War Memorial

Simpson war memorial

The Monday Photo

This is Simpson’s war memorial. It’s made of Cornish granite and the poppies on the obelisk, which I don’t think have been there very long, are all crocheted.

Tens of thousands of war memorials inscribed with the names of the dead were raised after the first World War. The dead were not repatriated and the memorial was often the only place in their village or town their name was carved; at least it was somewhere to grieve.

The memorial committee had been formed in May 1922, and by that October £92 2s had been raised, the equivalent of just over £5,000. They had just another £5 to go.

The London firm of George Maile and Son were commissioned to create the memorial. They also made the war memorial at Woughton on the Green, the next village along on the Newport Road.

The memorial was unveiled and dedicated on 4th February 1923. There are eleven names carved into it from World War One, and six more names were added after World War 2.

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One of Many

Maurice Newman WW1 memorial plaque  Granborough

Arthur Maurice Tweed Newman was killed in action in the second year of the First World War. He was just 18. This is his memorial plaque, in St. John the Baptist Church, Granborough.

Called Maurice Newman on the plaque, (his father was also named Arthur) at 18 he couldn’t have been in action for very long before he fell.

Maurice’s mother had passed away in 1907, and his father the Revd. A. E. T. Newman was described as being “dismayed” at their deaths. I’m not surprised. It must have been even more distressing to the Revd. Newman when his son Charles became old enough to fight in 1916, though in the end Charles survived the war and would live until 1985.

Maurice had six siblings, all but one younger than him. At his death, Charlotte would have been 20, Charles 17, Alice 14, Hugh 12, John 10, and Maurice’s half brother (His father had remarried in 1908) just 6. How do you explain to children that their big brother is never coming home?

In 1918, another child was born to the Revd. Newman and his second wife Florence. They called him Arthur Maurice Newman.

The plaque has three of the seven stanzas from the 1914 poem For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon. Most of us know the fourth Stanza of the poem, which is also the last one on the plaque:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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A General in Peacetime

Bletchley war memorialThe Bletchley war memorial (not to be confused with the Old Bletchley war memorial) is on what’s now The Queensway, Bletchley, in front of the Knowles School.

By Guest writer John Taylor.

This is part two of three. I posted part one three weeks ago; A Naval Man in Buckinghamshire, and Part two, A Retired General in World War 2 just last week.

It was June 1946; World War 2 had ended just ten months earlier. Lieutenant General Harold Blount of the Royal Marines had fought in WW1 with honours and retired aged 57, a few months before WW2 broke out.

Blount used his military experience and commanded A Company of Bletchley’s Home Guard throughout the war, but now there was peace.

Continue reading "A General in Peacetime" »

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Tall Tales at Stowe

R. Bradbury 090169

The Monday Photo

In 1957 this monument at Stowe received a lightning strike. It hit the statue of Lord Cobham that had stood on the top for over two hundred years.

There was nothing left of the statue but one wrist and a weathered piece of the head, and whatever was left of the feet. Three of the four lions near the base were also destroyed.

These two fragments, together with computer enhanced photos, were used to recreate the original statue.

In 2002 the new statue of Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham was craned into place. Like the original, at ten feet nine inches it is about twice life size and Lord Cobham is portrayed in Roman armour.

With the new statue on top of the column, a lightning conductor was installed, just in case the monument gets hit again. It’s 115 feet tall with the statue and near the top of the highest hill in the locality, so this is a wise precaution.

Sometimes the monument is said to be 104 feet tall, but this doesn’t include the statue; so both figures are correct.

The column is hollow with a spiral staircase to a roofed platform just under the statue; a belvedere, where visitors can admire the view. As usual with high viewpoints, you “can see five counties from here” on a fine day.

If the column doesn’t look quite vertical in the photo, that’s because it isn’t. It’s still stable, especially as the four buttresses were added in 1792.

The statue is in the grounds of Stowe House (National Trust) which you can reach via Stowe Avenue, but with my local knowledge I parked elsewhere and followed a public footpath into the grounds.

The monument was designed for the most part by Capability Brown, who also got married in Stowe’s church.

This photo was taken in 2009.

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History Free

Lord Cobham's monument at StoweThe 115 foot tall Lord Cobham's monument at Stowe, Buckinghamshire was completed by 1749.

Coming up in the North Bucks Wanderer’s area in mid September are a long list of open days, and they are all listed on the Milton Keynes Heritage website. Not all these events are in Milton Keynes; they are also as far apart as Cosgrove, Olney, Stowe, and Winslow, amongst others.

As I grew up in Winslow, I’m interested in the events in the town. On Saturday the 14th of September are four events to see and do.

