails and multiple phone calls are part of this, but many residents may not realise that 'prize draws', 'holiday and competition wins', 'lotteries' and 'clairvoyance' letters can be fraudulent. Julie told some very sad stories of individuals who had become addicted to this form of gambling, where they send off money or buy goods with the expectation of winning large sums, a free holiday etc. Of course by responding to these letters (and phone calls) residents are in fact confirming their contact details and subsequently will receive even more mail and calls. Members were asked to look out for neighbours and friends with large piles of this kind of post, as this form of fraud can remain hidden.
Members were offered information on 'No cold calling zones', door stickers, and a variety of booklets for further support.
April 2013 Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton
The April meeting of Headley Society opened to a full house. Steve Priestley welcomed members and visitors and gave details of a forthcoming visit of the Headley Twinning Association to Corné, before introducing Alan Wood, a volunteer from Weald and Downland Museum, at Singleton.
Alan Wood has been a volunteer at the Museum for over 30 years. Supported by slides, he outlined the history of the Museum from its inception till the current time. The Museum, which is on land rented from West Dean Estate for a peppercorn rent, opened in September 1970 with just 4 buildings. It opened for just 4 weekends initially to see how it would go 7,000 people visited.
All the ancient buildings on site were saved from destruction. Threatened to be submerged by the Bough Beech Reservoir near Tonbridge in Kent, the first building to be re-located was a Tudor kitchen called Winkworth. The 2nd was a tread wheel which was originally located over a 300' well. To get a bucket of water from the bottom to the top, the wheel had to turn 52 times which equates with someone walking a third of a mile!
Next came a Toll Cottage from Beeding, donated in 1968 when a lorry crashed into it and re-constructed in 1970. The 4th of the initial buildings was a granary from Littlehampton. It was built on staddles to keep vermin out and the grain away from the damp ground. If vermin did get in however there was a small flap, similar to a cat flap, so that a dog could be thrust in to despatch the vermin!
The talk concluded with Alan Wood showing a number of artifacts including a gentleman's boot and child's shoe. Both were found in the chimney and were probably placed there to ward off evil spirits. Doors and windows could be closed off but not the chimney.
May 2013 The Barrows of Petersfield and their connection with Avebury and Stonehenge: 'Beyond the Grave'
On Thursday 2nd May, Peter Price gave a fascinating illustrated talk about the archaeology of the round barrows of Petersfield.
The round barrows clustering around Petersfield Pond and Heath date from the Bronze Age (2300BC1200BC) and form an important lowland group of Wessex burials. The mystery of the burials is that we know what was buried grave goods often including gold and bronze objects give us an insight, but will never tell us who. In the early Bronze Age people were buried in a foetal position recalling their birth but in the latter part, bodies were cremated before burial in pots. It seems that high status individuals were buried in the barrow's centre, but ordinary folk tended to be buried outside the barrow's encircling ring or even just thrown into a local stream!
Round barrows come in a variety of forms, bowl, bell and ring being the most common, but pond and saucer shapes have also survived centuries of farming. It seems that clans preferred a specific shape. The largest barrow on Petersfield Heath is 40ft in diameter and 20ft high and, like all barrows, was built using early tools such as antler picks and ox shoulder blades. Today barrows are often found with groups of trees on top, as farmers have continued to avoid ploughing these sacred sites.
The Petersfield barrows are one of many groupings in southern England but are significant because they do not occupy high ground. As elsewhere, the Petersfield barrows have a clear focus perhaps a ritual performance area within sub groups and either, as in Petersfield, water or, as in Stonehenge and Avebury, the standing stones (henges).
New palaeoclimatic research into the Bronze Age, has provided evidence of major climate change which may explain why burial rituals shifted from being focussed around the sun or more particularly sunset to, in the later Bronze Age, being centred on water. There seems to be evidence for both at Petersfield.
June 2013 The Mary Rose
At June's meeting of the Headley Society a large audience of members and visitors forsook the temptations of a fine Summer evening to enjoy a fascinating talk by Alan Turton of the Mary Rose information group about the history and future of Henry the Eighth's famous flagship.
The Mary Rose was built in Portsmouth, not far from where she now rests in the Historic Dockyard. Laid down in the first year of Henry's reign, she was to give 34 years of service before sinking during the battle of Portsmouth not, we were assured, due to a hit from the French fleet. It was more likely that the Mary Rose sank as she turned sharply having let off a salvo from her heavy guns, the sea entering through the still-open gun ports.
Although the waters of the Solent were only 50 feet deep at that point, just 35 men out of as many as 600 crew, archers and soldiers on board were saved from drowning. As Alan explained, swimming was a skill few acquired in those days, but the anti-boarding nets strung above the ship's decks must have trapped many.
For a year after she sank, attempts were made to raise the Mary Rose, but she remained very firmly stuck in the mud. Over the centuries, silt covered much of the wreck; other parts were dislodged by fishing nets, anchors or tidal action. The Mary Rose survived a systematic attempt in Victorian times to dynamite all wrecks in the area as hazards to shipping, being rediscovered in the 1970s, when plans were laid to raise her at last.
It was 1982 when the intact section of the hull was raised in a purpose-built cradle and was towed to the dry dock next to HMS Victory, where the timbers were constantly sprayed with sea water in order to prevent them drying out. Over the years, the water was replaced by a wax-like chemical, which has stabilised the timber. Other artefacts, including many ship's cannons, pewter plates, wooden bowls, leather clothing, board games, musical instruments and no fewer than 7,000 arrows were raised and preserved. Most poignantly, remains of 140 individuals have also been recovered, one of whom was buried according to the rites of his time in Portsmouth Cathedral.
Bringing us fully up to date, Alan showed pictures of the new Mary Rose museum, opened just a week ago, in which both the ship and in many cases for the first time the associated artefacts are displayed to best advantage. He certainly whetted the appetite of those present to visit the Historic Dockyard to see for themselves this remarkable survival of Henry the Eighth's mighty navy.
July 2013 Visit to Old Cottage, Churt Road
For our annual visit in July, on a warm sunny evening, Steve & Jane welcomed members of The Headley Society to their house Old Cottage, a property which had previously been known as Upper Hearn Farm and possibly before that Lockes Farm.
It is a medieval timber-framed cottage which has likely been one/two cottages at several times in its life. It dates from 1475 and Michael Jefferies, who is a conservation surveyor, was on hand to tell us more about the house and its structure, including its rare internal jetty.
For 75 years before the current owners bought it, it belonged to the Shepherd family. Firstly Heather Shepherd lived with her father Iain, and when he died in the fifties she lived with her mother Agnes. When Agnes died in the 1980s Heather lived here alone apart from a carer until her death in 2009.
Heather Shepherd was an amazing lady who played golf and drove round the area in a convertible sports car. She worked at Bletchley but retired in the 1950s when she was about 30 and filled her spare time painting and playing bridge. When she died her estate was some £4.7m and as she had no relatives nearly all was left to charity.
Many of Heather's pictures, furniture and artefacts are still in the house. She loved the garden and filled it with plants and trees which the current owners are trying hard to maintain.
August 2013 History of the Ordnance Survey
Geoff May, who retired from Ordnance Survey in 2008, gave an illustrated talk about the history of the OS under the title From one revolution to another.
The first revolution was the one across the Channel which caused the Government in 1791 to order the Board of Ordnance to carry out a topographical survey of the southern counties of England, the better to prepare defences against a possible French invasion. The Survey's roots, however, lay in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, when English troops were hampered by the lack of mapping of the Scottish Highlands. This led to a military survey of Scotland under the command of General William Roy, who developed a system of triangulation which became the foundation of accurate mapping for 200 years thereafter.
The first fruit of the English survey was a 1" to 1 mile map of Kent, completed in 1801. Ireland was mapped by 1846 and the whole of Britain by the 1870s. Originally housed in the Tower of London, the Ordnance Survey (as it came to be known) moved to Southampton in 1841. Several moves of building later, it remains there still.
In the Great War, OS produced nearly 33 million maps for use in the field and, despite the destruction of their headquarters by the Luftwaffe in 1940 they produce a further 42 million maps in WW2. Although it was military considerations which had led to a national survey, OS maps soon became indispensable for railway building, land registration and other civilian uses.
Maps for public use began to appear, along with motor cars and bicycles, after WW1. The 1" to one mile Popular Edition and its modern descendant the Landranger have sold in their millions but the Survey had its ups and downs in the 20th Century. After standards slipped in the 1930s, a new national survey was carried out using the concrete triangulation pillars which remain such a familiar feature of the British landscape. A national grid and metrication soon followed. And in the 1990s came the second revolution, when OS digitised all its mapping.
Ordnance Survey now has fewer staff than ever and since 1983 has been a civilian organisation. Far from being a drain on public finances it actually makes a contribution to the national coffers.
September 2013 Tudor Cabinet of Curiosities
The Headley Society was treated to a very amusing and informative presentation by Denise Quinney.
Denise, literally dressed from top to toe in Tudor clothes, started by explaining her outfit. We learnt why she was wearing a 'statute' round felted cap and how her hose stayed up. The hat was called a 'statute' cap because all classes were legally required to wear it to church an early example of government supporting industry, in this instance the wool trade. The woollen stockings or hose were of course held up by garters, but did you know that garter stich was used to make the garters?
Another thing we learnt was the origin of the expression 'straight-laced'. From medieval times onwards, a woman in search of a husband used cross-lacing on her bodice and this indicated she was 'available'. Whereas a married woman of course used straight-lacing!
Tudor garments did not have pockets, both men and women hung bags or purses (known as pockets) from their waists. This is where we get the phrase 'cut purse' from and also explains the confusing children's rhyme 'Lucy Locket lost her Pocket'!
Denise involved the audience from this stage on as she passed round the contents of her two leather 'pockets'. They seemed to contain so much everything from a louse comb to a knuckle bone child's toy all the essentials for a Tudor housewife. She then invited members to choose an item from her cabinet of curiosities as we tried to guess their function. Pomanders of all kinds, miniature and early timepieces, skates made from animal bones, a cupping glass, wax notebook, horn ABC, a jar of antimony and a bag of oak apple galls. These and many more all had a place in the cabinet and played a vital role in Tudor life.
Rarely have we laughed and learnt so much in such a short time.
October 2013 Gilbert White & His Garden
David Standing, Head Gardener at Gilbert White's home The Wakes in Selborne gave a most informative illustrated talk on Thursday 3 October to the Headley Society.
David arrived at the garden in June 1979 'for the odd job or two' and ended staying 34 years! The garden was chaotic and overgrown with weeds and since then David has researched, conducted archaeological digs and meticulously planned the restoration of White's garden. White famous for the 'Natural History of Selborne' also kept detailed diaries and 'natural calendars' of his 30 acre estate. We now have a fabulous 40 year snapshot of the weather, growing conditions and the plants and animals seen in this part of Hampshire in the second half of the 18th Century.
There have been many changes over the years so it is not possible to locate all the different elements of the original garden. Some parts of the garden, such as the Ha-Ha and Alcove have been reinstated. Other items have been restored very much in the spirit of White - without spending too much money. For instance a statue that White had made by a local carpenter has been recreated using fibreglass.
The 18th Century fashion was for rustic looking natural settings, but with formal, theatrical planting. David has tried to use either original plant varieties or modern equivalents to recreate this look. For gardeners it was fascinating to learn that some plants in the garden may be 200 year-old direct descendants including the hollyhocks and many of the roses and other flowers are known to us. Lots of the vegetables would be familiar, especially the potato which White keenly promoted.
Gilbert White's careful record keeping has inspired David and his team of volunteers and given us a fabulous insight into the past. Just as many ecologists and naturalists have been inspired by his 'Natural History'.
November 2013 One man's Christmas Carol
November's meeting of the Headley Society enjoyed a change from the usual 'talking head' style of presentation as members witnessed Jonathon Jones' spirited one-man dramatic rendition of Charles Dickens' much-loved short novel, A Christmas Carol.
Saturday shoppers who have encountered Jonathon as Farnham's Town Crier will be able to vouch for the power and range of his voice. From the first words of A Christmas Carol, his actorly tones filled the Church Centre and captivated the audience. Employing a minimum of props and relying instead on vocal and facial expression to convey the story's various characters, Jonathon was utterly convincing whether as Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit or any of the assorted spectres that populate this well-known tale. Thus, when Marley's ghost arrived, it seemed that we could hear the very clanking of his chains; and when Scrooge sneered at his hard-working, under-rewarded clerk, the sense of an unfairness being done was palpable.
Lest you may be thinking that the story was recited with book in hand, please be assured this was a tour-de-force delivered with scarcely any reference to notes. The novel may be one of Dickens' shorter works but audience members were left wondering how Jonathon was able to memorise an hour's worth of material, and to deliver it without pause or hiccup. Perhaps the Society should book him for another of his talks, "Improving your memory."
January 2014 Behind the Scenes at the Houses of Parliament
Have you ever wondered what goes on beyond the cameras down by Westminster Bridge? Well on 9 January the Society was given a special tour by local resident Steve Priestley. Rather surprisingly our tour started in Baghdad with an aerial photo from a combat helicopter. Not at all what we had expected.
Steve worked in the House of Commons Service for over 31 years. He was one of over 2,000 people who work to support 650 MPs. These include plumbers, waiters, cooks and cleaners. And to be honest I think many of us expected to hear fascinating and mildly indiscreet stories about old lead pipes, polished brass, chilled Chablis and canapés for tipsy members. However 80 or so of those House servants are House of Commons Clerks, and Steve was too.
Clerks support and advise MPs on negotiating a way through the complex paths of private members' bills, amendments and the minutiae of parliamentary procedure. They are at their most visible sitting 'at the table' in front of the Speaker. Clerks need to be diplomatic and patient for instance while taking MPs names during a vote in HoC speak a 'division'. Did you know that MPs don't like to be seen to 'abstain' as they are concerned that constituents might think they were absent so sometimes they will vote both 'Aye' and 'No' to be seen and not counted as it were.
Clerks support the international work of the House as it encourages democracy through the North Atlantic Assembly and the Inter-parliamentary Union, but for about half of their time, they provide the secretariat to the Houses Select Committees. These committees scrutinise and inform the work of Government Departments. The Committees now play a much more active and visible role in government life and it is clerks who write their influential reports. Steve has written quite a few of these.
So how did we get to Baghdad? Well the Foreign Affairs Select Committee needs to travel so that its members can really understand what's going on around the world. Steve was Clerk to this Committee at a time of great global threat. So he got around a bit: Ground Zero, Damascus, Kabul and even Guantanamo Bay. He met some pretty interesting and well known characters too, but discretion is Steve's middle name, so we had to speculate on what he thought of President Assad, Tony Blair and many others.
And the combat helicopter? Well our MPs need protecting of course, but so do their House of Commons clerks as they continue to work hard behind the scenes for all of us.
