JAN 15TH 1971

Bill Sarney retires today (Friday) on his 65th birthday after 51 years on the Nettlebed Estate. During that time he has made bricks, felled trees, driven engines, carts and tractors, milked cows, and done a thousand other jobs for three generations of the Fleming family.
When Bill started work on the estate at the tender age of 14 there were probably something like 150 men working there. Now there are only sixteen.
Bill came to the estate from a small farm at Catslipe where “They gave me the sack when I was 14 for feeding the horses and cheeking the girls”. He had done farm work when he was still at school – from 7 to 9 o’clock in the morning, another hour at twelve and then from 4 to 7 in the afternoon.
When he started full time the hours were 5.30 am until 5.30 pm and that was a six day week. The estate included Nettlebed Potteries in those days and Bill used to make bricks during the summer,and go back to the farm in the winter.
He missed the first world war but was in the Oxon and Bucks territorials during the second world war and spent four years as a prisoner of war in Germany, “I’d give a pig better food than what we had” he said.
In the early days the estate used to have it’s own fire service, complete with uniforms, and Bill was a member. They used to let off a maroon signal to warn of a fire,and Bill particularly remembers one at Joyce Grove Hospital. “We went down there and helped put it out, we walked through the rooms and one of the blokes said ‘Here there’s someone dead in here’, and there was – it was a skeleton they was practising on”.
Probably the biggest change in Bill’s life has been the growth of motor transport. He lives in Nettlebed High Street and remembers the time when there was only just room for two horses and carts to pass each other.
Much of the estate is common land and Bill is the official common keeper. His job is to make sure that they keep the land tidy. He’s also a member of Nettlebed Working Men’s Club. Years ago the only entertainment in the village was a cinematograph show at the village hall which was built in 1913. That was a Saturday night and if you wanted anything else you had to go to Henley.
Bill has been married about 34 years, with a son, a daughter and five grandchildren. He will still be working part time on the estate and to keep him occupied in his spare time there’s always a bit of gardening and television. He doesn’t think much of the programmes – but he’s all in favour of the mini-skirts.

MARCH 27TH 1970 

Today ( Thursday ) Alfred and Ethel Finch are celebrating 60 years of married life at their home, appropriately called The Birds Nest, at Nettlebed. They were married by the Rev P Armitage at St Bartholomew’s Church in 1910.
Mr Finch, now aged 88, was born in Hammersmith and came to Nettlebed originally to work at Joyce Grove as a plasterer. There he met his future wife Ethel Appleby, who belongs to one of the oldest families in Nettlebed. Before the first world war Mr Finch served five years with the volunteers and during the war he served with the Royal Engineers in India “luckily I didn’t hear a shot fired” he said.
At that time he played the flute with an Army Orchestra and, after the war, with a dance band in London. His other hobbies include gardening and bowls – he was the treasurer of Nettlebed bowls club for some time – and reading, mostly detective novels.
Mrs Finch was a teacher at Nettlebed School when she married, and did a lot of Parochial work for St Bartholomew’s church, including teaching at the Sunday School. She was a founder member of the Nettlebed Women’s Institute and at 80 years of age she still enjoys cooking and entertaining as much as ever.
The couple have one daughter, and she, with 13 other members of the family, will be helping the Finches celebrate their Diamond Wedding at the White Hart Hotel.

FEB 20TH 1970 

After 43 years in the bakery trade Mr R Sparrowhawk has been forced to retire from his Nettlebed business owing to ill-health. He came to the village from Aston, West Oxfordshire in 1927 to work for the Saunders family and in 1950 he took over the business himself. During this time he served Nettlebed and surrounding villages with bread baked in the original coal-fired ovens which were built in 1909 and are almost a rarity nowadays. His customers will regret that the bakery has now become obsolete.

FEB 3RD 1961

Nettlebed and district has suffered a great loss by the death on Monday last at Peppard Chest Hospital of Mr Sydney Smith of The Corner House, Nettlebed. Mr Smith, who was 70, was a native of Chalgrove and he was a Cornet player in the brass band there and played for the village football team. In 1914 he joined the Royal Horse Artillery and served for seven years with the colours and for 9 years on the reserve. He married Miss Martha Sophia Stallwood at Nuffield Church on September 2nd 1918 and three years later hade his home in Nettlebed. There he was the steward of the Working Men’s Club for 23 years, leaving there in 1948 to take up business as a greengrocer. He finally retired in 1958 and in that year achieved his ambition of visiting his daughter Joyce in the United States. An enthusiastic bellringer until his health no longer permitted this exertion, Mr Smith, who was affectionately known to his many friends as “Gunboat” had been a member of the bellringers guild from the time he was a young lad. He and Mrs Smith suffered a severe blow by the death of their only son on H.M.S Courageous in 1939. Mrs Smith and five daughters survive him.

MARCH 13TH 1953

A quiz was held at Nettlebed village hall in aid of Nettlebed Coronation fund. The subject was local knowledge. The question master was Lord Justice Hodson and the chair was taken by Col Peter Fleming. T he questions ranged over a wide field,including the local habits of the stone curlew and the verse inscribed on the tombstone of an 18th century blacksmith “who sat on the top of the brick kiln chimney for a wager”. A well filled hall was greatly amused at the efforts of the competitors and the repartee of some of the principals. South Nettlebed won by a handsome margin, Miss Appleby in particular being undefeatable. About £30 was raised for the fund.

FEB 22ND 1952

Ladder Gang Raid At Nettlebed. The “Ladder gang” or persons using methods similar to those adopted in many robberies during recent months struck at Nettlebed on Wednesday evening and made a getaway with property of the estimated value of £4.000.Target for their raid on this occasion was Merrimoles, the home of Col and Mrs Peter Fleming. Colonel Fleming is the well known writer and traveller, while Mrs Fleming is the celebrated actress Miss Celia Johnson. The robbery took place some time between 6.30 and 10pm and to carry it out the gang took a ladder from the garage, placed it against a bedroom window immediately above a room in which Mrs Fleming and some friends were sitting. So silently did they work,however, that it was not until the bedroom was visited that the robbery was discovered. A check revealed that a fur coat valued at £1000 and jewellery worth at least £3,000 was missing.


JULY 27th 1951

Nettlebed county school held an open day on Friday last when there was a large crowd of parents and friends present. The Headmaster Mr R.N.Dennis, in his speech, welcomed Mr A.R. Chorlton, the county director of Education, to Nettlebed. He went on to outline the school’s achievements which included the winning of The Henley and District Netball League cup by the girls and all the cricket and rounders matches played in the short season. The Director Mr Chorlton commented favourably on the co-operation between the parents and teachers also remarking on the good report issued recently on the school. He congratulated the staff and children on the fine performances given during the afternoon. The Chairman of the Managers, Canon R.E.T. Bell, completed a most enjoyable afternoon with an amusing speech – a fitting end to the occasion. The two school captains then called for three cheers for the Director of Education.

JUNE 29TH 1951

Unusual Contest At Nettlebed. The crowd estimated at about 2,500 that assembled in a large meadow between Nettlebed and Huntercombe for the steam traction engine race on Sunday morning was far beyond all expectations and no doubt about ninety five per cent had never seen such an event before in their lives. They came from Wallingford, Henley, Maidenhead, Watlington and many places in the surrounding district. The contest was the result of a challenge by Mr Giles J Romanes of Bray, owner of the engine names “Eileen”, who had heard of Mr Arthur C Napper’s success with “Old Timer” in a race at Appleford last year and a wager – a firkin of beer.

