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Newsletter No. 62 Affiliated to Cheltenham Arts Council November 2008 Registered Charity No. 1056046 http://www.cheltlocalhist.btik.com EDITORIAL I thought this wintry picture might help put us all in the mood for the season ahead, particularly as we’re promised CONTENTS ice-skating in Montpellier Gardens this Christmas! It Editorial 1 shows skaters on Pittville Lake in one of the severe winters in the early 1900s, probably about 1903. Lecture programme Dec. 2008-May 2009 2 Here’s an important message: we have a new website, For Your Diary 3 the address of which is on the letter heading above. The Beehive site we formerly used has closed, and our Society Reviews 4,5 along with many others has had to make alternative Features 6,8,9,11 arrangements. Tom Maslin, our webmaster, has done a splendid job in setting up a new site and is currently Society News 7 ‘tweaking’ it to try to ensure that it meets everyone’s Congratulations 7,8 expectations. Members are urged to look at it and to pass on any helpful comments or suggestions they may have Local News; Obituary 10 directly to Tom (TDMASLI@aol.com). Despite current economic gloom (and history shows that New Publication 11 good and bad times come and go!) we wish all our mem- Can You Help? Journal; Next Issue 12 bers a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2009. Kath Boothman 1 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS LECTURE PROGRAMME December 2008-May 2009 landscape, and many used by leisure walkers today originated in very different circumstances. Most were Meetings will be held in the Council Chamber, Municipal developed for local use and gave access to the parish Offices, Promenade, starting at 7.30 pm unless otherwise church, mill, wood or workplace. Some were designed indicated. Visitors are most welcome to attend at a charge for long distance travel by pilgrims, pedlars or drovers. A of £1 per head; under 16s and students pay 50p. The Mem- few may be dated accurately as they were formed for a bers’ Evening in January is open to all without charge. specific purpose – such as tow paths for bow hauliers along the canals. Cheltenham had well walks for its promenading visitors and paths laid out to show off the Tuesday 16 December 2008: latest fashion in garden design. This illustrated lecture Mr. Robert Wilson – Sculpture in Cheltenham will consider these and other types of local footpath. Somewhat belatedly, Cheltenham has honoured our most renowned son by erecting the statue to Gustav Holst. This follows a commendable spate of public art in the town, Tuesday 28 April 2009: including monuments in Montpellier Gardens and Sandford A.G.M. followed by the Rev. Brian Torode and Mrs Park, not to mention – as some would prefer – the Hare and Heather Atkinson - Delancey Hospital: The end of an the Minotaur! But how strange that there is no monument to era. George III, who effectively put Cheltenham “on the map”, The talk will begin with a brief chronology of the hospital whilst Dean Close is another curious omission, bearing in and the way it adapted to changes in the social and mind the influence he had on the town, although the school political climate. There will be a brief introduction about offers ample compensation perhaps. However, Chelten- the need for a Fever Hospital for the town, the legacy of ham’s relationship to public sculpture is, to say the least, Miss Susan Delancey and the choice of the site for the reticent: discuss! hospital. John Middleton’s architectural design will be illustrated, with details of the accommodation and the infectious diseases treated there. Changes in wartime, Tuesday 20th January 2009: especially World War 2, and then the introduction of the Members’ Research and Display Evening NHS in 1948, which marked a turning point in the hospi- The annual social evening gives members a chance to meet tal’s history, will be also be discussed. informally and to exhibit the results of their research. On this occasion the display produced for the history afternoon at Sir Thomas Rich’s on the ‘Writers and Poets’ theme will Thursday 9th April 2009 at 10.00 am for 10.30 am be on show. A section of the display entitled "What a Note venue: St Luke’s Hall, St Luke’s Place Literary Lot we Are!" features work by Society members. Linda Hodges from the Prestbury Local History Group Further work by members not previously displayed will will introduce and show a DVD produced by members of be included. the group in 2007 entitled : If you wish to contribute a display of your own research ‘Travelling through Time—A History of Prestbury’. findings or source materials , please contact Sue Newton (Journal to be distributed at this meeting) ( 01242 243049) or e-mail email@example.com. Tuesday 17 February 2009: Mr. John Elliott - Picture Palaces of Cheltenham SUE NEWTON’S TRIPS When the Odeon closed in November 2006, it was the end of an era, and it is difficult for us now to recall the Sue Newton is organising the following coach trips for the excitement of going to the cinema when it was for the vast early part of next year. Booking will be on a first come, majority of the population their main source of social enter- first served basis. The trips are open to all, not just mem- tainment. It was a fantasy world of uniformed doormen, bers of the Society. Please contact Sue at meetings or by thick carpets, extravagant decoration and sweeping stair- telephone (01242 243049) for more information. cases into a cosy world of adventure and romance seen through a haze of cigarette smoke. At one time Cheltenham Thursday 5 February: boasted seven cinemas (not counting other locations at St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham & Symphony Hall which films were shown). This talk hopes to provide a brief for CBSO concert (Prokoviev, Rachmaninov, Dvorak), history of these