Lockeridge from the WI Scrapbook of 1956

Progressing along the Lockeridge Road from West Overton, on the left, next to ‘The Kennels’, a one-time game keeper’s cottage, is the old recreation ground. Here many a fine game of village cricket is recalled by players of forty years ago. Football and tennis too have been played, remembering also Mrs Swanton’s women’s cricket team and an occasional women’s football march!

Adjoining the old recreational field is ‘Gypsy Furlong’, meaning ‘Gypsum’-white lime or plaster, the original meaning is chalk. Furlong is short for furrow long. It is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Giffard. The Giffard family has been long associated with Lockeridge and its activities. Throughout the war years 1939-1945 Mr. Giffard was Battalion Commander of the Home Guard Unit, and Mrs. Giffard was the President of the Women’s Institute and Enrolling Member of the Mother’s Union over a number of years. Mrs. F. Swanton is the present Enroller. The house, known as ‘Gypsy Furlong’, was the residence many years ago of the late Mr. Ponting, the well-known architect.

Just below it stands ‘West Close’, once the shooting box of Sir Henry Meux.

Further down the avenue of trees, we approach the village of:-

Lockeridge. This was Lock rigi in the Domesday Book, from the Anglo-Saxon ‘hyrog’ – a ridge, and Lok, an ancient Deity who gave his name to the Saxon tribe, the sons of Lok. Later it was Lockerugge, described as another tything of Overton. The latter part of the word meant ‘rough’, the former being from the Anglo-Saxon ‘loca’ – an enclosure of a rough sheep fold.

On the right is the Scout Hut, centre of social activities in the village. It was erected just after the 1914-18 war and bought by the late Mr. H. R. Giffard, of Lockeridge House, from a military establishment. In order to ensure the longevity of the building, a concrete foundation was laid. Voluntary subscriptions and donations were received towards its development and subsequently the building was handed over to the Boy Scout and Girl Guide Association. Miss Giffard, of Lockeridge House, and later of ‘Long Mead’ Lower Fyfield, was the first Scoutmaster, whilst Miss P. Clarke, of Overton, has been Guide Captain for many years. Unfortunately, the Scout troop is at present in ‘suspended animation’. Whist Drives, dances, Church bazaars and flower shows have all met under its roof. The long established Lockeridge Flower Shows, dating back to the turn of the century, were held each year until about 1950 when the Committee, under the Chairmanship of Miss Giffard were obliged to abandon the event for lack of interest and support. The Kennet Valley Women’s Institute hold meetings here each alternate month with Overton.

The present President of the Kennett Valley Women’s Institute is Miss Giffard. It was first formed in the Lockeridge Schoolroom 25th. April 1924. The first W.I. Meeting was held at Overton 16th. May, 1924. 35 members were present. Miss Maud E. Giffard was Honorary Secretary of the County Executive Committee throughout the arduous war years, 1939-1945, and for five years following was elected County Chairman. On her retirement from the Chair, she was presented with a handsome Scrapbook subscribed to by all the Institutes within the County as a token of regard for her valuable services.

During the late war years there were many war-time activities as the following verses show:-

The Country’s Call – 1941

To our work-party each Wednesday noon
We wend our way to knit,
To sew, and talk in a cosy room.
For each must do her bit.
Stitch, Stitch, Stitch,
Threading needles, snipping cottons,
‘Sister Susies’ all,
Gussets and plackets, shirts and jackets
And a million is the goal.

Little tales to you I would unfold
of battles lost and won,
Of sleeves put in the wrong way round
Stiches to be undone.
Knit, Knit, Knit,
Questions popping, stitches dropping,
Scrambling after a ball,
Comforts for men of the Air and Fleet
And a million marching feet.

Many of us will remember well
It was the month of May,
Of sitting at night, in pale lamplight
Until the dawn of day.
Sit, Sit, Sit.
Ears are listening, nerves are bristling,
Shrieks from ‘Pretty Poll’,
The clock strikes four, hushed is the talk
When a million geese starts a squark!

And then out next adventure so gay
Hunting for jamjars bright,
Of stirring the pans, braving the wasps,
Challenging them to a fight.
Stir, Stir, Stir,
Stirring it well, not it will jell,
Sticky ‘Susies’ all,
Tying the covers, sticking the labels,
A million pots put on the tables.

