On Saturday 3rd May 1952, Snowshill Manor near Broadway, which had been gifted to the National Trust by owner Charles Paget Wade1 in December 1951, was opened to the public by Professor E.A. Richardson RA.
Wade, an architect and owner of sugar plantations in the British West Indies, purchased Snowshill Manor, an adjacent cottage and 14 acres of land, in June 19162 when it was put up for auction. For generations it had been a farmhouse, and Wade spent much money restoring the house parts of which date back to the 15th century. The major part of the house is Tudor and the front door dates back to 1700. The farmyard was remodelled into an Arts and Crafts garden with the help of M.H. Baillie Scott (1865-1945).
Wade filled the manor house from floor to ceiling with antiques, curios, models and works of art. His eclectic collection attracted a number of visitors including J.B. Priestly, Virginia Woolf and Graham Greene. When Queen Mary visited it is reported that she said that the finest thing in the collection was Mr Wade himself.
Charles Paget Wade (1883-1956) was an English architect, artist and poet. He married Mary Graham (1902-1999) in 1946 and died suddenly on 28 June 1956 in hospital at Evesham.
The auction comprising of 8 lots, was held during the afternoon of 21 June 1916 in the Lifford Memorial Hall. The auctioneers were G.H. Bayley and Sons (Cheltenham and Broadway). Wade was serving with the Royal Engineers in France at the time and saw the auction advertised in Country Life Magazine. Lot 1, the house, farm buildings, stables and 213 acres of land sold for the sum of £5,800.
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.
Our next meeting will take place in the Lifford Memorial Hall on Monday 21st March 2022 starting at 7pm. Nigel Smith, landlord of The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, will be giving an illustrated talk on the history of the Inn. The Inn was built in the late 15th century as a traditional longhouse, with both humans and livestock living under the same roof. The builder was a yeoman farmer named Byrd and the Byrd family owned the building until it was given to the National Trust in 1977.
The winter of 1947 was one of the severest on record. With the country still recovering from the impact of the Second World War, the UK was struck by one of the worst winters recorded. The cold snap was felt across Europe but the UK suffered the worst, and the country came to a standstill for many days. January started off mild but from 23rd January through to the middle of March, snow fell somewhere in the UK every day for 55 days and temperatures dropped to -21°C in some areas.
Broadway and the surrounding villages did not escape the icy blast of snow, fog, and gales from the east, resulting in freezing temperatures both day and night. The heaviest snow fell in the Cotswolds during the night of 5th February. Snowshill was cut off for a fortnight by deep snow and icy conditions until Broadway baker, Charles Jarrett, assisted by his son Ted, managed to get his van up the hill to deliver bread only to find the following week that the road was again blocked with drifts 4.5m deep. Spring Hill was cut off for much longer, and during the height of the blizzards one postman who became snowbound near the Jockey Stables on the Spring Hill Estate left his van and managed to walk back to Broadway despite the deep snow and freezing temperatures. In Evesham, sections of the River Avon froze to over a depth 4cm for more than a fortnight and a channel had to be cut in the ice to maintain the Hampton Ferry River Service.
Throughout the long winter there were delays in meat, grocery and coal deliveries and several villagers went without coal for weeks. The weight of snow and ice stretched telephone wires, water pipes froze and roofs and ceilings in many buildings collapsed under the sheer weight of the snow. Across the country, coal stocks at the power stations ran low, and the limited supplies were unable to make it through the blocked roads and railways. The government introduced measures to cut power consumption, including restricting domestic electricity to 19 hours per day and cutting industrial supplies completely. The Gordon Russell factory was forced to close for two weeks in the middle of February following the government’s ban on industrial consumption of electricity.
Towards the end of February the days brightened and spring appeared to be on its way as the sun put in an appearance. The respite, however, was short-lived and within a couple of days the weather turned colder again. Further heavy snowfalls followed and, combined with the high winds from the east, this led to more deep drifts across the area. On 5th March one of the worst blizzards of the 20th century hit the UK and by the following morning, Broadway was completely cut off from the outside world and movement around the village itself was practically impossible. Cars were abandoned, some completely buried, and only the tops of lorries and buses were left showing above the snow. Vehicles abandoned at the top of Fish Hill lay buried for several days. There were deep snowdrifts around Broadway Station, and the Broadway to Evesham Road was blocked by a drift almost 2m deep near the Murcot turn which was not cleared by snowploughs until late the following day.
