Pigs scattered over Wargrave, Knowl Hill and Crazies Hill

When food was in increasingly short supply, some turned to keeping pigs.

The Wargrave Pig Club

The Annual Meeting was held on the 13th February. The Report and Balance Sheet were presented showing a balance on hand on 31st December last of £31 2s. 4d. The following is a copy of the Report:-

“The Wargrave Pig Club was formed at a meeting held in the Parish Room on 4th April, 1918, when the Officers and Committee for the year were elected. The membership has reached a total of 79, and at one time there were 290 pigs registered on the Club books.

The Parish Council gave permission for two rooms in the old District School buildings to be used as a store, and arrangements were made for members to attend there on Friday evenings to purchase pig food. The food has been procured by certificates issued by the Livestock Commissioner, and although there has sometimes been difficulty in getting the necessary quantity from the millers owing to the general shortage, there was only one week when millers’ offals were unobtainable. That however did not mean that the pigs were without food altogether, for, thanks to Mr. Bond generously advancing money with which to buy other kinds of pig food in large quantities, the Club had a good supply of unrationed pig meal in store, and the Committee were enabled to “carry on”. Altogether over 36 tons of feeding stuffs have been dealt with.

Mr. Bond has had erected at his own expense six capital sites on the Station Road Allotment ground which he has agreed to let to members of the Club at the low rent of 5s. a year. Five of these sites have been occupied. He also advanced money with which to purchase young pigs. 33 pigs have been so bought and resold to members at the actual cost price.

Sir William Cain provided the sum of £6 for prizes for the best bacon hog. Mr. A.B. Booth £3 3s., for porkers, and Mr. Bond £3 as extra prizes. Mr. Rose and Mr. A’Bear acted as judges, all the pigs being viewed in their own sites. The prizes were distributed at a meeting of the Club members on 3rd December.

The competing pigs being scattered over Wargrave, Knowl Hill and Crazies Hill, it occupied the judges the whole of one day for inspection. The Committee offer them their sincerest thanks for undertaking this work.

One of the objects of the Club is the insurance of pigs and although 27 members paid premiums, the Club only had one claim to settle.

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

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A question of damsons

It was sometimes tricky to establish what should be rationed.

23rd September

The Milk (Winter) Prices Order was considered, and it was decided that for the present, until information was obtained as to maximum retail prices fixed in the adjoining districts, the maximum retail price of milk delivered to purchasers for the month of October should be three shillings per imperial gallon.

The report of the Enforcement Officer with reference to the sale by retailers of damsons was considered, and having regard to the fact that it was doubtful whether the fruit in question were damsons or damson plums within the meaning of the Damsons (Sales) Order 1918 the Committee decided that no action be taken.

A further report of the Enforcement Officer with regard to the slaughter of certain calves in contravention of the provisions of the Calves (Sales) Order 1918 was considered, and the Divisional Ministry was requested to take up the matter. The Enforcement Officer also reported certain facts with regard to the slaughter and disposal of a pig under circumstances which the Committee did not consider warranted further action.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

“God bless our wives and kids” – not the King

Should patriotism, and loyalty to the Crown, be mixed with religion? John Maxwell Image was sceptical – while his wife’s foray into pig keeping was a mixed success.

29 Barton Road
4 Aug. ‘18
Tres Cher

Before I forget, let me tell you a tale of Warren, the gardener we share with the Foster Coopers. He is minister of a Grantchester Chapel, and father of a Lieutenant in the Army, and is himself worthy of such exalted claims – but he turns out to be incapable of bloodshed. All the wives in Barton Rd (my own excepted) are allowed to keep rabbits and fowls… Under Warren’s hands the pigs would die of old age – but that we have arranged with Warrington, our butcher, for the execution, I believe, in October….

I doubt if die Madame [Mrs Smith] would entirely have approved of the blending of all denominations in the afternoon service today at St Mark’s (recently appointed our parish church). Florence was present and tells me that the lesson from Revelation was read by a Sergeant (and beautifully read, with all aspirates correct) who, as he turned away from the reading desk, subjoined “And may God add his blessing to the reading of his ‘Oly Word”. He was followed by a Trinity Cadet from the Front – a gentleman, and who probably had been some sort of missionary…

Are you affected by the singing of the National Anthem, now so usual in Church? But it upsets me. We were told that at the Front, when it is sung, the men never mention King George, but the words they sing are “God bless our wives and kids”. Is that true, I wonder?

I am, most fraternally, yours
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“It is incredible the difficulty of getting food here” – are piglets the answer?

One way around savage food restrictions was to buy your own piglet, and fatten it up on table scraps. Florence Image (nee Spencer) was inspired.