Now its potato planting time,
Sew onions by the score,
Of aching backs, hitching up slacks,
Gum boots that Father wore.
Dig, Dig, Dig.
Then dig and plant, don’t say you can’t,
We must win this war,
Just think it all depends on you
The million things that women do.

The children too are doing their share,
Rousing trolley parades,
Of knocking at doors, raising a roar
‘Any salvage today’?
Tramp. Tramp, Tramp.
The wardens feet are on their beat,
‘Put out that light’, they roar,
Just when you’re thinking ‘Well, what nerve’
Up comes the Special Police Reserve.

And now a word for the home-front men,
Who fought the home-front war,
Of tilling the land, sacks of dry sand
Ready at every door.
Work, Work, Work.
Calm and steady, at the ready,
Home Guard on patrol,
And ready to spring to all our aid
The gallant local Fire Brigade.

The Fyfield, Lockeridge and Overton work parties made for the ‘Daily Sketch’ War Relief Fund 1,383 garments such as pullovers, jerseys, scarves, mittens, helmets, socks, sea-boot stockings, gloves, pyjamas and frocks. They worked for Evacuees, Royal Naval Depot, Home Guard, Red Cross Society and the Wiltshire Regiment. The work was carried out under the supervision of Lady Isobel Gathorne Hardy, of Lockeridge House, whose late husband was formerly G.C.C., Southern Command.

The new bus shelter was erected in the early 1950’s to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

To the rear stands Glebe Farm, now the property of Mr. A. C. Carter, but was for many years previously the home of Mr. & Mrs. W. Rebbeck. As the name ‘Glebe suggests it was once Church property.

Opposite is the School and School House. This was built by public subscription raised in part by rate and part by donation. It was under the Managers appointed as provided in the Deed of Conveyance 1872. Today it is a part aided and part controlled School by the County.

The Craft Club in the School grounds was partly built by voluntary efforts of two or three members of the Men’s Club. It is shared by the latter and for a time by the craft scholars at the School. Prior to the building of the School, children went to a Dame School, a thatched cottage at the rear of the present School and incidentally, now the home of the retired Schoolmistress, Mrs. Goode.

Some of the children walked to Avebury School, a distance of four miles. The late Mr. John Waite, of Overton, has recalled how he trudged that distance to school and how he was often refreshed at West Kennett Brewery as a boy, with a pint of ale in exchange for any news he could bring of the villages!

One must not forget a well-known and respected Lockeridge Schoolmaster, the late Mr. F. Telling, who taught there for upwards of 25 years until his retirement when presentations were made to him and Mrs. Telling.

Turning right, one comes to Lockeridge Dene where many sarsen stones are to be seen. ‘Dene’ is the Saxon word for valley and maybe a continuation of the old glacier bed at Piggledene. Gypsies often encamped here, many years ago, and fees were collected for the privilege by the Parish Clerk. There are a few old thatched and stone built cottages, some 300 years old, still standing in the Dene.

In one lived Mr. Jobie Waite who was a well-known hurdle-maker and thatcher some 60 years ago

The one in the far corner is called ‘The Lacket’ and has particular interest. It is a delightful old world cottage with roof of thatch and for years was partially hidden by thick surrounding box hedge. This and the house was almost destroyed by fire in 1955, but has since been restored.

50 odd years ago it was the home of Mr. Victor Rebbeck, the Parish Clerk. In 1895 he was, indeed, the first to be appointed, a post which he held for about 30 years. His son, Mr. John Rebbeck, is now the Parish Clerk and has been for about 20 years, whilst Miss Giffard is Chairman of the 1956 Council. Unfortunately, the records of the first Minutes Book have been lost whilst house moving. One near disaster of his juvenile days is recalled by Mr. Rebbeck, when fire once again threatened ‘The Lacket’. The chimney had been quietly burning for 2 days un-noticed when a neighbour, Mr. Jobie Waite, saw flames shooting upward. Not for nothing Had he been climbing roofs to thatch – nobly he rose to the occasion and with buckets of water poured down the chimney a steady stream. History does not record the size of the ‘black sea’ that finally settled around the kitchen hearth.

