William Charles Cooper (1880-1962) = Nora Sarah Hooper (1880-1948)

William Charles Cooper (1880-1962)=Nora Sarah Hooper (1880-1948)

william cooper

William was born on 21 February 1880 at Gaulter, Kimmeridge, Dorset, where his father Charles Seaward Cooper (1843-1927) was working as a carpenter.  and Sarah Ann Cooper nee White who married at Corfe in 1866.

Later William moved with the family to Kingston and, in 1898 he joined the Royal Navy at Portsmouth being allocated the service number P342021.

William joined the Royal Navy at Portsmouth on 21 March 1898 aged 18 having probably been ‘working’ as a blacksmith in the village Smithy most likely since leaving school at the age of 10. In the Navy he was given the occupational rate of ‘Blacksmith Mate’ on 8 January 1900 on completion of his Boy’s training. In passing for Blacksmith in 1906 amongst other tests, William made a copper kettle on a metal stand which remains in the family. on 2 June 1879

William courted the girl across the road – Nora Sarah Hooper (1880-1948) who, following her schooling locally, became a successful housekeeper. Nora, born on 9 August 1880, was the eldest daughter of David Hooper (1843-1922) and Emily Sarah Hooper nee White (1845-1905 ). ⇒ Please see The Hooper / White Connection 1874 for more information.

William and Nora married at Kingston Old Church in March 1907 while he was serving on HMS Majestic.

Their first child David was born in 1907.

At the time of the 1911 census, Nora was at West Street with her father David Hooper and her first two children. William was away serving in HMS Prince George.

William was promoted to Petty Officer Blacksmith in May 1913 and served throughout World War 1 in HMS Agincourt. He was present at the Battle of Jutland which took place on May 31 1916.

During his navy career the family lived in Portsmouth with Nora returning to her family home at Kingston when William was serving abroad and for the births of her children.

A third son, Gerald Edward (1914) and a daughter Mary Geraldine De Courcy (1919) were both born at Kingston following the family tradition of the daughter returning to her parents home for the births, although Nora’s mother had passed away in 1905.

After William left the RN as a pensioner in 1919, he and Nora lived in a cottage between West Lynch Farm and Blashenwell Farm between Corfe Castle and Kingston and William cycled 16 miles each day to work at Holton Heath, where he was employed dismantling surplus WW1 tanks.

Around 1926 the family moved to a new council house at 1, West Street, Corfe Castle and William was later employed at the Norden Clay Works, just 2 miles north of Corfe Castle, again as a Blacksmith. Norden produced a very fine clay used in the manufacture of Minton china amongst others. Steam engines were used to transport the clay around and off of the site and maintenance of these was one of William’s tasks. William continued working there until his retirement in 1947. Sadly, his wife Nora passed away in 1948.

In retirement William enjoyed gardening and kept a large vegetable plot from which he produced most if not all vegetables for the family kitchen. A pig or two were fattened in a sty at the end of the long garden. He remained in the same house throughout his life, eventually sharing it with his son Gerald and his family. Gerald eventually purchased the house from the council after it had been provided with modern sewerage disposal. If not in the garden, William was to be found “tinkering” in his workshop, usually on some metal based project and with his pipe aglow! The house was re-numbered to 58 West Street in the early 1960’s.

Sadly in 1962 William was diagnosed with cancer of the throat and he passed away in Poole Hospital. He is buried together with Nora in the ‘old’ New Cemetery at Corfe Castle.


William & Nora’s children:

1. David Charles Cooper (1907-1981)

David was born at Kingston in December 1907 while his father was serving on HMS Antrim. David married Kathleen Mary Florence Lester (1913-1987) at Hartley Wintney in 1936 and they had six children: Terence, Jacqueline, David, Kathryn, Roger and Malcolm. Unfortunately, the first two children died soon after birth, and Malcolm died in 1971.

2. William George Cooper (1910-1911)

William died aged just 14 months of meningitis. From the 1911 census records a second son William George was born in May 1910 but sadly he died aged 14 months on 2 July 1911. This death is recorded in the Portsmouth Registry as William was then serving in HMS Prince George as a Blacksmith and Nora was living at 23 Wilson Road, Stamshaw, Portsmouth. The cause of death was Meningitis convulsions.

3. Mary Geraldine Decourcy Cooper (1914-2010)

Mary Geraldine Cooper aged 2. Photo courtesy of Ann Zweckbronner.

Mary Geraldine Decourcy Cooper was born at Kingston on 17 October 1914 and baptised there. At the outbreak of World War 2, her occupation was shown as shop assistant. Mary married Alec Roy Cottrell (1914-1987) from Corfe on 28 October 1939.

Mary and Roy’s wedding in 1939. Photo courtesy of Ann Zwechbronner.

The photo above shows, left to right, Mary’s brother Gerald, Roy’s mother Millicent, the happy couple Roy and Mary and Mary’s parents, Nora and William.

Mary and Roy had three children: William, Anne and Sarah. Mary died in March 2010 aged 95 years.

4. Gerald Edward Cooper (1919-1997)

Gerald married (Hilda) Margaret Hussey (1917-1980) from Chideock and their daughter Susan lives in Corfe.

Page last updated: 5 March 2017

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David Hooper (1843-1922) = Emily Sarah White (1845-1905)

David Hooper (1843-1922) = Emily Sarah White (1845-1905)

David was the son of Thomas Hooper and Sarah Hooper (nee Tatchell) both of Kingston who married in 1839.

David’s occupation was at various times described as agricultural labourer (1861), labourer (1874), saw-yard engine driver (1881), general labourer (1891), engine driver at carpenters yard (1901), thrashing engine driver (1905), and sawyers labourer (1911).

In 1851, David was living in Kingston with his parents and other siblings. He was still at home with his mother in 1861 but by 1871 was boarding with his elder brother Henry Hooper and Henry’s young daughter Susan.

Henry Hooper, David’s older brother with whom he was lodging in 1871. Photo courtesy of Dave Cooper.

