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It was New Year in 1934, when Lacey Green hit the headlines of the national newspapers. It was a notoriety that the village did not want, for Fleet Street proclaimed that seven people had died over Christmas period because of pollution of water supplies during the drought.
The facts pointed that way, because six villagers had died over Christmas and another soon afterwards and there was a severe drought in this part of Bucks. But the seven people had died through natural causes and in any case they were aged 82,81, three just under 70 and one 60; true one man had died in his thirties but he had pneumonia.
Although there was a drought Lacey Green had plenty of water in its wells.
A Free Press reporter toured the "village of death" and found the inhabitants indignant at the Fleet Street stories for there was no serious water shortage at Lacey Green, nor Loosley Row and many villagers still opposed the water scheme being urged upon them by Wycombe Rural District Council because the rain water which ran off their roofs and into the wells, their sole source of supply, was pure when drawn as any water they would wish to drink.
The local merchant, Mr George Floyd, who at seventy could still lift a sack of coal with the next man, stated, "My mother and father drank water from the same well for 70 years and they lived until they were 95."
The water from the wells was crystal clear, and Lacey Green might well be described as an oasis in a land of drought. Most wells in the village were full up. And so they were at Loosley Row. It was just a coincidence that so many villagers had died within such a short time.
The Free Press discovered that no one was in favour of the new water supply, and even the rural council said that there was no reason to suspect that the seven deaths were due to contaminated water. In fact the Medical Officer of Health added that the rumours were completely unfounded.
True, there was a drought and in January 1934 Wycombe Rural District Council was carting 25,000 gallons of water a day all over the area, just for domestic purposes and by March the council had put forward a £66,000 scheme to supply over 80 square miles and 14,000 village people with fresh water - despite the crystal clear wells of Lacey Green.
Water was an important consideration in the past and it had to be conserved as much as possible, and probably used very economically.
Most cottages would have had an underground tank to collect the rainwater off the roof for domestic purposes. (See Keech Ponds below) This would usually have provided enough water for the family. These tanks were beautifully made, lined with brickwork which was skimmed over with a thin layer of "cement". Above it would be a pump and the bigger houses would probably have had one into the kitchen and another in the washhouse. The farms would have had a considerable number, mainly because they had a lot of roofs.
There were no dairy cows save for a few families who might have a house cow. Milk was not something to drink but to cook with,- a pudding perhaps. Butter springs to mind but dripping was more likely the order of the day. Many people kept a pig. They got them extremely fat so there must have been vast quantities of dripping. Sheep were kept on the commonland but they need virtually no water, they get fluid from grazing.
By far the most important animals were the horses. A very few were riding horses but the farmhorses were special. Most of the farms up here produced hay and straw and the horses were essential to work the fields. The water for animals came from ponds. These "dew" ponds were capped with clay, which could be puddled-in so they held water. When the enclosures were made in 1823 they were listed for public use.
You may wonder why they produced hay and straw when there were so few animals to eat it. Both products are notoriously difficult to produce in England, even more difficult before the advent of modern machinery. Both rely on good weather particularly the hay. However there was a ready market for both in London. There were a great number of horses kept there for riding and commercial purposes and hundreds of herds of dairy cows. These herds probably consisted of less than half a dozen animals and they were kept inside all the time.
The Lacey Green farmers delivered their goods and brought back the manure for their own land, without which this land would grow very little indeed. A good bit of recycling you could say.
A good farmer had to be very good at predicting the weather for hay takes about four days of hot weather to dry. Also he had to call in as many extra hands as possible, for it involved much labour, tossing and turning, carting and stacking into ricks when it was dry. It must not go mouldy or overheat.
A great many people were glad of extra work so a ride through the village shouting for all hands to the fields was all that was needed. Many children skived off school to the despair of the teachers, but the parents would rather have them working.
Barley, wheat and oats could be grown up here, either sold or used for the horses. Once more lots of labour, but getting it dry enough was not quite so critical. It could be reaped and stooked (stood up in sheaves) until dry enough to bring into ricks. It would then be threshed at a convenient time to make the straw available for sale.
It was a long journey by horse and cart to London and dangerous. William Saunders from Stocken Farm was particularly distressed when he was stopped during the first world war at Holtspur and his best horses taken for the army. And to make matters worse he was left up the A40 with a wagonload and nothing to pull it with.
