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Date for your diary: September 5th 2012.

Family history and the media in the 21st Century by Dr Nick Barratt of from BBC 'Who do you think you are?'

A Fairford WI open meeting in the Palmer Hall at 7.30pm. Tickets to non WI members £3. Contact Carol 01285 711473 or Alison 01285 711768

TITANIC - a talk by Hugh Brewster

June 14th at 7.30pm Fairford Community Centre

Hugh Brewster is the author of the recently published book ‘Gilded lives, fatal voyage: the Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World’ and will specifically mention Fairford's connection with the ship, the Countess of Rothes. Canadian, Hugh will have come straight from the Broadway Festival where is giving a lecture on Francis Millet, the artist who died on the Titanic.

Tickets Price £5 (Members £3). Books will be available for sale and signing.

For further details please contact Alison Hobson 01285 711768 email: enquiry@fairfordhistory.org.uk.

Witley Court visit - 13th July 2011

Witley Court

FHS members joined Friends of Fairford Church on a visit to Witley Court, Worcestershire It was the first visit there for some members and they had been told that it was a ruin and were not prepared for the grandeur of the building set in beautifully landscaped grounds which have been restored by English Heritage.

Witley Court was gutted by fire in 1937 and was subsequently stripped and abandoned. The mansion had grown from a medieval farmhouse to a Jacobean mansion under the first Baron Foley and his son in 1720s and 30s. Regency architect John Nash added two porticos. It reached the peak of its grandeur in the 1850s when extensive remodelling was commissioned by the first Earl of Dudley.

Despite its ruinous state visitors can well envisage its former splendour. Some of the most impressive features were the huge complex of cellars, where one could imagine the bustle of the 100 servants, and the conservatory where the Dudleys and their guests would have relaxed gazing over the beautiful gardens and the distant horizon. We were privileged to see the Perseus and Andromeda fountain show off its magnificent plumes.

Witley Court

Witley Court

Members then visited Great Witley Church, a magnificent baroque style church much of it originally from the Chandos estate and brought by 2nd Lord Foley to Great Witley. The windows are very rare enamelled stained glass and the altar is of Venetian mosaic glass in gold, decorated with a cross and lilies. The Church also has the tallest funerary monument in the country which commemorates Lord and Lady Foley and their five children who predeceased them and was sculpted by John Michael Rysbrack in 1735. The Church Restoration Committee face a mammoth task of having to raise £1 million pounds to restore the roof and preserve the windows.

On the beautifully sunny afternoon members then enjoyed very tasty tea and cakes at the nearby tea room. A very worthwhile visit and thoroughly to be recommended.

Rodmarton Manor Visit - 24th March 2011

On one of the first lovely warm Spring afternoons of the year 38 FHS members visited Rodmarton Manor. This was a follow up visit to the Arts and Crafts talk the previous November.

Rodmarton Manor was built for and by Claud and Margaret Biddulph between 1909 and 1929. The house was designed by Ernest Barnsley and he was master of works from 1909 until he died in 1926. It was built in sections each part was built on a bigger scale and at an angle to the previous part. Building stopped for World War One. It was lived in from 1915. The house was not fully finished until 1929 with the completion of the chapel.

Rodmarton Manor

In the Arts and Crafts tradition local materials were used as much as possible. Stone was used from a local quarry and timber from the estate woods. Many examples of the work of the famous local Arts and Crafts exponents from the Sapperton workshops: Ernest, Edward and Sidney Barnsley, Ernest Gimson, Peter Waals, Alfred and Louise Powell and Norman Jewson were on display.

The whole estate and village also made a contribution in the house from some woodwork by the gamekeeper to the needlework hangings of Rodmarton's Woman's Guild. The whole house is a reflection of the Arts and Crafts movement and FHS members really enjoyed the beautifully crafted furniture, pottery and decoration all on the plain, functional and beautiful lines.

Photography was not allowed in side the house but after the tour members were free to tour the gardens, designed by Barnsley as well - each part of the garden being a different room.