David married Emily Sarah White (1845-1905) at Kingston in 1874. Emily was the second daughter of William White and Mary Ann White (nee Roe), both of Kingston (their first daughter Emily died shortly before she was born). In the 1871 census, Emily aged 25 was shown as a laundress.

David and wife Emily. Photo courtesy of Dave Cooper.

David & Emily lived in West Street, next to the Post Office on the west side, all of their married lives.

Emily died in 1905 aged 59 of chronic bronchitis and David survived her by 17 years.

David & Emily had six children:

1.  Thomas Hooper (1875-1875)

Sadly, Thomas died shortly after birth.

2.  William Gerald Hooper (1876-1941)

At the time of the 1891 census ‘William’ was shown as an errand boy aged 15 living at home with his parents and younger brothers and sisters. He left home very shortly after and found employment as a gardener. It seems Gerald did not serve in the forces during the First World War (based on present family knowledge). He worked his way up to Head Gardener at Trafalgar Gardens, Downton.

Trafalgar, Downton pictured c.1905

During this time Gerald (as he was known) lodged with fellow gardener Sidney Cook & family at Charlton All Saints, Salisbury in Wiltshire. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Gerald was still at Charlton All Saints with the Cook family but his occupation was then recorded as a Builder’s Labourer. Gerald then returned to Kingston and lived with his sisters Jane and Nora until his death in February 1941 at Corfe Castle where he is buried in the ‘New Cemetery’ (the old ‘new’ cemetery!).

3. David Hooper (1878-1918)

David’s mother and father remained at the same house in West Street, Kingston throughout their life so it is most likely that David attended the local, Kingston School. Compulsory education required attendance only until the age of 10 years at that time and he initially became an errand boy (1891 census).

By the 1901 census he is absent from home but, as he could join the regular army at 19 and from his records we know that he originally joined the Dorsetshire Regiment, it is assumed at present, that he did join – most likely at Dorchester – in 1897/8. His regimental number was 15705.

David Hooper in uniform in the family garden at West Street, Kingston. Photo courtesy of Dave Cooper.

At that time the regular soldier joined for seven years active service followed by 6 years in the national reserve. If he joined at 19 then this service expired in 1910/11 when he was 32 years old. In the 1911 census David is a boarder with a Walter and Myra Bartlett at Canford, Poole, Dorset where he is a House Painter, he is aged 32 and unmarried.

From the medals David was awarded it would appear that he did not re-enlist until the Military Service Act was introduced in January 1916 which imposed compulsory enlistment for all males between the age of 18 and 41. This strong assumption is made as he was not awarded the 1914-15 Star which was awarded to those involved in a theatre of war during 1914-15.

As David was conscripted he had no choice as to which regiment he joined and he was delegated to the ‘The Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians)’ and he joined the 2nd battalion where his regimental number was 5359.The 2nd battalion was in action in Flanders as part of the 6th Division during 1915. In October 1915 the battalion was transferred to the 24th Division, 73rd Brigade.

Assuming David joined the battalion during the early months of 1916, then he was involved with the 24th Division fighting on the Western Front for around two years. On 1 February 1918 the battalion were again transferred, this time to the 47th Brigade of the 16th Irish Division. In the Somme the Germans began a big push – “Kaiserschlacht” (Kaiser’s Battle), in an attempt to regain lost territory on 21 March 1918 when they had an immense advantage in manpower with 58 Divisions ranged against the British 16 Divisions. The 16th Irish Division suffered large losses during this battle with 7,149 men lost.

David Hooper went missing “presumed dead” on 27 March 1918 and memorial’s to him are at the Commonwealth War Memorial at Pozieres, nr Albert, France, and in his village church at Kingston, Dorset. David’s body was never found (along with 1000’s of others) and he never married but he is recalled to mind with this research into his two medals.

4.  Nora Sarah Hooper (1880-1948)

Nora & husband William. Photo courtesy of Dave Cooper.

Nora married William Charles Cooper (1881-1962) at Kingston in 1907 and they had four children: David, William, Mary & Gerald.⇒Please see The Cooper / Hooper Connection 1907 for more information and photographs.

5.  George T Hooper (1882-1908)

George was the fourth son of David and Emily Hooper and spent his childhood at Kingston where he probably also attended the village school. From his Service Record (transcript below), George entered the Royal Navy on 2 December 1897 as a Boy Seaman. However, his Engagement of 12 years started on his 18th birthday – 20 August 1900. He is recorded at that time as being 5ft 4 inches tall with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a fair complexion: he had a tattoo of an anchor on his left forearm.

While serving in HMS Fox as an Able Seaman George was awarded the African general Service Medal with a clasp for Somaliland 1902-1904. The ‘action’ on 21st April 1904, was the capture of a village named Illig, Somaliland which had been held by the ‘Dervishes’.

George’s naval career appears to have been quite normal with a character rating of VG (Very Good) throughout most of his career until he joined HMS Hindustan and it is left to the reader to contemplate whether he joined a’bad ship’, whether he ‘fell in with the wrong crowd’, whether he had met a girl and overstayed his shore leave or perhaps returned to the ship drunk once too often?? Whatever – our George spent seven days in cells – not a drastic sentence considering the times but obviously a serious offence in the eyes of the RN.

Sadly George never married and he died of pneumonia April 1908 while stationed at Whale Island (HMS Excellent) Portsmouth. However, some knowledge of his life has been gained through research into his medal which remains in the family.

6. Ann Jane Hooper (1885-1960)

Jane Hooper married Tom Senneck (1883-1960) at Kingston in 1918. They had two children: Thomas and Margaret. ⇒Please see The Senneck / Hooper Connection 1918 for more information and photographs.

Page last updated: 5 March 2017

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Charles Seaward Cooper (1844-1927) = Sarah Ann White (1846-1933)

Information and photograph kindly provided by David Gerald Lester Cooper, great grandson of Charles Seaward Cooper and  Sarah Ann Cooper (nee White)

Charles Seaward Cooper (1844-1927) = Sarah Ann White (1846-1933)

Note: The spelling of Seaward is as read from several documents but I believe it is derived from his mothers family name Seward.

