Broadway’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations 6th May 1935

How Broadway Celebrated the Silver Jubilee
of HM King George V

In March 1935, a Broadway Jubilee Committee of 50 villagers, chaired by Clement Parsons (of Luggershill, Springfield Lane), was appointed to organise a number of events across the village to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of HM King George V. Under Treasurer, Alexander Lomas1, a Jubilee Fund was set up which raised a total of £148 2s to fund the village’s celebrations.

On Monday 6th May 1935, Broadway celebrated the King’s Jubilee in style. The day started at 9am with a peal of church bells at St Eadburgha’s Church. Members of the Broadway branch of the British Legion, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides accompanied by a number of schoolchildren processed down the High Street to the War Memorial on the green, where a Service of Thanksgiving was held at 10.15am. The service, officiated by the Rev. Vincent H. Patrick, Vicar of St Michael’s, and the Congregational Minister, Rev. S.T. Butler, was attended by hundreds of villagers gathered on the village green.

Silver Jubilee, Broadway War Memorial 1935
Thanksgiving Service at Broadway War Memorial 6th May 1935. Photo ©P. Hutchinson Photographer, Broadway

Open Gardens and an Afternoon of Sports on Broad Close

During the afternoon, various sporting events, organised by the North Cotswold Athletic Club were held at Broad Close including events for the younger children and a men’s cross country race from Broad Close up to Broadway Tower and back – the race was won by J. Stokes2.

Broad Close, Broadway 6 May 1935
Broad Close, Broadway 6 May 1935

The athletic events, conducted under the rules of the Amateur Athletic Association, were organised by a Committee headed by Brigadier-General Napier assisted by; Frank A. Folkes (Secretary and Treasurer), Captain C.M. Napier, Dr William G. Alexander, Dr M.C. Beatty, Reginald Y.T. Kendall3 (of Abbot’s Grange), Charles Steward, Mr Harvey, A. Beard, C. Ingram, G.F. Knott, Archibald J. Bridgeman (Headmaster of Broadway Council School), Miss Tilley, Miss Ingles, R. Rawlings, R. Stokes, R. Holland, Rex Morris, and L.J. Smith.

Silver Jubilee Celebrations, Broadway, 6th May 1935
Silver Jubilee Celebrations, Broadway, 6th May 1935. Photo ©P. Hutchinson Photographer, Broadway

Music for the event was provided by L. Hensley and the prizes were awarded by two of the village’s oldest residents, Thomas and Elizabeth Figgitt4. The couple were driven to Broad Close from their home at Swan Cottage along the High Street in an open-top waggon provided by Don G.S. Russell (owner of the Lygon Arms). After the sports, a tea party for children and parishioners was held in a marquee erected on the Recreation Ground. 

From 12 noon until 4pm, gardens across the village were opened to the public. The open gardens were organised by the Jubilee Gardens Committee headed by Miss Pemberton and Miss Webb. The gardens, which were open free of charge, included: Orchard Farm (Lady Maud Bowes Lyon), Court Farm (Mary Anderson de Navarro, garden designed by Alfred Parsons), Lygon Arms (Don G.S. Russell), Bannits (Mrs Rees Price, garden designed by Alfred Parsons), Farncombe House (Frank Burges OBE), Abbot’s Grange (Reginald Y.T. and Evelyn H. Kendall), Austin House (Stratford C. and Eva A. Saunders) and Luggershill (Clement Parsons).

Torchlight Procession to the Beacon at Broadway Tower

After dark, a torchlight procession of villagers made its way up to Broadway Tower where a beacon bonfire had been built by the Boy Scouts with wood provided by George Foster. The bonfire at the Tower formed part of a chain of beacons across the country. HM King George lit the first of the beacons in Hyde Park, and at 10pm the chain of beacons around the country were lit. As the Broadway Beacon was lit, a red, green and yellow rockets, symbolising the colours of the Scouts, were fired. It was reported that thousands of people made their way up to Broadway Tower to see the beacon and firework display.

 

Broadway Tower 6 May 1935
Broadway Tower 6 May 1935

Jubilee Dance and Jubilee Trees

The following Thursday evening, a Jubilee Dance , organised by Joan Warren, Violet Folkes, Mabel Figgitt, J. Keyte and P. Derrick, was held in the Lifford Memorial Hall. Villagers danced the night away to Eddie Mace and his Super Band, and prizes to the best dancers were awarded to Mr & Mrs Ken Riley and May Keyte.