MAY 25TH 1951

Nettlebed Where Dogs Disappear  “This awful part of England where animals are not safe to live their short lives” is the description applied by a correspondent to Nettlebed following the disappearance of the fifth young dog within the past two and a half years. The latest dog to disappear without a clue to his fate is Bengie,the 18 month old clever little pet belonging to Mrs Davis,of Beechwood house. With the knowledge that other dogs had vanished without trace, Bengie’s owner took pains to see that he did not wander off unaccompanied but on Sunday 13th Benjie, a jet black shaggy dog, found an open window and being full of life decided that here was a chance of a nice run on the common land and beech woods that so richly bless the area. There the story of Benjie seemingly comes to an end. No one actually saw him go, no one knows, or will admit to knowing, what has happened to him. What is it that prevents him, like the unfortunate four before him, from returning home? Has he been stolen or has something even worse happened to him? These and other questions to which there is no answer causes distress to all owners who lose their animals in similar circumstances. Such uncertainty should be banished, if only somebody who probably does know, would have the courage to tell Mrs Davis why Benjie did not return.

JUNE 1946

Victory Celebrations. Bad weather spoilt a well organised programme of victory celebrations at Nettlebed. However children from Nuffield, Park Corner, Bix and Nettlebed met together and there was a large entry for the fancy dress parade which was marshalled at the Village Hall and paraded to the recreation ground where the judges, Mrs A brown, Mrs F B Armitage and Mrs E Allardyce had a most difficult choice in deciding the winners. Owing to heavy rain the sports were abandoned and the children were taken by motor coach to the Village Hall, where they were given tea and afterwards entertained for two hours by Mr L C Imberg, ventriloquist and Mr G V Smith, Conjuror. During the evening a comic cricket match was played on the recreation ground between teams of local men and women. At dusk there was a firework display, rocket after rocket, bang after bang, and then came the finest bonfire Nettlebed had ever seen.This was lighted by Nicholas Flemimg, son of Col Peter Fleming, who was assisted by Cyril Godwin of Nettlebed and Fred Edwards of Bix.

November 1945

There was a special parade service at the parish church at 10.45 am on Remembrance Sunday Nov 11th. The parade was headed by The British Legion with their colours under Lt – Col Bidder DSO with members of the forces including the repatriated prisoners of war, detachments of the R.A and R.A.O.C and of Polish troops now in camp at Nettlebed  and was joined by Girl Guides, Cubs and Brownies. The voluntary before the service was played by a Polish organist from Warsaw. The singing of their National Anthem by the Poles to the accompaniment of their own organist was exceptionally fine. Preceded by the choir and Vicar the parade and congregation went to the war memorial (The Lych Gate) where a wreath was laid by the Polish Forces and by The British Legion and the salute given and the vicar pronounced the blessing. The parade then Marched back to the common where Col Bidder, before dispersing them, with the aid of an interpreter, publicly thanked our Polish Allies for their desire to take part and their participation in The Act of Remembrance.

June 1945

In the long and eventful annals of the Nettlebed Working Men’s Club and Institution it is doubtful if it has ever extended it’s traditional hospitality to a more gallant assembly than on the occasion of a supper party on Friday last, June 1st, a kindly gesture by Sid Smith (“Gunboat”,to his numerous friends), the illustrious steward of the club, to mark the return home of local prisoners of war. Our representative gladly accepted an invitation to be present,and hopes through this medium to be happy to convey something of the happy atmosphere which prevailed throughout the evening. The tables were laid in the billiard room and gaily decorated with flags and flowers. There was an assembly in the lounge prior to the taking of seats and it was grand to mingle with the lads and listen to some of their varied experiences. Several of them had not seen each other since the old stalag days. At 8.30 came the welcome announcement that supper was served and the following prisoners of war promptly took their seats, Platoon SM J Godwin, L/Cpl A (Tubby) Richardson, Pte W Sarney, L/Cpl Brakspear, Pte J Wheeler, Cpl J Vernon (Nuffield), L/Cpl R Wigmore (Stoke Row), L/Cpl C Starr (Cookley Green), Sgt G Stevens (Highmoor), Pte A Slade (Stoke Row), Pte A Edwards (Stoke Row), Pte L West (Benson,late of Nettlebed), Cpl G Busby (Highmoor) and Sgt R W Cox (Highmoor). A few more were unavoidably unable to be present. Amongst the other honoured guests were ex S M Ben Brown who was responsible for a good deal of the training of the lads before going overseas, Pte H Wheeler, a paratrooper home on leave from Germany, Cpl George Brakspear, a local Dunkirk hero, Pte Tim Godwin, brother of PSM Godwin, Mr R W Cobb (Vice President of the club), Mr B E Brown (Club Secretary), Mr Victor Smith, Mr W E Cooke (Representing the Committee and,lastly Mr S Smith, the donor of the feast. It may raise a laugh from those of us who have been privileged to know these hardened gentry, but ex S M Ben Brown showed considerable emotion when he rose to welcome the smiling faces which had been absent for so long and Mr R W Cobb, our retiring schoolmaster, also displayed something of restrained pride in seeing so many of his old pupils of earlier days, who had so nobly acquitted themselves in the country’s cause. Had the Minister of Food suddenly decided to adopt the role of uninvited guest he might have wondered “where the,why the, wherefore and how” such an exquisite festive board could have been accomplished. Suffice it to say, these arrangements were in the capable hands of that Wizard of the larder, Mrs S. Smith, with the ungrudging help of her daughters, Mrs.W.Sarney, Mrs.W.Harwood and Mrs “Bunny” Green. Mr Jock Green had a very busy time with the flowing cup and it seemed almost as if Colonel Chinstrap, of ITMA fame, might have been present with his phrase “I don’t mind if I do”. At the conclusion of the meal the party was entertained by Mr Victor Smith who, prior to coming to dwell amongst us, was a professional illusionist of considerable repute. It was a delightfully chosen programme of merriment and mystery that left many of us wondering how it was done. In his concluding remarks Mr Cobb tendered on behalf of all present grateful thanks to Mr and Mrs Sid Smith for their generosity and to all who had contributed in so many ways to make this evening the memorable success it had been. Never was there a village occasion so well befitting the well worn journalistic line “and a good time was had by all”.

MARCH 30TH 1945

Retirement of Mr Cobb. A correspondent writes,”It has been my privilege and pleasure to live in Nettlebed some thirty odd years,during nearly the whole of which time Mr Cobb has been the headmaster of the village school. I heard today for the first time that we are to lose him and I should like to join with the parents of the children who have attended the school as well as with the children themselves, in expressing my deep regret that such a loss is impending in the village. As a manager of the school and as a friend of many of the parents, I have had opportunities of learning how greatly indebted to him for years of patient and courageous service to the cause of education. Mr Cobb has done so many kindly things for so many of us in Nettlebed that there will be many sad hearts when he leaves the school house.

FEB 1944

Early in the war Robert Selby Armitage of Nettlebed then a temp Lieutenant R.N.V.R was awarded the George Cross for “Great Gallantry And Undaunted Devotion To Duty”. Of the deed or deed’s that won that award nothing is known to the outside world and even when asked by The King at the investiture how he came to gain the decoration Lieut Armitage had to say “I cannot say, Sir”. On Tuesday of this week the name of Robert Selby Armitage now a temp Lieut-Commander appeared once more in the London Gazette list of awards. This time he gains the George Medal for “Gallantry and Undaunted Devotion To Duty”. No more details than accompanied his first award. Before the war Mr Armitage was interested in yachting and hockey and was called to the bar but never practised.


