An Annual Bulletin about Local History and the Trust – Issue No. 52 November 2020
During the Covid lockdown many people have begun researching their family history or investigating some aspect of local history that intrigues them. This type of research is not new and, although today we are blessed with access to enumerable online avenues, it is staff at the local records office, museum or research centre who can provide experience and support when an apparent dead end is reached.
For over 30 years, volunteers at Emsworth Museum have been helping enquirers facilitate their research. This article is about one such request and its aftermath. Answering an initial query led to a rich vein of material, some of which can still be seen on a swing-board in the Museum.
Arthur B Woods
In 1994 Museum Administrator Tessa Daines was contacted by Leslie Zupan, an American lady who was investigating the life of a young film director Arthur Woods who had died in a plane crash in Brook Meadow some 50 years earlier. Tessa recalled seeing the scene of the crash as a young girl growing up in Emsworth.
Interviewed a year later by the Portsmouth News, Tessa said, “I found plans and a map of the area as it was during the war and took it to Leslie while on holiday in the States”.
Who was Arthur Woods and why did he crash?
Arthur Bickerstaffe Woods was born in 1904 in West Derby, an affluent suburb of Liverpool. His father was managing director of the Nelson (Shipping) Line and Arthur was educated at Downside School and Christ’s College, Cambridge. A boyhood visit to a silent film studio began a lifelong fascination with motion pictures. A short spell in medical school after university convinced Woods that he had chosen the wrong career path and in 1926 he joined a repertory company, gaining experience in many roles – actor, art director, stage manager – to name but a few.
A year later his boyhood interest led to a career in films when Woods joined British Instructional (BI) as a film editor. Although he appeared on screen once Woods preferred to spend his time behind the camera as a set designer and producer. When BI merged with British International Pictures Arthur Woods turned to screenwriting and feature film direction. His output was extensive and versatile: shorts, documentaries, spy stories, musicals, historical adventure and murder mysteries. Woods’ finest work is now regarded as a classic film noir of the 1930s. This is the thriller, They Drive By Night, which he made for Warner Brothers by whom he had been poached in 1936.
Made in 1938, They Drive By Night, was released in the spring of 1939 to critical acclaim and it seemed as though its director was poised for a major film making career but war intervened and all theatres and film studios closed.
Woods was a keen amateur pilot who had taken up flying in 1932 after co-directing a short film about the aviation pioneer, Amy Johnson. Subsequently, Woods often did the flying stunts in his own films. It was only natural then that he should join the RAF in the Volunteer Reserve in October 1939. However, he wasn’t done with the film world, because when the studios re-opened in early 1940 MGM obtained his temporary release from his ferry pilot duties to take over direction of Busman’s Honeymoon. This film, based on the Dorothy L Sayers’ novel of the same name, featured an all-star cast that included Robert Montgomery, Constance Cummings, Sir Seymour Hicks and Robert Newton. France fell as the last scenes were being shot at Denham Studios and Woods promptly returned to his squadron.
At 35, Woods was past the usual age limit for combat pilots. He ferried fighter aircraft during the Battle of Britain before transferring to Training Command where his skills as a pilot were passed on to young recruits. In early 1942 he was assigned to a newly formed glider training unit and later that year was awarded the Air Force Cross for his role in experimental work with glider towing. A stint with the Parachute Training Squadron followed before at last he got his wish and was assigned to combat duties. He was posted to 85 squadron in West Malling, Kent, led by the charismatic night fighter pilot John ‘Cats-Eyes’ Cunningham.
Woods’ wartime colleagues remember him as a modest and unassuming man. They recall his keen sense of humour, his artistic talent, especially of caricatures of his fellow pilots and navigators, and his kindness.
So how did Flight Lieutenant Arthur Woods come to crash his Mosquito night fighter in Brook Meadow on 8th February 1944 killing both himself and his navigator, Norwegian 2nd Lieutenant Jan Bugge? It was not the result of enemy action, instead it was a tragic mid-air collision between the Mosquito fighter plane and a Wellington bomber that caused both crews to perish.
A Merlin engine from the Mosquito landed in the garden of 1 Rose Cottage in Lumley Road while the rest of the plane came down in what is now the Brook Meadow Nature Reserve. The Wellington bomber crashed in Prinsted.
Adrian Voller saw and heard the crash when he was four years old.
“I was returning with my parents one night from visiting my aunt in Cosham and as we disembarked at Emsworth railway station, I could hear the drone of aircraft engines….. As we reached the pavement on the far side of the road there was a tremendous crash in the sky to the south. As we looked up a yellow streak of flame appeared which took about 20 seconds to fall to earth. The rising crescendo of engines on full power abruptly stopped as the aircraft hit the ground….with a thump that could be felt through our feet.”
Fifty one years later Adrian chanced to hear a Radio Solent announcement that a ceremony would be taking place in Brook Meadow to commemorate a plane crash in Emsworth during WW2. Mr Voller and his wife Mary joined a party on 8th February 1995 of about 60 people on the nature reserve’s north bridge by Seagull Lane. Emsworth Museum played host to those attending the ceremony of placing a plaque on the then new bridge. The plaque is still there.
Among those present on a very wet day in 1995 was the Mayor of Chichester, officers from the Norwegian and Canadian embassies, local dignitaries, representatives from the British Legion and other ex-servicemen. Meridian TV sent a film crew. Tessa Daines had been instrumental in having the plaque, which was provided by Graham Alderson of Cosham, as a commemoration. Tessa said, “I suggested that the plaque should be placed where it is because the bridge signifies the stretching across time of people of the present, remembering people of the past.” Twenty-five years on from that ceremony, her sentiment is still valid.
Joseph Wilberforce Reeve Bulpitt (1835-1913) established his company Bulpitt Drapers of Southsea in the 1870s. He was born in Marylebone, Middlesex in 1835 and was the son of John Bulpitt who was a linen draper.
According to the 1851 census, J W R Bulpitt was a Draper’s Apprentice, in the Parish of St George Bloomsbury, to William Paddy, draper with six employees. By 1861 he is living in Worthing and working as Draper’s Assistant to John Rayner, linen draper and hosier, and lodging with his boss. By the time of the next census in 1871 Joseph is listed as a Draper’s Assistant in Portsea Island so had moved to this area. He obviously took over the business because in the 1881 census he is listed as a Linen Draper, living at 2 The Retreat.