After the celebrations, two commemoration oak seats set on staddlestones were installed on the High Street. The remainder of the Jubilee Fund5 was used to purchase a number of horse chestnut and lime trees, the ‘Jubilee Trees’, were planted along the Cheltenham Road and High Street, many of which can still be seen today.

Debbie Williamson

 

Notes:

  1. Alexander Fred Lomas (1896-1965) was Manager of the Broadway branch of the Midland Bank.
  2. The results of the cross-country race: 1st: J. Stokes, 2nd: Les Arnold, 3rd: Victor Dudley Tittensor (1916-1989), 4th: W. Payne.
  3. Reginald Young Turnbull Kendall (1897-1963)
  4. See Thomas F. Figgitt (1863-1936)
  5. It had been hoped initially that sufficient funds would be raised to add to the fund set up in the 1920s to build a community swimming pool in the village.

 

Dr Axel M.F. Munthe (1857-1949)

Axel Martin Fredrik Munthe (1857-1949), the Swedish physician, psychiatrist, and author of The Story of San Michele, first came to Broadway in 1907 and lived for a short time afterwards at The Malt House, High Street, Broadway.

Dr Axel Munthe Broadway
Dr Axel Munthe ©Howard Carter FRSA

Born in Sweden on 31 October 1857, Munthe studied medicine in Paris. He became a distinguished physician and was appointed chief physician to Queen Victoria of Sweden in 1892.

Munthe firstly married Ultima Hornberg, a Swede, on 24 November 1880, whom he met while she was studying art in Paris. They divorced in the late 1880s and in 1887, Munthe moved to Capri where he purchased and rebuilt the Villa San Michele in Anacapri. 

On 16 May 1907, Munthe married English aristocrat, Hilda Pennington Mellor (1876–1967) at the Parish Church, Paddington, London. He was 49 and she was 29 years of age. The couple honeymooned at Sunnyside, 72 High Street, Broadway, a guest house run by Mrs Charlotte Kendrick. Sid Knight, who worked as a house boy at Sunnyside, recounts in his book Cotswold Lad  the arrival of Dr and Mrs Munthe’s arrival at the guest house:

Presently the rumbling of wheels disturbed the quiet of the High Street as into view lumbered the station fly owned by the Lygon Arms Hotel, the top piled high with luggage bearing railway and hotel labels from all over Europe. The horse-drawn four-wheeler came to a sedate halt alongside the grass verge that separated roadway from sidewalk, and two imposing figures alighted. One was a woman who to my boyish mind was of unbelievable beauty and charm …… followed by a tall, well-built man, a menacing figure in black…. Over his dark suit he wore a dark, flowing cape ……… A black Homburg shaded his black spade beard, and down his face ran a deep scar ………. rumour said was caused by a falling chimney pot in Stockholm one dark, windy night….Big dark glasses obscured his eyes……..

After a period at Sunnyside, the couple went on to settle in the village at The Malt House, High Street. The Munthe household is recorded in the 1911 Census1:

  1. Hilda Munthe, wife, 31 years old, living on own means, born France, British.
  2. Viking John Axel (Peter) Munthe, son, 2 years old, born London, Swede.
  3. Ludwig Malcolm Grane Munthe, son, 1 year old, born London, Swede.
  4. Sarah Smith, servant – cook, 60 years old, married, born Battersea, London.
  5. May Watts, servant – nurse, 16 years old, single, born Broadway, Worcestershire.
  6. Irene Launer, servant – housemaid, 14 years old, single, born France, French.
  7. Loetitia de Céligny, guest – visitor, 9 years old, born France, French.
  8. Catherine de Céligny, guest – visitor, 31 years old, born France, French.

Sid Knight, who worked at Sunnyside as a houseboy, also worked at The Malt House as a houseboy and his cousin Ada was cook for the Munthe household for many years, travelling and living with them in Rome, Berlin and Stockholm before settling with them at San Michele were it is said King Edward2 used to visit them.

The Malt House, Broadway ©David Lovell
The Malt House, High Street, Broadway ©David Lovell

During 1910, Munthe had a 14-room summer home, Stengården, built in Leksand, Sweden as a gift to his wife. Hilda landscaped Stengården with an English garden, and furnished it with 17th, 18th and 19th-century art and furniture from Italy, England and France.

