All Is Safely Gathered In By The Primitive Methodists

Harvest Field by

A Harvest Field by George Vicat Cole (1890) Glasgow Museums via BBC-Your Paintings

Church and Chapel were always the warp and the weft, the yin and the yang of village life. A fellow blogger puts it thus:

Church or Chapel? It was an important question, for it defined the social circle we would be joining, our emotional support team, and ultimately our chances of salvation. The Church of England and the Methodist Chapel were the two places of worship in the village, one the establishment religion and the other dissident. The chapel stood at one end of the one street in the village, and the church was firmly at the other end. The blacksmith’s shop, with its fiery orange furnace, the heavy clink of hammer on anvil and the burning smell of sizzling horses’ hooves, stood right in the centre.

Nonconformism was a strong force in the Bourne Valley. And here Alison Deveson explains the relationship between the Primitive Methodists of St Mary Bourne and the Wesleyan Methodists of Whitchurch:

Whitchurch…began to face potential competition in the 1830s from a group of Primitive Methodist evangelists. The Primitive movement had begun in an area on the border between Staffordshire and Cheshire early in the century, as a religious revival by a number of Methodists who were dissatisfied with conventional Wesleyan Methodism…In 1830 a Primitive evangelist called Thomas Russell crossed from Berkshire to Hampshire, and, beginning at Combe and Faccombe, began to move down the Bourne Valley as far as St Mary Bourne, preaching and establishing small Primitive societies as he went.

Methodist Church

Methodist Chapel, Swampton, St Mary Bourne (see note at end of text)

Church had the advantage of establishment – they already had a building and a degree of momentum. But Chapel had its own way of winning the tug of war for hearts and minds. Mindful of the adage that the way to a [hu]man’s heart is through his or her stomachthe Primmers as they were nicknamed struck a low blow by recruiting the redoubtable Mrs Fisher to their number.

Take Harvest Festival, for example.

Andover Advertiser 25 Sep 1914

Andover Advertiser 25 Sep 1914 courtesy Julie Muirhead

The ladies are not listed alphabetically, as a diplomatic local correspondent might consider it prudent to do, but with Mrs Fisher leading her two cohorts and her daughter bringing up the rear as if to emphasise the line of command.

FourwaysThe reason is not hard to seek. The Fishers lived at Fourways, the house in the centre of the village next to the George Inn. The Kelly’s Trade Directory lists Henry Fisher as the proprietor of these ‘refreshment rooms’, but the 1911 census probably comes nearer the truth when it says that Mr Fisher is a wood dealer, and Mrs Fisher is ‘engaged in refreshment.’

I think it is safe to say that Mrs Fisher probably refreshed the parts that other forms of ministry found it hard to reach, and that is with nothing more alcoholic than ‘the cup that cheers’, as it says in the piece, ‘but does not inebriate’.

For Mrs Fisher was Sarah Jane Goodyear Fisher, and the Goodyears’ claim to the village by virtue of length of descent would have bolstered her self-confidence.

She is correctly described as Mrs H[enry] Fisher, not Mrs Sarah Fisher, so we must assume that Mrs J Cook was the wife of John Cook, a self-employed farmer, and Mrs A Goodyear may have been Mrs Alfred William Goodyear, a plate-layer on the railway (or Mrs Alfred John, Mrs Albert….).

Fisher tree



– I ‘inherited’ the photograph of the Swampton chapel amongst several others of the village and unfortunately do not know the owner. If it is yours, please contact us in the comments below so we can either acknowledge you or, if you prefer, remove the photograph.


– David Young writes about the Stoke (as opposed to the Swampton chapel above) Primitive Methodist Chapel on this page, where you can see a photograph:

Stoke (called “Stokebourne”) appears in 1834-5 in the Andover Branch of the Shefford Circuit.

Here are some figures recording the number of full society members at Stoke, extracted from the Andover Circuit account book:

1837 14; 1838 17; 1850 9; 1852 13

A site for a new chapel was acquired in 1864. A local preacher (who gave me the photograph) told me the chapel closed in 1973. It has since been demolished.

It seems from the above that the first paragraph of the Andover Advertiser article refers to the Stoke chapel, and the second paragraph refers to the one in Swampton, shown on the left hand side of this map.


Ordnance Survey map 1875

Frederick William Wedge: The Brick Kiln Or The Baker’s Oven?

frederick wedge (3)

courtesy Leanne Bell

Frederick William Wedge’s life-path was pretty well mapped out for him from the moment of his birth.