Later, ‘The Lacket’ became the residence of Sir Hilton Young, who afterwards became Lord Kennett and who married the widow of the famous explorer, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, of the Antarctic. Bertrand Russell, the famous philosopher was also a visitor. Mrs. Lawrence, Mother of Lawrence of Arabia, lived there for some time with her son. It is now the home of Mr. Wayland Hilton Young, son of Lord Kennett.

Along the back road of Lockeridge are groups of Council Houses built in about the 1920’s.

Coming back through the village, we find, next to the School, the Post Office held by Mrs. Hunt since 1917. Her son, Wing Commander Theodore Mosely Hunt, of the Royal Air Force was awarded posthumously the D.F.C. in the 1939-1945 war. The Post Office was opened some 50 odd years ago, one former postmistress being Miss Scaplehorne, one of the oldest names in the village.

Village names associated with the Crimean War are Sprules, Dobson and Waite. Other old village names are Shipway, Townsend and Smith.

Mr. and Mrs. George Sprules, now in their eighties, have lived in the village practically all their lives and recall much of its history. Mr. Sprules was estate carpenter, as was his father before him, on Sir Henry Meux’s estate. Mrs. Sprules clearly recalls the old four-horse coaching days of the 1870’s and the Toll-gate in the Bath Road by Plough Cottage. It was usually considered an eleven hour journey from London to Bath.

Looking back to the games played in their youth of 70 years ago, Mr. George Sprules recalls a favourite was ‘Duck Stone’, throwing at a small stone placed on a sarsen. Girls played ‘Dibs’ with small stones or pebbles. Later wooden hoops were trolled along the road by girls while boys trolled iron hoops. The coming of the motor car prohibited this little pastime. ‘Tipcat’ was another boys game, a small stick sharpened both ends laid on the ground and hit with a long stick, until too many broken windows made it unpopular.

Mrs. Sprules also vouches for a certain cure for boils given her by a gypsy. It is one tablespoon of barm before breakfast!

Mr. and Mrs. H. Watts and family is another name connected with Lockeridge activities, particularly with the Kennett Vale Band.

Mr. Stephen Hilliard’s family and his father before him have been long associated with thatching and hurdle-making and were skilled hedgemakers.

The modern village shop was built on the site of the old village pound in the 1920’s. Mr. Fred Sprules was the first owner and was also for many years the Bandmaster of the Kennett Vale Silver Band. It amalgamated with the Overton Chapel Band later, and played first in public in the meadow opposite Lockeridge House on the occasion of King Edward VII’s Coronation. This is a very successful band, having entered many contests and gained Awards in the Wessex Brass Band Association.

The Gospel Hall was erected about 30 years ago and worthy of mention is Mrs. H. Watts who until recently was organist and taught in the Sunday School for upwards of 30 years.

Another well-known name and perhaps one of the oldest families in the village is Rebbeck, who can trace back two or three generations. The father of the present generation was Mr. Edmund Rebbeck. He farmed for some years and owned most of the cottages in Lockeridge, purchased at the Sir Henry Meux sale in 1906. The Meux estate was very extensive, comprising land and many cottages in Overton, Lockeridge and Fyfield. The Inn called ‘The Who’d a Thought It’ is closely associated with the Rebbeck family and has an amusing story of the origin of it’s name.

‘A beer-house in the village called ‘The New Found Out’ and whose Landlord was Mr. Gale, decided to have a bakery in competition with the established bakery owned by Mr. Rebbeck who was also Grocer, Corn Chandler and sold Hardware. Mr. Rebbeck then said ‘If you sell bread, we too will sell beer’, where-upon the ‘New Found Out’ people replied ‘They will never grant you a licence’. However, Rebbecks were granted one and the ‘New Found Out’ Landlord so taken aback said ‘Well, who’s a thought it’! Rebbecks decided to name their Inn the ‘Who’d a Thought It’ and the sign was hung out in 1911. The ‘New Found Out’ people changed the name later to ‘The Masons Arms’ which ceased being an Inn when the Licensee, Mrs. Morris, died in 1956.

Opposite the ‘Who’d a Thought It’ is an old thatched house, Hillside Farm standing back from the road, for many years it was the home of members of the Rebbeck family, and at one time Mr. Osborne, the stonemason who erected Overton Church tower, lived there.

