In recognition of the work we have already undertaken, the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded funding for a further year. This will enable us to carry on our programme of research and presentations, but a priority now is to sort the mass of photographs and documents we have collected into a usable archive for use by future historians. Our presentation on the village between the wars attracted a loyal audience who braved the poor weather and the alternative attraction the World Cup semi-final to learn more of village history. Shirley talked about the domestic scene; Sylvia about the stories emerging from her analysis of the parish magazines; Ian used Mike’s research to talk about transport during the period; and Leslie used video and recorded memories to tell us more about the influence of Stella Skinner – headteacher here from 1938 to 1962 – on folk dancing nationally.
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 Using old photographs and unpublished memoirs as well as material from Titchmarsh Voices and House Histories, we will be looking at the major changes that occurred in village life over the period.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.
On Wednesday 10th April 2013 I was fortunate to join 53 other people at the Titchmarsh Clubrooms to hear a remarkable series of accounts of Titchmarsh at war. We were privileged to hear an intimate account of wartime life in the village and learnt about the rationing, blackouts and air raids of the 1940s. These amazing stories were made poignant by the presentations relating to the lives and deaths of individuals within the village, told by their descendants and others who brought the stories to life by making them deeply personal.
We saw old documents and photographs, and along with the information gathered from discussions with villagers, a vivid picture of life during the two world wars was painted. We were told the life stories behind some of the names on the war memorial, and how experiences in the Second World War changed the village forever. It was especially moving to hear from villagers who remember those times. We left the Clubrooms knowing more about the history of the village, but more important we also learnt from the legacy of those who were there then and who are here now, and who generously shared their recollections with us.
Titchmarsh at War – in the Clubroom – Wednesday 10th April 7.30pm
Come and see, hear and experience what we have discovered of our village at war. See the slide show – hear about wartime life in the village and learn about the rationing, blackouts and air raids of the 1940’s. We will bring it all back in an informal presentation, for an hour or so, and then encourage you to share with us your own experiences over a glass of wine and nibbles.
Using old documents and photographs, and the information we have gathered from our discussions with villagers, we have been building up a picture of life here during the two world wars. For example, we now know more about some of the names on the war memorial, and how experiences in the Second World War changed the village forever. We think that you will be surprised at what we have discovered.
If you would like to find out more, or if you too have memories to share with us, then please come along to the Clubroom at 7.30pm on Wednesday 10th April 2013. It’s all very informal. There is no charge, and the refreshments are free!
We are delighted with our recent acquisition of a variety of photographs and documents which belonged to the late to Raymond Gray. One of these is his Ration book, which we have scanned and is shown here. Full size images can be see in the photo gallery.
Saturday 2 February. Sylvia, Terry and Ian had an extremely productive meeting with Leslie Ray. Leslie is going to undertake research into the story of Walter Mabbutt, his grandmother’s brother who died aged 18 in France, two weeks before the armistice and whose name is inscribed on the war memorial. Leslie has a number of letters written by Walter while he was preparing to go to the front, a heart-rending one being that which he wrote just before he was killed.
This will support the work that Fraser is doing on the the biographies of the Titchmarsh fallen.
Have you heard about the bombing of Molesworth airfield while it was still being built or of the strange explanation offered by the gentleman discovered languishing in the well by the Lower Green? These are just two of the fascinating stories we have heard recently in our continuing efforts to collect as many memories of old Titchmarsh as we can. And we are now receiving information and queries from much further afield. These have included a request from Western Australia seeking information about relations who were married in the church here in the 1840s and the memoirs of Brian Conisbee from Cromer who was once an evacuee in the village. Incidentally, Brian would like to hear from anyone who remembers him.
There are not many people who can identify a Lancaster bomber from a blurry photograph, but there is an eight year-old at the school who can! We discovered this when Mrs Milton gave us permission to talk to the children about Titchmarsh during the war. What a rare treat that was, and so now we working on other materials to help the children learn more about their heritage.
There remain many gaps in our archives. Two areas that we would particularly like your help with are (1) the school choir performing for the BBC (was it sometime in the 1950’s?) and (2) the Land Army girls who lived and worked in the village in the wartime. Were you one of them? If you have any information, stories or photographs about either of these, we would be delighted to hear from you.
In response to our article in the last edition of the Titchmarsh Times, we have five new members join the project. We are very excited about this because it means that we are able to delve much deeper into the village’s history. We are undertaking research on a broad range of themes from the biographies of those named on the war memorial to the influence of the Lilford Estate on the growth of the village. We have also opened our own blog to record the progress of our project and to develop the on-line archive. The address is Http://titchmarshvillage.wordpress.com
Thanks to the sterling efforts of our cameraman Bert Ash, we have well over six hours of filming for our DVD of Titchmarsh in 2012. This is being edited to make a short, entertaining record which will be available later in the year.
Finally, if we haven’t had your information and photo of your house history, please let us have it now. The final closing date for the photo book is 31st January 2013. We already have 70 house histories for the book which, along with the DVD, will be a valuable record of our village today.
Contact details: Sylvia [firstname.lastname@example.org], Ian  & Terry [31 High Street]