Charles was born at Kimmeridge suggesting that his parents had by then moved from Hide (sic) to Gaulter as Hide was in the Parish of Steeple. In 1861 aged 17, Charles was living with his parents and six siblings, at Gaulter near Kimmeridge. His father Thomas was a carpenter, and Charles took up this trade originally at Steeple and then at Kingston.

In September 1866 Charles aged 22, married Sarah Ann White (1846-1933) aged 20 from Corfe Castle, in St. Edward’s Church at Corfe Castle.

In the 1851 census, Sarah Ann was 5 years of age living with her grandparents George and Elizabeth White in East Street, Corfe Castle. Her mother is not identified. However the grandparents also have an unmarried daughter, Mary aged 34 staying with them and 3 grandsons all with the surname White. A younger daughter Caroline, who was Sarah’s mother and aged 30, is not present.

In 1861 Sarah aged 16, is working as a domestic servant at the Castle Inn, Corfe  Castle, owned or managed by a Mr Miller.

The 1871 census identifies Charles and Sarah with three children and living in a cottage at Steeple. The eldest child, Elizabeth, is 4 years old, Eliza 2 and the baby Annie.

In the 1881 census Charles and Sarah are still at Steeple with a family of six children at home: Eliza 12, Annie 10, Henry 7, Edward 2, Georgina 5 and William 1.

By 1891 the family has moved to South Street, Kingston (part of the Encombe Estate) with six children at home and Charles is identified as a carpenter journeyman (self-employed) and is working on the Encombe Estate. The children at home were Edward 12, William 11, James 9, the twins Albert and Caroline 7 and Emma aged 5.

In the 1901 census Charles is still working as a carpenter on the Encombe Estate, is still resident in (I believe no. 5) South Street, Kingston with his wife Sarah and they have living with them three children: James 19, Albert 17 and Emma 15 and two grandchildren James and Florence Cook aged 6 and 4 respectively and born at Rusper in Sussex (these were Eliza’s children). The census does not indicate the house number but I know that Caroline (known in the family as Auntie Carr) and her sister (Auntie) Annie (Dorey) lived in no. 5 as I visited them many times during my childhood and from family history they were still living where their parents had lived.

Charles who was apparently a rather large person, predeceased his wife Sarah by some six years when he died in 1927. He was buried at Kingston New Church. Charles and Sarah had 12 children. From family history Sarah was a very meticulous character with regular habits and was particularly fussy about her hair which was brushed and combed each day, in her latter days by her daughter Caroline.

1. Elizabeth Caroline (Bess) Cooper (1867-?)

In 1891 Elizabeth was employed as a cook by a Sarah White of East Street, Corfe Castle and in December 1900 she married James George Colman Clewes in Kingston Church. Bess and her husband moved to South Lambeth, London where he lived and where they raised two daughters known in the family as ‘Ciss’ and ‘Dolly’.

2. Eliza Alice Cooper (1869-1959)

Still at home aged 12 in the 1881 census but by 1891 she is employed as a cook to the Pinnery family at West Buckknowle, near Church Knowle. Eliza Alice married Walter Cook from Rusper, Sussex in 1894. They had two children: Seward James Cook and Florence Cook. Seward James, who married Clara Ethel Brain, was a member of London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) and was killed in World War 1 on 16 June 1917. Seward’s son celebrated his 100th birthday on 15th January 2017!

Walter Cookwho passed away some six years later.

Eliza remarried at Kingston in 1909 to Thomas John Dipper also from Kingston.

3. Annie Grace Cooper (1871-1963)

Annie was employed as a housekeeper and married  (William) Frederick Dorey, a groom, also from Kingston, son of Stephen Dorey, a gardener. Sadly William died aged 41 leaving Annie to raise her two children Charles and Agnes. She continued working while her sister Caroline tended to the children.

4. Catherine Louisa Cooper (1872-1872)

5. Henry Sidney Cooper (1874-1882)

6. Georgina Mary Cooper (1876-1882)

Aged 5 at the 1881 census.

7. Edward Thomas Cooper (1878-1916)

In the 1911 census Edward is working as a gardener and living with his wife Mary and three children Cecil, James and Violet at Winchfield, Hampshire.

8. William Cooper (1879-1962)

william cooper

Nora married William Charles Cooper (1881-1962) at Kingston in 1907 ant they had four children: David, William, Mary & Gerald. Please see The Cooper / Hooper Connection 1907.

9. James Seaward Cooper (1881-1942)

Aged 19 at the 1891 census James is employed as a blacksmith at Kingston. James married Jane Tatchell (1883-?) and they had two sons Seaward Charles Cooper and George Frederick William Cooper. Please see The Cooper / Tatchell Connection#1 1908.

10. Albert Henry Cooper (1884-1958)

Bert, as he was known was a twin with his sister Caroline and he married Frances Mary (Fanny) Tatchell from Kingston in September 1908. I believe it may have been Fanny who provided the part time ‘Sweet Shop’ in West Street. They had a daughter Winifred Gertrude. Please see The Cooper / Tatchell Connection#2 1908.

11. Caroline Mary Cooper (1884-1972)

Caroline married George Theodore Hunt and they lived with her father in Kingston. Caroline had no children of her own but she almost fostered her sister Annie’s children while Annie continued working as a Housekeeper. Caroline lived her latter years, still in her parents house No. 5, South Street, Kingston, with her elder sister Annie. As a child I recall visits to these elderly aunts – they were both scrupulous in their appearance and the house was spotless although there was always the lingering whiff of parafin which was used to fuel the cooking appliance. This small hob and oven produced fantastic fairy cakes, but we children had to remain silent unless spoken to! They were both frail and slim built and I can recall their grey hair but they were very loving Aunties and we loved visiting them. In her latter years Caroline was cared for by her neice Mary (Cottrell) at Verwood but she was laid to rest at Kingston.

12. Emma Louisa Cooper (1886-?)

Emma married Edward James Leavey of Old Basing near Basingstoke.