cinemas from their early beginnings £ 31.50. Depart 9.00 am, back 6.30 pm through their vicissitudes, their frequent changes of name Thursday 19 March: and manager and their attempts to lure patrons from the Wiltshire Wander, visiting Avebury, Devizes & competition to their final decline and inevitable closure with Lydiard Park , £22.00. Depart 9.00 am, back 5.00 pm the arrival of TV. Wednesday 1 April: Tuesday 17 March 2009 Soho House (home of industrial pioneer Matthew Mr. Alan Pilbeam – Old Paths of Gloucestershire Boulton 1766-1809) & CBSO concert Symphony Hall Footpaths make one of man’s oldest imprints on the (British Classics), £ 31.50. Depart 9.00 am, back 6.30 pm 2 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS FOR YOUR DIARY FORTHCOMING EVENTS Gotherington Area Local History Society Friends of All Saints Meetings are held at Gotherington Village Hall at 8.00 pm. Church Visitors £1. Meetings are held in the Thursday 20th November: church, All Saints’ Road, at 2.30 pm. John Loosley—Gloucestershire Almshouses Guests welcome -£3. Thursday 4th December: Thursday 27th November: Phillippa Roberts and Pat Sory– Effie Robert’s War- Roger Turner—Victorian Stained Glass in time Poetry Journal Gloucestershire Thursday 19th February 2009: Thursday 29th January 2009: Dr Alison Brookes—Iron Age Hill Forts in the Cots- Steven Blake—‘Through the Artist’s Eye: views of wolds with the cup and ring stone from Nottingham Hill Cheltenham’s churches and chapels since the 1780s’. Thursday 19th March 2009: This illustrated talk looks at the wealth of surviving Dr Francis Burn—Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick prints, drawings and photographs and considers their Games importance in tracing the history of the buildings. Thursday 16th April 2009: Tim Porter—Simon de Montford Historical Association (Cheltenham and Gloucester Branch) Leckhampton Local History Society All meetings are at 7.30 pm. Cheltenham meetings are at www.llhs.org.uk Up Hatherley Library, Gloucester meetings at the Meetings are held at St Philip’s & St James’ Church Friends’ Meeting House, Greyfriars (off Southgate St.) House, Painswick Road, Cheltenham, at 8.00 pm. Visitors Monday 8th December in Gloucester: welcome. Mr Frank Farley—Magic Lantern Show, with Thursday 20th November: seasonal theme and refreshments. Peter Simkins– Advance to Victory: 1918 Monday 19th January 2009 in Cheltenham: Thursday 11th December: Professor Ivan Roots, Exeter University—Richard Carolyn Greet—Charles Jessop, Victorian Nurseryman Cromwell Thursday 15th January 2009: Monday 2nd February 2009 in Gloucester: John Loosley—A History of Allotments in Gloucester- Prof. Stephen King, Oxford Brookes University— shire Healthcare in the Southwest, 1750-1850 Thursday 19th March 2009: Monday 23rd February 2009 at University of Glouces- David Smith—Sir Thomas Phillipps tershire, Main Building, Park Campus, Cheltenham: Thursday 16th April 2009: Mr Mike Jones—The Battle of Leningrad Averil Kear—Learning the Trade: Apprenticeship in Monday 16th March 2009 in Gloucester: Gloucestershire Dr Martin Homes, Oxford University—Thatcherism Friends of Gloucestershire Archives Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Meetings are held in the Frith Centre, Gloucestershire www.bgas.org.uk Archives at 7.30 pm. Meetings are held at Gloucestershire Archives, Clarence Thursday 20th November: Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester at 7.30 pm Alan Ford– The Merchant of Prato: life of a 14th Wednesday 21st January 2009: century Tuscan merchant who traded with Cotswold Dr Steven Blake– Dissenters’ Boxes: Nonconformist wool merchants chapel building in Regency & Victorian Cheltenham Thursday 19th March 2009: Wednesday 18th February 2009: Jim Temlett—Cotswold Dialects Paul Nichols—Iron Age Discoveries at Bourton-on- the-Water Charlton Kings Local History Society Wednesday 18th March 2009: Meetings take place in the Baptist Church, Church Street, Malcolm Watkins—The Siege of Gloucester Charlton Kings, starting at 7.30 pm. Guests welcome -£2. Tuesday 25th November: Holst Birthplace Museum Toby Catchpole—Belas Knap and other Gloucester- www.holstmuseum.org.uk shire Long Barrows 4 Clarence Road, Cheltenham Tuesday 27th January 2009: Saturday 13th December, 10.00 am—4.00 pm Alan Pilbeam—Old Paths of Gloucestershire Victorian Family Christmas Day Children FREE with paying adult. No prior booking necessary. 3 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS REVIEWS In October David O’Connor took us through The Great Cheltenham Water Controversy, the complicated story of 19th century Cheltenham’s struggle to acquire a proper Summer visits July-August 2008 water supply. Because of the varied nature of the terrain, some householders could sink wells while others had to Visit to Sandford Parks Lido, 16 August 2008 depend on expensive piped water from the town’s extraor- dinarily inefficient and self-interested water company. Twenty-three members of the Society enjoyed a Demand increased with the growth of the town and by Saturday morning visit to what proudly (and rightfully) 1850 it was clear that local sources of water would have to promotes itself as ‘the most historically intact Lido in be supplemented from elsewhere. The Severn was the the UK’, in the company of its Chief Executive, Julie obvious choice, but fastidious Cheltonians recoiled from Sargent, and her Deputy and Pool Engineer, Keith the idea of drinking ‘dirty’ river water and opted for dam- Norris. ming the Chelt at Dowdeswell instead. Even this reservoir The visit began with a comprehensive talk on the Lido’s did not suffice for long, how- history from its building in 1934-5, through its wartime ever, and after a series of dry use (when, despite the taking over of the car park by the summers in the 1890s the Severn American forces, the Lido remained open to the public), water (which had long