Rodmarton Garden

Voices of Fairford & Lechlade
by June Lewis-Jones

Published by History Press. Price 12.99. A reprint of the 2001 edition. Available from all good booksellers.

These personal memories give a unique and fascinating insight into the lives of the people who lived in and around the Gloucestershire market town neighbours of Fairford and Lechlade.

This volume of reminiscences documents the individuality of the people and paints a vibrant picture of the lives lead, daily work and social experiences enjoyed, both public and private, in their own words.

Voices of Fairford & Lechlade

FHS Success

At the GRCC meeting of Gloucestershire local history societies organised by the GLHC at St Thomas Rich's School in Gloucester on October 2nd 2010, Fairford History Society were very pleased to win the award for the best local history display.

Display Success

Alison Hobson talking to an interested viewer of the display

Photos with the kind permission of Geoff North, GRCC photographer.

The topic of the meeting was 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work' and the three speakers covered topics ranging from weavers' attempts to maintain wages in Stroud, miners' riots in the Forest of Dean, the Swing Riots throughout the county and the Chartists and the Chartist Land Company in Gloucestershire .

FHS's display concentrated on the Swing Riots in Fairford in 1830 when groups of agricultural workers smashed machines at three sites in the town and four of the rioters were sentenced to transportation to Tasmania. The display was commended for portraying the events in Fairford in the wider social context of the time.

Display Success

Piers Hobson receiving the award from David Drew, ex MP for Stroud

June 2010 was a very busy month for FHS.

On Saturday June 5th, as part of Fairford Festival, Edwin Cuss mounted his postcard and photographic exhibition and the Society also had a display. This year for the first time the exhibition was held in the Heritage Room at the Community Centre instead of the Marquee in the Walnut Tree Field and this was a much more comfortable venue for us, level floors and no draughts! The Art Society had their annual exhibition in the Centre and supplied refreshments so there was a steady stream of visitors.

RAF Heritage Day June 9th

RAF Heritage Day

The following Wednesday we had been invited to mount a display in the B-2 hangar at the airfield to commemorate the history of RAF Fairford as part of the winding down events at the air base. This turned out to be a really splendid event with displays by the Fairford Aviation Society, Concorde Association, Military Historic Vehicle Trust, RAF Charitable Trust and other organizations. There were also several aircraft present:- 2 x F-15C Eagles, a Typhoon, a Tornado, a Harrier, a Griffon helicopter, a Hurricane and a KC-135R Stratotanker, which visitors were able to look inside, and ‘arena’ displays. About 40 FHS members attended the event and it was a very special day tinged with a little sadness but the feedback was that everyone had a really enjoyable day.

RAF Heritage Day

RAF Heritage Day

June 11th-14th Celebration of the completion of the restoration of St Mary’s Church windows

As part of the weekend of celebrations FHS mounted ‘A history of the Church’ exhibition which took place in the Heritage Room of the Community Centre. This recorded the historical timeline of the Church plus and other information and artifacts from the FHS Archive. Edwin Cuss supplied pictures of the 28 medieval glass windows in black and white taken by Henry Taunt in the late Nineteenth/early Twentieth century plus Church events that had taken place through out the years. See the Church Website.

Church Exhibition

Church Exhibition

A very interesting item was the ‘Fairford Booke’ lent by Gloucestershire Archives with permission of the Fairford Church Lands Charity. The book consists of copies of 17th Century legal documents relating to Fairford land transactions including church and charity lands (enfeoffments). The earliest document is dated 1601 and the book contains many references to Fairford people from 400 years ago including the Barkers, the Oldisworths, the Bettertons, and the Gearings. Several pieces of land are mentioned including Beane Lands and Swann Fields in Fairford and Butler’s Court in Lechlade.

Also on display were pictures of former vicars, one of whom, the Rev Loxley was portrayed in a particularly languid pose and many of the visitors thought that the present vicar ought to be similarly photographed!

Church Exhibition

News in 2008 and 2009

News in 2007

News in 2006

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