Newsletter December 2017

holly    CHRISTMAS NEWSLETTER10th December 2017

Forthcoming K&DLHG event.

On Friday December 15th our Christmas talk is by Dr Richard Churchley entitled: “ Folklore and Folksong of Warwickshire and Worcestershire”. Richard is an accomplished musician as well as an experienced local historian, with an interest in vernacular buildings, family history, and the working man’s and woman’s experiences in the West Midlands. I hope to see you all at 7.30 at the Village Hall to enjoy Richards presentation followed by mince pies (provided by the committee) and mulled wine (prepared by Ilona) and/or soft drinks.

Richard Churchley

. Dr Richard Churchley at an Open University History Society “talk” at Redditch

Report: the 17th November evening talk on “A Year in the Life of Avon Dassett 1914-15” by Sarah Richardson

In this fascinating talk Sarah Richardson gave local colour to the international events at the outbreak of World War in 1914, concentrating on the impact on village life and families. It was based on research carried out by the Avon Dassett Local History Group to mark the centenary of the outbreak, chronicling the day-by-day occurrences in and around this small community. Surprisingly there were only three war fatalities from the village, although the first village death was Lieutenant Holbeach, of Farnborough Hall, at the 1st Battle of Ypres in November 1914. Many local able-bodied men were in agriculture, a reserved occupation. We heard from Private Tap’s diary entries describing the Christmas truce, during which he exchanged cap badges, buttons and cigars with Germans from the opposing trenches.

Chronical Avon Dassett

A wider history of Avon Dassett

produced by the ADLHG

The strong class divisions at the time were exposed in some strange decisions, like the token reduction of hunting from 5 days a week to 4, but a complete ban on football! Using newspaper articles, diaries, adverts, and official documents Sarah showed how many aspects of village life remained the same – pigs loose on the road, a fire at the canal wharf, sewage found in a well, theft of wood, no rear light on a vehicle, and a telephone betting scam, being some examples, At the same time there were moves to support the war effort through appeals for horses, woollen pants, etc, and a rise in agricultural wages. There were classes in woodwork and veterinary practice at Warmington. The local militia initially were armed with pitchforks. All this in the context of poverty and squalor for some village families, a situation unchanged by the fact of war.

During the project in 2014-15 the group produced a weekly blog, and a regular printed newsletter of the daily events of 100 years earlier, all made financially possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This material is now archived at the WCRO, but it was a disappointment to some of our members that it is no longer available online.

Gill Ashley-Smith gave our thanks, with admiration for the detailed work put in by the Avon Dassett group and emphasising the value of such local research, and how other groups could learn from the Avon Dassett experience.

Other Local History Society events.

Many local groups are having their Christmas celebrations this month but Banbury Historical Society is hosting a talk on Wychford Forest and Cornbury by Dr Simon Townley on Thursday 14th December, at the Museum. The Museum itself is running The Ironstone Art Prize, open to artists living within 20 miles of Banbury. Entries can be in any media but must be submitted on the 24th January 2018. For details go to the Museum’s website:

Committee Matters. Monday 6th November notes.

Finances: outgoings have exceeded income, but this is mainly because several expensive pieces of necessary equipment (up-to-date projector, and PA system) have been purchased. Membership numbers are up and there has been a healthy number of visitors.

The committee confirmed that the membership year will continue to start in January, and the AGM will remain in March. The 2018-19 programme card will be available to members at the January meeting. The list of committee members traditionally occupying the back of the card will be reduced to the Chairman and Secretary as at 2017-18 with their contact details.

The discussion about our archives identified some areas where members could assist in making the wealth of information in Peter and Gill Ashley-Smith’s archive more accessible, principally through cataloguing the contents of the files. The WRO’s format for would be adopted so that the records would be compatible with their standards. Gill has kindly made some of Peter’s digital records available to David Beaumont and to your chairman. Our President Bob Bearman has assisted in identifying which of Peter’s archives should be lodged with the WRO. Your chairman is the Group’s representative on the Village Hall Committee, and, at that committee’s November meeting, endorsed the VHC desire to extend the Village Hall, to include an element which could house our archives.

The next KDLHG Committee Meeting is on the 12th February 2018 .

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