Nearby are to be seen new Council Houses, built post-war.

Almost opposite is an interesting old stone built, thatched cottage, called ‘Castle Cottage’, with a history. As far back as one can remember the property comprised a pair of cottages. On reconstruction, about 25 years ago, it was discovered after walls and beams had been removed that it was once a Chapel. Latin inscriptions on the wall left much to the imagination. Amongst the debris removed was a small stone-like pinnacle which was thought by some to be part of an old castle, by others to be the steeple of an old Catholic Chapel. The meadow on which it is placed, report says, is called ‘Garcon’. As the Roman Castle usually stood where the Manor House now is we will leave it to future historians to delve deeper.

Crossing the bridge at the corner, where one finds a track to Lower Fyfield, is the old Georgian ‘Lockeridge House’. It bears a date stamp of 1730. It was once the shooting box of the Duke of Marlborough and it is highly probable he stayed there at times as he was a considerable landowner in the district. Later it was part of Sir Henry Meux Estate.
In 1886 Mr. H. R. Giffard came to ‘Lockeridge House’ and lived there with his family a great many years. The family have been conspicuous for their deep and abiding interest in the village and its activities over the years and the family can probably lay claim to being one of the few able to trace their ancestry on one, Walter Gifford, son of Osborne de Belbee, a Norman who came over with William the Conqueror and who later helped to compile the Domesday Book of 1087.

On an old map is marked ‘Mall House’ situated close to ‘Lockeridge House’. ‘Mall’ meaning a level shaded walk, a walk for playing in with malls or mallets and balls. The origin would be a mansion where the mallet and bell game was played in land attached – as ‘Pall Mall’, London, where Charles II and his courtiers played the same game. Was ‘Lockeridge House’ built on the site of ‘Mall House’?

At the back of Lockeridge towards the West Woods lies Boreham Wood. It derives its name from the hunting of the wild boar, which in mediaeval times had the distinction of being an animal of the first class chase and which ran in these woods. Close by is Glasse’s Woods, once the property of Mr. Glass of West Farm, Overton.

Sir Henry Meux sporting precincts north of the Bath Road produced fine game bags as follows:-

In 1905 – Partridges 331 Hares 528 Rabbits 5,030
Pigeons 123

The Game Bag obtained from West Woods and other lands south of the Bath Road was:-

In 1905 Pheasants 3,849 Partridges 94 Hares 327
Rabbits 167 Pigeons 27
Woodcock 4

There is no record of the ones that got away!

West Woods was once part of Savernake Forest. It is now the property of the Forestry Commission. Bluebells, daffodils and primroses abound in the woods in spring. The old Wansdyke runs along the southern border just beyond Shaw.

‘Hadleigh Down’ derives from the Saxon ‘Auld or Old Legh Down or Farm’.

On old maps are marked field names Saviours Meadow, Coney-bury, The Breach and Rylands.

One of the outstanding events of Lockeridge village were the Jubilee Celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary. All the parishioners met at the Scout Hut where relays of meat teas were served, followed by a full programme of sports and tea for children in the school. The Kennett Vale Silver Band marched to Overton, climbed to the top of the Church tower, where they played the National Anthem facing four ways, north, south, east and west. They looked like toy bandsmen away up there, and it was an unforgettable sight as the strains of the National Anthem ebbed and flowed with the breeze.

Similar festivities took place at King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation, this time at Overton.

When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, Lockeridge and Fyfield celebrated together while Overton and Kennett festivities were held separately.

The band did not climb the Church Tower to play at these later celebrations. Maybe the climb up those 112 steps was just a little too much! One of the young bandsmen was to remember the climb as he was presented with a wedding present up there, from his fellow bandsmen, and in later years was to climb up 42 of those steps every week to wind up the Church clock. He is Mr. Bill Waite, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. John Waite, late Vergers of the Church.

In the early part of the 1939-1945 war Lockeridge was honoured by a visit, though private, of their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. They were accompanied by the two little Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret. It was first intended they should picnic in Savernake Forest but plans were changed, and they came on to Lockeridge House for tea with Lady Isobel Gathorne Hardy (Lord Derby’s sister) and Sir Frances, her husband. The little Princesses walked the length of the village admiring the pretty little front flower gardens.