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Newsletter Nov 2008 - draft


									Newsletter No. 62                           Affiliated to Cheltenham Arts Council                              November 2008
                                                Registered Charity No. 1056046

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 (
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

November 2008                                                                                                     Cheltenham LHS

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

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

November 2008                                                                                             Cheltenham LHS

                                        FOR YOUR DIARY

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
Leckhampton Local History Society                                All meetings are at 7.30 pm. Cheltenham meetings are at                                                  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 
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-
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-        
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

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.

November 2008                                                                                                      Cheltenham LHS
                                    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’.

November 2008                                                                                                            Cheltenham LHS


                                       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

 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.

November 2008                                                                                                 Cheltenham LHS

SOCIETY NEWS                                                      John Elliott            History of cinema; cinemas in
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

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
(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.

November 2008                                                                                                             Cheltenham LHS


                                          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 ( )

                           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.

November 2008                                                                                                    Cheltenham LHS


                                                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 ( 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
                                                             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.’

November 2008                                                                                                  Cheltenham LHS

                                                                   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      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://
                                                          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
                                                                   ( 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

November 2008                                                                                                        Cheltenham LHS

                               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).

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.

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. 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
   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:,                                 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:
   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@                                  advertisements in the Newsletter and/or include flyers
                                                                          for circulation to members.


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