been sup- to the structural and organisational problems of the plied to Tewkesbury from the 1980s and 1990s that led to the formation of the present Mythe waterworks) had to come Charitable Trust. This introduction included a power after all. Over the years the issue point presentation of old photographs and documents of Cheltenham’s water supply relating to the Lido’s history, plus modern recorded had repeatedly come up in Par- transcripts of the speeches that were made on its opening liament, generating much heated day in 1935. debate and numerous bills and This was followed by a tour of the facility, including its becoming known as ‘The Great 1930s Plant Room, which still retains many of its Water Controversy’ - hence the original fittings, and where we learnt about the filtration title of the fascinating book David has written on the sub- system that is constantly in operation to keep the Lido’s ject, copies of which are available from Geoff North, price water up to the necessary high standard. £10. See slip enclosed with this Newsletter What was particularly impressive was the way in which the Trust is clearly balancing a need to develop the Lido Every one of the new chairs at St Luke's Hall was taken as a facility for local people with an appreciation of its for Aylwin Sampson’s talk on the morning of 9th Octo- historic significance. This may be seen in both the sensi- ber. As usual, Aylwin did not disappoint. The subject, tive way in which the buildings are being conserved and Cheltenham's Literary Connections, is one that he has – of particular interest to a Society like ours – the grad- been associated with for some considerable time and he ual creation of what the Trust calls its ‘Living Archive’ reminded us that over the years he must have 'walked' of photographs, documents and memories of the Lido more than 1000 visitors, celebrities and local residents throughout its 70 year existence. They are certainly to be around the town as part of the Literary Festival events, congratulated on both. looking at places and plaques connected with famous and Steven Blake sometimes infamous literary people. He was afraid some of the talk would not be 'new' to members. He need not Autumn Lectures Sept-Nov 2008 have worried. Aylwin always seems to find snippets of information not heard before, and on this occasion he expanded the scope of his talk to include the literary The autumn series began in September with Jean achievements of many 'old' boy and girls from local Jefferies’ highly entertaining illustrated talk on the schools and colleges, including those of his daughter history of the ‘Cheese rolling and Wake’ held one day Fiona of whom he and his wife can be very proud. This in May each year on Cooper’s Hill outside Cheltenham. talk, illustrated as usual with Aylwin's own beautiful Having lived on Cooper’s Hill for 24 years Jean was the drawings, left us wanting to hear more. ideal person to explain this curious and probably ancient custom, which nowadays attracts crowds of several Elaine North thousand to watch group after group of daring competi- tors hurl themselves down the precipitous and some- times muddy hillside in pursuit of a specially made 7-9lb Double Gloucester cheese. Although the other games and sideshows that used to form part of the festival have disappeared, the top-hatted Master of Ceremonies now wears a white coat rather than a shepherd’s smock, and modern spectators are confined behind barriers for their own safety, the races are still a real test of courage, both exhilarating and hilarious to watch. The video clips Jean showed us amply proved this point. 4 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS REVIEWS Cheltenham Local History Afternoon Sunday 20th July 2008 at St Andrew’s Church, Montpellier Street The third of these biennial events was, like the first two, very well supported by both members and visitors. The entertainment on offer included a talk by Ken Brightwell entitled ‘The History and Role of the Town Crier,’ a choice of guided walks in the neighbourhood (one of them to St Mary’s church, which was opened specially for the occasion) and several displays put on by CLHS and some of the eleven other societies who were represented. The principal display, on the subject of floods in Gloucestershire, attracted much interest, illustrating as it does both the dramatic events of summer 2007 and similar inundations further back in time. The card and book stalls were kept busy and the refreshment service seemed to be much appreciated. For those intent on pursuing some line of historical enquiry Jill Waller was on hand to help with searches of the Examiner index on CD. Another event of the afternoon was the presentation of certificates and gift tokens by the Mayor and the Town Crier to three children from Christ College. Earlier in July CLHS had been approached by the school for information about the 1908 Gloucester- shire Historical Pageant, because it wished to celebrate the centenary by re-enacting some of the scenes in Pittville Park. With the Society’s help the plan went ahead. The Society then held a competition for the best written account of the day, and the winning children duly came to collect their awards on July 20th, when photos of the original pageant and of the re-enactment were on display. Elaine North (Heasman) described this event, among many other projects and activities, when she was interviewed for the September 2008 issue of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine (a recommended read for all members!) The Society is pleased to have thus formed a Scene from the historical pageant of 1908 link with a local school, which it hopes to maintain. ‘Poets and Writers in Gloucestershire’ Gloucestershire Annual Local History Afternoon Saturday October 4th 2008 at Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Longlevens The spacious main hall