For s short period during the First World War, Munthe volunteered and served with the British Ambulance Corps in France3. After the war, Munthe was more often at San Michele until his eyesight deteriorated. Sid Knight recounts in his book his last memory of seeing Mrs Munthe in Broadway, towards the end of the First World War, by which time Munthe and his wife, Hilda, were separated.

Munthe’s autobiographical book, The Story of San Michele, was first published in 1929. It was later translated into 25 different languages. Following an operation in Zurich in 1934, his sight was partially restored.

It was reported in the Lancashire Evening Post on 13 August 1937:

Dr. Axel Munthe, having completed his annual visit to England, left to-day for Stockholm, where he will stay with one of his oldest friends – the King of Sweden.

Bearded, dark spectacled, elusive, Dr. Munthe is still a Swede by nationality. Before the war he was on the point of adopting British nationality. But the war delayed the process of nationalisation, and he abandoned his intention.

Formerly, Dr Munthe had a house at Broadway, in Worcestershire. Now, though he belongs to the St. James Club, he has no English residence. But he remains an Englishman in spirit, and frets at being obliged to pass through the aliens’ barrier whenever he lands in this country.

Axel MuntheMunthe was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1905. He died on 11 February 1949, aged 91, in the Royal Palace in Stockholm and his ashes were scattered in the North Sea.

 

Notes:

  1. The 1911 Census for England and Wales was taken on the night of Sunday 2 April, 1911.
  2. From Cotswold Lad by Sid Knight, published 1960.
  3. See Red Cross & Iron Cross by Axel Munthe, published 1916.

Buckland Manor and Wormington Grange: War Nurseries during the Second World War and a Visit from Queen Mary

A War Nursery near Broadway is Founded

During the autumn of 1940, seven young children were removed from the dangers of living in war torn London to rural Buckland just outside Broadway. The evacuation and rehoming of the children was funded by the American Red Cross and the Surdna Foundation1 who had arranged for The Waifs and Strays Society (now The Church of England Children’s Society) to run a War Nursery2 at Buckland Manor.

In July 1940, Lady Ismay of nearby Wormington Grange3, whose husband, General Hastings Ismay was Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant, had taken in 30 London evacuees under the age of two. Children under five4 were difficult to place with families and Lady Ismay was approached by the Society’s secretary, Mr W.R. Vaughan, to find another suitable home for a small number of very young children.

At the time there were three Receiving Nurseries in London in which children under five were received for medical inspection, issue of clothing, etc., before being evacuated to the country to nurseries set up to specially cater for their needs.

Mr & Mrs Charles T. Scott of Buckland Manor offered their home to the Society and by November 1940, seven youngsters had taken up residence in a wing of the house under the care of Matron Miss Bride. Mrs Jane Scott (who became the Nursery’s Commandant) was often seen taking the children for a walk and her cook, Margaret ‘Bessie’ Andrews, prepared the children’s meals. Lady Victoria Forester, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Mary, who lived at Furze Hill, Willersey, was also involved in the children’s welfare. Clothes and toys for the children were provided by the Women’s Voluntary Services both in London and Broadway, and additional children’s clothing from sewing parties held in the village.

Miss Bride told a reporter from The Evesham Journal that the children can “run just where they like” and although many arrived tearful and homesick they soon settled into life in the Cotswolds countryside. Miss Bride’s charges were all from London; Tony (the eldest), Maureen (the youngest, aged 20 months), Ernest, Eileen, David, Sailor and Ronald.

Buckland Manor c1944
Buckland Manor c1944

Queen Mary visits the War Nursery at Buckland Manor

By 1944, under Matron Miss Frank, the nursery at Buckland Manor had grown to be one of the largest in the area caring for 36 children5. Amongst the children, all aged under five, were children of Birmingham City transport workers as well as those with parents serving in HM Forces.

On Thursday 10th August 1944, Queen Mary paid an informal visit to Buckland Manor to see the children. The Queen was accompanied by Lady Constance Milnes Gaskell, Lady Victoria Forester and Major Forester, the local MP William Morrison and his wife Katharine Morrison, and Colonel George Mackie (County Director of the British Red Cross). The Queen stayed for half an hour and on leaving was presented with a bouquet of roses by two year old Gillian Adams from Birmingham.