Schools and businesses closed, bus services throughout the district were suspended and train services disrupted. An ex-US Army vehicle fitted with a snow-plough was used to help clear the High Street and a caterpillar tractor was used to deliver bread, milk and other supplies to stranded villagers. Groups of villagers joined snow-clearing parties in an effort to clear the roads known as Operation Snowdrift. Employees of local builders, Steward & Co., helped clear the road to Snowshill which was again cut off by drifts 3m high, and prisoners of war from the camps at Fladbury, South Littleton and Spring Hill were employed to help villagers across the vale clear the snow. It was estimated that during the week of 8th March, 1,500 tons of snow was cleared from the streets of Evesham.
The following week, the thaw set in accompanied by much rain. The melting snow and rain from the Cotswold hills poured into the streams and rivers. Many burst their banks and flooded nearby areas resulting in some of the worst floods recorded in the UK. The River Avon at Evesham peaked during the night of the 13th March flooding Waterside and Port Street. This was followed by 80mph gale force winds on 16th which brought down a number of trees along the Evesham Road once again blocking the road from Broadway and bringing down the telephone lines. The country as a whole was relieved when spring finally arrived after Easter but the winter had a lasting effect on Britain’s economy. By February 1947 it was already estimated that the year’s industrial output would be down by 10% that year and the effects of the March floods added a further £250–375 million (equivalent to £10–15 billion today) in damage. Fortunately it was 1963 before the village had to cope with such severe winter weather again.
Valentine’s Day, also known as St Valentine’s Day or the Feast of St Valentine is celebrated annually on 14th February. The English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, is thought to be the first to record St Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his poem The Parliament of Fowls1 composed in the late 1300s.
Written valentine messages appeared in the 1400s and the oldest known valentine still in existence is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. By the early 18th century Valentine’s Day had grown into an occasion when couples expressed their love for one another either by presenting flowers, confectionary or greeting cards known as valentines.
In early Victorian times, after the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post in 1840, valentine cards could be mailed for just one penny, and the sending of valentine cards grew. A poem of the time by James Beaton, alludes to the mass popularity of valentine cards:
The letters in St. Valentine so vastly amount,
Postmen may judge them by the lot, they won’t have time to count;
They must bring round spade and measures, to poor love-sick souls
Deliver them by bushels, the same they do coals.
In 1841, 400,000 valentines were posted throughout England and by 1871, 1.2 million cards were processed by the General Post Office in London2.
Valentine’s Day 1872
150 years ago, the Berrow’s Worcester Journal3 reported on the large number of valentines that were handled by Worcester’s postmen:
Stationers and dealers in fancy goods have recently displayed a charming assortment of Cupid’s missives, which have found a ready sale, and postmen and supernumeraries have found it no easy task to deliver the love tokens to expectant thousands……… Exquisite designs in flowers, tiny birds of brilliant plumage nestling in some; figures of the little love god accompanied with verses; beautifully executed work on cards; lace-like bordering to pretty pictures; books with tastefully ornamented covers; elegant scent packets; these and other innumerable are arrayed in the shop windows. All tastes are consulted……… handsome cigar cases, purse, earrings, brooches and other useful articles. In this city, the Saint appears to have a large number of votaries, judging from the scene enacted in front of the Post-office for two hours on Tuesday evening. It was very amusing to witness the reception experienced by every visitor to the letter box, whatever the character of his correspondence happened to be. Young and old, gentle and simple, staid men of business, Benedicts, bachelors, and ladies of uncertain age, bashful youths and blushing amorate, all alike had to run the gauntlet of the jostling bantering crowd. The post-office authorities consider that the valentines sent this year were more numerous than on previous occasions, and an increase in larger ones (contained in boxes) was particularly observable. After the despatch at nine p.m., ten men were occupied for two-and-a-half hours in disposing of the valentines for the Worcester postal district alone. In order to prevent any delay in the delivery of ordinary correspondence, a special delivery of valentines was made at about noon, so that the letter carriers were employed almost continuously from 4.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The labour of carriers was unusually great in consequence of the large number of cumbersome boxes, and if this class of valentines should become more popular, as it seems likely to do, the postal authorities will certainly have to employ vehicles for the delivery of them.