of Sir Thomas Rich’s School again provided the venue for this popular annual event organised by the Local History Committee of the Gloucestershire Rural Community Council. There was a good turn-out of CLHS members, and the Committee would like to thank those who helped with the sales tables and displays. The Society’s display was on the theme of Cheltenham’s poets and writers. As usual there was an award for the best display, won on this occasion by Cranham Local History Society. Alan Tucker gave a wide-ranging illustrated talk on Poetry and Poets in Gloucestershire, noting that besides producing its own celebrated writers such as Laurie Lee the county has been visited by famous poets from The CLHS display and tables at the GRCC meeting Wordsworth to T S Eliot. Next came the presentation of the Bryan Jerrard Award, the ten finalists this year including no fewer than four CLHS members: Richard Lacock, the Rev Alan Munden, Jane Sale and the eventual victor Hugh Conway-Jones. His winning article, on the Gloucester timber merchants Nicks & Co, appeared in GSIA Journal 2007. Anthony Boden then traced the lives of the Gloucestershire-born poet and composer Ivor Gurney and Hugh Conway-Jones his friend F W Harvey, illustrating his talks with recordings of their songs and poems. Gurney, who accepting the Bryan was primarily a musician, turned to poetry in the trenches of World War I, and these poems, some later Jerrard Award set to music, are among his finest work. A new ‘Chronology of Cheltenham’s Literary Connections’ compiled by Jill Waller was on sale at the event. (Copies are available at meetings, price £4, or £5 to include postage from the Treasurer, Geoff North, tel. 01452 857803 - see slip enclosed.) The theme of next year’s event is to be ‘Housing the Poor’. 5 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS FEATURE MORE ON THE TOWN CLOCK Steven Blake’s article on the old town clock in the July Newsletter, with its appeal for further information, brought a prompt response from member Mike Grindley accompanied by numerous extracts from early issues of 19th century local news- papers. The story that emerges from them is as follows… In November 1826 the Cheltenham Journal reported that the ‘handsome edifice’ on the site of the old Market in the High Street, recently occupied by Messrs Hartland and Son, Bankers, had been taken over by the solicitors Pruen, Griffiths and Pruen, both for their own business and to serve as a new Magistrates’ Office. According to the Chronicle it was a local clockmaker, John Denne of 112 High Street [the numbering has since changed], who suggested placing a large double-faced clock on a bracket projecting from the front of this building, ‘the most central and conspicuous situation for such a purpose, where it must prove a matter of general convenience’. The idea was warmly received, and the proposal was confirmed and sanctioned by the Town Commissioners in the same month. The architect William Jay produced designs for the clock and its supporting bracket, and Mr Denne was duly commissioned to construct and install it. The cost was to be met mainly by public subscription. (‘It is confidently expected that the principal resi- dents will readily and liberally contribute towards the accom- plishment of an object so desirable and useful.’) Money must have flowed in quite quickly, for by February 1828 the scaffold- ing was up ready for the clock to be fixed in its place. The Chronicle, reflecting the general enthusiasm, reported: ‘This very desirable, ornamental and useful addition to the comfort and convenience of the inhabitants, and all classes of visitors, will shortly be completed under the direction of that clever and in- The High Street, Cheltenham, c1900 genious artist, Mr Denne.’ It added that arrangements had also been made to light up the clock at night with gas, the idea being that the light should be shed obliquely on the clock so that it could be seen ‘even in the darkest night, nearly as at great a dis- tance as in the day’. (Gas lighting had arrived in Cheltenham about ten years earlier.) The Journal of June 6th congratulates the town on the completion of the ‘New Clock’, and expresses the hope that the scheme of lighting it by gas will not be abandoned. The Town Commissioners took the clock into their possession on 1st August 1828 and appointed Mr Denne to be its curator and manager ‘on the same terms as the Church Clock which is under his care’. The Chronicle notes with concern that Mr Denne had thus relinquished his rights to the clock before he had received one third of the amount to pay for it, and urges the public to come forward without delay and help him liquidate ‘a debt which he has incurred on his own personal responsibil- ity, but for the accommodation and use of the public.’ It would appear that the public subscription had in fact fallen far short of the cost of the project. Whether John Denne was ever fully reimbursed we do not know, but he evidently stayed in busi- ness: records show that in August 1836 he was about to supervise the erection of three new public clocks for St Paul’s, St James’ and St John’s churches. As for the idea of lighting the clock by gas, it would seem that the original scheme was unsuccessful. In November 1867, as reported in the Mercury, the Commissioners were experiment- ing with a new plan, which involved throwing a strong light on the faces of the clock by means of powerful reflectors. This worked quite well: ‘The light appeared to require only a more careful arrangement to make the device thoroughly success- ful.’ However, cost may have been an inhibiting factor. The Examiner index reveals that it was only in 1870, when a Mrs Eleanor Thorp offered to pay for the illumination of the Town Clock, that the idea was put into effect. The clock was sent to London to be refitted, and in March 1871 it was lit up for the first time to celebrate the wedding of Princess Louise. Already over forty years old, it was to serve the town for another eighty years. A view of the High Street showing the clock towards the end of its life, sometime in the late 1950s. 6 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS SOCIETY NEWS John Elliott History of cinema; cinemas in Cheltenham Money Matters Graham Lockwood Music events in Cheltenham Alan White Cheltenham in the Great War; The newspapers and television may be all gloom and postcards & crested china doom and the ‘credit crunch’ is certainly with us – but I from the Great War bring you tidings of great joy this Christmas Season! Joan Bate Church architecture; gardens; the development of First, I am pleased to confirm that after months of nail- Cheltenham biting we received £500 from the Severn Trent Water Eileen Allen Pates family; Priory Terrace; Community Recovery Fund. Some of this money has Carlton Street; Hewlett Road; been used to finance the St Andrew’s History Afternoon Charlton Kings; Swindon and the display produced by Mary Nelson showing the Village flooding in Gloucestershire both in recent years and Jenny Eastwood Social conditions in the St historically. (If you missed the display it will be on show Peter’s area of Cheltenham again at our next Research and Display Evening in Janu- and the traveller families that ary and again at Gloucestershire Archives in May & June overwintered there 2009.) Tim Edgell Breweries and public houses in a and around Stroud, Nailsworth, Dursley, Wotton-under-Edge, Cheltenham and Gloucester in particular and all of Gloucestershire Birthdays! The next piece of good news is that Cheltenham Arts Judy Smith celebrated her 90th birthday Council have given us a grant of £200 towards the cost of on 1st November 2008 with friends a roving microphone for our morning meetings at St and family at Willoughby House, Suffolk Square. In the Luke’s. picture below, (taken by Geoff North), Richard Lacock is seated on Judy's right with Brian Torode on her left. And finally, our latest publication A Chronology of Standing left to right: Christine Ormerod, Peter Ormerod, Cheltenham Literary Connections compiled by Jill Amy Woolacott, Elaine North, Brian White, Jill Barlow, Waller was launched at the recent history afternoon at Sir Sue Newton and Steven Blake. Richard celebrated his Thomas Rich’s and is now on sale at meetings priced £4. 80th birthday recently. Many congratulations to him and If you have not yet purchased a copy please see the slip to Judy. enclosed with this newsletter. Why not also buy other Chronologies and complete a set? Geoff North, Treasurer New Members First, an apology to Mrs P M Heim, whose name appeared as Hein in the last Newsletter. A warm welcome is extended to the following: Janet Burgess Sian Davies Felicity Fildes John and Helen Guy Janet Hextall and Brian Meek Tony and Sara Jefferies Graham Lockwood Mrs J M C Miers Mr and Mrs C J Vyle Alan White Society Library And a special welcome to Doreen Jewell who has rejoined A list of recent additions to the Library is enclosed with us. this Newsletter. The full list is available at each Society meeting and may also be obtained from Jill Waller Members’ Interests (tel.01242 522485, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). (Additions/amendments) Help wanted! The Library is continually expanding and Members are reminded that they may submit additions or storage has become a problem. Jill would be very glad to amendments to their interests at any time—Ed. hear from anyone who would be willing to store some of the books and, if possible, bring them along to meetings, Patricia Bilbey Victoria Place, Cheltenham especially to the occasional morning meetings, which she Beryl Elliott Prestbury before 1850 herself is unable to attend. 7 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS FEATURE THE WONDERS OF E-MAIL (AND THE POWER OF NETWORKING!) A few months ago I received an e-mail request from a Lori and Dennis Galligan, who wanted some cards of a painting of the interior of St Mary's, Cheltenham Parish Church, which are on sale there. They had seen them on the Friends of St Mary's website. (The painting is in fact by my husband, but they didn’t find that out until later!) In my reply I gave details of cost etc and asked to which address they should be sent. Their reply was Mendota Heights, Minnesota. USA. I was secretly rather thrilled at this as I had never before had a request from abroad. I sent the cards off and then e-mailed to say that they were on their way, mentioning that I was curious about their interest. By return they replied explain- ing that Dennis was related to William Thomas Pates, who was the Master of the Bellringers at St Mary's Church for 45 years from 1891-1936. Another e-mail went off from me telling them that his name would definitely be on a board in the belfry. All past Masters of the Bellringers are commemorated in this way. Lori followed this up the next day telling me that they were coming to Eng- land to celebrate their Silver Wedding and would be visiting Cheltenham and that St Mary’s Church by Peter Ormerod they would love to go to the belfry to see the ringers in action, if this was possible. They also hoped to come to the 9 am Sunday service afterwards. Almost as a PS she asked me if I knew a genealogist in Cheltenham. I didn't, so I copied her e-mail out to Geoff North and Elaine Heasman and was astonished to get a reply from them, within a few minutes, telling me that they knew a genealogist, Eileen Allen, who had done a lot of work on the Pates family tree and that she was in fact a great-granddaughter of W T Pates and therefore related to the Galligans. Off went another e-mail to Minnesota telling them that we had found a genealogist, who was also their relative. Needless to say they were thrilled. They duly arrived very early at St Mary's on