February 2014 Farnham Pottery
The Hampshire/Surrey border north of Headley has for thousands of years been a major centre for pottery making. For instance, the hundreds of Roman kilns in what is now Alice Holt Forest supplied 60% of the cooking pots for Roman London. Recently the remains of three such kilns were found when the burnt-out buildings were cleared at Country Market.
David Graham gave members of The Headley Society this brief history lesson to introduce us to the significance of the Farnham Pottery. Built in 1873 by Absalom Harris in Wrecclesham, where the quality of the gault clay was particularly good, the pottery initially made such everyday ware as chamber pots and flower pots (a skilled potter could make a 3½-inch flower pot in 20 seconds). However, competition from Staffordshire in the late 19th century undercut this market, and it was only by a lucky chance that the artist Birket Foster (d. 1899) asked them to reproduce a particular green glaze for him and in so doing, Harris & Co was able to enter a different and far more lucrative Arts & Crafts market. The 'owl motif' pots and jugs made at the pottery are particularly sought after.
At its peak, the pottery employed around 50 people and had 12 kilns. It survived
the downturns of two World Wars, but by the 1960s was fighting a losing economic
battle, and in 1998 the Farnham (Building Preservation) Trust bought the site
for about £1 million and has since been able to restore the surviving
buildings; in particular the iconic 'owl' arch, as well as what has been described
as Surrey's 'most tasteful loo'!
Though the one remaining kiln cannot safely be fired, the other buildings are today still used for pottery-related activities such as pottery-making classes and designing architectural ceramics. David urged us to visit this 'best preserved Victorian country pottery'.
Among other interesting snippets of information given to us during the course of the talk, we learnt the original meaning of the term 'pot hole' (potters dug holes in roads and filled them with their clay so that the traffic rolling over it would act as a pugmill for them); and that the 'potter's hands' used for the BBC interlude sequence were those of 'Fred' from Farnham Pottery.
March 2014 "Pubs, Taverns, Inns and their Signs"
Having first defined the difference between an ale house, a tavern and an inn (a tavern also sold wine as well as ale, and an inn provided shelter and stabling) Tony Cross, a past curator of the Curtis Museum in Alton, took us on an illustrated and entertaining tour of some of the signs we see around us in towns and villages, and their derivation.
He started with signs depicting general trades, such as the large black boot above a shop in Winchester High Street, before homing in on pubs signs in particular. Some of the signage hanging on old shop frontages was so heavy that they were prone to pulling the front of the building off and a law was passed saying that only inns may have hanging signs, other trades having to make do with flat signs.
Many pub names relate to either the church or the monarch or both as these were organisations worth keeping on your side. Some names became corruptions of the original: he gave as an example the 'Bull and Mouth' coming from the victory of Henry VIII at "Boulogne Mouth" or Harbour. We also heard of the origination of a 'Cock & Bull' story from two pubs of that name in Stony Stratford.
Tony kept the audience wrapt for an hour with his photographs and comments, and told us of many a 'nice little pub to visit'. As he said, it's a hard life researching a subject like this!
April 2014 "Without the Veil" in Saudi Arabia
Last time Katharine Minchin visited the Headley Society she had the audience in stitches with tales of her time in the WRNS. This time she had come to talk about what life was like living in Saudi Arabia, in particular as the wife of a dentist in Jeddah.
She talked about the very great differences between life in England, particularly for a woman, and life in Saudi Arabia. For instance, women in Saudi Arabia were not allowed to drive, and all Muslin women had to wear the full veil. Very quickly she had the audience laughing at the problems with the water supply to and from a newly built 'modern' hospital where the clean water came in a 3,000 litre tanker but a 1,000 litre tanker was used to dispose of the waste water!
Katharine told of a wonderful day trip she and three female friends decided to make to Taif, the summer capital and the of problems buying a bus ticket without their husbands! However, the ticket seller hadn't come across Katharine before and they got their tickets. Being non-Muslims, however, they were not allowed to take any bus to Taif as it was directly east of Jeddah with Mecca in between, and non-Muslims are not allowed to even catch a glimpse of Mecca, let alone visit the city; they had to go on a very circuitous route to get there.
Katharine also talked about some of the peculiarities of the flats she lived in, particularly the toilet door which wouldn't open fully because the toilet was in the way. They builder had remedied that problem when he was fitting out the upper floor. He had enlarged the size of the toilet by narrowing the corridor. However by doing so meant that the kitchen door in the upper flat wouldn't close fully as the doorway/corridor were too narrow!
April 2014 Historic Headley #1
Our local historian and wordsmith, Jo Smith, took a full Village Hall on a couple of historic journeys.
His first talk explored the history of the infamous Workhouse riots of 1830. After a break for tea, cake and a look at an interesting selection of the Headley Archives, we heard the delightful story of some letters that the Headley Society founder Joyce Stevens had discovered in her own armoire. Both stories had Australian connections the former since a number of the 'rioters' were transported down under, and interestingly never wanted to come home and the latter as the letters to Edith that contained small nuggets of gold had of course come from Australia.
Jo is an experienced speaker, and using both sound recordings and slides provided us with a genuinely interesting evening's entertainment.
May 2014 The Insulin Murders
June 2014 Uppark and its People, including the scandalous Earl of Tankerville
If only bricks and mortar, to say nothing of soft furnishings, could talk, they could scarcely sound more authoritative and interesting than the National Trust's Dr Bob France, who presented June's meeting of the Headley Society with a fascinating history of Uppark.
The recorded history of the site of today's fine Georgian house begins in the fourteenth Century, when the high ground on which it stands was a deer park belonging to the Lords of the Manor of Harting, known as the up-park. No description survives of a house which stood on the site by 1600 but from the erection of the present structure in 1690 onwards a detailed history has been assembled.
The first occupant, Ford Grey the Earl of Tankerville, was successively a notorious adulterer, a rebel who fought on the losing side in the Battle of Sedgemoor, and First Lord of the Treasury. His descendants sold Uppark in 1747 to Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh, Bt, a man of enormous wealth who filled the house with fine objets d'art gathered during his Grand Tour of Europe. His son, Henry, also did the Grand Tour but instead of bringing works of art home, he brought his 16 year-old mistress, Emma Hart (later Emma, Lady Hamilton). The Prince of Wales, the future George IV, was a frequent visitor to Henry at Uppark but the two later fell out and Henry devoted himself to improving the house before marrying at the age of 70 his 20 year-old dairy maid, Mary Ann Bullock.
Although not without issue, Henry left no legitimate heir and for most of the Victorian period his widow and then her sister presided over a household where very little happened and almost nothing changed. Subsequent owners conserved rather than redeveloped the house, until it passed to the National Trust in 1954.
Then, in 1989, came the disastrous fire, which consumed much of the house but, thanks to the courage and professionalism of firefighters, remarkably few of its furnishings and art treasures. Now restored to its pre-fire condition, Uppark is a thriving local attraction.
June 2014 Our Queen and the Modern Monarchy
Robert Hardman, Royal correspondent, spoke to a packed house at Headley Village Hall on the occasion of the second Joyce Stevens Memorial Lecture organised by The Headley Society on Friday 27th June.
A local man, his entry into journalism came with an article he wrote in 1987 about the movement to save the Glebe Fields at Headley from development. Subsequently he covered various subjects, but when sent to Klosters to cover skiing for the Daily Telegraph he found himself unexpectedly in the company of the Duchess of York. This led to further coverage of the 'royals' during the 'Annus Horribilis' of 1992 and the start of his 20 years as a Royal correspondent.
During that time he has come to admire the Queen as a rock of permanence amid a world of great change, and yet describes her also as a 'bit of a revolutionary' citing her entry to the 2012 Olympics 'by parachute' as an example.
The Queen herself gives no interviews but, in the opinion of others close to her, she has 'no interest in being a celebrity' and will never abdicate despite this becoming the fashion currently for other European monarchs. Her success is based on three things: her health, her faith, and the support of the Duke of Edinburgh.
At the end of his talk, Robert took several questions from the floor before the meeting ended with a mingling for wine and nibbles.
On the night, a raffle raised £270 in support of a new sound system for All Saints' parish church, and other profits allowed a donation of around £400 to be given to the Headley Down Community Association.
July 2014 Summer Visit to The Old Rectory, Headley
The sun shone and the sausages sizzled. Paul Heath did a sterling job providing hot dogs for Headley Society members at their garden party meeting, held early in July in the Old Rectory Gardens, by kind permission of Robin and Phyllida Smeeton.
Following a walk around the beautiful garden, Robin outlined a few interesting facts about the Old Rectory, after which members sat enjoying their hot dogs and chatting with their friends.
Betty White, President, thanked Robin and Phyllida for their hospitality and presented them both with appropriate tokens of gratitude.
August 2014 Hindhead After the Tunnel
Matt Cusack had begun his work for the National Trust at Hindhead just a year before the project to build the Hindhead Tunnel began, and so had seen it before, during and after the development.
He began his illustrated talk by giving us a short history of the agricultural use of the fertile land within the Punch Bowl and the people who once lived there, including farmers and broomsquires. We also heard the story of the unfortunate sailor who was murdered on Hindhead in 1786 and the subsequent execution of the murderers there on a gibbet.
Moving on, he explained the role of the National Trust in conservation of the landscape, by means of both human and animal activity. He is based in Witley and his 'patch' also covers Frensham Common as well as other areas around Hindhead.
Finally he gave us the story of the tunnel under Hindhead. Work on this began in 2007 and was completed in 2011, after which the course of the A3 road over the common was removed. This is now allowing the Trust to connect the two sides of the common, and Matt showed us maps of where various endangered species were happier to live. In addition the Common has now become a great attraction for walkers and cyclists following the Trust's waymarked routes.
September 2014 Thomas Adlam VC and the history of the award
The speaker was Malcolm Buchanan, whose great interest in military history and the Victoria Cross in particular, led him to look further at Thomas Adlam VC, our 'local' winner of the medal.
Outlining the history of the medal, we learnt that Queen Victoria had introduced the medal, which recognised neither birth nor class, to honour acts of valour in the face of the enemy. Till that time, medals for valour had only been awarded to officers. The bronze for this medal had come from a particular part of a Russian cannon which had been captured at the Siege of Sevastopol. However, when analysed in recent years, the bronze turned out to be Chinese, so presumably the Russians had captured it from the Chinese at some stage!
Thomas Adlam received his VC in 1916 at the battle of the Somme. Adlam had been a cricketer and therefore could throw a grenade further than most. He used this skill to bombard the German line. His platoon kept him supplied with grenades and as soon as the German line was sufficiently decimated, they advanced to their trench. When they ran out of grenades, his platoon collected every German stick grenade they could find and piled them up next to him. Adlam kept throwing them until the whole section of trench was clear. Even when his throwing arm was injured, he continued with the other arm.
Following the war, Thomas Adlam VC was headmaster at St Matthew's Primary School, Blackmoor and is buried in St Matthew's churchyard. When Malcolm Buchanan started his research, Thomas Adlam's VC was little known in Blackmoor. Amazingly the Headmistress of St Matthew's didn't know about it (but she does now!). However the Vicar at St Matthew's Church knew he was buried in his Churchyard after all!
Malcolm Buchanan took part in a sponsored cycle ride to raise money to refurbish the grave. The money donated for this talk is to be added to that fund.
Since March of this year, members and friends of The Headley Society have been researching the 96 names from WWI on the Headley War Memorial. Over a third has now been completed and a selection was on display at this meeting. More was also on display in the Village Hall during the Headley Fete on 13th September.
October 2014 The Civil War in Hampshire
At its October meeting, the Headley Society welcomed back Alan Turton, former curator of Basing House and a military historian with a particular interest in the English Civil War. Setting events of that period in Hampshire within the wider context of the war between Parliament and King Charles I and the even wider context of the 30 Years War on the Continent Alan illustrated the prominent part played by our county in the conflict. From the earliest stirrings of organised opposition to Charles' demands for more money to send military expeditions to Europe, Hampshire was at the centre of events.
Portsmouth was at the time the most heavily fortified town in England. It supported the King, but the Royal Naval fleet based there was, with the exception of one ship, for Parliament. The boarding of that ship, the seizing of its cannons, and the subsequent bombardment of Portsmouth's defences constituted one of the first engagements of a war which had yet to be formally declared. Portsmouth soon fell to Parliament but throughout the war Basing House in the North of the County served as a strongpoint for Royalist forces, successfully resisting a number of sieges.
Alan described how clashes took place in the area around Basing, including at Alton and at Odiham, and a full-scale battle was fought at Cheriton, near Alresford. This battle, like the later, decisive Battle of Naseby, was won by Parliament. The result, as every schoolchild knows, was that King Charles lost his head, but not before he had escaped from detention at Hampton Court and made his way to Titchfield Abbey, where he was recaptured and then interned on the Isle of Wight.
October 2014 Historic Headley #2
Jo Smith organised a second evening of talks in Headley Village Hall. The first was an illustrated talk by Jo himself on Wallis Hay Laverty, Rector of Headley 1872-1928: the man, his family, his works and his notebooks (see also Feb 2013). The second was an excellent illustrated talk by Jane Lewis (of the Surrey History Centre in Woking) about her study on 'Life and Labour in an Agricultural Village' using our Headley as an example.
November 2014 A short biography of the English Channel
A biography of a stretch of water? Well, former solicitor and budding author Iain Kennedy certainly brought the Channel to life in his well-researched and entertaining talk to the Headley Society's November meeting.
The English Channel was 'born' at the end of the last ice age, when the meltwater-fed North Sea broke through the chalk ridge that until then connected what is now England to France. From that time on, the Channel has formed a physical boundary between the island of Great Britain and the continent of Europe, both protecting England from invasion and fostering a sense of national identity the English as an island race.
Or it did that for most of history, even saving iron age Britain from the first attempt at an invasion by Julius Caesar. Caesar later succeeded when capricious channel weather blew his fleet ashore at an unexpected point, thus wrong-footing the hostile welcoming committee. William, Duke of Normandy, conquered Anglo-Saxon Britain despite having to change his invasion plans due to the weather and every schoolchild knows how the Spanish Armada was blown off course, although Iain debunked the old story that Drake preferred to finish his game of bowls rather than engage the enemy fleet. Later attempts by Louis XIV and Napoleon Bonaparte scarcely got further than the drawing board (in Napoleon's case, the depiction of a huge army moving through a tunnel under the water, an invasion fleet upon it and hot-air balloons carrying snipers above it was particularly imaginative) and although Hitler had a plan and even gave it a name (Operation Sealion) his naval chiefs considered it unrealisable. They were probably right; it took a combination of air and naval supremacy and a brief window of calm weather conditions for the Allied invasion of France to succeed in 1944.
In modern times, matters have changed somewhat. Iain's first crossing of the channel as a boy was by ferry, onto which cars were lifted by crane; now, France is a train-ride away. Yet the Channel is still the English Channel, and one sensed that for Iain at least England is still John of Gaunt's "sceptre'd isle … This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall, Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands."