Lacey Green is mostly 700 feet above sea level. The 700ft bench mark is on a building at Stocken Farm. Obviously no spring water up here. Water, being a necessity in order to live here, ingenuity was called for. All rain water was collected from roofs into underground tanks that held, say, four to five thousand gallons. There would be a pump on top. So the people had water, always providing there was sufficient rain.
So far so good, but the public ponds were also vitally important. These were all established even before the enclosures were made in 1823. These were identified at that time and are listed here.
They were all almost certainly man-made catch ponds, or "keech" ponds, as they were known locally and anybody could use them. There were also a great many that were not for the general public, made on farms, for the use of animals. There were maybe a few cattle, not milking cows, but farm horses, a few donkeys maybe, hens, geese and the family pig, would all need water. Sheep could often get enough from the grass.
Making these ponds, also called dew ponds, was a very ancient skill, very rarely found today. After digging a suitable hollow, the bottom was first lined with straw. This insulated the cold water from the warmer ground. Onto that went a layer of clay, which was then "puddled". It was very important to have the right sort of clay and to compact it properly. This would produce conditions where the change of temperature created good condensation, hence the name "dew ponds". With the clay properly sealed the pond would also hold rainwater.
If a pond did dry out the clay would crack, so it then became necessary to seal it again properly otherwise it would no longer hold water.
Many of these "keech ponds" have disappeared. Some have had houses built over them, some have had gardens extended to include them. "Nanny Cooper's" was filled in by the RAF when they built the WW2 air runway at Stocken Farm. It was named after an old lady who was said to have drowned there, some said she swung over it in a bucket! Many very shallow ones have gradually filled in. By far the deepest one called "Deep Pit" is still to be seen in Kiln Lane. There is just the possibility that this simply held water because it was naturally lined with clay. If it was dug to obtain clay for the brickworks nearby there is that chance, but nobody knows. This pond was important. It was designated for domestic use only and fenced against livestock. It was dosed with lime to keep the water sweet..
Until 1934 water in Lacey Green had been taken from water tanks, collected from roofs, and ponds. There was a public well in Loosley Row, said to be 80 feet deep.
In severe droughts, such as 1921, the Rural District Council distributed water, restricted to two buckets per household. For cattle, water was fetched seven days a week from the stream near the "Three Horseshoes" at Saunderton. A large wooden barrel holding 130 gallons was pulled by one horse. A larger tank on 4 wheels needed 2 horses.
It was sometime in the twenties that a German water engineer named Wurger founded the "Rural Districts Water Company" based in Monks Risborough, to supply the district with spring water. Many cast-iron valve covers in the village are still marked RDWC, but on a manhole cover by the hydrant outside Pond Cottage in Main Road I was delighted to find the name spelled out in full.
In those days the water taken from the spring was not actually pumped but forced alternately from two large cylinders by compressed air. Later he sunk a borehole to augment the supply and built his first reservoir tank near Whiteleaf Golf Club. He then built another iron tank on legs at the top of Whiteleaf Hill on the present site of the Green Hailey Water Tower. A concrete tower of rather comely proportions was built to replace Mr Burger's iron one by the Bucks Water Board.
The RDWC employed as its resident engineer, a man by the name of Hain who was working on the Chequers Estate before Lord Lee gave it to the nation. Happily I have been able to contact Mr Hain's son who, still living in the district, was born at Chequers, brought up in his father's bungalow at the waterworks and very kindly filled in for me many threatening blanks in my story.
The Green Hailey Tank enabled the RDWC to extend their mains to Redland End and then along to the Pink and Lily, down to Lily Bottom and then from the inn along Pink Road to Lacey Green village. This was in 1934. Dick West very kindly looked up his old ledger for me and it was completed by Christmas to Stocken Farm. His water rate then was two pounds for the half year.p>Naturally all this took time; the mains were laid by a firm called Davis of Amersham who, I am told, did a very good job but were bankrupted by the exercise so that another contractor had to be called in to finish the work. It may have been a couple of years before the water was readily available all round the villages. Newitts of Risborough did a lot of work on running individual services. Eventually the mains were run to Speen and Hampden Bottom, where another borehole and pumping station were established. I could not discover what happened to Mr.Wurger, but Mr. Hain retired in 1952 about the time the Bucks Water Board took over.