the 12th October, met Liz Coke, the present Master of the Bellringers, inspected the bells and saw the board with their great-great-uncle's name. They then came to the service, looked at the church briefly and afterwards came over to coffee at St Matthew's so that they could meet Heather and Paul Wagstaff, who had lived in Minnesota. After this Eileen took them off to look at all the interesting sites connected with the Pates family and the next day we all Dennis and Lori Galligan from Minnesota with Eileen Allen assembled for another tour of St Mary's to see the things they had missed on the Sunday. Thanks to e-mail this whole programme, and the excitement for them of discovering Eileen Allen, a third cousin, who knew so much about their family, was arranged within about 5 days! Christine Ormerod Hon. Secretary for the Friends of St Mary's, Cheltenham Parish Church ( www.stmaryscheltfriends.org.uk ) Congratulations Geoff and Elaine! A double dose of congratulations to Geoff North and Elaine Heasman —Mr and Mrs North as they are now— first on their recent wedding, and secondly on the extremely well-deserved citation they each received at the annual Arts Council Awards ceremony for their work in promoting interest in the Cheltenham Local History Society. They were nominated by the Committee on behalf of the Society and by Charlton Kings Local History Society, and we are all delighted at their success. (Photo by Pat Pearce.) Elaine and Geoff at the Everyman after receiving their citations on September 26th Message from Geoff and Elaine: We should like to thank those responsible for nominating us to receive Arts Council Local History Awards. It is an honour and a privilege to be recognised in this way and we were both thrilled to see so many members at the presentation to give us their support. This was much appreciated. 2008 has proved to be quite an eventful year for the two of us. After twenty years together we decided to get married in August this year and have been overwhelmed by the warm wishes, cards and emails received from members. Thank you everyone. 8 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS FEATURE ROEL PUPPETS I read with particular interest Amina Chatwin’s fascinating article ‘Growing up in Wellington Street’ in the Society’s latest journal (24:2008) because of its reference to Roel Puppets ‘a marionette theatre of considerable repute, for adults’ run by Amina’s neighbour Olive Blackham. I can thoroughly recommend Ian Denny’s website, referred to in the footnotes (http://www.iandenny.co.uk/page50.htm) for the history of Roel Puppets. These were started by Olive Blackham in 1932 when she bought the granary at Roel Farm near Guiting Power and set it up as a theatre and workshop. She continued the puppets until the 1960s. In the 1980s I was investigating the medieval settlement at Roel and Hawling with Chris Dyer (see TBGAS Vol. 109, 1991). At the time Roel Farm was undergoing very extensive rebuilding. Amid the rubbish put out for burning we noticed many Roel Puppet leaflets, one or two of which we rescued. One is a general leaflet describing the venture; the second a programme for a tour of the north east, which is unfortunately undated, but which shows how extensively the theatre travelled. The programme certainly confirms Amina’s description above. As a result of Amina’s article, it’s good that more people are now aware of this artistic venture based on an unlikely venue in the Cotswolds, but with a Cheltenham connection. David Aldred The text accompanying these pictures reads, in part, as follows : ‘The Roel puppets are the outcome of many years’ patient research into the nature and construction of the string puppet. The result is a puppet that moves gracefully and has a considerable range of gesture. When it is possible to select and control both the movements of the puppet and the form it shall take, then the puppet becomes a valuable medium for dramatic work. To use the puppet in this way is the aim of the Roel theatre, but the art of the puppet theatre is a composite art to which actors, sculptors, painters, poets and musicians all contribute, and it is doubtful whether its potentialities will be fully realised until a permanent puppet theatre can be established…’ ‘History It was in the summer of 1932 that a stage and workshop were fitted up in the old granary at Roel Farm on the Cotswolds… Here the figures are made and the plays tried out. This venture followed on several years of experimental work with a smaller theatre in Birmingham. From 1933 to 1939 the theatre was on tour for part of the year. Performances were given at the Unity Theatre and the New Players’ Theatre in London and at a number of theatres and colleges in the provinces. It was chosen by the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild to represent British puppetry at the 1937 Paris Exhibition. The war forced the theatre to close down and … it did not tour again until 1949, when it undertook a tour for the Arts Council of Great Britain in the south west of England. It is now hoped that the theatre will tour again for part of each year.’ 9 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS LOCAL NEWS with some very helpful advice concerning suitable Jenner Gardens planting, and some other suggestions to encourage and Considerable progress has been made since the last support wildlife in this small, town centre, open space. report. Repairs to the boundary walls and specialist Hopefully I will be able to report a date for the official work to level the gravestones were completed by early opening of Jenner Gardens in the next CLHS Newsletter, summer. Work on the hard landscaping has continued but in the meantime please visit the website: and at the present time a Dean stone plinth is being www.friends-of-jenner-gardens.org.uk for pictures and installed into which will be leaded the new railings. further