1916 April

Sheep on the Recreation Ground
Harold Clements
From the Merchant Taylors School Album
Harry Burton
From the Merchant Taylors School Album
Harry Burton
From the Merchant Taylors School Album



During April 1916 the newspaper gave many of the on-going local concerns another airing.


The Herts Education Committee again discussed the proposed school changes – to close the Merchant Taylors and make the council school mixed. The great opposition from locals and the Merchant Taylors meant the subject was dropped.


In February I was unsure of the true identity of Sir George and Sir H G Fordham but I have now been informed by Jeremy Fordham that they were one and the same. An editorial in the Crow expresses great surprise that Sir George, as he was obviously known, was re-elected as Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council despite his outspoken views on the war and country affairs. He very much disagreed with the conscription clauses in the Military Service Act.


 ‘More Ashwell Antiquities’ was the title of the latest lecture by H W Bowman. His subjects included the story of the Merchant Taylors School and how the stained glass window of Thomas a Beckett in the church was removed by order of Henry VIII. There was also a list of magic lantern slides used, which we still happen to have in the museum. A follow up letter from Mr Morgan, Chairman of Ashwell Literary Society, offered general appreciation of Mr Bowman’s lectures and that Mr Bowman was of the Waller family which dates back to end of 16th Century.


During the month there were several committee meetings affecting village life.


At the annual meeting of the Moss Cottage Homes Mr H W Bowman was re-appointed Chairman.  No.1 had become vacant but later in the month it was noted that Miss F Chalkley had been given the tenancy.


The Ashwell District Council announced the last houses in Ashwell were being connected to sewers and it was the only village in area with sewerage. This seems to me like a major cause of celebration in the village but I suspect it slipped through without much notice.


At the Parish Council Meeting Mr Angell tendered for herbage on the Recreation ground. This was evidently to run sheep on the grass to keep it down as the picture shows. On the back of the museum’s copy it says that Mr Angell used to own the field so perhaps he was just carrying on a long held practice. The District Surveyor was called in to survey a disputed ditch between Mr Sale and Mr Parkhouse’s property and discussions were started about proposals for an additional burial ground.


The War


Fortunately there were no fatalities reported this month but there were reports of four soldiers including two reprinted letters one entitled ‘From a Gallant Ashwell Soldier’. 


This letter was from Private Law of the1st Beds, the son of Mr & Mrs John Law of The Cuckoo Inn. He had been awarded a £5 cheque for gallantry having seen severe fighting and already had the Russian Order of St George presented to him by Czar. I think this refers to George Law who enlisted on the 19th April 1908.


Private Harold Clements, the third son of Mr & Mrs H Clements, Ashwell, was wounded in France, had recovered, and was now serving in Egypt. His letter initially received by Mr Chote of Merchant Taylors School ‘from an old boy serving in Egypt’ gave details of life there and a visit to the pyramids.


Private William Huffer, son of Mr William Huffer, High St, Ashwell, age 20, was still in hospital at Manchester following injuries caused by and explosion at the front.  William Herbert Huffer enlisted before the war on the 30 December 1912.


The newspaper reports that Private H Burton, son of Mr & Mrs J W Burton, West End, Ashwell, was badly injured but now recovered. We have two pictures of a Harry Burton but are not sure if they are the one mentioned here or even the same individual.


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