February’s Talk: Monday 21st February 2022 – 500 Years of Broadway Maps

Next Meeting: Monday 21st February 2022 – 500 Years of Broadway Maps

Our next meeting will take place on Monday 21st February starting at 7pm in the Lifford Memorial Hall. The Society looks forward to welcoming back David Ella as our speaker with his illustrated talk entitled 500 Years of Broadway Maps.

During David’s talk we will be looking at a wide range of maps which include Broadway, created from the 1570s through to 2020. While interesting and attractive in themselves the maps will be used to try and resolve some unanswered historical questions about Broadway and Broadway Hill.  We will look at old county maps, and also unpublished estate maps for Middle Hill, Spring Hill, and the Countess of Gainsborough’s estates in Chipping Campden, which ran to the top of Broadway Hill. Amongst other things, we will look at the engineer’s diagram for the 1820’s roadworks on Broadway Hill, alongside an angry letter from Sir Thomas Phillipps who provided the land.  We will find out why Broadway is in Worcestershire, why Five Mile Drive is only two miles long, and finally try and resolve how Colonel Lygon displayed the Battle of Waterloo at his Spring Hill estate,  just beyond Broadway Tower.  Closer to the village we will look at the “Haunted House”, and understand why one of the houses in the High Street lies at 45 degrees to the road – with the help of the Broadway Enclosure Map.

There will be a table display of original 17th and 18th century maps which can be viewed either before or after David’s talk.

Hand sanitiser and masks will be available. The Comittee will set out the chairs prior to the start of the meeting but please feel free to move them if you would prefer to sit in a different location in the hall. In line with current guidance we will leave the doors to the hall open until just before the start of the talk to allow as much fresh air into the hall prior to the start of the meeting. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the committee.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Happy New Year and January’s Talk on Luggers Hall

Happy New Year! The Committee and I would like to wish you a happy new year and we look forward to seeing you at our meetings in 2022.

Next Meeting: Monday 17th January 2022 – The History of Luggers Hall

Our next meeting will take place on Monday 17th January starting at 7pm in the Lifford Memorial Hall. There has been a change to the programme – Committee Member, Roger Dudley, will be giving us an illustrated talk on The History of Luggers Hall a fine Grade II listed house on Springfield Lane designed by Andrew N. Prentice for the garden designer and artist, Alfred Parsons RA.

Hand sanitiser and masks will be available – it is still a requirement to wear a mask inside the hall unless exempt. The Comittee will set out the chairs prior to the start of the meeting but please feel free to move them if you would prefer to sit in a different location in the hall. In line with current guidance we will leave the doors to the hall open until just before Roger’s talk to allow as much fresh air into the hall prior to the start of the meeting. If you have any concerns please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the committee.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Meeting: Monday 13th December 2021 – A Talk by Martin Blakeman on Gordon Russell Ltd

On Monday 13th December 2021, in the Lifford Memorial Hall, starting at 7pm, Martin Blakeman will give an illustrated talk on Gordon Russell Ltd and some of its people.

Martin Blakeman joined Gordon Russell Ltd 60 years ago in 1959 as an apprentice cabinetmaker, and worked for the company throughout his career. During that time he worked on special commissions in the company’s contracts department, became a foreman in the assembly shop and was later appointed Production Manager. His work took him to Japan in 1973 to establish a production warehouse for Gordon Russell furniture, and to Kuwait installing furniture at the headquarters of the Arab Organisations in the 1990s. Martin has volunteered at the Gordon Russell Design Museum in Broadway since it opened in 2008, researching and cataloguing the Archive, chairing the Education Committee and giving talks and tours both at the Museum and elsewhere.

All welcome to attend the talk, non-members of the Society will be charged £3 on the door.

 

Meeting: 18th October 2021 – An Illustrated Talk by Robin Goldsmith Entitled Seeds of Victory, The First World War

The History Society’s October meeting will take place at 7pm on Monday 18th October 2021, in the Lifford Memorial Hall. Robin Goldsmith will be giving an illustrated talk entitled Seeds of Victory, the First World War.

In the summer of 1914, Britain had a small, tightly funded army, widely considered to have the best trained soldiers in the world. It had been extensively restructured and modernised following conflict against the Boers in South Africa, that ended in 1902. A General Staff had been created to command the Expeditionary Force.