In addition to the Remembrance services at the usual hours, a special united parish service of Remembrance, Rededication and prayer was held at 3 pm. Prior to this there was a large parade organised by the British Legion,  consisting of the military, a detachment of US troops with their colour, the British Legion with their colour, Home Guard, Royal Observer Corps, ARP and all sections of the Civil Defence, Girl Guides with their colour, Brownies and Cubs which assembled on the common and headed by the British Legion Colour marched to the parish church under the command of Col Bidder, DSO (president of the local British Legion). The church was packed to it’s utmost capacity, chairs occupying all available space. After the singing of “Fight the good fight” the colours were received at the chancel steps by the vicar, the Rev E G Pallot D.S.O who conducted the service and then were laid on the altar. The United States and British National Anthems were played. After short prayers the assembled congregation stood as an act of memorial to those who had given their lives in the last war and this. The parish roll of honour was then called by the vicar and “The Supreme Sacrifice” was sung. Following the lesson and prayers for all those serving the country in the present war, for victory for our cause and for a lasting and righteous peace, the hymn “Quit You Like Men” was sung. The address was given by the Rev J.M.H Morris, chaplain R.A.F, on the personal responsibility of everyone to help towards the creation of a new world. “O Lord Of Hosts (by Group Captain W Cooper, R.A.F) was sung as an offertory hymn. The choir and the clergy followed by those on parade and members of the congregation, left the church to the singing of the Nunc Dimittis and proceeded to the Lych-gate memorial, where the services on parade lined up, facing the memorial whilst wreaths were laid by the Colonel Commanding the US troops and by the president of The British Legion. The Legion salute was then given and the fourth verse of Laurence Binyon’s poem “For The Fallen” was recited by the vicar, who also gave the blessing. Buglers of Henley Sea Cadet Corps sounded the “Last Post” and “Reveille” and headed by the Sea Cadet Band and a detachment of the cadets under Lieut. A W Campbell R.N.V.R. the parade returned to the common where the salute was taken by the Colonel commanding the US troops.

AUG 7TH 1942

It is with regret that we have to record the death of Miss Mary Ann Lamb of High Street, Nettlebed, which occurred suddenly on Monday last after an illness of four years duration. Miss Lamb, who was 72, was one of the best known and most loved persons in the village and it was to “Polly” as she was known to young and old alike, that the villagers would go to with their troubles in the certain knowledge that they would receive helpful and sympathetic advice. For forty years Miss Lamb, a daughter of the late Mr Edwin Lamb who formerly kept The White Hart Hotel, had carried on business in the village as a newsagent, confectioner and tobacconist and few local people were more connected with the life of the village than she. She was an ardent supporter of local organisations and even though prevented of late from taking any active share in the village movements, was always willing to help in any way that lay open to her. The Funeral takes place at Nettlebed Church this (Friday) afternoon at 2 p.m.

JAN 1941

The George Cross has been awarded to temporary Lieut Robert Selby Armitage,R.N.V.R, “For Great Gallantry and Undaunted Service To Duty”. Mr Armitage’s home is at Port Hill, Nettlebed and he is the elder son of a former vicar of Nettlebed, the late Rev Philip Armitage. Details of the performance that won Mr Armitage this high award have not been published,but it is known that he has been engaged on special duty calling for initiative and courage of the highest order.

JAN 10TH 1941

A spark from a chimney landing on the reed roof is believed to have started a fire which gutted a country house at Nettlebed on Saturday afternoon and caused damage running into some thousands of pounds. The fire, then only a small patch on a large reed roof, was discovered soon after 2 p.m.at Halfridge, the residence of Mr F.M. Bond and the Henley Fire Brigade were called out. They were quickly on the scene but it was found that the nearest water supply was from a hydrant three quarters of a mile away. While the First-Aid tank and equipment on the engine was used, the firemen ran out the long line of hose but after using all the hose on the engine it was found that several lengths were needed before deliveries could be directed onto the house. An urgent call was sent to Henley for more hose, this call arriving only fifteen minutes after the first fire call, a tribute to the speed with which the brigade worked. Pending the arrival of the additional hose the tank on the engine was kept filled and water directed onto the flames by this means. Police under Sgt George, firemen, villagers and others co-operated in salvage work and their efforts were so successful that the majority of the furnishings of the large house were taken to safety. During their efforts some of the helpers had narrow escapes from injury, a tall chimney stack collapsing and falling close to a spot where the salvaged goods were being placed. All in the vicinity were able to run clear and there was no personal injury at all. Owing to the structure of the roof and the position of the fire, which seemed to be well under the reed thatch, and the roof being covered with a fine mesh wire netting to keep out the birds, it was impossible to get to the seat of the flames. The blaze took a firm hold despite the two deliveries of water being played onto the roof. Soon the whole of the roof was involved and it became obvious that the brigade’s main task would be to put the flames out before black-out time. The firemen worked hard in most unpleasant conditions, a bitter East wind and frost adding to their difficulties and they gradually conquered the flames. Their task was not ended even then, however, and it was necessary for them to stand by all night in order to quell small outbreaks which constantly claimed their attention throughout the hours of darkness. It was not until 11 a.m on Sunday morning that the brigade could leave and then the house, which was only built a few years ago and which was one of the show places of the district, was merely a roofless brick shell onto which were hanging long icicles formed by the freezing water of the hoses.

SEPT 22ND 1939

Gloom spread over the village of Nettlebed on Wednesday morning when it became known that Nettlebed had suffered its first casualty of the war. Mr Sid (Gunboat) Smith, the popular steward of The Working Men’s Club received official intimation that his only son George, a member of the Royal Air Force, was among the victims of the Courageous disaster when the aircraft carrier was torpedoed and sunk by enemy submarine action on Sunday night. George Smith,who was 19 last April, was a scholar at Nettlebed school under Mr R.W.Cobb before gaining a scholarship and passing to Henley Grammar School. He was for many years an active member of the Nettlebed parish church choir,and gained the distinction of the Blue Ribband for five years unbroken attendance. He was,without doubt,one of the most popular lads of the village and keenly interested himself in every kind of sport. We are sure that we are voicing the sentiments of the entire village in our expression of sympathy with his Mother and Father and five Sisters in their tragic bereavement.

MAY 7th 1937

The village has been deprived of another of it’s most notable personalities by the death of George Harwood, which occurred at the Henley Infirmary on Wednesday April 28th, at the venerable age of 74. Numerous attempts at various times have been made to solve the mysteries and delve into the origins of village nicknames, and of the collection “Poppitt” has from earliest memory been associated with this fine old country character. Born in the house in which he spent the whole of his life,”Poppitt” was affectionately known to everyone for miles around. To those who knew him best he was the essence of kindliness and good nature and in his modest way was always eager to help his less fortunate fellows in any way within the limit’s of his purse. There was lot’s of goodness in his heart and for many years the writer remembers “Poppitt’s” weekly donation’s, with unfailing regularity, to the local hospital box. He was passionately devoted to horses, with which his life’s work on Mr Fleming’s estate brought him into such close contact. He loved to tell the story of an early attempt to smoke a full-sized cigar. Even after that he was a confirmed non-smoker. On one occasion at the conclusion of a night of revelry, snow had fallen whilst within and ” Poppitt”, finding his step’s a little uncertain and at the same time noticing an arm of the law anxiously watching developments, decided to dispense with this gentleman’s assistance by crawling home on all fours. He had a remarkable ready wit and this enviable quality remained with him even to his latter days in the Henley Infirmary. A sitting friend jokingly asked him when he was going to get up. “Well” he replied dryly, “if I get’s out somebody else’ll only get in”. These fine old characters with all their faults we love them still and their passing creates in the life of a village a gap which, in these ultra modern days, it is well nigh impossible to fill.

