Newton - Micheldever Between the Wars
War Memorial Micheldever Village
When the Rev. Alfred Milner, vicar of Micheldever, privately published the History of Micheldever in October 1923 he ended his account in 1800, adding, “There is, no doubt, ample scope for another to supplement and polish this record.”
In 1998 Micheldever Archaeology and Local History Group decided that an appropriate way of marking the Millennium would be to re-issue Milner’s History of Micheldever whilst taking the opportunity of adding additional text to bring it up to date. This task of revising, editing and adding to Milner’s History of Micheldever fell to me, aided by members of the Group’s committee.
Before the task could be completed and a new book published, the Archaeology and Local History Group disbanded. However, work on a new history of Micheldever has continued and will be completed. In the interim, it has been decided to produce booklets on some of the more noteworthy local events as a precursor to the complete history. “Micheldever Between the Wars” is one of these series now in preparation. Other titles are “Micheldever and the Swing Riots” and “Micheldever and the Coming of the Railway”.
Micheldever Between the Wars
Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, was greeted with universal relief in Micheldever as it was throughout the country. The village schools were decorated with Union Jacks, church bells rang for two hours, and a service was held immediately in Church with a good turnout considering the short notice. Later in the month a social evening, held to celebrate the signing of the Armistice, finished early because of lighting and heating regulations, which were still in operation.
Those who had served their country and survived the carnage returned to the village, and gradually a sense of normalcy settled over the district. By December 1919 there was a return of the traditional Christmas Day football match, this time Micheldever Football Club played against Comrades of the Great War, when the Vice Captain of Micheldever Football Club, Mr Fred Mitchell, broke his ankle. The report on the match does not mention how the injury was sustained.
In mid-April of 1920, Micheldever FC was the host of a six-a-side tournament for all the village clubs within a 12-mile radius. The final result is now unknown.
At the beginning of 1920, John Bennet was fined £2 for wearing the 1914 war ribbon to which he was not entitled, and on 27 March the death was announced of the Postmaster at Micheldever Station, Mr Thomas Pearce. He had also been a coal merchant.
The Annual Parish assembly in April 1920 considered a request for a public bathing place under the Washhouse and Baths Act. No decision was taken. That same month a Fancy Dress Ball, held at Northbrook Hall in aid of the Micheldever and Stratton Nursing Fund, raised the princely sum of £23.
In Micheldever Station school, at the junction of Overton Road and Larkwhistle Road and which is now a private house, an oak tablet memorial was unveiled for the 5 men killed from Micheldever Station - W J Barrett, J Hughes, W T Jones, A Simpson and L Weston.
Rev. E. S. Allen confirmed that the tablet was to remain the property of the school governors. Its present whereabouts seem to be unknown.
The following month a Church Parade was held for the Comrades of the Great War, attended by the National Union of Railwaymen, Micheldever and Stratton Workers Union, and the Postmen. A band played, speeches were made and tea was taken. It was hoped that this was the first of an annual event, and £15/12/8d was collected for the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and the South Western Railway Orphanage. Then the Primitive Methodist Sunday School held a Whit Monday children's treat in the meadow near Northbrook Chapel lent by Mrs Falconer. There were addresses, recitations and singing, followed by tea which finished at 7 pm. And a good time was had by all.
Indeed, good times had returned. Or so it seemed. Farm produce and products were earning record prices, and at auction, a small house with a garden had an opening bid of £200 and was eventually knocked down for £500, more than twice the expected price, as a property boom continued. But one person sounded a note of caution, in a letter to the Hampshire Chronicle:
"Sir, No generation appears to profit much by the experiences of that which has gone before, but all alike (just as the children about us) are destined to experience for themselves and prove, if only in their particular case, things and events will be different.
"After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, farming for a few years was very prosperous, and sheep made big prices. But with the advent of 1879, how great was the change until the early nineties when farming and farm stock were at their very lowest, wheat then touched 19s. per quarter. My own father went out of his farm in 1892, and whereas the farm had cost £6,000 to stock on going in, it realised only half that amount when giving up the business.
"I noticed at Alresford Fair last week, ewes (draft) made up to 167s. [£8.35p] per head. What can buyers be contemplating to pay such prices? There are certain to be some deaths among them, bringing up those remaining several shillings per head.
"One has only to read the market reports from week to week (dead meat) to realise that a big drop is near at hand. Australian and other foreign meat now often totalling 95 per cent in Smithfield and much of it of excellent quality is certain to have its influence and make itself felt. The wise investor seldom buys shares at a great premium.
I am, &c., VIATOR"
But if a fall was coming, it was far in the future. Or so it seemed.
With regard to social life in the village, activities were no less and probably stronger, than before the start of the war. In June the Comrades of the Great War agreed to establish a Club, appointing F W Gilbert as Honorary Secretary.
Then, on July 3 1920, came a bombshell. The announcement of an auction sale to be held in September of 4,200 acres owned by the Earl of Northbrook, including the farms of Northbrook, 889 acres; Borough and Borough Down Farm, 901 acres; Manor and Cowdown Farm, 854 acres; and New Down Farm, 556 acres. Also to be sold was the Western Road Hotel, together with shops, cottages, allotments, watercress beds, and 690 acres of woodland.
No doubt in the Half Moon and Spread Eagle and in the Western Road Hotel, and wherever villagers gathered, there was speculation as to the reason for this sale which, later, the Earl of Northbrook said publicly was an involuntary one. Village gossip could be that he had panicked - the sentiment expressed in the letter of the Hampshire Chronicle, that a huge fall was imminent in agriculture causing him to get out at the top of the boom before prices came crashing down - or that he was prudently protecting his interests. Whatever the cause, the landowner of Micheldever was surrendering family ownership after a hundred and twenty years.
