1915 July

Possible image of P C Worboys
Possible image of P C Worboys

The Feast

In Ashwell July was always the time for the annual feast or fair. Although in former times there may have been up to four regular feasts or fairs by 1915 this was more or less reduced to one. The principal one dedicated to the church’s patron St Mary stretched over 2 or 3 days from the first Sunday in July. The Feast was held on the Recreation Ground and one part of it was the Harris fairground entertainments that were welcomed with great anticipation among the younger members of the community. The fair still comes today but now usually for Ashwell at Home in May.

Other attractions included several brass bands. In 1915 the Letchworth Band made their annual visit and there was a recruiting march led by the Herts Regimental Band. This year the Feast lacked one of its central events a special cricket match with an invited team presumably postponed through lack of available men. However the importance of the Feast can be judged by the fact that school was ‘not kept’ for the Monday and Tuesday of the feast and indeed was also closed on the Wednesday when the Wesleyan Sunday School celebrated their Anniversary.

A large headline proclaims ‘In Death not Divided’.  The story tells us how Mrs Thomas Dover died following a short illness and then the next day her husband died.  They were both old age pensioners and were buried together. Their daughter came ‘ from the Garden City to help them through their dangerous illness’ she brought her son who was temporarily admitted to the school.

All the local councils were very busy. The Ashwell District Council re-appointed Mr Stock as ‘Inspector of Nuisances’.  The County Council were compiling a National Register of those willing to do voluntary work and their programme of courses for farmers would continue with instruction on improving methods of milking. The Parish Council reported that the repair to the fence at Rec was delayed while the boundary was checked.

Mr S Parkhouse had a narrow escape while driving his car from Ashwell to Royston when he was run into by a cab going to Newmarket. Fortunately although both cars were damaged the passengers were not harmed.

The War

On their way to the front after training were Privates Jack Bonfield, Arthur Kirchin, Harry Covington, H. Barton, H. Oyston, F. Clements, H. Waldock, A. Smith, and E. White. Also visiting was Private Arthur Crane he had been in Netley Hospital suffering from a bullet wound received on 19th April, 1915.

News came of the death in action of Private P. C. Worboys of the Dorset although that is all the information I have at the moment. It is not certain that the picture of Percy Worboys from the Merchant Taylors Album is the same person. This brought the Merchant Taylors Roll of Honour to 10 a large percentage for a small school.

Mrs Wolverley Fordham collected £3-2-6d for the French Red Cross on the 14th July, France’s National Day. In the County Council School a ‘Cinematograph’ and lecture was given by Mr E R Burdon showing maps and the German plan of domination. In June

In June the Herts Red Cross had asked Mrs Fordham to find a suitable building for a Soldiers Convalescent Hospital as more beds were needed. She sent a letter to the school saying that ‘I think it only right to tell you that I am applying for the use of the Merchant Taylors School and House’ for the purpose. She continues ‘We should be pleased to lend you Redlands Grange if the School and House are used for the Hospital. Mr Morgan has offered the Congregational Schoolroom for the boys – we should of course not require the furniture’

The school agreed to fall in with any arrangements made for the comfort of our soldiers. In July the school was scrutinised by Mrs Fordham, Mr Bailey and members of the Red Cross for its suitability and an estimate and specification were prepared of the alterations necessary should the premises be commandeered.

At the end of the month there was a severe measles outbreak and the schools had to be closed for two weeks from the 21st. As it closed for the ‘Harvest Holidays’ on the 30th I presume it did not re-open until the end of the holidays on the 20th September.

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