I had an appointment at the Aylesbury offices of Thames Water. I was most courteously received by Mr. M. G. Ingham, the Operations Engineer, who willingly explained to me the changes that had taken place since, and the basis of our present supply. Mr P. J. Crowe, the Area Manager, subsequently read through my draft story and has been most helpful in clarifying many points in the later history.
In 1974 the water, sewage and river management services were all reorganised into 10 large regional authorities, whose boundaries were based on large river catchment basins. By this time, the Bucks Water Board extended from Milton Keynes in the north to Marlow and High Wycombe in the south. Large trunk mains had been laid from the borehole sources near the Thames in the south to supply the fast expanding towns of Aylesbury and Milton Keynes. Unfortunately for Bucks Water Board its territory lay half in the Thames area and half in the Great Ouse basin, so when in 1974 the Government did not know what to do with it, it was all given to the Anglian Water Authority, but was then split in 1976, so the bottom half, including Aylesbury, became part of the Vales Division of Thames Water..
Before the installation of mains water, most houses were supplied with water from tanks, which collected rainwater from the roof. People used a bucket to collect what they needed for use in the house; but in a few houses, such as 'Hillcrest' (then owned by Harry's grandfather but now converted to flats in Goodacres Lane), water was hand-pumped to a tank in the loft from where it was piped down to the taps. Other houses had hand pumps either in the kitchen or just outside the back door to supply their needs.
The tanks were usually about ten to fifteen feet deep and about eight to ten feet across. Most were underground with a lid to allow access to the water. One of the seven tanks at Stocken Farm was completely buried - this was unusual as it was necessary to clean out the tanks occasionally.
In times of drought the tanks would run dry. Throughout most of the summer of 1921 there was a terrible drought. Harry, then a young man of 15, had to drive a horse and cart carrying water barrels to Church Farm, Saunderton to collect water from the brook for the animals on Stocken Farm. As each cow drinks about ten gallons a day it was very dif?cult to keep up with their needs. The council supplied a small amount of water (about two buckets per day) to each house in the village.
Jumping into these tanks was one way of committing suicide ~ it was impossible to climb out and, of course, the villagers had had no opportunity to learn to swim.
The only true well in Lacey Green was at Grymsdyke House, which was then owned by the Carters. This was fed by spring water and, it was believed, had to be dug three to four hundred feet deep. The water from this well was pumped by electricity into the house.
Rainwater collection in tanks was used from the beginning of this century. Before then, the only water was from the numerous "dew ponds" around the village. Very few now remain, but the one in Kiln Lane, which was known as 'Deep Pit' was used for human consumption only, as was the pond
situated next to Well Cottage in Church Lane. Such ponds were known as "keech ponds" and were surrounded by a fence to keep animals out. Frank Claydon could remember lime being added to these ponds to 'purify' the water which, nevertheless, often contained the odd insect or tadpole which was said to make it more nutritious.
Digging of the water mains began around 1932. Harry can remember digging the trenches to lay the pipes to Stocken Farmi and some of the surrounding ?elds. He was helped by George Maunder, father of Flo, whose husband, Frank Gomme, was landlord of the 'Black Horse'. George had previously worked for Harry's grandfather at Smalldean Farm.
The pipes were laid about two feet six inches deep to avoid freezing. However, in the winter of 1947 the mains froze up. The Black Horse and surrounding properties were without water for weeks on end.
Most of the mains were laid by Irish navvies, one of their foreman, a Mr H.(Harry or Harold) Lloyd lodged with Mr Ronnie Lacey at a house near The Whip. Harry thinks that Main Road was tarmacked at that time, although he can remember collecting stones to make up the road when he was young. The stones were ?attened out by a steamroller. The water pipes were made of cast iron and were heavy to handle. The acid nature of the local clay soon caused corrosion, and "the village suffered frequent "burst pipes".
Before mains water, most people did their washing in a copper with a fire beneath. This did not require more than a few buckets of water. George Maunders wife used to come every Monday to Stocken Farm to do the washing. Big houses had a separate washroom, or sent their washing out. The Carters at Grymsdyke employed two washerwomen who lived in Grymsdyke Cottages.