January 2015 The Introduction of Hops in the UK
This was a return visit for Bill Weeks after nearly 23 years! (last here in September 1992)
Bill opened the meeting by giving a run down on the sad state of hop growing in the county. Other than ¾ acre at Hartley Park Farm near Selborne which are grown for decorating halls and barns etc., and the organic hops being grown by Formula 1 Champion, Jody Scheckter, at Laverstock Park, near Stockbridge, there are, sadly, no hop gardens left in Hampshire.
As an Alton man, Bill grew up surrounded by hop gardens and in his youth he was allowed to help with the hop picking when it didn't interfere with his schooling, thus feeding his enthusiasm for hop growing. People either loved it or hated it and by far the majority loved it, including, of course, Bill Weeks. He said "Sandwiches never tasted as good as when you ate them with hop-stained hands in the hop gardens!" Bill had the audience laughing throughout. He was not the only person present who had worked in the hop gardens quite a few members of the audience had been hop pickers in their time.
Bill explained how Flemish weavers introduced hopped beer into England in the 14th century when they arrived to take advantage of the thriving woollen trade, first importing the beer, then the hops and finally someone had the idea to grow hops here. Hopped beer has an advantage over ale in that hops have an antibacterial effect on the beer increasing the shelf life considerable. Ale only lasted about 3 weeks the advantage of that was that it had to be drunk quickly! The three most important hop growing areas were Kent and East Sussex first, next Hereford & Worcester with Surrey and Hampshire being third.
Bill finished his talk by showing a number of slides of people working in the hop gardens of North East Hampshire from the late 1800s to the 1990s. Amongst them were pictures of people wearing very high stilts to put up strings to support the hops which grew to 21ft, and there were hop pickers relaxing by a camp fire with a refreshing mug of tea or perhaps beer after a long day's toil.
The change in hop growing like most other agricultural practices was amazing. In the 1800s a hop garden would employ up to 400 people. By the 1990s the same work could be done by less than 30.
February 2015 The First 500 Years of Loseley Park
The speaker for the evening was Jennifer Nicholas, a retired schoolteacher with a tremendous knowledge of the More-Molyneux family who resided at Loseley Park for 500 years. Jennifer had slides of many of the owners of Loseley, and started her talk with a portrait of Sir Christopher More, the first owner. How Sir Christopher came to own Loseley Park is a bit of a mystery. He was a London solicitor who came to visit Loseley in the 15th century when there was a dispute over ownership, after which he ended up owning half the estate and some years later, he owned the whole estate.
On his death in 1549, his only surviving son, Sir William More, succeeded him. The portrait of him which Jennifer was able to show, seemed to be of a kindly old man with a long white beard; however, it turns out that he was in his 30s! This is the More who was responsible for the building of the current Loseley House, the one which we all know. Elizabeth I had wanted to come and stay at Loseley but had pointed out that she couldn't possibly stay in the small, inconsequential house that he had inherited. So what else could a loyal subject do, but knock it down and build a new, very much more imposing house and all in seven years. Elizabeth was obviously well pleased with her subject as she made four or five visits, and she is reputed to have told one of her Ladies-in-Waiting, she wished Sir William was 20 years younger......! When he died, aged 80, Elizabeth remarked that she had lost a true friend and confidante.
The next incumbent of the Estate was Sir William's only son, Sir George More who decided to enlarge the house substantially by building on a West Wing. Not only did he enlarge the house, he also gave a large debt to the house, which continued down through the generations.
In the late 17th century, for the first time, the owner of the estate was female as all the male heirs had died without issue. Margaret, great grand-daughter of Sir George, was married to Sir Thomas Molyneux and hence the name for the generations to come became More-Molyneux. Margaret was a very astute business woman and left the house in very good order. She sold properties and wood, raising sufficient funds to make much needed repairs to the roof, and when she died in 1802 she left £2,000 to the poor of Guildford. A couple of generations later, when the cost of running the house was astronomical, the West Wing was demolished by James More Molyneux, and the stone was used to build houses, a school and a church which is still there today.
In the 20th Century, a later James More-Molyneux decided that the estate needed an income and so started a number of businesses, one of which was Loseley Dairies which produces the much-famed Loseley ice cream.
In 2015 the house is still owned and run by the descendants of Sir Christopher More and is, again, undergoing more much-needed repair work. For the 2nd time in its 500 year history, it is getting a new roof!
April 2015 The History of Town Criers and significance of regalia
April 2015's meeting of the Headley Society saw its first Tell us in Ten slot, in which local organisations are given ten minutes to talk about their activities. Headley's Community SpeedWatch co-ordinator, Robin Hall, was the first to be invited to fill this slot. In his allotted time, Robin explained why he and his fellow volunteers spend an hour every now and again recording with their accurate equipment the speed of vehicles passing through Headley. Even a modest increase in the speed of a vehicle over the village's 30mph limit can add significantly to the braking distance and the damage it would cause in the event of an impact. With over 10% of cars monitored exceeding the limit by 5mph or more, this is a real worry for local people. By noting the registration, make and model of vehicles exceeding the limit, the SpeedWatch volunteers ensure that speeding motorists receive a letter from the police, reminding them to stay under 30 in future. Persistent speeders are liable to hear the local policeman's knock on their door.
The main speaker for the evening was Jonathan Jones, Farnham's official town crier, who appeared in his full rig of tricorn, frock coat, breeches and buckle shoes, and described his role with wit and humour. He ended with what is called in town crier circles a 'shout', which was so loud that Mrs Jones back in Farnham must have known to put the kettle on ready for his return. Jonathan is one of the most entertaining speakers in the area. If you missed his appearance at the Church Centre, you can find him most Saturdays having a 'shout' outside the Lion & Lamb in Farnham.
May 2015 The Watts Gallery
As the last voters made their way to the Village Hall on 7th May, their democratic choice to make, members of The Headley Society gathered at the Church Centre, where they were treated to a lively and informative presentation by Jane Turner of the Watts Gallery.
G F Watts was a leading Victorian artist. The gallery, situated in the country home of the artist and his wife Mary at Compton near Guildford, was already known to most if not all of the audience but Jane's familiarity with the artworks and the buildings which house them ensured that everyone learnt something they didn't know before. With exciting plans for the future, the Watts Gallery is clearly somewhere that's always going to be worth another visit.
June 2015 William Cobbett: a remarkable life
Our June meeting began with Rita Stubbings taking advantage of our 'Tell us in Ten' slot to explain the work of Headley Parish Council, of which she is a member.
The chairman, John Owen Smith, congratulated Rita on her succinct summary,
then introduced the main speaker for the evening, Julia Mayo.
Julia, he said, had been a great influence in his life when she managed Arts for EHDC in the early 1990s. Tonight she was to tell us about one of her favourite subjects, the radical activist William Cobbett (17631835) who had been born in Farnham.
In a well-illustrated talk, she took us through Cobbett's early life from being a farmer's son to his enlistment with the Army. He spent some years with the Army in Canada, but was disillusioned with the corruption he observed in some of the officers, and on his discharge he put the case against them. This was dismissed by the Establishment of the day, and fearing he would be imprisoned himself he fled, first to France, then to America for eight years.
Arriving back in England in 1800, he began to publish his own newspapers, getting himself imprisoned in Newgate for two years. His Political Register in particular was read avidly by the working class, making him unpopular with the Government. He fled to America again for two years, returning, it is claimed, with the remains of Thomas Paine (d.1809) for a 'proper burial in his native soil'. There is some dispute as to whether this reburial ever happened.
From 1822 he started his 'Rural Rides' in the south of England, publishing his observations as to what he saw was happening in the countryside. (His ride in November 1822 took him through Headley). He supported the cause of the rioters during the Swing Riots of 1830, but was successful in avoiding conviction for this.
In 1832, after several failed previous attempts, he won a seat in Parliament (for Oldham), but in following years his faculties deteriorated. He died in June 1835 in his farmhouse at Normandy (Surrey) after a short illness and was buried in Farnham.
The chairman thanked Julia for her interesting talk, and reminded members that the next meeting of The Headley Society will be a visit to Headley Village Hall to hear about its history from himself. The Headley Archives will also be on display.
August 2015 "That's the way to do it"
Ken Dalston, a Punch & Judy professor gave an amusing and interesting insight into how he became involved with the two old rogues. His interest started as a child when he saw a Punch & Judy Show on a visit to the seaside. Using toys which he no longer had a use for, he started to make his own puppets and put on shows in his garden charging local kids 1d to come in. When he left school he went on to work at the Midland Bank, taking a very keen interest in their Drama Society. On being made redundant by the bank in his early 50s, his opportunity came to be a full time Punch & Judy man. Unfortunately, by this time, Punch & Judy was not politically correct and the schools weren't interested. However they were interested in puppets telling Grimms Fairy Tales and the children having a chance to make and play with puppets. This was so successful, schools then invited him back to do Punch & Judy!
Ken demonstrated how easy it is to make a puppet. Using a glove, some elastic bands that the postman chucks away, a piece of red material for a tongue, some stick-on eyes, and fluffy material for ears we soon had a dog. He had brought a variety of different types of puppets, including stick puppets, string puppets, and finger puppets the latter are particularly popular with children.
So by the end the audience was able to say: "That's the way to do it".
September 2015 Rare Earth Metals
Dr Ralph Kay gave us an illustrated talk on 'Rare Earth Metals, vital for modern life'.
These elements are not rare as such, but because they are scattered widely and difficult to separate from other constituents of the ores they are found in, they are not easy to come by. Added to which, the vast majority are currently mined in China which gives that country a potential monopoly on their supply to the rest of the world.
Dr Kay outlined the importance of these 17 elements to modern life. Without them we would have no mobile phones, body scanners, satellites, electric cars the list goes on and there is currently no substitute available for them. Therefore we should be more careful about recycling our old phones, batteries, etc, rather than dumping them to landfill, as they are the best source of retaining sufficient of these materials for the future.
October 2015 Odiham and the Magna Carta
It is 800 years since King John put his seal on the Magna Carta and at an interesting talk from John Champion the Headley Society learnt just how and why this was celebrated by residents of Odiham.
Odiham's chief claim to fame are the remains of its castle and the fact that King John stayed there in June 1215 at the time of the Magna Carta. Actually King John quite often stayed there as he travelled round the country collecting taxes. It was a convenient and favourite stopping off place because it was so secure and provided excellent hunting. In effect a latter day 'travel lodge' between London and Winchester.
Members of the 400-strong Odiham Society decided to celebrate the town's links with the Magna Carta, King John and his daughter Eleanor de Montfort. It was a chance to put Odiham back on the map and to remind everyone of the significance of the Magna Carta.
In case you have forgotten the Magna Carta is famous worldwide as a symbol of justice and good government because it forged a radical agreement between the barons and the king. The 'great charter' became the forerunner of parliamentary democracy with King John's son-in-law Simon de Montfort crucially taking the things forward in 1265 with the inclusion of commoners in parliament. It was then another 400 years till the Habeus Corpus Act when the next step was taken!
Throughout the first six months of this year, Odiham held a large number of events all designed to engage the local community as well as bring in visitors from the UK and beyond. These events varied from commissioning the Odiham tapestry and a new Anthem; a sponsored walk and bike ride along the Basingstoke canal to Runnymede (where the Magna Carta was sealed); cascades of bells; village wide archaeology; a parade and a weekend-long living history pageant.
John Champion says the town was delighted by the high levels of participation from across the community as well as the fantastic publicity that was generated by all their events.
Members of the Headley Society were left extremely impressed by Odiham's success and hard work and scratching their heads as to how Headey could follow suit. Any ideas are welcome!
November 2015 Brookwood Cemetery: its Creation and some of its famous residents
In the 19th century burials took place in small parish churchyards. London was overpopulated. So it wasn't long before these churchyards had reached capacity. The solution was to find a large area outside London but within easy reach. To this end, the site at Brookwood was purchased from Lord Onslow and opened for business in 1854. It was ideal as it could be reached easily and cheaply by train.
Like passenger trains, carriages transporting coffins were divided into first, second and third class. First class burials were expected to erect a permanent memorial, second class burials could erect a memorial at an extra cost, but third class burials which were usually for paupers and paid for out of parish funds, had no permanent memorial, although they could be upgraded later if money became available. At the time it was the largest cemetery in the world. It is still one of the largest in Europe.
Kim Lowe, Chairman of the Brookwood Cemetery Society, illustrated her talk with pictures of mausoleums and monuments. The mausoleums were sadly bricked up some years ago because of vandalism. However part of the Society's work is to restore the mausoleums and remove the brickwork, replacing it with wrought iron gates. Behind the bricks they found doors which still work and marble interiors in some.
The many well-known people who are buried there include authors Rebecca West and Dennis Wheatley, and artists John Singer Sargent and William & Evelyn de Morgan. 12 recipients of the Victoria Cross are also buried there.
December 2015 Yuletide Feast at Headley Village Hall
In a departure from our normal Thursday yuletide party, this year food & entertainment were provided on a Friday evening in the Village Hall by Headley Theatre Club and a good time was had by all.
January 2016 GBS: Playing the Clown
Brian Freeland got the Headley Society's 2016 programme off to a flying start with a fascinating and funny presentation / one-man show on the life of George Bernard Shaw.
Many consider GBS to be the greatest playwright since Shakespeare, but it took the red-bearded Irish socialist born in 1859, time to establish himself. He wrote unsuccessful novels, was a music and drama critic and his early plays fell foul of the censor. In 1894 when GBS was 34 that he finally achieved critical acclaim with the hugely popular 'Arms & The Man'.
Alongside his writing career, GBS was an active member of the Fabian society serving for 26 years on the committee and working alongside Beatrice and Sidney Webb. Shaw became infamous for his flirtations and affairs not only with Mrs Webb and these continued after his marriage in 1898. Perhaps his most famous relationship was with the high profile actress Mrs Patrick Campbell with whom he fell 'virtually' in love when he was 56. After a long correspondence, he finally met Stella Campbell and then determined that she would play the role of Eliza Doolittle in 'Pygmalion'. This eventually premiered in Vienna in 1913 with her in the lead role.
'St Joan' is often thought to be the peak of his writing and following the play's opening in 1924 with Dame Sybil Thorndike, GBS received the Nobel prize for literature. He was also recognised by Hollywood, winning an Oscar for the screen play of 'My Fair Lady' ('Pygmalion').
In his life Shaw wrote over 60 plays and a quarter of a million letters and postcards. But he was often careful about using his signature since he was aware in 1936 of its value at £2.00! This was a good example of how GBS did not take himself too seriously. He died at the age of 94 in 1950.
February 2016 Haslemere: the story of the town since the 1800s and the influence of the railway
Tim Winter, a writer and compiler of books on Haslemere and a collector of postcards, gave the monthly talk to Headley Society using many of his postcards to illustrate it.