29 Barton Road
15 April ‘18
Beloved Signor

The Signora’s ambitious soul now requires Pigs! She learns that ownership of the unclean animal will entitle you to his entire carcase – (at all events, my lord R[hondda] is said to have granted so much to your first pig. She is full of hope and daring, has already purchased 2 little beasts, one white and one black. I, who am of soberer anticipation, went one day to see them – 10 weeks old. How horrible to feed and pamper creatures, not for their good but for their early death! Callous man!

She is just now in from a cycle flurry, thro’ howling wind and drenching rain, to Comberton, 5 miles off – in search of wood for the finish off of her stye for these two little beasts. It appears that the Meddlesome Food Tyrant demands permission and tickets for any member of the Middle or Upper Classes who wants to buy such a commodity as wood – unless it be old tarred wood. She rode first to Barton, where she had no success, but was directed to Comberton 2 miles further away. Her purchase is promised for delivery tomorrow. We won’t boast till it has actually arrived. But it really was a spirited expedition on a day like this.

It is incredible the difficulty of getting food here. We are fresh from a week of it in this house. Two of Florrie’s brothers, hurriedly recalled to the front, have successively been staying here to say goodbye – sickly that! (The most affectionate letter came here from the Colonel of one: he wrote like a father to his son. And another letter to the other brother from his Brigadier, equally flattering. Alas, since that was written, the whole brigade staff has been wiped out, except the Brig.-General himself, who is recommended for the VC.).

Then there was a cousin and godchild of my own – and my sister is staying with us. Finally a friend and his wife from next door – a Fellow of Caius, going out as Botany Professor to Capetown – when their house, No. 31, was gutted of all furniture, spent 4 days with us…

Well, we have 4 one-and-threepenny cards, per week, for meat. You may guess how thorny our task to feed these numbers. Fish we could get, tho’ not good, but, for meat, we had to bow our pride and accept help from our guests…

With our love to you both.

Affec.
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

100 miles an hour

Sir Henry Vansittart Neale was encouraging his tenants to keep pigs, part of the movement to encourage homegrown food.

Florence Vansittart Neale
17 March 1918

H arranging for “Pig meeting” in village.

Russians done for. Hopeless. Will Japan try & bolster them up?

William Hallam
17th March 1918

A very sharp frost. An air ship went over this morning but I did not see it. Some say it was travelling 100 miles an hour.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

Pigs, women’s vote & Revolution

Florence Vansittart Neale presided at the Bisham Church Mothers’ Meeting, where she led the discussion on some significant issues of the day.

22 February 1918

Last Mothers’ Meeting. Read Charlie Lucas “Call of the War” with success. Discussed pigs & piggeries & women’s vote & Revolution.

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

The war may be won or lost by gardening and keeping pigs

The April issue of the Sulhamstead parish magazine had suggestions for parishioenrs to support the war effort at home. The Senussi were a tribe and religious sect based in what is now Libya and Sudan. They fought against Western colonisers, which meant they took the side of Germany and Turkey against Italy, France and Britain during the First World War, although they were to fight for the Allies against Italy in the Second World War.

THE WAR
Information has been published in the press that the shipwrecked men from the “Tera”, captured and held prisoners by the Senussi, have been recaptured in the gallant victory of our troops and are now safe. Amongst the names of those rescued is 2nd Lieut. Albert Marsh, RNR, for whom the Church has been praying.

FOOD SUPPLIES
The Government have sent circulars to all the Rectors and Vicars in the country, asking them to bring before their parishioners the great need of economy in every way, and of equal importance, the pressing necessity of so working their gardens as to produce the largest amount of produce and fruit. They further urge all who can keep a pig or poultry. They go so far as to suggest that the War may be won or lost by the care we exercise in these matters. In connection with gardens, pigs and poultry, special prizes are being offered by the Burghfield and Sulhamstead Horticultural Society, of which brief particulars are given in this magazine.

Books and magazines for the troops
A circular has been received from the Postmaster at Reading, begging that magazines, not more than a year old, and readable books, may be left at the Post Office, Sulhamstead. 50,000 a week are being received at the Post offices, and they want to double that amount. The Postmistress will forward them free of charge for the use of the troops.

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

A small pig

Bracknell people contributed eggs, chickens and a pig to the war effort.

EGGS FOR WOUNDED SOLDIERS.

Ever since April last eggs have been sent from Bracknell to the Care and Comforts Committee at Reading for use in the Soldiers’ Hospitals, but of late the only regular supply has come from Mr. Headington of Braywood, and we are most grateful to him for continuing his supply during this scarce time. Soon we hope the hens will be laying again and that our supply will be increased. The eggs should reach the Vicarage by Thursday evening, as they are sent off every Friday morning.

