Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Ancient Sarsen Tarrystone

This picture shows the exact location of the Tarrystone both past and present. Sarsen stones in the Thames Valley are quite rare. One was discovered at the Taplow working of the Prior Gravel company about 22 years ago. They are more common to the Wiltshire area and Stonehenge.

The original site of the Tarrystone was close to the Dower House, as it marked the boundary of the Cirencester Abbey property, although the stone may not have been on the exact same spot that it is on now.
William Venables, the owner of Cookham Paper Mill, was Lord Mayor of London during the 1820's (exact date is being researched) and he got a little bit above himself and stole the Tarrystone (according to Cookham people) and put it in his own garden at the Mill. When the last of the Venables died in 1908/09, Sir George Young bought the property and returned the stone to the site at the top of the High Street.
Prior to WWII there was a single gas lamp that lit the area and the stone. After the war this was changed to an electric lamp.

Behind the stone can be seen the memorial seat to Pilot Officer Michael Featherstone Briggs, who was killed in action on the 2nd of April 1941, while serving with #41 Squadron of the RAF.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Once people lived here

Up until about 1938 there were four cottages standing with their gardens laid out as per the coloured blocks. Between the garden and the road there was a low brick wall about four feet in height with a domed brick top. This is shown as "A" in the photo below. If anyone has any old photographs of these cottages, please contact Pam Knight, our village historian who would love a copy I am sure.

"B" marks the house of another longtime resident of Cookham." The Briggs Family" who lived in "Walnut Trees." They had one son Michael Featherstone Briggs who was a pilot officer in the RAF a member of #41 Squadron and was shot down and killed on the 2nd of April 1941. The family had a memorial seat made and it can be found just behind the "Tarrystone" indicated by the mark "C."

The Three Molotov Breadbaskets

In the first picture, as depicted by the yellow pins is the area and fields where the incendiary bomb clusters fell from the mother Molotov Breadbasket bombs. Two of these incendiaries did not explode. One was found by a school chum of mine, Michael Bates, on White Place Farm. The other by myself, under an elm tree on Widbrook Common. My uncle William T.G. Hatch called in the Bomb Squad to defuse it and then it was used for training purposes by the Cookham Fire Brigade.
Above is a photograph the one kilo incendiary bomb used in the Molotov Breadbasket. All of these bombs were dated 1936 on the magnesium casing. Which on exploding would start to burn. Sand or soil were the only materials that could be used to extinguish these fires. Water was useless, so thank goodness in this case they all landed in open ground, where the village firemen were able to extinguish them by using a spade or a shovel and, in one case, a tin helmet was used.

In the picture above is shown the approximate position of where the three high explosive bombs fell in what was once a mature fruit and nut orchard. This is now an artificial pond made by Priors Gravel who now own Sheephouse Farm. There were two farm working families living in the cottages marked with the letter "A." Both were out that evening when the bombs fell and one, a Mr. Stanmore reported, that his windows had been blown out by the blast and in his bed he found a large piece of shrapnel. In his words the following morning: "It were right where I lay."
My uncle Jack had been picking Damson Plums earlier that evening, and one bomb demolished the tree from which he had been picking.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shrapnel in the High Street

In the summer of 1942, a very large bomb was dropped on what we think was intended for the railway bridge crossing the Thames near Bourne End. As you can see by the map' it missed. The crater was some fifty to sixty feet across and about twenty feet deep.

The pin indicates where one piece of bomb fragment landed weighing somewhere between one and a half and two pounds in the High Street. It was on display in the window of Dudley Sims, the butcher, for quite awhile afterwards. Both Jack Smith and Mr. Brown of Station Road worked for Mr. Sims, at that time.

Sir Alan Cobham's Flying Circus 1937

This is the man who brought the thrills of flight to the village of Cookham in the summer of 1937. With his flight over the village for 5/-. He went on to become well known in the air industry and the development of in-flight refuelling.

Aircraft Crashes in Cookham Rise in 1938

COOKHAM’S gas supply had a narrow escape when the engine of this R.A.F. Hawker Hart stalled and the plane crashed. Sgt. Lewis of the R.A,F. Reserve, White Waltham just managed to miss the village gas container and landed in a field the plane overturned. He was only slightly hurt.
This the photo and caption taken from the Maidenhead Advertiser in 1938. Only a year before on which is now is a housing estate and the Alfred Major playing field. there was a very large air show, with wing walking, parachute jumping. For 5/- you could get a flight over Cookham. This was all put on by the first World War air ace Sir Alan Cobham.
Another fact that comes to mind is that the Hawker Hart it was the same aircraft that Douglas Bader lost his legs at Woodley Aerodrome.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fanny Hatch & Mary Field 1922

Fanny Hatch, widow of George Hatch (Farmer), of Oveys Farm, Cookham High Street, seen her with her granddaughter Mary Field of Widbrook Cottage, taken in the garden at Wisteria Cottage, in Cookham High Street, where she moved to after her husband's death in 1915. In the move she was accompanied by her children's Nanny Miss Emma Serls, as her companion. They remained there until they moved into a house in Gordon Road, Maidenhead in the mid 1930's. They are both buried in Cookham Cemetery side by side. Fanny Hatch was born on the 6th March, 1860. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Gray of Marlow (Butchers) and died in October 1951 at the age of 91.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Ancient River Tumulus Field

This old map section has been introduced into the section to show you that a ancient battle between the Saxons and the Danish Vikings did take place close to where Battlemead house in Maidenhead Court now stands. There is a lot of history in this area of the Thames Valley that still lies burried.

During the 5th century, this was not the now peaceful area of the Thames Valley in the Cliveden Reach of the River Thames was the scene of a battle, not a full-scale battle to be found in history books. Most likely it would be termed in modern warfare as a skirmish between the resident Anglo Saxons and a Viking raiding party that had sailed up the river.

Up until the late 1940’s there were three distinct barrows or tumuli to be seen at the location of the yellow pin. All these fields for years had been left undisturbed as water meadows, some closer to the river for first flush grazing; the remainder for hay of a fine texture and quality of grass and herb mixture suitable for calf rearing.

Then came a change of policy with farm management and the fields were knocked into larger pastures and eventually put under the plough; something that had never happened in centuries. The dragging of heavy cultivators over the tumuli has erased what could be seen of them. Only the yellow pin is there to mark the spot.

On the old farm map of fields there were two fields side by side called the Upper and Lower Tumulus.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who is the lucky young man?

Who is the lucky young man with two lovely sisters on his arm behind the "Ferry Inn" close by the launching slipway? The year is estimated at 1949. Taken from the style of dress and hair style of, "Which Twin has the Toni?"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

William Turner Gray Hatch

This is William Turner Gray Hatch. Village Nurseryman, Village Fireman, Member of the Royal Horticultural Society and revered judge of Chrysanthemums and Sweet Peas.

Oveys Farm in the High Street

This photgraph was taken about a year before my grandfather died in 1915. The barn on the right, now long demolished was where he and his friends used to have a barrel of beer and hold their, "Smoking Parties". One member would keep an eye on the kitchen door through a knot-hole to make sure my grandmother was nowhere in sight, as she did not approve such goings on. My father related to me as the beer in the barrell went down, the singing got louder. My grandfather's two favourite songs were, "The fly be on the Turnip" and "Buttercup Joe."