Marton Village, Warwickshire

Local History Group: October 2016 Update REVISED 25/10

Lady Jocelyn

Please note the change in the planned talk when the Group meetings restart on Monday 31st October. The History of Marton’s Old Houses has been postponed. Instead the talk originally planned for November will be given, namely: Marton Farm Labourers’ 1874 Mass Emigration to New Zealand. This talk looks into how the worsening conditions for farm labourers in the 19th century led to many of them emigrating, and why the New Zealand government were prepared to give free passage to hundreds of thousands of emigrants in the 1870s. (You may even find out a bit about Marton, New Zealand!).

All welcome, entrance fee £3 includes a glass of wine.

The full programme for the year is given in the overview section.

Local History Group: June 2016 Update

Group at Green Man
Group at Green Man

In May the Group went for a walking tour of the historic buildings in Dunchurch. This walk was researched and led, as usual for the “May history walk”, by Mike Johnson (photo shows group starting out on the walk). A brief summary of the buildings seen on the walk is given below.

The Group now has a summer break and the next meeting will be in the village hall on Monday October 31st. More details about this and the rest of the new programme will be publicised nearer the time.

Read moreLocal History Group: June 2016 Update

Local History Group: May 2016 Update

Joan_0969This month the Group had its AGM at which the past year was reviewed and possible talks for next season were discussed. The notes of this meeting have been circulated to Group members. Joan Sherratt (pictured) also gave a talk about the history of Marton WI. An overview of this talk can be found at this link.

The next Group meeting is a walk around the historic points of Dunchurch, led by Mike Johnson. This is on Monday May 16th meeting at The Green Man for a prompt 6:45 pm start.

The Group will then have its summer recess and start again at the end of October.

Local History Group: March 2016 Update

ann small_0960
Ann & Museum Victoriana

This month the Group packed the village hall to hear a talk by Wiz and Ann about Marton in the Victorian era. An overview of this talk can be found at this link.

The next Group meeting is the AGM on Monday April 25th at 7.30pm in the village hall. A short presentation about the history of Marton WI will follow the AGM. Do come along and share your thoughts on how this season’s programme went and help shape the programme for next season.

Local History Group: February 2016 Update

Slide 7The February leap year meeting of the Group welcomed  Henry Marriott, the great grandson of the Thornley-Kelsey Brewery at Radford Semele founder,  H E Thornley. He farmed around Radford in the late 1800s. He also brewed ale on the farm premises for his workers – a common practice at the time. However, Henry’s great grandfather proved to be a talented brewer and decided to develop this side of the business.

In 1911 the specialist brewery buildings were built on Thornley farm land by the road leading into Leamington, where there was also potential access to the nearby canal and railway. It was also the site of a natural spring that would be perfect for brewing (so it was thought!). The first batch of beer brewed turned out to be awful and the water was considered too hard. A deep borehole still did not find a suitable supply, so all future beer was brewed with water brought by lorry from Leamington’s Campion Hills.

The Brewery thrived and its pubs were established all over Warwickshire. Its beers were good enough to win numerous prizes and it was considered sufficiently competent to also brew Guinness and M&B beers, under licence.

Unfortunately the days of the samller brewer were numbered in the post-war period and the Radford Brewery closed in January 1969.

The site has undergone several changes of use since the unfortunate demolition of the artfully designed buildings.There have been a number of subsequent occupiers of the site and today it is the home of Ricardo which is at the forefront of automotive and defence vehicle technology.

The next Group meeting is on Monday 21 March (a week earlier than normal) at 7.30pm in the village hall, when a talk on Victorian Marton will be given by Group members. All welcome, entrance fee £3 includes a glass of wine.

Local History Group: January 2016 Update

John Westrope
John Westrope

This month the Group had a talk introduced by John Westrope and given by Chris Clack on “The Harry Ferguson Story”. This generated at lot of interest from within and outside the village. More about this talk below.

The next Group meeting is on Monday February 29th at 7.30pm in the village hall, when a talk on Thornhill Brewery will be given by Henry Marriott. All welcome, entrance fee £3 includes a glass of wine.

Read moreLocal History Group: January 2016 Update

Local History Group: November 2015 Update

ww2 img_0941 smallThis month the Group meeting was on the theme of “World War 2 memories of Marton villagers”. As usual for such a local topic there was a good turnout. A summary of the evening can be found at this link.

There is no meeting in December.