Toilets were mostly outside and relied on a bucket which had to be emptied. Others were no more han a hole in the ground, vmich had to be cleared out from time to time. The sludge then was put on the garden! Flush toilets were not installed until after mains water had been laid on. Doris Oliver moved into the village in 1948, and the locals thought it quite strange that she and her husband intended to build an indoor bathroom and toilet at Sunnybank (now White House Farm). At that time, only the largest houses had such luxuries. Stocken Farm had a bedroom converted into a bathroom in 1934. In spite of this apparent lack of hygiene 'upset tummies' were quite rare. Of course the water was soft and free from 'modem pollutants'..
I read with great interest in the last edition of Hallmark Rosemary Mortham's account of Harry Floyd's memories of water being laid on to Lacey Green. This has prompted me to put pen to paper.
My two older sisters were already at St John's School by Easter 1939 when I started. I remained there throughout the 1940's. I cannot remember when the water was laid down Lily Bottom Lane
where I lived, but it must have been before then. I do recall 'Newitts' of Princes Risborough putting in a solitary 'stand pipe' which sewed all four cottages in times of drought.
On one occasion, during a very hot spell of weather, the water level became so desperately low that my father organised the men from the four cottages one Saturday afternoon. He went down into the tank on a ladder and scooped out the thick greyish sludge from the bottom of the tank into buckets which the other men then emptied onto the cottage gardens. I enquired as to what the sludge was, and was told that the ?ocks of house sparrows that were around in those days nested in the guttering, perched on, and did what comes naturally into the gutters. To this day I can still recall the distinct sweet taste of our rather cloudy water supply.
We had no water laid on so there were no ?ush toilets. Years before my time there was a communal toilet shared by all four of the cottages. There was a seat with a large hole for use by adults and a smaller one for children, with a large pit undemeath. When it was time for this to be emptied, usually about twice a year, the men from the four cottages would bring a horse and cart into the garden. With a scoop on a long pole they would extract the contents and fill up the cart. They always tried to ensure the cart was down wind if at all possible! This was another task that could only be done on a Saturday afternoon, when the men were not usually required to be at work.
As far back, as I can remember we all had our own toilets, built like 'sentry boxes', down the garden.
Usually there was a hazelnut tree growing just behind them. They were very cold in winter and I
can still see the frost on the seat. In the very severe winter of 1944 the rest of the family would try to wait until Father had been. Then, at least, the ice on the seat would have been melted but it was still damp and very cold. In the summer it was terrible with the ?ies buzzing all over you and the awful pong. Later we used a chemical called 'EIsan', this smelled a bit like Jeyes Fluid and it was bad luck if you got splashed, it could bum you. However, we survived.
In those days we had no such things as toilet rolls, we had to use tom up pieces of newspaper. The
"Bucks Free Press" was to be avoided at all costs as it was so hard and scrubby. In addition, it's Ink came off on our little bottoms!
I think this account from my younger days was fairly typical of the majority of cottagers in Lacey
Green and Loosley Row. It certainly made a lasting impression on me.
Incidentally, not that many years back the Village Hall still boasted an 'Elsan' chemical toilet. lt's housing was more like a small fortress, and when the time came for it to be pulled down, I was given
the task. It proved impossible to dismantle by hand and I had no more success with my tractor and chains. I therefore decided to set ?re to it. Being very dry and well tarred it went up like a bomb. The
heat was so intense that the tar on the lower part of the village hall itself melted but, fortunately, did not ignite. I do not think I will ever be able to forget that day - I thought we were going to loose our hall!
Click here to open the very first Hallmark which gives a glimpse of life in the 70's here in the village.
Memories of Phyllis Dell
As a small child, Phyllis (who sadly died in 2011) used to sit in the choir stalls with her parents at evensong. They had previously attended the Methodist Chapel and Phyllis can remember that they had very good outings and picnics in the field opposite, where there was a pond.
Her mother, Minnie Adams, told her that her father Fred had a sudden calling telling him to go to church. He felt he had to obey, and Minnie decided that she should go with him. They were to become lifelong supporters of the church. Fred was Vicar's Warden for 40 years. Fred Martin was the People's Warden. Phyllis believes that they may have been founder members of the choir under Reverend Steward. She cannot recall there being a choir in the time of Reverend Gee.
At that time the organ was hand pumped by one of the boys. The organist was Nancy Hawes, and when the organ was running out of air she would wave her handkerchief to indicate that it required pumping. The adult choristers enjoyed choir suppers with games in the vicarage.