The War Nursery at Buckland Manor closed down shortly after the end of the Second World War in late 1945/early 19466.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Notes:

  1. The Surdna Foundation was established as a charitable foundation in 1917 by the American John Emory Andrus to pursue a range of philanthropic purposes.
  2. The first War Nursery was set up in February 1940 at Dallington in Northamptonshire. By the end of 1940, 30 nurseries were in existence housing over a thousand babies and young children. After the United States of America entered the war in 1942, the Ministry of Health undertook full financial responsibility for the nurseries, the total number of which grew to 400.
  3. In November 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady of the United States ( 4 March 1933 – 12 April 1945) visited the War Nursery at Wormington Grange.
  4. Approximately 89%, of all under fives evacuated were sent from the London area, and by August, 1945, the Metropolitan Evacuation Panel had dealt with applications for over 60,000 children many of which were applying for temporary evacuation. 9,046 young children were evacuated through the London Receiving Nurseries.
  5. The War Nursery at Wormington Grange had also increased in size, caring for up to 60 children.
  6. The War Nurseries were gradually closed after the end of the war. However, some 10,000 children across all ages were unable to return home for various reasons and had to be cared for until homes could be found. The War Nursery at Wormington Grange closed in February 1946.

 

 

How Broadway celebrated VE Day in 1945

VE Day, Tuesday 8th May 1945, was celebrated by villagers with a parade down the High Street and a large bonfire and gathering on the village green which lasted through to the Wednesday evening.

George Keyte, retired village postman of Bibsworth Avenue, Broadway, supplied the celebrations with a couple of large barrels of cider which was given away free to revellers.

Special church services were held in all the churches and houses across the village were decorated with flags and bunting, with several floodlit after dark.

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Broadway History Society
8th May 2020

Next Talk Monday 16th March: Broadway’s Schools

The next meeting and talk hosted by Broadway History Society will take place on Monday 16th March 2020. Starting at 7pm in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Councillor Elizabeth Eyre will be giving an illustrated talk entitled Broadway’s Schools.

Elizabeth’s talk will cover the day to day running of the schools in Broadway including Broadway National School from its opening to its relocation on Lime Tree Avenue. Although there have been private schools in the village, Broadway’s village school, at The Old Schools, was the main centre of education from the mid 19th century1 until it closed on 22nd December 1914 and then new Broadway Council School2 on Lime Tree Avenue was opened on 12th January 1915.

All welcome. Non-members £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served before the talk.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

1. In 1855, when Sarah Ann Hedgecock was school mistress, there were 15 boy and 25 girl pupils enrolled at Broadway National School. From 1880, Horatio Kilwood was School Master with Miss Edith, Prince Mistress of the Infants and from 1883, William ‘Billy’ Timms who moved to Broadway Council School in 1915 with Miss Clements, Mistress of the Infants.
2. The building of the new Broadway Council School by Epsleys & Co, started on 16th March 1914. When the new school opened, on 12th January 1915, it could accommodate 170 pupils. The staff were: William Timms (Head), and teachers Miss Edith Timms, Miss Edith Neal and Miss Maud Colllins.

Next Talk Monday 17th February: A Builder In Broadway, Charles Edmund Steward

Charles E. Steward (1874-1954)

The next meeting and talk hosted by Broadway History Society will take place on Monday 17th February 2020. Starting at 7pm in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Committee Members Mary and Nigel Smith will be giving an illustrated talk entitled A Builder in Broadway, Charles Edmund Steward.

Charles Steward (1874-1954) was a Broadway Parish Councillor, Captain of Broadway Fire Brigade, and builder in the village and surrounding area between 1898 and 1954. Charles was instrumental in building many of the houses in Broadway we know today and Mary and Nigel’s talk will include some of the interesting building projects Charles and his firm, Steward & Co., worked on.