On 5 August 1920, another important event in village history occurred, as was reported in the Hampshire Chronicle:
"There was unveiled and dedicated at Micheldever on Thursday evening a worthy addition to the many memorial crosses that have already been erected in Hampshire to commemorate the Glorious Dead of the county, who made the Supreme Sacrifice in the Great War. Out of its total population of under 1000 at the last Census, the parish contributed 120 men to the Army in the recent war, and the memorial has on its base the names of 30 fallen heroes. As many as nine of the men were killed in one terrible week, and in the case of six of the names recorded, they were brothers from three families. But that is not all. The names inscribed on the memorial are those chiefly of men from Micheldever Village, Micheldever Station, and Weston; others who were slain in the war came from West Stratton, Bradley and Park Hill, on the opposite side of the parish, and their names are to appear on a memorial at East Stratton.
"A very gratifying fact associated with the memorial is that it was provided by the absolutely voluntary contributions of parishioners of all classes, irrespective of their religious or other views. The Parish Council mooted the desirability of a memorial being erected, three or four of the prominent residents very readily co-operated with the Council, and Mr John Pain became Hon. Sec. But no appeal was issued. The parishioners, without the asking, bringing to the Committee contributions according to their means. This is, indeed, the true spirit in which a war memorial ought to be provided by those to whom the fallen were known, and among whom they lived and were loved.
"The memorial takes the form of a Cornish cross, in rough-hewn Cornish granite, with the names inscribed upon the rugged base. Its total height is 12ft. 6in. It was the workmanship of the Bodmin Granite Company. A splendid site for the cross in front of the Northbrook Hall overlooking the road approaching from Winchester, and at the junction of the Stratton-Basingstoke road
"Mrs F.H. Bailey, formerly of Norsebury, the name of whose only son is the first on the memorial - he was one of the earliest in the war - was invited to unveil the memorial. The Vicar (the Rev. A.B. Milner) dedicated the memorial and conducted the religious service, and the Earl of Northbrook, who is Chairman of the Parish Council, attended and spoke.
"Nonconformists having joined equally with Church people in the provision of the memorial, and several of the memorialised men having been the sons of Nonconformist parents, it was rightly decided to ask a Free Church minister to take part. The Committee was successful in obtaining the presence of an excellent representative in the person of Captain E.S. Emmitt, M.C., S.C.F, who is still in Military service but is temporarily doing duty in the Primitive Methodist Circuit owing to the illness of the regular minister. Capt. Emmitt is not only a fluent speaker but has a record to be proud of in connection with the war. As well as gaining the Military Cross, his courage and spirit were shown by giving up his ministerial appointment and enlisting in the Army as a private soon after the outbreak of the war, and he served a long while on the Western Front before it came to the knowledge of the Military Authorities that he was a nonconformist minister, and he was asked to accept a chaplaincy. The Rev. Lewis Hancock (Southsea) attended with Capt. Emmitt. Mrs Bailey was accompanied by Mr F.H. Bailey.
"There was a very numerous assembly both on the greensward around the memorial and on the roadway in front. They were people of every class and age, and we should imagine there were very few houses in the parish not represented. From the Micheldever Station end, the best part of three miles distant, Mrs J. Falconer kindly lent a conveyance to bring in those living thereabout. A number of ex-Service men, wearing the badge of the Comrades of the Great War, were prominent among those on the roadway. Chairs were provided close to the memorial for relatives and friends of the fallen men. The boys of the church choir were present to lead the singing. Mr and Mrs John Pain, and their sons, Geoffrey and John, both of whom were officers in the war, with the assistance of the Vicar and others of the Committee, saw to the preliminary arrangements. It was, fortunately, a fine evening, but there was a high wind blowing and tact had to be exercised so that speakers should be audible. The service commenced with the hymn, "Through the night of doubt and sorrow."
This was followed by an address by the Vicar, Rev. Milner, and a speech by Capt. Emmitt. Mrs Bailey, accompanied by the Vicar, the Earl of Northbrook and Mr John Pain, then removed the Union Jack which draped the cross. After she read some lines of verse, the cross was dedicated "and the Earl of Northbrook read the roll call of names, for relatives or friends to come forward and lay posies and bunches of flowers. Watts' grand old hymn, "O God our help in ages past" was joined in by all, following which the Vicar pronounced the Blessing. Heads were bared as two buglers from the Hampshire Depot sounded "Last Post" and the touching and impressive service closed with a verse of the National Anthem."
The Memorial still stands in Micheldever Village:
1914 IN PROUD MEMORY OF 1919
Gerald Hinton Bailey
Sidney J. Bassett
Charles H. Brazier
William H. Bush
Ernest L. Butcher
Clement F. G. Molland
Albert G. Tarrant
Edward B. Wheeler
who laid down their lives for Home and Country.
The auction sale of the Earl of Northbrook’s holdings duly took place in September 1920 at the George Hotel, Winchester. A report in the Hampshire Chronicle recorded the momentous event:
"On Monday afternoon, Messrs. Knight, Frank and Rutley (Hanover Square, W1) in conjunction with Messrs. Simmons and Sons (Basingstoke) offered for sale the outlying portions of Lord Northbrook's Stratton estate situated in the parishes of Micheldever, East Stratton and Martyr Worthy extending to an area of over 4,150 acres. The property was offered as a whole in London on Sept 7th but did not reach the reserve price and was withdrawn to be offered in lots in Winchester. The area of the estate as originally offered was 5,650 acres, but private sales to tenants had been affected, and as before mentioned 4,150 acres were scheduled in 144 lots for auction.