Page last updated: 10 August 2016

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War Dead

World War One

A commemorative plaque to the men of the parish who gave their lives in the First World War can be found in the New Church of Kingston St. James. It starts:

IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919

The names inscribed are shown below, together with further information established about each serviceman killed where known:

Richard BYDDER

Richard St. George Bydder was a Master Mariner in the Mercantile Marine and died on 18 July 1920. He was the sister of Kingston school teacher Beatrice Allen nee Bydder.

Sidney COOK

No information located as yet.

Edwin COOPER

Possibly Edwin Herbert Cooper born at Kimmeridge.

George DAVIS

George Davis was a Corporal with the Royal Garrison Artillery 11th Seige Battery (service number 137061) who died on 1 November 1917. George is commemorated at Dozinghem Military Cemetery in Belgium (grave/memorial reference X11. D. 8.).

Harry FURMAGE

Henry James Furmage, known as ‘Harry’, was a Private with the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), 100 Company (service number 14992) who died of wounds on 21 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme. Harry is also commemorated on the war memorial at Corfe Castle. He was buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe, Somme, France (grave/memorial reference III. F. 23.).

Robert GRANT

Robert Grant was a Corporal with the Royal Garrison Artillery, 285th Siege Battery (service number 334335) who died on 25 March 1918 aged 23. Robert is commemorated at Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras, Pas de Calais, France (grave/memorial reference VI. C. 25.). Robert was the son of Edward and Susan Grant, of Kingston, Corfe Castle, Dorset.

David HOOPER

David Hooper had served in the regular army with the Dorsetshire Regiment (service number 15705) and was discharged having completed both active and reserve service in 1910. He was called up in 1916 when the Military Service Act extended conscription to the ages of 18 – 40 years and then served as a Private with the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment, 2nd Battalion (service number 5359). David was listed “Missing Presumed Dead” during the German offensive “Operation Michael” launched on 21 March 1918 in an attempt to regain areas of the Somme that they had lost earlier in the war. David died on 27 March 1918 aged 40. He is commemorated at Pozieres Cemetery, near Albert, Somme, France (memorial panel 78). David was the son of David Hooper and Emily Sarah Hooper nee White of West Street, Kingston, Corfe Castle, Dorset.

Charles LOVEL

No information located as yet.

James MEDD

James Medd was a Private with the Dorsetshire Regiment, 1st Battalion and also the Wiltshire Regiment, attd. 1st Battalion (service number 3/7850) who died 20 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme. James is commemorated at Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuile Wood, Somme, France (grave/memorial reference I. C. 3.).

Albert SPECK

Albert George Speck was a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery, 112th Siege Battery (service number 55793) who died on 21 March 1918 aged 20. Albert is commemorated at Beaumetz Cross Roads Cemetery, Beaumetz-les-Cambrai, Pas de Calais, France (grave/memorial reference B. 11.). Albert was the son of Walter and Mary Speck, of West Hill, Kingston, Corfe Castle, Dorset.

Harry STEVENS

Harry was a Private with the Dorsetshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion (service number 27367) who died on 16 July 1917 aged 34. Harry is commemorated at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq (grave/memorial reference XV. C. 11.). Harry was the son of the late John and Mary Stevens, of Eastington Farm, Swanage and husband of Daisy Stevens, of Blashenwell Farm, Corfe Castle, Dorset.

Frederick STICKLAND

Frederick John Stickland was a Private with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, 6th Battalion (service number 29199) who died on 23 August 1917 aged 19. Frederick is commemorated at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium (grave/memorial reference LXVI. H. 29.). Frederick was the son of Alice Mary Stickland, of Encombe, Kingston, Corfe Castle, Dorset, and the late Edward Stickland.

Henry TRAVERS

Henry Lawrance Travers was a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery, 278th Siege Battery (service number 334312) who died on 30 May 1918 aged 26. Henry is commemorated at Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy-les-Pernois, Somme, France (grave/memorial reference I. E. 13.). Henry was the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Travers, of South Street, Kingston, Corfe Castle and husband of Ellen O. Travers, of Ladnoll Cottage, near Dorchester.





World War Two

Beneath the many body of the commemorative plaque dedicated to those who gave their lives in the First World War is the following simple inscription:

1939 – 1945

The names inscribed are shown below, together with further information established about each serviceman killed where known:

Ronald BEAVIS

Ronald Henry Beavis was a Sergeant with the Royal Engineers. He died in September 1943 and was buried at Kingston.

Henry KELLAWAY

Able Seaman Henry Charles Kellaway (service number P/JX 249485) was serving with H.M.S. President III., Royal Navy. Henry died on 13 August 1942 aged 28. Henry was the son of Charles Henry and Lilian Kellaway, of Kingston, Dorset and the husband of Kathleen May Kellaway. Henry is remembered with honour on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Douglas John HIXSON

Douglas John ‘Jack’ Hixson (1920-1949) is believed to have been invalided during World War 2. He died at The Borough Sanitorium, Weymouth on 14 November 1949 aged 29. Jack was buried at Kingston on 19 November 1949.

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1952: Recollections of a former vicar

Extracts from ‘From the crack of the pistol‘ (published c. 1952) by F.S. Horan, Vicar of Kingston from 1932-1938:

Quot Homines, Tot Amici

I found my Chilton experience of a country parish a help at Kingston. Muriel and I soon got going and found plenty to do, visiting the cottages, the school and the distant farms, of which there were several.

“What are the special needs of this place?” was a question I asked myself. It had a rather pleasant feudal atmosphere about it. Nearly all the men worked on the Encombe Estate. The polite manners of an earlier generation had not quite died out. ‘Sir’, ‘Mam’, capping and even a curtsey from an aged inhabitant, lent a nice touch of dignity to everyday intercourse; yet there was a delightful sense of cameraderie in all our relationships. The children under the care of Miss Broad and Mrs Cottrell, in our village (church) school, which I visited regularly, rose politely and gave me a cheery chorus of welcome when I appeared. Muriel, as always, was my great help in a hundred ways. She took over the Sunday School, and it was everything to me to have her opinion on the various village problems which arose from time to time. She was quick to help in any emergency of sickness or trouble.

Our great stand-bys in the village were Mr. and Mrs. Tom Joyce, and Mr. Gerald Loxton.