His father, Frederick William Wedge senior, was a self-employed bricklayer, in other words a builder (he is described as both on the 1911 census). Of the six children still living at home in 1911, there were three sons and three daughters. The sons are described successively as ‘Bricklayer’ (Frederick), ‘Labourer’ (Charles) and ‘Bricklayer’s Labourer’ (Frank).


1911 Census

However, Frederick, at least, seems to have had his own ideas about how he wanted to earn his crust, and that was by making it himself. When he signed up to the army three years later, on 10 August 1914, his occupation was listed as ‘baker’.*

Enlisted 14 Aug 1914 FWWFrederick, or Fred, Wedge was amongst those listed in the Andover Advertiser of 14 August 1914 as having gone ‘off to the war’ by that date.

The Wedges went back some way in the village, and had intermarried with  the Goodyears, the Lakes and many others: In the following extract from the valley ancestry tree, Frederick is in the second row up, at the end on the left.

Frederick wedge


*Spoiler alert: Readers may like to know that Frederick returned safely from the war and by the 1920 Kellys Trade Directory is listed as a baker, while his father is still down as a builder.

It is interesting to note that Frederick’s brother-in-law, Ernest Alfred Rampton who married his sister Agnes, is listed as the village baker in the 1927 edition of Kelly’s, with Frederick Wedge junior no longer mentioned. Did the two perhaps go into business together? Incidentally, Ernest Rampton also joined the ASC, but is not listed on our roll of honour as he did not come to St Mary Bourne until after the war.

-Technical note

If you are having difficulty reading the fine print in the illustrations, try clicking or double clicking the images, which will then expand (temporarily) to fill your monitor and should be legible.


At Her Wits’ End

CaptureCapture2Emily Collins Davis had had enough.

She knew you were supposed to count your blessings, but just for once, she was going to count all the things that were wrong with her life. In no particular order then:

New Housekeeper’s Duties

As if it weren’t enough being at war, the government had now apparently decided it needed us to write everything down in triplicate as well. Rations. Fuel orders. Shopping queues. The only thing that she wasn’t bothered about from this list was winter milk, as she assumed the village would manage that as it normally did.

Eldest Son Gone to War

This of course was uppermost in her mind that morning, but somehow all the other little worries made it even worse.

Capture DavisHis real name was Charles George, but of course as her husband’s name was Charles he was always called George. He had been got at by that Colonel Cooper and signed up for the reservists in the Army Service Corps like lots of his friends – with the result that of course he was among the first to be called up.

CaptureShe relied on George – the census form said he helped on the farm, but the truth is that he was the man of the house now that her husband was really getting too old to manage the farm and everything else.

George had told her that being a driver was one of the safer occupations as they were not directly  involved in the fighting. That sounded logical, but she didn’t really know whether to believe him, she knew he would have said anything to stop her worrying.

She did miss him already, not only as a shoulder to lean on but as a real companion.

A MOther’s Loss

CaptureThe census was so bald, so black and white, it reduced the whole of her life to statistics. ‘Married to the same man for 35 years, by whom she had borne 14 children, only 8 of whom had survived to adulthood’. Almost as many had died as had lived, there was nothing else to say and she had no tears left to weep.

The Forge and the Cottage

the forge

The Forge, courtesy of Basingstoke and Deane’s Conservation Appraisal

Emily and Charles had lived in the cottage next to the forge ever since their marriage – Charles had taken over from her father, William Collins, in about 1860 (making her subsequent marriage to Charles a foregone conclusion as far as her father was concerned). And William Collins had inherited the forge from his mother,  Sarah, who had subsequently married William Day, the owner shown on the Tithe Award in 1840. Charles had worked as everything from blacksmith and farrier, building contractor, farmer and agricultural equipment agent. But she had always been in charge of the paperwork, and quite a responsibility it was too, keeping track of that little lot.

Counting her blessings

Emily did feel better after that little rant, and supposed that she should now count her blessings. First, she was grateful that they had no real money worries thanks to her father’s and husband’s hard work over the years.

She did love all her surviving children. She knew she must devote most of her attention to those that were still with her, rather than the absent. She would think about George every day he was at the front, but it would not be fair to the others to mourn him in advance.

Also, although arthritis was a daily challenge, she remembered her neighbour’s comment: Do not regret growing older; it is a privilege denied to many.

‘No Objection To Few Cows’

The Inter-War Years

A Creighton reservist seeks position as groom with few cowsA Creighton reservist seeks position as groom with few cows - CopyA. Creighton prided himself on always being ready, willing and able. And he needed the money. But what a come down! To think that he, a Lance Sergeant of the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers should have had to turn his hand after the Boer War to odd jobs around the village – from cavalry to cows….