progress reports. New paths are also being laid, with a natural stone path Mary Nelson leading from the Jenner Walk entrance to the planned Jenner statue. The rest of the paths will be surfaced with Friends of Pittville: application to Heritage a self-binding gravel. The hard landscaping work has Lottery Fund rather depleted the natural vegetation during the summer, but the wild flower seeds planted along a wide border The application for the Stage I grant from the HLF was near the Chapel produced a colourful display. submitted by hand at the end of September. The process will now take until the end of March before a decision is reached, but CBC is confident that the bid is of high quality and will succeed in the face of competition from the other regions. Many of the recommendations received by the Friends of Pittville in response to its newsletter and website were incorporated into the Bid. Ron Pattinson was able to obtain a copy of the documen- tation sent to HLF, and has indexed the main parts of the five separate documents submitted. It is easy to access through the links in the Friends archives at http:// www.friendsofpittville.org/archive.aspx#Stage1. There is also a copy of the master plan showing the Park area with Stonemasons lifting and re-laying gravestones the projects on it and the overall costing. The Conservation Management Plan (http://www.friendsofpittville.org/docs/cmpindex.pdf) is During September the Friends group have been deciding particularly recommended : besides describing the current and drafting the content of the five interpretation boards. state of Pittville Park, it also contains a comprehensive Two of these will be identical Welcome boards, one at historical record complied by Dr Steven Blake. each entrance. There will also be an Edward Jenner board with information about his life and work, and a Restoration board giving the history of the current restoration with mention of the earlier restoration of the OBITUARY graveyard in the 1980s by Cheltenham Civic Society. The final board will detail some of the interesting local Susanne Fletcher - died 23rd July 2008 history about St. George’s Place and St. George’s Square. Susanne played a leading role in the life of the Charlton Kings Local History Society, having been a The proofs for the interpretation boards are currently member of the initial committee elected at the inaugu- being checked and it is expected that the boards will be ral meeting on 21st February 1978. At first she acted as installed by next spring. The Friends have decided on Honorary Treasurer, but in 1982 she took on the post of Georgian style seats and one seat has been ordered. At Secretary, which she continued to do until 1997—a present funds are only available for one seat, but two truly remarkable effort. However, that was not the end further seats are required to complete the seating for the of Susanne’s work for the Society: in 1999 her book gardens. The Friends would like to find sponsors to pay Charlton Kings in Old Photographs was published. for the remaining two seats so if anyone knows any After Christopher retired he and Susanne did voluntary organisation, company or individual who might be inter- work together at the Holst Museum and the Painswick ested in sponsoring a seat, please let me or any member Rococo Garden. In recognition of her contribution of the Jenner Gardens group know. Further funding is to the cultural life of Cheltenham, Susanne was also required for the Jenner statue and it is hoped that awarded a citation by the Cheltenham Arts Council, an sponsorship may be found for this too. honour she richly deserved. Besides being a hard-working volunteer and committee At the end of September Cheltenham’s MP, Martin member Susanne was also a good friend to those of us Horwood, visited the gardens to see one of the local who served with her and such a modest, gentle person. projects being funded by the Big Lottery. Earlier in the She will be sorely missed. month a visit was also made by Rosie Woolley from the Jane Sale Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, who provided the Friends 10 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS FEATURE NEW PLAQUE COMMEMORATES FIRST SUCCESSFUL PARACHUTE DESCENT A green Civic Society plaque was unveiled on the bandstand in Montpellier Gardens on 3rd October 2008, celebrating the first ever successful parachute descent by an Englishman which took place above the Gardens exactly 170 years earlier. The plaque, co-sponsored by the British Parachute Association, was unveiled by Andy Scott (who comes from Cheltenham) and Paul Applegate, both from the Association. Civic Society Chairman John Henry, Stella Fisher from the Friends of Montpellier Bandstand and Gardens, Martin Horwood MP and the Mayor, Councillor Robin MacDonald also spoke at the ceremony, before a large and enthusiastic crowd. No event in fashionable locations was considered complete without a balloon ascent The plaque on Montpellier bandstand is in the early 19th century, and there was a great deal of rivalry among the greatest unveiled by Paul Applegate and Andy Scott from the British Parachute Association. aeronauts of the day, many of whom visited Cheltenham. In September 1838 John (Photo by Stephen Clarke) Hampton, always a showman, announced dramatically that he intended making a daring parachute descent from his Albion balloon in Montpellier Gardens. The previ- ous attempt, a year earlier, had resulted in the tragic death of the parachutist Robert Cocking, an amateur scientist, and many were of the view that such stunts merely pandered to morbid public curiosity. That was Hampton’s ploy to draw the crowds. For two days before his planned descent John Hampton exhibited his ‘improved safety parachute’ in Montpellier Spa Pump Room (now Lloyds Bank Rotunda). The parachute was umbrella-shaped, 15 feet in diameter, made