Joseph Bulpitt had several daughters and two sons, Harry Reeve Bulpitt 1873-1946 and John (Jack) Reeve Bulpitt 1881-1962. Harry and Jack took over the family business on Joseph’s death in 1913. Joseph left £24,000 in his will so the business was obviously thriving at this time.
This information has been gathered from the 1841-1911 census returns and the 1939 register, and births, marriages and deaths.
The Edwardian wedding dress on shown in the article by Sarah Howard was made by Bulpitt Drapers of Southsea. It is a treasure worth preserving and conservationist Sarah Howard explains how she dealt with the fabric’s problems.
Christmas is clearly going to be different this year and shopping a real trial, so why not consider topping up your family Christmas stockings with the Museum’s new edition of Emsworth’s Plum revised by Margaret Rogers. It outlines the life and times of the town’s most famous author, finds out that he chose local names for his heroes and heroines and ends with a portrait of Emsworth life at the turn of the 20th century. It is priced at £8 and available at Museum reception, Bookends or by post by contacting Dorothy Bone, tel: 01243 373780 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
During this summer I have had the pleasure of conserving a wedding dress belonging to Emsworth Museum. Many of you will be aware of the dress as it has been on display at the Museum since the mid 1990s.
The dress was made in 1908 by Bulpitts Ltd of Southsea and worn by Margaret Tatchell at her marriage to John Lewis. The dress is composed of a separate bodice and skirt, both of which are made from a cream silk fabric with decorative machine-made lace inserts at the front and back of the bodice. The Bulpitts name is printed in gold lettering on the inside of the bodice waistband.
The outfit is a wonderful example of a fashionable garment of the early 20th century with its high neck and slightly full fronted bodice and fullness at the back of the skirt. This would have given a gentle nod to the high fashion ‘S’ bend silhouette of the time. A photograph of the couple on their wedding day shows the outfit worn with a hat which was also typical of the fashions of the day.
Dress and textiles are amongst some of the most vulnerable items in any museum collection. Textiles can be affected by a number of factors including light and fluctuating temperature and humidity. A garments construction, its original use and subsequent storage and display can take their toll too.
After several years on display, a review of the Museum’s wedding dress was undertaken, and the bodice and skirt showed some signs of deterioration. Although appearing relatively intact, on closer examination three main areas of damage were found.
- There are several small splits in the silk fabric at the left shoulder of the bodice and there is extensive damage to the machine-made lace at the left cuff. Much of this damage would have been caused by past handling and exposure to light. Museum lighting in showcases can weaken textile fibres due to its intensity and the length of time a garment is exposed to it. Uneven light exposure would explain why the left sleeve is damaged while the right sleeve remains intact.
- There are numerous vertical splits in the silk fabric around the waist of the skirt. It is likely these splits have occurred over time during display due to the weight of the fabric causing strain on the waist. The splits at the left shoulder also indicate stress caused by display. A good fitting and well-constructed mannequin helps to alleviate such tensions and provides support during display.
- There is a large pale brown water-borne stain in the centre of the skirt caused during past wear or storage. The staining has caused tension in the silk fibres and numerous vertical slits around the edge of the stain have resulted.
If the damage outlined above were left untreated, the splits in the silk fabric and the machine-made lace would have become worse and impacted the appearance of the bodice and the structural stability of the skirt. Conservation aims to stabilise such damage and enhance overall preservation so that the garment can be enjoyed and understood by future generations. Conservation treatments neither add nor take away from the original but rather make them safe for display, storage, and study.
The first part of the conservation treatment involved the surface cleaning of the bodice and skirt. A low powered suction vacuum cleaner was used in order to remove loose particulate soiling. Dust and debris are acidic and can have a detrimental effect on textile fibres if left in situ.
The stain at the centre front of the skirt was then tested and a localised wet cleaning treatment was undertaken. De-ionised
To ensure the fraying edges of the lace, water was applied to the area via a small dropper and a white microfibre cloth placed underneath the fabric of the skirt and another microfibre cloth gently pressed on top to draw out the water and staining. The process was repeated several times with a fan to assist the drying. The treatment needed to be gentle and undertaken with care because of the damaged threads surrounding the stain. Nonetheless, much of the staining was removed and the visual appearance of the silk fabric was improved.
In order to ensure the bodice and skirt were structurally safe for continued display the damaged areas were given support. The splits in the silk fabric at the left shoulder of the bodice, the waist area of the skirt, and the damage surrounding the stain at the front of the skirt, were all stabilised by inserting a patch of bespoke dyed new plain weave silk habotai fabric behind each of the damaged areas and stitched in place using laid couching and reverse zig-zag stitching. All fabrics and threads used were dyed in advance to colour match the original fabrics of the bodice and skirt using dyes that have been tested for conservation purposes.
The damaged machine-made lace at the proper left cuff was stabilised by inserting two patches of bespoke dyed silk net fabric behind the damage and aligning the machine-made lace on top. The lace was stitched in place using a combination of laid couching and running stitches in silk thread.
The original design was thus reinstated. were secured and not vulnerable to further damage, a net patch was laid over the top and stitched in place. This ‘sandwich’ of net provides a protective cover and infills missing areas so that the eye will not be drawn to the damage when the bodice is on display.
The conservation treatment has successfully provided the stability needed for the bodice and skirt. With the purchase of a new mannequin and bespoke padding, the wedding dress will be safe to display for the continued enjoyment of Museum visitors.
Margaret Tatchell, the eldest daughter of Albert George Tatchell, married John Lewis on 21st April 1908 at St James’ Church, Emsworth. On the marriage certificate
John is described as a ropemaker, his father Edward an engineer, and A G Tatchell as a rope manufacturer (retired).
The conserved wedding dress will be on display in the Museum in 2021.
See previous article for more about the Bulpitt family.
50 years ago Thomas Becket, Chancellor of England, Archbishop of Canterbury and erstwhile friend of King Henry II was murdered. Why? What happened?
