Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - December 2010

Tuesday 21st December 2010 - Solstice Greetings

Thank goodness the days are going to get longer from today. I empathise deeply with our ancestors who saw the winter solstice as cause for celebration and merryment. I do not share what appear to be the feelings of the majority nowadays who go potty at Christmas, spending money as if its the last chance they will get. So, as usual I am not looking forward to Christmas. It upsets all my cherished routines. People go mad shopping, and life gets more difficult for folks like me who just like a quiet life. I am castigated by my children because I haven't decorated. But at least my dislike has spawned some children of the opposite persuasion, who embrace the whole thing with enthusiasm and can hardly wait to get organising as soon as September arrives. I am spared the ancient family ritual of Christmas pudding making around Armistice day and Christmas cake making the last week in November, which my mother followed religiously throughout her adult life, because my children have taken over! How lucky is that?

I rarely celebrate new year either, to me it only means another bank holiday disrupting the entire weekly routine. However, after a year of too much falling, I think I will actually be glad to see the back of 2010, except for the positive bits of course. This year after at least 20 years of avoiding cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits and marmite because they gave me migraines I have tried all of them with no ill effects. I can now drink coffee too! This I've avoided for about 10 years for reasons I won't go into here, despite it being my most favourite flavour, but now I find I can drink it no problem. So roll on 2011, at least Christmas will be over then.

Comment: R wants you to know that you are far from alone in thinking as you do, so do not despair, she says she is going to hide in a hole until itís all over. JR

Friday 10th December 2010 - War Dead

Lately I have been involved in research into Chitterne's World War 1 dead. A villager thought it would be good to know more about what happened to the lost men in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict in 2014. Seven men from Chitterne died in the war. They are commemorated by a specially commissioned window in the church, which was donated by the Hayward family I believe, relatives of Richard Hayward who once lived in Chitterne House.

Underneath the window is a brass plaque listing the seven men in chronological date order of the day they died.

GD has discovered that: "2nd Lieutenant John Buckeridge Wallis, 4th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, lost his life aged 26 when he drowned in the Irish Sea on 10th October 1918. He was aboard RMS Leinster, sailing between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead when the ship was struck by two torpedoes fired by a German submarine. Over five hundred passengers were drowned, and the majority were military personnel. Together with 143 other soldiers he is buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, near Dublin." A sad but straightforward story.

Harold Robinson's (no relation) demise is proving more difficult to unravel. First problem: he enlisted in Manchester in the 20th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, which was one of the five public school battalions, the original of which was set up as one of the Pals battalions. (To start with they recruited exclusively ex public schoolboys who chose to serve as private soldiers rather than as officers). Why Manchester, when Harold was thought to be the son of a Wiltshire farmer?

By a stroke of luck Harold's great niece CF emailed me some years ago so I was able to contact her. CF says that Harold's father, William Robinson, bought Clump Farm for Harold to come back to after the war. William Robinson is listed in Kelly's Directory of 1911-1913 as the owner of Clump Farm, but the family do not appear in the 1911 census for Chitterne. At that time the Bazell family were still living at the farm. We can only surmise that the Robinson family hailed from the Manchester area, or that Harold attended public school there. CF is quizzing her aunt over the coming holiday, so we may find out more soon.

Secondly: Apparently Harold was shot in the arm in France about the 20th or 21st July 1916, shipped back to a military hospital in Kent, England where he died on 3rd August of lockjaw. He appears in the Chitterne Burial Register on 5th August 1916, and is buried in the graveyard here at Chitterne St Mary. In fact a rather imposing marble effect obelisk in his memory stands outside the door to the Chancel.

However, he is also named on the Thiepval Memorial in France, which commemorates the war dead with no known grave! This is a conundrum that is yet to be unravelled.

Follow-up email from CF on 30 Dec: "I have been to my Aunties' today and can confirm that the Harold Robinson on this website is my Harold Robinson, as I have the original of the picture of Harold here. None of the family were born in Chitterne but Harold did return to Clump Farm for a short while as the lock jaw did not set in immediately. So the mystery is solved!"

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