"These comprised four superior agricultural holdings, practically the whole village of Micheldever, the Western Road Hotel close to Micheldever station, 690 acres of woodland, accommodation land, watercress beds and shops, a noted partridge shoot and excellent pheasant shooting (Micheldever and Dodeley Woods) The land tax was redeemed, and the property practically tithe free. This timber on the lots scheduled was estimated at a total value of £17,293. 10s. 2d. Since the auction was advertised there had been a further sale of 43 lots, including the four agricultural holdings, viz. Manor and Cow Down Farm (Mr W V Judd), Northbrook Farm (Mr James Falconer), Borough and Borough Down Farm (Mr John Pain), and New Down Farm (Mr A Whistler), a total of close on 3,200 acres the farms alone. Including the private sales to tenants, 127 lots out of the 144 found purchases and a total of about £111,800 were realised.
"Sir Howard Frank, Bart., KCB (Messrs. Knight, Frank and Rutley) was in the rostrum, supported by the Earl and Countess of Northbrook. The attendance was so large the room was crowded. In his introductory remarks, Sir Howard referred to the fact that of the whole of the farms having been sold to the tenants, it was Lord Northbrook's wish that the tenants should have the opportunity of acquiring their holdings if they so wished. He also mentioned that buyers at the auction if they desired might leave two-thirds of the purchase money at six per cent interest. The sale then proceeded."
Amongst those items listed were Lot 9: House, smithy, outbuildings and two paddocks, the occupation of Mr J H Symes, sold privately; and Lot 10: Rose Cottage, dwelling house in the tenancy of Messrs. E and S Gill, sold for £675 to Mr G Blay of New Malden.
Micheldever Wood and Keepers Cottage, and Blackwater Cottage and land, 534 acres, sold for £11,900 to Messrs. G Plege and Co. Ltd of Leeds.
"Various cottages sold for between £65 and £90, with a superior cottage being sold for £200. The various cottages of Northbrook were sold for £95 each. Many of the lots were for paddocks and fields, including one adjoining the Half Moon and Spread Eagle, which went for £130, and the allotments there were sold for £90.
Fiercest competition was for Lot 127 - the Western Road Hotel. "Starting at £3,000 there was spirited competition between two bidders, till £5,000 was reached, at which figure it was knocked down to Messrs. Strong and Co.
"The sale was got through within about 1½ hours. On the conclusion, Lord Northbrook, greeted with an outburst of applause, said it was against his wish, and his inclination, he had been obliged to part with a considerable portion of his Hampshire property, but it was some little consolation to him to think - at least to hope - that the greatest number of lots had passed into the hands of the present occupiers. He wished them all prosperity and good luck and he thanked them for their attendance. He desired to express his thanks to Sir Howard Frank for the way in which he had conducted the sale, and for the very great time and trouble he had expended. Sir Howard Frank had taken an immense amount of trouble in the matter of the valuation, and he had endeavoured and he (Lord Northbrook) hoped succeeded in putting the reserve price at a very fair and reasonable sum (applause)."
And so the great estate of Micheldever Hundred, which traced its existence back to the time of Alfred the Great, was broken up. When the auctioneer's hammer fell for the last time, a quarter of all the lots had been bought by Mr G Blay, of New Malden. The next largest landlord proved to be Mr J Falconer, who lived at Northbrook Farm, and Mr W V Judd, who was now the owner of both Manor and Cowdown Farms.
A sense of village life in Micheldever between the wars can be viewed through the pages of the Hampshire Chronicle and those of Micheldever’s Church Magazine. What soon becomes apparent from the newspaper is that the times foreseen, or feared, by the Earl of Northbrook, rapidly came to pass and agriculture entered a period of severe depression. Being a rural community, the Micheldever district was badly affected, and many of the entries about social life in the village are concerned with raising funds for charities and societies. They also indicate the subtle social changes that were taking place in the village in response to national trends.
On 22 January 1921, the children of Micheldever Schools were entertained in Northbrook Hall by the ladies and gentlemen of the neighbourhood. More than 100 children enjoyed tea and crackers, and a lantern slide show of the story of Peter Pan. Each received an orange, a bag of sweets, and a memento of the occasion on leaving.
Northbrook Hall was the venue for a presentation to Mr and Mrs Sydney Gill, who were leaving the village. There was dancing, directed by Mr Gill, and music by Mrs Gill. Leaving gifts were a gold and amethyst pendant and chain, engraved gold cuff links, and a silver rose bowl from the Girls' Club. There is no mention in the item as to why the Gills were leaving the village nor of what they did that occasioned a public presentation. The Gills lived in Rose Cottage, purchased the previous year by G Blay of New Malden during the great sell-off by the Earl of Northbrook, and perhaps the new landlord had given them notice or increased the rent beyond their ability to pay or wanted the property for himself or his family. Whatever the reason, it was an indication that an exodus from the village was beginning.
On 5 February, the Church Council meeting decided to introduce an envelope system to raise church funds, and a week later there was a meeting in Northbrook Hall to explain the insurance scheme for free treatment in the hospital. The meeting voted to approve a scheme of weekly contributions.
The Annual Meeting of the Micheldever and Sutton Friends in Need Society (the Pig Club) was held on 12 March, Mr Pain presiding. He reported a heavy drain on resources over the past 2 years but even those who no longer kept pigs kept up contributions. The balance in hand was £20, there were 55 members, and 85 pigs were insured.
