Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Walter Ody

I'd love to see a photograph of Walter Ody - I feel I know him so well.

Born in 1833 at Hayes Knowle Farm in Purton, Walter was the third youngest of Noah and Sarah's nine surviving children. Noah was an expert at keeping the proverbial farming plates spinning and even when the boys were still quite young he managed to organise several leases.

Walter married Elizabeth Russell in the Spring of 1861 and the census of that year sees them living at Lord Bolingbroke's Flaxlands Farm with his widowed mother Sarah, his sister Leticia and Elizabeth's two year old son William James Russell.

So what else do I know about Walter Ody?

Well I know he served the community in various roles within the parish and in 1894 he was one of the first members to be elected onto the new parish council  He was also a trustee of the St John's Chancel Trust, charged with maintaining the magnificent St John memorials.

As a more mature man he proved he was ready to embrace new technology and is mentioned in Alec Robbins book Records of Purton and District that the 'first use of a horse-drawn mowing machine [was] demonstrated by Mr Walter Ody on a farm at Hook sometime between 1885-1890'.

He had a family of nine children, six boys - Noah, John, Francis, Richard, George and William and three girls -  Leticia, Elizabeth and Mary Jane - all good Ody names; and he farmed 200 acres at Flaxlands for more than 35 years.

He died at Flaxlands on July 22, 1897 and I have the details of his Will.

This is the last Will and Testament of me Walter Ody of Flaxlands Farm Lydiard Tregoze in the County of Wilts Farmer I hereby give devise and bequeath to my trustees and executors hereinafter named my enclosure of land situate at Stone Lane in the Parish of Lydiard Millicent Upon trust for my youngest daughter Mary Jane Ody all my personal estate and effects and the remainder of my real estate to be realised by my trustees and executors hereinafter named by public auction the proceeds to be distributed in equal shares within the lapse of one year after my decease between my four sons namely Francis Richard George and William I hereby appoint Alfred Hitchcock and Norman Hitchcock both of Hook Lydiard Tregoze in the County of Wilts Trustees and Executors of this my Will to whom I hereby give the sume of five pounds sterling each In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twenty ninth day of March One thousand eight hundred and ninety seven - Walter Ody - Signed by the said Walter Ody in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other attest and subscribe our names as witnesses hereto G.H. Rutter M,B. - W Walker.

On the 17th day of November 1897 Probate of this Will was granted to Alfred Hitchcock and Norman Hitchcock the Executors.

But to get back to the Hook Burial Ground saga ...

Walter's wife Elizabeth had died just seven months previously and when the vault at Hook was opened up to take Walter's body more than 200 gallons of water had to be removed before the burial could take place.

How distressing for the grieving family and what an ignominious conclusion to the life of someone who had given so much to his community.

But here is the headstone that still stands.

Guided churchyard walks take place at St Mary's Church, Lydiard Park on June 5, 19 and 26 between 2 - 4.30pm.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Viscount Bolingbroke and the Burial Ground saga

By 1880 the churchyard at St Mary's was pretty much full up ...

Parish of Lydiard Tregoze

A Vestry meeting of the Ratepayers of this Parish will be held, God willing, in the Vestry Room at the Church on Lady Day, March 25 at eleven o'clock a.m.

The following is the business to be transacted:-

1.     Election of Churchwardens for the ensuing year
2.     Election of Guardian, Overseers of the Poor and Waywarden.
3.     To consider the matter of providing additional burial ground for the Parish
4.     Election of two gentlemen to represent the Parish as a Ruridecanal Conference to be held in the           Spring.

March 13th 1880     T.T. Shipman M.A. Rector
                                 H.A.E. Slade )
                                 Walter Ody    ) Churchwardens

The bulk of the meeting was to deal with routine Parish business, but there was one pressing matter up for discussion.

After the appointments were announced the question of providing additional Burial grounds was then considered and the following resolutions were passed.

1.     That in the present overcrowded state of the Church yard it is imperative that immediate steps taken to provide additional burial ground.

2.     That an earnest request be presented to the Patron, Viscount Bolingbroke, that he would be so good as to grant an enlargement of the present ground on the conditions that the old ground be closed for burial and that the Parish defray all necessary expenses.

But despite the obvious need matters remained unresolved eight years later.

23rd February 1888

At an adjourned Vestry meeting held this day pursuant to notice duly given
Present Lord Bolingbroke
Messrs G. Ody, W. Ody, J.C. Humphries, W. Kinchin, T. Kinchin, J. Habgood, H.E. Slade, E. Willis, J. Edwards, G. Price, W. Large, J. Smith, W.O. Collingbourne, T. Knighton and the Rector with W. Bevir of Wootton Bassett by invitation.

It was unanimously resolved
That a Committee consisting of
Lord Bolingbroke
The Churchwardens and Messrs. Large and E. Willis with the Rector
be appointed to obtain a specification of the work necessary to be done in preparing and enclosing a site for a new Burial Ground with a Mortuary Chapel; and to ascertain if the requisite funds necessary to defray the cost of the same can be met by Voluntary contributions; and to report the result of their efforts to this Vestry Meeting, which for this purpose shall stand adjourned until Tuesday 6th March next at half past ten o clock in the Vestry Room.

Lord Bolingbroke offered to give a half acre of land at Hook for the purpose and promised a subscription of £80 towards the expense of inclosure, laying out for the same.