A selection of Victorian Valentine’s Day cards in the collection held at the Museum of London:
Broadway History Society
1. The The Parlement of Foules also called the The Parlement of Briddes, a 699 line poem in rhyme written 1380-90.
2. Mancoff, Debra N. Love’s Messenger: Tokens of Affection in the Victorian Age. Art Institute of Chicago, 1997.
3. Berrow’s Worcester Journal. Saturday, February 17, 1872, page 4.
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.
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.
On 14 December 1918, women in Broadway, providing they were over 30 and they or their husbands were an occupier of property, were able to vote in a general election for the first time. The 1918 election had been called by the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, immediately after the Armistice with Germany which ended the First World War.
Eight and a half million women in the UK were eligible to vote following the extension of the franchise in the Representation of the People Act 1918. This amendment to the Act had followed 50 years of campaigning by suffragettes across the world for suffrage or ‘Votes for Women’.
Broadway Suffragette who “Affronted the King by Creating a Scene in the Throne Room” (Daily Mirror, June 1914)
In Broadway, Rose ‘Eleanor’ Cecilia Blomfield (1890-1954) and Mary Esther Blomfield (1888-1950), daughters of Sir Arthur and Lady Sarah Louisa Blomfield of Springfield, were members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Eleanor and Mary established a branch of the Non-Militant National Union Suffrage Society in the village and were founding members of Broadway Women’s Institute.
Mary Blomfield made the headlines in June 1914 when she fell to her knees before HRH King George V and Queen Mary at Buckingham Palace. Mary begged their Majesties to stop the force-feeding of suffragettes who’d gone on hunger strikes in prison, and was forcibly evicted from the Palace by the police.
Polling Day, 14th December 1918
The first polling day for women in Broadway passed without incidence. It was reported in The Evesham Standard on 21 December 1918 that:
Polling day at Broadway passed off with very little excitement. A gentle stream of voters made their way to the polling station during the day, and at no time was there any rush, in fact the last hour was the quietest of the day. It is believed the women polled as strongly as the men. Cars and carriages belonging to Commander Monsell’s supporters were busy, especially during the afternoon, and they are very confident of the result of their efforts at Broadway.
Voter turnout for the election across the country was low, however, the British Conservative Party candidate, Sir Bolton Eyres-Monsell, retained his Evesham seat in the election and continued as a Member of Parliament until October 1935.
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.
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.
At the invitation of cricket fans Antonio de Navarro and Mary Anderson de Navarro, the Australian cricket team visited Broadway on 7th August 1921 during their Ashes Tour of England. Around noon, a convoy of seven cars carrying the team were greeted by a crowd of villagers lining the High Street as it made its way to Court Farm.
The Australians, in the middle of a first-class match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston (which they went on to win by an innings and 61 runs), were spending their rest day touring the local area, hosted by Sir Herbert Austin, Chairman and founder of the Austin Motor Company Ltd. Aged 18, Austin, had emigrated to Australia where he had trained as an engineer, married an Australian girl, and spent the first 15 years of married life in Australia, mostly in Melbourne, before returning to England in 1893.
The Australians, captained by ‘Big Ship’ Warwick Armstrong, spent an hour at Court Farm where they met; Capt Theodore Rodocanachi MC (Captain of Broadway Cricket Club), John Morris (Broadway Parish Councillor), Maud Caffin (daughter of Rev. Charles Caffin, the Vicar of St Michael’s), Father George, Father Wilfrid and Father Edward Green (St Saviour’s), the distinguished pianist Harold Samuel, and two of Broadway’s doctors, Dr William Alexander and Dr Charles Standring who both had cricketing connections with the Australian team.
