Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Railway at Little Kimble

The following article was written by Roger Howgate and appears in the Great and Little Kimble & Marsh Newsletter for May 2017. Roger has written a book "Kimble's Journey" - in some 272 pages and 400 illustrations the book tells the history of England from the viewpoint of Kimble. 
The book is available to order through

The railway between Risborough and Aylesbury was a branch of the Wycombe Railway to Oxford via Risborough and was originally built on broad gauge, which is why the trackbed is so wide. It was completed in 1863, and Little Kimble was the only station on the line. In 1867 the Great Western Railway took over the line and it became the first complete line to be entirely converted from broad gauge to standard gauge in 1868 as a test for the conversion of the whole GWR network.

The station had three claims to fame. It had its own well and the ladies waiting room had the first flush toilets in the village. One of the station "boy's" duties was to pump up water into the cistern every morning.

Secondly, it was the site of the notorious double murder which led to the first reprieve from a death sentence ordered by the English Court of Appeal.

Thirdly it was the scene of a conversation between the Prime Minister [Stanley Baldwin] and the station master on the subject of the abdication crisis of 1936. A number of M.P.s put pressure on Baldwin to allow the King to marry Mrs Simpson, so Baldwin asked them to go back to their constituencies and think about it. The station master was a strong Baptist and when asked about the issue he encouraged Baldwin to stand firm.

In more recent times the Royal Train delivered the President of the USA to Chequers via Little Kimble Station.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Daniell family

The Christmas period has brought some interesting new contacts.

One of these concerned the large memorial outside All Saints, Little Kimble, to Mary Daniell and her husband James Whiteman Daniell.

The Daniell family were not in Kimble for very long. They lived at Ladymede under a tenancy agreement with Henry Vivian Gibson Craig.

Mary Jane Coghill was born in San Francisco in 1861, and her first marriage was to  Robert Paul Hastings. There were two children from this marriage, Elizabeth Parker Hastings who became a naturalised British citizen, and Harry Coghill Hastings. After the death of Robert Paul Hastings in 1890, Mary married James Whiteman Daniell in 1894 in London.

Soon after moving to Ladymede, Mary died on 24 August 1906 and was buried at All Saints Church. Her husband James moved to Folkestone, where he died on 27 July 1932. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, and his ashes were then buried in Little Kimble alongside his wife.

An interesting connection is with Mary Valery, born Mary Valerie Piers, who married William Keatinge Clay at St. Nicholas, Great Kimble, in 1909. Mary was ward of James' aunt, and the Daniell family made Ladymede available for the reception.

Any further information about these families would be very welcome.

Monday, 9 November 2015

New book on Kimble history launched

Yesterday (Friday November 13th) saw the launch of an important new book about the history of the Kimble villages.

The book is by Kimble resident and local historian Roger Howgate and is entitled "Kimble's Journey - The history of England from the Perspective of a Rural Parish". The launch took place at The Swan, Great Kimble, with Roger available to answer questions and sign copies.

Roger commented:
It is important that some of what our forebears experienced is preserved and recorded, otherwise we find ourselves without roots and without a heritage Some might say it is nostalgia, but I think that is mistaken You will find events, people and the culture of a community which is both ordinary and extraordinary There are some amazing individuals in the history of Kimble. and some remarkable events The book has been a personal journey recording both our local and national societal trends and recalling the special moments and events in the life of our community. It could not have been written without all the kind people who have told their stories and delved into their photograph albums.

The book is in large format with over 240 pages.

Roger was also a co-author of “Kimble Faces & Places”, a book published in 2000.  
I look forward to reading the new book and more details will be posted later.

Copies of the book are available direct from Roger.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The 1939 Register

An important new resource for research has come on line this week - the 1939 Register.

