Fairford History Society

Fairford History: 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.



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.

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

June Lewis-Jones 1935-2015

It is with very great sadness that we report the death in August of the President of Fairford History Society, June Lewis-Jones. June was always so supportive of FHS, ready to lend a hand with information and advice.

She worked at Farmor’s School for over 37 years and taught many people in the town to type. She was passionate about the countryside and in her younger days she was a Cotswold Way warden and wrote a book on the Cotswold Way. She also had a great love for the Cotswold Lion breed of sheep, one of whom attended her wedding to Ralph in 1998.

She was so involved with many things in the town, an inveterate raiser of funds for Fairford Hospital and for the Church. The proceeds of her latest publication and first children’s book are for the preservation of the beautiful Church windows.

She wrote 29 books and wrote for Cotswold Life since it started about 1960 and also contributed to the Gloucestershire Echo and Wilts and Glos Standard regularly.

Our condolences go to Ralph, her husband and his family.


‘In War and Peace: Poles Who Came to the West Country’: a new book presented to FHS


‘In War and Peace’  is available from the Anglo-Polish Society, Bristol and the South West. Price £18 with Postage & packing £25



In February FHS was presented with a new book published by the Anglo-Polish Society, Bristol and the South West titled ‘In War and Peace: Poles Who Came to the West Country’. It consists of reminiscences and recollections of Polish exiles who came to this country at the end of World War 2 having been ousted out of their own country. In addition, some of the stories come from Polish children who came to Britain after Poland joined the European Union in 2004.

From the Preface

The contributions range in age from over 90 to about 9 years old. The oldest contributors has served in the Polish Army, Air Force and Navy and had fought as allies alongside the British Armed Forces. Several were soldiers in the Home Army (AK) in Poland who took part in the Warsaw uprising and survived German Concentration camps. Some of the men, women and children who had been deported by Russians to Gulags and forced labour camps in Siberia, the Russian Arctic, Kazakhstan and other parts of the USSR, wrote about their struggles to survive and subsequent lives, including in some cases years in India, South Africa and eventually resettlement camps in the UK….

 Recalling was for some contributors painful but many wrote of happy times, friendship and love they found among the British people………..

 These are stories that if not recorded now would be hidden in the mists of history and Lady Danusia Trotman-Dickenson and the Anglo-Polish Society should be congratulated on their endeavours in getting this work in print.

 The book covers stories from Gloucestershire: Babdown, Daglingworth, Fairford, Northwick Park, Southrop, Spring hill Lodge, Stowell Park and Ullenworth. Wiltshire: Keevil, Charlton Park, East Everleigh, Fargo and Grimsditch Camps, near Salisbury and Ttilshead Down Farm Camp. Somerset: Lulsgate Bottom, Dorset: Haydon Park, Devon Honiton, Ilford Park, Cornwall: St Mawgan.

 There are some stories from Fairford camp’s residents and families some of whom later moved to Swindon. There is also the story of how the Fairford Polish Hostel got its plaque thanks to the efforts of Alicja Światek Christofides – what a memorable event that was and FHS was very pleased to be part of it.

 ‘The book is dedicated to those whose stories will never be told’.




July 18th 2013: FOGA visit to Fairford


On a very hot July day Edwin Cuss and Syd Flatman gave thirteen members of the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives (who braved the heat, the pre-airshow bustle and aircraft noise) a very interesting historical tour of the town. A post visit quote was “Lovely to be shown around an area by locals who know all the hidden gems.” Two of the members who had been on a town walk on a previous occasion had a tour of St Mary’s Church by Geoff Hawkes, they were delighted to be shown round by the expert. All the members then had a tea provided by the Society in the Heritage Room.

FoGA was established in 1993 to provide help and support to the Gloucestershire Archives (then called Gloucestershire Record Office) and to educate people in the importance of preserving the county’s archives. See www.foga.org.uk for more information)