The Boer War


Arthur Creighton Boer War service - Copy

source: Find My Past

Arthur Creighton Boer War service

And who was ‘A. Creighton’? Well, it was a bit of a tease as there were two ‘A. Creighton’ brothers in their family, both of whom signed themselves thus, and both of whom were in the army – the deliberate blurring of the edges would continue on the roll of honour with both being listed as A. Creighton. They were the sons of David (from Hungerford) and Martha (from Norfolk) and the eight children had been born in assorted places between here and London until the family had more or less settled at St Mary Bourne at the turn of the century. David moved from farm to farm, following the work.

The 6th Dragoon Guards

But this one was Arthur, born in 1876 in Medstead. He was one of those who was relieved to be back serving King and Country and had been among the first to rejoin. He was now with the 6th Dragoon Guards and they had got in right at the start, with the British Expeditionary Force at Mons.

Harry Payne posstcard of 6th a

Harry Payne postcard of 6th Dragoons WW1

At 37, he was getting a little long in the tooth for soldiering, admittedly, but was glad to feel he was doing something important and useful again, though tramping round northern France had none of the exhilaration of life in South Africa. He had been so in love with the country that he had married the girl – Christiana M Kuhn – in 1910, and they had had a daughter, Mabel very shortly afterwards. Both were in married quarters in Canterbury, waiting for him. But, when the war was over, they would all go back to God’s own country and farm, at least that was the hope that would sustain him throughout the war, however long it lasted.

Medal card for Arthur Creighton


We know about his marriage to Christiana through the army index of overseas marriages. Whether she had temporarily slipped his mind (or the ‘single’ was an army clerical error), while Arthur had rejoined the army in 1911 she was living in army married quarters in Canterbury with their daughter Mabel, aged three months!

‘Reading Good Vivid Fiction’: The New Panacea

Lustige_Naturgeschichte_oder_Zoologia_comica62 via Wikimedia Commons

letter to the daily mirror 17 sep 2014dmWell, really!

The Revd William Tovani had been pleasurably pondering the subject of his sermon this Sunday. Wednesday was the perfect day for this: the deadline was not imminent and he could mull over various possibilities at leisure.  He usually attempted to base the sermon on the bible readings allotted for the day, but just occasionally some event in the village, or even at national level, demanded a response from the pulpit.

 Dr Pryce Jenkins was really a prize ass, wasn’t he – as the son of a vicar, he should have known better, but perhaps it was all that rugby that had addled his brain. Of course, everyone needs an avenue of escapism, particularly those actually at the front. And he himself was partial to a glass of whisky at the end of a long day.

But to say that perfectly healthy, safe, young females needed to spend their time with their noses buried in twopenny novelettes to avoid Reeling, Writhing and Fainting in Coils was arrant and indulgent nonsense.

The traditional Christian response – and even Dr Freud (who seemed to have made a special study of hysterical women) would agree with him on this, he felt – was to channel all this nervous energy into  something useful. Let them run soup kitchens in the East End! Or, if they were looking for a physical outlet for their energies, it was not too late to offer their services to the farmers to help with the crops.

Righteous anger was a great spur to oratory – even if the next day he would have to tone it down before launching it on his genteel congregation…

Fears of the Ladies’ Committee are Realised

DH 16 Sep 1914DH 16 SepFrances Selfe had her worst fears confirmed by this morning’s newspapers.

It was proving a national disgrace – fathers and sons were being sent off to the war with no proper provision for the children, wives and mothers (sometimes widowed) who depended on them for their daily crust of bread.

No farmer ever admitted he was rich, but several of the families whose members had gone to war were not, she presumed suffering financially. Of the list that had been put up in the church porch, surely the Neales and the Pennys were not in any want.

But those who were employed to work on the land in the Bourne Valley had for many years been amongst the poorest of England’s agricultural workers. That firebrand, William Cobbett, had devoted a whole issue of ‘The Register’ * to the plight of the poor in the neighbouring village of Hurstbourne Tarrant and now, nearly ninety years later, it must be admitted that their situation had not greatly improved.

Something must be done. But what?

She and her committee could – and would – go through the list to see who was likely to be in want. But it was no easy matter simply to hand out coins or food: the people here were as proud as anywhere else and would hate to think that their circumstances were being discussed. Perhaps it would be possible to pair each family with one of her committee who already knew them well and could tactfully ascertain the position without giving offence.


*’Part of the Whole of the Expenditure on the Poor’: William Cobbett’s ‘The Register’ of 1826. Extract from first page of article:


Millinery Is War By Other Means

Capture2dm 14 sep 1914

As Clausewitz almost said, War is Millinery by Other Means. Or do I mean Millinery is War by Other Means?