This was taken on 29 September 1939 and provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. The records were used to produce population statistics and identification cards and, once rationing was introduced in January 1940, to issue ration cards. Information was also used to administer conscription. After the war the records continued to be used - it was compulsory to carry identity cards until 1952 and when the National Health Service was created in 1948 the Register became the core of the NHS Register. The Register continued to be updated until 1991, when the records were computerised.

As the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire during the Second World War and no census was taken in 1941, the 1939 Register provides the most complete survey of the population of England and Wales between 1921 and 1951.

Access to the 1939 Register has been made possible by an agreement between The National Archives and FindMyPast. It is possible to search the records on the 1939 Register site, but to get complete access to the data including the original document you need to pay. The other alternative is that you can access the records for free at The National Archives at Kew.

The Register was not intended to record members of the armed forces, so these will mostly be excluded. Details of any living people have been hidden.

The following extracts give a sample of the data that you might expect to find in the full records (click on image to enlarge). The blacked out lines "This record is officially closed" is where information is withheld for living people.

(c) Crown Copyright Images courtesy of The National Archives and FindMyPast

These records will be useful for a one-place study. They show details of who was living in a place on the day that the Register was compiled, with details such as date of birth, marital staus and occupation. FindMyPast have geo-tagged the addresses to a contemporary map - which should be useful, though on the samples that I have looked at these are not always accurate.

I will be spending some time looking at these records at The National Archives during the winter months.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Bernard Arms - the story of the name

The Bernard Arms has long been an important landmark, lying on the road from Risborough to Aylesbury, but the site now faces an uncertain future. It closed as a pub and hotel in 2011 and there is a planning application to demolish the existing building for residential development. These proposals have been strongly opposed by the parish council and many local residents. In the meantime the building has fallen into a state of disrepair.

The Bernard Arms in June 2015

Political links
Due to its proximity to Chequers, the pub has served many British Prime Ministers, including Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and John Major, as well as visiting heads of state, among them Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin.

Norma Major in her book about Chequers shows her notes about the visit of Boris Yeltsin:
John is with the President and I am with Naina, but we are hardly out of second gear before the convoy is pulling up outside the Bernard Arms and we see John and Boris knocking on the door. The pub is closed but we are within licensing hours. John tells me later that when someone announced the Russian President a voice jokingly called "Oh yes, and I'm the Kaiser!" Pierre welcomes us in and our party fills the Saloon Bar. We hastily lock the doors against the pursuing paparazzi and John orders a pint for the President."
Norma Major: Chequers - The Prime Minister's Country House And Its History (1996)

The most recent Prime Minister to drop in was David Cameron who visited in 2010 along with Aylesbury M.P. David Lidington during British Pub Week – an initiative to support pubs. The following year the Bernard Arms closed.

Following the closure, David Cameron seems to have taken his custom to the nearby Plough at Cadsden - with stories of him leaving his daughter behind after a visit in 2012 and, more recently, taking Chinese President Xi Jinping there for a pint.

Harold Wilson at The Bernard Arms April 5th 1976 on his last day in office as Prime Minister

The origins of the pub name
The pub’s name refers to the Bernard family and in particular to Sir Scrope Bernard, later Sir Scrope Bernard Morland, who was lord of the manors of Little Kimble (from 1792) and Great Kimble (from 1803) until his death in 1830. There is some evidence that prior to this the pub was known as the Chequers.

Scrope Bernard’s father, Sir Francis Bernard, was governor of the province Massachusetts, and Scrope was born in America in 1758. He was involved in politics, becoming Member of Parliament for Aylesbury in 1789.

After his death, the Manors of Great and Little Kimble were sold; this included the Bernard Arms. The sale took place at the George Inn in Aylesbury in April 1833. It was reported:
The Freehold Bernard's Arms public house, with an adjoining shop and cottages, stabling, buildings, yard and garden - £430.

Around this time, the name of the pub was changed to The Bear and Cross.