All welcome. Non-members £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served before the talk.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Thomas Edmund Wells (1855-1910) of Chicago and Broadway

Wells Gardens, Leamington Road, Broadway, Worcestershire
Wells Gardens, Leamington Road, Broadway, Worcestershire – the cottages were built in 1907 and 1908 by Espley & Co., Evesham

The cottages in Broadway that comprise Wells Gardens, Leamington Road, were built and named after Thomas Edmund Wells. Born in Birmingham, England, Thomas emigrated with his father and brother to the United States in 1870. He later returned to England to spend his retirement in Broadway away from Chicago, Illinois, where he made his fortune. Thomas is credited with being one of the prominent businessmen who made Chicago one of the leading cities in the world.

Thomas’s Early Life in Birmingham, England

Thomas was born in Birmingham on 28th January 1855 the son of John Wells, a butcher, and Diana Wells (née Nash). Thomas’s father, John, was from Rowington, near Warwick, Warwickshire, and his mother had been born at Causeway Meadows Farm1, Dodderhill, near Droitwich, Worcestershire, on 31st October 1826. The Nash and Wells were family friends and John and Diana, whose parents were living at Haselor Farm, Cropthorne, Worcestershire, were married at St Michael’s Church, Cropthorne, by Rev. B. Fawcett on 4th February 1852. After their marriage they moved back to Birmingham where Thomas was born the following year.

Thomas was baptised Thomas Edmund Wells on 3rd June 1855 in St George’s Church, Birmingham. Thomas had a younger brother, Samuel John2, who was born in Birmingham in 1857. Aged 41, their mother died during the summer of 1869 and following her death, John, Thomas and Samuel, emigrated to the United States to join family who had already settled there.

Thomas’s Life in Chicago

Great Chicago Fire
New buildings are already under construction just a few weeks after the catastrophic fire in Chicago, 1871. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

By June 1870 Thomas, his father and brother were living in Hyde, an affluent area 7 miles south of downtown Chicago in Illinois. Aged 15 and having finished his schooling, Thomas found work as a bank messenger for the American bank house Lunt, Preston, and Kean. Although young, Thomas excelled and quickly moved up in the business. During the Great Chicago Fire3 which raged across the city a few months later from 8th to 10th October 1870, Thomas just managed to escape the flames before the bank’s building succumbed to the fire and collapsed.

Aged 23, Thomas married his cousin, Mary Nash in Chicago on 17th October 1878. Mary had been born at Rush Farm, Inkberrow, Worcestershire. Mary’s father, Richard Preston Nash4 was Thomas’s mother’s oldest brother who had also emigrated to the US in the 1870s and had made Chicago his home. After their marriage, Thomas and Mary moved to 1733 Vincennes Avenue, Chicago. Thomas had a house built on land he had purchased in what was then a quiet, up and coming suburb of the city. Thomas and Mary had 3 daughters and 4 sons all born in Chicago:

  • Mary Wells, 1879-1969, who married William Hamilton Noyes of Chicago
  • John Edward Wells, 1881-1945
  • Anne Diana Wells, 1883-1957, who married Albert Hamilton Noyes
  • Thomas Edmund Wells Jr, 1885-1940
  • Richard A. Wells, who died, aged 6, on 23rd January 1895
  • Preston Albert Wells, 1891-1974
  • Eleanor May Wells, 1896-1978, who married George Dresser Smith

In 1873 Thomas started work at William Kirkwood at the Chicago Board of Trade and in 1876 was promoted to partner of the firm which was later known as Geddes, Kirkwood & Company. Thomas was amongst traders known as the ‘English crowd’ trading corn and grain on the Exchange floor alongside Alexander Geddes, William Kirkwood and Robert Stuart, who was actually a Scot. Robert Stuart was one of the three founders of the Quaker Oats Company and Thomas was later involved in the company sitting on the board of Quaker Oats.

In the late 1880s, Thomas ended up with some Texas cattle as collateral on a loan that defaulted. To house the cattle, he purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad, 10,000 acres of land at Rush Creek in the Sandhills area of Nebraska and the cattle were moved to the site from Texas. Thomas and his young family spent their summers at the ranch and in the 1890s Thomas set up the Rush Creek Land & Livestock Company. At one time the family were one of the top ten landowners in the panhandle owning 155,864 acres at Rush Creek. His two sons, Thomas Jr and Preston became the most involved in the ranch with Preston, in the 1940s, acquiring his first Arabian horse to add to the number of horses at the ranch. Today the ranch and the Rush Creek Land and Livestock Company, which is still owned by the Wells family, is famous for breeding Arabian horses.