No-one, German, French nor British predicted the nature of the war that would break out that summer. The Prussians and French had had a dry run in 1870-71, which the Prussians had won convincingly. From that conflict both had learned the wrong lessons and Britain was determined not to become embroiled in a continental war. How did Britain’s small Imperial Army transform itself, over four years into the most powerful force on the Western Front? It is a story of enterprise, initiative, innovation, organisation, and determination. Surprised? Let me tell you something.

All welcome. Non-members £3 on the door. Annual membership costs £10 per person.

 

Broadway History Society

 

2021/22 Programme of Events

Broadway History Society
2021/22 Programme of Events

All meetings will take place in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm.

Membershop costs £10 per person, non-members £3 on the door.

Monday 13th September 2021 

Broadway’s National School – a talk by Elizabeth Eyre

Monday 18th October 2021

Seeds of Victory, The First World War – a talk by Robin Goldsmith

Monday 15th November 2021

John Singer Sargent’s ‘Portrait of Sisters’ – a talk by Dr Malcolm Rogers CBE

Monday 13th December 2021

Gordon Russell Ltd & the People Involved – a talk by Martin Blakeman

Monday 17th January 2022

History of Luggers Hall –  a talk by Roger Dudley

Monday 21st February 2022

500 Years of Broadway Maps – a talk by David Ella

Monday 21st March 2022

A Working Man’s Castle, the History of the Fleece Inn, Bretforton – a talk by Nigel Smith

Monday 25th April 2022

History of the Coventry Family and Broadway Tower, the Completion of the 6th Earl’s Dream of Perfection – a talk by Jill Tovey and Tim Hickson

Monday 16th May 2022

Annual General Meeting and Farnham House, Watching the World Go By – a talk by John Noott

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

Next Meeting: Monday 20th January Russell House, Broadway, its People and History

Russell, House, Broadway History Society
Russell House, Broadway
The next meeting and talk hosted by Broadway History Society will take place on Monday 20th January 2020 in the Lifford Memorial Hall with an illustrated talk by Art Historian and former Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Malcolm Rogers CBE, entitled Russell House, Broadway, its People and History. Malcolm’s talk will start at 7pm and refreshments will be served at the end of the meeting.

Russell House is a handsome Grade II listed Cotswold stone building on the green in Broadway with beautiful grounds. Built in 1791, the house has had a number of owners. One of whom was the American artist Frank Millet who moved with his family to Russell House in 1885. Millet, one of the Broadway Colony of Artists1, died in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, and his wife, Lily Millet continued to live in Russell House until her death in 1932.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

1. Broadway Arts Festival, held in the village biennially, celebrates Broadway’s artistic heritage of the world-famous colony of American artists, writers and musicians, who visited and worked in the village in the late 19th century.

Next Meeting Monday 9th December: Hailes Abbey and the Mystery of the Holy Blood, a talk by David Haldred

Broadway History Society’s next meeting and talk will take place on Monday 9th December 2019, with a talk by David Haldred on Hailes Abbey and the Mystery of the Holy Blood.

Located between Toddington and Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey was founded in 1246 by the Earl of Cornwall, the second son of King John, and was once the centre of monastic life. In 1270 the Abbey received a holy relic believed to be a portion of the blood shed by Christ on the Cross. The Holy Blood of Christ transformed the monastery into one of the most important pilgrimage sites in medieval England but the relic was destroyed and the Abbey left in ruins when the Abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. David’s talk will explore how the rise and fall of the Abbey was inextricably linked to its prized relic.

Non-members are welcome, £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served during the interval.

Hailes Abbey
By Saffron Blaze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15096276

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Next Meeting Monday 18th November: 1941, HMS Broadway and the Capture of the German Naval Enigma Machine

HMS Broadway Magic Eye
HMS Broadway (H90). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152831

Broadway History Society’s next meeting and talk will take place on Monday 18th November 2019, when local artist Doug Eyre, will be giving an illustrated talk entitled 1941, HMS Broadway and the Capture of the German Naval Enigma Machine in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm.

HMS Broadway (H90), previously USS Hunt, was the first ex-American Destroyer involved in the capture of a German U-boat, U-110, during the Second World War. Doug Eyre, Broadway Museum and Art Gallery’s resident artist has painted a picture depicting the important May 1941 engagement in the Atlantic that involved HMS Broadway and resulted in the discovery of the Enigma machine and codebooks on U-110.