In April Mr and Mrs Falconer, of Northbrook Farm, and Mr John Nicoll of Warren Farm funded a new church room at Micheldever Station as thanksgiving for the end of the war. This was an Army-type hut at the crossroads near the railway bridge, for use in church services and social activities. Rev Milner, who referred to the history of Micheldever Station as not being eventful before 1840, as there were only the tenants of Warren Farm and his dependants and numerous conies that infested the warren, formally opened it. There was now, said the local historian, "A new page of history with this new room."
At the end of the month, the Great War Comrades held a dance with the proceeds going to the Cricket Club, and in May Micheldever Comrades played a cricket match against the Winchester County Police. By then a drought had started which, by July, was being compared to the Great Drought of 1825. It was so severe that the flower show in Stratton Park was nearly cancelled, there being so few exhibits due to the long drought.
The end of the school year in August saw the departure of Mr Lawrence, who had been at Micheldever School for the past 42 years, since 1879, in which time he had taught 1,500 children and outlasted 5 vicars.
The annual Harvest and Thanksgiving service raised £7.9s [£7.45p] for the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, and the Poor Rate overseers met to make a rate of 4s.6d [37p] in the £ to meet calls on the parish. This was 8d [3p] less than the previous year.
On 8 December George Gamble died. He was a self-taught man with a much-appreciated musical talent, who spent all his life of 72 years in the same house where he was born. This once common occurrence was, even in the 1920s, becoming unusual.
The start of 1922 saw 60 children attend a tea party at Northbrook Hall where they were entertained with a pathoscope show, and a newly-formed hockey club for Micheldever and Stoke Charity played against Wonston and Sutton Scotney, the match being followed with tea and dancing. The Infant Welfare Centre also held an annual tea at Northbrook Hall for 80 mothers and 90 children from Micheldever and the Strattons.
In March the Pig Club's president, John Pain, reported to the annual meeting that membership was 50, five less than the previous year, and the number of pigs insured was also down, from 85 to 78. This was to prove an irreversible trend.
Also in March, the annual Parish meeting was held which a hundred residents attended to elect the Parish Council. Unlike more recent times where some parish councils find difficulty in filling the number of vacancies, there were 17 nominations for 10 seats. Accounts were presented for parish-run charities and plans to form a Poultry and Pig-keepers Association were discussed. The newly formed Musical society gave its first public concert in Northbrook Hall.
In the middle of 1922 the Primitive Methodist Chapel introduced an innovation when, for an outing to Southsea, 80 of its members were taken to the Station not, as usually the case, by Hillary's steam engine but by a motor-lorry belonging to Mr W V Judd of Manor Farm. On the outing, they saw HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Renown in Portsmouth harbour. For some of the children, it was their first time on a train, and for some of the elderly of Micheldever, it was the first time they had seen the sea. Shortly afterwards the Village Fête was held in Northbrook Hall and two adjoining meadows, kindly lent by Mr R G Jonas of Micheldever House, beginning a custom that lasted seventy-five years until the annual fête was transferred elsewhere. The festivities included a baby show, for which the village was able to produce 48 entrants.
One of the scourges of the time, now eradicated, was smallpox. A local meeting discussed a proposed scheme for smallpox treatment and the need for the provision of a smallpox hospital in Winchester, two having been established at Basingstoke and Aldershot.
The local nurse, Mrs Elizabeth Baverstock, died at the age of 75 on 23 September, and the following month the village school found itself suffering from educational cutbacks, a familiar situation later in the century. A jumble sale in aid of school funds raised £37.12s.11d [£37.65p].
Also in October 1923, in far-off Italy, 50,000 members of a year-old political party, the Fascists, marched on Rome and the Italian Government was overthrown. Installed as Prime Minister was thirty-nine year old Benito Mussolini. Fascism, one of the causes of the Second World War, had begun. Bigger news was, of course, the discovery of the tomb of young King Tutankhamun by Howard Carter and Lord Carnavon who lived in nearby Highclere.
The 1923 Parochial Church Council meeting in Northbrook Hall announced that there were 183 names in its electoral role, including the Strattons. This was 19% of Micheldever Parish's population.
For the second year running, the newly-formed Amateur Dramatic Society went through its paces in January, giving a recital followed by a Pantomime rehearsal in Northbrook Hall which was well-received by an appreciative audience. A concert was given by "The Queroes" at the hut in Micheldever Station in aid of Warren Cricket Club. Mr Morris Wells of Manor Farm "invited the sporting fraternity to an afternoon of coursing. All arrived with hounds. Hares were plentiful, and excellent coursing witnessed", reported the Hampshire Chronicle. Eleven hares were accounted for, and afterwards, Mr and Mrs Wells provided hospitality. As Manor Farm was in the ownership of Mr W V Judd only the previous July, when he provided motor transport for an annual outing, the farm must have changed hands since then. Perhaps the afternoon was organised to enable the new owners to make themselves known to the village and to meet their new neighbours.
In March the County Council's Travelling Diary class held a fortnight's instruction in the village. Nine people attended the course. And also that month the wife of the vicar, Mrs Frances Lilian Milner, died after a long illness. She was a founder member of the Girls' Club, trained the choir and was a member of the Micheldever Musical Society. When Rev. Milner published the History of Micheldever the following year he dedicated it to his late wife.