Touring with the Australians was Dr Roland ‘Rowley’ Pope, the team’s doctor. Dr Pope, like Dr Alexander, had studied medicine at Edinburgh University and played cricket for the University’s Eleven. Dr Pope had also been a good friend of Dr Henry ‘Tup’ Scott, captain of the Australian Cricket Team in 1886. Dr Scott retired from cricket at the end of the 1886 Ashes Tour and had stayed in London to pursue a career in medicine.
During Dr Scott’s time at King’s College Hospital he had played cricket with Dr Standring, who had joined Broadway Cricket Club shortly after his move to Broadway in 1893. Within a few months of playing for Broadway, Dr Standring was elected to the Club’s Committee and served as Captain of the Club for 10 years from 1895 to 1905.
After a tour of the garden and Chapel at Court Farm, Australia’s captain, Armstrong, said that the chapel “was the most unique and sweet thing he ever saw and would carry the memory of it in his heart”. Harold Samuel gave a short piano recital before the team left Broadway calling at Capt Rodocanachi’s home, The Hill, at the top of the High Street to take in the view before heading for lunch in Stratford-upon-Avon. At Stratford the team met the English novelist Marie Corelli and visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and Shakespeare’s monument in Holy Trinity Church before heading back to Birmingham.
A Broadway cricket enthusiast showed pardonable excitement when he heard of the arrival of the Australian cricketers on Sunday. Yes, he would snapshot them. So he borrowed a camera and cleaned and repaired it, and procured some plates after half-an-hour’s search. Then he hastened to the top of the village, hopeful of taking some fine pictures. Yes, it was very disappointing then to hear that the cricketers had departed half-an-hour before, and that not only had he no snapshots, but he had missed seeing them.
The Evesham Journal, 13 August 1921
Australia won the 1921 Ashes series. They won the first three matches against England (held at Trent Bridge, Lord’s and Headingley) which meant they had won 8 in succession, an unequalled sequence in Ashes Test Matches. The last two matches of the Test series (held at Old Trafford and The Oval) were drawn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alexander Fred Lomas (1896-1965) was Manager of the Broadway branch of the Midland Bank.
The results of the cross-country race: 1st: J. Stokes, 2nd: Les Arnold, 3rd: Victor Dudley Tittensor (1916-1989), 4th: W. Payne.
HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited Broadway on Friday 15th March 1968, when he paid a visit to the Gordon Russell factory and the Lygon Arms Hotel. During his visit, the Duke met several villagers, workers and former workers of the furniture manufacturer Gordon Russell Ltd. Afterwards the Duke had lunch at the Lygon Arms with directors of the hotel, Gordon Russell Ltd, and Sir Gerard Nabarro MP for South Worcestershire, before a tour of the hotel which had recently been extended and refurbished.
Gordon Russell Ltd was first awarded a Royal Warrant in 1938 by Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen1, the firm having supplied pieces of furniture on a number of occasions to King George VI and his family. In 1957 the firm were commissioned to make another piece of furniture by the Royal Family. Employee, John “Jack” Blakeman of Broadway, was involved in the manufacturing of an occasional table, designed by Richard Drew “Dick” Russell, depicting a map of the D-Day Landings2. The table was presented by HM Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke, to President Eisenhower during their stay at the White House in October 1957. It was following this special commission that the Duke was invited to tour the Gordon Russell factory in Broadway.
Amongst the villagers the Duke met on 15th March was Philip Chinn (see photo below) whose father worked in the Drawing Office at the factory.
After lunch at the Lygon Arms, the Duke toured the hotel meeting members of staff. Following his visit, one of the new conference and entertaining rooms in the newly built Orchard Wing, The Edinburgh Room, was named after the Duke.
The following newspaper report of his visit to Broadway appeared in the Birmingham Post the following day, 16 March 1968:
An informal Duke of Edinburgh put workers at their ease yesterday when he visited the Broadway furniture factory of Gordon Russell Ltd. He questioned them in detail about their training, work and home lives. Barriers of reserves and shyness broke down, and he received uninhibited answers.