Non-members are welcome, £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served during the interval.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Further reading: see HMS Broadway (H90)

HMS Broadway (H90)

HMS Broadway
Cast of the badge presented to HMS Broadway by the Broadway Branch of the British Legion on behalf of the village in 1943

Town Class Destroyer HMS Broadway (H90) was first launched on 14th February 1920 and was the first ex-American destroyer involved in the capture of a U-boat during in the Atlantic during the Second World War.

The ship, originally commissioned and launched by Miss Victoria Hunt as USS Hunt (DD 194), was built by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. in Virginia in the United States. She was one of 50 US Navy destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy from the US Navy as part of the Destroyers for Bases Agreement of 2nd September 1940.

On 8th October 1940, USS Hunt was commissioned as HMS Broadway in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, for use by the Royal Navy. Like all the other ex-US Navy destroyers transferred to the Royal Navy in 1940, her name was common to a village/town in England and a town in the US. HMS Broadway arrived at HM Dockyard Devonport on the south coast on 29th October for a refit and modification to be used as a Royal Navy convoy escort in the Atlantic.

Following the commissioning of the destroyer, Broadway’s Parish Councillor, Gordon Russell, agreed to give a talk to the BBC on the village of Broadway. However, the Chairman of the Parish Council, Arthur Williams JP, strongly objected to the talk on the grounds that ‘the enemy is likely to vent his wrath in a particular village that has given its name to one of His Majesty’s ships’. On 2nd January 1941, Williams sent a telegram to the BBC who replied that they could not stop the programme going ahead as it had already been publicised. Williams then sent a wire to Herbert Morrison, Home Secretary to the wartime coalition, stating that the airing of the programme would give ‘unnecessary publicity, and possible menace to the village’ and he also sent a telegram to the local Evesham MP, Mr Rupert De la Bère. Following discussions between the two, it was decided that the BBC programme should go ahead as it would not adversely affect Broadway or endanger the village or its residents in any way.

HMS Broadway, Convoy Escort and the Capture of an Enigma Machine

After undergoing initial trials HMS Broadway was taken to Scapa Flow for further preparations and to join the 11th Escort Group. However, she sustained damage during the trials and was repaired in Hull, then at the Clyde and Liverpool shipyards before work was finally completed on her back at Devonport and she was finally ready to go to war as an escort of convoys in the mid-Atlantic passage. HMS Broadway returned to Liverpool from where on 28th April 1941 she joined the 7th Escort Group, Western Approaches Command, in Iceland.

Lt. Fritz-Julius Lemp (1913-1941), Commander of U-110
Lt. Fritz-Julius Lemp (1913-1941), Commander of U-110

On 9th May 1941, whilst under the command of Lt. Commander Thomas Taylor, RN, and whilst protecting the Atlantic convoys with the help of destroyer HMS Bulldog and corvette HMS Aubretia, she assisted in the capture of German U-boat U-110 between Greenland and Iceland.

U-110, commanded by U-boat ace Lt. Fritz-Julius Lemp1, had successfully sunk two British ships during the Battle of the Atlantic.  On the 9th May the U-boat was first detected by HMS Aubretia’s listening device and the corvette subsequently moved to engage the U-boat with depth charges. U-110 survived this first assault but when the two destroyers HMS Bulldog and HMS Broadway joined the attack the U-boat was forced to surface and HMS Bulldog’s captain set a course to ram the the boat. Lemp seeing this ordered his crew to abandon ship.

U-110 was captured (the first U-boat capture during the Second World War) and a boarding party was sent from HMS Bulldog under the command of Lieutenant Commander David Balme. On board, Radio Operator William Stewart Pollock noticed a unusual looking typewriter. He unscrewed it from the desk, gathered it up and later discovered he had taken a German Navy Enigma decoder machine and codebooks, the first operational Enigma machine captured during the war.

Once in the water, Lemp attempted to swim back to the U-boat when he realised that the scuttling charges were not going to detonate and that his boat might be captured and this was the last anyone saw of him.

The original plan was to tow the U-110 to Iceland. Fortuitously, the U-boat sank whilst under tow. Had the boat reached Iceland, it seems certain that German spies would have seen it and passed word back to Germany.

Although the German Navy (the Kriegsmarine) developed codes that were more complex after this capture, it gave Alan Turing and the code breakers at Bletchley Park their first insight into the Enigma code. The Bletchley Park cryptanalysts had found this code more complex and secure than that used by the Germany’s army and airforce.