Both Fred and Minnie were quite musical. Fred played the violin in Harold William's dance band with Ted Tyrell and one other member. Min played the organ at the Methodist Chapel.
Phyllis remained a choir member until the 1970s. Both her sons were in the choir, and her daughter Linda used to sit with her in the choir stalls from the age of 3. She was on the PCC for 18 years as Secretary. Her mother did all the church washing.
From 1944: by Douglas Tilbury
When I joined the church choir, it consisted mainly of men and boys. Those I can remember were:-
Mr. Anderson (Ted's father)
Mr Millward from Windmill Farm
Fred Harbour from Loosley Row
(Also Mr "Razzor" Adams and Harold Williams - later organist)
Mrs Flo. Gurney
Phyllis Dell (nee Adams)
Maggie Saunders (wife of Cecil)
Choir Leader was the Revd. J. Steward.
Basses sat in the back pew on the right, with boys in front of them
Ladies sat in the back left pew, but Revd. Steward preferred a choir of men and boys. During war time, a few ladies were permitted.
New boys aged about 10, like myself and Fred Harbour, had a practice at the vicarage on Wednesday during the school lunch hour, to practice scales and hymns for the next Sunday. Practice for the senior choir was on Sunday evening after evensong from 7.00 to 8.00p.m. The organist at this time was Nancy (Nance) Hawes who had been a pupil teacher at the school. It was she who taught Harold Williams, Phyllis Dell and some other local children to play the piano. She lived in a tin shack in Church Lane, and kept a bad tempered parrot.
At this time, Harold Williams was a Navigator in the Royal Air Force, flying Mosquitoes. During the winter months evensong was held at 3.00.p.m. due to the "blackout", which was strictly enforced here, as Bomber Command was only a mile away.
Regular services were Holy Communion, held at 8.00.a.m. and also at 7.00.a.m. on Festival Days (Easter, Christmas, Whitsun and Harvest).
Sung Eucharist was at 11.00.a.m. (Matins on the 3rd. Sunday of each month)
Sunday School was at 2.30.p.m. and evensong at 6.00.p.m. so junior choristers spent most of the day in church.
Commonly used anthems were: -
This Joyful Eastertide
Come Holy Ghost
Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring
The most memorable was the Olympic Anthem - Non Nobis Domine, which Cecil Saunders also taught to the 400 boys at Mill End Road School. The sound was terrific.
Choir robes were black cassocks and white surplices. Boys had to wear ruffs.
The choir vestry consisted of a heavy curtain, partitioning off the same area occupied by the present vestry. Boisterous boys were frequently hushed by the vicar prior to services. Choir pay was sixpence and a bag of sour apples from the vicarage garden at Harvest time.
The church school had services in the church on Saints Days. Ash Wednesday and Ascension were always popular, as the school had the rest of the day off.
The vicar frequently rode his bicycle, and later his Corgi motor scooter around the parish of Lacey Green, Loosley Row and Speen. The corgi was not very powerful, and had to have "foot power" assistance around the "Devil's Elbow" when he went to Speen School to take the Communion Service at 8.45.a.m. on the first Sunday of the month.
He was unmarried, and had a housekeeper, Miss Varney. Earlier in his career he had been a missionary in Africa. The piano which he donated to the church (and is still in use), had been built to withstand the African climate.
A party for choirboys was held on the Vicarage lawn during the summer. If you were lucky, the vicar would allow you to push his new Motor scythe lawn mower across the lawn! The Senior Choir Party was in the vicarage during the winter months. As it was wartime, refreshments tended to be bread and jam, and a cup of tea.
During the morning services, aircraft could be heard taking off from the airfield behind Lacy Green School, as the prevailing wind normally blew from over the church. There were very high conifers around the vicarage, and it was a steep climb to get over them.
At the age of 14, after their voices had broken, most boys left the choir for various reasons. Those that stayed within the church became altar servers or acolytes, until they had to start National Service at the age of 18. Fred Harbour joined the army serving in the Coldstream Guards. I joined the Royal Air Force, and became an engine mechanic, serving in 56th squadron. On demob, many returning young men were asked to serve on the PCC.
From 1953: by Rosemary Mortham (nee Oliver)
My brother, Andy Oliver, joined the church choir about 1953. At that time the choir was entirely made up of men and boys, led by Revd, Steward. He was very musical and trained the choir himself. The organist was Harold Williams. Sadly Harold suffered from epilepsy, and would occasionally have a fit while playing the organ. To this day the organ has the switch to one side, so that the electricity could be turned off if he fell across the keyboard.
