Missing Parish Magazines found

parish magazine

We are fortunate to have been donated a batch of Titchmarsh parish magazines, and are delighted to find that six of these are new to us.

The following magazines have been added to our archive and are available to view on the history pages of Titchmarsh Village website www.titchmarsh.info/index.php?cat=136

August 1863
February 1864
July 1864
June 1866
January 1869
February 1869

WW1 Centenary – Lights Out in Titchmarsh

Titchmarsh History Association is delighted to support The Parochial Church Council in their ‘Lights Out’ vigil around the War Memorial in Titchmarsh, between 10pm and 11pm on Monday 4th August 2014.
Villagers are encouraged to attend and asked to bring a candle for a shared moment of reflection to mark the 100th anniversary of the date Great Britain entered the First World War.
We have provided detailed information about each of the 24 Titchmarsh men who fell during World War One. These tributes will be used as part of this special commemoration when we pay our respects to all who sacrificed their lives during this conflict.

Titchmarsh Village Reunion

reunion picture 3Over fifty people attended the reunion in the church on the 19th June. Those still living in the village were joined by others who have since left, a few having travelled long distances to be there. Over tea and cakes they reminisced about old friends and times past, one or two friends meeting up again for the first time in over fifty years. Old photographs were pored over and soon the stories started to flow. The members of the History Association would have liked to have recorded all the recollections and anecdotes, but such was the buzz of conversation that that was impossible. Some though were recorded and have added to our knowledge of an important period in the village’s history.
If friendship and good humour are in any way accurate measures of such things, then it was a very successful event. Living history indeed.

June 2014 update

In the last edition of the TT we mentioned the Heritage Trail. We have now completed a trail that takes in twelve buildings in the village which will help the visitor to get to know something of our history. We will be giving it a run-through with members of the Oundle History Group on 9th June. If you are interested in following the trail yourself at some time, then please contact us.
So much of our work over the last year has involved talking to older villagers in order to record their memories. Such has been the interest in the books that came out of these interviews – especially from people who once lived here but have since moved away – that we are organising a reunion of old villagers. Besides providing everyone with an opportunity to talk about the old days over a cup of tea and cake, our hope is that the get-together will rekindle even more reminiscences and help us to fill the gaps in our knowledge. We have booked the church for 2pm. on Thursday 19th June and will soon be sending out personal invitations.
Our next presentation is entitled ‘Times they were a’changing: Titchmarsh between the wars,’ and will take place at 7.30pm. on 8th July in The Clubroom. Using old photographs and unpublished memoirs as well as material from Titchmarsh Voices and House Histories, we will be looking at the major changes that occurred in village life over the period. One of the people featured, even though she entered the story late on in the period, is someone who was to have an important influence on the school and its pupils. This was Miss Skinner, headteacher and doyen of local folk dancing. Leslie Ray has been looking into the work of Miss Skinner and will be talking – and singing – about her during the evening.
Sheila Holland alerted us to the loss of Miss Skinner’s memorial in the churchyard. It was a wooden cross which had broken and had lost its epitaph. John Gaskin has kindly made a new cross, and a plaque has been ordered so that we can once again ensure that Miss Skinner’s final resting place is not forgotten.
Finally, we are busily gathering together all the available information on those villagers who lost their lives in World War 1 for an exhibition to mark the village’s commemoration in November.

Titchmarsh History Association

The 30th November marks the end of the financial support that we have received from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money has been used mainly to buy materials, equipment, to put on presentations, and to pay for professional help in our productions. It has been a busy year during which we have been able to:
• carry out further research into the history of the village, collating it into an accessible archive. The work has included individual projects such as Mike Greasley’s investigations into the Lilford dynasty and Fraser Mitchell’s detailed analysis of records – including those from various censuses – to find out more about a diverse range of topics from witchcraft in the seventeenth century to the lives of those commemorated on the war memorial in the last century. This latter theme was also pursued by Leslie Ray who has been looking into the story of his great-uncle’s experiences in the First World War. He has also been researching the legend of the Lovell bride and, from this, written a ballad which some of you will have heard at our ‘Ten Things about Titchmarsh’ presentation;
• one hundred years worth of parish magazines (1861 – 1961) have been digitalised and are now available to be seen on the village website www.titchmarsh.info. Summaries of the baptisms, marriages and deaths recorded in the magazines has assisted with the numerous family history enquiries, both from within the village and further afield.
• produce material for the two presentations we ran earlier in the year;
• work with children at the school on aspects of village history;
• produce the DVD of the village in Jubilee year. For this we have to thank Bert Ash who did most of the filming and Geoff Love who has arranged for it to be professionally processed;
• transcribe old super 8 film onto a digital format. Our thanks to Mark Harris for doing this;
• compile a ‘history trail’ leaflet. Shirley Curtis been leading on this. The leaflet will complement the information on the display board being produced by the Jubilee committee;
• thanks to Albin Wallace, who set up a blog for the history project to record and maintain a record of our progress (http://titchmarshvillage.wordpress.com)
• and finally, publish two books, ‘Titchmarsh House Histories’ which provides a fascinating oversight of the village in 2012; and ‘Titchmarsh Voices’ recalling life as it was in the village in the middle of the last century.
Recently, we have been pleased to have Janet Putley join us. Janet has been instrumental in the past in collecting material about the village and her knowledge is going to be very useful in further developing the archive.
We will be bringing all this together at an exhibition to be held in the church from 2pm to 6pm on Saturday 30th November. There will be an opportunity to hear Leslie’s ballad, watch the DVD, and purchase the books. House Histories is priced at £10, Titchmarsh Voices £6 and the DVD at £5 (or all three for £20). There will be light refreshments available. The Parochial Church Council has kindly agreed to let us keep the exhibition up until 7th December.
Even though the funding has ended, we will still carry on with the work and are already planning our programme for next year. If you have any ideas on areas for research or would like to join us in this exciting work, please contact any of the people mentioned above.