JAN 22ND 1937

Miss Kitty Rackstraw was buried at Henley Cemetery on January 12th,after a brief illness. Miss Rackstraw belonged to a family which had been residents of Nettlebed for 200 years. She was a great worker for the Congregational Church both at Nettlebed and Henley. Miss Rackstraw collected a record amount of money towards the building of the Henley Congregational Church.

SEPT 13TH 1935

A Stonor – Nettlebed Romance. After being separated for 62 years, two one-time boy and girl sweethearts were married in the private chapel at Stonor Park on Sunday last. They were Mr Lewis Heath, aged 82, a Kentish Town furniture dealer and Mrs Rosetta Judge, a 77 year old widow from Nettlebed….. Two years ago Mr Heath lost his wife and he went to Nettlebed in the fulfilment of a vow made to his sweetheart that if ever he were free he would return to Nettlebed and ask her to become his wife. Mr Heath carried out his promise and at Nettlebed found his love of yester-years a widow and to her he proposed and was accepted….. Mr and Mrs Heath will reside at Nettlebed,and all lovers of romance will wish them many happy years of comradeship together.

FEB 10TH 1933

It is with the deepest regret that we announce the death of the most dearly loved and revered lady of the village (Miss Louisa Harriet Champion), which took place peacefully at her home, Nettlebed House, in the early hours of Wednesday last Feb 8th. Miss Champion attained the venerable age of 91 years on the 12th of last month, and in spite of her confinement to her bed for the last four and a half years of her life, her brain remained remarkably active, and she maintained the keenest enthusiasm in her many sources of interest, until almost the very last.A most lovable disposition, and a charming personality of whom a whole column might be written, this good lady had without exception, endeared herself to the hearts of everyone, not only in the immediate vicinity of Nettlebed, but for a very considerable radius outside the village. Her innumerable activities in the interests of the welfare of the village, many of which were unknown except to her more intimate friends, will be tremendously missed, and thoroughly impossible to replace.

May 1932

Most of us gladly bade farewell to April with it’s fickle reputation, and welcomed the glorious sunshine and an upward jump in the temperature which heralded the arrival of May. Garlands have, perhaps, gone out of fashion, but many of our readers will remember the time when every May Day the village children would be up very early singing a song at our doors,and holding aloft a gay garland, all dressed with flowers and ribbons and grasses. Then there would be the picturesque assembly of lads and lassies on the lawn at Nettlebed House for the ceremonious crowning of the May Queen and the merry voices as they danced the round of the time-honoured May-Pole. It is a pity when these old and pleasant country customs die out, and in Nettlebed there exists a cherished appreciation of Miss Champion, who, in her more active days, did so much to encourage the proper observance of May Day.

FEB 26TH 1932

An incident worthy of the most discerning reporters notebook occurred at Nettlebed during the recent severe frosts when all the pond’s in the vicinity were coated with ice. “Wombourne”, considered to be one of the deepest ponds round about, looked particularly tempting to the would-be skater or slider and it was here that a fatality might have occurred had it not been for the presence of mind of Leslie Godwin, aged 8. He had the terrifying experience of seeing one of his school companions, Willie Leverett, aged 7, who had ventured almost to the middle of the pond, suddenly fall through the ice. Without a moment’s hesitation Leslie went to his assistance at the risk of himself falling victim and succeeded in reaching and holding on to his companion until his shouts for help attracted the attention of the boy’s elder brother Freddie Leverett, aged 10, who assisted in the final rescue scene in this juvenile drama. “Were’nt you afraid that the ice would have let you through too” said our representative, in the course of a chat with Leslie. “Well,I could’nt leave Willie there, could I?”, he calmly replied.

SEPT 29TH 1922

Sir, I observe in the “Standard” a letter has been sent to the Rural District Council by the Parish Council of Nettlebed complaining of the untidy state of the common caused by the deposit of rubbish and asking the council what was best to be done. On behalf of the Lord of the Manor I would say that for some years past one of the old parishioners and, for most part of this summer, two, with other help, have been employed and paid the maximum rate allowed with the old age pension to try to keep the common tidy by collecting tins, waste paper and other refuse, also cutting thistles, nettles and keeping the main paths clear of undergrowth and other necessary matters. Considerable difficulty has been experienced in coping with the unsightly rubbish. Not only do the visitors who picnic on Sundays and other days from the surrounding towns leave their rubbish behind them after enjoying the amenities of Nettlebed Common, but the inhabitants of Nettlebed deposit their refuse in holes and disused clay pits, behind fern and scrub and in other places not authorised. It would greatly assist if the residents would deposit rubbish only in the pit set aside for this purpose. It is further noticed that clay and chalk deposits are being made in the rubbish pit from private property which, if avoided by the contractor, would enable the pit to be used for some considerable time longer. It appears necessary that some publicity should be given to this matter regarding Nettlebed Common and if necessary the Bye Laws under the act of 1906 be put into force. Yours Truly. A JOHNSTONE, Agent for Robert Fleming .Esq.

FEB 3RD 1922

An inquest was held at the Nags Head public house,Nettlebed, on Monday by Mr J F Cooper, Coroner for South Oxfordshire, touching the death of Mrs Catherine Mary Saunders, wife of Mr Fred Saunders, licensee of the Nags Head. Mr A Brown was chosen foreman of the jury. Fred Saunders deposed that he was the landlord of the Nags Head. He identified the body of of the deceased as that of his late wife. She was 69 years of age or thereabouts. He saw her on Sunday morning about 8 o’clock when she bought him up a cup of tea. That was the last time that he saw her alive. Edward Hedgecock stated that he was a labourer and resided next door to the Nags Head. About 10.30 on Sunday morning his wife called him and he found Mrs Saunders down in the tank. He immediately fetched P S Merritt and ran for the doctor. Police Sergeant Merritt, stationed at Nettlebed, said that about 10.30 on Sunday morning the previous witness called him. He obtained assistance and got the body out of the tank where it was lying face downwards. Deceased was fully dressed, there were no signs of life. Dr J M Pooley deposed that he arrived at about 12.45 and found Mrs Saunders quite dead. There was a slight bruise by the right ear. She appeared to have been dead at least two hours. There was every symptom of drowning. The jury returned a verdict that deceased was found drowned in a tank at Nettlebed, but there was no evidence to show how she got ther

FEB 21ST 1920  
The village will learn with regret that the vicar – the Rev Phillip Armitage M.A – has felt obliged to resign the living that he has held since 1908 owing to the serious injuries which he sustained in a motor accident last November. His ministrations at the services of the church have been and will be missed by many. His active co-operation in the work of the parish council schools, the local court of foresters as well as in the cricket club and other local sports will be difficult to replace. Mr Armitage represents the village on the board of guardians and the rural district council and some of his friends put his name forward as a candidate for the county council at the recent by-election. He served on various local emergency committees established during the war and the residents of Nettlebed were much indebted to him for the arrangements made by him by which the village was supplied with coal during it’s great shortage. Those who have turned to Mr Armitage in trouble have always found him sympathetic and helpful and the many who have learnt to value his fair judgement, his breadth of view and shrewd common sense will welcome the news that, though not as vicar, Mr Armitage will continue to live in Nettlebed. The present vicarage will be his private residence and “Fairlawn” – the house opposite the church – will be the future vicarage. When Mr Armitage came to the village eleven years ago,the vicars stipend was well under £2 a week but by his exchange of houses and by other means he has considerably added to its value. The living is now in the gift of the Church Patronage Trust.

