Fairford History Society

Welcome to Fairford History Society News

Show and Tell – 18 January 2018

A varied selection of objects were brought to ‘the Show and tell’ at the FHS meeting in January in the Fairford United Church.

  • The model submarine HMS Pride of Fairford stood on the counter of one of the Pubs to collect funds for ‘Warships Week’ during 1942. There was also a larger version which floated on the River Coln – for a while! The owners of this model have donated it to FHS.

  • A picture showing the number of barrels of beer drunk at the 1938 Carnival

  • Two candlesticks brought back memories of before electricity, which only came to Fairford in 1933.

  • An 1882 map showed the proposed route of the railway to Cirencester – from Maisey Hampton westwards and other interesting features such as the Fairford Brickworks to the west of the town. The bricks were used to build houses in West End, the Cottage Hospital and an outbuilding at the Railway Inn.

  • A beautifully-made wooden box which had contained surgical instruments probably for use at a field hospital in WW1.

  • An old walking stick used by the owner’s great grandfather who came to farm in Gloucestershire during the 19th century and still being used.

  • A lovely inherited fox brooch which was found to have a very interesting story behind it

  • Fairford Steam Rally started in 1968 and a 25 year anniversary programme and Morris Van made specially in 1993 were shown, which evoked memories of attending the event. Sadly the Steam Rally has ceased in 2016 although it raised a great deal of money for charity.

  • John Read talked about the Fairford Church Organ, its history and organists and asked if anyone could remember the name of the female organist who was a Farmor’s School teacher.










  • 1918 diary with two memorable occasions of that year noted on November 11 the Armistice with hooters and maroons being set off at 11am and the first election after the Representation of the Peoples Act in 1918 where men over 21 and for the first time women (still only over 30) could vote. The results were not counted until a few weeks later so that soldiers’ votes had time to get back to this country.

Craftsman’s Art and Music’s Measure – 14 September 2017

Alan Crumpler, David Hatcher and Dr Mary Remnant

Alan Crumpler, David Hatcher and Dr Mary Remnant

As a follow up to the publication of Music in the Window’s of St Mary’s Church in 2014, a talk was arranged to take place in the Church entitled ‘Craftsman’s Art and Music’s Measure: the making and playing of medieval instruments; illustrated by Alan Crumpler and David Hatcher with guest artist Dr Mary Remnant.

The afternoon talk attempted and succeeded to give an indication of the sound which may have been made by some of the instruments to be seen in the windows of St Mary’s (which are illustrated in the FHS booklet). Several of the instruments are quite plainly visible in the glass but some are less so and comparisons to similar instruments may be made from other contemporary sources including manuscript illustrations, stone and wooden carvings and window glass.

Alan, David and Mary played short extracts of medieval music on their instruments, including the long trumpet, shawm, rebec, harp, psaltery and pipe, recorders, portative organ, mandora and bagpipes. Some of the tunes were recognisable as played today.

The process of making a fiddle

The process of making a fiddle

The second part of the presentation illustrated methods of making a fiddle or vielle, (from approximately 12th to the 16th century) and a small symphony (musical instrument) based on an illustration in the Lutterel Psalter. The rebec and early fiddles were made from a single block of wood. Evidence for this is found in a few remains of instruments that have been discovered, including those from the flagship the Mary Rose.

It was a fascinating and delightful afternoon. The craftsmanship and skill of the performers were awe-inspiring.

John Read with a Portative Organ, the bellows are under the base

John Read with a Portative Organ, the bellows are under the base

The angel with the portative organ in Window 23 of St Mary's Church, Fairford

The angel with the portative organ in Window 23 of St Mary’s Church, Fairford

Fairford Heritage Open Day – 9 September 2017

The Dovecote at Fairford proved a great attraction at Fairford’s first Heritage Open Day organised by Fairford History Society on the 9 September. Over 80 people were able to see the impressive 1,196 pigeon holes contained in the walls of the Dovecote and the unusual central pillar. Visitors were also able to visit the Estate Yard which is all that remains of Fairford Park House demolished in the late1950s to make way for Farmor’s School. The Ernest Cook Trust Offices are in the yard and it was with their permission both of these sites were open to the public.

View of the Obelisk from Ernest Cook Trust Estate yard

View of the Obelisk from Ernest Cook Trust Estate yard





At Fairford Community Centre there were displays recording other ‘lost’ buildings in the town e.g. the Magistrate’s Court and Police Station, the three chapels, lost pubs etc. On view were items collected by Fairford History Society over the years and examples of oral history and local archive film. St Mary’s Church tours were led by Mike Godsall and Geoff Hawkes.

Fairford's Lost and Hidden Past display at the Community Centre

Fairford’s Lost and Hidden Past display at the Community Centre

It was also the launch of Fairford Walkers are Welcome which aims to attract visitors to the town. Malcolm Cutler, Chair of Fairford Walkers are Welcome presented the certificate of accreditation to Mark Dudley, Deputy Mayor of Fairford. Over 30 people took part in the Heritage Walk led by Syd Flatman. There was also a guided Tomb Trail around St Mary’s Churchyard led by Chris Hobson who gave interesting background to some of the churchyard’s inhabitants. A River Walk took place in the afternoon led by Malcolm Cutler.