Eleanor Louisa Black-Hawkins née Young was rather pleased with her little joke, only slightly marred by the fact that she doubted whether anyone else in St Mary Bourne had ever heard of Clausewitz. This was one of the reasons she liked to divide her time between Hampshire and her Kensington pied à terre. She knew that this did not endear her to her St Mary Bourne friends, and particularly irritated her rather self-satisfied sister-in-law, Frances Hawkins Selfe, who had profited from one of her absences in the metropolis to set up a ‘ladies committee’ to be part of the war effort, thus establishing herself as ‘queen’ of the village, at least for the duration of the war.

It was really insufferable.

But Eleanor knew what to do. ‘Box clever!’ as she had constantly been urged as a child by her somewhat manipulative father – any counter-offensive needed to be on different turf, it would never do to engage in single combat on Frances’s own territory. And of course it was essential that such a counter-offensive be plausibly deniable.

The answer leapt off the page at Eleanor as she opened her morning newspaper. Millinery, very expensive millinery, was the key to solving her dilemma.

As the advertisement cleverly hinted, it was her civic duty, particularly in a time of war,  to keep the ladies of Derry and Toms millinery department gainfully employed. Why, without her and her friends, the sales assistants would be out on the street and might even starve. Or worse!

There was a meeting of the ladies committee next week, which Eleanor would graciously attend. Before that, she would nip up to London to dear Derry and Toms, just round the corner from Oakwood Court, and choose a hat. A hat that made a statement. In fact the hat in the illustration was just the thing. A hat that brooked no gainsaying. A hat that would carry all before it.

As the meeting was in Frances’ own house, she would not be wearing a hat. But it would be entirely appropriate for Eleanor as a visitor to wear one. And not one of your 12/9 hats, either. She rather thought that the one in the illustration would be the one selling for fifteen guineas. What fun – she hugged herself in anticipatory glee. And to think she had been in rather low spirits when she had got up that morning.

War is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means.”

pp 75-89  (From the Michael Howard/Peter Paret translation, Princeton University Press, 1976/84, based on the original in German, Vom Kriege, Dummlers Verlag, Berlin, 1832.)

The Second Wave Of Reservists

Sledmere Cross Memorial with WW1 Soldiers as Crusaders

Sledmere Cross Memorial with WW1 Soldiers as Crusaders

The number of those going to the front gathers pace every day. Apart from those we have written about already, we see from the article below that there are several more Reservists and Territorials who have joined up, as well as two from the Yeomanry, leaving resultant gaps in the lives of their families and friends.

Fred Burgess (‘E. Burgess’ on Roll of Honour)

{No trace of a Burgess family in the censuses or trade directories.}

Alfred Cook (lower Doiley)

Driver Army Service Corps 246 Company, serving under Lt Col H L Cooper Territorial  who went to war before 14 Aug 1914 (Andover Advertiser 14 Aug 1914)

Known from the Andover Advertiser to be from ‘Doiley’; confirmed from 1911 census to be an under-carter born in Market Lavington, living with his parents Leonard and Matilda (also from Wiltshire) at Lower Doiley, Hurstbourne Tarrant. No obvious SMB connection.

Herbert Cooper

Presumably the ‘H.Cooper’ of the Roll of Honour. Not on census or in trade directories. 235 possibilities in the National Archives.

The Revd Ewart Culley

Driver T4/056532 Army Service Corps 246 Company, serving under Lt Col H L Cooper. He was the grandson of George Culley (1832-1875) who came to farm in St Mary Bourne some time in the 1850s, and the brother of George and Wyndham who continued the farming business. Ewart himself became a Methodist minister and was sent to the Americas.

George Davis

Born about 1882, the son of Charles and Emily. On his mother’s side, he was descended from Thomas Kercher, with a connection to St Mary Bourne going back to the early 1700s. He was a driver with the Army Service Corps who had enlisted in 1908.

Now the subject of this post.

{Edward}Frank Day

b1897   son of Mr and Mrs George Day of Lower Rank (Andover Advertiser 4 Dec 1914)
Wessex Army Service Corps (number not known at present)

Fred Day

Frederick Day was the subject of this post.

Sidney Gunnell

Sidney Gunnell was the subject of this post

Harry Hibberd

Henry Hibberd was a sergeant in the Army Service Corps 246 Company, serving under Lt Col H L Cooper. Born in 1882,  he was one of three sons of Hector and Clara.

William Moorse

Born in 1886, one of seven children of William and Esther, William was attested by Lt Col H L Cooper in 1908 as he joined the Territorials.