MARCH 7TH 1919

It is with regret we have to record the passing away of the village postmistress (Mrs Clarke), who had held the appointment for upwards of 30 years. The deceased, who had been in failing health for some time, was at her post on Saturday morning February 22nd and the following Monday had passed away. The office is rather an important one for the district, being a money order office, Telegraph and Telephone Exchange, and is o most strenuous appointment for one to hold. The Telegraph and Telephone were added to the deceased’s duties during her time of office and the War greatly added to her work. She has paid out thousands of pounds to the dependants of men of the forces for the surrounding district. The deceased was laid to rest in the parish churchyard on Saturday afternoon, a great many people attending to pay their last token of respect to one who had filled her post with ability to the last. The deceased was laid to rest by the side of her mother and father.

Nettlebed has lost another old inhabitant in the person of Mr William Bosley who died last week at the advanced age of 86 years. For many years he carried on the business of harness maker and saddler. The deceased was laid to rest in the village churchyard on Wednesday last,The Rev P. Armitage officiating.

DEC 20TH 1918

It is with great regret that we have to record the death of Miss A M Champion which took place on Tuesday morning after a brief illness. Her death will be greatly felt by all who knew her, especially those in the village in whose welfare she took such a keen interest (the children in particular) as she carried on the work of Sunday School, scripture union and Band of Hope and she was also keenly interested in all church work. She was very energetic in raising funds for The Birds Nest and Church Missionary Society and other Missions, being also a great war worker, holding weekly sewing classes where garments were made and sent to various hospitals and holding concerts on behalf of Red Cross funds. Miss Champion was also the founder of the local Reading Room which she has kept going for over twenty five years and where many pleasant evenings have been spent The horticultural show was inaugurated through her thoughtfulness and she acted as its treasurer with her well known energy. The street lamps were also provided and have been kept going for nearly 30 years by a fund on behalf of which Miss Champion frequently arranged concerts etc. The sympathy of the village goes put to her sister ( Miss L H Champion) in the loss that has severed the unity of the two who have devoted the greater part of their lives for others. The funeral takes place at The Parish Church at 2 o’clock today Friday.

NOV 22ND 1918

This week we have to record the death of an old inhabitant Mr Wm Appleby who for many years resided in the High Street and carried on the business of boot and shoe maker. He took great interest in village affairs and was returned at one time head of the Parish Council. He was Constable for some time before a resident Policeman was stationed in the village. In politics he was a keen liberal and he took great interest in the common rights attending most of the meetings even after he had left Nettlebed. His wife predeceased him many years since but they celebrated together their fiftieth wedding anniversary and, at the age of 87, he has passed away much respected by all who knew him, leaving three daughters and four sons to mourn his loss./

JULY 13TH 1917

Early on Wednesday morning a fire occured in the High Street when the sheds at the back of Miss Lamb’s sweet and fancy goods shop were burnt, only the walls being left standing. A quantity of coal and wood were destroyed with about £3 worth of under linen which had been left to dry. The origin of the outbreak cannot be traced and unfotunately the tenant was not insured.

SEPT 15TH 1916

Much regret has been occasioned in the village by the death recently of one of its oldest inhabitants namely, Adam Sarney, who passed away in his 77th year. He had a stroke some few years ago and has been more or less of an invalid since, though it was only recently that he has had to keep to his bed. He had been a widower for many years and he leaves a daughter and several sons to mourn his loss. For close on fifty years the deceased was one of the church bellringers and generally took the lead in the hand bellringing, now a thing of the past. The funeral took place in the presence of a large number of mourners and the many beautiful wreaths included one from the Misses A and J Baumgartner who frequently visited the deceased in his declining years and took considerable interest in his welfare.

APRIL 12th 1912

Nettlebed Windmill Burnt Down. Nettlebed windmill which for over eighty years has enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most famous landmarks in the midland counties is no more. It was burnt to the ground on Good Friday Night and it’s destruction has occasioned widespread regret. Originally erected near Watlington 82 years ago, the famous old windmill was removed and re-erected on Nettlebed Common. It was a notable landmark for miles around and could be seen, it is said, as far away as Brighton and Southampton. Occupying as it did the highest point on the Chiltern Hills, magnificent views were to be obtained from it’s summit, Windsor Castle being visible, whilst the old attendant at the mill was fond of pointing out the Crystal Palace and Devils Dyke at Brighton. The mill had not been used for it’s original purpose, that of grinding corn, for some years, but there can be no doubt that the old keeper found it a profitable business in collecting sixpences of the many visitors who risked their lives in making the difficult ascent to the summit. Nettlebed is famous for it’s health giving air and it’s magnificent scenery, and the old windmill enjoyed a veneration from hundreds of admirers which it is doubtful it would have had had it been situated elsewhere. On Sunday and Monday hundreds of people visited the spot on which the windmill stood, and bit’s of charred timber and nuts and bolts and nails were carried away by visitors as mementos of this famous old windmill. Mr Asquith, who was spending the weekend in the neighbourhood, motored over and inspected the ruins on Sunday.

NOV 24TH 1911
(fake news has a long history! – website Editor)

Last week we published a reprint from a contemporary stating that that famous old landmark on the Chiltern Hills, Nettlebed Windmill, was shortly to be pulled down and an interesting account of the erection of the mill was given. The Nettlebed correspondent of “The Henley Standard” writes “The demolition of the dear old windmill appears to have been going the round of many local and weekly papers and therefore the earliest opportunity has been taken to ascertain the truth from headquarters. The result of enquiries proves that stories of demolition are entirely without foundation whatever. Of course, Nettlebed windmill cannot last forever. It has borne the brunt of many storms and the sail cloth has had to be removed and the sails fastened to avoid injury, but as a landmark everyone in the neighbourhood would be grieved, indeed, to see it removed and it is hoped that many pleasant hours may yet be spent in the breezy air of Nettlebed overshadowed by the sails of the dear old windmill. Even at Brighton on the buses one may read the following announcement “To the Dyke for a view of Nettlebed Windmill”. (We are sure readers will be obliged to our Nettlebed correspondent for ascertaining that the rumoured demolition of Nettlebed Windmill is incorrect. It would not seem like Nettlebed without the windmill and it is one of those famous old landmarks which everyone would be grieved to see removed ).

NOV 17TH 1911

The Old Windmill. Writing to a contemporary, Mr S Adey Gutridge of Caversham says – It was with mingled feelings that I read the announcement of the demolition of the old windmill on Nettlebed Hill. It is nearly ninety years since my father placed it there and set it to work Perhaps some of your readers will be interested to know that it formerly occupied another position. When first built it occupied a site a little below Watlington but the owner found that it was situated too low to catch sufficient wind to keep it working. He then conceived the idea of moving it to Nettlebed and for this purpose engaged my father to carry out the work, he being then a single young man in business as a millwright at Wallingford. All machinery etc being removed,the trunk was placed upon two timber carriages drawn by 16 horses. The journey up Nettlebed Hill was done with great difficulty and on arriving at the top both timber carriages broke down. The mill rolled over and over and stopped just at the place where they wanted to fix it. This was done somewhere about the year 1823 or 1824.