He explained how in 1850 the railway only went as far as Farncombe. To get to Portsmouth, you had to travel via Brighton and along the South Coast, a tortuous route. In 1855 it was decided to extend the Farncombe line to Portsmouth via Haslemere. The land used was sold to the developers on the proviso that all trains stop at Haslemere, a fact which is still the case today, with a few exceptions.
In 1855 navvies were involved in one particularly horrendous incident, the murder of Police Inspector William Donaldson. During an affray following a drinking session at the King's Head pub (now gone), he was hit on the head by an iron bar and subsequently died. The navvies were arrested and tried but none were found guilty of murder as it could not be proven who had wielded the fatal blow. Instead their punishment was transportation to Australia.
By 1868, following the arrival of the railway in Haslemere, it became a Parish. Mr Winter projected picture postcards illustrating the newly-built Parish Church of St Bartholmew and the amazingly large rectory that went with it. The railway also brought many wealthy and prominent people to the town including James Stewart Hodgson, a banker, who built Lythe Hill House. He also built some of the smaller alms houses on the Petworth Road. Tennyson purchased a large plot of land on Blackdown and built a big house called "Aldworth", to get away from being a tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight.
Mr Winter finished the talk using postcards and photographs taken from Shepherds Hill showing how the town developed westwards, from open fields in the 1850s to the buildings and shops we now know in West Street. He demonstrated also how the High Street had changed over the same period. Some of the earliest postcards showed children playing in the High Street!
At the same meeting, Anne Miller asked for volunteers to help with a local Oral History project. She told members she would like to interview anyone who has memories of life locally during WW2. In particular, since her mother and grandmother ran Headley Mill at that time, she would be interested to hear any further stories regarding the Mill.
The Headley Society have loaned Anne the use of their digital voice recorder for the duration of the project, and have promised their support.
March 2016 Characters of Headley's Past 'The book that never was'
Following the AGM of The Headley Society at their March meeting, the chairman John Owen Smith gave an illustrated talk entitled 'The book that never was'.
In 1999 he had published a book called 'Headley's Past in Pictures' which, he said, was intended to be the first in a series to illustrate the history of the parish from different perspectives but sixteen years later no further book had yet appeared. This, he explained, was not due to a shortage of material but rather that he could never make up his mind how best to present it in a book.
By way of illustration he showed the audience some 80 pictures of village personalities from the past (and some from the present) a fraction of what he had available and the information he had about each one of them. Although many had names and other details, some did not, and it was these gaps that had held up the project.
However, as someone in the audience remarked at the end, we were not likely to get more information by waiting, and it would be better to go ahead and publish what we had. The speaker agreed, and noted that on-line publishing facilities now allowed the content of books to be updated easily if new material emerged. It remains to be seen if the book now appears.
At the start of the meeting, gifts were presented by the president Betty White to committee members Joan Thorne and Brian Nicholson who were standing down.
April 2016 Winchester Cathedral; its history, events & treasures
Bill Weeks, a volunteer guide at Winchester Cathedral, took us on a 'virtual' tour of the Cathedral. He began with the history of the site which goes back to the 7th Century, and beyond, as a place in of Christian worship. It was always a place of importance, but it entered a new league when Swithun, Bishop of Winchester was canonised. It then became a place of pilgrimage and a Cathedral. Bill showed a slide of the Holy Hole through which pilgrims entered to visit the relics of the Saint, heavily marked around the edge where they had placed their hands to steady themselves before entering. At the time of the Civil War, the relics were removed and buried elsewhere so that Cromwell's troops would not be able to find them. However they were so well hidden, their whereabouts is still unknown!
Bill showed many wonderful slides and some really stood out. The Great West Window up close showed an abstract design that would be very much at home in the 21st Century, but is in fact medieval. In 1642 Cromwell's troops created mayhem in the Cathedral, smashing the window. It lay in shards on the ground so it was swept up and stored with the intention of reconstructing it in calmer times. In 1660, the task of reassembling it began, but a miracle was needed and not forthcoming. Instead the medieval glass was used to make a kaleidoscope of abstract colours.
There were slides of the interior, of some of the best wall paintings in Europe, of memorials to William of Wickham and Jane Austen, and amusing stories to go with them. For the final slide Bill took us to the crypt to see a life-sized statue of a man standing calf high in floodwater. Called "Sound II", this is the work of Antony Gormley and was donated to the Cathedral by him. The crypt is only half under ground so the statue is bathed in natural daylight.
The audience came expecting an interesting and witty presentation. They weren't disappointed.
May 2016 The History of Brooklands
May's meeting of the Society enjoyed a lively presentation from Tim Morris of the Brooklands Trust about the history of the world's first purpose-built motor-racing circuit.
Built in 1906-07 by enthusiasts tired of the 20mph speed limit which applied to public roads, Brooklands' famous banked curves were the scene of the first British Grands Prix and of numerous speed records. Aviation pioneers were there too, and as war loomed it was aircraft that brought an end to motor racing when parts of the circuit were built over with factories and hangars for the manufacture and assembly of Wellington bombers and Hurricane fighters.
And did you know that one third of each British-built Concorde was made at Brooklands? Fittingly, one of those supersonic planes now forms the centrepiece of the Brooklands Museum of cars and aviation.
Chitty Bang Bang, by the way, was a real racing car of the 1920s, which Ian Fleming later reimagined by adding an extra Chitty and a bit of magic.
Earlier, in the Tell-us-in-Ten slot, Ludshott Common's Head Warden, Chris Webb, told us about the National Trust's plans to reintroduce grazing animals to the Common. The plans may be viewed at www.ntludshott.org.uk.
July 2016 The Regeneration of Whitehill & Bordon
Steve Pearce leads a team of eighteen people who are working towards making the regeneration of Whitehill and Bordon a success. A great deal of effort and expense is being taken over the regeneration project but it is believed that in the long run this will contribute to a positive outcome for the people who live there, the environment and also prove positive economically.
Whitehill and Bordon were chosen because the Garrison was leaving, it has links to Portsmouth and Southampton Docks and is accessible to Heathrow airport. It is in an area of a very precious and sensitive environment and would retain a large area of accessible recreational land.
He said that the new homes were designed to be comfortable and environmentally efficient. The contractors were checked to see that the work was carried out according to specifications and the residents would be helped to understand ways to maximise the benefits. There was also to be money to improve existing homes.
At Quebec Park, Louisburg Barracks and Prince Philip Barracks there would be a mix of Social Housing, privately owned homes and shared ownership homes. There would be facilities including new schools for children aged from three to sixteen, medical facilities, new shops and cafes. Recreational facilities would include a leisure centre, theatre, cinema, ten new sports pitches, a sports pavilion and areas for dog walking. The Bordon inclosure has already been completed and the Hogmore Inclosure will be even more extensive.
The plan hoped to provide a job for every house built so that residents would be able to work locally. Steve Pearce said that the team were currently approaching businesses in Asia, America and around the world and that already there were two or three businesses interested in relocating to the area. They believe that this will work as a catalyst and that sufficient local jobs will have been actively created.
Following the talk there was a lively question time.
Transport and parking
Several questions expressed concern about transport and traffic problems. We saw maps showing the new relief road. Mr Pearce explained that models had been looked into and, as the traffic increase would be gradual Kingsley junction would be expanded and traffic lights rephrased. Other junctions would be treated in a similar manner. We were assured that there was a model to cope with this as well as an ample fund of money.
We were also told that there was a model to ensure adequate parking for people visiting new industries and facilities etc. It was hoped that many people would use public transport and that with more use it would be able to be expanded at necessary times.
The ambition is to provide a job for each new house and it is believed that people would be working in the area. Concerns were expressed as many people in Headley and the local area already work outside of the vicinity.
Concerns were discussed about employment and we were told that there are currently industrial sites and other areas waiting to be developed and that Woolmer trading estate now has no vacancies. It is believed that as there is now less uncertainty other vacancies will be filled. The large contractors have been set targets for employing local people and there have been discussions with Alton College about apprentice funding. The contractors will be working with existing colleges and schools. (C.I.T.B.)
Current and Future Residents
Questions were asked about how it could be guaranteed that the development will meet the needs of current and future residents and we were told that it is not just new homes being built but also a Community Trust which will actively encourage sporting activities and working with schools. It aims to bring together the existing community and new residents.
Regarding questions on finance, and the possibility of the funding running out, we were told that the vast majority of the investment is from the private sector and that the funding for the schools, roads etc is already committed. There was a slight doubt that it would be completed in the time allowed (fifteen years) as it depends on the economy.
Questions were asked about Social Care. It would appear that many facilities are planned for the younger and working population but what about the elderly? Currently there are two surgeries in the town centre and we were assured that there would be sufficient provision for GPs in the town centre. It was however also stated that it is impossible to control the number of Doctors who come forward to work in the area.
We were told that Bordon Recycling Centre would be enlarged as with a larger town there would be greater need for this.
Existing and New Shops
Questions were asked about existing business and we were assured that the team had been working with Chalet Hill and the Forest Centre to support the existing business. There will be about seventy new shops which should make Bordon comparable with Petersfield. Questions were asked about the library which it was said is excellent but Mr Pearce said that all libraries are at present being reviewed and it is not for him to make decisions about Bordon Library.
The plans allow for a great deal of green space including public walkways and areas of allotments. There will also be a Leisure Centre, Theatre, Cinema, ten new Sporting Pitches and a Pavilion.
See "A guide to Hampshire's green town" for many of the slides, maps and much of the information given to us.
Steve Price answered all of our questions and concerns fully and wishes to keep the local population informed as issues develop. He has been asked to come to future meetings of The Headley Society and contribute to the short ten minute slot at some of the future monthly meetings.
August 2016 Ballards Brewery: Talk & Beer Tasting
Carola Brown, MD of Ballards Brewery, told us how she and her husband, Mike, started the business in 1980 in the old cow house of their farm.
The Brewery makes 'cask conditioned' beer, which undergoes secondary fermentation in the cask. We heard how the barley gets cooked to produce sugars, which is then fermented to produce alcohol. She mentioned that they use whole flower English hops, which give beer its bitter flavour. It was interesting to learn that hops have a natural sedative in them could this be why people who drink lots of beer, become sleepy? The water they use is mains water from north of Rogate, a sandstone area so the water is soft. The water is then 'Burtonised' ie made to be similar to that from Burton on Trent as that is considered to be the best for beer.
Illustrating the talk with slides and samples of beer, Carola told members about the process involved. Barley and 'Burtonised' water are left to infuse to get a 'wort' which is then added to the big copper cylinders called 'coppers'. The next ingredient is the hops, and depending on when in the process they are added determines the flavour early on gives a bitter taste, later, a floral taste. Because beer contains protein which if left would give a cloudy beer, 'Irish Seaweed' is added it attracts the proteins and is easily removed. The yeast Ballards use is stored on a slide at a yeast bank in Godalming. When yeast is needed they take out the slide, feed it, and in two weeks there is enough yeast for brewing. And last but not least, isinglass finings are added to the cask to help clarify the beer.
Prior to this talk, Angela Jackson from the Headley Down Nature Reserve told us about the proposed Nature Reserve situated behind the playing fields at Heatherlands. Thanks to a £34,000 grant from SITA, work has begun on Phase I, which is to open up the area, making it more accessible to people, including wheelchairs and buggies, and more welcoming to wildlife. They are running a "Bring Back the Wildlife" project where children will be putting together bird and bat boxes. For more information visit their FaceBook page "Headley Down Nature Reserve".
September 2016 The History & Mystery of Silver
Simon Parton first became interested in silver when, by collecting Hallmark cigarette coupons, he received a small book on silver hallmarks. After he broke a hip falling off his horse, silver collecting and trading became a passion alongside his riding and plane flying.
Simon took us through the history of this soft, shiny, precious metal the earliest known use of silver for currency is 700 BC. Once 'silver' just meant coinage and the word 'plate' meant beaten objects. We still use the term 'church plate'. One word that is no longer used is 'mystery' which used to mean 'craft'.
King Edward I established the standard for silver in England since it is too soft to work in its pure state, it has to be mixed with other metals and for Sterling silver it has to be 925 parts of silver in 1,000. We still use the words 'touchstone' and 'acid test' which both come from the process of testing the standard purity of silver (assaying). During the Middle Ages regulation of silver grew with the establishment of a Guild in 1327 and the introduction of indication marks. Because many silversmiths were illiterate, they used a 'mark' to identify their work and they had to take the silver to the Guild Hall to be stamped. Hence the word 'hallmark'.
In the past coinage was sometimes debased and the rich could even melt their coins and create objects and vice versa. So to discourage this, between 1697 and 1720 the quality for silver items was increased to a higher standard, leaving coinage at the Sterling standard. From 1784 to 1890 duty had to be paid to pay for the American War of Independence!
All silver in the UK now carries four marks the Lion for standard silver, the place of Assay, the date and the maker. Today silver is assayed in London, Sheffield, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Marks are still punched, but for smaller items a laser is used.
Silver has many usages other than in decorative objects and jewellery. Did you know it is used in solar panels, water filters and medical instruments? High quality flutes are also made from silver.
Simon illustrated his talk by showing us some of his large collection. These included a 1760 pepperette, a Georgian milk jug with Victorian decoration, a highly decorated Victorian tea service and a variety of both old and modern small items, including a jar of Marmite with a silver lid. Members and visitors were then able to show Simon some of their own items, including of course some napkin rings and teaspoons!
October 2016 Life for a Lady 100 years ago
October's meeting of the Society welcomed back Jane Hurst of Alton's Curtis Museum, who used extracts from a bound volume of The Lady's Realm magazine she had bought in a charity shop to illustrate her entertaining talk on 'Life for a Lady 100 years ago'.
In a pre-internet age long before the dawn of social media, ladies of the upper and aspiring middle classes relied on periodicals such as The Lady's Realm for advice on the latest fashions (voluminous, but with implausibly tiny waists), how to play tennis (wear something only slight less voluminous and a very large straw hat, and have a man standing by to pick up loose balls), and what to take on a picnic (everything). A contributor by the name of Gwen Carson, presumably a relative of the Carson of Downton Abbey fame, offered expert guidance on every subject from cake decoration to home nursing. And a lady model clothed in the latest swimsuit fashions (pre-shrunk serge-there was no lycra in 1906) demonstrated in a series of photographs how to do the breaststroke while standing up to your knees in a calm sea, which was surely an essential skill for any Edwardian lady to perfect.
A feature on dogs in motor cars, complete with photographic portraits of canine automobilists, proved that, however bonkers YouTube gets, there's really nothing new in the world of publishing.
November 2016 From 'Gentlemen Officers' to Modern Sandhurst
The speaker at the November meeting of the Headley Society was John Jackson, formerly a senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and thus well equipped to enlighten us about the history of the Army's Officer class.
