The back page of this month’s Newsletter has a version of national history as understood by Jim Mulvey and I am happy to print it, not because I agree with Jim’s version and not because it is national; I took eleven A-level exams and failed just one: History. No, it’s local history that stirs my mind and that brings up the Bourne Society.
Some forty-odd years ago, 1969 I think, the Coulsdon Woods estate was being built and the diggers of house foundations dug up a grave dating back to Roman times. It was this that made me join the Bourne Society.
The Bourne Society is the largest local history society in England, with over two thousand members scattered all over the UK and many abroad, too. But that isn’t what interested me, it was the fact that I lived in an area deep in history that I felt I should know more about. I have never been saddened by my decision.
Take Coulsdon: I mean the real Old Coulsdon, not the shopping centre on the Brighton Road. Old Coulsdon was inhabited by the Celts (they buried their dead on Farthing Down), the Romans had their only ‘town’ in Surrey nearby and when they left the real history of the manor happened.
The Saxons came in the 6th century and the earliest reference to Coulsdon is in AD 675, when the monks of Chertsey Abbey were given the task of collecting taxes here for the king of Surrey. They would come twice a year, collect the taxes in barley, pigs and such, then work their way back collecting more from such as Banstead and so on back to Chertsey.
Older than any other named manor in the district, with a church on the same site for over a thousand years which celebrated 750 years of the present building in 2010. There’s the new bit, too, planned in the 1920s when the farms were sold and houses were built, the 1929 crash stopped the flow of money, the 30s had the depression, the 40s the war and the 50s rebuilding London and Croydon, so it was 1959 before the addition was completed. It is a wonderful village to live in.
Want to join the Bourne Society? £10 a year, free quarterly history books, a local history book and many meetings on local areas and buildings.
See me if you want to join; it’s well worth it.
We had a most enjoyable talk from John Chisholm about piers and promenades last month, His photographs were splendid and the copies of A R Quinton’s paintings made into post cards – done in the latter parts of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth — made us wish for summer to hurry along so that we could enjoy those near to us here in Coulsdon; dammit, it’s only forty miles to Brighton.
We (or at least your Editor) learned a new word, too: A Deltologist is the right name for a collector of postcards. It is of the American version of our own language and has Greek mixed in too, but we can impress our friends if the subject ever comes up.
An excellent talk and display by a man who knows his subject.
Our Probus Club is but one of many and, apart from being the second oldest in the world, is a very enjoyable monthly date to look forward to. Why don’t we have more members, or even a waiting list like so many Clubs do?
We have a splendid list of speakers talking to us on a wide of subjects and for that we have to thank the hard work of our Speaker Secretary Phil Munson. It is no easy task he performs so well. We have speakers arranged for the whole of 2013; as happens from time to time a speaker will have to quit his appointment, but Phil gets in touch with another and all is well, just as has happened to today’s speaker.
Thank you, Phil, for a well-done job.
Today:Mary Moore adds to her recent talk about London, this time. Telling us about Westminster.
March 7th: Ian Payne tells us about his Chairman’s Charity
April 4th:Veronica Wiseman tells us about the excellent work of
the Sussex Air Ambulance Service.
May 2nd:Alan & Vera Baker go into history with tales of the
British Music Hall.
We haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Andrew Banfield of late and last month we heard he was unwell. I called him and he answered and it turns out that it is his wife Jenny who is unwell, so Andrew is having to look after her 24/7. We wish them both good health.
Dudley Coates is back in hospital again, Joan tells us and she is not too sure how long he will be there. We send them both our best wishes.
Tony Simpson has pretty-well recovered from his stroke and should be with us today. He says his body is feeling his age… Join us all, Tony.
We trust that Jim Mulvey will tell us what a fine time they all had with Monty Python, the Holy Grail and Spamalot last evening. If they’re not present, we must assume they had a truly splendid time and are sleeping it off.
Meanwhile there are two outings coming up that you may well not want to miss, both organised by the Sanderstead and Riddlesdown Probus Club:
On Wednesday March 27th they will be visiting Kensington Palace, but girls please note that Prince Harry will not have moved in by then, together with seeing the Bank of England museum where you will be able to handle – and put back immediately – a bar of gold. At both places you will hear the fascinating history of the buildings and their work. Departing from Onslow Gardens at 9.30 a.m. and arriving back around 6.30 p.m.. Cost: £24 p.p.
Book through Peter Coombes on 020 8657 8372.
Also contact Peter Coombes if you wish to book for the visit on Tuesday May 14th to the wonderfully landscaped gardens at Waterberry in the heart of Oxfordshire countryside. A history dating back to Tudor times, you shall also see the Saxon church and walk by the riverside..
Another part of this trip is to Broughton Castle (featured in the film Shakespeare in Love it dates back to 1550 and featured in the 17th century Civil War. A wonderful building with superb features.
The same booking arrangement as above, same place and same times, but the cost of this longer-distant trip is £35 per person.
We presume that we shall be able to attend our meeting this month, for the weather forecast seems to be aiming at another bout of snow and ice, driven by high winds.
Is this year to be like 1963, when it didn’t really warm up until the back end of February; surely not…
The Truth about Oliver Cromwell
As seen by Jim Mulvey
So Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas and mince pies, did he? Well he banned the associated ‘Gluttony and riotous living’ and demanded that Christ’s birthday be celebrated as a purely religious festival, but no, it was Charles I who did this in a law passed in 1640 as a sop to the Presbyterians, the majority MPs group in parliament. Charles needed parliament to raise money for a war against Scotland that year, so he recalled it again for three weeks, adding the Christmas vote before dissolving it again and sending the MPs home.
At this time Cromwell was a yeoman farmer in Huntington and did not become involved in hostilities until 1642 when the king had declared war against parliament. The king sent troops to Cambridge University to seize silver and gold bullion to sell for his war effort. Cromwell, who had no military training, raised a civilian militia, waylaid the king’s troops and sent the bullion to Parliament.
Some of the bad press Oliver Cromwell received can be put down to the ‘Official Account of the Interregnum’ some fifteen years after the Restoration, commissioned by Charles II and written by the 1st. Earl of Clarendon who had been the young Charles’s tutor who had followed Charles into exile after the battle of Worcester. All the so-called atrocities attributed to Cromwell did not appear until then, which is surprising as the period of the Commonwealth had complete press freedom, when many Royalist pamphlets were printed criticising Parliament and its Members.
In fact, when Cromwell – who was a religious Independent – became Lord Protector in 1653, he started repealing some of the more draconian Presbyterian laws. Not only did he open the theatres again, which he and his wife attended, he allowed women to act on the stage; until then boys had to play the parts of women.
The Protectorate was a period of enlightenment when not only the theatre blossomed: it was Cromwell who introduced Italian opera to England for the first time, science flourished as groups of scientists and philosophers were encouraged to meet and discuss anything and everything. That Cromwell encouraged these societies is borne out by the fact that Oliver’s brother-in-law was the first president of the Society. Charles II inherited this movement and all he did was to rename the groups to being the Royal Society In the spirit of liberalism it was Oliver Cromwell who welcomed the Jews back to England after they had been expelled by Edward I in 1492.
Prior to Cromwell, the only universities in England were those at Oxford and Cambridge; it was Cromwell who declared that every city should have its university and granted Durham its charter. Charles II stopped that plan in its tracks and it wasn’t until 1832 that Durham became England’s third university.
[Your Editor failed his History A-level exam; it makes me wonder how Jim did.]