of canvas, whalebone and bamboo, and weighed about 200 lb. Cheltenham magistrates only allowed Hampton access to the town’s gas supply if he tethered the balloon. However, on reaching 300 feet, Hampton severed the restraining ropes and at between 6-9,000 feet he cut loose his parachute, which was suspended below the balloon. Spectators watched in horror as the gas-filled balloon exploded, but Hampton survived and landed safely at Badgeworth just over 12 minutes 40 seconds later. John Hampton went on to make six further parachute descents, and had completed a total of over 100 balloon flights by the time he retired in 1852. Sue Rowbotham A spectacular display by members of the Silver Stars parachute team from the Royal Logistics Corps based at South Cerney launched the plaque-unveiling ceremony. (Photo by Stephen Clarke) A wood engraving of John Hampton’s parachute, published in the Cheltenham Looker-on, 29th September 1838. This image appears on the commemorative plaque (Cheltenham Reference Library). NEW PUBLICATION John Middleton, Victorian Provincial Architect - The Biography by Brian Torode. Middleton was the architect of many of Cheltenham's churches, Delancey Hospital, parts of the Ladies’ College, Cheltenham College Junior School and numerous church restora- tions both in the town and further afield in the county. The book includes a chapter on his own home, ‘Westholme’ (now demolished) and several important domestic buildings in the neighbourhood of Cheltenham. There is also a chapter on Clearwell Village - a Middleton Village - and coverage of his work in the north east of England, Darlington, Durham and Wales. This is not an architectural treatise, but very much a personal and John Middleton’s house, ‘Westholme’ family biography, printed on eco-friendly paper with many b/w illustrations. Price £14.50 including 50p donation to CLHS. ( P/p £1, Cheltenham delivery free.) Available from the author, Brian Torode, 23, Arden Road, GL53 0HG or from the sales table at CLHS meetings. 11 November 2008 Cheltenham LHS CAN YOU HELP? FEEDBACK… Requests for volunteers to help with History Day at St Luke's Hall on October 9th was Cheltenham floods research made memorable for Joyce Cummings and Vic Hannah Millman, a 3rd year geography student Cole when an American biographer came along to at the University of Gloucestershire, writes: thank them personally for the help they had given I am currently doing my undergraduate disserta- him in his research into the life of Frederick D. tion on flood risk perception and the management Henwood, a Cheltenham-born artist, who is held of different types of flooding in Cheltenham in in great esteem in America. The work included light of the 2007 floods. This involves carrying finding out that Cheltenham Museum holds just out a short face-to-face interview with a sample one picture of Henwood’s, entitled "Little Clois- of residents who were flooded during the June/ ters" and arranging for the biographer to view it. July 2007 floods. If you were flooded and would Once again, Joyce says, it proved to be a case of be willing to participate, please contact me either a man returning to spend his twilight years in by phone on 07900616809, or email me on the town he had left in his youth. email@example.com. Confidentiality of all responses is assured under the University’s Research Ethics requirements. Articles for the 2009 Journal Are you carrying out original research on a topic relating to the history of Cheltenham? Are you considering writing an article about your work for the next edition of the Society Journal, due to be published early in 2009? If so please contact Sally Self, Journal Editor, as soon as possible to discuss The Flood Archive your ideas, and to request a copy of the style sheet, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum is organis- which outlines the preferred format. Please note that ing an exhibition in May 2009 of the Flood the closing date for submissions is 31 Dec 2008. Archive, a record of the floods in Cheltenham in summer 2007. The artist Fiona Meadley, who I am also looking for ‘snippets’ to use as fillers for the started the archive, defines it as a folk record Journal, so if you have come across a short item that that also reflects today’s communication technol- has amused, intrigued or surprised you, or an unusual ogy. It currently contains over fifty video shorts, illustration, please let me know. many posted on You Tube at the time, besides still images, mobile phone footage and home Sally Self 01242 243714 videos taken by affected residents, schoolchil- email firstname.lastname@example.org dren, and office workers wading home in the flood waters . Fiona is interested in collecting more images for the archive, as well as in interviewing residents NEXT ISSUE about their experience of living without tap water in the weeks after the flood. She is collaborating Please forward items for inclusion in the with Professor Lindsey McEwen of the Depart- MARCH 2009 Newsletter by ment of Natural and Social Sciences at the University of Gloucestershire, who researches TUESDAY 17TH FEBRUARY 2009 local flood histories and community resilience. Any member of the Society who has material to to the Editor: Kath Boothman contribute, or is willing to be interviewed, is 35 The Park asked to contact her on: Fiona@patiopeople.com, Cheltenham or 01453 828268. GL50 2SD Researcher wishes to trace Mary Hoad, who is Tel: 01242 230125 said to have married James Field Stanfield on E-mail: email@example.com October 18th 1785 in Cheltenham. Does anyone have any knowledge of the Hoad family? If you can help with this enquiry please contact Joyce Cummings on 01242 527299 or e-mail: The Committee is happy to consider requests to place joyce.cummings@ tesco.net advertisements in the Newsletter and/or include flyers for circulation to members. 12
"Newsletter Nov 2008 - draft"