Prior to the establishment of a standing army in the mid-18th Century, regiments were raised as and when they were needed for a war or campaign. A Colonel would be given a grant of money by the Crown and out of this sum he would meet all the costs of recruiting, equipping and running his regiment.
Men who enlisted would be paid the King's Shilling but officers were required to purchase their commissions. The going rate ranged from £450 to be an Ensign in the infantry to £9,000 for the privilege of serving as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Guards. The only qualification for the job, apart from having the necessary money, was to be a gentleman.
Over time, this system changed. The first Royal Academy for training officers known as "The Shop" was founded in Woolwich in 1841 and the purchase of commissions was discontinued in the 1870s. As the Army became increasingly professional and meritocratic in the early years of the 20th Century, the modern RMA was established at Sandhurst. By 1984, Sandhurst was the only training establishment for officers in the British Army, all of whom of course are still 'gentlemen', apart from the ladies.
December 2016 Experience the History of Magic
Visitors and members new and old were welcomed to the December meeting of the Headley Society when John Field, an Associate Member of the Inner Magic Circle, entertained, amused and amazed the audience with stories about the history of magic, telling them of scams to be avoided and showing off his slight of hand with a few tricks.
The scams, which are usually to be found in the market places of the world, include three walnut shells & a pea and a 3-card trick. Avoid at all costs, as there is only one winner and it won't be you. With the help of the audience, he performed a number of tricks, leaving them laughing, mystified and touched with a little bit of magic
January 2017 12th Night Feast
We celebrated 12th Night with a feast in Headley Village Hall and musical entertainment from Keith & Steve. Both food and music went down well.
February 2017 Smart Living
Mike Culver of the Hampshire County Council Waste Prevention Team gave an interesting half hour presentation to The Headley Society. He talked about the various methods in which our household waste is processed, and ways in which we can reduce the impact of it on the environment.
The foremost of these is by creating less waste in the first place, and he
referred in particular to a need to reduce food waste. Currently on average
about 25% of the waste in our general bin is food. The message is: buy only
what you will eat and his department has recruited a group of volunteer
"Organic Champions" to educate the public on this matter.
Following his talk he took questions from the floor, and these ranged across the whole gamut of waste and how we deal with it.
If you would like to follow up on the ideas he expressed, and in particular if you would like to become a volunteer "Organic Champion", Mike may be contacted on 01962 846764.
March 2017 Steam to Mandalay
Former banker, soldier, railway enthusiast, military historian, lecturer and philanthropist Paul Whittle entertained and informed members of the Headley Society at its March meeting with a beautifully illustrated whistle-stop railway tour of Burma. This ancient country, once part of British India, is emerging from years of military rule, its future still uncertain, the evidence of its fascinating past all around.
The British played a role in Burma's history and that too is evident, from the grand civic structures of the colonial era to the steam trains that haul tourists through the surprisingly varied countryside and the poignant monuments to the 30,000 British servicemen who died there in World War Two. Kipling and Orwell have left us with enduring literary depictions of British Burma. But the vibrant colours of the streets and the shimmering gold of the temple roofs represent the truly Burmese heritage, which Paul brought to life with his well-paced and comprehensive presentation.
April 2017 Jane Austen and the Armed Forces
Alan Turton spoke about Jane Austen and the armed forces. As a military man rather than a literary critic, Alan's focus was on the County militia, not so much on Hampshire's most famous author's prose. Unlike the regular regimental officers who purchased their commissions (or, like Wickham, had their commissions purchased for them) the officers of the militia were gentlemen who were drafted into the role. In peacetime, they would play soldiers at summer camps, but in wartime and for most of Jane's life, the country was at war the militia were 'embodied' and, for the first time in their training, issued with ammunition. Once embodied, a member of the militia served on the same terms as a regular soldier and life could be hard. Not that you'll read about that in Jane's novels, so you need someone like Alan to tell you.
The senior service also hoves into view in several of the novelist's works, which, as Alan reminded us, is perhaps to be expected, given that two of Jane's brothers were naval officers. Both rose to flag rank, one becoming Admiral of the Fleet. What is surprising, when considering the extent to which the Napoleonic Wars affected Regency Britain, is how little impact they had on the events and the characters in her works. Maybe that's part of her appeal.
May 2017 The South Downs National Park
Doug Jones gave an excellent talk on the work of the South Down National Park (SDNP).
He summarised the history of the national parks movement which started in the UK in the 1920s. The SDNP was established in 2011 as one of 15 parks in the UK. The Park is 100 miles wide from Winchester to Eastbourne and encompasses many landscapes including chalk grassland, heathland, woodland and farmland. Surprisingly it includes more woodland than the New Forest. The SDNP meets national guidelines:
Doug outlined the purposes and role of the park. The first and foremost being to 'conserve and enhance the Park's natural beauty'. Currently there are a 100 staff, 500 volunteers and 27 decision makers including Doug. The Park is in fact the eighth largest planning authority in Britain and in partnership with local councils handles 4,500 planning applications a year.
The SDNP are particularly proud that in 2016 the Park was designated an international Dark Skies Reserve.
Since the SDNP's creation key projects have been to: establish a sustainable community fund which for example encourages local production and development of the food sector; discover hidden archaeology through the 'Secrets of the High Woods' work and to reunite heathland areas. Doug stressed that much of this was funded by lottery grants and that actually the Park only costs us £1 each per year!
June 2017 England's Switzerland
For a brief period between the coming of the railway and the Great War, the high ground above Haslemere became the haunt of a literary and artistic set who enjoyed its remoteness, beauty and fresh air. At June's meeting of The Headley Society, Dr Marion Dell delivered a well-illustrated and informative talk on the rise and fall of the English Switzerland, as the area around Hindhead became known.
Until the mid-19th Century, Hindhead was best avoided. Frequented as it was by robbers, dominated by the gibbet in whose chains the corpses of those caught robbing were hung and inhabited by impoverished broomsquires, only those who had to make the journey from London to Portsmouth would cross it. William Cobbett, never one to go in for understatement, dubbed it "the most villainous spot in England". But with the arrival of the railway in 1859, road traffic fell away, the robbers went elsewhere and well to-do Londoners discovered the charms of the area. Tennyson, Conan Doyle and many others moved in, lending Hindhead a Bohemian air and making it a highly desirable area to visit.
In 1910, George Bernard Shaw predicted the demise of England's Switzerland, as hordes of tourists arrived by train, motor coach or bicycle and hotels and boarding houses sprang up to cater for them. The celebrities moved out even as the commuters moved in. And that was the end of Hindhead's Swiss role
July & August 2017 The Wey and Arun Canal
At the July meeting, Kevin Crawley, a licensed Boatmaster, delivered a most interesting illustrated talk on the history of the Wey & Arun Canal and the work of the Canal Trust.
The canal's purpose was to link the South coast at Arundel and Chichester with Guildford and thus with the Wey Navigation and the Thames. A key driver was improving the supply speed of gunpowder from Shalford to the Royal Arsenal at Greenwich which had to travel by land and sea. This was a risky business, and when the Napoleonic wars broke out, became extremely dangerous. However, the Loxwood link was only completed in 1816 after the end of these wars and the canal was abandoned not long after. It is this section of the canal where most work has been carried out.
The Trust's team of volunteers and experts have had to tackle some pretty major civil engineering projects, including reinstating an aqueduct over the flood-prone River Lox, rebuilding many locks and replacing or refurbishing many bridges. One of the largest projects required lowering the level of the canal at Loxwood by 6ft so that boats could navigate under the B2133 and build another lock to deal with the changed water level!
The Trust also aims to create a green corridor and much of the towpath is lined with laid hedges. The canal is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, but also has to face issues with unwanted species such as giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam and mink.
For the future the Trust wants to connect the canal up to Dunsfold. This link is a priority as it will mitigate water shortages. During winter the Trust is allowed to take water from the Lox and Arun rivers, but a dry summer can cause difficulties given that 60,000 gallons of water are required every time a lock is opened.
The Canal Trust of course needs money and one key source has become the many boat trips and events. The various-sized boats including the electric Wagonholt designed by Kevin himself generate £60,000 pa and 10-12,000 passengers enjoy the canal experience every year.
September 2017 Ghosts of East Hampshire
Why has Headley got no ghosts? Adam Carew would like to know.
In the course of an illustrated talk which he gave to members of The Headley Society entitled 'Ghosts of East Hampshire' he told us of a number of reported hauntings of various types around the area: the man in overalls at Hollywater, the man on the white horse at Whitehill, Roman soldiers at Woolmer, shadowy figures on Walldown and a naked man near Conford. He made particular mention of the many bronze-age barrows in the locality, and of the monks of the old priory at Selborne and also of his own experiences living in the old workhouse at Selborne.
He told us that Bramshott is reputed to be one of the most haunted parishes in the whole country so why no significant reports from Headley, just next door? If you have had an 'experience' in Headley, he would be delighted to hear from you.
October 2017 The real AA Milne
Sue Bradley and Alfred Morris gave the Headley Society an informative talk
with delightful verbal illustrations about the real AA Milne.
Today, Alan Milne is best known for his four little books, 'Now we are 6', 'When we were very young', 'Winnie the Pooh' and 'The House at Pooh Corner', but before these were published Milne was firmly established and well-known as a witty and talented writer and playwright.
Milne was born in 1882 and while at school started to write clever little poems with his brother. At Cambridge, despite reading Maths, he developed his writing and became the editor of Granta magazine. Working on this magazine was a recognised step to a solid writing career and Milne proved this in 1906 by getting steady work for Punch and then becoming its assistant editor. Much of Punch's success at that time was due to his hugely popular articles on a great variety of topics such as 'eating oranges'; 'goldfish'; 'squeaky collars' and 'steel nibs'.
When WW1 intervened, Milne, despite being a pacifist, signed up and served in the signal corps, but a severe dose of trench fever, meant that though he returned to service, he didn't return to the front. Milne had married just before the war and their son, Christopher Robin, was born in 1920. The four little books were published between 1924 and 1928 and were an overnight success. Christopher had a difficult time at school, constantly being teased and grew up feeling that Milne had used him to make his reputation. They were estranged for many years.
Milne tried unsuccessfully to relaunch his writing career, but by that time the public's taste for his clever wit had dried up. After the publication of 'Winnie the Pooh' and the other books, Milne had no need to work and he withdrew from writing and people as his health deteriorated. He died aged 74.
October 2017 (Joyce Stevens Memorial Lecture) Grandma Flew Spitfires
The third Joyce Stevens Memorial Lecture organised by Headley Society took place in front of an audience of nearly 100 people on a Tuedsay evening in Headley Village Hall. There was a real buzz to the evening, especially during the interval when the audience enjoyed a glass of wine, canapés and lots of chat.
They came to hear Richard Poad, chairman of Maidenhead Heritage Centre, give an illustrated talk about the courage, skill and sacrifice of the men and women who flew a multitude of aircraft for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).
Initially there was criticism of the women saying that they would not be up to the task. There were over 1,000 pilots, and fewer than 1 in 10 were women but they proved the critics wrong and were soon grabbing all the headlines.
At the end of the evening he borrowed the log books of a member's father who had been a pilot in the ATA these will be copied to add to his archive before the books are returned.
November 2017 Scotland Yard Detective
No slides or gimmicks were needed as former Detective Inspector Steve Roberts enthralled and amused in equal measure a full audience of Headley Society members and visitors.
Having been accepted into the Metropolitan Police Service with one O-level and an abundance of potential, Steve's 30-years with the Force took him from his local beat in London's East End to the Flying Squad, Murder Squad and the shadowy Kidnap and Specialist Investigation Unit. There was rarely a dull day in the office.
From an introduction to Cockney rhyming slang, through encounters with larger-than-life characters such as 'Champagne Sid', 'Harry the Rat' and the man who was so sinister he needed no epithet and was simply known as 'Dave', to a lavish Chinese banquet from which, having failed to make the most of the chicken claw and sea slug courses, he emerged more hungry than when he went in, Steve took us on a journey through a career which has provided him with a wealth of anecdotes and experiences.
When asked if he'd enjoyed his time in the Met, Steve said that on the whole he had. Proof enough that when constabulary duty's to be done, a policeman's lot can indeed be a happy one and a really interesting one too.
December 2017 The Butler's Christmas
Bob France came in his Butler's uniform and gave us a very entertaining talk about Christmas through the ages with particular emphasis on Georgian and Victorian Christmas time. His talk was accompanied by interesting pictures on the overhead projector.
In Georgian times Christmas was celebrated by the landed gentry who had a month of balls and dinners which often went on all night with guests returning to their homes at day break the next day. Travelling in the dark would have been very dangerous. Few gifts were given and Christmas was a mainly adult festival. The poor had to work throughout the period and had virtually no Christmas. Christmas Day did not become a holiday until 1834. Mummers performed plays which varied but usually included a St George, his opponent, a sort of doctor who could restore the dead and a green clad figure as an old type of Father Christmas.
At the end of the Georgian age the rural economy began to become a more urban economy and things began to change.
Once we entered Victorian times Christmas became more of a family affair, with gifts, especially for the children. In more affluent families there were decorations, Christmas trees and Christmas cards. Although Queen Charlotte had her own Christmas tree at Windsor in 1800, Christmas trees did not become popular until Victoria and Albert were on the throne. Periodicals such as "The Illustrated London News" described the Royal Christmas trees and by the 1850s many homes had followed the custom. Each of the royal children had their own Christmas tree! In large country houses the gardeners were sent out to bring in barrows full of holly, ivy and mistletoe. Carols were sung in Church as well as carol singers going from door to door.
Charles Dickens began to highlight the plight of the poor and wrote his book "A Christmas Carol" (1843).
Saint Nicholas was a fourth century Bishop who gave dowries to three young girls and became famous for giving gifts to the poor. The name evolved into Santa Claus who brought gifts to good children. The poem "The Night before Christmas" came from America (first published in 1823). This was the start of Santa's sleigh being pulled by eight reindeer. Rudolph did not come into the story over one hundred years later.
January 2018 My Family and Other Set backs
Mel Rees was born in London, lives in Surrey, has a wife and three children and is now retired from the world of work. Not unlike a lot of us, and that's really the point.
At the Society's January meeting, in a series of anecdotes, humorous observations and challenging remarks, Mel said without hesitation or repetition and with maybe just a bit of deviation what you or at least your neighbour may only have been thinking.
The sole child of hard-working shopkeepers from Clapham Junction, Mel left school at 16 with no qualifications, no understanding of the fairer sex and no ambition to do more than indulge in his hobby of trainspotting. He nonetheless found himself in work and married and sufficiently well off after a few years to quit his modest residence in Tooting and purchase a nice house in leafy Surrey. "We are all snobs; we are all biased" he said.
Now settled in an even nicer house with its own railway carriage in the back garden, Mel is happy to share his life story and that of his family, both through his writings and his talks. As he put it, "For you, this is a talk. For me, it's therapy." Judging from the enthusiastic reaction of the audience, we may be able to offer Mel a further dose of therapy at one of our future meetings.