Extracts below are from Barbara Hammond’s 2020 booklet that accompanied Emsworth Museum’s September exhibition in the David Rudkin Room. The exhibition, Thomas à Becket: the Man and the Church, was curated by parishioners of the historic Church in Warblington dedicated to his memory.
* Probable birth year
The chaos of civil war ended in 1154 when Empress Matilda’s son seized the crown of England as Henry II. Henry needed a trusted assistant and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald, recommended his Archdeacon and protégé, Thomas, as an excellent Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal.
“Young Henry, aged 21, and Thomas, who was considerably older, became bosom friends and happy companions, not only at ‘work’ but also in the pleasures of hunting, hawking, feasting and many other activities which were new to Thomas.”
Thomas’s responsibilities began to increase and when the King was absent in France Thomas ‘ruled’ England for Henry. “Commentators of the time described Thomas as a ‘sparrow become a peacock’ and ‘more regal than the King’.” He was even appointed tutor and much-loved foster father to the King’s heir.
The see of Canterbury fell vacant with the death of Archbishop Theobald in 1161 and after a hiatus of two years, Henry sponsored Thomas to be the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
“First, Henry assumed that with Thomas as both Chancellor of England AND Archbishop of Canterbury, he could achieve the major triumph of harmonising the two existing systems of justice [Customary (Common) and Church (Canon) Law] in the country. Then, secondly, Henry felt sure he could rely on Thomas to establish an orderly succession to the throne for his son, young Prince Henry, and thereby avoid the possibility of another civil war… and to crown him prematurely at Westminster Abbey.”
The realisation struck Thomas that he had competing loyalties, either support the King or God and he chose God, resigning from his post as Chancellor.
“Friendship disappeared … and it was not long before Henry demanded that ‘criminous clergy’ should be tried and punished in the civil courts whenever they committed civil crimes. Thomas refused, maintaining that they should be tried in the Church courts no matter what their crimes … the matter became public at the Great Council of Clarendon, near Salisbury, in 1164. Henry published his new ‘written’ Law, the ‘Clarendon Code’, and demanded compliance from everyone, both barons and bishops. Thomas refused, partly because it was introducing a written Law Code in place of Customary Law and partly because it challenged the authority of the Church courts.”
Dispute continued and eventually Thomas fled into exile in France under the protection of King Louis. Prompted by the Pope, the French King brokered a reconciliation between Thomas and King Henry in 1169.
“Henry agreed, because he still wanted Thomas to crown young Prince Henry at Westminster. They met at Montmirail. Henry offered to restore Thomas to Canterbury if he would change his opposition to the Clarendon Code of Laws. Thomas pleaded for mercy on his knees, and again agreed to everything, ‘saving the honour of God’. Everyone was appalled. Louis felt humiliated, and Henry was furious. They met and tried again in November, but Thomas was obdurate. Henry left for England, determined to get his son crowned – without Thomas! Early in 1170 Thomas heard of Henry’s plans. He quickly threatened excommunication on any bishops who co-operated with the King but, at the King’s determined insistence, his son was crowned on the 14th June at Westminster, by the Archbishop of York, supported by several others. This time the Pope was angry, and ordered Henry and Thomas to resolve their quarrel.
In July, again in France, Henry begged Thomas to renew their old friendship. He admitted he was wrong about the coronation, and begged Thomas to return to England and re-crown young King Henry. Thomas agreed.”
Jubilant crowds greeted Thomas on his return to England in December, but on Christmas Day Thomas publicly denounced the offending bishops and excommunicated them. On the same day in France Henry’s festivities were interrupted by the Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London and Salisbury with complaints against Thomas. Henry’s furious denunciations were heard by four of his knights who quietly left the court. They met Thomas on 29th December at Canterbury Cathedral. An acrimonious meeting ensued between Thomas and Reginald FitzUrse, William de Tracy, Hugh de Morville and Richard de Brito. Later that day at Vespers the four men followed the monks into the Cathedral and used their swords to kill Thomas.
“The whole of Christendom was horrified by Thomas’s murder, and Henry himself was genuinely overcome with remorse. He quickly realised that he might have ‘won the battle, but lost the war’…. Henry was refused entry into any Church until he made a public penance. In 1173, he was duly flogged on the steps of a French Cathedral, in the presence of the Archbishop of Rouen.”
Thomas became more famous in death and his faults were largely forgotten. Just three years later he was declared a saint. Interestingly, though, while the Pope may have excommunicated the four murderers, those men were neither tried nor punished for their crime.
Many Churches were founded in Thomas of Canterbury’s memory including Ss Thomas, the Roman Catholic Church in New Brighton Road, Emsworth, whose name also commemorates the martyrdom of St Thomas More.
When the line of forts on Portsdown Hill, commonly known as Palmerston’s Follies, was constructed in the 1850s it was recognised that the eastern end of the line was relatively undefended. This would be particularly dangerous if the French, the assumed invaders, should choose to land a little to the east along the beaches of West Sussex or perhaps up into the harbours of Emsworth or Langstone.
The great ring of Victorian fortifications to defend Portsmouth from attack by an invading force landing to west, and later perhaps to the east, was started with the construction beginning in 1852 of the Gosport Line. Following this, the Royal Commission reported in the same year, proposing a ring of fortifications around a number of key naval harbours including the naval dockyard at Portsmouth.
The main idea was to ring ‘Fortress Portsmouth’ with several lines of fortifications to protect the dockyard and the fleet from attack by any invading force. The fortifications to the west were considerably deeper and more extensive than those in the east and three additional smaller redoubts were planned, and two built, to support the eastern end of the ridge. All three were outworks of the most easterly of the Portsdown Hill forts, Fort Purbrook. A Redoubt is defined as a temporary or supplementary fortification, typically square or polygonal in outline and without flanking defences. The land falls sharply from the heights where Fort Purbrook was built into a potentially dangerous open area and it is this danger that the three redoubts were planned to overcome.