In April, having reduced the rates in the previous year, the Parish Rates overseers were forced to increase them by 4d [1p] to 4s. 10d [24p] in the pound. Although the amount seems small, it was an increase of 7%, well above the rate of the British rate of inflation. In Germany, on the other hand, inflation was soaring like a rocket and groceries had to be paid for with wheelbarrowfuls of German marks.
What was increasing in Britain was unemployment, including in the agricultural industry. It was a worrying time, but the Primitive Methodists held their annual outing to Southsea with over a hundred making the journey by train. Despite the continuing drought, the annual flower show had an excellent turnout with music provided by Sutton Scotney Brass Band, and at the football club meeting, to prepare for the new season, Mr Brewer offered the use of a room for visiting teams to change in and Mr Morris Wells allowed the use of one of his fields for the matches.
In August, instead of the usual annual outing to Southsea, the Church Sunday School travelled all the way to London on a visit to Regent's Park Zoo. And on the first day of September, the city of Tokyo was destroyed by an earthquake. Over one hundred thousand people were killed and half a million were injured.
Two weeks later Mr and Mrs Morris Wells of Manor Farm entertained employees and wives to harvest supper in Northbrook Hall with a hundred people turning out. The report of this innovation in the Hampshire Chronicle provides a comprehensive account of the tenure of the time and is reproduced in full. The sentiments expressed in the speeches suggest that, whether prompted by fear or foresight, the Earl of Northbrook might have been prudent to abandon agriculture and sell off his holdings when he did.
“It was a happy thought on the part of the lord of the manor, as Mr Morris Wells was good-humouredly described during the evening, and his good wife to have arranged such an event, cementing as it did the good feeling that has long existed between them and their employees, and furnishing proof - if it were required - that in days of stress in agriculture, employers and employed have many interests in common which they can promote for their mutual benefit. .... Supper was timed for 7 pm and the guests sat down to a varied menu, Mr Cracknell undertaking the arduous duties of the carver, while members of Mr Morris Wells' family waited on the comforts of the guests. The tables had been prettily decorated with montbretia, asters, sweet peas and other flowers by Mr G. Waterman, gardener at the Manor.
"At the request of the host, Mr James Falconer took the chair and the post-prandial proceedings added considerably to the pleasures of the evening. The large company having done full justice to the meal, the CHAIRMAN submitted the loyal toast, which was duly honoured.
"Mr ERNEST CLIFT next proposed "Agriculture and the workers". His claim to offer the toast was, he said, based on the fact that his family had been connected with agriculture since 1673, and on his present farm for over 60 years. In these days agriculture was not the most pleasant thing to talk about: it was experiencing very bad times, and the only way to pull through was by a combination of the three interests - the landowner, the tenant farmer and the worker - all doing their best (applause). That was one of the planks in the platform of the N.F.U., laid down when it was first established in Hampshire 15 years ago, and in which he endeavoured at the time to play a small part. Times had changed, and there were more landlords now compared with 1908, unfortunately, as many of them knew. That evening he found himself in what he always regarded as one of the most important agricultural centres in Hampshire, because living among them was one whose name was very prominently associated with the success of their industry. He referred to the Earl of Northbrook, whom all agriculturists looked upon as one of the premier landlords, and one of the finest men agriculture had ever possessed (applause). Coming next to the farmers, in Mr Falconer they had one of the biggest farmers and one of the largest employers of labour in the county (applause). He was also one who had done more for agriculture than he (the speaker) could put in words, and certainly more than a great many realised (applause). He (Mr Clift) did not know any of the men of that village, but he had no doubt that they were well-intentioned and were out to do their best for those who employed them. In his own case, several families had worked for them for many years, and they worked well, and without grumbling, unless it be that anyone stepped in and interfered. But, generally speaking, they had never fallen out. Personally, he liked to see that the landlords had their Association, that the farmers had combined, and that the workers also had their Union. An organisation of workers run on sound principles was good for the men and for their employers. But where such an organisation was out to set class against class, he, for one, had no room for it (applause). He had every sympathy for the worker who was out to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay; he was the friend of everyone, and without him, no farmer could get along. It was for that reason that he gladly accepted the invitation of Mr and Mrs Morris Wells to attend their gathering that evening. He regarded that in the light of a reunion of old times, when all enjoyed the company of each other, and when confidences were exchanged, all separating more determined than ever to pull together in the future and so make agriculture the success it should be (applause).