February 2018 Empress Eugenie
Jo Gosney, an expert in the history of Farnborough, gave an excellent illustrated talk on the Empress Eugenie to the Headley Society.
Few people are aware of Eugenie's long connection with Farnborough, let alone that she founded an Abbey and built a mausoleum for her husband the Emperor Napoleon III and her son.
Eugenie, though Spanish, was born in the Caribbean, educated in Paris and in 1852 married Napoleon III four years after he came to the throne. Their son, the Prince Imperial, was captured as was Napoleon during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and Eugenie had to flee French revolutionary mobs.
Initially the Bonapartes set up home in Chislehurst, but following Napoleon's death in 1873, Eugenie bought Farnborough Hill and grounds. Eugenie greatly extended the 20 bedroom house and by 1888 the Abbey was completed and her husband and son's bodies were re-interred with great ceremony in the mausoleum.
Despite her frequent trips abroad on her own yacht, the large household of French staff and a home filled with beautiful objects rescued from France, Eugenie took a great interest in local matters and was often seen driving herself to village events. She founded an orphanage in Aldershot and supported local schools with gifts and prizes and school girls were invited to picnic in the ground. Her interest in girl's education extended further to include supporting the suffragette movement.
More high-ranking visitors were also frequent visitors including Queen Victoria, who with others used the station next to the estate. Eugenie also visited the English royal family, often sharing their holidays on the Isle of Wight or Sandringham.
During WW1 Eugenie was keen to help by turning her home into a hospital. However, the French Government refused but she was still able to set aside part of the house for wounded officers.
Eugenie died in Spain in 1920 and was buried in Farnborough with full pomp beside her husband and son. Farnborough Hill house is now a girl's school, but the Abbey no longer run by French monks is still functioning and the Bonaparte family continue to visit.
April 2018 Pam on a Bike
At the April meeting the members enjoyed listening to the exploits of Pam Goodhall who at the age of 59 decided to cycle half way round the World on her bespoke red bike she had made for the journey.
She left her home in Horsham, crossed the Channel and then rode through parts of Europe, Asia and on to Mexico and America visiting 20 countries. She packed her gear into four panniers attached to her bike. In one she carried a tent for cheap overnight stops.
On her European journey she cycled over one thousand miles following the flat route by the Danube and visiting over six Eastern European countries. She encountered many friendly people offering hospitality to this eccentric 'old lady' who was cycling round the World. She also encountered a different situation in Romania when a gang of youths tried to block her path on the road she was a using; however with grit and determination she rode straight at them at speed and they scattered leaving her free to continue her journey!
When flying to Pakistan she dismantled her bike and packed it into a cardboard bike holder. At the luggage carousel in Islamabad she was alarmed to see that the box had burst open and bits of bike kept appearing on the moving belt. Eventually she was able to reassemble the bits and continue on her journey.
Travelling through remote Pakistan she was overtaken by a man on a bike who had a wooden leg. He invited her to go to his village for a cup of tea. She accepted his invitation and arrived in a village with many narrow streets. She stayed there for five days offering curiosity to the locals whilst receiving hospitality of shelter and food. They had never encountered a western woman before.
Once in India, disaster struck as she hit a kerb and badly damaged the front forks of her bike whilst she sustained cuts and bruises. Luckily a lorry driver picked her and her bike up and took her on a forty-five-hour journey to Delhi. There she found a pavement worker who welded the broken bits together taking 20 minutes and only charging her 25p.
From India she flew to Thailand and then cycled through Laos and Vietnam where she was intimidated by locals who would ride alongside her and try to make her give up her personal belongings. She rebuffed them all by showing no sign of fear and by keeping silent!
In a remote part of China people crowded round her bike and helped her to find lodgings, then proceeded to bring her food and even washed her laundry! She received nothing but generosity and kindness from these people.
On to Hong Kong from where she flew to Mexico and then cycled into the USA. To avoid paying expensive hotel bills she knocked on residents' doors and asked if she could pitch her tent for the night in their garden. In most cases people agreed and then would offer her a meal as well as bathroom facilities.
When she arrived back home she had lost two stone in weight but had gained a vast amount of experience and a respect for humanity, as she had encountered more altruism and generosity of spirit in a world which usually portrays people in a different light. She found that there really is such a thing as 'a free lunch'!
She has written a book about her adventures: "Riding It Out" by Pam Goodhall, published by Upfront Publishing Ltd ISBN 1-84426-310-X. It's a really good read.
May 2018 The Blackdown Air Disaster of 1967
On the 50th anniversary of the Blackdown air disaster of 4th November 1967, The Fernhurst Society organised an exhibition in Fernhurst of the available information and asked for further memories from those who remembered the event. As a result, Christine Maynard and Elaine Ireland were invited to come to the May 2018 meeting of The Headley Society to give an audio-visual presentation of their findings. See further details on their site.
Flight Iberia 062 was on a scheduled flight from Malaga to Heathrow when it plunged at speed into the hill near Black Down House at around 10pm, resulting of the death of all 37 people on board. A temporary mortuary was set up in Fernhurst Village Hall, with the bodies eventually being transferred to King Edward VII Hospital before being interred in a mass grave in Brookwood Cemetery. The cause of the accident was never fully explained, though misreading of the altimeter was suspected.
As well as researching all the public information on the accident, the Society was also able to collect local memories from eye-witnesses, including some photographs taken of the wreckage which had not seen the light of day for 50 years.
At our Headley meeting two further eye-witnesses came forward who had visited the site soon afterwards, including Harry North who had gone to repair the damaged water supply to the houses there. He remembered digging up some 'not very nice' things.
If you have memories of the accident which you would like to share, The Fernhurst Society would love to hear from you.
June 2018 Journey of a Craftsman
Colin Norgate turns wood, sculpts wood, stains wood, makes furniture from carefully chosen bits of wood and generally gets creative with wood. At June's meeting of The Headley Society, Colin spoke engagingly about how he overcame severe childhood health problems to become a master craftsman, the holder of a prestigious Guild Mark awarded by The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers.
Twenty five years of working in wood have made Colin one of the UK's finest practitioners. His training included a five-year apprenticeship at the renowned Edward Barnsley Workshops, with a further eight years there as a craftsman. Now working from his own workshop in an old barn, Colin designs and creates a wide range of artefacts out of selected pieces of quality timber, from doorstops to bespoke items of household furniture and even ecclesiastical fittings.
Some of these creations were on show as slides but a range of the smaller items had been brought along by Colin and after his talk members of the audience eagerly examined these, appreciating the considerable effort and exquisite craftsmanship that had gone into their creation.
July 2018 Protection of the Royal Family
Despite not having any qualifications, former Royal Marine, Colin Tebbutt was transferred from duty as 'an ordinary East London copper' to work in royal protection in 1977, the 'special escort group' having been beefed up following IRA activity and attacks on the royal family. Colin reckons he was given this opportunity because he was always smartly turned out but like most men he had only one suit for when he was out of uniform. All this changed, as in his new role he had to be able to dress for every occasion including white-tie dinners, grouse shooting and overseas tours.
Initially Colin worked for Princess Alexandra in those days she was
11th in line to the throne and Princes Andrew and Edward were very small. Now
the Princess is 47th in line. Colin subsequently worked 7 years for Princess
Anne and was then invited to join Princess Diana's household. Until he retired
only recently, Colin protected the Duke of York's family.
Colin's experiences in royal protection were very varied ensuring HM the Queen did not spend too long in a snow drift on her way back from an unscheduled visit to Gatcombe was one. Another was arranging to have a black outfit made for Princess Anne while she was in India Mrs Ghandi had been assassinated and the maid had forgotten to pack a black dress! A third was ferrying a sleeping Queen Mother to Sandringham. Colin also played a vital role in managing the arrangements on the death of Diana. And of course, he had to learn many new skills such as horse riding.
Colin carried a gun whenever he was on active duty but is delighted that he never had to fire it.
August 2018 National Trust Base at Cooper's Field, Bramshott
For their summer visit, the Headley Society was invited by the Friends of Ludshott Common to visit the National Trust Base at Cooper's Field between Headley and Bramshott.
Around 30 members took the opportunity of a beautiful summer's evening to see what was there, have a picnic, and hear of the work of the NT Rangers on the Common.
In the photograph, Head Warden Chris Webb is explaining the proposal to reintroduce animal grazing to the Common, and some of the problems this entails - not least the need to fence the entire common to prevent the animals from escaping.
September 2018 The Real Pirates of the Caribbean
Having entertained members of The Headley Society in 2014 with his 'short biography' of the English Channel, Iain Kennedy returned in September with a talk about a more distant piece of water: the Caribbean. There, in the 16th Century, 'privateers' such as Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake were licensed by the Queen to plunder the gold and silver from Spanish hands which had themselves stolen the booty from the conquered peoples of Central and South America. Did you know, by the way, that 'pieces of eight' were Spanish coins with a face value of 8 Reales? Well you do now.
Privateers did so well for their Queen and for themselves that others were tempted to try their hands at plundering, even without the Royal seal of approval, and these were of course the pirates. With about 2,000 islands providing places in which to hide their ships from the navies of Britain and other European powers, pirates such as Henry Morgan and the infamous Blackbeard continued to relieve Spanish ships of their precious cargoes. For most of them, however, the good days didn't last for long and they met gruesome ends - except for Morgan, who wisely remitted 10 percent of his plunder to King Charles II, whose protection he enjoyed.
The buccaneers were a lot like pirates; their name derives from their use of a wooden frame, known (in French) as a boucaine, on which they smoked meat to sustain them on their voyages. They were as ready to attack British or French ships as those sailing under the Spanish flag. Eventually, the Royal Navy and other navies suppressed piracy, making the West Indies safe for Britain's slave-based exploitation of the region's economic potential. And so, suggested Iain, it was the governments of Britain, France, Spain and the other European powers who were the real pirates of the Caribbean. And certainly not Johnny Depp.
October 2018 Conan Doyle, the Surrey/Hampshire connection
Michael Gunton, Portsmouth Council's Senior Archivist, presented the evidence for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's connections with Hampshire and Surrey to October's meeting of The Headley Society.
Born in Edinburgh, Conan Doyle studied medicine before moving to Southsea, where he opened his first practice in 1882. When not curing local people of their ills, he was a prolific writer. His aim, Michael told us, was "to write the modern masculine novel" and he made several attempts at this, including in 1888 his first detective novel, A Study in Scarlet, featuring a certain Sherlock Holmes.
The world was not quite ready for Holmes but Conan Doyle continued to write while also playing a prominent role in Portsmouth life, as a sportsman (he played in goal for an early incarnation of Portsmouth FC and was captain of Portsmouth Cricket Club), as a freemason and as a champion of spiritualism. In the mid-1890s, his wife Louisa was ill with tuberculosis and Conan Doyle was advised to seek the clean air of Hindhead. By then, the British public had discovered their enthusiasm for the tales of Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle was able to have built the substantial house which he called Undershaw maybe, or maybe not, because it was down the road from Bernard Shaw's place. Undershaw was one of the first houses in the area to be lit by electricity. It later became a hotel and is now a school for children with special needs.
While living at Undershaw, Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and his fame and celebrity grew. After serving as a doctor in Bloemfontein during the Boer War, he was knighted in 1902 and appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Surrey. Louisa died in 1906 and is buried in Grayshott's churchyard. Conan Doyle married again and left the area to live with his new wife in Sussex.
November 2018 The Headley Society WW1 Project, and Jane Lewis's Headley Project a report
In a change to our normal format, The Headley Society held an open meeting in the Village Hall on a Friday night to present the results of our four-year long project investigating the WW1 names on the Headley War Memorial.
Despite it being a thoroughly wet night, around 60 members and visitors packed the hall to hear Caroline Lemka and Steve Priestley tell the detailed and fascinating stories of five of the 96 names. Particulars of the other men lay in the folders on display around the hall, and all these will be brought together as a permanent resource for future historians.
Particularly moving was the reading of the 96 names before the presentations began, by female members of Headley Theatre Club from the four corners of the hall.
The evening had started with Jane Lewis of the Surrey History Centre giving us an update on her 'Headley project'. This had been postponed from our AGM in March which snow had forced us to abandon, but it was worth the wait as she piloted us expertly through some of her Headley family research including some names which were to reappear in the WW1 section.
The amount of detailed work which Jane is putting into her Headley work is truly amazing we must be one of the best documented parishes in the UK as far as history is concerned and The Headley Society would like to encourage its own members to contribute in future projects. Please let any committee member know if you are available for a spot of research.
December 2018 The Presents of Christmas Past
Headley Society members and visitors sipped a glass of wine as Haslemere antiques dealer Tony Creasey entertained them with his knowledge of how the English have celebrated Christmas over the years. Tony came with a sackful of carefully wrapped 'presents', which members of the audience were invited to unwrap and then bid for in a mock auction.
Thus, we learnt that for a modest fiver or so anyone can start a collection of Victorian Christmas cards, 1950s glass baubles or 1970s 'Christmas Special' children's comics. Condition and rarity are the determinants of value and a rare item in mint condition will achieve the best price. Tony explained that a cardboard gift box dating from between the Wars may be worth as much as £50, largely because so few of them survived, but a scratched or dented biscuit tin however pretty the design will struggle to make more than a few pounds as so many still lurk at the back of cupboards or in garden sheds.
The most valuable item unwrapped during the evening was a Minton majolica nut dish which, even in its somewhat distressed state, Tony thought might command a price of £100.
Those present agreed that it was definitely time to turn out their cupboards once they got home, but first there was another glass of wine to drink and a plate of mince pies to devour.
January 2019 Born in Siberia
Helena Hendin gave a talk illustrated with maps, pictures of places relevant to the talk and photographs from her own family's albums.
She introduced her talk with a brief reference to Paul Sulman, a Headley resident, who had been born in Siberia and is recorded as losing his life World War 1. His mother had died in his infancy and his father had had a very difficult journey and crossed over 5,000 miles from Siberia to bring him back to England. The Trans-Siberian Railway was not completed until 1916.
She spoke of Chekhov being exiled to Siberia in the late 1890s and said that both Lenin 1897-1900 and Stalin 1913-1916 had been also been exiled there. Extremely harsh conditions were imposed on some of the prisoners in exile and Siberia had long bitterly cold winters, and only four months of summer when farmers could grow food.
Her parents had not been born in Siberia but had chosen to live there. Her father had a degree in physics and lectured at the State University of Novosibirsk and her mother had studied computers. We were told that the standard of University Education was excellent. On occasion her father would visit other cities and lecture at other Universities as the students could not move about. She said that depending on the quality of graduate's degrees they always had a job (not necessarily the one that they would have chosen) and somewhere to live.