Open from 2 ‘till 5pm is 28 High Street, the Winslow Rural District Council offices when I was a boy. It now belongs to Winslow Town Council; it’s a Victorian building, I think.

The interior of Keach's Meeting House  WinslowThe interior of Keach's Meeting House.

Keach’s Meeting House is also open from 2pm to 5pm. It was built as a Nonconformist Baptist’s chapel in 1695. It’s tiny. The entrance is in Bell Walk, next to Limes Court.

Also open from 2 to 5 is the Brownie and Guide Hall. It’s in Church Street. Built in 1865 as the National School for Girls, it was bought by the Winslow Girl Guides in 1958. I was a baby when we moved to Church Street a year later, and you can read all about what I used to get up to as a small boy here. (But not until tomorrow morning, when that post is published here on this blog)

The solid garden gate to one side of the entrance used to lead into the vicarage garden, and I used to play with the vicar’s son in there, when I was a bit older.

See my next post (coming up tomorrow) on what I was like as a small boy in church Street.

Japanese visitors at Keach's Meeting House  WinslowI took this family from the Fukishima region of Japan and a local Japanese nun on a history trail around Winslow. This was in 2013, at Keach's Meeting House.

At 5pm there’s a History Walk, which lasts about an hour. Starting in the ancient centre of the town, you’ll never be further than 100 yards from the Market Square on the walk. It starts from outside Keach’s Meeting House. The History Walk is also on Thursday 19th.

There’s no need to book for any of these Winslow events, but some of the other heritage events require booking; check on the website.

The Bourbon Tower  at StoweThe Bourbon Tower at Stowe, Buckinghamshire. It was built in 1741 as a Keeper's Lodge.

It’s a busy day on the 14th. Also open (for example) from 10am to 4pm is All Saints Church, Bow Brickhill. They say that the tower stairs are very steep and narrow, but the views are outstanding.

On Friday 20th, the Cowper and Newton Museum in Olney are having an open day, while at Stowe on Sunday 22nd, they are doing free taster tours of the house, and free entry to the grounds.

In and around Aylesbury are more events:

You can visit RAF Halton’s Officer’s Mess.
There’s a Drawn to the Chilterns art exhibition in Wendover.
The 13th Century St Mary’s Church in Pitstone  has an Open Day.
A Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel will be open, at Waddesdon Hill.
There’s a round dozen events in Aylesbury, including Open Days at the ancient King's Head pub, a Quaker meeting house, and the huge council tower block in the centre of town that some call Pooley's Folly. I've got a lovely photo of that building somewhere, but I couldn't find it for you.

There’s lot’s to see and do, and you can find out more on the main Heritage Open Days website.


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Fletcher Was Here

Norman Stanley Fletcher

Near the entrance to the new theatre in Aylesbury is a statue of Ronnie Barker, as he looked when he played the prisoner Fletcher in the TV series Porridge, between 1974 and 1977. He considered Norman Stanley Fletcher to be his finest creation.

Born in Bedford in 1929, Ronald William George Barker was living in Oxford in 1948 and working in a bank there. He took a trip to Aylesbury to see a play at the Market Theatre, where the Manchester Repertory Company were Performing.

The Market Theatre was off the Market Square, and behind The Green Man pub. It's gone now.

Back home, he wrote to the company asking for a job and enclosing a photograph, but didn’t receive a reply. He wrote to them again asking for the photo back, and they offered him an audition. At the audition, he was hired on the spot.

His first role was in J.M. Barrie’s comedy play Quality Street. That was in November 1948; he was nineteen.

Ronnie Barker statue  Aylesbury

Once Ronnie Barker had performed in two more comedy plays he realised that he wanted to become a comic actor. In 1956 he made his first radio appearance in the sit com The Floggits. Later he played Able Seaman Fatso Johnson, in the excellent long running comedy series The Navy Lark.

This radio programme ran from 1959 to 1976, and he played a total of 40 different characters.

Many people don’t realise that he played another role in Porridge, too; that of the judge who sentences the “habitual criminal” Norman Stanley Fletcher to five years in the opening credits. Ronnie Barker played a huge variety of radio, TV, and film roles over the years; he was a man of great talent. He passed away aged 76, in October 2005.

If you want to hear how good he was in his younger days, The Navy Lark is often broadcast on Radio 4 Extra. See if you can spot which characters he plays; it’s not as easy as you might think.

Eye to eye with Ronnie Barker

I’ve written about some of the other statues in Aylesbury; there's lots of them:

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Aylesbury. David Bowie played in the Borough Assembly Hall, which is what the Market Theatre later became. Standing Square in Aylesbury. A Market Square hero. A Bird From Aylesbury. John Hampden gets the bird.

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