Joyce was the village blacksmith – a pillar of the church, and one of the nicest, friendliest, staunchest men who ever stepped. His wife was as nice as he was, gentle and refined. She had been the village school mistress. They both knew the village inside out, and were wise and understanding. It was a great help to discuss with them any plans or alterations that one might have in mind.

Sir Ernest was the Vicar’s warden, and Gerald Loxton, the People’s warden. Gerald could see further through a brick wall than most people and had a delightful, dry, Dorset sense of humour. I was very fortunate in having such men as Joyce and Loxton. They are proofs of what wonderful help laymen can be in a parish.

They weren’t the only ones I learnt to value and love at Kingston. We had so many willing helpers in all our plans and schemes for the good of the village. There was a keen spirit of co-operation – nearly everyone was glad to pull his weight in the village life. Some have passed on: I can see them now. Gilbert Dorey, the Estate woodman, with a natural musical talent and a wonderful mastery of the beautiful organ in the church, that he loved and played so well. Mrs. Orchard, the postmistress, our untiring helper in the W.I. and in all our socials, and in every project. Bill Hooper, our most reliable Captain of the Bells. George Hunt, always ready to help in anything, a very kind, open-hearted fellow. I salute them all!

There were a good many young men in the village who seemed rather at a loose end. I was keen to get into touch with them, and found the Boys’ Club Room helpful for this purpose. There we played games of an evening, and arranged cricket club fixtures and so on.

The Kingston Cricket Club was quite a going concern. A certain Ernest Hixson was Captain – a tricky left-hand bowler; and we had a redoubtable demon bowler in one of the Dorey family – Arthur. With a long run and a hop, skip, and jump, he would deliver a ball calculated, on a rough village wicket, to strike terror into the most intrepid batsman.

Ken Orchard (son of Charley Orchard and Mrs. Orchard the postmistress) was our champion heavy-weight slogger. He used to stride up to the wicket with his bat over his shoulder, a broad assured grin on his face – a Hercules, but for the leopard skin. Fielders fell back – he took his centre – and then with every ball bowled it was “six” or “out” with him. Ken certainly didn’t believe in slow cricket – he quickly brought any match to life. We had fixtures with most of the villages round and our Kingston boys generally gave a good account of themselves.

When the cricket season was over, I suggested play-acting during the winter months. How would they like to try a One-Act play as a start? At first they were shy; but I got them going. We started with Shivering Socks, an appropriate title for us at the moment! They came and rehearsed, undisturbed, at the Vicarage.

On a given day we gave the performance. The only place we had for such an outbreak was the small village schoolroom, where all socials and functions – even dances – had to be held. The audience, packed like sardines, too perspiring even to boo or cat-call – took it well on the whole and let themselves go at the end with a round of applause. Thus a Kingston Dramatic Society was started and on we went to further triumphs!

We found much unexpected talent among young and old. Little did we think that before long England – and even Canada – would lend an ear to us – that, in fact, we should broadcast! But so it proved.

We couln’t have done it without outside help. The person in the village to whom we owed most was Mrs. Fenwick-Owen. She and her daughter, Morvyne, were very keen on the dramatic effort: they loved acting, and realised what a good thing it is for a village to get people out of their shells and give them a form of self-expression combined with lots of fun. “Mrs. F-O” was untiring in the help she gave, and was always so jolly about it – rehearsing, producing and suggesting plays.

We were greatly handicapped at Kingston for want of a village hall for social activities. When I went there I saw this was an urgent need. There were two churches – the new and the old. The old church, though it bore signs of its Norman origin in the walls, and had an Elizabethan bell, had been re-built only some fifty years before the new one arose.

The new one was almost a miniature cathedral, and stood upon a hilly eminence. It was built in 1887 by Lord Eldon (the father of Sir Ernest Scott), of Purbeck stone and marble, in the Gothic style. Street, the architect, was given carte blanche and made a wonderful thing of it. Grand and imposing, it cast the little old church – a stone’s throw away – into the shade. Our services were held in the new church: the old church was hardly ever used.

What a pity I thought, not to make some use of the old church? Could it not still serve a good purpose? Could we get leave to turn it into a Village Hall? I talked this idea over with Sir Ernest Scott and members of the Church Council, and they were quite willing for me to approach the Church Authorities at Salisbury with the suggestion. This I did, with the welcome result that permission was granted. The Union of Benefices Measure allowed such a change to be made where there was a redundancy of churches: so we obtained leave to transform the old church into a Village Hall.

It took time and effort to do this; but the great work was accomplished at last, thanks to the many willing workers in the village who came forward to give their voluntary help – especially the young men of the Boys’ Club. They took off their coats and slaved away in their spare time – reflooring the building, making a platform and doing a hundred things. So, by its own voluntary labour, Kingston had a village hall.

Some other places besides Kingston benifited from our labours. ‘Chaddy’ [Revd. R.M. Chadwick] was thankful to purchase the pews, stained oak, plain and good, for the chapel at Forres. He had them scraped and now they look beautiful in their new setting. The altar and fittings were given to the Infirmary Chapel at Wareham. The attractive candelabra now hang in Arne’s tiny church which survived the bombing there. Memorial tablets were transferred to the new Kingston Church.

The Village Hall has proved an untold boon to Kingston. Scouts and Cubs and Brownies, which we started, have functioned there. A flourishing Kingston W.I. which we also started, has had it for all their meetings and doings ever since. It has served for village dances, concerts, whist drives and shows of all descriptions.

When the Second World War came, I don’t know what Kingston would have done without it as a place for the flood of evacuated school children that descended on the village to be schooled, helped, entertained and catered for in all conceivable ways. Indeed, it came just in time for Hitler’s outbreak and its consequences!

The Village Hall was not only used for secular purposes. We sometimes had religious services there – especially in Lent – and lantern lectures on various subjects. It was quite invaluable to us. Through this strange metamorphosis the old church had come to life again and was able to do something for the new church which greatly needed help for there was no endowment for the upkeep of that majestic building. It wanted a better system of heating and lighting and the organ was crying out for repairs. Where was the money to come from?

