Major the Hon. Anthony Wills Buys Middle Hill House, April 1952

In April 1952, Major the Hon. Frederick Anthony Hamilton Wills, heir to Lord Dulverton of Batsford Park, purchased Middle Hill House and 1,100 acres of land on Broadway Hill.

Middle Hill had previously been owned by the sisters Lucy Miller Hingley and Emily Georgina Hingley who moved to Broadway shortly after the end of the First World War. Lucy Hingley died in 1942 and Emily Hingley in February 1946. By the terms of Miss Emily Hingley’s will (which amounted to £311,922 gross), Middle Hill was to be offered to the Friends of the Poor and if they were not willing to accept the bequest then to the Homes of Rest for Gentlewomen of the Church of England with a request that the house be known as The Hingley House of Rest. However, the Friends of the Poor declined to accept the property because of the huge cost of repairs needed to be spent on the house and ancillary buildings, and following a hearing at the Chancery Division in December 1951, it was decided that the gift had failed and declared that Miss Hingley had died intestate. Broadway Tower and the surrounding fields, also part of Miss Hingley’s estate, were bequeathed to the National Trust.

Following his purchase of the house and land, Wills was granted a £500 licence by Evesham Rural District Council to carry out the extensive repairs to make the house habitable. Wills was married with four children and lived at the house for many years returning the surrounding land to productive farmland.

Born on 19 December 1915, Wills was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. During the Second World War, Wills served with the Lovatt Scouts. He was an enthusiast about fieldcraft and was one of the Army’s leading experts on sniping. He founded and was chief instructor at a sniping wing at the War Office Advanced Handling and Fieldcraft School in North Wales. He gained the rank of Major in 1944 in the Royal Artillery. He succeeded as the 2nd Baron Dulverton, of Batsford, and 3rd Baronet Willow of Northmoor, Somerset, on 1 December 1956. Wills served as a Master of the North Cotswold Hunt for 8 years, resigning in 1960. He was appointed Commander, Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1974. He died on 7 February 1992 at the age of 76.

 

 

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 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.

Broadway Station and Broadway’s Postman

The following account of Broadway Station and Broadway’s Postal Service was written in 1979 by Maurice Andrews MBE (1923-2016). Maurice Charles Andrews was born and grew up in Broadway where he attended Broadway Council School. The Second World War and work took Maurice away from Broadway but he later returned with his family in 1948. Maurice was Broadway Correspondent at the Evesham Journal for many years, a Parish Councillor for both Broadway and Willersey and a member of many clubs and organisations in Broadway. During his retirement, Maurice often gave wonderfully detailed talks on the Cotswolds and on the village he loved. The following account is from Maurice’s personal records that were donated to Broadway History Society by his daughter.

The Railway and the Post

Broadway Station 1904
Broadway Station, August 1904

The opening of the railway station in Broadway must have been a great day for the locals. It certainly was for the business people for whom it was a great increase in the number of visitors to an already well known village.

My father1 was then sixteen years of age, and living in Willersey, and in the years before the actual opening date he and his brothers had watched the progress of the construction of the line. He has told me often how, after coming in from work with the horses and waggons, he had to go across the fields at the back of the family’s cottage to bring back his younger brother, Harry, who with the other Willersey youngsters were watching the men at work.

The station opened on 1st August 1904 and dray loads of people came from the villages around to witness the opening ceremony. Many came from Willersey, including my father, and the children who were still at school were taken on drays to Broadway then treated to a ride on the train to Stratford. My mother2, then eighteen and working at the Broadway vicarage, took time off to attend with her father and mother, and sister Emily.

By the late 1920s my brothers and sisters, and I, came into contact with the life of the railway station when we were collecting the newspapers for delivery to the village. We delivered to homes from Evesham Road Reservoir up to Court Farm at the foot of the hill, and from The Vineyard down to The Lodge at the old church (St Eadburgha’s, Snowshill Road). We would probably be working on father’s allotment at The Meadow, beyond the railway on the Childswickham Road, and as soon as we heard the train coming along the line – the ‘coffee pot’ we called it – we would leave out onion tying or whatever jobs we were doing to run to the station to meet it.

Some of the porters I remember were Frank Phillips3 and later Vic Hunt and Len Lloyd, the signalman, leaning out of his signal box and keeping an eye on things. George Collins, the shunter, was in the Goods Yard and others ‘on the line’ were Bill Horne, Ben Kilby and George Holford.

At the station daily, to collect parcels for delivery around the area would be Philip Rose and his son, Geoffrey, with their horse and dray, and to meet the visitors there would be the cars from the Lygon Arms and the big houses. At the time of arrival and departure of a train there would be much activity and bustle, then the station would be deserted and peace and quiet would return.