The family had moved to Siberia in 1958 and lived in a flat on the ninth floor of a block of high rise apartments. When they first arrived it was six months before there were lifts and her mother had had to cope with shopping, six year old Helena and a younger brother on nine flights of stairs. We saw pictures of utilitarian furniture and were told that everyone's furniture was almost identical as were the apartments. The furniture was not well made, cupboard doors often fell off and the knobs on the black and white television sets often broke and could not be repaired. At times, living on the ninth floor, there was no hot water.
Their diet was limited. A great many things were just not available. They ate potatoes and cabbage. Her mother made sauerkraut which was very healthy and the family used to gather mushrooms which they loved. Many families tried to grow food to supplement what could be bought in the shop.
As Helena grew up and began to read she saw warning signs about nuclear attacks. The radio had two channels but was able to give a warning, should the need arise, even if it was turned off. She was aware of an undercurrent that many things were not quite as they would seem.
Helena has made her home in Haslemere and loves being in England but is still immensely proud to be Siberian Russian and to have grown up in Siberia.
February 2019 A Drop of the Hard and Soft Stuff
David Rose, a local historian from Guildford, gave an illustrated talk called "A drop of the hard and soft stuff".
In the nineteenth century Guildford was a brewery town with many breweries. The talk followed the development and history of the founding families of the major companies. These included the Taunton family who started and ran the Castle (1829) the Cannon (1844) and the Friary (1865) breweries. The Friary brewery occupied the site which is now the Friary Centre in the town.
Each brewery also ran its own pubs. Beer was put into ceramic bottles and large jars which were embellished with the name of the Company. The location of these breweries was mainly in the Portsmouth Road and Bury Street area of the town. David showed slides of past and present sites which illustrated the changing features over the years.
In 1927 Purnell & Co Weyside Minerals took over the Bury Street site and began production of flavoured water mineral drinks. Lascelles Tickner started up in the Castle Street brewery also producing mineral waters as well as beer.
The original ceramic bottles had an internal screw thread in the neck into which was inserted a vulcanised rubber stopper. Eventually glass bottles had an outside screw thread for a new designed top. Carbonated water was put into glass bottles with an internal marble stopper. The gas in the liquid pushed this to the neck of the bottle where it formed a seal. Eventually external crimped metal tops were introduced and are used today on beer bottles.
Working where the carbonated mineral water was manufactured could be dangerous as often some of the glass bottles would shatter under the pressure of the gas in the liquid causing harm to the employees.
All the ceramic bottles were reusable. David told the story of a local lady who was pouring out a drink from one of these containers when a slug popped into her glass! She sued the company. This led to a law being introduced which stated that only glass could be used for reusable bottles so the contents could be seen.
March 2019 AGM and 'March-themed' quiz
April 2019 Canadians in Headley during WW2
Our chairman, Jo Smith, stepped in as a last-minute replacement speaker and gave us a fascinating insight into just what the Canadians were doing in Headley during WW2.
Many of us know that there are remains of concrete roads, camps, etc, but we were all captivated at some of the detail. Did you ever wonder why the area near Waggoners Wells was called 'Superior' Camp? It wasn't better than other camps, just named after one of the Great Lakes as was the camp at Heatherlands called 'Erie'. Erie Camp was a detention camp for misbehaving Canadian servicemen not just members of the local tank regiments. Or what about the flooding in Arford during the war caused by the excess run-off of rain from Ludshott Common after the tanks had destroyed the vegetation there.
There were sad stories and amusing ones. Following the disastrous Dieppe Raid in 1942 in which the Canadians played a key role the Germans dropped propaganda leaflets on Headley. But before that, the Canadians training on Ludshott Common were surprised to find themselves featured on the Pathé news in Haslemere cinema having been 'persuaded' to dress up as surrendering German troops!
The Canadians left behind plenty for us to remember them by, including widened roads tanks passing each other take up a lot of space and a re-sited war memorial outside All Saints church the tanks kept on knocking into it! But they also brought much hundreds of men of course, tanks & trucks, and canine mascots, plus their own wood for construction.
The turnover of troops and officers was frequent. The officers were not expected to stay in huts or tents but were billeted in local large houses. One batch managed to mislay some beer down the well at Long Cross Farm. It's not there now, the next batch were more ingenious and were able to liberate it.
Headley earned a reputation for a warm welcome maybe it was the pubs and Jo frequently fields information requests from relatives of Canadian servicemen who relate happy memories of their time here.
To end the evening, he played some of the well-known voices which he'd recorded during his research in Headley sadly none of the speakers is now alive. You can listen to them at https://soundcloud.com/user-266981740/sets/memories-of-the-home-front-in-headley-1939-45.
Jo has written a book ' All Tanked Up' and there's lots of information at headleyvillage.com/village/canada.
May 2019 The Watercress Line: the past, the present and the future
David Yaldren had worked for British Rail for many years but left when trains became diesel. He is a real steam train enthusiast, and has worked with other volunteers to restore, track, engines and rolling stock as well as stations and tea room facilities. He has driven the engines, been a guard, sold tickets, acted as a waiter and on occasion been Santa on the Santa Special train.
He started by telling us about the four stations, and the jobs carried out by volunteers. Alresford is at the southern tip of the line and includes a museum, a buffet and two shops. Most of the rolling stock is stored at this station, and volunteers carry out daily tasks of maintenance and cleaning the carriages. The next station up the line is Ropley, which is the engineering centre with locomotive maintenance sheds. There is a signal box here which controls movements within the station as well as shunting to and from the locomotive yard. It has flower beds and topiary maintained by Ropley volunteers, and a West Country Buffet which is lit by gas and has been used for many period drama films. Medstead is the highest station in Hampshire, and Alton at the north east end of the line has links to South Western Railway.
We watched a DVD showing how the volunteers are up before the public, preparing trains for use and checking for safety. The fire and boiler must be lit, the guard does a visual check of the underside of the train and water tanks must be filled. Food is prepared and tickets sold at the ticket office. There are numerous jobs for the volunteers including walking the track checking the rails, fish plates, and signals for safety.
We were told about a wide range of special events.
A Wizard Weekend gives all a chance to dress in spooky costume and learn spells you can walk in Harry Potter's footsteps over the King's Cross footbridge and meet some of the familiar characters from the films.
A day out with Thomas is always very popular the locomotives and carriages are magically transformed into Thomas and his friends and the volunteers prepare Thomas gift bags for the children.
An evening Murder Mystery Train includes pre-dinner drinks at the West Country Buffet at Alresford and a three-course dinner, during which actors mingle with the diners and you try out your detective skills to solve a murder.
In June you have an opportunity to transport yourselves back to the days of the 1940s with each station providing you with a different experience of War-time Britain. In the summer a Real Ale Train (RAT) serves Real Ale from a restored bar carriage pulled by a steam locomotive, and the Santa Trains are always a great success with Santa and Jack Frost visiting each child and giving them a present and mince pies and refreshments served to all.
It is well worth going to the Watercress Line web site (www.watercressline.co.uk) to find out more.
June 2019 The work of the CPRE in Hampshire
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) works in all English counties and has been a charity for 90 years.
Dee Haas, Chairperson of Hampshire CPRE, told members of The Headley Society that after the first war, concern was raised about the lack of a coherent planning system and the impact of ribbon development on the countryside. Issues such as 'street clutter' were even then a concern. The CPRE helped put in place a town and country planning system including the concepts of green belts, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and the national parks.
The CPRE's key role is still to protect and enhance the countryside, lobbying to influence both local and national government using arguments based on solid research. The failures of the current planning system form a key element of their work.
Dee's background as a landscape architect and her years of experience in public landscape design has given her expertise and insight into the many issues facing Hampshire today. Her key concerns were the failure to create communities rather than just build houses and the affordable housing crisis in the south-east. One of Dee's arguments was that good land-use planning is the unsung hero of environmental protection.
'Green' issues, of course, play a key role in the work of the CPRE. They seek to encourage sustainability through their 'Field to Fork' initiative and research into soil management. In addition, they are worried about the decline in rural public transport and the dependence of most new housing and business developments on the car. Both noise the loss of tranquillity and light pollution matter to the CPRE hence their efforts on dark skies and their 'star count' initiative.
Dee closed her talk by reminding us that the countryside is for everyone not just those who live there!
July 2019 Around the World on a Double-decker Bus
There could be no doubting the subject of the talk at July's meeting of The Headley Society: a big red bus stood outside the Church Centre and the man who drove it round the world 50 years ago was inside. And quite a story it was that Richard King presented all done with humour and aplomb but without notes or visual aids, unless you count the bus.
As a young man in 1960s Liphook, Richard enjoyed convivial gatherings at the Deer's Hut pub with like-minded friends but there was something more they wanted out of life that this corner of Hampshire wasn't able to offer. When the pub landlord bet them a free pint of beer that they couldn't drive a bus around the world, then of course they had to do it.
A suitable bus was found, purchased and converted; funds (£150 each) were raised; sponsors were recruited; a route was planned; then they were off across Europe to Greece (where they rebuilt the engine), across Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan (spending a month in Kabul) and so to Bombay, where the money ran out.
Although Richard and his friends had hoped to fund their trip through promoting their sponsors' products, they discovered that ready cash was more easily raised by exercising the musical talents they had perhaps undervalued. And so the 'Philanderers' took to the stage or sometimes just to the street with a repertoire of folk classics supplemented by more risqué sporting numbers. They went down a storm with audiences as diverse as the Shah and Empress of Iran and Australian shoppers, raising sufficient funds to continue their journey across Australia (where they spent considerable time) and then the United States, finally returning to Liphook 3 years after setting off and more than ready for that free pint.
Richard now lives in Kent but the bus lives in Headley, under the care of Andrew Luff, who fittingly was one of the gang who converted it back in 1969.
He has written a book about the experience, "Band on the Bus" which is on sale at Luff's, and well worth a read. There is also a DVD available of the film they made on the trip.
August 2019 Visit to "Undershaw", Hindhead
For their annual summer visit, the Headley Society went to see "Undershaw", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's house in Hindhead, now one of SteppingStones School's buildings.
Around 30 members took the opportunity of a beautiful summer's evening to have a picnic, and tour the house using the information sheets provided by the school.
September 2019 A Guide's Guide to Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey
On Thursday 5 September, the delightful Sarah Somerville gave an excellent illustrated talk on Highclere Castle. The Castle is and has been the Caernarvon family home for 300 years so is only open to the public for a couple of months during the summer. Many Society members are still to visit, but all of us feel we know the Castle well it is of course the star of TV's 'Downton Abbey' and the film released this month.
There are records going back to 749 of a residence on the 6,000-acre estate but like other stately homes, Highclere has been extended and transformed many times. The 1830s saw the 3rd Earl bring Sir Charles Barry (Houses of Parliament) in to redesign and 'enhance' the building. His neo-gothic turrets, arches and balconies were augmented by Sir Gilbert Scott (St Pancras) who ensured the entrance hall with marble columns and wyvern motifs was suitably impressive. The wyvern a two-legged dragon can in fact be spotted throughout the house, as it's the family heraldic beast.
Some of the tales told in the TV series mirror reality: Highclere was an officers' hospital during WW1. (It was also used as a school for London evacuees during WW2.) The Caernarvons also married American heiresses, the first of whom had electric lighting installed in the 1890s.
The TV series, still showing round the world, has increased visitor numbers enormously many of whom are surprised to find an Egyptian room 'downstairs'. It was the 5th Earl of Caernarvon who funded Howard Carter and helped him open Tutankhamen's tomb. The Egyptian room contains copies of many of the famous objects discovered in 1922, but also houses large numbers of artefacts that had been hidden in the panelled walls by the 6th Earl (whether to avoid the infamous curse or death duties it is unclear!) and discovered whilst the house was being made ready for the public by the 7th Earl.
Sarah who used to be a guide at Highclere told us many other stories about the house, including the fun they had erecting the 22ft tall Christmas tree. It was clear after she had concluded that the Castle would be getting a few more visitors next year. Of course, you could book the next family wedding there; it'll only cost you £30,000 or so!
October 2019 Harlots, Dung and Glory
The talk at our October meeting was given by local historian Andrew Negus and was intriguingly named 'Harlots, Dung and Glory' Part 1. All these words were used by Andrew as he revealed the history of Portsmouth.
Portsmouth today is the only island city in the UK with the greatest density of population. Originally there were only a few villages on the island, lots of fields and salt-flats which is why today some streets are called Salterns.
Within the island was a natural harbour which only had a narrow entrance the same as today and within this harbour was a smaller one called the Camber.
The area began to grow when Richard I gave the town of Portsmouth its first Charter in 1194. It became a trading port and naval dockyard. King John declared it the Royal Dockyard around 1215 and so it became an even busier town.
The town roads were narrow and congested with moving goods, animals and humans and as hygiene wasn't observed in the lives of the townsfolk the streets were covered in both animal and human dung! One mayor was admonished for not removing 'dung and filth' from outside his house and the washerwomen were scolded for laundering soiled undergarments in water which went straight into the town brewery!!
Andrew described the punishments given out to miscreants including the stocks, pillory, whipping posts and ducking stools for shrewish women who ended up in the waters of the Camber which had now become an open sewer!
Hanging was meted out for serious offences.
As the dockyard became more strategic in our defences, towers were built on either side of the harbour entrance and a massive chain was laid on the sea bed between the two sides. This could be pulled up and tightened if enemy ships tried to enter the harbour causing them to halt and then founder. Also walls were built around the edges of the island to provide fortifications.
In Henry VIII's time Bishop Moleyns was stabbed to death in the city so displeasing the Pope who excommunicated the whole city! This went on for 60 years so the whole population were 'condemned to Hell'.
Henry Tudor began building ships in the dockyard and also the first dry dock and his son Henry VIII built Southsea Castle. The Royal fleet brought Glory to the nation in fighting off the French - however the fate of The Mary Rose caused much consternation to the King and his subjects.
Elizabeth I used Chatham as her Royal Dockyard as the fleet could move out more easily to sail around the world. Eventually Portsmouth reverted to being the most important port.
Other interesting facts emerged in the talk.
There is a memorial to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham in Portsmouth Cathedral
which contains his bowels!! He was stabbed to death in the city.
Charles II married Catherine of Braganza in Portsmouth, probably in the Governors Residency.
Spice Island boasted 44 pubs many of which were also brothels hence the Harlots. These 'polls' were also taken out to the ships moored off the Camber docks and such was their bounty for services rendered to the seamen they would tip the 'werryman' (ferry man ) up to £5 for rowing them out and back to land!
Haslar Hospital was the largest brick building in Europe when completed and at one time Portsmouth dockyard was the largest factory complex in the world.
Further Glory was to come with Nelson but Andrew concluded by saying 'this is in Part 2 of the story'. We hope to hear it next year!