There were quite a number of boys in the choir. One of the attractions was being able to play with the train set in the vicarage attic. They practised on Sunday evenings in the church. They were no longer paid.
Andy was never really interested in singing, so the family was really surprised when he managed to sing a solo one Christmas He had extra coaching from the vicar after school. My father always said "he was only there to decorate the choir stalls".
Girls weren't allowed in the choir, so my father and I, who both had strong voices, used to form a sort of mini choir in the congregation. Nancy Hawes would occasionally join us at evensong, but she would only sing one verse, really powerfully and well. When she stopped the rest of the congregation would be thrown into confusion, and it would take several verses before they could get going again. When I remember her she was a very eccentric old lady in a tatty old black hat, but she must have been quite a talented young woman.
At this time, the biggest service of the year was Harvest Festival. All the seats in the church, including those in the balcony would be full, and extra seating was put into the aisle. Local farmers and gardeners would bring baskets of produce to be blest.
My Father's firm made veneered wooden panels, and he arranged for a wooden vestry to replace the old curtained one. To his annoyance, he could not get a Faculty to allow this to be soundproofed. Originally the panels were of dark oak, but this was later stripped to give a lighter effect to match the new pews. Above the door is a shield with a marquetry swan, originally made for Wycombe Wanderers Football Club.
When his voice broke, my brother stopped singing in the choir, although he remained a server for several years.
During the 1960s, when Revd. Steward retired, the choir went into decline, being mostly kept going by the Dell family.
In the 1970s Julia Beaumont, who lived in Pink Road, was inspired to re-form the choir, and it was affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music. She was helped by a local singer, Madeline Cleaver, and together they recruited quite a number of new members, including me. The vicar at this time was Revd. Bernard Haughton. Julia was keen on amateur dramatics, and so the choir was involved in a number of religious musicals, including Jonah Man Jazz and Swinging Samson
The village had recently been twinned with Hambye, a village in Normandy. It was decided that they would go there to put on a performance of Jerusalem Joy. We were accompanied by Peter Viney, and a Non Stipendiary priest who was helping out during a very long interregnum. We travelled by coach, driven by Tony Reed, and were welcomed by a celebratory meal. We were accommodated in local homes, and I was fortunate to be staying with the Mayor and his wife. Most of the junior choir members had a very difficult time. Unable to speak French or understand the local customs they felt very unhappy and lonely. However, our performance went well. We were satisfied with our efforts until we attended the church service the next day when we discovered that the standard of music in Hambye church was considerably better than our own!
The journey home was a nightmare. We broke down several times, and ended up spending the night on the hard shoulder of the motorway. However, it was a good exercise in choir bonding, and the choir remains, even today, a very tight knit unit. (Choir members that I remember on that trip were:- Madeline, Bill and Jeffrey Cleaver, Julia Beaumont, Diana Ronianski, Graham Green, Denise Morris, Alicia Lett, Lucille and Kerry Attridge, Sophia and Rebekha Gabbitas).
When Julia moved to Spain, the then vicar, Raymond Maynard recruited a music teacher from the school, David Oldfield, to run the choir. This was not an entirely happy time, but several junior members joined, who remained loyal for many years. After David left, Ailsa Maynard took over the running of the choir, and also played the organ.
When the Maynards left the village, there was great concern about the future of the choir. We heard of a man who would be moving into the village, and had already been closely involved with church music. So Stuart King became organist and choirmaster. In the fullness of time his daughters Tabitha, Philippa and Arabella joined the choir, together with a number of other talented youngsters including Sarah Jane, Emma and Michael Williams, Andrew Henderson, Alison Bowen and her father Peter, and Isla Miskelly with her mother Jan, also Jill White.
The standard of singing began to rise, and special activities and training for junior members began. The choir had a number of men members, so that a proper choral repertoire could be performed. As the first group of juniors matured, Jan Miskelly recruited a new group of youngsters, and most of them remained in the choir for many years. Their musical talents enabled the choir to continue and flourish, even when Stuart's work took him abroad. These included Amy Stothard and her brothers David and Graham, Natalie Awdry, Emily Hemsworth, and Catherine Goode and her mother Virginia.