Purbrook, like the other four big forts along the top of the hill, is a polygonal fortification designed to shoot across a curve to the north, from north west to north east to protect the naval defenders to the south from attack from the lee side of the Portsdown escarpment. This is why, because the guns seemed to point in the wrong direction, people have frequently known the hilltop forts as Palmerston’s Follies.
This outwork was the first to be attempted with work starting in 1862. It lay to the north east of Fort Purbrook and the site can be visited as it lies within the golf course. As planned the Redoubt was specifically designed to cover an area of dead ground commanding the north east approaches up Portsdown ridge but which could not be adequately covered by the original design of the fort. The front face of the Redoubt was to have been at an acute angle, to have had two caponiers* (from the French ‘chicken coop’), a defensive box for guns to poke out and fire from, counterscarp and scarp galleries for musket/rifle fire and, originally, it was planned to have 16 guns on a terreplein, a high protected firing platform, and six guns in the corner caponiers. Unfortunately a section of blue slipper clay, as opposed to the chalk of the rest of the escarpment, was discovered and only the southern half of the original design was pursued. This proved inadequate and by 1870, with only the prepared earthworks yet built, it was abandoned and in 1876 Crookhorn was claimed to have been demolished.
This was constructed although not fully as designed. Work started late in 1862 and was completed by 1891. In the original plan there were to have been a complement of 18 guns plus two batteries of three mortars mounted behind the eastern caponier. This model duplicated the structures at the northern extremities of the larger forts on the ridge, but these were abandoned probably because of cost overruns and the final outfit of munitions was finalised in 1896. Though the magazine was subterranean, most of the construction was on a single level with walls built up on the five outlying sides. Two 64 pounder rifle muzzle-loaded guns were mounted on the clever Moncrief disappearing mounts which effectively removed the guns from sight of the enemy while they were reloaded. A further series of guns mounted on more flexible gun carriages were installed in the parapet. Only seven guns were finally supplied augmented by a single four inch breech loader situated at the south eastern corner to cover the gap southward that the two caponiers could not adequately fire towards.
The Redoubt probably was not especially effective. None of the Portsdown ridge forts ever fired a shot in anger and by 1907 Farlington Redoubt had been disarmed. However it was considered for reuse during both world wars, fitted as a machine gun outpost in 1914 and suggested as an antiaircraft battery during the Second World War, although the three chosen sites for these were actually on the other side of the slope, facing north.
The site of Farlington Redoubt was converted into a quarry after 1945 and later the whole area was demolished in the 1970s to make way for an underground storage facility for British Gas. The site is currently the headquarters for L & S Waste Management
Limited who park their extensive skip lorries on the remains of the outwork, whose outline shape is clearly visible in aerial photographs of the site. Also clearly visible is the remains of the covered way leading towards Fort Purbrook.
Langston or Langstone Redoubt
This was never built nor indeed named but a section of the site between the railway line and the motorway now contains the remnants of a WWI anti invasion redoubt. This is extremely difficult to access requiring a more than one mile walk from the Farlington Marshes car park and the remains are not particularly impressive. The design is similar to that used for Fort Gilkicker on the southern side of Stokes Bay, and it was originally intended to mount 18 guns. There is no doubt that this was a well chosen site to defend Langstone Harbour and the railway hence the reason for its reuse in WW1.
* A caponier is a covered passage across a ditch from whence, usually, defenders could provide fire into the ditch
I am extremely grateful to a number of contributors and experts in my investigations and would especially like to mention:
David Moore, Editor of Redan, monthly house journal of the Palmerston Forts Society; Gary Mitchell’s Solent Paper Number 3 and the public domain data sheets for all the forts which can be accessed from https://www.victorianforts.co.uk/publications.php; Peter Crabb of the UK Fortifications Club; Bob Hunt’s Portsdown-tunnels.org.uk website.
As the Trust’s youngest member, I’ve been asked to write about my experience of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Firstly, you should know that I’m a fairly introverted person and do not represent all teenagers my age. Many of my friends have had a different experience of lockdown and the consequences of it have affected people in unique ways. I may not be a typical teenager, but I am 15, so here’s my perspective of lockdown in early 2020.
Before I tell you about how my life has been affected by the lockdown, I want to say that I know these are first-world issues. I am extremely fortunate to live in a comfortable home, with enough food and technology to enable me to connect with friends and family, and healthcare if I need it. I am grateful for all these things.
I’m sure that many students have secretly hoped the school would burn down, or some catastrophe would get in the way of sitting exams, so this may seem like a dream come true for some. However, I was personally looking forward to the GCSE experience as it was finally the time to showcase the immense amount of time and effort that had gone into revision and preparation. I had worked so hard to study, sit the mock exams, and prepare for the great download of information which had been sucked up like a sponge for the previous two years. It should have been a great relief to get out of sitting exams, but in reality it was deflating.
In March, we were given only two days’ notice that school was going to close due to COVID-19 and we would not be able to sit our GCSEs. The last day on 20th March 2020 was thrust upon us so quickly and we were left with very little time to say goodbye to people that we might never see again. Rather than the big, ceremonial conclusion we were promised, there was a more anticlimactic fizzle-out to our secondary school years.
With the leavers’ assembly, prom and other events cancelled or postponed, we were faced with six long months of nothing.
Students in other year levels have been set work to continue with at home, but for GCSE students, there’s little point in studying for exams that will never happen. I started the first week of lockdown with a colour-coded schedule, studying subjects that I plan to take next year in college. It was difficult to self-motivate study and after a few weeks, I managed to convince myself that baking brownies was a form of English (reading the recipe) and biology (consuming said brownie).
Over the last 12 weeks, I’ve learned a bit of Mandarin, read loads of books and dabbled with photography. I’ve watched Simon Reeve documentaries and Race Across the World, envying their world travels and learning a little about the world too.
I sometimes worry that my brain has shrunk from its lack of exercise. It’s like the feeling of coming back from summer holiday and temporarily losing the ability to subtract, but on a bigger scale. However after a few weeks in college, I’ve been assured that my brain will stretch itself out again.