The Bear and Cross

The name continued to be used until 1933, when Walter Durling applied to change the name back to the Bernard Arms, following extensive renovations needed due to the widening of the road. The Durling family had been landlords at the pub since the 1890s.

The pub sign shows the arms of the Bernard and Tyringham families – the bear representing the Bernards and the cross, or saltire, the Tyringhams, and the family motto Bear and Forbear.

The Bernard Arms pub sign

The Bernard Morland family
Earlier this year we visited Nether Winchenden House, the ancestral home of the Bernards. It has a unique history having been in continuous family occupation since the mid 16th century.

Nether Winchendon House

Sir Scope Bernard Morland made changes and additions and re-designed the mediaeval and Tudor exterior, cladding the house in stone and stucco in the fashion of the time, much of which has now gone.

On the wall of the house can be seen the Bernard family bear and motto, similar to that incorporated in the pub sign at Kimble. The family told us that the design of the pub sign is incorrect, as the background to the cross should be blue rather than red and thought that the bear looks very miserable and should have a gilded bridle.

NetherWinchendon House has limited opening times and offers guided tours of the house, usually given by the family.

Wisteria at Nether Winchendon House

Sir Scrope Bernard Morland is buried in St. Nicholas Church along with his wife, Hannah Morland, and two of their children – Thomas who died in infancy and William. A third son, Sir Francis Bernard Morland, is buried in the churchyard (see photo below). The Bucks Herald noted that this was necessary due to "the family vault in the chance being closed for sanitary reasons". (Bucks Herald 29th January 1876).

Grave of Sir Francis Bernard Morland in St. Nicholas graveyard

Inscription on the grave

Can you add more, or offer any corrections? If so, please do contact me.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Charles Edward Stewart and the village hall

The Kimble Stewart Hall is the village hall for the parish. It was named after one of Kimble's residents, Charles Edward Stewart and his wife Katherine.

 The Kimble Stewart Hall 2015

Charles Edward Stewart was born near Glasgow in 1866, and his father Andrew Stewart was a prominent industrialist and founder of the company that became Stewart & Lloyds.  Charles married Katherine Anne Dunn in Glasgow in 1900. The family lived in London before moving to Lady Mede in Little Kimble before the First World War.

Plaque in Kimble Stewart Hall

Charles had established his name as a prominent artist of the time, though now rather forgotten. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in London at the age of 16 and continued to exhibit for more than 30 years.

Although initially a portait painter, his later works include epic scenes of battles as well as more rural scenes of hunting and point-to-point racing. Many of these feature horses and dogs.
The picture below is entitled Balaclava, depicting the cavalry charge, hangs in the Cavalry and Guards Club in London.


Charles died in 1942. The Bucks Herald wrote about his contribution to village life:

Two of the oldest institutions, namely the Cricket Club and the Horticultural Society always received the support and patronage of Mr. Stewart. His contributions to to welfare of the village took various and practical forms. It was mainly through the assistance of Mr. Stewart that the necessary renovations were carried out to the timber and roofing of St. Nicholas Church Great Kimble.

Tablet in St. Nicholas Church, Great Kimble

It is perhaps in connection with Kimble Village Hall, now known as the Stewart Memorial Hall, that he will be remembered most. On a site given by the late Mr. E. J. Benyon, near the Kimble Railway Station, he caused a pleasant building to be erected to the design of Mr. C. M. O. Scott, a well known London architect, who is also a Kimble resident. On Armistace Day, 1925, the hall was formally opened.
In memory of his eldest son, Mr. Hector Stewart, who died in 1935, Mr. Stewart had a room added to the Hall and the name was changed to the Stewart Memorial Hall.

Extract from The Bucks Herald, Friday 20 February 1942.

His wife Katherine died in 1952 and was buried at All Saints Church, Little Kimble, along with their son Hector Stewart.  Charles is not buried there; instead he asked for his ashes to be scattered at Loch Katrine in Scotland.

Can you add more, or offer any corrections? If so, please do contact me.