MAY 21ST 1909

The Rev H.A Baumgartner, a former vicar of Nettlebed for 27 years, died at his residence, Elm House, Northfield End, Henley, on Tuesday at the advanced age of 88 years. He enjoyed good health until February of this year when he had an illness which shook his constitution. An affection of the heart resulted and the end came more suddenly than most of his friends expected. The deceased was only confined to his bed a fortnight. The announcement of his death was received with regret in Henley and District, particularly at Nettlebed, where the church bells tolled the knell. It is only a few months since the Rev Baumgartner came to live in Henley. He resigned the vicariate of Nettlebed after 60 years of clerical labour and when he announced his resignation of the living of Nettlebed in October last year a deputation consisting of the churchwardens (Messrs A Brown and C.S Phillips), and Mr C Saunders (sidesman) waited on him and presented him with a piece of silver plate (salver) and a handsome illuminated address with a list of subscribers. The presentation was made on behalf of the parishioners of Nettlebed,and it was one of the most prized possessions of the deceased. The late vicar survived his wife about two and a half years. The Rev Baumgartner, who was born on October 25th 1821, was educated at Rugby School under Dr Arnold 1834-40. He went to Caius College Cambridge in 1840. He was a scholar of the college and captain of the Caius boat when it was head of the river and in the Cambridge University crew in the years 1843-44. He took his B.A degree in 1844 and M.A in 1847, the year when the Prince Consort was Chancellor of the University. He was ordained Deacon in 1845 and Priest in 1846,and made the Curate of Langport in Somerset the same year. He was at Hurworth, Durham in 1847-49, and was presented by the Bishop of Durham in 1849 to the living of Coniscliffe, Co Durham in 1849 where he remained until the year 1858 when he moved to the south of England and took the living of Emmanuel, Camberwell. In the year 1864 he was vicar of the parish of St Paul’s Worcester and in 1868 Vicar of Mevagissey, Cornwall. Since 1881 Vicar of Nettlebed,and his retirement took place last October. The Funeral takes place at Nettlebed Church this afternoon at 2.30 and the ceremony is to be performed by the Rev C.A.K Irwin (Rector of Swyncombe).

AUGUST 19th 1904

Quite a sensation was caused on Sunday evening in the quiet little village of Nuffield. About 6.45 a man named Harry Pearce aged 55 years entered The Crown Hotel and seated himself on the settle in the old fashioned kitchen. He had been there barely a quarter of an hour when he leaned forward and without uttering a sound, expired.  Deceased was a noted character, and was well known in Watlington and surrounding villages. For many years, some considerable time ago, he was a coachman at Soundess House. Well known for various traits in his character, he achieved quite a reputation some years ago by going round on the sails of the old Nettlebed Windmill. He performed this dangerous and foolhardy feat for a wager,and it is stated by one who saw him make his perilous journey that he was tied head downwards on the sails, so that when he reached the top he was in an upright position. Prior to his death he had not made the slightest complaint that he felt ill and his end was as stated, “death from syncope”, tragically sudden.

JULY 4TH 1902

Coronation week, so long and so eagerly looked forward to by every subject in the British Empire, has come and gone and the great event, the Crowning of our King Edward V11 on the Coronation day, June 26th, has been frustrated. Our Sovereign, only 48 hours before the solemn ceremony so long arranged, was laid low by great and serious illness. Should this not teach all the solemn thought that our ways are not God’s ways, “Man Proposes, God Disposes”. At Nettlebed all festivities were abandoned but on the 27th a holiday was given to the children and a few subscribed to give them a tea so they should not be disappointed at not having their promised treat. On Friday evening Mr Gardiner gave his work people a supper at “The Bull” after which they wended their way to Windmill Hill in anticipation of the bonfire being lighted. An opposition wished it otherwise and it was finally left until Saturday the 28th. The fire was built by Mr Silver, the miller, but lack of funds kept it very small and it did not seem to show up as well as usual, being on a fresh site. On Monday the beacons were generally lighted About thirty could be seen from Nettlebed, only a few being of any size. A small company only were assembled to see them.

On Saturday a balloon travelled rapidly over Nettlebed. The name of the balloon was “The Daily Graphic” and it contained two ladies and two gentlemen. It came so low over Crocker End Green that the ropes could almost be touched and it seemed almost to rest on the trees in other places.

APRIL 25TH 1902

Death Of Old Inhabitants. During the last few days three old inhabitants of Nettlebed have been called home, viz. Thomas Godwin, Henry Bennett and Mrs Standish, the latter having been a great and suffering invalid for many years, not able to move from her bed.

Primrose Day. A sale of primroses was made by Miss Annie Champion in aid of the widows and orphans of soldiers and sailors. Several persons kindly gave primroses to her to sell and as a result Miss Champion was able to send up 12s.6d to the fund after paying all expenses.

Nettlebed is looking lovely and visitors are making the most of the Easter holidays. The beech are fast opening and the air is now most invigorating.


An informal meeting was called by Miss Anne Champion and held at Nettlebed House to discuss the street lamps. Owing to the constant complaints of damage said to be done at the school by the entertainments and the very bad behaviour of many attending the same, Miss Champion, who for many years has had entire control of the lamps, had decided to hand them over to the parish council. The meeting consisted of the original committee, Messrs Bird, Holly, Ward, Butler and Phillips. The two former advised the giving up of the lamps and the three latter begged Miss Champion to continue to manage them as she had done, for another year. This Miss Champion, after due consideration consented to do so on the understanding that that the ratepayers assist her at the entertainments by their presence and checking anything likely to cause annoyance or destruction to school property, both inside the school and out .


The news of the relief of Mafeking was received with great rejoicing here. The bells pealed merrily and flags were to be seen flying from every prominent point, the village being especially gay with small flags hung from side to side, reminding one of the scene at the jubilee celebrations. The inhabitants were also pleased to welcome back its native, a defender of Ladysmith, F Piercy, a trooper of the 18th Hussars, who has been invalided home bearing traces of the hardships endured during the memorable siege.

MARCH 9TH 1900

The news of the relief of Ladysmith was received at Nettlebed at an early hour on March 1st and as soon as possible all available flags were hoisted. By 11.30 the church bells were ringing a joyous peal and continued at intervals throughout the day.

FEB 9TH 1900

Mr T Foster Knowles entertained 30 beaters and friends to a supper at the Bull Hotel last Tuesday night. The host Mr Woodward, had provided a sumptuous meal, to which ample justice was done. After the cloth was removed Mr Pollock, the Chairman, proposed the following toasts which were all heartily responded to :- ” The Queen, Prince and Princess of Wales and the rest of the Royal Family”, “Mr T Foster Knowles”, ” Mr Gardiner, the Lord of The Manor”, “Mr John Hill, Head Game Keeper”, Mr Hill senior proposed the health of Mr Pollock who replied in appropriate terms. Songs were rendered by the following:- Messrs Castle, Fendick, Champ, Gifford, Bennett and Sarney. Mr Pollock thanked the landlord for the excellent manner in which he catered for them and Mr Woodward acknowledged the compliment in suitable terms. The National Anthem having been sung the party broke up after spending a most enjoyable evening.


