In one corner of the Blewbury’s old cemetery in Boham’s Road are two fairly ordinary graves, which are the main reminder that the village has of two women, Gladys Hazel and Dr Gertrude Austin, who retired to Blewbury in the 1930s and lived in a newly built bungalow in Westbrook Street, with Gladys’s school age nephew, Peter Waterfield.
They lived there for over twenty years during which time Peter grew up, went to Oxford University, married the daughter of the Vicar of Didcot, and then left the village to pursue a career as a school teacher and head teacher. Peter, now in his 90s, lives in Cornwall. Just last year, to his amazement, he came across an old manuscript which turned out to be his Aunt Gladys’s memoirs. These memoirs reveal that, in her earlier life, she had been a very active, militant Suffragette. She was born in 1880 and had become a school teacher in Birmingham, when she was invited to a tea party, which was addressed by Emmeline Pankhurst sometime around 1908. Fairly soon after that she became heavily involved in the Suffragette movement, working in their offices in Birmingham, Leicester and Bristol over a period of several years. Passive campaigning led to more militant activity. On one occasion for example, she describes stepping into the middle of a road to obstruct a troop of mounted police during a visit to Birmingham by Asquith. The cavalcade was forced to part either side of her to great cheers and laughter from the assembled crowd. She calls it her “first taste of heady power” and writes: “I was immensely exhilarated”. Not all acts of defiance were as enjoyable. During the time she was in Holloway Prison, Gladys took part in a hunger strike and was force fed. In her memoirs she describes the occasion when the now famous Emily Wilding Davison attempted suicide in Holloway, trying to end the suffering and force feeding of others. “My cell door was open and a warden hurried to me calling: ‘Come quick!’ I followed her out to the gallery. And there was Emily Davison. She was sitting with her feet hanging down over the stairway her face closed and set. The warden said, ‘Speak to her and stop her doing it.’ I felt suddenly full of [emotion] and in a sort of rage and I said, ‘Why? She’ll be well out of it.’ And I turned away. I heard her fall and saw her lying across the steps as they hustled me into my cell.” Earlier in 1912 she had been involved in a demonstration in New Bond Street in London. She was arrested after smashing several windows of Asprey’s store, but while being led away by a burly policeman still managed according to his account in court to ‘break two more windows’. So this quiet old lady living in Westbrook Street from 1939-1959 had quite a colourful past campaigning for women’s rights, and it seems that no-one living in Blewbury at the time knew anything of her past. Her nephew has very fond memories of his time in the village, and is collaborating with the Local History Group to ensure that his aunt’s exploits on behalf of such an important cause are not forgotten. Anyone else with relevant information about Gladys and Gertrude is encouraged to contact the group. Roger and Elizabeth Murphy
Congratulations to Pat Mattimore who in recognition of her efforts organising various village events including the Blewbury Festival, recently received a Community Volunteer award from the Vale of White Horse District Council’s chairman Mike Babcock.
We would like to thank her and her team of volunteers for helping to make Blewbury a special place to live!
If you know of someone who could be nominated next year, please contact the Parish Council Clerk.
Thanks to Bernard Mattimore for the photo
A new publication, Wagon, compiled by Peter Cockrell, is now available for sale. For those who weren’t at the launch this book is highly recommended!
Containing fascinating detail, excellent photographs and illustrations, it records how a derelict farm wagon was spotted in East Hagbourne in the 1960’s by Ron Freeborn. Years later he drew it to the attention of Blewbury to fill a theatrical need. The story records its history since then over the last forty or so years. Now skillfully restored it was finally installed in its splendid home earlier this year.
This dedicated and comprehensive research by Peter Cockrell is also enhanced by other excellent contributions. These reflect the traditional agricultural background of Blewbury and other local villages in days gone by. The Blewbury Wagon is now a remarkable symbol and addition to Blewbury’s history!
Thank you to everyone who came along to the recent exhibition, The Bauer Collection, at The Red Lion. Your support and lovely comments were very special. Thank you.
The sum raised, after the cost of framing, by sales and donation, is £970.00. This has been split equally between The Blewbury Village Hall Refurbishment Fund and The Tony Loy Trust. Just want to say a big thank you to my family, and all who helped me get there. Janet Hewson
The British Council International School Award was started in 1999 to recognise the schools leading the way in instilling and developing a global dimension into the learning experience of all children and young people.
Blewbury School has been part of this development continuously since its conception, it encourages and supports schools to develop:
* An international ethos embedded throughout the school
* A majority of pupils within the school impacted by and involved in international work
* Collaborative curriculum-based work with a number of partner schools
* Curriculum-based work across a range of subjects
* Year-round international activity
* Involvement of the wider community
We are really proud to announce that at the British Council presentation in November it was both confirmed and celebrated that we are the only school in the United Kingdom ( or other countries in the world that take part), that have received this award six times.
In the spirit of this award we are hosting two Spanish teachers this week from a school in Cáceres, Spain, which three of us visited during the October break. We are sharing both ethos and the development of learning including a joint staff meeting about mindfulness.
Over the years, I’ve walked and cycled around Blewbury and been inspired to paint many parts of the village… but I’ve always wanted to fit more in.
Earlier this year, I chose as many key places as I could and arranged them together in roughly the right order, to create a montage style painting of the village. I use fine pen line and watercolour to capture the scene from Blewburton Hill in the background, to the duck race, plant pots, and people near the front.
One of the first montage pictures I did was for the cover of a prayer book for the benefice of the Hagbournes, Upton, and Blewbury. It had something to represent each of the villages including the Blewbury cob walls and one of the Alms houses. Since then, I’ve developed the idea of fitting all sorts of elements together into one picture.
Fine Art prints (in 2 sizes) of the Blewbury Montage are on display at the Style Acre Tea Rooms, and at the Framing Studio (126B The Broadway) in Didcot, and also available from the artist.
Greetings cards are available at Blewbury Post Office, Savages, and The Framing Studio.
Please contact Linda Benton on 01235 817891, email: Linda.Benton@live.co.uk Web: lindabenton.wix.com/artist
7.30 pm, Tuesday 23 February, Village Hall, Blewbury
Beeswax Farming operate a hugely mixed and diverse farming business, with a long term vision, striving to improve its soils and enhance crop health. The business is committed to a long term strategy of infrastructure and operating a business people are proud to be involved with. One of the guiding principles for Beeswax Farming is to act as guardians of the land, maintaining and improving it for future generations. Its dedicated Environmental Team ensures that we maintain and develop our activities to enhance our surroundings. On Tuesday 23 February Ben Wills of Beeswax Farming will tell us more about Beeswax its philosophy and plans for the future. Please do come along to learn more and to ask questions about how Beeswax will interact with Blewbury.