"Mr JAMES FALCONER, acknowledging the very cordial reception of the toast, humorously described himself as one of Mr Morris Wells' employees, as he had been employed to do his ploughing. Having lived in Hampshire for 28 years, he should like to tell them that he liked the county. He had during that time tried his best to carry out a principle that he had always believed in, viz., that the land of this country should be cultivated (hear, hear). They read and they saw that a great deal of arable land up and down the country was being put down to grass. That was wrong, and it was more wrong for the workers than for anyone else because if all the land went down to grass, where would the workers get a look in? During the war, he fought hard to get the land cultivated for producing food for the people. He met with ill will on the part of some of his colleagues. He was sent up to Leicestershire, which was a great grass county, to tell them to plough up their land. They eventually acceded to the request. Sometime afterwards one of the Leicestershire farmers told him they were sending along a bill for £5,000. The explanation of that was that he had told them to break up their land and that as they had lost £5,000 by so doing, they were going to charge him with it (laughter and applause). Speaking seriously, however, it was a bad thing for the country to know that these great acreages were no longer under the plough. How were they going to get along in the future he didn't know; and today he would say, without any fear of contradiction, that there was no class of the commercial community of the country who were doing what farmers were doing, viz., paying wages while they were not earning themselves (hear, hear). He did not say that the labourers were getting too much, but the farmer was losing money, and if they wanted proof of that he commended to them a letter that Mr T S Mitchell had written to the Farmers' Union in which he referred to his own farming losses during the past two years. That letter they would read in their Hampshire papers,
and they would appreciate its significance when he told them - if they did not already know it - that Mr Mitchell was one of the best farmers in the south of England. If that was the position in which one of the best farmers found himself, what was to happen to the thousands of others who were not farming as he was, or who perhaps had not the capital at his back to carry him through? As farmers, they wished to be friends of the workers, and he could not too strongly emphasise what Mr Clift had so well said regarding the necessity for the three interests pulling together. The Government had let the industry down very badly; they had said that they could not maintain the 10s duty on imported malting barley without some re-arrangement of the treaties they had with other countries. But the principal exporter of malting barley was America, and there was no treaty with America which would be affected. Both the Workers' Union and the Agricultural Labourers' Union had endorsed the policy of the Central Landowners' Association and the National Farmers' Union of all pulling together. He recollected that at a recent meeting of the Central Chamber of Agriculture that two of the best speeches made were by representatives of Labour, and, in the course of conversation he had with them afterwards, they were thoroughly convinced that unless some form of protection was given to the British farmer, the labourer would never get the wages he deserved. He was not getting the wages he deserved today, but the position was that the farmer could not help himself. The farmers hoped the workers would help to pull things through in order to be in a position to pay better wages to the workers. One of the first things that the Workers' Union had to do was to convince the urban population that they also must stand by the farmers in their efforts to force the Government to do something that will make it a paying proposition to cultivate the land, and so keep their men on the land, instead of allowing them to drift into the towns and go on the dole (loud applause). The heads of the Workers' Union now realised that the only way out of the difficulty was to do something which would make the land worth cultivating. A small duty on imported grain would not make any difference to the workers in the towns, but it would help the rural worker enormously. What a difference there would be if the whole of the land was cultivated and the full staff was employed. There would be more money to spend, and it would be better for everyone. While England remained the dumping ground for the surplus of other nations, the farmer would not get enough for the corn he had grown or be able to pay his men a decent wage. The position, as he had said, was a very serious one, and, although these dark clouds overhung them, he hoped that no man would think that the farmer was not his friend (loud and prolonged applause).
"The toast of "The Cricket and Football Clubs" was offered by Mr DIXON and acknowledged by Mr V ARCHARD and Mr BUSH. The former remarked that they had to thank Mr Morris Wells for a great deal of the success of the Cricket Club, of which he was the President and also for the better quality of the pitch which they now had (applause). Mr Archard also spoke of the hard work Mr Bush did on behalf of the Football Club, and appealed to the villagers to give the losers a little encouragement as well as the winners (applause). Mr Bush, responding for the Football Club, said that their books would show the names of the landowners, the farmers and the workers, and he ascribed the success of the Club largely to the fact that they were united in the promotion of sport. In Mr Morris Wells, as the President of the Club, they had a true English gentleman (applause). The speaker also acknowledged the interest taken in the Club by Mrs Morris Wells, who took the first kick at their opening match for the season (applause) at which they raised a sum of four guineas for the Hants Benevolent Fund. Mr Bush proceeded to say that they had not forgotten Mr Falconer's promise at the football supper, and next season they hoped their President would be asked to take care of Lord Northbrook's cup, and that Mr Falconer would then have the opportunity of filling it (applause).
"The toast of "The tradesmen of Micheldever" was next submitted by Mr MORRIS WELLS, and replied to by Mr PARSONS and Mr. NELMS; and finally, Mr. ARCHARD proposed a toast for "Our host and hostess" and, on behalf of all present, thanked them for their hospitality that evening (applause).
"The toast was received with musical honours and hearty cheers and Mr WELLS, in reply, assured all present that his wife and himself were very pleased to see them. Several nice things had been said about him that evening but he thought they were too kind. Speaking with reference to the farm, he considered he had a capital lot of men (applause). From the time he came to Micheldever up to the present, he had never experienced any difficulty. His motto had always been to work hard and play hard, and that was what they did at the Manor Farm (applause). Mr Morris Wells added an expression of his appreciation for the help of those who had assisted at the tables and those who had contributed to the very enjoyable programme.
"Between the toasts, instrumental items were contributed by the Misses Morris Wells (violin and 'cello), with Mr Robson (piano), songs at the piano by Mr Ransome, songs by Mr Ernest Clift and Mr Morris Wells, and comic songs by Mr T Kaines, the last-named receiving several encores for his very humorous numbers. Mr Robson acted as accompanist. The hour of 11.30 pm arrived all too speedily, the company separating after singing a verse of the National Anthem."
At the end of the year the headmaster of Micheldever School, Mr Archard, and four teachers organised a concert to raise funds. The intention was to send a donation to Dr Barnados' home, buy a sewing machine and, if more than £5 was raised, to start a school library.
During the remainder of the Twenties, which were 'roaring' for some and 'desperate' for others, Micheldever struggled to retain its social cohesion against economic depression and political unrest which, while never equalling that experienced during the Swing Riots of 1830, was nevertheless unwelcome.
In 1925 a thirty-six year old imprisoned German politician, Adolf Hitler, dictated Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), a blueprint of what was to occur in the Thirties and Forties. In 1926, the English author A A Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh, which proved to be a more lasting work. In the mid-1920s, John Logie Bird succeeded in transmitting an image from one place to another, bribing with a few shillings a 15 year old office boy named William Taynton to sit in front of a crude contraption which acted as the world's first television camera. In 1927 the world's first talking motion picture was made and in 1928 the major powers signed a pact binding governments to settle all differences through peaceful means without resorting to war. More than 60 countries ratified the pact, signifying the end of war and the beginning of eternal peace.
