Lt Col Henry Longfellow Cooper: A Hard Man To Resist?

Emma Elizabeth Folson Cooper was not just a daughter of the regiment, she was now a sister, wife and mother of the regiment as well, and she had had no say in any of it!

Captain Henry Folson medals from several sale catalogues 2014

Her father, Henry Folson, had been Quartermaster for most of his career, but in 1895 had been made an honorary Captain of the Coldstream Guards just before his retirement.

Her one brother, William, was a Battery Sergeant-Major in the Royal Field Artillery (and would be promoted to Lieutenant before the war was over).

Her only son, Herbert Longfellow Cooper, had been nabbed as soon as he was old enough for the ASC by the biggest recruiter after Lord Kitchener, her husband. *

The eponymous Lt Col Henry Longfellow Cooper was running the Wessex Division of the Royal Army Service Corps. Before the war, he had been a granite merchant and, much as she loved him and appreciated his charm, he was a man of granite in more ways than one: he was someone no one could say ‘no’ to.

She had lost track of how many young men ‘the Colonel’ had managed to recruit into the ASC, not just since war broke out but in earlier years as part of the Territorials. He was a sort of Pied Piper of Hamelin, luring what were little more than children with his siren songs to go off to fight . Not that she had ever dared mention the parallel to him…


Sachsenspiegel-OstsiedlungPublic Domain Eike von Repgow – Heidelberger Sachsenspiegel, Cod. Pal. germ. 164


They had been living since they came to St Mary Bourne more than a decade ago at Wakes Wood, a large house at the north-east end of the village. Now that Herbert and his sister had left home, she and Henry were rattling around in it and she had finally persuaded him that they would be much better off at the charming house called Butler’s next door. There just remained the question of finding a buyer for Wakes Wood in the current market (not many people were looking for what was virtually a mansion in 1914).


Longfellow Cooper


*herbert l cooper Identification of Herbert, the Coopers’ son is not absolute, but no other likely candidates have been found, and it seems entirely in keeping with his father’s reputation that he should have joined the RASC.

Keeping On An Even Keel: Advice From The Daily Mirror


Editorial Page The Daily MIrror 22 October 1914 courtesy The British Newspaper Archive

aaa 001The Reverend William Tovani was rather taken with today’s editorial and cartoon in The Daily Mirror and wondered if he could get away with turning them into a sermon with only the most minimal editing. After all, if there could be a sermon in stones, why indeed should there not be a sermon in one’s daily newspaper?

It was rather fascinating, in a grim sort of way, the degree to which the war seemed to be having an infantilising effect on his congregation. Normally both robust and level-headed, many of them seemed to be rushing to him with every little metaphorical scratch and asking him, in effect, to ‘kiss it better’, as he promised his children. Their moods were all over the place, one minute elated and the next in the depth of despair as they reacted and over-reacted to the news from the battle front.

He was in little doubt in his own mind that the war would last for many months, if not years, and the only sensible choice, to use another metaphor – this time from the tennis court – was to stay on the base line and concentrate on returning every ball, steadily but firmly.

Yes that should do quite well – now all he had to do was to find a biblical text in justification…

aaa 001 - Copy

Church Flower Ladies – And One Or Two Men

SMB Harvest 2004 005

Andover Advertiser 2 October 1914

Andover Advertiser 2 October 1914

The Primitive Methodists may win out in the provision of food and cups of tea, but when it comes to church flowers, it is hard to dislodge the Church of England from her pedestal. The person who explains this best is Barbara Pym, as she does here:

It was a Saturday morning … it was the usual gathering, Winifred, Sister Blatt, Miss Enders, Miss Statham and one or two others. The only man present, apart from the clergy, was Jim Storry, a feeble-minded youth who made himself useful in harmless little ways and would sometimes arrange the wire frames on the window-sills for us or fill jam jars with water….‘Well, well, here we all are,’ said Julian in a rather more clerical tone than usual. ‘It’s very good of you all to come along and help and I’m especially grateful to those who have brought flowers. Lady Farmer,’ he mentioned the name of the only titled member remaining in our congregation, ‘has most kindly sent these magnificent lilies from her country home.’…We went into the church and began sorting out the flowers and deciding what should be used where. Winifred, as the vicar’s sister, had usurped the privilege of a wife and always did the altar, but I must confess that it was not always very well done. I had graduated from a very humble window that nobody ever noticed to helping Sister Blatt with the screen, and we began laboriously fixing old potted-meat jars into place with wires so that they could be filled with flowers. Lady Farmer’s lilies were of course to go on the altar.