The old church by becoming a village hall, where funds could be raised throughout the year by shows and sales and other things, was able to make some welcome response to the appeal of its new neighbour. More was needed however than it could manage so I got busy and staged a Fete on a large scale in the beautiful grounds of Encombe, by permission of Sir Ernest Scott.

Sir Ernest was dubious about it at first; thought it was a big undertaking and felt people would never want the long walk from Kingston down to Encombe and back again. But I advertised it terrifically. Went down to Swanage to broadcast it. Booked buses to run right down to Encombe. Went to great trouble with George Bartlett, the proprietor of the Eldon Arms, to get a licence to have a bar on the Fete grounds to give the villagers a chance of having their pint down at Encombe instead of leaving the side-shows to go back to Kingston for a drink.

The W.I. arranged for large numbers of teas (and how well they organized them!). We got a Band to play for us and to wind up the Fete with dancing on the lawn by moonlight.

The day came. It was August: there were many visitors about – and posters on all the hoardings. People came in flocks from Swanage, Langton and Worth Matravers, Corfe Castle and Wareham – from all round the countryside – had a great time and emptied their pockets for the benefit of our Church Fund.

We raked in £170, and the fete was such a success that it has become an annual affair. In August 1937 it was opened by Leslie Banks who had a holiday cottage at Worth Matravers, the charming little village on the coast near St. Aldhelm’s Head. He was always ready to do a good turn.

Our first ambitious venture in the acting line was a performance of the Morality Play, Everyman. We were fortunate in getting a talented actress, Miss Joyce Bailey, as our producer and to play the part of ‘Everyman’. Two artist friends of ours – near neighbours – Miss Jane Welsh and Miss May Wilson were our mainstays. Miss Welsh was assistant producer, and Miss Wilson was mistress of the robes – and much more besides. These two gifted people provided all the dresses and props and, with a wide experience of producing and acting, helped us in all our doubts and difficulties. Without them, our production could never have reached such a high pitch.

Everyman has a big cast, so that friends from round about and many of our own villagers were roped in for the parts. I was ‘Death’. Muriel, ‘Faith’. Skrimmy was ‘Goods’ and was brought onto the stage in a wonderful chest, out of which he emerged with arms and face covered in gold paint – from which he suffered afterwards. Sir Ernest Scott started the play off by reading the prologue from the stage.

It was a great success at Kingston and also at Swanage where we played it for two nights at the Mowlem Theatre. It was felt to be an exceptional production for  a small village. So the Kingston Players had made a good start.

This was only the beginning of many plays that village talent provided. Those who didn’t act themselves were only too ready to help behind the scenes. Ken Orchard (the Hercules of the Cricket Club) was our lighting expert and he never failed us. The plays we did after Everyman were generally produced by Mrs. Fenwick-Owen and gave scope for all and sundry, both male and female, to show their capabilities.

We were keen to do a Dorset Dialogue play – so one day Mrs. Fenwick-Owen and Muriel returning from a W.I. meeting in Dorchester, called on Mrs. Thomas Hardy at Max Gate to ask if her husband had ever written a short play suitable for village acting. She at once gave them a privately printed copy of The Three Wayfarers – a play adapted from one of his Wessex Tales which, she said, was very dramatic and would be most suitable. So we got going on that and performed it with success both at Kingston and at the W.I. Drama Festival at Dorchester.

This was the play we were asked to broadcast. Francis Dillon of the B.B.C. Western Regional saw us do it at the Dorchester Festival  and arranged with Mrs. Fenwick-Owen, who produced us, to broadcast it from our Village Hall. We were naturally elated.

Francis Dillon came and stayed in Kingston for a week, and put us through our paces for the broadcast. We were tremendously interested in the arrangements for it, especially for the “noises off” which were done direct from Bristol and made to synchronise exactly with our spoken words. It seemed wonderful! We had many rehearsals through the week. On the day, it went without a hitch and, so far as we know, was heard by listeners from John o’Groats to Lands End, and certainly in Canada by the relations of some of our broadcasters. It was a Red Letter Day for the Kingston Players.

We once made a new departure, and tried our hand at a … Minstrel Show – male and female … It took some doing to collect good jokes and patter. Muriel went about with a red note-book and wrote down all she could get hold of. Then we had to fit them in with the songs and dancing. We had full audiences at Kingston, Corfe Castle, Langton Matravers and Swanage. Sir Ernest, in the audience at Kingston, was absolutely convulsed with laughter. He himself supplied one of our best jokes.

For a time much interest was taken in Folk dancing. Miss Ruth Dawson came over from Langton Matravers to teach us. Several of the older people were beautiful dancers – George Hunt and Mrs. Senneck especially.

I could count on those who helped most in social activities to help in religious activity too – as sidesmen, choirmen, bell-ringers or anything connected with the Church. We were all good mixers. I think our strenuous work in creating a Village Hall had helped us in this: it had drawn us together in a very matey way.

One Lent we had a Village Mission taken by the Diocesan Lay Missioner, Mr. C. S. Agar. It was very well attended and we had special meetings for men, women and children, besides the daily Mission Services. The Mission was a help to many. It was to Muriel and me.

On Good Fridays we generally had a Sacred Cantata in the evening, such as Stainer’s Crucifixion, Maunder’s From Olivet to Calvary and Darkness and Dawn. These were arranged by our good organist, Gilbert Dorey, who took infinite trouble over the practices. We had an augmented choir for them – Muriel, and Morvyne Fenwick-Owen (who had a charming voice which she later took on stage proper), and several other women from the village were in it, as well as extra men. The Cantatas were very much appreciated by the village and many who came from outside.

One Good Friday morning we had a Procession of Witness through the village, with hymns and a short address, which I have on the rising ground opposite the Post Office. Sir Ernest Scott, the Choir, and a number of others joined us in the witness. Our Easter services were always delightful, full of life.

After his ordination ‘Chaddy’ came up several times of a Sunday and preached at Evensong. Sometimes we exchanged and I went to Forres Chapel.