As a previously prolific artist, I have found my inspiration dwindle like the stock levels of loo roll at Tesco. In recent weeks I have decided to take a break. Again, I hope that the inspiration will return when I’m back in school art class. I have started photography and am specialising in light painting. Painting with light is the process of leaving the shutter open for up to 30 seconds and creating shapes, patterns and illuminating objects with torches or fairy lights to create incredibly unique images. I am still a beginner in this, but experimenting with my mum and younger brother was a fun and exciting experience so I look forward to practicing more with it.
I have a small group of friends that I didn’t talk to regularly for a couple of months but stayed in touch with over WhatsApp. After eight weeks or so we were allowed to meet up in the park while staying at least two metres apart (socially distancing). This was a huge improvement to our way of life in lockdown and made me feel more connected with the outside. The highlight of my social life during lockdown was making a new friend at the beach (two metres away) who I otherwise would not have spoken to. Both 15, and stuck at home, there’s something to talk about.
Some families have found the 24/7 time at home together has been bonding, some a struggle, or a mixture of both. I have the challenge that perhaps about a third of teenagers have, where I have two homes. My parents are divorced and live ten miles apart. Under lockdown rules, children with two homes are allowed to travel between homes and normally I would spend a week at each house during the school holidays. However, my dad lives with his mother who is elderly and vulnerable. So going back and forth from my mum’s house to my dad’s would pose a risk to her. So I’ve stayed four weeks at each house and self-isolated on return to my dad’s. It’s been hard to be away from one parent at a time for so long. Each day, I talk to the other parent on WhatsApp, and feel fortunate to have the technology where I can see and hear them.
When we were only allowed an hour of exercise a day, I took up running using the Couch to 5k programme. In my whole life I could never run for more than a minute and used excuses like ‘I don’t have the physique of a runner’, ‘I’m too tall’, and ‘Running and I don’t get along’. But I bit the bullet and started the programme, and I’m loving it. I’m currently on week eight of the nine-week programme and can run for 28 minutes without stopping. My mum does it too and we send sweaty-faced pictures at the end of each run as evidence and encouragement. We have been fortunate with the weather during lockdown, with May being the sunniest ever and when I’m at my dad’s in West Wittering, I enjoy going to the beach.
I know that COVID-19 has had dramatic effects across the world and has caused tragedy for many families, so I feel fortunate that the worst things that have happened to me are missing friends and family, missing the end of school and having to find ways to fill my time. Positive things have happened too. I’ve become fitter, I’ve had more time and feel closer to my family, my room is very tidy and I have come to appreciate my fortunate circumstances. I will take all of these things with me when life goes back to normal.
In February I began hearing stories of a coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. That was a long way away, it wouldn’t affect me. But air travellers spread the disease and cruise ships proved to be excellent incubators. The highly communicable virus spread across the world but still I didn’t pay too much attention. I wasn’t planning to go abroad and, as I am on the committee of the Emsworth Maritime and Historical Trust, I was busy helping get the Museum ready for our reopening on 4th April.
Events moved fast, though, and as more and more European countries moved into lockdown, it became clear that the United Kingdom might also be affected. We held our first stewards’ instruction morning on Saturday, 14th March, just as Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, announced imminent lockdown when everything except essential services, food shops and pharmacies would be closed.
What did lockdown mean for you?
For me those early weeks were characterised by numerous cancellations of much anticipated events and the making of endless lists in which the quest for food and disinfectants predominated. Weddings were postponed, funerals were held without mourners, home working and home schooling became the norm. I soon knew what PPE meant – Personal, Protective Equipment: a new abbreviation had entered the lexicon.
There was a tremendous community spirit and neighbours and friends shared the news about what was available in what shop and who was delivering. We all learned to social distance and wash our hands thoroughly to the tune of two ‘Happy Birthdays’.
The weather in those early weeks was fantastic. The sounds I most remember then were of jet washers and lawn mowers. Around where I live everyone seemed to be out in the garden enjoying the sunshine and doing all the jobs that had accumulated over winter. My family painted the studio, reroofed the shed, ordered in plants and seeds, and resurrected the overwintering geraniums and begonias. Our main venture was the making of a new gravel area in the centre of the garden which meant excavating soil, finding homes for it, ordering and wheel barrowing into position a ton of gravel, and ordering more pot plants.
Online Ordering. That was certainly one of my most significant lifestyle changes. I have always liked looking around before I buy. All that changed when I needed makeup, a new lawnmower, kettle and coffee grinder. It’s a fact of life, I think, that appliances die just when you need them most. The advent of a manual coffee grinder led to one of my most memorable moments of lockdown.
I normally use ground coffee but when that was unavailable and I bought some coffee beans, the family thought grinding them would be easy. Not so. It took three people to grind just a few coffee beans. It was a tremendous struggle. Another solution had to be found. We finally remembered that somewhere we had an electric nut grinder, squirreled away some years ago, that was eventually discovered and bought into use. I am sure we were not the only ones who found new uses for old machines.
Ground coffee was not the only shortage. As more people started home baking, some ingredients such as bread flour were in short supply.
Baking was just one of the hobbies that were embraced during lockdown. Recipes were exchanged with friends and neighbours. Knitting, reading, painting, crosswords and jigsaws also proved to be popular pastimes in my family. As well as gardening and walks there were many online activities.
Newsletters popped into my inbox from organisations both large and small. For me the most popular were those from the Havant History Group and the V&A Museum while Goodwood Motorsport provided my son
with an outlet for his love of the Grand Prix. There were regular online shows, musicals, opera and ballet, as well as all kinds of virtual educational courses and keep fit classes.
Online technology proved useful in other ways too. One means of keeping in touch with family has always been by regular phone calls and meetings, but as face-to-face gatherings were out my son introduced me and other family members to Skype. I have loved it. I have also embraced Zoom and Google Meet for meetings and virtual talks.
Smiles and nods with neighbours and other walkers were possible even in lockdown. Thursday night clapping for the NHS and other key workers was just one way of greeting one another weekly. The noise was cacophonous and inventive. I nearly jumped out of my skin when a ship’s siren sounded from a nearby window one Thursday evening at 8 pm while bells, drums, tambourines, saucepans, even a balalaika, were also rung, banged and shaken.
VE Day 75 celebrations on 8th May also bought the community together. In my road, we chatted, feasted and toasted, visited a 1940s style pop-up museum in a front garden, all the time keeping two metres apart.