A high point for the choir was when Amy and Natalie both gained their "Bishop's Chorister" awards, with the highest marks in the area.
After Stuart's final departure, no one could be found to run the choir, and so I took over the organisation and did my best with musical training. We no longer had a resident organist, and so a roster of organists began. Thanks to everyone's support, we managed to continue until 2009, when Amy Stothard, who had completed her degree in music, took over.
Choir membership has already increased significantly. New junior choristers have been recruited, and also a couple of men. They continue a long tradition at St. John's. I earnestly hope that our choir will be able to serve the church for many years to come..
In The beginning by Helen Cliff...
Early in 1983 the owner of Stocken Farm, John West, was approached by members of St. John's Church Choir to see if they might stage a musical in a suitable barn. The choir mistress, Julia Beaumont, accompanied by Lynda Longhurst hoped to produce a show.
This was the birth of Lacey Green Productions.
The grain storage barn would be empty early July, but would need a lot of extra sweeping for their purpose. It even had a catwalk from which lighting and sound could be worked and an adjoining barn for dressing rooms and stage entrances. The setting was ideal. People packed the barn to listen to one of the world's most popular musicals
This first show was a family affair for the Beaumonts, with Julia and Mike organising the singing and stage lighting whilst son Julian shared the part of Joseph with Stephen Eastham.
Three generations of Putnams were involved: Grandfather, Mother and daughters Sarah and Fiona.
Initially members of St John's Church Choir and congregation swelled the numbers, plus their neighbours and friends. There were about twenty children altogether and in consequence many parents discovered new skills as a lot of expertise was needed for stage sets, lighting technicians, musicians as well as aspiring actors. Nell Panter provided professional guidance as the show's director.
Joseph was a very popular Musical at this time and the catchy songs led the story. Bikes, dreamcoats dipped in blood and a Pharoah complete with sunglasses all added to the atmosphere.
From this initial success Lacey Green Productions was formed and grew alongside its first cast of children. At the same time, younger siblings and other local talent joined and this led to the next show; The Wizard of Oz.
On alternate years with "Village Day", Lacey Green's shows in the barn continued. On Village Day colourfully decorated floats representing all the village clubs and societies processed the length of Main Road on tractors and trailers. Bunting, waving flags and stalls lined the road, as everyone, so it seemed, turned out to walk and talk.
Then, the following year, several performances were put on by Lacey Green Productions, entertaining many people. These events brought a great feeling of fellowship and community to Lacey Green.
From its early beginnings the entertainment by LGP continued , moving first to the old village hall and then to the new Millennium Hall.
Dinner Theatre was introduced, Theatre at Home followed and now Murder Mysteries are performed both in Lacey Green and taken "on tour" to other villages.
The first children have grown up, moved away and have children of their own, but Lacey Green Productions continues. A lot of the group have been close friends for twenty and, in some cases, over thirty years.
The profits from Joseph were given to the church guttering fund, beginning the tradition of donating to charity every performance. In 2017 the total raised for local, national and international charities is £62,456 - a magnificent achievement.
With thanks to Joan West, Rosemary Mortham, Michael Putnam, Brian Panter and Pat Syrett for providing material.
A pictorial memory of 1981 when two very similar villages - Lacey Green in England and Hambye in France arranged a cooperative venture known as Twinning.
The Villages took it in turn to host visitors from their twin often providing accommodation as well as organising events.
At the Annual General Meeting in 2002 the then Chairman of the Twinning Association, Mrs Pat Williams, indicated that unless there were volunteers to take over from the long-serving Committee, the Association would have to be discontinued. At the AGM in 2003, there being no volunteers, the Association was 'put on ice'.
Since then, although several approaches have been made to Hambye, there appears to be very little enthusiasm to resurrect the Association from their side and there have been no volunteers to resuscitate Twinning from our side. Now that travel has become commonplace between the UK and France the need for Twinning has become less imperative. Consequently, Lacey Green Parish Twinning Association, in common with many others, is not the only one which has had, sadly, to close down for lack of support.
Under Item 14 of the Lacey Green Parish Twinning Association Constitution any surplus funds that are still held must be transferred equally to the village hall funds of Speen and Lacey Green for specified use. The remaining members of the
old Committee will undertake to wind up the Lacey Green Parish Twinning Association in accordance with the Constitution.