Thursday, 15 November 2018
Searching Finchingfield for the Dead...
Cruel people might imply searching in 'The most beautiful village in England' would soon come across several dead people, I sadly only found one I was looking for. The village, plus the neighbouring 'Cornish Hall End' contain around 1500 people, so it is not for fast living people. There are however three pubs, two tea shops and a duck pond with a medieval bridge across it.
I however was in the village partly to get out of town and see something different and partly to find the graves of three dead men. It keeps me off the streets you see.
Getting of the hourly bus, only two on the service, one each way, the usual type of drivers, one decent the other a bit miserable, but a forty minute drive through the countryside was what I wanted even if the bus windows had not been cleaned since August.
On arrival I quickly found the one time United Reformed Church with graveyard attached. Being quite small it did not take a lot of searching and soon I found my first man. Horace joined the Essex Yeomanry, the Territorial Cavalry in 1913, many farm hands experienced with horses did so, and served through four years of war. Clearly he had been wounded as by 1918 he was with a Labour Company in East Anglia and rather unfortunately was caught by the Flu pandemic and died in Norwich hospital. It is quite an experience to stand by the grave of someone you now know where as before he was just a name on a list.
The advantage of the small country village is the countryside, here at the back of the cemetery I could see in the distance a Woodpecker attempting rather bemusedly to head bang a telegraph pole. It could be he was eating insects from the crack in the wood but he appeared a bit confused from a distance.
I noticed the nearby villages also had these large Poppies adorning various posts. This appeared a good idea to me but made me wonder if they will appear next year when no special remembrance is forthcoming. The houses you will notice in the middle of the village go back several hundred years, most of these are now commercial premises and in summer the front is lined up with motorbikes of all descriptions. The winding hilly roads around here are great for bikers but not for cyclists.
One of the museum girls was here at the remembrance on Sunday as one of her sons is a member of the kids groups who were attending. I am not sure hew as to aware of what was going on or keen to be there myself. However the traffic stopped and the ceremony went ahead and then they trooped up to the church up the steep hill for a service. The traffic did not stop for me.
You may guess that the red brick building now goes by the name 'Old School House' and in my mind is quite large for a village of the size even if Victorian families had large numbers of children. They did however come in from the farms and area round about I suppose. Next door is what was the United Reformed Church and is now some kind of health centre whatever that means. The huge tree almost covering the front door is behind a garden wall. Did the build the wall after the church? Or was it some rude Anglican deliberately attempting to hinder entrance to the Reformed building? I suppose we will never know.
The village parish council or whoever was in charge has done well for themselves this weekend, here we see one of those invisible soldiers and several large poppies floating in the pond, a pond all the fallen will have been well acquainted with. I suspect many lived in the houses just to the right out of shot but I have not got time to search the census to confirm this, and that does not always make identifying individual houses easy.
Lovers of 18th century post mills will love this one dominating the skyline. It no longer operates but must have produced a vast amount of flour from the farms around. Where did it all go?
The view towards the 'Fox Inn' right in the village centre and up towards the Old School House then across the village green indicates the reason people consider the village 'pretty.' It also reveals something of how small the place was in the past, even though it has been here since medieval times and even had a Roman Villa close by, the farming is good obviously. No wonder almost all those on the war memorial were farm hands. As the roads going out have a short run of aged buildings also it does provide an excellent place to stop when the sun is out.
Wandering about the damp grass of a churchyard built on a hill is not a great deal of fun I can tell you. Slippery grass and slopes do not make me smile, not when I go flying on them anyway. The fruitless search for two white war grave stone was a waste of time, they did not exist, I am now aware that they lie in private graves. Having been a clever boy and left behind the details of the men I was searching for I could only guess at the names and therefore did not find them. One moss covered stone did however indicate a name not found on the war memorial. Many people for a wide variety of reasons did not put their names on memorials, I will have to investigate this tomorrow.
My hour in the sun was coming to a close as what the BBC Weather man claimed was 'Light Cloud' was beginning to cover the sun. The door being unlocked I entered the somewhat gloomy church to browse.
The gloom was broken by these invisible men sitting there. I am told the preacher mentioned a simple fact that spoke to many, the men who died 'probably came to this church, christened, attended, sat where you sit.' For many that brought home the reality of the men who fell.
The effort put on by the village never ends! I cannot imagine what this place will be like when Christmas or Easter arrives! Is such an event only possible because the place is small and all know one another, all who make he effort that is? Or was it a heartfelt response? I wonder how many people named on the memorial have relatives living in the village today?
This picture is as close as I could get to the gloom inside the building. I did not notice any lighting above but there again I was not looking for that, maybe on Sundays it is brightened, and maybe the sun shining in will brighten the place.
This Victorian stained glass window will brighten the place if the sun shines directly though.
Another quick look, not missing the collection of stones from people of the 'Big Hoose' up the road, and giving a good idea of the depth of the hill coffins have to go down and are still doing so even recently.
Then while awaiting the transport back home I had lunch at the 'Fox Inn' conveniently placed at the bus stop. The beer was acceptable, £4 a go however was like the graveyard a bit steep I thought, but the place was clean and set out more for lunches than as a straight forward pub. I suspect that is how to survive in such places and I am told the reviews are good. The Bikers like it anyway especially with a tea shop next door for the non drinkers.
There is something about the collection of roofs that appeal to me when close together in a higgledy-piggledy fashion. The fact that they are all red tiles is also interesting, I wonder if there are listed buildings today. I suspect some of them, when filled with farm labourers, had dirt floors and outside loos, today from as cheap as a mere £350,000 or so unless you want a bigger one of course...
This was at the church door, I wonder who he was...?
This was intended as a day out in the sun finding something interesting to see. Yet while I knew the graves had to be found I did not realise so much of Sunday would remain. Maybe I should go out again tomorrow...no maybe next week...