On 24 October 1929, a Thursday, financial shares fell on Wall Street and although several large banks stemmed the fall by buying shares above quoted prices, on 29 October the stock market collapsed, losing 50% of its value in one day. The Great Depression of the Nineteen Thirties was about to be ushered in, to add to the depression already experienced in Micheldever.
And in 1930 Northbrook House was auctioned for £10,000. At the time, over 3,000 sq. ft. of room space was used solely for the upkeep of the house. This included a servants' hall, a kitchen, a scullery and butler's pantry, five servants’ bedrooms, a three-room chauffeur's flat, a cottage and an entrance hall. It was one of the few residences in Micheldever to have an electricity supply, provided by a Ruston Hornby engine which required a set of electrical accumulators housed in an outbuilding. There was also a form of central heating, from a hot-air shaft which required to be constantly stoked. Eventually, in the 1960s the then-owners razed the rear wing to the ground, transforming the building from a 12-bedroom house with huge servants’ quarters, into a more modest seven-bedroom house. But in the 1930s the gentry were still concerned with keeping up appearances.
For a sample of the times of Micheldever in the 1930s, the Church Magazine - price 2d. [less than 1p], provides a useful taste. Most of its pages were a national issue, of Church of England matters, articles about faith and good deeds, helpful hints for housewives, and puzzles and brain-teasers for young people, which were printed centrally and shipped out to the churches. The outer pages were written and printed locally and contained a letter from the Bishop of Winchester and a message from the Vicar, who was now Rev. Sidney Osmond, as well as local news including the inevitable obituaries. A selection from the magazine follows:
Issue No. 19 - Jan 1936: Mrs Robbins - had endured much illness with unwearied patience and unquenchable hope of ultimate recovery borne in simple Christian faith. We had hoped that this recovery had been granted when we saw that Mrs Robbins was well enough to be at the sale at Micheldever House. In the afternoon she carried home some small purchases, not for herself but for her daughters, and having carefully placed them on the table, she collapsed on the floor, from which she never regained consciousness, but within three days passed to her reward.
Nov. 24 Rosina Robbins, aged 48 (interred at East Stratton)
Dec. 21 Sheila Elizabeth Mary Hobbs, aged 5 months
Dec. 23 Alfred Tom Day, aged 77 - with the passing of Alfred Tom Day there goes from us a much-known and much-loved character, affectionately known as the General. He bore his suffering with unwearying patience and unconquerable Christian hope.
Issue No. 21- March 1936 : We went to print before we received news of the passing of our beloved King George.
Issue No. 22 - April 1936: An estimate of £9 was laid before the Council [for repairs to the guttering] and Mr Harry Symes offered to execute this work as a gift to the Church. This very generous offer was accepted and thanks to the Council recorded.
The Bishop's Letter said, "at the moment of writing the European position is terribly anxious. Italy's attack upon Abyssinia and Germany's entry into the demilitarized region have been severe blows to the sanctity of treaties.... I doubt if Germany would have torn up the treaty of Locarno if France had stood whole-heartedly with Great Britain and the other nations of the League."
And on another page, "The large increase in the number of unemployed for January in Great Britain can be explained, we are told, by seasonal conditions and by the severe weather. There are 30,828 unemployed in Hampshire, compared with 37,099 a year ago. The corresponding rate for the whole country is twice as high as for Hampshire, and yet in many places, factories are working overtime, and men and women are worn out with overwork. Limitation of hours would go far to solve the whole problem."
Issue No. 23 - May 1936 Micheldever Football Club won the coveted cup in the Easter Monday tournament and we were glad to see Capt. Philipson among us again who, in presenting the trophy and medals to the winning team, made a speech which went straight to their hearts in a language that was perfectly understood. ('Nuff said - Ed.).
March 23 - Charles Webb, aged 78 years - a familiar figure and greatly loved, of simple and regular habits, regularly filled his place, and always the same place, each Sunday evening. Gave his weekly offering and if illness or very inclement weather kept him away one Sunday he brought a double portion the next. In these things, he bore a simple testimony, and his works will follow him.
E. Clarke, Westbrook Farm - guaranteed pure new milk delivered twice daily in bottles.
W S Harding, Grocer Baker Draper, Central Stores, Micheldever - personal attention given to all orders. Phone Micheldever 21
W Cracknell - Purveyor of High-class killed and imported meat pork and veal - Families waited on daily. Phone Micheldever 44.
Issue No. 25 - July 1936:
Thomas Isaac Clarke, aged 74 years - With his passing there goes from us an indomitable spirit. In all the many and varied years of my ministerial experience, I have never known a suffering so acute, and a courage so resolute.
Issue No.26 - August 1936:
I write under the shadow of a great sorrow which has touched us all, in the cruel doom of little Peggy Bush, who was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a heavy lorry within sight of her own home. It is one of the 150 tragedies and 5,000 injuries that add to the weekly toll of human sorrow. In this case, the driver was fully exonerated. The view of Peggy and the view of the driver were both obscured, and she ran into the road to meet her inevitable doom.
This terrible tragedy has been in the thoughts and prayers of us all, and to those who mourn the most – her parents and grandparents - our hearts go out in sympathy and love.