The next meeting is on January 25th 2016 and the topic for the evening is The Harry Ferguson Story, with his links to Marton – a talk to be given by John Westrope. All welcome, entrance fee £3 includes a glass of wine.

Local History Group: October 2015 Update

Anne_0796This month the Group had a talk by Anne Langley (pictured) on Warwickshire Alms Houses. More about this talk in this article.

The next Group meeting is on Monday November 23rd 7.30pm in the village hall. The theme for the evening is “World War 2 memories of Marton villagers”. As well as individuals’ memories there will be photos and news articles from that period.

All welcome, entrance fee £3 includes a glass of wine.

The full programme can be seen on this page.

Alms Houses in Warwickshire

Alms houses_0798Anne Langley has researched into Alms Houses in Warwickshire and has a book about to be published on the subject. The following are some brief notes of the talk she gave to the Group in October 2015.

There is no universally recognised definition of what an “Alms House” is but Anne decided on the following definition for her research: they are created by an endowment, are purpose-built, and are for elderly people who are often given a pension as well as the accommodation. On this basis Anne has identified 34 Alms Houses in Warwickshire, the closest to Marton being the one at Leamington Hastings (pictured on the left of the image on the left).

Very early (Middle Ages) Alms Houses were often called “Hospitals”, although not all such institutions would have fitted the criteria of an Alms House as inhabitants may have been selected on the basis of ill health or poverty, rather than just age. (The Leamington Hastings Alms House appears to have been known as a “Hospital” at the time of the 1804 enclosure map for Marton. This shows fields owned by “Hospital” and “Allotment Leamington hospital”.)

Many Alms Houses were founded by “self-made” business men, who made their fortune in London and then returned to their home town and bequeathed the funds to set up an Alms House. There was great religious significance to this act, as it was believed that such generosity would help them reach paradise following their death. Some of these founders were childless and had so had no direct descendants to pass their wealth onto.

There were strict rules that occupants of Alms Houses had to comply with which might include attendance at church and general good conduct (no drunkenness). In some the rules were such that a widow would be evicted soon after the death of her husband. Special clothes, such as gowns, were frequently supplied to residents, perhaps to be worn on special occasions such as church.

Residents sometimes had family members living with them such as children or grandchildren. Given the pension they received the resident may well have been the main breadwinner of the family. Some residents had a carer living with them. Residents that could no longer look after themselves and had not made arrangements for someone else to look after them would have been moved out, perhaps to a workhouse, or to an asylum if they had mental problems.

More information about Alms Houses can be found by internet searches. For example, Anne has written a short article about Leamington Hastings Alms House for “Our Warwickshire” see this link.

Local History Group: May 2015 Update

Group small border 0793This month’s meeting consisted of a guided walk around Warwick, ably led, as usual, by Mike Johnson (pictured on the right of the group photo). There are no more Group meetings until the new season starts at the end of October.

Mike devised the route for the group walk around some of the highlights of Warwick’s old centre, and there are many leaflets available from the tourist office which provide plenty of information about Warwick’s walk opportunities and the historical background of what you will see en route. This article adds some of Mike’s insights to these existing publications.

At the corner of Castle Street and Castle Lane is a section of cobbled road leading into what is now the castle grounds wall. Many centuries ago this was part of the main road into town when the old bridge was in use; the old bridge crossed the river near the western end of Mill Street and the road continued straight through to Castle Street from there. The grounds of the castle were extended eastwards after the new bridge was built in 1785, to butt up against Castle Hill.

The Great Fire of 1694, which started in High Street and spread up Market Street and Castle Street, caused great damage to St Mary’s church. Following the fire new construction rules were brought in about the design of houses and the minimum width of roads. Half-timbered and jetted houses were no longer allowed and houses could be no more than two stories high – although an exemption seems to have been   given at what was then the main central cross-roads where High Street and Castle Street meet as three story buildings surround this point.

The old town wall can be seen from Puckering’s Lane, as it heads North West from West Gate and then around the back of Lord Leycester Hospital.

Today The Holloway is a dead-end street but historically it ran all the way to Saltisford having been cut into the rock along this route. At one time this old road passed under an iron bridge (built 1804) which connected market Place to Theatre Street.

On the corner of Barrack Street and Northgate Street is an old cell door which belonged to the prison on this site when it was badly damaged by the Great Fire. In a courtyard off Northgate Street in the old County Court buildings can be seen a grill which is in the roof of an octagonal dungeon below. This dungeon was built in 1680 and was in regular use until 1797.

Read moreLocal History Group: May 2015 Update