Four officers and men of HMS Broadway were mentioned in dispatches and Lt. Commander Thomas Taylor received the DSC and Chief Stoker Arthur Harry Capelin P/K-46363 was awarded the DSM.

HMS Broadway HMS Broadway, British Town Class Destroyer, 16th April 1942, Sheerness (A 8290) © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205142254

 

HMS Broadway continued to escort Atlantic convoys during 1942 and 1943 and on 12th May 1943, commanded by Lt. Commander Evelyn Henry Chavasse2, she joined frigate HMS Lagan and aircraft from escort carrier HMS Biter in destroying another German submarine, U-89, which was sunk northeast of the Azores.

HMS Broadway Magic Eye
HMS Broadway’s ‘Magic Eye’. Rosyth, 14th November 1943. © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152831

After undergoing a refit at Belfast in September 1943, HMS Broadway became a target ship for aircraft and served as such at Rosyth in Scotland until the war ended in Europe, retiring from service during the summer of 1945. HMS Broadway was finally decommissioned and sold for scrap in May 1948.

HMS Broadway received the battle honours, Atlantic 1941-43 and North Sea 1944 for taking part in the sinking of two U-boats and the attacks on many others during which she covered nearly 100,000 miles on duty. She was known for her ‘Magic Eye’ which she had painted on her bows to ward off evil.

Support for HMS Broadway from the Broadway Branch of the British Legion

During the war HMS Broadway was one of two ships adopted by the village (the other being HMS Terrapin3). The Broadway branch of the British Legion undertook to supply HMS Broadway with comforts from the branch’s special war fund. Records, books, games, irons, writing paper, cards and envelopes and a box of football gear from Broadway United Football Club (the club had been suspended for the duration of the war) along with cheques to be spent by the ship’s commanding officer on the crew were amongst items sent. Several fundraisers were held in the village during the war: on Boxing Day 1941, Broadway United Football Club held a dance at the Lifford Memorial Hall to raise money for the crew and £284 was sent to the fund to provide further sports equipment for those on board the destroyer.

In June 1943, a badge made of pear wood was presented to the HMS Broadway by the Broadway branch of the British Legion on behalf of the village (see photo above). The shield was designed by the officers of the ship and partly by the artist, Major W.T. Hart of Chipping Campden. The badge, surrounded by the Naval Crown represents the albatross, being the badge of the US Navy, Broadway Tower and crossed anchors being common to both Navies. The badge was initially on view in J.B. Ball’s shop window on the High Street but is now on the wall in St Michael’s Church. A cast brass shield was also presented by the village to the ship for the ship’s bridge.

HMS Broadway’s Bell

The Bell from HMS Broadway
The Bell from HMS Broadway

The bell from HMS Broadway was salvaged when the ship was decommissioned. In 1951, in a ceremony at City Hall, the bell was presented by the Admiralty to Mayor Impelliteri of New York along with a leather bound volume relating the exploits of the destroyer after she joined the Royal Navy. The bell was later put into safe keeping at the the Lygon Arms Hotel, in the village, which was under the management of Donald Russell at the time. It was presented to the citizens of Broadway by Captain R.G. Mackay, British Naval representative on the United Nations Military Staff Committee, on behalf of the Admiralty.

The bell is currently on display at the Lygon Arms Hotel, High Street, Broadway, and will shortly be moved to Broadway Museum and Art Gallery, Tudor House, 65 High Street, Broadway.

Talk on HMS Broadway – 18th November 2019

To find out more about HMS Broadway, on Monday 18th November 2019, Doug Eyre, will be giving an illustrated talk entitled 1941, HMS Broadway and the Capture of the German Naval Enigma Machine in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. All welcome. Non-members of the Society £3.

Doug Eyre is Broadway Museum and Art Gallery’s resident artist and he has painted a picture depicting the important 1941 engagement that involved HMS Broadway and the discovery of the Enigma machine and codebooks.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

 

Notes:

1. Fritz-Julius Lemp commanded U-28, U-30 and U-110 and sank the British passenger ship SS Athenia, in violation of the Hague conventions in September 1939.
2. Reverend Evelyn Henry Chavasse, DSO, DSC (1906-1991) served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 1st February 1937 and to the rank of Commander on 30th June 1943. He was ordained in 1954.
3. HMS Terrapin was a British submarine of the third group of the T class. She was built as P323 by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow and Belliss and Morcom Ltd, and launched on 31st August 1943.
4. The Boxing Day Dance raised £55 14s 6d. £28 went to HMS Broadway and the balance to the football club fund.