Thomas Emberton

In the presentation on ‘ten things about the village’ we talked about Thomas Emberton, the headmaster who, in 1891, was jailed for an assault on his wife.  Sue Andrews – whose mother Sheila Holland still lives in the village –  has subsequently given us a fascinating selection of photographs, including one of Mr Emberton together with his wife and a group of pupils.  She has also unearthed a photograph of Beatrice Pridmore nee Dudley, the maid whose daily schedule we examined.  The photos are shown below.

The Lovell Bride of Titchmarsh Castle

Thomas Haynes Bayly’s song/poem The Mistletoe Bough, penned in the 1830s, purports to tell the story of a tragedy that took place at a Christmas wedding. During a post-wedding game of hide and seek the bride, who hid in a trunk in a forgotten attic, found herself locked in, was never discovered, died and was only found, eventually, many years later as a wedding dress-clad skeleton.

The story has caught popular imagination for many years – so much so that it was apparently sung in every house at Christmas in the mid-nineteenth century. This despite it being such a horror story! Several great country houses, some now gone, laid claim to be the location, some of them reckoning that they still possessed the actual trunk!

[“Jonathan Briggs’ mistletoe diary”: http://mistletoematters.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/urban-mythletoe-the-story-of-the-mistletoe-bride/]

Titchmarsh castle is one of the locations associated with the story, mainly because during the 14th century it was the home of the Lovell family, who are often claimed to be the protagonists of the events.

In her book “Titchmarsh Past and Present” – now available online! – Helen Belgion refers to a poem by George Harrison – no, not the Beatle – an artist from Kettering, contained in his book “Poems and Sketches” published in 1928:

Old records speak of one who came

To Titchmarsh manor for his bride

And for a festive Christmas game

She in an old oak chest doth hide

The rusty hinges hold her fast

And no-one hears her plaintive cries

Until the fleeting hours have passed

And she a bride unsuccoured dies.

So it was Harrison who associated the story with Titchmarsh castle at the start of the 20th century, but it is also associated with Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire, Marwell Hall, Hampshire, Bramshill House, also in Hampshire, Tiverton Castle in Devon, and Exton Hall, Rutland … and the list goes on…

There are numerous versions of the story of the Christmas Bride, many claiming it to be a true event that happened in a real place, and that real place could have been Titchmarsh. It’s a fascinating research project to find out where the story actually came from, or if indeed it is an urban myth, or a rural myth in this case.

For my part, I’ve written a folk song about the story, which one day might even end up being attributed to that famous writer of folk songs, anon. I’m off to the Edinburgh Free Fringe Festival this weekend, where I will be performing it as guest of my friends Bil & Cyn [http://www.visitscotland.com/info/events/edinburgh-festival-fringe-2013-bizarre-guitar-and-terse-verse-p773821]. I’ll be associating it with Titchmarsh, to give more weight to Harrison’s assertion. Below are the lyrics; I hope you like it.

The Lovell Bride of Titchmarsh Castle

Johnny it’s dark, why don’t you come and find me?

I’m so aching for you, I can barely breathe.

The party was wild, food abounding wine it did pour;

Lovell’s beautiful bride had the guests in awe.

Her father so proud, her husband ecstatically poised

to get her alone, far from all the noise.

Dinner over, she said “Let’s all play hide and go seek –

Johnny find me”, away she did sneak

to a dusty old trunk, in the castle turret so high.

She lifted the lid and then slipped inside.

Johnny it’s dark, why don’t you come and find me?

I’m so aching for you, I can barely breathe.

They sought her low, they sought her high, to and fro,

They went everywhere they could think to go.

As the hours ticked by, they searched so far and so wide,

But not a sign of Lovell’s lovely bride.

They looked all night and then all through the next day;

The desperate man cried “she’s been stole away”.

She lay there unheard in a room where nobody passed.

In that tomb sealed fast she breathed her last.

Johnny it’s dark, why don’t you come and find me?

I’m so aching for you, I can barely breathe.

The months turned to years, as her fond memory waned,

Lord Lovell alone in his grief and pain.

A maidservant one day chanced to open the turret door;

In the middle of the room an old trunk she saw.

She prised open the lid, what she found concealed there inside

in a tattered silk gown, was the Lovell bride,

a jewelled circlet of gold around her dainty young skull.

Her tragic nuptial game the marriage did annul.

Johnny I’m free, you didn’t come and find me.

I’m still aching for you, but no longer breathe

Les Ray

Found in the Pound!


On 30th April a team of volunteers, led by Village Shop chair Bert Ash, cleared up the garden area of the Pound, adjacent to the village shop.     Look what they found –  part of a memorial stone which was once in the village churchyard.

The Parish magazine of May/June 1899 records the burial of Elizabeth Helen Dunkley on 19th April 1899, aged 26.   The original memorial was in the old churchyard on the north side of the church, and consisted of a stone cross and three tiers.  The wording said

I.H.S.  In loving memory of ELIZABETH HELEN, the second beloved daughter of  THOMAS and SARAH ANN DUNKLEY who departed this life on Sunday April 16th 1899 aged 26 years. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear.” Ps. XX. 11. 

 The whereabouts of the rest of the memorial is unknown