1916 June

Sir William Gentle
Mr Chote, the headmaster, right. (Sir) William Gentle, pupil centre back holding book.
From an Ashwell Merchant Taylors School photo of the 1870's
Gunner Harold Picking
From 'Local Patriots' booklet

An editorial in the Royston Crow tells how an old Ashwell boy had been knighted becoming Sir William B Gentle. He was appointed Chief Constable of Brighton on 29 August 1907 and undertaken much philanthropic work. He had raised a unit of Cadet Corps and worked with the Territorials something which had been noticed and approved of by the late King Edward.

He was born in the Bushel and Strike where his parents were landlords and although he no longer lived in Ashwell after his childhood he has had a lasting effect on the village by funding the creation of the museum in 1930.


Representatives of the Merchant Taylors made their annual inspection of the school. This included an oral examination which included questions on the curriculum and especially on the building up of the empire. 48 boys were presented with a half crown for regular attendance and a ‘new shilling’ was given to the 80 boys on the books. After the usual speeches reference was made to the imminent retirement of Mr Chote, headmaster, after 41 years’ service. At his appointment on 26th May 1876, which coincided with the opening of the new schoolroom, arches of welcome were erected around the village. Only Mr W E Bacon survives of the original signatories of that address. However due to the problems of recruiting a suitable replacement during the war the managers entreated Mr Chote to stay on past the age of 65, which he was pleased to do until 1918.


A Roll of Honour of old boys now in the services was started by Mr Chote. There were photos of about 80 on the wall including his own son who was with the forces in Egypt. Everyone stood to pay respect and hear the names read out of the thirteen old boys who have died.  Horace Bryant, Tom Hyder, George Waldock, Percy Reeve, Bert Sheldrick, Walter Picking, William Flack DCM, William Eversden, Frank Harradine, John Worboys, Stanley Camp, Albert Amtman, and Henry Dellar.


Other news from the war told how an Ashwell man was taken prisoner. Gunner Harold Picking, aged 28, of the RFA (Royal Field Artillery) enlisted in 1909 and served for 6 years in India before taking part in a number of engagements during the present war. In November 1915 he was wounded in the hand and leg. On his recovery he was sent out to General Townshend’s Force. He was at Kut when the garrison surrendered and was taken prisoner by the Turks.

There was also a further note about Private Leslie J Worboys, youngest son of Mr and Mrs J Worboys of Silver Street, who was convalescing after a foot amputation because of an injury.


On the 30th June there was the first report of the Military hospital that was planned to be opened soon at the Bury. A description of facilities to be provided for the soldiers was much admired. While the Bury was being used as a hospital Mr and Mrs Fordham would transfer from their home to Redlands Grange.


The only other news was that the service, tea and games celebrating the Congregational Church Sunday School anniversary were postponed due to wet weather.


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