On Tuesday the employees of Mrs Havers with their wives and children started from Joyce Grove in two pair horse brakes, heir destination being Henley, for a trip on the river, kindly given by Mrs Havers who accompanied the party. Henley was reached at ten o’clock and all started in the”Helen” which got as far as Pangbourne when the return journey was began. Substantial luncheon and tea were partook of on board and most thoroughly enjoyed by all. Except for slight showers the weather was all that could be desired. Henley was reached at 6pm after a most pleasant day, the only regret being that Nettlebed is soon to lose so kind a friend and supporter as Mrs Havers.

MARCH 15TH 1895

A pretty little wedding took place at St Bartholomew’s Church on Tuesday March 5th. The bride was the daughter of Mr Edwin Lamb of the White Hart Nettlebed and the bridegroom Mr Reed of Gateshead On Tyne. The bride was suitably dressed in brown velveteen and carried a bouquet of tulips. She was given away by her uncle, Mr Clark of Reading. Miss Lamb’s four sisters acted as bridesmaids and were attired in blue dresses with jackets to match. Some useful presents were given by friends in the village and from the North.
On Monday last another little wedding took place of an elderly couple fast approaching the age of three score years and ten (a widow and a widower), Mrs Willis and Mr Treadwell. A merry peal of bells were rung in honour of the ceremony.

DEC 7TH 1894

New experiences are often unpleasant,but the present instance was a pleasant exception.The writer was staying with friends at Nettlebed during the past week,and was fortunate enough to witness a novel and interesting experiment. Under the auspices of the Oxfordshire County Council a series of practical lessons in laundry work were held in this village. The classes were given in the kitchens of Nettlebed House, the picturesque residence of Miss Champion. There the rustic maidens were taught the mysteries of how to wash, starch and glaze, under the watchful eye and skillful guidance of Miss Willett, from The Liverpool Technical College. They consisted of ten lessons, three being demonstrations and seven practical. A goodly number attended and, to heighten their interest and stimulate their zeal, the last lessons took the form of a competition for prizes kindly given by that enterprising firm of soap makers, Messrs Lever Bros of Birkenhead. The objects for competition were a pair of cuffs, one collar, front, serviette and underlinen. The judging took place in the dining room at Nettlebed House and the judges were a bevy of local ladies. The first prize, a set of handsome carvers in case, was won by Mrs Weller. The work was most beautifully turned out and did great credit to pupils and teacher alike.The scene on the competition night was extremely interesting and there is no doubt that this furthering of good sound instruction amongst the poorer classes cannot fail to bear good fruit. In the future no doubt the men and women of Nettlebed will be known far and wide by the snowy whiteness and exceeding stiffness of their cuffs, collars and shirts.

MAY 25TH 1894

Nettlebed is now looking lovely in its coat of green and the hedges clustering with May Blossom almost look like snow in the distance. The lodging houses are looking their very best and now that the telegraph has appeared in the village and daily papers can be had in the Reading Room besides an ample library, it is hoped that visitors will soon avail themselves of the many charms of the neighbourhood and come when the days are longest and the birds sing all the time from “early morn to dewy eve”.

On Saturday a tea was given by Miss A.M Champion in the Reading Room to the aged men of the village, which was followed by a short address from Mr Johnson who is so well known in connection with the Evangelization Society and has now been for a second time holding a series of services in a large tent in a meadow kindly lent by Mr Lamb. The old men finished their evening with a smoke and ginger ale and some of them gave some very useful songs. The parish chair, which has proved so useful in the village, fetching and taking home those unable to walk.


Many of our readers will regret to hear of the death last week almost suddenly of Tom Jarvis the mid-day Nettlebed postman. He had been ailing for several days but did not like going off duty but was at last compelled to do so by increasing illness. This, which commenced with a chill, turned to inflammation of the brain and he succumbed on Sunday after four days illness. He was married and leaves a widow and four children.


A letter to the editor….With your kind permission, I beg to draw attention to the unsatisfactory state of the ponds at Nettlebed, particularly to the pond called ‘Stradfield’, where the inhabitants of Watlington Street derive their water for drinking purposes as they have no wells or tanks. This pond was fenced in some years ago but the fence has got so bad that the cattle stray in and fill the pond with their droppings. I went on Saturday to get a turn of water. I turned out a couple of cows that were standing in the water. I think that this has had a great deal to do with the illness that has been so bad of late. Now Sir, with a little expense this might be remedied by having them cleaned out and a new fence put round them. We have concerts for lighting the streets and the formation of a band, but nothing is done as regards the water. I hope that something will be done soon.

JAN 13TH 1893

Sunday School Treat. On Thursday Jan 5th all the children attending the Sunday School, numbering about 130, were, by the kindness of the vicar, supplied with an ample tea in the schoolroom at four o’clock. The children first amused themselves with games in the playground. “Here we go gathering nut’s and may, on a cold and frosty morning” being particularly appropriate in such wintry weather. Owing to the prevalence of Scarlet Fever in Nettlebed in the summer, the Sunday school children had not had their usual treat but apparently enjoyed themselves all the more for having to wait for it for so long. Amongst those who kindly helped to amuse the children were Miss Baumgartner, Miss Champion, Mrs Childs, Miss Bosley and Miss Wright. Mr M Childs kindly provided a box of sweetmeats to be scrambled for.


On Saturday last Feb 6th, by the kind invitation of Mrs Havers of Joyce Grove, all the men and boys who work on the different farms over which she rents the right of shooting were entertained by her to a dinner at The Bull Hotel where a most sumptuous repast was provided by the worthy landlord. The cloth having been removed, Mr Gilbert, the head keeper proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Mrs Havers and family for their great kindness. They had, he said, besides providing them with such an excellent dinner, also sent up for each man half-a-sovereign and for each boy half-a-crown. They all felt the great loss they had received by the lamented death of Mr Havers which had taken place since their last meeting and they heartily sympathised with Mrs Havers and family in their bereavement. He must thank them all for not interfering at all with the game on any part of the estate and trusted they would all meet together again on many similar occasions. Three good old English cheers were given for Mrs Havers and family which were repeated again for Mr Tanner. Some capital songs were then indulged in until time to depart, all having thoroughly enjoyed themselves and expressing the hope that their kind Donor may live for many years amongst them.


Alfred Saunders, a baker of Nettlebed, who was fined last sessions (Watlington Petty Sessions) for an assault which he described as “a pat on the head” on a boy named Richardson, was again summoned for an assault on the boy’s mother, Anna Richardson, on the same day, the 20th of June last. Anna Richardson was summoned for an assault on Saunders at the same time. The case against the woman was first heard and then that against Saunders. During the hearing some confusion occurred, Saunders being deaf, Richardson being garrulous and a witness called by Saunders, and described by Richardson as “a lunatic kept by the parish”, somewhat dense. The bench dismissed both summonses, each party to pay their own costs of 9/6 each and advised them to give up “petty wrangling and live as good neighbours”.


Nettlebed has sustained a very heavy loss in the somewhat sudden death of Mr J C Havers of Joyce Grove which took place on Sunday the 14th. Though it is little more the three years since he came to reside in Nettlebed, he has endeared himself to everyone in the parish by his kindly thoughtfulness and generous liberality. In every case of poverty or distress, not only in Nettlebed but in other parishes as well, he was ever ready to come forward with a large hearted liberality which has had no equal in the neighbourhood. His loss will be most keenly felt by every class in Nettlebed for everyone, from highest to lowest, has in some way benefitted by his kind and genial presence among them. In him the church at Nettlebed loses a staunch supporter. He was Churchwarden and always took a lively interest in everything connected with church affairs. Sincere sympathy will be felt for his family in their sad bereavement and the poor especially will feel that they have lost a true friend.


