A collection of articles about events and people in Chicheley.

Many of the articles were supplied by John Taylor, to whom we are grateful.

Death of Alastair Easson, 1923

Aged 23, in the early hours of Monday, February 19th 1923 Alastair James Utten Easson, the eldest son of the Reverend U.J. and Mrs. Easson, of Chicheley Vicarage, died in a Bedford nursing home. He was educated at Lancing College and Jesus College, Cambridge, and in preparing for a ministerial career had been studying at St. Boniface Theological College, Warminster. On February 3rd appendix trouble necessitated an operation, after which he went to a Bedford nursing home. However, three other operations had to be performed, and complications unfortunately set in. Very popular in the village he had been a keen sportsman, and joined with the youth of the village in cricket, football, etc. The body, brought from Bedford the previous day, laid in the chancel overnight, and with a Requiem Mass in the morning his father conducted the funeral on Thursday afternoon, February 22nd. Including many notables almost all the village was present, plus the household staff of the vicarage, but his brother, Laurence, was so overcome with grief that he could not attend. 

Dedication of WW1 Memorials, 1920

On Friday afternoon, October 22nd 1920, the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of St. Albans dedicated a marble tablet and a wayside cross, to the memory of the 8 men from the village who were killed in the war. All village business had been suspended for the afternoon, and in consequence a large congregation assembled in the church for the service. Before the unveiling and dedication of the tablet, situated beneath a chancel window, a muffled peal on the church bells was rung, followed by several voluntaries played by the organist, Mr. W. Wooding. The Reverend U. J. Easson then conducted a short, choral service, after which the covering Union Jack was removed, for the dedication to be performed by the Bishop. During the following service, 20 ex soldiers from the village left the church, and outside the south door formed a guard of honour for the Bishop, clergy and congregation as they made their way to the wayside cross. Here the ex soldiers had formed up in line around the memorial, and, with the unveiling performed by Lady Farrar, the Bishop pronounced the dedication “to the greater glory of God in memory of our brothers who gave their lives in our behalf.” He then pronounced each name on the memorial, after each the congregation responded “God bless him.” During his address the Bishop said that he had been an old friend of Sir George Farrar, and paid tribute to his patriotism and qualities. Afterwards came the singing of the hymn ‘When I survey the wondrous cross,’ and, preceded by the Bishop’s pronouncing of the Blessing, a bugler of the Bedfordshire Regiment sounded the Last Post. Amongst the wreaths was a handsome example from Lady Farrar and her daughters, and amongst those present were Colonel Trevor and his wife and daughter, from Lathbury Park.

Early Photographs of Chicheley

2018-11-13 - main aisle - restored
2018-11-13 - rev and wife - restored
2018-11-13 - st L - choir - restred
2018-11-13 - Maybe Farras - renovated
2018-11-13 - chicheley house - restored
2018-11-13 - picnic - restored
2018-11-13 - family group
2018-11-13 - chancel decorated - restored
2018-11-13 - St L entrance - restored
2018-11-13 -choir - restored
2018-11-13 - man and sheep dog
2018-11-13 - 3 rev gentlemen and dog

Peace Day, 1919

On Peace Day, Saturday, July 19th 1919, the village was decorated with arches of flags stretched across the road at each end of the village. Coloured bunting adorned the approaches to the houses, whilst of the other decorations a particular feature was ‘Hurrah, hurrah for England,’ erected in a conspicuous position. The day began with a peal of church bells, which were also rung at later intervals, and the festivities proper were held in the grounds of Chicheley Hall. During the afternoon sports took place, and in the popular tug of war event after a rare tussle the team captained by Jim Clarke, who had won the D.C.M. in France, and was badly wounded serving with the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers, gained a good victory by two pulls to one. As for the cricket match, the married men proved triumphant over the single men. With the catering by Mr. and Mrs. A. Joyce, of the Chester Arms, a tea of ample bread and butter was enjoyed by 52 children, whilst as for the 120 demobilised men and the other adults, they were served a splendid supper of roast beef, mutton, etc. Thanking them for their courage, Lady Farrar proposed the health of the returned ‘boys,’ to which Sergeant F. Wormald, R.A.S.C. (M.T.)0 gave a suitable reply. Then on the initiative of Mr. T. Jones, of Thickthorn Farm, a hearty vote of thanks was given to Lady Farrar, for having allowed the use of her grounds. A concert was staged in the evening, and at 11.30p.m. a procession marched to the village centre, where, as the clock struck midnight, the gathering sang the National Anthem.  

Private Vesey Clarke died from wounds, 1918

Aged 19, Private Vesey Clarke, of the 5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, died on November 12th 1918 at the No. 1 South African General Hospital, France, as a result of wounds received in action on September 18th. Aged 19, he was the third son of John and Eliza Clarke, of Chicheley Hall, who received a letter from the Matron of the Hospital stating;

“He will have written to you himself and told you how much better he was and that he was coming home. We actually got him ready to leave, and then a lot of them who were going had to be cancelled, he being one. We now think the disappointment must have upset him as he at once got worse and commenced vomiting. He had had several of these vomiting attacks before, but they had yielded to treatment. But nothing we did stopped the vomiting - even champagne did him no good. Everything possible was done for him. He was always so good and patient, and when feeling fairly well was very bright. … He will be buried in the Military Cemetery here at 9.15 on Thursday morning.”