New Publications 2017


Memories of Fairford by David Perry and others

Rubbish, Holiday exodus, Cricket, Births and deaths, Farm workers, Pubs, Up before the magistrates, the Village Butcher, Chapels, Filling up, the Bank

FHS Reminiscences: 1

Price £1 available from enquiry@fairfordhistory.org.uk or 01285 711768


Guardian and other angels in St Mary’s Church, Fairford by John Read

FHS Occasional Paper 17

Price £2 available from enquiry@fairfordhistory.org.uk or 01285 711768 or St Mary’s Church, Fairford


How St Mary’s, Fairford got organised: a short account of St Mary’s two organs by John Read

FHS Occasional Paper 16

Price £2 available from enquiry@fairfordhistory.org.uk or 01285 711768 or St Mary’s Church, Fairford

FHS 2016-2017

Chairman’s report from the AGM, June 2017

The membership of Fairford History Society currently numbers 147 which is a very healthy total. Indeed if we tried to get all of them together in the Farmor Room of the Community Centre it would be impossible. The main activity for members is the monthly meeting which usually takes the form of a lecture. It can for a change be something else like ‘Show and tell’ session modelled on the much loved primary school activity which allows members to explore a topic that interest them. We are fortunate that there are members willing and able to lecture to the assembled company. This last year included Colin Moulden on ‘Long lost local railways’ and Margaret Bishop on ‘Hidden portraits in the stained glass of St Mary’s. These were in addition to Edwin Cuss’s regular illustrated talk on the past of Fairford people and places.

These lectures have been supplemented by a number of publications that have appeared this year. John Read has been very industrious writing on several aspects of the church. The production has been of a very high standard as has the twice-yearly Fairford Flyer. One of the most entertaining documents has been Reminiscences of David Perry with one or two other contributors. Chris Hobson is planning an expanded version to the Fairford War Memorial book which was published in 2005, so much more information is available now. This will be published by November 2018.

So as you can see lectures are only part of our activities. One major demanding aspect of FHS’s work is responding to requests for information that come in from anywhere and everywhere. Most of such requests are handled by Alison. They are often interesting but it is of their nature that they are are frequently time-consuming. The spread of the British Empire alerts us to the fact that British people have ended up ins so many different parts of the world. Certainly there are Fairfordians to be in many countries and with stories to tell of how they ended up where they did, The internet has provided a much easier way to maintain global contacts than any of the older means of communication.

To sum up: there are opportunities for more members to get involved in the society’s activities. I thin you might find this rewarding and interesting. It is a way of increasing your knowledge of how our ancestors in the town lived and how they came to settle in distant lands. We would also like to recruit one or more members to join the committee for many years and there will be a warm welcome for any of you disposed to join our ranks. We still tend to think of ourselves as a new, young society but we are now entering maturity and we need to develop accordingly.

Two events coming up are a Heritage Day on September 9th and September 14 “Craftsman’s art and music’s measure” the making and playing of medieval instruments illustrated by David Hatcher and Alan Crumpler in St Mary’s church, Fairford at 2.30pm.

All the Committee members were re-elected.

May 19 2016: The Young Laurie Lee by Howard Beard and 16 June 2016: AGM followed by Highwaymen by John Putley

In May Howard Beard showed members a presentation of pictures of places in the Stroud area that Laurie Lee might have seen or visited when he lived at the village of Slad. It was really interesting to see how the town had changed over the years, especially the shops. It was an excellent pictorial presentation from an entertaining speaker.

In June the news at the AGM was that Rob Winney has resigned from the Committee and Syd Flatman has taken his place. After the loss of our President, June Lewis during the year, David Perry has taken her place. The FHS funds were healthy and the work outside of meetings continues apace. A full Chairman’s report is in Fairford Flyer 23.

John Putley then gave us his usual informative, entertaining, well illustrated talk – this time on Highwaymen. He brought his pistols along (replicas) and told us about the practicalities of being a highwayman. This was pre-enclosure days so riding across country to escape was easy, after enclosures the obstacles of fences, ditches and turnpike gates made escape less certain. Local horses were easily identified so it was difficult to be anonymous. The words ‘Stand and deliver – your money or your life ‘ were actually reported as being said in court cases.

April 21 2016: The Bells of St Mary’s by Peter Harris, Tower Captain

The history of bell-ringing with practical illustrations from the bell-ringers

Peter Harris, St Mary’s Tower Captain with some of the St Mary’s team and with the help of ringers from Cirencester enlightened, informed and entertained over 50 FHS members on the technique, science and history of bell ringing.

Since Saxon times bells have been used to summon people to worship, using either hand-bells or fixed bells on a simple spindle. Up until the 14th century the bells were hung on quarter and half wheels but it was after the Reformation when bells were rehung on whole wheels that bell ringing became more popular. In the 17th century bell ringers were of two types, those that were paid and the more wealthy who did it for sport and leisure.