We watched several VE Day 75 events on TV. Television and radio have proved a boon during lockdown, although sometimes the news has been very grim. By 28th June the figures worldwide for those catching the Covid-19 virus as it was now designated, were 10 million infected people with some 500,000 deaths. However, globally, lockdown measures were causing the numbers of infections to decrease. Restrictions began to be eased in the UK on 4th July.
With the ending of strict lockdown and the gradual easing of restrictions, my longing for a haircut could be realised. It was with great satisfaction that I could also entertain friends in the garden, have a workman inside to do a boiler service, go to the dentist and finally meet some of the family in person. The car no longer had to be started with jump leads as a new battery could be bought. My husband and I had been self-isolating as we are both well over 70 and so the shopping has been done by our son augmented with online deliveries. Now we could go to the newsagent, the pharmacy even the supermarket and other shops provided we were masked.
As I write this in early August, there are worries of a second wave of the pandemic, testing is not as widespread as one would like and there is no vaccine as yet. However, life is better, my husband and I have taken picnics and walks in country parks, RHS Wisley and various National Trust properties. I have been in a ‘social bubble’ and shopped locally and in Chichester. I can visit pubs and ‘eat out to help out’.
The Museum with its Covid-19 precautions in place reopened on 1st August but not all businesses are yet open, many people have been made redundant, many lives have been lost. Welcome to the the new normal. Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives
My great, great grandfather, William Alfred Stevens, was born in Colchester in 1845; he was one of five children. His father James kept a tailor’s shop. William must have had a reasonable education as by 1861 he was apprenticed to the Essex Telegraph as a printer’s compositor “starting as a ‘reader’ as he was gifted in that way”.
In December that year aged 16 he ran away to sea and joined the Navy. Committing himself to the service for 12 years, the paperwork shows that William declared that he was not apprenticed! He became a gunner and travelled widely; apparently his family heard nothing of him for a long while. In 1868 William married Harriet Dent, a publican’s daughter from Sudbury and their first son, Alfred, my great grandfather, was born the following year. The baby’s middle name was Hercules, which was the name of William’s then current ship (an armed ironclad).
On 8th August 1871 HMS Caledonia, part of the Mediterranean fleet, fired a royal salute in honour of Crown Prince Humbert of Italy. William was the captain of one of the guns. He was injured when the charge being passed to the breech-loading gun exploded. He was transferred to the British Naval Hospital where he had an operation to remove both arms above the elbow joints and an eye. The Times report next day stated, “I fear no hopes can be given of his ultimate recovery”. However, on 26th September the Essex Herald reported a “Frightful Accident to a Colchester Man … the doctors have expressed their admiration at the strength of his nerves, which enabled him to live under such severe injuries, and hold out hopes for his recovery”.
William returned to Sudbury and was determined to make the best of his misfortune. He learnt to write holding a pen between his teeth and was able to write legibly and quite fast. In autumn 1872 a second son, Walter, was born at Sudbury. For some years William travelled about the neighbouring villages giving religious addresses. His wife’s health caused him to leave Sudbury and they lived in Kilburn, Fareham and, for a short time, in Portsmouth/ Southsea with William taking an active part in the public and political life of each locality. For some of this time his eldest son was at the Greenwich Hospital School. By 1891 the census shows William as a naval pensioner living with his wife and second son, Walter, in Portsmouth. He briefly moved to Southsea, from where his first son got married in April 1893.
Later that year William moved his remaining family to Westbourne where for 21 years he became very involved in the community. He also became a political agent for Lord Edmund Talbot MP; apparently making speeches in all kinds of out of the way places. My great, great grandmother died in 1897 and within four months, aged 57, William married his nurse, Mary Groom. By 1899 he was a member of the Parish Council. The local rector said of him, “Mr Stevens has done more for the church and parish since he has been in Westbourne than nine-tenths of my able-bodied parishioners”. At a council meeting in 1902 William got agreement that there would be a celebration of the King’s coronation but that the cost would be met out of voluntary contributions not the rates.
By 1907 William was no longer on the council but a member of the Board of Guardians. Seven years later in April 1914, William died aged 68 and was buried in Westbourne Cemetery in the same grave as his first wife. The obituary in the Church Monthly stated that the prevailing point in his character was probably his energy.
I started research in 2006 with a card giving the date of William’s funeral and a short paragraph in a letter from his son to my grandfather dated 1947. There was no family memory of such a fascinating person.
One highlight was when a card index in the Chichester Records Office mentioned an album. I waited a couple of weeks before it was available, but it was worth it. The album contained a newspaper article which gave William’s life history plus a photo and a sample of his handwriting; this dated to 1900-02. The surname of the family that deposited the album was the same as that of one of the witnesses at William’s second marriage and this must explain why they had included the article in their family album. The Westbourne Church Monthly provided on-going background in terms of William’s community involvement and also eventually his obituary. A 1971 article from The Times described the accident emphasising that he was not expected to live.
I then put the investigation to one side until last year. On a whim I called in at the Westbourne cemetery expecting a long search but quickly located my great, great grandparents’ grave. It is down on the right a short distance from the entrance, a lovely location. Was this a benefit of being on the Cemetery Committee? Previously William’s naval records held at Kew were too blurred to read. They must have been re-scanned and are now available online, so we have his signing-on papers and full naval history. Last year I visited the pub in Sudbury, where he spent some time. The pub has been re-named but has not undergone major refurbishment. Sadly, they had no records relating to the 1860-80s.
I met with local historian Nigel Peake from Westbourne, who had researched William, and we exchanged research results. His additional information included an Essex Herald cutting from the time of the accident. This made particular reference to his having been apprenticed to the Essex Telegraph.
Given that so much more data has become available, I may be able to get more information on the 20-year gap between his accident and his arrival at Westbourne.
What puzzles me is that such a fascinating character who was obviously well liked was never referred to within the family, especially as my grandparents were living locally on Hayling. I wonder if it is because WWI started almost immediately after William’s death, then there was the depression followed by WWII and by then it was another time.