Private Clarke had joined the army in June 1917, being posted to the Training Reserves. Later he was posted to the Somerset Light Infantry, and went to the Western Front on April 3rd 1918. Subsequently he was transferred to the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment, and took part in all the severe fighting until he was wounded on September 18th, when a shell burst - which killed a comrade on either side of him - badly fractured his right thigh. He was subsequently admitted to the No. 1 South African General Hospital on September 21st, and, bearing the various operations to his leg very well, seemed to be making good progress. In fact he had written several cheerful letters up to November 7th, but on the 12th his parents received a telegram conveying the official news that he had died of wounds on November 12th. Born in Milton Ernest, before enlisting, he had been, as was his father, in the employ of Lady Farrar, of Chicheley Hall.   

Private Ernest Needle killed in Action, 1918

Having joined the Forces on November 13th 1916, Private Ernest Thomas Needle, aged 23, of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, was officially reported as having been killed in France on September 2nd 1918. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Needle, and  had been formerly employed as horse keeper to Mrs. Waite, of Hardmead. At the end of 1917 he suffered severe wounds at Ypres in the neck and head, and subsequently spent 15 weeks in Dearnley Hospital, Manchester, before returning to France on June 3rd 1918. A staunch churchman, he had been a member of the choir, the Chicheley bellringers, and the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers. 

Capt Cristopher Durrant killed in action, 1918

In the last week of July 1918 Captain Christopher Martin Durrant was killed in action in German East Africa, aged 33. He was the son in law of the Reverend U.J. and Mrs. Easson, of Chicheley Vicarage, where his widow was resident. Formerly serving in the Royal Marine Artillery, for some while he had been in German East Africa, having command of a Stokes’ howitzer battery attached to the Rhodesia Native Regiment. (Nyasaland Field Force.) This was operating with the 2nd Cape Corps, under General Northey, and whilst in action with the battery he was instantly killed when a premature explosion occurred in one of the howitzers. 

(In a full choral service, it had been at St. Lawrence Church, Chicheley, that on the afternoon of Thursday, May 4th 1911 Margaret Ellen Utten Easson married Lieutenant Christopher Martin Durrant, of the Royal Marine Artillery, the son of the Reverend Charles Aubrey and Mrs. Durrant of Wetherby Vicarage, Yorkshire. Sent by Captain and Mrs. Farrar, the flowers and hot house plants decorating the chancel had been arranged by Mr. R Tompkins, and his fellow workers at the gardens of Chicheley Hall, and an additional colourful aspect were the full uniforms of the groom’s brother officers. With the bride’s sisters, Una and Katherine, in attendance, the ceremony took place in perfect weather, and many people had come to watch. Then after the service, under the instruction of Mrs. Garrett the twenty children who lined the approach strewed daisies at the feet of the couple as they left the church. As for the wedding of Miss Katherine M. Utten Easson, the youngest daughter of the Reverend U.J. Easson, she would marry Major Douglas Granville Sharp at All Saints, Margaret Street, London on Tuesday, July 20th 1920. Her sister, Una, would be one of the bridesmaids, and she was given away by her eldest brother, Alastair. Yet there would be tragedy in June 1943, when the couple’s eldest son, 21 year old Lieutenant Ian Granville Sharp, of the Royal Marines, was killed in action. At Chicheley Church, at Evensong on Sunday, October 5th 1952 a tablet would be unveiled to his memory.)  

Children donate to National Egg Collection, 1917

In December 1917 the village schoolchildren donated their sweet money to buy eggs for the National Egg Collection. By the middle of the month Mrs. Brandon, the headmistress, had sufficient to buy 70, and she had also started a sewing class among the pupils, with the articles being sold to raise additional funds for the cause.  

Girl Killed by Horse Kick, 1917

A tragedy occurred on the evening of Monday, August 13th 1917 when Nancy Baxter, who was just three days short of her second birthday, died after being kicked by a horse.  On a short visit with her parents from their home at Oldbury, near Birmingham, she had been playing hide and seek with her mother in the orchard adjoining Old House Farm, Chicheley, the home of her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. W. Goodman, when her mother noticed a sore on one of the horses grazing in an adjoining field. Mrs. Baxter consequently went into the house to tell her mother, and although she returned only three minutes later the child had gone. After a frantic search Mrs. Baxter found her 20 yards away, where, having crawled through a rail fence into the field, she lay unconscious from a kick from a horse near the left temple. Dr. C. Bailey from Newport Pagnell was immediately summoned, but the girl died at about 1p.m. on Tuesday morning. The inquest was held at Old House Farm on the following afternoon.

Conflict between military and farm service, 1917

On Friday, May 11th 1917, at the Bucks County Appeal Tribunal, held at Fenny Stratford police station, the military authorities challenged an exemption granted by the Newport Pagnell Rural Tribunal to a 30 year old single man. Employed as a horse keeper and milker on the Chicheley farm of his father, he had been passed for general service, but Mr. Goodman said that the services of his son were essential, and if he was taken the food production would be limited. Farming 160 acres, Mr. Goodman had another son, aged 25, and in addition there was a casual labourer, who came in for one day a week or so, a boy who was exempt from school for the war, and Mr. Goodman’s daughter, who, with 18 cows in milk, managed the dairy work and took the milk to Newport Pagnell. There being some 42 cattle, 60 sheep, 30 pigs, and 12 horses and colts, the farm included 50 acres of arable land, and although two grass fields were scheduled for breaking up the military claimed that one of the sons should serve. Their appeal was allowed, with the man to be called for service on June 10th, the original exemption having been until June 23rd.