Henry G. Baily (Rector)

But you get the impression that perhaps the local residents didn't quite believe him and they expressed their feelings in a petition.

We the undersigned inhabitants of Lydiard Tregoz considering the extremely painful position in which the Parish is placed by having had no place provided for the interment of the dead since the 1st January last, when the parish churchyard was closed by an order in Council; and knowing that the great distance of the site proposed for the new Burial Ground from the Parish church, will necessitate the outlay of a very large sum of money to provide a chapel for the performance of the service; while a further and considerable amount will be necessary to pay for the deep drainage of the ground, in addition to levelling and enclosing it; and being assured that the very large expenditure which will be incurred hereby cannot be met by voluntary subscription, do hereby request you to call a vestry meeting at an early date, to consider and determine what steps shall be taken to provide additional Burial ground for the Parish.

To the Rector & Churchwardens of Lydiard Tregoz

There were more than 20 names on the petition, including Richard Strange from Mannington Farm, Hercules H.E. Slade from Spittleborough Farm, William Kinchin from Windmill Leaze Farm and George Ody from Wickfield.

At a meeting on 28th May 1889 it was resolved 

i    That a burial ground under the Burial Acts shall be provided for the Parish of Lydiard Tregoz 

proposed by Walter Ody
seconded by W. Collingbourn
carried unanimously

ii    That a burial board consisting of six members be appointed for this parish; and that one third of the members of this Board shall go out of office annually on the Thursday immediately preceeding the twenty fifth of March every year.

proposed by Mr W.J. Large
seconded by Mr Slade
carried unanimously

iii   That the Rector with Messrs W.J. Large, E. Willis, W. Rebbeck, H. Slade and J.Edward be and are hereby appointed Members of the Board.

Proposed by Mr Walter Ody
seconded by T. Kinchin
carried unanimously

But Lord Bolingbroke dragged his heels and the scandal of the Burial Ground rumbled on until the Vestry Meeting of March 26, 1891 when the Rector Henry G. Baily recorded:

A letter was read from Lord Bolingbroke to the Chairman of the Burial Board informing him that his Lordship would give to the Burial Board for the purpose of a Cemetery half an acre of land part of a field at Hook called "Ables" which site had been approved by the Local Government Board and it was Resolved.

But was that the end of the matter ...

Martha Hale from Creeches Farm was buried in Radnor Street Cemetery

Rector T.T. Shipman, was also  buried in Radnor Street Cemetery.
Hook Burial Ground

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Guided churchyard walks at St Mary's, Lydiard Park

If you enjoy the guided walks at Radnor Street Cemetery, you may like to join me on a new venture, exploring the churchyard at the historic St Mary’s Church in Lydiard Park.

A church has stood on this site for more than 1,000 years and the building that survives is full of historic gems.

Sir Simon Jenkins, columnist, editor, author and former Chair of the National Trust said ‘were it to be removed lock stock and barrel to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London it would cause a national sensation’.

Until the 1980s West Swindon development, St Mary’s Church had been at the centre of a small rural parish where tenant farmers and agricultural workers worshipped, married, brought their babies to be christened and were eventually laid to rest in the churchyard.

Today some of the farmhouses still survive, among them Brook House Farm, which is a pub and Toothill Farm, a community centre and although former farmland has disappeared beneath the housing developments the history lives on among the names on the gravestones in the churchyard.

At St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Park the conservation project continues apace as the appeal team prepares to submit a revised Heritage Lottery Fund application, emphasising the projects involvement with the local community and visitors to Lydiard House and Park.

The main focus of the ongoing project is the conservation of the extensive medieval wall paintings. At the recent Behind Closed Doors series of talks and tours held at Lydiard House during the close session, internationally acclaimed conservator Jane Rutherford, spoke about her work on the 18th century Reredos and East Chancel wall.

But this isn’t the extent of the work going on at St Mary’s. Next on the list is the conservation of the medieval glass painted by itinerant Flemish craftsmen who used local people as their models. Then there is a long list of work planned on dilapidated woodwork, the rare James I screen, the gilded altar rails and the star spangled chancel ceiling. The present entrance at the west door will become a welcoming interpretation and activity area.

These works will provide valuable training opportunities for newly qualified and apprentice craftspeople to work alongside expert conservators as well as workshops and events for the public.

The project also plans to re-open the hidden south porch, closed in around 1830 when Henry, 4th Viscount Bolingbroke, did a land deal with the church to demolish the old rectory and build a new one opposite the park entrance. Further alterations to the House saw Henry divert the hoi polloi from traipsing past his backdoor and through the south porch to Sunday worship, coming instead along His Lordship’s Carriageway, entering the church by the west door.

New interpretation inside the building will reveal the history and fascinating stories behind the people associated with it over the centuries, highlighting the connections between the church, house and historic landscape of Lydiard Park.

The Church is open to visitors every Saturday and Sunday afternoon while volunteers from the National Association of Decorative and Fines Arts Societies (NADFAS) are on hand to show visitors round from 11 – 4 pm on Friday.

The magnificent St John polyptych will be on view to the public on Sunday afternoons in June. Come and enjoy a Strawberry Tea outside the Stable Room and join me for a guided walk of the historic churchyard between 2 – 4.30 on June 19 and 26.

the grave of Catherine Iles

view across the churchyard

John Jeremiah St John

Mark of a master glazier

detail from one of the headstones

Creeches Farm