It is quieter today. No trains, no staff, no neat platforms, with their flowerbeds. Surely it is obvious to us all now, in 1979, with almost every road in the country packed with heavy lorries and cars, that the closure of many of our railway stations and routes was a great mistake. My guess is before the end of the century work will be put in hand to revive some of the old railway lines and stations, I hope so – who knows, as in 1904, in 2004 there may be another opening ceremony at Broadway Station4.

Broadway’s Postmen

Closely connected with life at the railway station were the village postmen. As Broadway was one of the bigger villages the local Post Office had many postmen to cover a wide area of the surrounding villages. The postmen in my boyhood days wore the old ‘bucket’ helmets and nearly all the rounds were done on foot. I remember such postmen as Arthur Parker5, father of Arthur Parker the decorator, George Keyte, Arnold Folkes, Charlie Jarrett6, Teddy Charlwood, Walter Preston, ‘Postman’ Hall and “Postman’ Green (I never did hear the forenames of the last two – it was always ‘Postman”).

The Andrews boys came into contact with the postmen when they bought the mail to the station, and collected the incoming mail, and as we took the newspapers from the incoming train we had to undo the bundles quickly so that the postmen could have first copy.

‘Postman’ Green7 had three sons, David, John and Philip – Philip too became a postman – and our family members often relate an amusing story regarding David. At school, Mr Bridgman8 was nearing the end of a scripture lesson and he asked the class “Who was David’s father?”. A wit at the back of the class as quick as lightning replied “Mr Green the postman!”

‘Postman’ Hall lived in the cottage next to the Coach and Horses and Teddy Charlwood lived at Mill Avenue. Teddy was a former Army Sergeant-Major and I remember him in the early years of the 1939-1945 war, before I joined the forces, using his former skills in teaching us, the Local Defence Volunteers (later the Home Guard), our rifle drill. Teddy’s son Arthur, was also an Army man for many years.

Life for the village postmen is now very different. Most of them have motor vans in which to make their deliveries, unlike those of long ago who had to walk from Broadway, in all sorts of weather to Farncombe, Aston Somerville, Childswickham, Willersey, Saintbury, Buckland and to Stanton. However, like the railwaymen, the postmen, even today, especially in the rural areas, are an important part of the community and I always think there is something special about their character.

Maurice C. Andrews MBE
1979

 

Broadway History Society

 

Notes:
1. George Gazey Andrews, born Willersey on 9th March 1888.
2. Mary Andrews (née Pulley), born Broadway on 29th September 1886.
3. Frank Alfred Phillips (1897-1993) – see Broadway Remembers for further information.
4. Broadway Station was re-opened, part of the GWSR Steam Railway on 30th March 2018. The railway now operates a full steam and heritage diesel train service between Broadway and Cheltenham Racecourse via Toddington (the railway’s headquarters), Hayles Abbey, Winchcombe and Gotherington.
5. Arthur Parker MM, born Broadway in 1897 – see Broadway Remembers for further information.
6. Charles Jarrett joined the Post Office in 1918 after being discharged with wounds from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1917. He retired in December 1954 after 36 years with the Post Office.
7. Harry John Green was born in Clerkenwell, London, in 1844, and served as a postman in Broadway for many years.
8. Archibald Bridgman, Headmaster of Broadway Council School.

Programme of Events 2019/20 – First Meeting Monday 16th September 2019

The 2019/20 programme of events and talks starts on Monday 16th September. Meetings of the Society are held monthly on the third Monday of the month (except December) in the Lifford Memorial Hall starting at 7pm. Membership costs £10 (£15 per couple) and non-members are welcome to all of the meetings – £3 on the door.

worcestershire, broadway looking west in the 1930s 2

September – December 2019 talks include:

Monday 16thSeptember: On the Way to London, an illustrated talk by David Ella on the old coaching routes across the North Cotswolds and Vale of Evesham which will include the history and role of the Fish Inn and the many other inns in Broadway.

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

Monday 18th November: Doug Eyre will be giving an illustrated talk entitled 1941, HMS Broadway and the Capture of the German Naval Enigma Machine. The US Navy Destroyer was commissioned as HMS Broadway in 1940 and refitted as a convoy escort, serving in the mid-Atlantic passage during the Second World War.

Monday 9th December: Hailes Abbey and the Mystery of the Holy Blood a talk by David Haldred on the holy relic received by the Abbey in 1270 which is believed to be a portion of the blood of Christ and how it transformed the monastery into one of the most important pilgrimage sites in England.