The Duke’s arrival brought rousing cheers from the scores of villagers lining the main street. After signing the visitors’ book, he was shown around the factory by Sir Gordon Russell and the firm’s chairman, Mr. D.G.S. Russell. He was welcomed to Worcestershire by the Deputy Lieutenant of the County, Lt.-Col. I.W.D. Smith, representing the Lord Lieutenant, who was abroad.
The Duke was shown current and historical displays, and he put dozens of probing questions to his hosts about the furniture. In the contract room, he met 15 pensioners who had been specially invited back to their old place of work for the occasion. One of them was Mr. Lawrence Boyes, aged 67, who retired from the firm two years ago. Mr. Boyes, who was in a wheelchair, told the Duke that he had worked at the factory for 36 years. Also among the pensioners was Mr. H. Alloway, who was mainly responsible for the lecture bench and lectern which the Duke, as President, presented to the Royal Society of Arts in 1957.
The Duke was introduced to 5 apprentices who have gained Premier awards in the craftsmanship competition organised by the Gloucestershire and South Worcestershire Productivity Association. The award winners, Jonathan Millichap, Nigel Warner, David Boston, Robert Bearcroft, and Roderick Goodman, stood behind examples of their work as the Duke spoke to them. In another department, the Duke chatted with Michael Horne, aged 20, of Mill Avenue, Broadway, who was compiling lists of orders. The Duke was surprised to hear that Michael travelled all the way to Birmingham in the evenings for classes in cabinetmaking and design.
Martin Hall, age 25, explained to the Duke that the details of a plan he was preparing for the furnishing of a hostel at Bedford College of Education.
When he crossed the factory yard, the Duke stopped and spoke to wives of employees, who had left their housework to see him. Mrs. Hilda Jones, of Orchard Avenue, Broadway, told the Duke that her husband, Bert, had been working at Gordon Russell Ltd. as a cabinet maker for 40 years.
In the crowd was Mrs. Lillian Blakeman, whose late husband, Jack, made a formica-top table which the Queen presented to General Eisenhower several years ago. After leaving the factory, the Duke walked along a sunlit pavement, to the sound of enthusiastic clapping, to lunch at the nearby Lygon Arms. There he was introduced to Sir Gerald Nabarro, MP for South Worcestershire; Mr. J.D. Wilson, chairman of Evesham Rural Council; Mr.W.R. Pritchard, chairman of Broadway Parish Council, and Prof. R.D. Russell, the design consultant of Gordon Russell Ltd.
After lunch he toured the hotel, visiting the new kitchens, the Orchard Wing, which will come into use in a few weeks, the Garden Wing, completed a few years ago, and some of the 17th century rooms in the original building.
It was the first occasion that the Orchard Wing could be used, and this was made possible by the special efforts of the architects, Russell and Hodgson, and the builders W.A. Cox (Evesham) Ltd. The first advance copy of the Gordon Russell’s autobiography, Designer’s Trade, was sent from London so that he could present it to the Duke. The book, published by Alan and Unwin, will be on sale from May 23. Gordon Russell Ltd, was founded by Sir Gordon in 1919, after he returned from war service. His father, Mr. S.B. Russell, had an antique business which he started shortly after taking over the Lygon Arms in 1904.
Debbie Williamson Broadway History Society
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002), later known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Her Aunt, Lady Maud Bowes-Lyon lived at Orchard Farm, Broadway.
The table was manufactured in English walnut, the top was in Formica with a screen-printed map of the D-Day Landings used by President Eisenhower (reproduced by Thomas De La Rue & Co Ltd.) and topped with plate glass. The legs and rails of the table were covered in black calfskin which an inscription referring to the presentation of the table by the Queen to the President. The table took 4 weeks to make and travelled with the Queen and the Duke on their aeroplane to North America.
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.
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
The Surdna Foundation was established as a charitable foundation in 1917 by the American John Emory Andrus to pursue a range of philanthropic purposes.
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.
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.
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.
The War Nursery at Wormington Grange had also increased in size, caring for up to 60 children.
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.