And some of us wonder what the authorities responsible think about it all, and whether they will be stirred into action to prevent further fatalities in our village with its burden of heavy traffic, uncontrolled in speed, a net-work of dangerous corners and blind spots. There is not even the 30-mile limit imposed (which in our village I think would be too fast) and not one sign "DANGER" to warn approaching drivers that in and out of school pour 120 children who must carry their lives in jeopardy. The insignificant sign "School" is quite inadequate, and many motorists do not seem to notice its existence, for others, besides me, have seen motors speed through at nearly sixty miles an hour! They are legally within their rights; we cannot boast a lamppost, and we have no sign!
June 28 John Harman, aged 74 years
June 30 Alfred James Hillary, aged 73 years
July 4 Edith Flora Burgess, aged 50 years
July 17 Peggy Lucy Ann Bush, aged 3yrs 11mths. - We shall remember Peggy Bush as a bright little thing who could sing pretty little hymns as she wistfully said, "Jesus likes me to sing". And while at play in her happiest mood, little Peggy was crushed to death. Life sometimes seems so cruel, and civilization so ruthless, that we cannot always think that all suffering is God's will.
[The Bush family lived at 34 Northbrook, and the dreadful accident happened when Peggy Lucy Ann ran straight from the gate of the garden into the road and in front of an oncoming vehicle]
Issue No.28 - October 1936:
John Ashley Waller, aged 76 years - with the passing of JAW there goes from us a Christian gentleman who lived and died in the simple faith of the Crucified and Risen Christ. For many weary years, Mr Waller was a confirmed invalid and confined to his chair, and for a long time, he has been prevented from appearing in public.
Issue No. 31 - January 1937:
from 'The Bishop's Letter': ".....The last month of the old year has been overshadowed by the abdication of King Edward VIII. Widespread distress and bewilderment were caused by this sudden and almost unprecedented act, and still more by all that led up to it. Little can now be said charitably or profitably of a lamentable episode in the history of our monarchy. In it, there has been no element of romance, but only the grievous and pitiable tragedy of a King who had been welcomed so warmly a few months ago withdrawing from his great duties."
From the Vicar's letter: “Royal Hants County Hospital December 1936
As it is doubtful when I shall be well enough to return to duty this letter must bear an unusual heading. I feel constrained to say a word about the national crisis through which we have just passed. Firstly, all the criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury's broadcast is, in my opinion, so much weak sentimentality. The Church has been so often criticised for sitting on the fence and failing to make any definite pronouncements in times of grave issues. But on this occasion the Primate had the wisdom and the courage to speak the simple truth with charity and dignity. Anything short of this would have been so much cant and humbug. If ministers and stewards of the Word must not speak the truth as God gives it to them, what on earth is the Church for?”
Issue No. 32 - February 1937:
A cheque for £2/15/0d was sent to the Bishop's Appeal for the Durham Distressed Areas.
Issue No. 35 - May 1937:
Lady Hulton (a Roman Catholic) left Micheldever House. Mr and Mrs Philip Groves bought it in her place.
Issue No. 38 - August 1937:
We sympathise with Harry Symes, Warden and bell-ringer, in his serious accident.
Issue No 42. - December 1937:
26 Oct - Henry Curtis - aged 77
6 Nov - Sarah Constance Eades - after a long and painful sickness bravely born.
Issue No.. 59 - May 1939:
The Bishop's Letter observed: "Crisis follows crisis and at the moment of writing international tension is very great. No one can say with confidence what may not happen during the next weeks or even days. But we must not assume that war is inevitable until it has actually broken out. We must continue to hope for the best, while we prepare for the worst. It is now clear beyond all doubt that if war should come a vital moral principle is at stake viz. whether the world is to be governed by brute force or by law, reason and negotiation.
In the event of war, most of the clergy would be required for spiritual ministrations either in their own parishes, or among the fighting forces, or among the refugees who will come in large numbers from towns in dangerous areas. It is therefore of importance that they should not pledge themselves to any form of National Service which might prevent them from carrying out the spiritual work for which they were ordained and trained. I am preparing a list of clergy under 40 who are prepared to serve as Chaplains to the Forces or to undertake some form of National Service. This would enable me to know who is ready to be sent quickly to posts where they are needed more urgently than in their present parishes."
Vicar's Letter: "By the time this appears in print the world will no doubt have heard what Herr Hitler designedly kept it waiting for a fortnight for. I wonder if we ever realise how much our own individual attitude counts. It is really rather stupid for anyone to say, e.g. - that he hates the Germans, as though all Germans were alike unpleasant and untrustworthy people. Blaming an entire nation for the misdeeds of one section is surely indefensible.
“The distrust of individuals adds up to form our national attitude so that we have no right to complain about international distrust if our little contribution to the fellowship of nations is one of distrust or suspicion. Few things would be more useful for most of us than to get to know personally ordinary people of other nations, or if that is utterly impossible, something about them, starting with completely unprejudiced minds."
From the comment in the Bishop's letter it is obvious that preparations for war were underway several months before the Second World War broke out at the beginning of September. During the "phoney war" that followed, the village put itself on a war footing, as the last item for 1939 shows:
Issue No.66 - December 1939: After much thought and experiment we have at last succeeded in "blacking out" the Church so that Evensong will in future be at the normal time of 6 pm. The cost will be about £5 (cheap as compared with one Church we know of, which had to pay £36!).
And so the painful period between two World Wars came to a close and the people of Micheldever prepared yet again, as they had done in the past, to meet the ordeal that lay ahead.
Thank you to the Newton family for giving permission to www.micheldevervillages.org to publish this text.