Norman Neale

Born in 1890, the son of James John and Helena, Norman signed up for the Hampshire Yeomanry, but later transferred first to the Hampshire Regiment and then the Royal Engineers. The Neale family were the subject of this post.

Roland Neale

Born in 1894, the son of James John and Helena, it has not yet proved possible to establish in which unit he served, but in view of the Andover Advertiser article, the likelihood is that he signed up to the Hampshire Yeomanry with his brother (there was also a Berkshire Yeomanry etc). The Neale family were the subject of this post.

J Penny (Binley)

Presumably John Penny born 1893, son of John Penny, both carters from Wiltshire on a Binley farm. Corporal Army Service Corps 246 Company, serving under Lt Col H L Cooper.

Edwin Pike

Edwin Pike was the subject of this post.

James Pike

James Pike was the subject of this post.

Joseph Purver

Joseph Purver was the subject of this post.

Alfred Randall

Driver Alfred William Randall went on active service in 246 Company Army Service Corps, serving under Lieut. Col. H. L. Cooper, commanding 29th Divisional Train.

The Randalls come from an interesting Hampshire family with long connections to the Bourne Valley, and will be the subject of an imminent post.

Ernest Randall

Trumpeter Ernest Charles Randall went on active service in 246 Company Army Service Corps, serving under Lieut. Col. H. L. Cooper, commanding 29th Divisional Train.

The Randalls come from an interesting Hampshire family with long connections to the Bourne Valley, and will be the subject of an imminent post.

Walter Sims

Walter Sims was the subject of this post.

Fred Wedge

Frederick Wedge was one of many children of Frederick Wedge and Elizabeth née Goodyear, with a long local ancestry. He will also be the subject of an imminent post.


Andover Advertiser, 14 August 1914


I am indebted to Julie Muirhead for her discovery of the Andover Advertiser article.

The Sellwoods Set An Example

Lillian May Sellwood had just had her tenth birthday and was entering the second decade of her existence. With this second decade she knew would come adulthood and adult responsibilities, and on the morning of 10th September she decided that the time had come for her to shoulder these responsibilities.

Since war was declared just over a month ago, her three eldest brothers had all set off for war. The family were not exactly left to rattle around in their house in Gangbridge Road, there were still eight of them living there even after the boys had gone. But Lillian missed Frank, William and Jesse greatly, and of course the whole family were worried about them and what might happen. She and her sister had enjoyed games of Cowboys and Indians with her six brothers, and it made her feel rather uncomfortable that their make-believe fighting had now been made all too real.

Thomas and Jesse both worked on neighbouring farms but William helped Mrs Medhurst in her bakery. Lillian liked Mrs Medhurst, who sometimes tipped her a currant bun if she was in a good mood. Normally she would be stuck at school * for another two years, but now there was a war on normal rules couldn’t apply, surely? She would ask Mrs M if she could take over William’s job. The two boys, Stanley and Reg, could do Thomas’s and Frank’s work on the farms, and Marjorie could stay at home to help their mother look after the two little ones, Percy and Frederick, and do the household chores.

Doing the household chores was definitely not something Lillian wanted to do any more of than she already did, and she thought her plan would work brilliantly. The question was, should she ask Mrs Medhurst first and get her to ask her parents, or would it be better to ask her parents and then get them to suggest it to Mrs Medhurst? It didn’t take Lillian long to decide that winding Mrs M round her little finger should not be too difficult, but she didn’t fancy her chances with her parents. She would wear the blue bow in her hair and go and smile her sweetest smile at Mrs M, that should do it…and then she would spend the war eating currant buns. Not that it would last long, some people were saying it would all be over by Christmas.

Capture sellwood

1911 Census for Gangbridge Lane, St Mary Bourne



*Extension of education, 1914-39
By 1914 Britain had a basic educational system, though for most schoolchildren it did not take them beyond the elementary age limit of 12…The 1918 [Education] Act raised the school leaving age from 12 to 14 and made provision for a system of part-time ‘continuation day’ classes for those in work aged 14-18.

Thomas Sellwood

Joined the Hampshire Regiment as a Private, later promoted to Corporal. Number 9793. Would see service in the Balkans.

William Sellwood

William Sellwood joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Corporal, having signed up in 1912. Number 36774.

{We do not know that he worked for Mrs Medhurst, but she is the only baker listed in the 1912 trade directory}

Jesse Sellwood

Jesse worked as a carter at Upper Wyke Farm. Attested 18 Aug 1914, joined Hampshire Regiment 4 September. Number 13024. Later transferred to Machine Gun Corps and served in Greece.