Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - March 2011

Monday 28th March 2011 - Old Photographs 2

Amongst the collection of photographs I mentioned below was one of the eldest girls at Chitterne School in 1911. Since I have recently been adding details from the 1911 census to my database of Chitterne folk I was able to list most of the girls who should have appeared on the photo, but unfortunately I am not able to put names to the faces. Still, having the names and the photograph is something, and maybe in the future some of you will recognise a face and gradually all the names and faces will be matched.

I can name one face however, the name of the teacher in the centre of this photo is pretty definite. She is Miss Florence Shayler, a very popular 30 year-old schoolmistress from Reading in Berkshire. In the 1911 census she boarded with Sidney and Alice Polden at Flora Villa, now known as Gate House. I don't know when she came to teach in Chitterne, perhaps after headmaster William Brown's death in 1906, but she was certainly still here in 1920 according to Kelly's Directory of that year.

The girls' names and ages in 1911 are as follows, in alphabetical order: Alice Ashley 13; Beatrice Blake 12; Edith Burton 9; Rose Chase 12; Ida Collins 8; Kathleen Cruse 7; Alice Grant 9; Alice Winifred Grant 7; Elvera Mabbitt 10; Florence Mundy 13; Gertrude Nokes 12; Dorothy Nokes 10; Olive Phelps 9; Ida Polden 11; Annie Poolman 12; Winnie Sainsbury 7; Doreen Saunders 8; Kate Sheppard 13; May Sheppard 10; Elsie Smith 13.

Further investigation has revealed that Miss Shayler was replaced by Miss Mary Muriel Watson sometime between 1920 and 1925. Miss Watson moved into what is now 1 Abdon close, a newly built council house, with her companion Miss Maud Agnes New, and later into 8 Abdon Close when that was finished.

Tuesday 15th March 2011 - Old Photographs

The last blog was quite prophetic. I hadn't realised a whole fortnight had marched past quite so quickly. The better weather of the last few days has been very welcome. I was beginning to think winter would never end. There was movement at the King's Head today too so that's good news. Things are looking up.

What about the history front? Well, it's always good when someone loans an old photograph collection for copying, provided D is available to supervise the scanning and saving. Yes, I must admit I can't yet do it myself, though all the equipment is connected to his computer so that's my excuse. Rarely are the old photographs anotated, but this latest album is an exception. The photographer is a person after my own heart, or should I say 'was', as sadly AD is no longer with us; she had anotated each picture not only with the year, but with the names of the people photographed and the place it was taken. The album was started in 1924 and filled by 1930. So the photos are mostly small, sepia toned snapshots, but nevertheless there are some real gems documenting life in Chitterne between the two world wars.

This 1928 photo, on the left, for instance, with AD standing in front of the Gate House gates, shows the statue that once occupied the small niche above the gates. I was beginning to think that the stories I'd heard about this statue and its demise at the hands of small boys were mythical, because I'd never seen a photo of it in place, but here it is. Several old Chitternites have assured me that it was great fun when they were boys to take pot shots at the statue with stones. But who put the statue there, and when? Because in the photograph on the right, dating from about 1912, the niche is empty.

Tuesday 1st March 2011 - Marching Forward

Well, March is here and things are starting to happen. I've just heard that the pub has been sold and is due to open early next month as a free house. Hooray!

The church is being tarted up, to pinch SG's phrase, ready for its 150th anniversary next year. An archivist at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has confirmed that the tiles in the church chancel are Minton tiles (see above), so they will be given the tarting treatment. Lately, two flags were removed from over the altar, all the red carpet was removed and replaced by new pale gold carpet except for the aisle, which remains bare flagstones, and the whole building has been spring-cleaned. My photo was taken before the spring-clean.

The altar itself was laid bare during the carpet-laying, a rare occurrence, but what a beautiful item it is. It looks to be made of pieces of solid oak, dowelled* together, and is inscribed inside with the letters WKS, the date 1862, and "dd" between the two. Folks looking on thought what a shame it was to cover it up. Note the more ornate Minton tiles surrounding the raised altar step.

Last weekend the Cut began to fill at low points in the village. This morning it was deeper and flowing where constricted by long grass. Two ducks were spotted.

Yes, to number two daughter's comment question below. I've got my second kneeler pattern, canvas and wool, but being me I have to customise the design and I'm still in negotiations with AM about how best to achieve my desired result.

Comment: * Those aren't dowelled joints on the altar, they are mortice and tenon pegged joints, much fancier. DR

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