As part of Emsworth Museum’s collection of Covid-19 stories, Adrian Fox has made a short video of Emsworth during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“I have tried to capture some images to convey how we lived, how the town looked, and some interviews with local residents around VE day 75. The shots of sparsely occupied streets and queues for food shops contrast with the relative crowds of holiday-deprived people on the front with their paddle boards, kayaks and children, also queueing, for ice creams.”
These photographs of mothers and children celebrating the Allies Victory in Europe were taken in South Street, Emsworth by an unknown photographer. The black and white prints were donated to the Museum by Mrs Linda Griffin, nèe Smith, and the photographer may well have been her mother. Linda is the pretty blond girl in a white dress in the front row of children walking down South Street. Some of the children were in fancy dress and she was ‘the doll in a box’.
Apparently, so as not to put the table in South Street, the celebration party was held in the bomb damaged area now known as Orange Row. The open window is into the sweet shop and the food was prepared in the shop. EM&HT Steward Jill Littleton, nèe Prior, identified herself, sister Averil and brother Rusty plus several others. A relative of Gary Miller of Miller Shine is in one of the pictures as is Sue Treagust’s mother. Some of these photographs were printed in the Portsmouth News and Chichester Observer in May and the Museum is grateful to all those people who got in touch to name names. However, not everyone has been identified so we are now asking for more help. If you recognise anyone please contact me and help make our records complete.
Dorothy Bone, tel: 01243 373780,
VE day was celebrated in rather a subdued manner in Havant. It was not until midnight was approaching that the residents and uniformed visitors gave way to outbursts of enthusiasm. Parties were held in the streets. Bonfires were lit and effigies of Hitler and his gang thrown into the flames.
On Wednesday crowds marched along the main street singing request songs. Tenants of the council houses led the merriment by getting a piano out on to the roadway and holding an open air celebration in which hundreds of people joined while most of the nearby houses were illuminated.
At the Recreation Ground there was a parade of Civil Defence workers, and an open air service in which the Revs P H Duke-Baker, (Rector of Havant), P H W Grubb (Rector of Bedhampton) took part. Sir Dymoke White
MP gave an address. Mr J Flanders (Council Chairman) also spoke, and community singing was led by Mr Perraton to accompaniments of the British Legion Band under the direction of Mr A Vince. A programme of sports for the children followed. The prizes were presented by Mrs Dewhurst.
For the children’s sports held in the
Recreation Ground on Wednesday afternoon the officials were: Judges, the Rev P H W Grubb, Cllr C L Waters and Mr N Adams; starter Mr F Stockley; recorder, Mr R W Fitt; course stewards, Messrs J V Knight, L Shoesmith and A Till.
The results were as follows:
50 yards, boys flat, 5 to 8 years – 1. Michael Ginman; 2. Ralph Cousins; 3. Brian Clapham. Ditto girls – 1. Jean Watts; 2. Mary Roberts; 3. Sheila Brown.
60 yards, boys 8 to 11 – 1. David Yoxall; 2. Michael Goodhall; 3. Robin Griffin. Ditto girls – 1. Beryl Brown; 2. Julie Goodhall; 3. Sadie Comben.
Potato race, boys, 11 to 16 – 1. Gerald Mears; 2. Ronald Comben; 3. Peter Haywood.
Thread the needle, girls under 11 – 1. Margaret Hodgson; 2. June White; 3. Sheila Grant.
Sack race, boys under 11 – 1. William Fox; 2. Phillip Sherrott; 3. Geoffrey Bailey.
Skipping race, girls under 15 – 1. Lillian Stockley; 2. Ann Martin; 3. Cynthia White.
100 yards flat, boys 11 to 16 – 1. Billy Searle; 2. John Hamper; 3. Patrick Green.
Ditto girls – 1. Joan Dalton; 2. Lillian Stockley; 3. Ann Martin.
Refreshments were served by the local Red Cross Detachment, including Lady White, Mrs Dewhurst, Mrs Paxton and Mrs Street.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Mr A Burbidge and endorsed by a cheering crowd.
Aunt; great and great, great aunt; godmother; friend to so very many. Artist; architect; lover of wildlife; musician; traveller; Church Recorder; sailor; supporter over many years of so many charities. Samaritan: a lifelong Christian who studied and explored her faith. A founder member of the core team which created and developed The Waterside Community; long-term volunteer at The Pastoral Centre and at Emsworth’s Museum, of which she was again a founder member.
Diana/Janna was born in 1924, part of that ‘resilient generation’ referred to by HM The Queen in her recent D-Day speech.
Most of Janna’s childhood was spent in Emsworth. The family home was in Record Road, and Janna and her brother, Rodney, first attended nearby Stanmore School, housed in the former home of P G Wodehouse.
“In my early teens, I went to a small private school as a boarder. The headmistress was exceptional and had a great influence on my life. She was very human and great fun, but could also be very firm.”
From school, Janna went to study at The Bartlett School of Architecture.
In 1959 Janna worked with her father, Admiral Cundall, to create a new home in Emsworth. Trinity Cottage was born when three cottages which had been condemned as ‘unfit for human habitation’ were converted into the house we know today. All of the paperwork surrounding that project, including Janna’s detailed drawings, have been carefully preserved.
It was when her widowed mother needed live-in support that Janna moved back to Emsworth. From then on, she worked for West Sussex County Council as an Architect.
Initially, Janna worked as part of the team on the 1966 County Council Plan for Chichester City. This contained detailed analysis of the historic character and, in order to protect it, proposed taking traffic out of the centre and pedestrianising the four main streets. It also proposed the rear accesses to the centre and main car parks which we all use today.
In 1967, a new Act was passed to enable the designation of ‘Conservation Areas’ and that same year, four important studies were commissioned by the Government to find out ‘how to reconcile our old towns with the 20th century, without knocking them down’. Those for Bath, Chester and York were all commissioned from well-established consultants, but Chichester, uniquely, was put in the hands of the County Council.
Janna led the study team of seven architects and planners. The work involved inspections of all the buildings in the historic centre, from attics to basements.
Janna and a colleague then went on to inaugurate all the first Conservation Areas in towns and villages throughout West Sussex.