Now the bells could be rung in sequence (a round consists of eight strikes on each bell), one ringer following another. Change ringing which is ringing the bells in a different order began in the late 16th or early 17th century this was subsequently worked out by mathematical compositions, and given names such as Grandsire Triples and Bobs. These sequences have to be memorised, 168 change takes 5-8 minutes.

The treble bell (1) is the lightest and the tenor (8) the lowest note and the heaviest bell. The tenor bell at St Mary’s weighs 17 cwt and at Cirencester Church the tenor bell weighs 27 cwt. The bell is stored in an upright position and controlled by a stay. It rings 360º clock forewards and backwards. The oldest bell in St Mary’s is 1539-40 but the bells were recast in 1927.

It is a peculiarity that change ringing has only developed in Great Britain and other English speaking countries – on the continent carillons are used. There are 50,000 active bell-ringers all over the world.

The members really enjoyed this talk on a subject most of them knew little about. The bell ringers efforts on Sundays will now be much more appreciated. Thanks were expressed to Peter Harris and his team for such an interesting talk and what a lucky coincidence that the talk on bell ringing coincided with the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen and the bells rang with extra joyousness for the special day.

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March 17 2016: Tudor Medicine by Cherry Hubbard

With her colourful and fragrant baskets of herbs and spices we shall journey into the Tudor world

Cherry Hubbard is a social historian based in Cirencester. She explained to members what life was life in Tudor times for ordinary people, She, herself has experienced the life of aTudor person for a year at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The Tudor home was a dark smoky place, the main light was the fire. If you were suffering from an illness home remedies that had been passed down word of mouth down the generation e.g chamomile has been used since ancient time for its anti-inflammatory properties and calming influence. The only advice available was from a local wise woman – a barber surgeon could supply the service of setting bones and pulling teeth. Life expectancy was 20% during childbirth and to the age age expectancy was 35-45 years. People had a different outlook on life than nowadays.

Some remedies

for any ache

In May take henbane and bruise it well put in in a pot and a pint of sallat oil and set it in the sun till it be all of one substance, then anoint the ache therewith .

for the falling sickness 

during the waning of the moon or when it is the sign of virgo eat berries of asterion and bear the berries next to the skin

Cherry was dressed as a Tudor woman and had a lovely table of items for members to inspect, she also passed round examples of items that were usual in Tudor times

inspect, smell or feel.

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10 February 2016: the famous well-travelled Union Flag

On 10 February FHS hosted a reception for Sarah Schantz, a visitor from the States. It was her grandfather, Wally Glavor who ‘liberated’ the Union Flag during the VE Day celebrations in the Market Place. Wally was a US Army Serviceman from the 186th Military Hospital in Fairford Park, 1944-45.

In 1998 Wally had a fit of remorse and returned the flag via Ralph Wilkins, who lives in Cheltenham, whose cousins Cynthia and Sheila went to America to live in 1948 and were friends of Wally Glavor. The flag was kept first by Fairford Town Council and then in the care of Fairford History Society and has since been framed.

Sarah was able to meet former Town Councillors who were in the original picture that appeared in the newspaper in 1998, members of Fairford History Society, present Councillors and also former US Airman Frank Dailey, the RAF Fairford site director.

Sarah was presented with a copy of ‘Fairford Images’ by June Lewis-Jones, which has had article about Wally Glavor, a 1955 Frith print of Fairford Mill and a baseball cap worn by Wally at one of the 186th Hospital reunions, which had been in the FHS Archive.

Edwin Cuss presented Sarah with a set of photographs of the Military Hospital which he had compiled and she was then taken up to Fairford Park to revisit the site of the former Hospital, which then became the Polish Hostel.

During the week Sarah was taken on a tour of places that her grandfather might have visited and she returned to San Francisco a few days later. 

Sarah being presented with the print and Wally's hat_opt(1)Sarah at the back with original members of the 1998 photograph_opt

Sarah and Jennie Fairford's Mayor Jennie Sanford_opt

February 17 2016: Along the River Coln by Edwin Cuss

At a well attended February daytime meeting Edwin Cuss gave a slide presentation of pictures of the River Coln from Mossy Bridge near Quenington to the Broad Boards south of Fairford. Edwin was as usual, extremely informative about the history, people and places on and by the River.

In the bad winter of 1947 there was severe flooding in Fairford and after that the road at Mill Bridge was raised 18 inches. Edwin mentioned that this really spoilt the whole symmetry and line of the Bridge. He also showed change in the Mill House buildings. During the War it had housed a generator and pump for Fairford Park which his father had to monitor daily. During this time the Mill House fell into a state of disrepair.

He also showed the method of clearing out the River of unwanted fish, (e.g. pike and coarse fish) in the early days by netting and then layer by charging the water with electricity and stunning the fish. The ones wanted were thrown back and the others eaten if suitable.

Fishing in the Broadwater by Fairford Park