Not a few of our brave lads have made the great sacrifice which helped to bring Peace to the Nations

Those who had not returned from the war were remembered in the midst of rejoicing.


The Sunday School

The Peace-time Picnic was greatly enjoyed at Beacon Hill, on Wednesday, 13th August. The day was very fine – the sun’s rays being tempered with a delightful breeze, and the sylvan beauties of the park with the glorious views from the downs were never before seen in such perfection by the majority of those present.

The last School Picnic at Highclere was held in July 1914 – almost on the eve of the great world tragedy of August 4th of that year – and not a few of our brave lads have made the great sacrifice which helped to bring Peace to the Nations. We bow our heads in reverent remembrance of them, and thank God for those who have been spared and have been enabled to take up their work again.

The work on this occasion was indeed joyous, as load after load of happy people of all ages, but mostly young, were discharged on the soft turf from the motor lorries provided by Messrs. Pass & Co. Three journeys were made each way, the first company starting at 1 o’clock and the last at 3.45 from the Lecture Hall and the return journeys were made, the first at 6.30 and the last at 9.15, thus giving all a fair average of time at the Hill.

The all important function of tea was celebrated on the slopes near the Lodge at 4.30. Mrs. F.C. Hopson and a willing band of helpers catered for the hungry throng, 300 strong, while Mr Henry Marshall eclipsed all his past efforts by the splendid brew he produced. All were unanimous in saying that the tea was an unqualified success. After the tea, sports and games, under the direction of Mr. H. Allen and Mr. Spalding, held in the field, and the first hoot of the lorry’s siren sounded all too soon.

The whole of the arrangements worked perfectly under the direction of the Superintendents of the School, and the result was a day of pure and unalloyed enjoyment. Mention must be made of the kind assistance rendered by Mr. Harris, who in the absence of our newly elected Minister, officiated at the tea, also of the numerous friends in the congregation who contributed so liberally towards the expenses, and are hereby tendered the grateful thanks of the Officers and Teachers.

It may be interesting to shew by way of contrast the cost of a pre-war picnic at Beacon Hill with that of a post-war expenditure for practically the same number.

1914
£ S d
Total expenditure 16 15 1

Less Tea and Rail Fares 3 4 6
Paid for by 43 friends at
1s 6d each
Net Cost £13 11s 7d

1919
£ S d
Total expenditure 17 17 8 ½

RECEIPTS

Balance previous treats 17 0
Contributions 11 3 9 ½
Provisions sold 1 9 2 ½ 13 10 0

Balance Due to Treas. £4 7s 8 ½ d

The cost of transit was the most expensive item this year owing to 50% increase of railway fares and the unsuitable times of the trains an expenditure of £9 had to be incurred for motor lorries. Leaving this item out of the account the other expenses work out to even less than the pre-war picnic.

The cost of tea, including the boiling of water and hire of crockery, was about 5⅓d. per head, inclusive of teachers and helpers – a wonderful result, which, in these days of high prices, reflects great credit on Mrs. F. C. Hopson and those helping her.

The Newbury and Thatcham Congregational Magazine, September 1919 (D/N32/12/1/1/1)

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Asking after the Bisham boys

As the wife of an old-fashioned benevolent landlord and employer, Florence Vansittart Neale visited tenants to ask about their sons at the Front. She was also aware of the case of George Watson Smyth, heir to Wadhurst Castle in Sussex, being nursed at Highclere. He was to have his leg amputated.

1 October 1915

Called on Horner, Howard, Paine, Steptoe, Brooks & Simmonds – enquire after boys. Rumour Bob Paine killed. William Randall died – overworked.

Girls & I took Moll home – round by Wargrave to leave French flags….

George Watson Smyth at Highclere Hospital. Foot shattered.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Gallant work with Lewis guns

Sulhamstead mourned the loss of a teenage officer with local connections. He had spent a period recovering from earlier wounds at Highclere Castle, known to TV audiences as Downton Abbey. Lewis guns were a new kind of machine gun.

ROLL OF HONOUR

The late Lieut. B. G. D. Jones

Lieutenant Basil Gordon Dawes Jones, Welsh Regiment, killed in action on September 22, was the elder son of Colonel Jones of Worthing, grandson of General Sir Henry Gordon, great-nephew of General Charles Gordon of Khartoum, and nephew of Mr and Mrs F. C. Jones of Firlands, Sulhamstead. He passed into Sandhurst from Haileybury just before war broke out, was severely wounded in the second battle of Ypres in 1915, and was taken to Lady Carnarvon’s Hospital for wounded officers at Highclere Castle, where he remained nearly four months. He only recovered sufficiently to return to the front at the beginning of this year, and had not since been home on leave. He was only 19 years of age when he was killed.

His brigadier-general writes:

“I am commanding the brigade in which the – Welsh are serving… I know Colonel Pritchard had a very high opinion of him (Lieut. Jones), and for this reason had given him command of a company, and this opinion I fully share. I was so glad to hear yesterday that your son has been given a Military Cross for his very gallant work with the Lewis guns.”

(From the Reading Mercury).

It is also with sorrow that we record the death of Henry Parsons. No particulars had been received when this paper was written.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, November 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Over from Highclere

The latest from Florence Vansittart Neale includes a visit from a wounded friend who was being nursed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire (the inspiration for TV’s Downton Abbey).

18 July 1915
Heard from Sep. He back at Dardanelles on 7th….

No fresh news in Observer. Strike continuing.

Lionel Gibbs came over from Highclere. Badly wounded left arm….

Read “The Real Crown Prince”.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)