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 fto 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.

Debbie Williamson, Chair of the Broadway History Society, will be giving an illustrated talk entitled Thomas E. Wells and Top Farm, Broadway, on Monday 21st September 2020 in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway starting at 7pm.

 

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.

Next Meeting: Monday 21st October – Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt (1792-1872)

Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872)

On Monday 21st October the Broadway History Society looks forward to welcoming Gerard Molyneux, the great great great grandson of Sir Thomas Phillipps to give a talk entitled Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt (1792-1872) on his eccentric bibliophile relative who lived at Middle Hill and established a printing press in Broadway Tower.

Sir Thomas Phillipps lived at Middle Hill, Broadway, moving to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham in 1863 where he resided until his death on 6th February 1872. Sir Thomas is buried in the family vault in the churchyard at St Eadburgha’s Church alongside Lady Phillipps and his father Thomas Phillipps. The Cheltenham Chronicle reported on Sir Thomas’s funeral a few days later:

The funeral arrangements were entrusted to Messrs. Shirer and Haddon, and carried out in a simple manner. The funeral cortege left Thirslestaine House early in the morning in the following order: The undertakers, Messrs. Shirer & Haddon of Cheltenham, hearse drawn by four horses; 1st carriage, the Rev. J. Walcott1, Rev. J. Fenwick2 and Mr Fenwick and the Rev. J.H. Cardew3 of Cheltenham, sons-in-law and grandson of the deceased; 2nd carriage, Mr A. Walker, solicitor, Mr. W. Smith, solicitor, Mr W. Lawrence4 and Mr Gale5; 3rd carriage, Rev. W. Phillipps (Buckland), Mr E. Phillipps and Mr C. Phillipps (Broadway); 4th carriage, Mr. W. Phillipps, Mr G. Phillipps (Buckland) and Mr John Phillipps (Broadway); Thomas Holloway and James Rogers6, servants of the deceased, followed. The coffin which was of polished oak, had a brass plate, with the following inscription: Thomas Phillipps, Bt., F.R.S, J.P., D.L., died 6th February, 1872, aged 79 years. There were eight bearers , tenants of the deceased. About 800 people were present, amongst whom were many tenants of the Hon. Baronet.

After Sir Thomas’s burial, the wake was held at the Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway. As Sir Thomas had no male heirs the baronetcy became extinct. Sir Thomas’s youngest daughter, Katharine, inherited Thirlestaine House and the contents of his library of some 60,000 volumes. His eldest daughter, Henrietta7, who had fallen out with her father after her marriage to James Orchard Halliwell (1820-1899), inherited Middle Hill, Broadway.

Gerard’s talk on Sir Thomas Phillipps on Monday 21st October will take place in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. Non-members welcome, £3 on the door.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

 

Notes:
1. Rev. John Walcot was married to Sir Thomas Phillipps’s second daughter, Maria Sophia Bampfylde Phillipps who died in 1858.
2. Rev. John Edward Addison Fenwick, Vicar of Needwood and son-in-law of Sir Thomas Phillipps. He was married to Sir Thomas’s youngest daughter, Katharine Somerset Wyttenbach Phillipps.
3. Rev. John Hayden Cardew was the Chaplain of Cheltenham General Hospital and one of the Executors of Sir Thomas Phillipps’s will.
4. Walter Lawrence of Sevenhampton.
5. Samuel Higgs Gale, of Charlton Kings, an Executor of Sir Thomas’s will.
6. James Rogers of the printers Rogers and Sons.
7. Henrietta Elizabeth Molyneux Halliwell-Phillipps died in 1879 following a riding accident in 1872.

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.

 

Next Meeting: Monday 16th September – The Old Coaching Routes across the North Cotswolds and Vale of Evesham

The Fish Inn is located at the top of Fish Hill above Broadway in an odd triangle of land which is part of Willersey

The next meeting of the Broadway History Society takes place on Monday 16th September 2019 starting at 7pm in the Main Hall, Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, with an illustrated talk by David Ella entitled ‘The Old Coaching Routes across the North Cotswolds and Vale of Evesham’.

All welcome to attend the meeting. Non-members £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served during the meeting.