July 2011

THE QUEEN, GOD BLESS HER

shapeimage_1-1A toast to be given with pride and thanks.

When I heard that Her Majesty was to visit the Republic of Ireland at a time when trouble was brewing again in Belfast, my heart sank and I made sure to pray that it would all pass without republican anger that she – of all people – would dare to set foot south of the Border. I need not have worried.

I watched just about every frame shown on TV from beginning to end, thankful that the Republic had recently dumped the sort of Prime Minister that should never have been such: a rude, ignorant person that most voters were glad to get rid of and who had replaced him with a much more gentle person who had been taught manners somewhere along the line.

shapeimage_2-1From the moment she and Prince Philip arrived and were welcomed by the President and Prime Minister, she didn’t put a step wrong.  She could have, were our politicians allowed to have their way no doubt, but the first place she visited was the Memorial Garden remembering the dead from their War of Independence in 1921.  It was not the placing of the wreath there that will be remembered, but the unexpected bow of her head that put her at the top of visitors, remarked on by just about everybody.  The sound of relief from those watching must have been heard across the world.

So was there anything due for adverse comment?  Yes, but not against Her Majesty.  Dublin is a fine city, once the second capital of our Empire and showing its ancestry in so many ways, but those in charge of the Irish would have none of it, closing it down so that nobody could see them.  The City of Cork, though, that centre of the rebellion, there they allowed the population to greet her and Philip (who said nothing rude or cynical for once) close up and everyone was delighted, especially the children.

Even the rain stopped wherever she was; not a drop on her royal head.

The Herbert Bailey Memorial Meeting

shapeimage_3-1Ian Cullen kindly sponsored the speaker, David Brown for this meeting as a memorial to his father-in-law Herbert Benjamin Bailey – our first Chairman in 1968/69 — and Herbert’s daughter Janet, Ian’s late wife.

Born in 1900 in Battersea, one of eleven children, Herbert attended Sir Walter St. John’s Grammar School there (by odd co-incidence the same school as our current Secretary Dennis Evans, though somewhat earlier than Dennis) and just made it into army service in World War I.  He then joined the London County Council’s education department and by 1939 was responsible for the evacuation arrangements for children from London during WW2.  He then joined the Royal Navy, serving as a commissioned officer mainly in Malta, then returning to the LCC to serve out his time until retirement.

shapeimage_4Herbert – ‘Bill’ to his friends – was a very active Freemason in Surrey, writing a book on its history in Surrey – and a Rotarian of note which, along with his friendship with Probus Founder Harold Blanchard, led him to found our Probus Club on April 4th 1968.  Bill died in 1976.

shapeimage_5-1We live in interesting times, David Brown told us, with astonishing development in aviation since WW2, always with a view to speeding flight. In 1948 a Bell X1 just achieved Mach 1 – the speed of sound – and in the ‘fifties the Douglas X3 got to Mach 2, but these were simply fighter aircraft, not for passengers.  Nevertheless in 1956 the Comet took to the air, though disastrously, followed by the Boeing 707 in 1969 and this led to the first test flight of the Anglo-French Concorde in 1969; it was seven years before it flew with passengers in 1976 at speeds greater than Mach 1 across the Atlantic.  Its grounding a couple of years ago following a crash in Paris put paid to its short life, but now attempts at Mach 25 are being developed which will allow us to reach Sydney in one hour! If we want to, of course…

Today:

Peter Jones takes us on A Walk on the Wild Side

August 4th:

Glenda Law tells us about Street Furniture, something which raises hackles with many folk.

September 1st:

Barbara Stevens gives light unto us chaps, telling us of Journalism after the menopause.

October 6th:

Bob Basto on Renewable Energy – a vital advance.

Club News

The outstanding event of the last month was our successful – as always in recent years – stall at the Old Coulsdon fair last Saturday, when the sun blessed us without overpowering heat and the wind dropped to a gentle nudge, so different to the extremes of both we have had in the past few weeks. (Your Editor was for several years responsible for organising a stand at about half-a-dozen local Fëtes and Fairs for the Bourne Society and can safely say that the Old Coulsdon Fair is the best of the lot.)

