Nether Heyford W.I. – June 2020

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Here we are – another month on and still waiting for life to go back to normal! What can you put in an article about a group which hasn’t been able to meet since March? Well, one thing that came to mind was the news that, in December 2020, Nether Heyford WI will celebrate their 90th Anniversary! During a conversation with Mo Wright (a long time member) I discovered that she had a back copy of The Prattler with an article about the 50th Anniversary celebrations – memories galore with many good old Nether Heyford names that people will no doubt remember.

During 1930 three ladies, Mrs J. O. Adams, Mrs Punch and Mrs George were walking back to their homes in Nether Heyford. They had been attending the monthly meeting of the Womens Institute in Bugbrooke, where they had been members for three years. As they walked along the quiet lane, they discussed the formation of a branch of the W.I. in Nether Heyford and Mrs Adams volunteered to see the County Secretary at W.I. House in Northampton. When the required 10 ladies had been gathered together, the great day arrived and the foundation papers were duly signed in November 1930. In actual fact there were 48 members present, far more than the required 10! Mrs Adams was the first President, Mrs George the Secretary and their monthly meetings were held in the school where Mrs Carrington, the Headmaster’s wife, supplied the hot water to make the tea. Cups and saucers were loaned by the Baptist Chapel, carried over in a clothes basket and then washed up at home before their return!! By the first Annual Report on December 3rd 1931 they had purchased ‘6 doz of crockery and spoons, an aluminium tea urn and a large tea pot’. Obviously the clothes basket was too heavy!

Their activities were varied, sometimes a speaker on a subject of interest to countrywomen, competitions of all kinds, an Old Tyme Dancing class and Keep Fit classes run by Mrs Blaney. Subscriptions were 2/6d. They corresponded for many years with a group in Queensland, Australia and forged another link, nearer to home, with the Delapre Townswomen’s Guild. It was realised that the village needed a focal point for expanding activities. Fund raising of all kinds, including a Garden Party at Manor House, then occupied by The Vice President Mrs Shiel, raised a sum of £100. ”An ankle competition had been suggested and the Secretary was asked to see Capt. Shiel, Mr Knight and Mr Whitton with regard to judging same”. The minutes never revealed which gentleman was given the job!! As you know, the Village Hall was eventually built by volunteers in 1960 and is still the meeting place of Nether Heyford WI.

Our WI has taken part in raising funds for many charities, assisted at the Blood Donor Clinics, held Annual Produce Shows, have attended the Queen’s Garden party at Buckingham Palace, won the shield for handicrafts at the County Show In Nether Heyford and won the County General Knowledge Quiz in 1968. This was all in our first 50 years – what we do next is down to us!

So, we look backward to our Golden Jubilee Celebration and forward to our Ninetieth Birthday Celebration and see how life has changed in 40 years. There are many differences – those in travel, technology, communication and attitudes being just a few. Some of these have altered the way in which the Women’s Institute functions and few letters change hands now with emails having taken over. But the pandemic has brought some of the WI’s original baking skills back into fashion, with the entire nation rushing to buy flour and cake ingredients! However, the basic foundation of the WI hasn’t changed. In Nether Heyford there is still as much friendship, good humour and interest in other people’s life stories and crafts, as well as the love of our village life, that there ever was. If, when all this is over and you feel you would like to come to join us for an evening, please do. We would love to see you!

Mary Rice – Heyford Lodge – 01327 340101

 

The Story of Heyford: Three Wise Men V3C16

Pictured here around 1950 are Wakefield Whitton, William Denny , and Bernard Kingston. Mr Whitton owned Brook Farm before it was demolished and replaced by the modern houses in Watery Lane and Brookside. Wakefield Way was named after him.

William Denny was of the family of builders. He built the council houses in Furnace Lane. Bernard Kingston as one of the bell ringers. All three were school governors, and they are seen here on the village green judging at one of the school events .

