May Weekend 2017 – Exploring the Cotswolds

The Society weekend away for 2017 has been announced, we will be ‘Exploring the Cotswolds’ from  Friday 12th May to Monday 15th May 2017.

Day 1 we will visit Waddesdon Manor, a magnificent house in the style of a French chateau, and Compton Verney a Capability Brown landscaped park and an independent art gallery.

Day 2 in the morning we visit Burford village, a beautiful Cotswold town with an interesting connection to our own Oliver Cromwell and his treatment of his disgruntled soldiers and a group of Levellers. In the afternoon we visit Snowshill Manor, a unique house full of the extraordinary treasures collected by its owner Charles Wade

Day 3 we go back in time to the Romans at Chedworth Roman Villa, one of the grandest villas in the country. The afternoon we will be free to explore Cirencester.

Day 4 we start with a visit to Hidcote Gardens, one of our finest country gardens. In the afternoon we visit Broughton Castle, a fortified moated manor near to Banbury. Broughton was one of only 20 houses to be awarded five stars by Simon Jenkins in his book ‘England’s Best 1000 Houses.

For full details of the weekend please click on the following Exploring the Cotswolds 2017

A booking form can be downloaded by pressing [FORM] and printing the form.

President’s Lecture and Goodliff Awards Presentation 2016

The 2016 President’s Lecture by Dr Simon Thurley and the presentation of this year’s Goodliff awards will take place on Thursday 10th November 2016 at Huntingdon Town Hall, not 13th October as printed in your membership card.

The first Autumn lecture at the Methodist Church will be on 13th October. Further details on this lecture will be published shortly.


Brampton’s Hand Drawn Hearse

BRAMPTON HAND DRAWN HEARSE (by kind permission of Mrs Maureen Wigley)

Brampton Churchyard had been in constant use for internments since Norman times but on 31st December 1882 the Council decided that there was no more room in the Churchyard and it was closed to further burials. Land, adjacent to the East of Churchyard, was bought by the Council as the Parish Cemetery in 1883 and this was to be administered jointly by the Rural District and the Parish Councils. At about the same time a local man, Mr A. J. Allen, purchased a Hand Drawn Hearse and erected a building to house the vehicle in Brampton. The Hearse was donated to the Parish Council for use during funerals and although initially used quite extensively, it fell into disuse in the middle of the 20th Century. The Parish Council decided that rather than dispose of the hearse it would be offered on loan to the Norris Museum, St Ives, to be displayed so that the general public could understand how coffins were transported to the cemetery in the past.

However, after some time the hearse was removed from public display and was consigned to the storage room at the museum. In 2012, the museum was reviewing its exhibits and articles in storage and deciding that the hearse was no-longer a suitable exhibit they requested the Brampton Parish Council remove the hearse and take charge of its further storage.

Brampton Hearse004In December 2014 the hearse was disassembled and moved into storage at a local farmer’s barn. In the same month a chance meeting between Councillor Mrs Maureen Wigley, Brampton Burial Clerk, and the Huntingdon Co-op Funerals Office she noticed they had a number of pictures of old and modern hearses but no picture of a hand drawn hearse. After some discussion between Mr Brendan Smith, Director of the Huntingdon Anglia Co-op Funeral Office and members of the Brampton Parish Council it was agreed that the hearse would be loaned to the Funeral Office to be displayed. Sadly the Hand Drawn Hearse had fallen into some disrepair so it was agreed that it should be renovated before being displayed. Fortunately a friend of Mr Smith’s was willing to take on renovation task.Brampton Hearse002

Having completed the work, the hearse in its resplendent black lacquered finish and new cloth side panels was put on display at the Huntingdon Anglia Co-operative Funeral Office, St Peters Road on Saturday 23rd May 2015. The hearse will stay at the Co-operative Funeral Office for the foreseeable future.