Muriel found some good helpers among the girls for her Sunday School work – especially Irene Sansom (now married with two little boys of her own). For a time Miss Joan Muspratt kindly came up from Swanage to take the class of older girls.

I was anxious that, with all our considerable social activities, we should put first things first, and I think that everyone knew I was keen on this: while at the same time I did not wish to draw a hard and fast line between secular and sacred – bearing in mind the words of Archbishop Magee: “There is nothing secular but sin”.

We had a strong British Legion contingent in the village, and we made much of every 11th of November. On the Saturday evening before Remembrance Sunday, we assembled in force at the Eldon Arms (now the Scott Arms). There we had a truly wonderful Dinner – with Sir Ernest Scott in the Chair. With speeches and a sing-song we kept it up pretty late. My usual song was Father O’Flynn. It was a most enjoyable re-union. Mrs. Bartlett, the Proprietress, excelled herself each year with her marvellous Roast beef, roast fowls, plum pudding and apple tart and other things. She was a striking old Victorian character immensely respected and very dignified in her glossy black silk; rather grim till you got on the right side of her – but she certainly delivered the goods.

On Remembrance Sunday we always had a packed church for the Service. Our British Legion men came in force, and the Swanage Legion Band. They were marshalled and paraded to church by our Charley Orchard, who had served in the Dorsetshire Yeomanry, and now marched in front of the Ex-servicemen like a Drum Major.

Inside the Church we had a moving Service – the Silence, the special hymns, the Bugle Calls sounded by Gerald White (our gardener), the placing of a wreath against the War Memorial Tablet, and at the close, the March off to the tune of “Onward Christian Soldiers” played by the Band.

The congregations at our usual Sunday morning Services were greatly helped by Oldfield (Co-educational) and Spyway (Preparatory) Schools, who came along and added considerably to our numbers. When Forres Chapel was built, Oldfield missed the schools’ service I had taken at All Saints’, Swanage, and which was discontinued; so they came up to Kingston in buses on alternate Sundays all the time I was vicar there. The Hicksons of Oldfield and the Warners of Spyway, were long-standing frends and we were always very glad to see them with their bus loads of boys and girls whom they brought along because they liked our simple short service.

St. James was our patron Saint – one of the “Sons of Thunder”. Our Cathedral-like Church, dedicated to him, lent itself well to services on special occasions, such as the Remembrance Service and Harvest Thanksgiving and the big Festivals.

In the Summer months, too, it came into its own with Summer visitors, and Scouts and Guides from camps near by. So then we had very good morning congregations and hearty services and were glad of the size and beauty of St. James’s Church. It was an impressive and worshipful place.

The Church Tower commanded a grand view towards Corfe and Poole Harbour beyond. It had a fine peal of eight bells, and we had a hefty team of keen bellringers under the Captain of the Bells, Bill Hooper.

Every New Year’s Eve was the occasion of another dinner at the Eldon Arms, with Mrs. Bartlett going strong as ever in the matter of beef, puddings and apple tarts. This was the Choir and Bellringers’ Dinner. It was kept up with song and merriment till about 11.15pm when we all adjourned to the Belfry where we rang the Old Year out and the New Year in, had a prayer, and then closed with the hymn “Father, let me dedicate all this Year to Thee”.

During my time at Kingston I was much indebted to the Agent of Encombe Estate, Mr W. E. Candy, who invariably gave his willing help and co-operation in all that was undertaken for the good of the Village. He was one of the School Managers, served on the Parochial Church Council and on the Village Hall Committee; and gave valuable help as Hon. Treasurer of the Fetes we had at Encombe. If I was ever in any difficulty I could always count on his sound advice.

Mr. Candy had entered the service of the third Lord Eldon (Sir Ernest Scott’s father) as long ago as 1890, and continued to serve the same family when Sir Ernest Scott became the owner.

Sometimes in the summer we let the Vicarage and trekked off for a holiday. In 1935 we let it for some weeks to a Mr. and Mrs. Milligan and their young family. We went to Chagford first for fishing … From there Muriel and I set off for the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford-on-Avon. We did some sight-seeing too …Then we turned our faces towards home and this time, as the Vicarage was still let, we parked ourselves in a wizard little stone cottage on the cliffs above Dancing Ledge , called “Sea Spray”. This enabled me to do the duty at Kingston and make arrangements for the Encombe Fete and Flower Show.

Here we were joined again by Editha Roupell … She brought her young nephew and niece … They brought a tent with them … and pitched alongside “Sea Spray” … We mealed together in the cottage – or more often on the terrace, and had a great time, lots of fun. So did the two Kingston girls, Margaret Senneck and Edna Turner, whom we brought along to work for us.

The Encombe Fete and Flower Show was again a huge success. We had lovely weather. All the entrance tickets were sold, and about a thousand people came, including many Scouts and guides. Our Church Funds benefited very considerably. We were fortunate in having many good helpers …

Towards the end of 1936 we were much saddened at Kingston by Tom Joyce‘s failing health – he had been such a good friend to us. Some internal trouble developed and caused him a good deal of discomfort and suffering. He was taken to the West Hants Hospital at Boscombe, where I visited him several times. I remember him smiling up at me after a talk – it was my last visit, I think – and saying, “I’m having a rough passage, Vicar”. It was over for him just after Christmas. His wife did not long survive him. She passed on the following summer. In them we had lost two whom we could ill spare.

Dr. Dru Drury of Corfe Castle and his daughter were special friends of ours. He has an extensive practice there and in the surrounding villages, including Kingston. He is a man of many parts, a great supporter of the Church and a keen archaeologist.

Janet, living in such surroundings, could not fail to have both the historic and histrionic sense. She roped in many of us at Kingston for various plays and pageants. She now runs an amateur troupe known as “The Purbeck Players” and regularly carries off bouquets at the annual Dorset Drama Festival.

She produced The Tempest at Corfe Castle, and Kingston, and in the grounds of Encombe. I played ‘Prospero’ which meant much memorizing, but was well worth it. A Kingston girl – Dulcie Curtis, made a charming little ‘Ariel’, and Morvyne Fenwick-Owen played ‘Miranda’ with much feeling. … Encombe afforded a beautiful outdoor setting and we had a large and appreciative audience there.