Thomas left Geddes, Kirkwood & Company in 1896 to become President of the Continental Packing Company and in 1902 when he set up his own Chicago Board of Trade trading firm, T.E. Wells & Co. Outside work, Thomas was a member and trustee of the Forty-first street Presbyterian Church which opened in 1890 and a member of the Chicago Club, a private members club for prominent Chicago businessmen, politicians and families.

Retirement to Top Farm, Broadway

Top Farm, Broadway
Top Farm, High Street, Broadway

On his retirement Thomas decided to move back to England and after renting Dr George Haynes Fosbroke’s Georgian house, Rose Place, Claines, near Worcester, for a year or so in 1902 moved to Broadway. Having fallen for the idyllic Cotswold village, Thomas purchased Top Farm from the Capital and Counties Bank, Broadway, in 1904. Along with the fine Tudor house Thomas purchased surrounding grounds of about 11 acres including extensive fruit orchards, a kitchen garden, dairy, arable fields and several outbuildings and cottages.

Thomas spent his retirement updating and extending the main house and outbuildings. Top Farm House was originally designed by the London architect Andrew Noble Prentice and the refurbishment overseen by Thomas in 1905 was carried out by the Evesham builders, Espley & Co. The gardens at the house were redesigned for Thomas and Mary by the garden designer Alfred Parsons, RA, of Luggershill (now Luggers Hall), Broadway.

Both Thomas and Mary became actively involved in village life and Thomas became affectionately known as Tommy. The family were regular worshippers and supporters of St Michael’s Church and every summer the Broadway Council Schools annual tea and sports day was held in the gardens at Top Farm.

In the early 1900s there was a lack of housing in Broadway for the villagers, so Thomas commissioned Espley & Co. to build the Wells Cottages on the Leamington Road which were completed in 1907 and 1908. The cottages became fondly known in the village as “White City”. Some of the cottages were occupied by workers at Top Farm and many of the cottages are still owned by the family today.

The families and workers associated with Top Farm included; Frank Morgan and Hubert Smithin (Bailiffs), Mr and Mrs T.F. Newbury, David William Stanley (Head Gardener), Mr and Mrs H. Brookes, George Frederick Knott5 (who rented one of the cottages at Top Farm), J.W. and Mollie Donovan (Top Farm Cottages), William and Mary Gardner (Top Farm Cottages), George Gazey Andrews and his daughter Bessie (who lived at Wells Gardens).

Thomas died, aged 55, at home at Top Farm, during the early hours of Thursday 4th August 1910 following a bout of appendicitis. The following Saturday a funeral service, conducted by Rev. Francis Morgan, was held at the house. Rev. Morgan who had just retired from Broadway returned to take the service at the family’s request and whilst the service was being held, the minute bell at St Eadburgha’s Church was rung. Amongst the many mourners, which included his widow, Mary, youngest daughter Eleanor, the farm workers and staff were:

  • Mr & Mrs John Nash6 (uncle and aunt)
  • Mrs Prudence Nash7 and nieces, Mary Nash, Jane Nash and Jennie Nash
  • Dr & Mrs Bunting (cousins)
  • Mr & Mrs Antonio de Navarro of Court Farm, Broadway
  • Dr G.H. Fosbroke (Claines)
  • Dr & Mrs Charles T. Standring
  • Mr Bridge and Mr Seymour (representing Quaker Oats)
  • Mr Bomford
  • Mr & Mrs Frank Morgan
  • Mr Henry Fowler
  • Mr G.H. Hunt (Evesham)

Winnetka Congregational Church, Cemetery, Illinois (Photo: E. Smith)

A memorial service was also held at St Michael’s Church the day after the funeral service and Thomas’s body was taken to Evesham Mortuary to be embalmed. On 19th August, his coffin was taken by train to Liverpool, accompanied by Henry Fowler. Thomas’s son, Preston, had made the journey over from Chicago and he returned to Chicago with his mother and his father’s body on the SS Baltic on 20th August. Thomas was buried in Winnetka Congregational Church Cemetery, Cook County, Illinois, alongside his son, Richard.

Thomas’s estate was valued around $1,000,000 and amongst his bequests was money for the building of 10 cottages for married old people in Chicago to be known as the “Richard Arthur Wells Memorial”. His widow, Mary, inherited the household, furniture, jewellery, cars and carriages and the rest of his estate was put into trust with his six children receiving $200,000 each a year after his death. Various other family members and workers and servants employed at Top Farm were also beneficiaries.