November 2019 Chocolate making from cocoa bean to bar
The Church Centre was transformed at November's meeting of The Headley Society into the Chocolate Room or Le Salon du Chocolat, which is the name of the artisan chocolate business run by Dawn Shrives of Chichester. From bean to bar, Dawn explained the history of our favourite confection and the processes which transform it. The Mayans and the Aztecs had a taste for it. Montezuma drank up to 50 goblets a day although his nemesis Don Cortès didn't share the enthusiasm too bitter for European tastes but when someone thought of adding sugar instead of chilli, drinking chocolate soon became fashionable across Europe, reaching London in 1657.
Almost 200 years later, Joseph Fry invented solid chocolate and by 1913 we had soft centres. Perhaps it was inevitable that as chocolate became a mass market product, so quality declined. The 'chocolate' in many big-brand bars we all know (and many of us love) actually contains as little as 20% or even 14% cocoa solids; much of the rest is sugar. And it's the sugar that makes us reach for another one the good news from Dawn was that chocolate itself (ie, cocoa) is not addictive.
Much encouraged by that news, most of the nearly 50 people present took full advantage of the tastings so generously offered by Dawn and, having tasted, there appeared to be none who could resist purchasing some of the artisan chocolate bars that she produces using only the finest ingredients.
For those who couldn't be there, here is Dawn's advice: when buying a chocolate product, look closely at the listed ingredients and avoid those containing palm oil, flour or lots of sugar cocoa is the ingredient that makes chocolate chocolatey; and as for drinking chocolate, avoid the branded powders and just use cocoa powder or better still, stir in some good quality solid chocolate.
January 2020 William Morris: Victorian Polymath
Headley resident Jim Miles spent his working life bringing art and culture to the people from Guildford to Barnsley and points in between, so who better than he to talk about the Victorian designer, poet and radical thinker William Morris to a packed Church Centre in January.
We all know something about William Morris but everyone learnt a lot more from Jim's carefully prepared presentation, beautifully illustrated with many slides of Morris, his contemporaries and of course his works. From his early life in Walthamstow, through his student days at Oxford (where he first encountered Edward Burne Jones), to the building of the famous Red House, then life at Kelmscott Manor and the founding of the Kelmscott Press, Morris's life and works were described in detail and critically appraised.
As Jim so succinctly put it, "He [Morris] did lots of things" and it is certainly difficult to think of many other men or women who have achieved so much across such a broad range of activities and who have left such an enduring legacy. Jim is unashamedly a fan, having served on the Management Council of Kelmscott Manor, and his enthusiasm communicated itself to the audience, many of whom will have been making arrangements to visit one of the several places where you can still see the great man's works.
February 2020 Upstairs/Downstairs at Stansted Park
Janet Sinclair gave an illustrated talk on the differences between life Upstairs and Downstairs in traditional stately homes, with special reference to Stansted Park (near Rowlands Castle on the Hampshire-Sussex border) which she knows well.
She took us through the portrayals of 'life Upstairs' by authors such as Jane Austen, pointing out that it was only relatively recently (say from the 1960s) that life Downstairs had been studied. Now, with the popularity of such dramas as Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, the differences were being more widely appreciated.
Interestingly, the invention of the call-bell system seems to have had a profound effect on the life of servants, as it meant they could stay in their 'fiefdom' downstairs and wait to be summoned, rather than be scattered waiting around the house, and this allowed for a 'community spirit' to develop among them which had not existed so much before.
In order to understand better how the two levels lived, visitors to these houses today can immerse themselves in the culture by dressing up and trying their hand at performing some of the duties of the servants, such carrying a full 'gazunder' from a bedroom to the toilet along the corridor without spilling the contents!
In closing, Janet encouraged members to visit Stansted Park, and see for themselves such strange objects as the 'tennis ball cleaner' at one of their 'handling sessions'.
March 2020 Bordon: Where to next? The Shape of Things to Come?
Headley Society Members and Visitors had a glimpse into the near future at their March meeting when Chris Knott and James Child of the Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company gave a presentation on the next stages in the development of the growing town just down the road from our meeting place in Headley's Church Centre.
The linked communities of Whitehill and Bordon, once partly in Headley parish, have evolved rapidly since the Army first set up camp in the early 20th Century. Although the MoD retains a strong presence in the area, the former barracks, engineering workshops and vehicle testing grounds are now being redeveloped into housing and a new town centre. A new secondary school has already opened and a leisure centre, health 'hub', cinema, market and shops are all scheduled to be completed in the next two to three years.
Over 415,000 people live within half an hour's drive of Whitehill and Bordon and the hope is that the new facilities will attract more of them to visit the town. There was some scepticism about this in the room as Chris and James were unable to say which shops or restaurant chains are likely to take space in the new town centre.
Public transport is another contentious subject and on this there is an innovative proposal for an on-demand service operating in the area around the town (including Headley) using smaller, greener vehicles. We shall see.
Earlier, the Society had held its Annual General Meeting in the unavoidable absence of its President, Betty White, to whom best wishes were sent following her recent fall. Chairman Jo Smith and Treasurer Sylvia Henderson gave their reports; Freda Line and Caroline Lemka presented what looks like a very interesting programme for the coming 12 months; and the Committee was re-elected en bloc for another year.
As it turned out, of course, the pandemic then swept in and we had no more talks this year!
January 2021 Headley Parish Council, the Early Years
During lock-down some of our members had taken time to transcribe the first two Minute Books of Headley Parish Council, covering the years 1894-1930, then this evening Jo Smith gave a Zoom presentation of some of the results. We we had over 50 screens logged in and estimated that nearly 90 people watched it from as far afield as Huddersfield and Herne Bay. To watch again use this link to Youtube.
February 2021 Guildford's Wartime Defences
David Rose gave an illustrated talk by Zoom covering the role of defences around the Guildford area, from the time of the Semaphore Telegraph, through the Napoleonic Wars, WW1 and WW2 right up to the time of the Cold War and its secret bunkers. To watch again use this link to Youtube.
March 2021 Headley's Dramatic History
Jo Smith gave a Zoom talk on "Pageants, Plays & Personalities" of Headley's past. To watch again use this link to Youtube.
April 2021 The River Wey Trust
Alistair Young gave a Zoom presentation on the River Wey Trust, its past, present and future. To watch again use this link to Youtube.
Headley Theatre Club, the first 50 years
Jo Smith gave a Zoom presentation on 'Headley Theatre Club, the first 50 years'. To watch again use this link to Youtube.
May 2021 The Atlantic Railway: Brunel's Vision
At our May meeting, Ian Kennedy gave an enlightening talk on "The Atlantic Railway: Brunel's Vision".
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an innovative thinker who wanted to make it possible for passengers to buy a steam train ticket at Paddington Station and then via a steam ship cross the Atlantic to disembark in New York. He designed and built several steam ships to achieve his dream. His first was The Great Western, a paddle steamer. Voyages across the Atlantic by sail could take up to 48 days; steam ships cut this down to 10, so making it possible to have a regular timetable. Paddle steamers were difficult to handle in bad weather because of balancing the paddles, so he designed the Great Britain, an iron hull ship with a propeller, and 6 masts in case of engine failure. The Great Eastern was his last ship. It was enormous and had propellers, paddles and masts. It was built to take 4,000 passengers and to carry all the coal to fuel a voyage; however, it only ever carried a maximum of 2,000 passengers and became a commercial disaster! It ended its days laying underwater cables.
We learnt some interesting facts about Brunel. His iconic large stove top hat which we see in photos of him was reinforced inside with a metal fretwork to protect him from falling materials at worksites. This was the forerunner of the builders' hard hat!
He had a large house with many servants and his regular guests were Mendelssohn and Paganini who often played for his family and friends.
Brunel was born in Portsmouth in 1806 and died at the age of 53 in 1859. A memorial stained-glass window is dedicated to him in Westminster Abbey.
To watch again use this link to Youtube.
June 2021 The Most Heroic Failure of Modern Times Shackleton's Antarctic
Jeremy Holmes delivered a fascinating zoom talk on Ernest Shackleton on 3 June. He included many photographs, details on the crew, the stowaway and cat of HMS Endurance and insights into the still astonishing story of this attempt to cross the Antarctic from sea to sea in 1914/17.
Endurance set sail from Buenos Aries in October 1914 but got stuck in pack ice in late January 1915 where the crew and 69 dogs remained trapped for 10 months drifting 2,000km. During this time 'the Boss' ignored the class system so officers and men took turns at chores and Shackleton personally looked after his team throughout the expedition.
In January 1916, the 28 men started hauling 3 very heavily laden lifeboats across the soft, wet snow but since they only covered 1 mile in the first day it was decided that they should rely on the drifting floes instead. Eventually after 5 months they reached open sea, launched the boats and after six days battling hunger, thirst and freezing waves landed on a narrow beach on Elephant Island. Shackleton knew that there was no chance of being rescued and decided to sail the 720 miles to South Georgia. He took with him Frank Worsley the ship's captain and 4 others including two men who might have caused trouble if left behind. The compass broke, there were 50 ft waves, hurricane winds, but Worsley's amazing navigational skills brought them to S Georgia but on the uninhabited side!
From there Shackleton and two others crossed uncharted 4,000 ft mountains and a glacier without tents and climbing gear, with nails pushed into their boots and coiled rope acting as toboggans for the precipitous descent, reaching the whaling station on 20 May 1916. Having rescued his 3 colleagues from the other side of the island, Shackleton set off just 3 days later for Elephant Island. At the fourth attempt they finally reached Elephant Island on 30 August, where all 22 men were still alive!
'Give me Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency, but when disaster strikes, pray for Shackleton' one of his colleagues later said. I don't know about you, but the story of Shackleton's outstanding leadership skills throughout this ill-fated journey gives me goose bumps every time I hear it.
To watch again use this link to Youtube.
July 2021 Repercussions of Covid-19 and our Relationship with Nature
On July 1st Tony Whitbread gave a most interesting talk on Zoom on the Repercussions of Covid-19 and our Relationship with Nature. He was with the Sussex Wild Life Trust for twenty-seven years and is now an independent ecologist who is active in Sussex. The talk was accompanied by beautiful pictures of wildlife and nature.
He began by saying that nature blossomed during lockdown. More people walked, cycled and gardened and had time to notice things. There seemed to be more plant life, more wildlife, birds and insects including butterflies. Animals came closer to habitations. With less traffic the air quality improved especially in cities. There were fewer planes, vapour trails and the sky was cleaner.
Tony pointed out that civilization can be threatened by the way we live. In 2018 the vertebrae population had reduced by 75% from the previous 50 years. David Attenborough said that if the weight of all animals of earth were put together humans and their livestock would make up to 96%.
Tony talked about our life support system which includes oxygen, water and our food. This is all supplied by nature. Damage nature and we lose our life support system.
He went on to talk about how nature can continue to recover after lockdown ends. He said that we must change our values and that our relationship with nature must be different. It had been exploitive and needs to be regenerative. He said that human evolutionary history was successful, not because we are dominant but because we work together in a social way. Covid has brought out higher values in many of us and people started to look after each other.
Tony listed things we hold in common. These include oxygen, fresh air, water recycling, even information technology and included human health in general. He contrasted these to free market issues including factory farming and use of fossil fuel; where gain and greed are valued above our precious environment. He said that this does not work and that we are only as healthy as the most vulnerable.
We now have a resurgence of interest in how to regenerate nature. Instead of wanting more all the time we need to move towards new values. If we return to our old ways and go back to business as usual we will be in trouble. We must all work together to help nature regenerate.
During question time it was noted that Alton is doing a lot of good work towards fighting climate change. We discussed eating local produce when it is in season. Tony said that there were many small areas of positivity and that these are growing and spreading.
He said that there is "Enough in the World for our needs but not enough in the world for our greed".
To watch again use this link toYoutube. (Worth it just to see the wildlife photos)
We were due to visit Headley Grange, but due to an issue with Covid this was cancelled.
Instead, Jo Smith gave a short Zoom talk the next evening on "Headley's Hidden History, part 3". To watch again use this link toYoutube.
September 2021 Four Men of Frensham
The first 'live' meeting of the Headley Society for many months was full of visitors and members new and old. We all enjoyed a fascinating and beautifully illustrated talk from our Steve Priestley.
Steve took us on a historical journey from 1835 Frensham to Australia as he revealed the story of four members of the Chuter clan who were transported for stealing a sheep. Following their 6-month incarceration on a hulk they then sailed for 4 months on The Moffat. In some ways they were lucky as the ship's surgeon was enlightened, ensuring the men had exercise, entertainment and minimising the chance of scurvy.
The oldest Stephen died soon after reaching Sydney, but the younger men after their indentured time were all given 'tickets of leave' and eventually 'conditional pardons' which allowed them to set up on their own but not return to England.
Steve's tale highlighted the fact that despite their transportation, all became property owners, ran businesses, and despite many ups and downs had lives which were far superior to those they might have had at home. While William Chuter the least rebellious made and lost a fortune, he put his mark on Sydney and is remembered in a street name. None of them returned to England.
So, perhaps they were fortunate; a few years earlier and they'd have been hanged for the theft, a few years later they would have gone to prison in the UK and probably ended up in the workhouse.
Steve's detailed and thorough research provided us with real insights into the lives of the Four Men of Frensham.
October 2021 Uppark, Fire and Restoration
Bob France, a volunteer Guide at Uppark, gave an informative illustrated Zoom talk on the devastating fire and subsequent restoration programme at this NT property.
Uppark is the best example of a Georgian Country House which changed very little in the Victorian era and because of its decor, treasured artifacts and fine art works it became known as 'The Sleeping Beauty House'. The fire started on 30th August 1989, one day before an extensive roof restoration was completed. Welding equipment in the roof area was the cause of the outbreak and because there were no firebreaks in the roof spaces the flames spread causing much damage.
The Chief Fire Officer at the site organised the crews of 27 fire engines having devised a plan to fight the fire whilst saving moveable objects from the house. Volunteers arrived and removed art works, furniture and other artifacts. There was very little water on site so it had to be pumped in a relay from a nearby private swimming pool up to the fire. Only the shell of the building remained afterwards.
After five weeks the NT decided to restore the property to the condition it was in the day before the fire. A grid of the areas in the building was produced and 4,000 black bins were sourced from all over the country. Remains from each square of the grid was deposited in each bin and then examined for further action. Bob showed slides of the interior of the house: first the original condition, then the fire damage and finally the restored areas. The restoration involved many craftspeople who had to learn new skills based on old fashioned methods so that the restoration was authentic. This provided a renaissance of old craft skills which have been used in other restoration projects all over the country.
Only six years after the fire, Uppark was re-opened on 5th June 1995 having been restored to its former glory, as it was on the day before the fire!
To watch again use this link toYoutube.
Save Our County Farm
Before this talk, Bill Wain of the 'Save Our County Farm' group "Told us in Ten" about the HCC plans to develop land at Standford Grange Farm and asked for our assistance in resisting this proposal.
To watch again use this link toYoutube.
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