Apart from hosting talks, the Society conducts small pieces of research on Broadway’s history and publishes articles and images on this website, the Society’s Facebook page and its Twitter account (@BroadwayHistSoc).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief History of Broadway Tower

Earl Coventry Builds a Beacon Tower above Broadway

The site of Broadway Tower was common land until about 1771. The enclosure of Common land granted this to Sir George William, the 6th Earl of Coventry, who owned nearby Spring Hill House as well as Croome Court in Pershore.

In October 1797, Admiral Duncan, later Earl Camperdown, won a naval victory over the Dutch at Camperdown (north of Haarlem). In celebration a bonfire was lit on Broadway Beacon Hill with fireworks and other events organised by Thomas Coventry, youngest son of Lord Coventry. The Countess of Coventry was so impressed that she persuaded Lord Coventry to erect a tower there. Plans for an ornamental folly were initially discussed with Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (who had designed the parkland surrounding Spring Hill) and the project was completed in 1799 by the architect James Wyatt after Brown’s death. The 65 foot Beacon Tower with its saxon castle design stands at 1024 feet above sea-level, the highest little castle in the Cotswolds.

Sir Thomas Phillipps and the Broadway Printing Press

Following the 6th Earl’s death, John Coventry, his second son, inherited the Tower and surrounding land.  In the 1820s it was sold to the eccentric bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps who owned the nearby Middle Hill Estate. Thomas used the Tower from 1827 to house his printing press but during his ownership he neglected the building and it fell into disrepair.

In 1837 the vantage point of Broadway Tower was again used as a site for a Beacon Bonfire. On 20th June 1837, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, an evening procession from the village ended with a bonfire at Broadway Beacon, one of 2,548 bonfires lit across the country to celebrate the Jubilee.

Gloves and Famous Visitors

Thomas Phillipps ceased to use the Tower after his move to Cheltenham in 1863. It is recorded that the Tower was used by glove makers for a while before 1866 when Cormell Price took out a lease on the building as a holiday home for himself and his friends. The location of the Tower with its wonderful views attracted many visitors including the English artist and designer Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. It is believed that in 1876 William Morris wrote a letter from Broadway Tower which led to the formation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings by William Morris and Philip Webb in 1877. Cormell Price, known affectionately by his friends as the ‘Knight of Broadway Tower’, and the Stanley family, reluctantly left the Tower after 11 years when Cormell gave up his tenancy in September 1878, after the death of Thomas Phillipps.

The Tower during the Second World War

imagesAbout 1930, still under the ownership of the Middle Hill Estate, the Hollington family moved in as tenant famers. Mr and Mrs Hollington brought up their family there, cooking on a portable stove and climbing the winding stairs by candlelight as there was no electric light or gas. During the Second World War, whilst tenanted by Mr Hollington (who had joined the Observer Corps), the Tower was used as a look out post to map enemy aircraft.

On 2nd June 1943, a Whitley bomber on a training mission from Honeybourne airfield, crashed next to the tower in poor visibility. The crew: Pilot HG Hagen, Sgt EG Ekins, Flt Sgt DH Kelly, Sgt DA Marriott and Sgt RS Phillips all lost their lives in the crash.

Broadway Tower and the Royal Observation Corps

Broadway Tower remained part of the Middle Hill Estate until 1949 when on the death of Miss Emily Georgina Hingley it was offered to the National Trust as a gift. The Trust declined and the Tower subsequently passed to the Dulverton Batsford Estates when it was rescued by the Hon. Frederick Anthony Wills, 2nd Baron Dulverton of Batsford (1915-1992).

In 1950, following the Second World War, a new above ground concrete slab observation post, known as an Orlit A, was built. It was a very basic structure consisting of two small, separate rooms, equipped with little more than a telephone line that connected the men that manned the post to the regional control centre.

During the ‘Cold War’, a secret Royal Observer Corps nuclear bunker was built in 1961 approximately 180 metres from the Tower. As part of a larger network of 1,653 bunkers around the country, it served as an early warning system – built to study the effects of radioactive fallout from a nuclear attack. It was manned continuously from 1961, up until it’s decommissioning in 1991 at the end of the Cold War. The bunker has since been restored and is open to the public on certain weekends of the year.

Broadway Tower Today

300px-Broadway_Tower_2012During Lord Dulverton’s ownership the land surrounding the Tower was developed in to a Country Park with its own herd of red deer and the Tower was converted in to a Museum.

The grounds and the Tower, with its wonderful views across up to 16 counties, are now in the ownership of the Will family and are open to the public most days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Able Seaman Robert Warner Clarke and the Sinking of Submarine HMS P311 January 1943

Today we remember Able Seaman Robert Warner Clarke of Broadway who died, aged 19, 76 years ago during the Second World War. Robert, known as Bob, was a member of the crew on submarine HMS P311 when she was sunk by a mine on 8th January 19431 off the coast of Tavolara Island, a small island to the north east of Sardinia.

