At the FHS AGM 2005 Brian Routledge, vice chair of Fairford History Society led a reminiscence session with 5 well known Fairfordians:- Peter Egerton, Maurice Jones, Meg Perry, David Perry, and Peter Yells. They cover the topics of schools, shops in Fairford and the war years with audience participation and contributions.
John covers the effect of enclosures on the agricultural landscape and the effect on the social life of the time. Three documents are relevant to enclosures in Fairford: 1748 Draft Bill; 1754 Fairford Enclosure Award, Milton End; 1770 Fairford Enclosure Award, East End. There was no evidence of opposition, expulsion or expropriation. The enclosures were carried out in a sympathetic manner, but they must have altered the landscape around Fairford. However, all the records are only from landowners’ point of view. Minutes books and other records have not been traced. The result of enclosures seems to have been that the total number of farms decreased, sheep farms were improved, the modern landscape was created and the old field system swept away.
In October 1978 a Son et Lumière production of a ‘history of Fairford’ took place in St Mary’s Church. It was written by June Lewis and produced by Madeleine Teed and was probably the first secular production to take place in the Church. In October 2008, with the help of June Lewis-Jones, FHS organised a gathering of people involved in the play with various memorabilia on display and this CD stemmed from that meeting. This CD is a collection of memories and gives a wonderful snapshot of the event by some of the actors and back stage personnel. It conveys the mammoth undertaking which managed to concentrate the minds of a quarter of the population of Fairford for six months in 1978. Speakers talk about the costumes, lighting and the roles they played in the play, all with very happy memories of the event, which has been often talked about in the subsequent years.
June Lewis-Jones told the Society something of the fascinating story of Abraham Cowley who left his native Fairford to minister to the indigenous people of Canada. He was the son of a stonemason and left school at the age of 12. He overcame his lack of formal education and with the encouragement of the Vicar, the Rev Francis Rice (later Lord Dynevor), he trained for the ministry and went off to the wilds of Canada. He and his wife coped with the harsh winters and raised a family there. Converts were slow to appear but eventually he made progress and built a church and school house. The original Indian name for the settlement was changed on the suggestion of the Bishop of Rupert’s Land to Fairford in honour of Cowley’s home town in 1851.
June described the warm reception on her visits to Manitoba – that warmth contrasting with the chill of -30°C outside – and she showed pictures of the more recent occasion when in 1997 a deputation came to Fairford for the 500th anniversary of the re-dedication of St Mary’s Church.
This talk, about the Iles family and the Fairford Asylum is read by
Geoff Bishop from a script of a lecture by Shelagh Diplock, at an FHS
meeting, November 2008 Shelagh is a 3 x great granddaughter of the
Alexander, son of Daniel Iles, a yeoman farmer
of Kempsford, had worked in asylums in London and saw a gap in the
market in the Fairford area. He obtained a licence for 10 patients in
1823 and took patients into his own house. In 1827 he had 13 patients,
40 patients in 1829 the number of patients was over 119 according to
the 1841 census and by 1844 there were 140 patients of whom 119 were
In 1856 Alexander died and left everything to Daniel,
his eldest son. During the mid-1860s Daniel and his wife Susan were
joined by their eldest son, another Daniel, who qualified as a surgeon
in 1864. Susan Iles died in 1883 and Daniel in 1887. Dr Daniel and
Henry, their sons took over the asylum until 1899 when Daniel died and
his son Francis, another doctor, decided not to take over the business.
The Retreat, as the asylum was also known, was sold to Dr A C King
Turner in 1901 and it continued as an upmarket private asylum until
On July 20th 2007 torrential rains caused substantial flooding in Fairford. This CD contains three accounts by flood victims, Diana Ewart of East End, Ellis Hoult of Milton Street and Tegid Pugh of East End. Clearing up the initial mess was just the start, none of the people involved realised how long it would take to restore their homes. What a traumatic experience it was, and awesome to think that the same experience was happening at the same time to numerous families in Fairford and throughout the county. CD60 contains accounts by Geoff Bishop, Jennifer Collyer and Stewart Benzie of East End and Geoff Hawkes of Back Lane.
Syd Flatman and his family came to Fairford in 1950 from London, they lived in a caravan up Southrop Road. He tells what life was like for a small boy in Fairford and takes the listener on a walk through Fairford from Cinder Lane to Waiten Hill, with a short diversion up back down the Market Place. He gives a remarkably detailed account of all the shops and shop owners at that time, his remembered impressions of the interiors. There are also a few diverting tales of the personalities of Fairford at the time.
On May 30th 2009 a plaque was erected at the gate on Leafield Road, to mark the entrance to the site of the Polish Hostel which housed well over 1000 displaced Poles and other refugees from Europe between 1947 and 1959. Alicja Swiatek was born at the camp and when she returned in later years and found there was nothing to mark the site began her quest to get the plaque erected. She has also recorded the memories and collected photographs from the people who lived or worked there and collected them in a book available from FHS. This CD was a talk given to Fairford History Society on September 17th, 2009 also tells about the background of how and why the Polish families came to this country.