Marton Village, Warwickshire

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.

Jazz at the Village Hall

susan valliant speer_2__img_0438September Marton was treated to an amazing performance in the War Memorial Hall by the fantastic singer Susan Valliant Speers,  and her band, who presented an evening in celebration of “The Legendary Ladies of Jazz”, namely Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday, Sophie Tucker, Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald.  Susan is a renowned American singer, now resident in the UK, who has performed for two American presidents during her long career as a singer.
Her band members are no less accomplished and were all called Alan apart from one!  Of particular note was Alan Wakeman, cousin to Rick Wakeman, who played sax and clarinet and who has performed with Soft Machine, Graham Collier and John Dankworth to
ame but a few.
susan valliant speer_img_0437How lucky we were to be able to see such top class performers here in Marton.  The reception was rapturous and the atmosphere in the hall was enhanced by the cabaret-style arrangement. Let’s hope this can be repeated in the future.  For further information see susanvalliantspeer.co.uk and alanwakeman.com.

Saving Marton From Flooding: River Leam Tree Clearance

flooding-1Thanks to some hard work from volunteers from  the village and the Coventry Godiva Angling Club over a couple of days in May and June, much of the River Leam in the village has been cleared of blockages created by collapsing willows. The ‘crack willow’ is so named because of its brittle nature and it propagates by the branches splitting from the trunk and developing a new set of roots when it hits the river—hence the difficulty of dragging these sections from the river bed.

flooding-3Co-ordination by Miranda and Ulli greatly eased the process. There was some brave work done by those who immersed themselves in the river as well as those who operated the chain saws. The rest of us just dragged and chopped!

Many thanks also to the land owners for their co-operation and support.

Another day’s work to the west of the bridge and the whole of the river up to the confluence with the Itchen will have been cleared

flooding-2Perhaps it is overstating the case to imply that by clearing the river of fallen trees that Marton will no longer experience flooding, but the impact of the work on the flow of the river means that the watercourse is now working much more efficiently.  Certainly the river’s capacity to dispose of floodwater has been enhanced.

Heritage Open Day at Marton Museum 12 & 13 September 2015

heritage open day logoMarton Museum will once again be participating in the Heritage Open Days event which falls this year on the weekend of 12th and 13th September. This has been an enormously successfull event for us in previous years, attracting a huge number of visitors from across the county and further afield. We will be open on the Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am to 5.00pm and admission will be free. Refreshments will be served in the Cricket Pavilion. There will also be some vintage tractors on site and interactive exhibits suitable for the whole family. Disabled access is available. The Museum contains a unique and extremely interesting collection of a large number of exhibits dating from the 17th century onwards and covering domestic life, agriculture, crafts and handicrafts all collected locally by one man, George Tims, throughout his lifetime. Following his death the collection was passed into the care of Marton village. The Museum can be found in Louisa Ward Close, Marton CV23 9SA. For more information contact museummarton<at>gmail.com

If that weekend is not convenient for you don’t forget that the Museum is currently open every Sunday afternoon from 2.00pm to 4.00pm until the 13th September. Admission is free but donations are welcome. We’d love to see you!