On Saturday Oct 1st a silver salver was presented to George Norsworthy Esq by the inhabitants of Nettlebed as a token of their esteem and regret at his giving up his residence at Joyce Grove, in that parish, where for ten years as squire his liberality and goodness have been much felt and appreciated. The presentation took place at the vicarage. The salver, a very tasteful one with appropriate inscription, was supplied by Messrs Elkington of Regent Street.


While I rehearse my plaintive song, and tell my grievance o’er, your kind attention I do crave, and sympathy implore
Long have I been your servant here, E’en upwards from my youth, in words and actions I have strived, to ever speak the truth
Sometimes I may have been too fast, and sometimes been too slow, like mankind, not perfection quite, as all might doubtless know
In bygone years when I was young, and in my youthful prime, my face looked cheerful and would tell, with truthful tones the time
Then looked down on passers by, from my exalted place, nor feared to let my voice be heard, nor yet to show my face
But ah!,i feel quite different now, my voice is seldom heard, my duty I can scarce perform, my features look absurd
Then listen to my humble cry, grant, grant me my request; and I will be your servant still, and do for you my best
My face has lost it’s youthful tinge, as with an old complaint, but still,methinks ‘twould younger look, with just a touch of paint
My hands have lost their beauty, but, (if i may be so bold), it would improve them, if they had,a pair of gloves – of gold
My figure(s) would be much improved, if nicely gilded over,  and I should look as smiling as, in youthful days of yore
Yet superficial work alone, oft causes empty pride, I do not wish for outward show, while all is wrong inside
My actions are spasmodic now, from either age or damp, my joints seem stiff and hard to move, as with the gout or cramp
But, these sad ailments may be cured, I seem to have a notion, by those who understand my case, applying oil or lotion
Then why should I stand idle here, for want of such a dressing, a few pounds spent on me might prove, a public boon and blessing
I’m not ambitious to look gay, or for apparent beauty, but wish to fill my lofty post, as one who does his duty
And should you grant me my request, couched in this simple rhyme, all kindness you bestow on me, I will pay back in time
Un Petit Oiseau, Nettlebed 


A fire broke out at the house of Mrs Thompson of The Potteries about 11 o’clock on Wednesday night by which nearly the whole house was destroyed. The Henley Volunteer Fire Brigade was sent for, the messenger arriving at Henley at about 12 o’clock. After the usual delay, caused by the difficulty in procuring horses, Deputy Captain Crouch and ten firemen proceeded to the scene of action. The limited supply of water caused some delay but eventually a good supply was procured from a large pond in the neighbourhood. The efforts of the brigade were serviceable in saving a portion of the house and the adjoining premises. We are sorry to report quite a long list of casualties to the members of the brigade. Fireman Spring had a very narrow escape from death by suffocation. He was on duty with the branch in a narrow passage when a falling of a ceiling caused such a rush of smoke, hot air and debris, that he was completely overcome and fell down insensible. Had it not been the precaution had been taken of attaching a lifeline to his belt, by which he was drawn out, he must have perished. He was conveyed to The Red Lion Inn and after receiving medical treatment was with much difficulty restored to consciousness. Mr crouch, after assisting Spring, met with a bad fall, severely spraining both wrists, from which we fear he will not recover for some time to come. Pioneers Clinch and Adams also received minor injuries, the former severed an artery which, but for the prompt attention of a medical man, might have proved very serious.


School Treat At Nettlebed. On Wednesday in last week, through the liberality of Mr G Norsworthy Esq and Mrs Norsworthy of Joyce Grove,  the whole of the children belonging to the Board School, also the Sunday School, numbering about one hundred and fifty, were entertained in the schoolroom at one o’clock with a thorough good and substantial dinner consisting of the old English fare of roast beef and plum pudding which was fully enjoyed and appreciated by all. After the ladies and gentlemen had also partaken of dinner G Norsworthy Esq, who is chairman of the school board, after giving a most able address and good advice to the children, proceeded to distribute some very handsome prizes of books,&c given by Mr and Mrs Norsworthy and the school board for good conduct and regular attendance. At the conclusion the vicar proposed a vote of thanks to Mr and Mrs Norsworthy which the children most heartily received with the loudest cheers. There being a quantity of provisions remaining Mr Norswothy kindly distributed amongst eighteen of the poor of the parish.


A sad accident occurred at Nettlebed on Friday at noon to two men, William Bayliss and Thomas Maynard and a boy of 13 named George Harwood, all of whom are in the employ of Mrs Thompson. While busily engaged at Priest Hill in digging a pit,a large quantity of loam fell in on them from above, completely covering them, so that the head of Bayliss had to be groped after. John Shurey, who was a work in a hedge near, went immediately to their rescue. Others coming up to the spot, they were extricated as speedily as possible. Bayliss was found to be very badly bruised in several parts,while the lad Harwood was much hurt in the legs. They were conveyed to their homes,and are now slowly recovering from the shock.

Professor Dight exhibited his feats of legerdemain and sleight of hand to the children on Wednesday evening in the schoolroom. The insolent behaviour of some low fellows, particularly of one individual at the beginning, marred the proceedings which otherwise greatly amused and delighted the young audience.


Presentation to Police Constable Tarry at Nettlebed. A valuable timepiece has been presented to Police Constable Tarry by the inhabitants of Nettlebed and Neighbourhood in recognition of his efficient services in maintaining order and as an expression of sympathy and some compensation for the assault made upon him while in the execution of his duty by notorious poachers some time since and to show the abhorrence in which such acts are held by all law abiding people.

The first of a series of Band Of Hope meetings was held in the schoolroom on Wednesday evening when recitations and interesting addresses were given by several friends,and the meeting was a complete success


Christmas Party at Nettlebed. On wednesday evening last all the men employed by the firm of Messrs Holly & Butler, builders &c, were regaled with a hearty supper of good old English fare supplied by Mrs Giles at The Bull Inn. The men having done ample justice to the good things provided for them, and drinking the health of Messrs Holly & Butler and G Norseworthy Esq (who kindly contributed to the expense), spent the evening in a very jovial manner. The men giving some excellent songs and appropriate toasts. Every one seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.


Nettlebed Church Opening.  On the 13th inst, the renewed and beautiful chancel of this church was opened by the incumbent, The Rev and Hon H Bligh, in the presence of The Bishop of Oxford and a great many clergy of the diocese. Most of the neighbouring families attended and seemed glad to follow the suggestions of the excellent sermon, preached by the Bishop,       who gave the congregation to understand that a considerable sum of money was still required to liquidate the bills. It had been a chief care of Mr Bligh that his poor parishioners should be relieved of all expenses attending this fair creation of his own mind – and very fair it is. The architecture is chaste and simple and this has now been adorned by painting and a charming alabaster Reredos of Ventian mosaic on which are the monograms I.H.S.and K.R.I with A.O – Alpha and Omega – or Jesus Christ, the Beginning and the End. These are exquisitely done and very possibly may not be fully understood without explanation. A new organ added it’s harmony to the well conducted service and Nettlebed has seldom, if ever, witnessed so large a congregation. About two o’clock a tent was opened in the vicarage ground and a magnificent collation was well attended. The Bishop’s very good health was given with all the honours and his Lordship returned thanks, reciprocating the compliment and so, with a few more of the usual toasts given on such occasions, the gay party separated, not only delighted with the exceedingly well conducted ceremony, but pleased with the lovely day which was more appreciated in consequence of the coldness and dullness of the previous season.

Collected by Norman Topsom, Henley 2017-18