She spent many subsequent years giving specialist advice on Listed Buildings throughout the County and, closer to home, Janna played a significant role in the development of Emsworth’s Design Statement. Her papers have been donated to the Weald & Downland Living Museum.
In the course of her long life, Janna travelled extensively throughout Europe, North and South America, India, Vietnam and Cambodia amongst the highlights. Every trip was faithfully recorded in an album. Her travels often produced details which would then appear on her hand-made Christmas cards, which many of us continue to treasure.
Janna’s life embraced so many others. She was ‘family’ to her neighbours of 50 years, the Jepsons – so much so that she referred to Neil as her ‘next of kin’.
Janna wrote a history of Trinity Cottage in 2016: “I am not absolutely sure when the cottages were built – but probably the end of the 18th or early 19th century. There was a terrace of four cottages, the most southern (No.47) was probably demolished in the early 1920s.
The three remaining cottages were condemned, and a demolition order served in the 1950s. The last tenants were: No.41, Sarah Wells; No.43, Mr Legget, an inshore fisherman; No.45, Mr Rapson, a rat man who had a family of six.
My parents decided to buy the cottages in, I think, 1957, for £400 each [and turn them into one property]. We planned to retain the basic structure, and find out what was necessary to raise the demolition order.
I agreed to prepare the plans, which led to the layout as it is now … My father became my ‘office boy’ helping to measure so that I could draw up the plans, as well as doing all the typing. A number of things had to be done to raise the demolition order, e.g. lowering the ground floor; putting in sanitation (there was one tap in the rear scullery, and three WCs joined together in the garden).
At that time I was living in Brighton, so I worked on the plans in the evenings and weekends. Originally, the sitting room had no south window since it had adjoined the southernmost cottage. Instead, there had been a staircase leading to the first floor. We had to negotiate with the owner of what is now ‘36 on the Quay’ in order to have the window and the view.
We did the garden, often with a party of friends. The area had been used as a dumping ground … since there were no dustbins then. As the floor was lowered, we moved the ‘spoil’ to form a raised area in the garden. The soil has now been made from seaweed (which I used to collect from the shore) and compost.”
Trinity Cottage was designed for Janna’s parents, but she created for herself a tiny ‘flat’ on the top floor, consisting of a bedroom and sitting room. Janna continued to sleep in that bedroom with its view of the harbour until just a few months before she moved to a nursing home in Prinsted in 2018.
Trinity Cottage was very much as Janna’s parents had furnished it, and there were many items that had belonged to previous generations, which Janna felt she must look after. Most especially, the glass-fronted bookcase was filled with a collection of over 100 books which had been published by Janna’s great-grandfather, the Victorian publisher Joseph Cundall, renowned as the printer of the very first Christmas card.
In 2017, Janna gifted the house to the parish of Warblington-with-Emsworth. In May 2019, the new Rector, the Reverend Andrew Sheard, instigated two studies to determine the best use for Trinity Cottage that most closely matched Janna’s vision. After extensive consultation, it was decided that the property should be sold and the proceeds placed in a Trust Fund, provisionally entitled the ‘Trinity Trust’ to reflect its origins, to be used as Janna wished and as mandated in the Transfer Deed.
Extract from the Transfer Deed: The property… shall be used by the [Parochial Church] Council for furthering the religious and other charitable work of the Church of England in the Parish of Warblington with Emsworth in the diocese of Portsmouth as set out in more detail at clause 10.4 of this deed.
EM&HT leaflet Warblington Walk – from shore to sea distributed in late June/early July has prompted me to add to the Pook Quay/Wharf debate.
When I was editor of the Langstonian Newsletter for the Langstone Village Association, I was given a copy of a map dated 1870 and a press cutting from the Hampshire Telegraph and Post, dated August 2, 1929, showing a photo of the proposed Havant Bathing Pool Scheme.
I published part of the 1870 map which showed a Bathing Box at the end of Pook Lane together with the press photo in Issue 18, May 2003 and asked:–
“What does this mean? Was it a box that filled with sea water for bathing, an area for mobile bathing huts (for ladies’ modesty) or was it, as most local people think, a wooden quay for unloading barges.”
I had replies from local historian, Ann Griffiths, and Dr John Chapman, retired lecturer in historical geography. They were published in the following issue of the Langstonian Newsletter.
From Ann Griffiths
“There does seem to have been a bathing box at Pook Lane Quay in 1856, as Charles Longcroft describes it in his Hundred of Bosmere, as ‘the remains of a hard or landing place’. However, in 1929 a Havant councillor proposed that the quay should be made into a swimming pool. It was to be enclosed by a concrete wall, with a sluice to enable the pool to be filled and emptied at each tide. Changing cubicles were to be operated by penny-in-the-slot automatic doors, which would help to cover maintenance costs and also ‘do away with some of the unseemly sights that were witnessed at the jetty’. The scheme was soon abandoned, as the site was found to be unsuitable.
(There was a similar concrete swimming pool at Emsworth where I had school swimming lessons at the age of 10. Mike Rogers)
From Dr John Chapman
“On the subject of the ‘bathing box’ on the shore at Warblington, the enclosure map of Warblington fields of 1819 marks a ‘bathing house’ at this site. Bathing houses were built in many seaside resorts in the 18th and 19th centuries for those people who wanted the supposed health benefits of sea-bathing without actually venturing into the sea. The baths were filled with sea water when the tide came in, and the patrons could bathe in seclusion.
One existed at Point in Portsmouth, hence the street name ‘Bathing House Lane’. Possibly the one at Warblington was a speculative venture by someone attempting to cash in on the fashion. If so, the speculation obviously failed, and one assumes that the ‘box’ on the site was for the use of locals, rather than the fashionable clientele for whom the ‘houses’ were intended. It would be interesting to know who financed the original bathing house, and when, precisely, it ceased to exist in its original form.”
Mike Rogers continues
I was told by Noel Pycroft, the Hayling Island brick maker, that barges would collect local dredged sand, unload at the Pook Lane Wharf and load into horse pulled carts for onward journey to the Oval cricket ground. Such sand was reputed to be the best sand for maintaining the cricket pitch.
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