So what does this allocation of duties at St Peter’s on 2 October 1914 reveal? Well, St Peter’s of 1914 and Barbara Pym agree on the pecking order: Altar, Screen, Windows.

Altar and Sanctuary

Miss Boyes

Margaret Angela Boys, daughter of Sir Charles Vernon Boys (of whom much more later) and Marion Pollock, Lady Boys

Miss Miley

Grace Virginia Miley, daughter of Miles Miley and Lucy Boys (and first cousin of Margaret Boys)

Miss H Selfe

Hilda Selfe via, courtesy Barbara Hockmeyer

Hilda Selfe via, courtesy Barbara Hockmeyer

(Ann) Hilda Selfe



Mr A H White

Albert Henry White of Barford House.

Mr W Benham

Possibly William Henry Benham, a gardener


Miss Freemantle

Probably Lucy Freemantle, 73-year old spinster, helped by her niece, Jessie?


Miss Longman

Either Georgina Blanche or Maggie Gertrude, spinster daughters of William Longman, builder and undertaker, of Link House, and his wife Mary Ann.

Miss Willshire

Presumably Laura Willshire of The Plough Inn


Miss Gascoigne

Catherine Anne, 49 year old housekeeper from Northamptonshire working at Diplands.


Miss Freemantle

Presumably Jessie Freemantle, aged 43, niece of Lucy Freemantle for whom she acted as housekeeper

Miss Longman

Either Georgina Blanche or Maggie Gertrude, spinster daughters of William Longman, builder and undertaker, of Link House, and his wife Mary Ann.

Miss Wiltshire

(not known)

Miss Marchment

Anne or Ellen, daughters of Henry Marchment of Middle Wyke

Mrs Cook

Sarah Cook, wife of John, a farmer?

Annie Cook

(not known)

Mr Titt

James Titt, agent for the Hampshire & General Friendly Society

That is pretty much in line with the Order of Precedence– (daughters of knights at the top, insurance salesmen at the bottom) combined with a shrewd village assessment, crafted over the centuries, of the precedence of an elder daughter of a builder in relation to the younger daughter of a farmer. The decision depends on the size of the building business/farm, number of employees, and length of residence in the village. Also, of course, the degree of friendliness with the supervisor of the flower ladies…


Beatrice Mary Pease Wallop, Countess of Portsmouth

Beatrice 001

Lady Portsmouth, extract from a photograph of the earl and countess in the history of the Earls of Portsmouth and the Wallop Family by Alison M Deveson.

Lady Portsmouth flung down her copy of Tatler, exasperated by the veneer of fluffy flapper femininity some editor had presumably thought necessary to overlay on the writing of Olivia Maitland Davidson, a perfectly intelligent girl (one of the Gloucestershire Viners) who was entirely capable of writing an interesting article without the word ‘excitements’ having to be rendered as ‘ ‘citements’. Really – how patronising!

The letters of Eve Nov 1914 2 - CopyEve 7 October 1914Eve 7 October 1914 - CopyOlivia was writing these letters every week, and they were really quite entertaining, even if Lady Portsmouth inevitably found herself wincing at the winsomeness.

Beatrice Mary Pease (1866-1935) was one of THE Peases, that is to say the Quaker family of industrialists and philanthropists that built the Stockton-Darlington railway, amongst many other achievements. After her father Edward’s death in 1880, she was given a home by her uncle, Sir Joseph Pease until her marriage to the 6th Earl of Portsmouth. We shall hear much more of her.

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

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.

‘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:


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.

Armchair Strategists and Know-Alls

Daily mirror 3 September 19143 sep 1914Edward Judge looked forward to his morning constitutional along to the Reading Room opposite The George. It had become quite a home from home for him and his fellow village husbands who were no longer obliged to labour with their hands or their brains in order to earn their daily crust. The most uxorious of men needed to assert their independent interests outside the home (especially with all this suffragette nonsense) and it had become the agreeable custom to meet and exchange views in a place where no one would object if a fellow wanted to smoke a cigar or a pipe.

With this war on, it was becoming quite an important little gathering. The general view was that it was perfectly all right to leave the management of the village to the new 1parish council, so long as one or two of them sat on it and the decisions of the council were decided in advance by the Reading Room fraternity.

The problem about this, however, was brilliantly summed up by this morning’s cartoon in ‘The Daily Mirror’ (not that he would ever have such a rag in his own house – but the Reading Room had copies of most newspapers). Saloon strategists were the bane of all masculine gatherings, and simply had to be borne with gritted teeth.


1 The 1894 Local Government Act had introduced elected parish councils throughout the United Kingdom. In village terms, a constitutional change which is only 20 years old is (still) considered new.