Janet, now Mrs. Wilson, is an exceptionally able and imaginative producer and gets the best out of a cast. Her “Purbeck Players” today are highly skilled. They have performaed a variety of plays .. Some outstanding acting has been shown in these productions by Dulcie Curtis as ‘Velvet’, Syd Payne as ‘The Farmer’, Gerald Loxston as ‘Churdles Ash’, Mrs. Elford as ‘Araminta’ and Mrs. John Lawrence in several parts, to take but a few instances.

In July 1939, just before the awful cloudburst of World War II, a wonderful Dorset Pageant was performed in the grounds of Lulworth  Castle (by permission of Colonel Weld). Many Dorset W.I.’s contributed episodes to illustrate historic events in Dorset from earliest times. It fell to the villages of Worth Matravers, Kingston and Corfe Castle to act an episode entitled Benjamin Jesty, the discoverer of the use of cow-pox injections against the small pox. For Jesty lived at Dunshay in the parish ofWorth Matravers, and his tomb is in the churchyard of Worth’s ancient and lovely little church.

Janet Drury produced our episode. My part in it was to make a speech in honour of ‘Jesty’. A Mr. Drew drove on with Muriel in a dog-cart as “parson” and “parson’s wife”!

A date that stands out in my Kingston period is May 12th, 1937 – the day of the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. In the morning , we assembled in the Church to listen to the broadcast of the Service from Westminster Abbey – very moving and impressive.

For the rest of the day we flag-wagged, junketed and racketed: sports and races for both children and grown-ups; a fancy dress procession; ‘cakes and ale’, tea and buns for anyone and everyone; fireworks and a bonfire after dark; a dance in the Village Hall to finish with. A day to be remembered!

In August this same year a word began to echo in my mind, and a wish in my heart – “Retirement”: not from active service as a “Sky Pilot”, but from being restricted to one place for my efforts. I had now been forty years in orders, and I began to feel I should like to cut adrift from the daily humfdrum routine of parochialities and be a free-lance – free to give what clerical help and assistance I could in the neighbourhood and diocese, unfettered by a parish.

When I sent my resignation to Sir Ernest Scott, I received a charming letter from him, regretting my decision, thanking me for my work at Kingston, and saying how sorry the people would be to hear that I was leaving, for it was, he said, ‘a case of Quot homines, tot amici‘.

I could not have had a nicer nor kinder patron than Sir Ernest – always willing to help and co-operate in any way he could. He was a good sportsman, a most considerate landlord to the people on his estate and a friend to all.

My last Sunday as Vicar of Kingston was July 10th, 1938. For some weeks previously Muriel and I had been busy paying farewell visits, always a sad business: but we were cheered by the thought we were only going to live a short distance away and would often see our Kingston friends. We had an extremely happy and interesting time there and were genuinely sorry to leave. I was succeeded by the Rev. M. de Burgh Scott, long well-known to us in Swanage.

 

 

 

1914: August: Parish Magazine

Vicar: Arthur Napier

Rifle Notes

Our shooting season is drawing to a close. Saturday, August 1st, is the day fixed for the final shoot for the Cup, and we have had a very pleasant series of practices. Scarcely one wet day throughout, very enjoyable meetings, and a distinct improvement in the individual shooting. The following have been successful in obtaining the S.M.R.C. badges for proficiency in the three classes:

Class A

  1. Coombes     371

Class B

  1. Coombes    360
  2. Dorey           358
  3. Langtree     351
  4. Joyce            351
  5. Beck              350

Class C

  1. Travers       345
  2. Langtree    343
  3. Coombes    341
  4. Joyce           338
  5. Orchard     336
  6. J. Gale        334
  7. Davis           334
  8. Dorey          331
  9. J.T. Light   331
  10. Hooper       331

An alteration

I am going to change the monthly collection (August 23rd) to a special object, viz., the National Society, which, in view of the Parliamentary invasion of the Church, we are asked to support. We shall know more about this Society on the Sunday mentioned, as we are to have a special preacher sent to us at one of the Services, morning or evening.

Baptisms

 (Privately)

 June 29.            Edward Howard Stevens

,,     ,,               May Howard Stevens

Burials

July 3.                 Edward Howard Stevens

July 18.               May Howard Stevens

1914: March: Parish Magazine

Vicar: Arthur Napier

Band of Mercy

A most gratifying result crowned our first entry in the Children’s Competition between the four counties of Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. The competition consisted of an essay to be written by any member (between the ages of 9 and 14 years) of each Band, upon the subject of animals. The four best essays were first chosen out of the different Bands of Mercy, and then these were compared and judged together. The result of this judgment was a win for Plympton (in Devonshire) and second place for Kingston, with a certificate of recommendation. Kingston’s chosen four were: Margaret Grant, May Speck, Olive Audley and Ralph Hunt.

The Concert

Owing to a domestic bereavement, neither Mrs. Napier nor I were able to be present at the Concert on Friday, February 20th, in aid of the Band funds, so I can only speak of it from hearsay, instead of from personal experience.

The day was unfortunately a wet one, but there were not many of the usual audience who were prevented from attending.

The Concert appears to have been an unqualified success, and a sum of £2 18s. 6d. was handed over to Bandmaster W. Hooper.

A very pleasing item in the Concert was the presentation to W. Hooper of a China dinner service by the choirmen and bandsmen on the occasion of his wedding, which took place on the following morning. Mr. W. Candy very kindly made the presentation in my absence.

Collections

The March Collection will be for the Bishop of Salisbury’s Fund, and will be taken on Sunday, March 22nd. I have not as yet been able to come to any decision as to the manner of making a house-to-house visit for this purpose (as was proposed in the paper sent to you all by Colonel Rolson), and so, for this time, at all events, we must ask the authorities to be content with a Church offering.

The amount (Morning Service only) received for and transmitted to the Church Army, February 22nd, was £1 10s.

Wedding

Feb. 21.            William Hooper and Margaret Elizabeth Beavis