Bob, was born in Broadway, one of nine children of Frank Thomas Clarke and May Clarke (née Meadows). After the outbreak of the Second World War, Bob enlisted with the Royal Navy Submarine Service and was posted to serve on HMS P311.

On_Board_the_Submarine_Depot_Ship_HMS_Forth,_Holy_Loch,_Scotland,_1942_TR526
1942: On board Submarine Depot Ship HMS Forth, Holy Loch, Scotland. The depot ship HMS Forth is transferring a practice torpedo to the HMS P311. HMS Sibyl (P217) is seen alongside and another submarine can be seen in the background.

HMS P311 was a T-class submarine and the only boat of her class never to have been given a name. She was launched on 5th March 1942 and commissioned 5 months later on 7th August. HMS P311 was supposed to have been assigned the name Tutankhamen but was lost before this was formally done. She had joined the 10th Submarine Flotilla at Malta from Scotland in November 1942 and was attacked and sunk whilst en-route to Maddalena, Sardinia sometime between her final signal on 31st December 1942 and her failure to report on 8th January 19431.

When HMS P311 was lost she was carrying a crew of 71 men, commanded by Richard Douglas Cayley, DSO, RN2. The wreck recently found by divers on 21st May 2016 close to Tavolara Island in the Mediterranean. The vessel is reported to be in good condition with only her bow damaged by the mine explosion and all the bodies of the men are reported to be still on-board having died of suffocation.

Prior to her sinking, whilst in Malta, Able Seaman (no. P/JX 321879) Robert Clarke sent the following letters3 home to his family in Broadway:

4th December 1942

Dear Mum, Dad and all at home,

I hope you received the cable alright & that you are having some good weather & keeping well. I am feeling lovely as where I am the weather is scorching hot. How is everyone down Broadway, tell Dennis Cook4 I will drop him a line very soon but it’s hard to say how long it will take to reach him. When you write to Sid5 tell him I am ok but I don’t expect to see him for a very long time. I wish I could tell you where I am & what this place is like but I can’t.

When you write to me it is best to send it by CW Graphs as they don’t take long to travel.

I am only allowed to send one page so for now I will close with lots of love to all.

From Bob.

20th December 1942

Dear Mum, Dad and all at home,

I hope this short letter finds you in the best of health as it leaves me. I hope you all had a good Xmas as I didn’t do so bad myself accordingly. Last night I had a great surprise I walked into a club with my mate and met Eddie Procter6 the chap from Willersey who married Kathleen Keyte from the bottom of our avenue, he looks well and seems quite happy, him and I are going out together tomorrow if everything is ok.

Has Sid been home on leave lately or has he gone abroad? I would like to see him now. I expect it will be a long while before I am home again but when I do come I hope to have some money saved up. Did you get the £2 I sent to go on my Savings Book that Auntie has got? I will send some more as soon as I can if you will put it on the Book for me.

Give my best to Nibs and all the rest, and tell Kathleen Keyte I saw Eddie.

With all my love Mum,

From Bob.

Bob and the rest of the crew of HMS P311 are commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial (Panel 74, Column 1) in Hampshire and Bob is commemorated on the War Memorial in Broadway.

portsmouth-naval-war-memorial2
Portsmouth Naval War Memorial, Hampshire

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Notes:

  1. HMS P311 was reported overdue on 8th January 1943 when she failed to return to base and it is now presumed that she was sunk by Italian mines on or around 2nd January 1943.
  2. Richard Douglas Cayley (1907-1943) was one of the most decorated British submariners of the Second World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1941. His prowess earned him the nickname “Deadeye Dick”.
  3. Bob’s letters are published with the permission of Andy Clarke.
  4. Dennis G. Cook (1922-1977).
  5. Sid was Bob’s older brother born in Broadway in 1921. Lance Corporal 11416496 Sydney Richard Clarke served with the 7th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. during the Second World War. He died, aged 24, on 1st April 1946 and is buried in the churchyard at St Eadburgha’s Church, Snowshill Road, Broadway, and is commemorated on Broadway War Memorial.
  6. Edgar William Proctor served with the 44 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a Flight Sergeant/Air Gunner. He was killed, aged 22, on 22nd January 1944 and is buried in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany, Collective Grave 6. L. 1-7. Son of Thomas and Emily Proctor and husband of Kathleen Elsie Proctor of Broadway, Worcestershire, he is commemorated on Broadway War Memorial.