Mr. Herbert Green, the Assistant Scoutmaster of the Chavey Down Troop has joined the Army Flying Corps. Mr. Albert Futcher has kindly undertaken the duties which Mr. Green performed in true Scout fashion for two years.

An appeal was recently made to the Vicar for help from Bracknell to enable the Reading ladies to continue their useful work of providing refreshments to Soldiers travelling through Reading. Mr. Yorke very kindly undertook to try and collect some money, and arranged that a small pig should be sold at the market and the money given to the fund. The pig was presented by Mr. Shefford, and successive sellings resulted in a sum of £3 being made. Two bantams, given by Miss Annie Shefford, were also sold and produced £1 7s. 3d. The total, £4 7s. 3.d., was sent to Mrs. Henderson at Reading, and gratefully acknowledged. We desire to thank Messrs. Hunton who conducted the sale and all who took part in it.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/12)

“The man we could least spare”

Harry Fisher, a Reading soldier, wrote to the vicar of St John’s Church with the bad news of the loss of a prominent young parishioner, Ronald Poulton-Palmer (1889-1915), who was isher’s commanding officer. Ronald was a rugby international for England. He was the grandson of George Palmer, a former MP for Reading and director of Huntley & Palmers’ biscuit factory. He was also very active in church life, and we will be hearing again about his loss. Sergeant Fisher also talks more generally about life at the front.

Belgium, 5.5.15.

My Dear Vicar,

At last I find an opportunity to write to you.

I regret that my first note to you should bear such sad tidings. Last night at 12.20 a.m. Lieut. Poulton-Palmer was killed while doing duty in the trenches. At the time he was superintending the work of improving the trenches and was standing on the parapet. The bullet entered his right side and passed through his body killing him instantly. He was, for some reason, taking the turn of another officer. His death has cast a gloom over the whole battalion. He was, I think, the most popular officer we had, loved by officers and men alike. The man we could least spare. He lived a clean life and died a noble death. The greatest tribute I can pay him is to say that in every sense of the word HE WAS A MAN. His was the third fatal casualty we have had besides six or seven wounded.

I really have very little news to tell you. We are not allowed to say anything about the military situation. We are all as happy as possible under the circumstances. We spend our time doing duty in the trenches for four days at a time and then come back into billets for four days. Our billet at the present time is a very large piggery. The pigs, of course, are removed, most of them having been stolen by the Germans when they were here. Last week we were billeted in huts in a wood and were sorry to leave them. The wood had just got on its first spring garment and was profuse with violets, cowslips and the like.

One of the most touching sights here are the tiny cemeteries dotted about. They are a testimony to the loving care with which our British Tommy lays to rest his fallen comrades. Each grave has its wooden cross and is well turfed and kept up. Where there are a number of graves together the ground has been fenced in and in some instances a gateway with a rustic arch has been built. The other day I passed two big graves each equally well-kept and bearing the inscription ‘To the memory of — men of the 108th Saxon Regiment. Killed in action. R.IP.’

On Monday the Bishop of Pretoria paid us a visit and spoke some very encouraging words to us.

I have had three opportunities of taking Communion since being here and have taken advantage of each. On each occasion the table was a biscuit box. Twice the Service was held in a barn to the accompaniment of cackling hens and the lowing of cattle, &c. The other was held in the wood to Nature’s own accompaniment. But on each occasion it was the same beautiful Service, making one feel how thoroughly unworthy one is to partake of the blessings it offers.

It is good to know that we have your prayers; we greatly need them. The temptations are very great and the means of grace seem so few out here.

One thing is very noticeable here, and that is the number of churches that have been shattered. I paid a visit to one recently and was astonished to find that, although the church was very badly battered, the altar and all the figures in the various shrines were intact. The same thing is noticeable about the shrines built by the roadside. The houses may be badly battered, but the crucifixes remain intact.

Most of us have had narrow escapes from flying bullets. My nearest one was one day when standing in a ruined cottage close by the trenches. I was in the doorway when a bullet came right through the opposite wall and shattered pieces of brick all round me. The bullet probably went on through the doorway in which I was standing.

I hope all my old friends at S. Stephen’s and S. John’s are well. Please give my kindest regards to them all.

The hardest thing to bear is the thought of those dear ones at home waiting anxiously for news of us. If it were not for that one could be quite cheerful even in the face of the greatest danger.

I must conclude now with very best wishes from
Yours very sincerely,
H.W. FISHER.

P.S.- My address is
No.17 C., Q.M. Sergt. H.W. Fisher,
‘A’ Company,
1/4 Royal Berks Regiment,
British Expeditionary Force.

Reading St John parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)