After his death his widow continued to spend the summer at Top Farm8. Mary died on 6th August 1941, aged 90 at her home 835 Hill Road, Winnetka, a village north of Chicago, Illinois which the family had built in 1926. Mary’s estate was valued at $2,000,000 and Top Farm was inherited by her daughters.

In 1945, nearly 9 acres of arable fields and orchards owned by Top Farm were compulsory purchased under the Housing Acts 1936 to 1944 to provide extra houses for the village. Adjoining land owned by Collett’s trustees was also compulsory purchased at the same time and several council houses were built along Collett’s Fields in the village.

Top Farm remained in the Wells/Noyes family until 1953 when it was purchased by Professor and Mrs Goiten. The house has since been split into two separate houses and the barns and outbuildings along Bibsworth Lane have also been converted into houses.

 

Broadway History Society

 

Notes:
1. William Hill acquired Causeway Meadows Farm (Corsey Meadow Farm) in 1563 when it was rented from the Lord of the Manor, Thomas Carewe. The farm remained in the Nash family until 1880.
2. Samuel John Wells also emigrated to Chicago and married his cousin Helen “Nellie” Nash.
3. The Great Chicago Fire killed approximately 300 people, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles of the city and left more than 100,000 residents homeless.
4. Richard Preston Nash was born Causeway Meadows Farm, Dodderhill, in 1818. By the mid 1870s he had moved with his wife, Prudence (née Arthars) and family to Chicago. He died in Chicago 29th August 1892 and is buried Winnetka Congregational Church Cemetery, Chicago.
5. George Frederick Knott was a teacher at Broadway Council School and one of the founders of Broadway Athletic Football Club. He died, aged 29 in 1936.
6. John Nash, born 11th October 1837 at Dodderhill, died 10th November 1910 in Cleveland, Ohio, and his wife Winifred (née Fowler) born 1841, died 1917, married Bengeworth, Evesham, Worcestershire on 7th August 1862.
7. Prudence Nash (née Arthars), wife of Richard Preston Nash (married 1851, died 1885 see note 3).
8. Top Farm was put up for auction in London by John D. Wood after Thomas’s death on 14th July 1914, however, it was still occupied by Mary Wells and her daughters until 1953 so was probably withdrawn from the sale.

1899: A New Post Office for Broadway

On Friday 1st December 1899, Broadway’s new Post Office opened to the public at 25 High Street, Broadway. The new building, designed by the London architect, Sir Edward Guy Dawber1, was built in Cotswold stone by Espley and Co. of Evesham2.

Since 1848, the post office in Broadway had been housed in an office adjoining Mr Foss’s shop on the opposite side of the street. Following the opening of the new premises the Evesham Standard & West Midland Observer reported:

Broadway like other small Worcestershire towns has prospered and the business at the post office has considerably increased. It is the post town for many villages around, and has become a quite important office. Up to last week the Post Master, clerks, and all the messengers were obliged to do their work in the one small office and little room remained for the public. The new building which has been erected nearly opposite the old office affords good accommodation. There is a general office for the public to transact their business and another well-fitted room for the messengers and sorting. There is a separate entrance from the street for the messengers. The Post Master, Mr A.G. Moulden3, will reside on the premises.

The Old Post Office, as it is now known, is currently occupied by Rikki Tikki Toy Shop with a private apartment above the shop.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Notes:

1. Sir Edward Guy Dawber, RA (King’s Lynn, 3rd August 1861 – London, 24th April 1938) was an English architect working in the late Arts and Crafts style, whose work is particularly associated with the Cotswolds. He was knighted in 1936. Dawber also designed Bibsworth House, Broadway.

2. Charles Edmund Steward of Broadway, an employee of Espley and Co., worked on the building of the Post Office in 1899. His granddaughter, Mary Smith, and great grandson Nigel Smith, will be giving a talk entitled A Builder in Broadway, Charles Edmund Steward, on Monday 17th February 2020 in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway from 7pm.

3. Albert George Moulden was born in Reading, 1868. He was a keen cricketer and played for Reading Post Office Cricket Club. He was elected to the Committee to Broadway Cricket Club in February 1900.