Jim Mulvey ran our Probus stand again and as always it stood out with the excellent printed displays he produces.  With the support of a goodly number of our members to help, the tombola rapidly ran out of things to be won – we could have done with more being offered in the first place which meant that we had to buy prizes, reducing our donation to our chrity for the year, the Royal Marsden Cancer Fund. Several members of the public came along expressing interest in joining us, so they will be sent written information and followed up.

There are several dates coming up later this year of which you may need reminding:

Chairman Andrew Banfield says his Mystery Tour on Tuesday August 9th is attracting many and we shall meet the coach at the Tudor Rose at 9.00 a.m.  He has organised a great day out at a time of the year when our holidaying grandchildren can be invited to come along.  Lunch will be a feature to fill their little tummies (and ours, of course).  Proceeds will be sent to our charity for the year, the Royal Marsden Cancer hospital.

Hugh Roberts’ visit to the Last Night of the Proms on Sept. 24th, meeting at the Tudor Rose at 6.30 pm.  Cost: £15.20. If you want to go, he needs your cheque now.

Likewise the Ladies’ Lunch on October 20th isn’t that far away and bookings must be known and paid for by August 31st – that’s before our next-but-one meeting, so tell Jim Mulvey soon, along with cheque for £26.00 per person payable to Coulsdon Probus Club.

The cost of Speakers at our Luncheons continues to rise, so Phil Munson needs volunteers from our members; free lunch for you on the day you talk.

Graham Fox needs more drivers for our once a month help for elderly CASE members.  Contact him on 01737 556092 if you can volunteer.

If you want a Membership list, contact Reg Baker on 020 8660 6662.

We still need a Vice Chairman, who will become our Chairman next year, a post to be proud of yet not onerous to perform.

Hunstanton Hall and West Norfolk’s Civil War

(Your Editor doesn’t recall who sent this in, but thanks.)

During a recent visit to Norfolk I visited Hunstanton Hall on the eve of the 360th anniversary of the beheading of Charles I.  The Le Strange family, owners of the Hall, were Royalists, which resulted in the siege of King’s Lynn in 1643 by Parliamentary forces and Sir Harmon Le Strange, who had been appointed as the town governor soon had to admit defeat since the water supply was cut off.  No soldier he, Sir Harmon was a sixty-year-old grandfather who had hoped for a quiet life, but he now remained firm with a defiant message from himself and his friends saying “We send you our names lest you forget to plunder us when you have taken our town.”  This didn’t happen, but their estates were heavily sequestered for their resistance.

The family of Le Strange were powerful, so much so that King John appointed them as Lord Admirals of The Wash, responsible for guarding the Hunstanton shoreline from invaders, giving them a Charter which decreed that they could claim ownership of the seashore “for all that is in the sea as far as a horseman can hurl a spear at low tide.”

In the 1930s a comely German lady, Mercedes Gleitze, swam The Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk, landing at Hunstanton.  The Admiral of the time promptly stepped forward onto the beach to greet her and, it is said, claimed her as his rightful property.

Hunstanton Hall is set in parkland where, even to this day local people, in keeping with an old custom, are allowed, by hook or by crook, to gather wood for their fires.  The Hall, which has a moat, dates from 1480 as is evident from its brick-built gate house; this led to an inner four-bay residence built between 1625 and 1640 but this was destroyed by fire in 1853 and all that remains is its house porch.  This Victorian house was in its turn burned down in 1958 and was sold and converted into flats.  It still derives some publicity from P G Woodhouse novels; he was a regular guest at the Hall and modelled Rudge Hall upon it in his novel Money for Nothing.

The park is open on Thursdays and there you may see sheep safely grazing, well worth watching.  The octagonal folly-like structure which sits in the lake on an octagonal island was built for Sir Harmon Le Strange in 1643 and this, too, has a P G Woodhouse mention in his Very Good, Jeeves

Produced and edited by Ian Scales (01737 553704) for The Coulsdon Probus Club. Edition No. 171

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