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Photo lent by Dorothy (nee Denny) and Bill Kingston

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 3 of 4 | Chapter 16 of 17 | Page 30

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Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers

The Story of Heyford: Four Hundred Years of Bell Ringing V2C3

Bell—ringing in the parish church of St Peter and St Paul goes back at least four centuries. The two oldest bells are dated 1601 and one of these is inscribed ‘Thomas Morgan gave me to the church frank and free.’  Judge Morgan lived in the Manor House at this time. Both bells were cast by a founder called Watts and one is the heaviest bell in the belfry. It is the tenor, weighing over seven hundred-weight: that’s over 784 lbs. or 356 kilos. Another bell was added in 1638, cast by Watts II, and a fourth in 1704 cast by H. Penn. With these four bells it was possible to ring a maximum of 24 changes or sequences (English Change Ringing is based on mathematical sequences rather than musical composition). This was how it remained for 250 years.

Originally there was an external door in the tower where the bell-ringers could gain access. In 1855 there was extensive restoration work in the church which included opening up the tower inside, moving the organ and sealing off the outside door. The heavy wooden door which was removed became the one now hanging as the front entrance to the Old Sun pub. This would be appropriate as the vestry meetings used to adjourn to the Old Sun. Of course, it is still the tradition today for the bell-ringers to finish off every Friday-night ringing practice with a drink in the local – even if, for some reason, ringing hasn’t actually taken place!

During the 1930s the ringers included Mont Smith (John Smith’s grandfather), Fred Browning, Charlie Foster, Bernard Kingston, Harry Eales and Dick Capell. At this time, ringing only usually took place on holy days such as Christmas or Easter; for church services, the bells were just tolled. During the Second World War, bell—ringing generally was banned and only to be used as an alarm for the community. However by 1943 the threat of invasion was considered over and the ban lifted.

A new era and two new bells

This spelled a new era for the Nether Heyford bells. Fred Browning, as the tower captain, recruited and trained a new generation of ringers, including Ted Garrett and Hilda Collins who are still ringing today. Fred also developed handbell ringing at Christmas time. This new enthusiasm was further encouraged by the addition of two new bells after the Reverend Isham Longden, rector from 1897 to 1942, left £100 in his will for a new bell. Even in the 1940s, this provided only a quarter of the amount needed to cast and hang the bells, so an active fund—raising campaign started in the village.

Coffee mornings, whist drives and sales helped to raise £400 and on 21st September 1946, two treble bells were dedicated in church. They were made in London by Gillett and Johnson and hung on a metal frame above the others who were still on a timber frame.

One was called the Victory Bell and there is a list from 1943 of villagers who donated funds towards it. The list includes the rector “Mr” (sic) Mortimer, Harry Allen the verger, Jack Capell the butcher, William Wakefield Whitton, the Kingston family, the Brownings, the Collins’s and the carpenters shop. Most contributed £1, some as much as £5 and some gave ‘two ‘n’ six.’ Now with six bells, the number of possible changes increased dramatically from 24 to 720.

Repairs

In 1979, the four older bells on their wooden frame needed to be rehung and refitted. They had been taken down before but this was the first time in nearly 400 years that they had left the village. They were taken to Taylors of Loughborough and their transport was provided by Jeremy Rice. An eight mile sponsored walk from the church to Flore and Stowe was organised to help raise funds.

Lowering the bells

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The Tenor bell of 1601 bearing the Morgan family crest

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Removing the bells to Loughborough in 1979

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Left to right: Wilf Denny, Bill Collins, Malcolm Chown

Photos lent by Hilda Collins

In 1995, a quarter peal was rung to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE day. This consisted of 1260 rings non stop and lasted for about an hour. In 1996, the church celebrated the half-century of the treble bells with the Heyford Morris Men, handbell ringers, a lone piper, John Anderson, and a special commemorative service.

Sarah Crontear with thanks to Hilda Collins and Ted Garrett

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Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s

Volume 2 of 4 | Chapter 3 of 11 | Pages 6 & 7

TheStoryOfHeyford_NetherHeyford_Footer

Heyford’s Historical Heritage  |  How the books were created

Index  |  Covers