Vera Lynn

This England - - News -

Sir: I am a for­mer Chair­man of the City of West­min­ster Branch of the Royal So­ci­ety of St. Ge­orge. On Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday, my­self and long-serv­ing branch mem­ber Den­nis Ram­sey, drove to her home in Ditch­ling, East Sus­sex, to de­liver a bou­quet of red roses on be­half of the branch.

We did not have her ad­dress but, know­ing how well-known she is, we planned to call at the lo­cal pub and ask where she lived. How­ever, as we en­tered the vil­lage we saw a lady car­ry­ing a large bou­quet, so we stopped and asked her. To our sur­prise she said that she was also tak­ing flow­ers to Dame Vera and that we had stopped right out­side her house!

We fol­lowed her to the front door which was opened by Dame Vera’s daugh­ter, Vir­ginia. She in­vited us in and ex­plained that her mother was rest­ing be­fore a large fam­ily party that af­ter­noon, but that she would go and see if she was sleep­ing. She re­turned to say that Dame Vera was awake and would be de­lighted to see us. You can imag­ine how we felt to meet this icon of English his­tory go­ing back to our child­hood in the dark days of the 1940s, when she did so much to help us all through those ter­ri­ble days.

Dame Vera was sit­ting in her chair over­look­ing her lovely gar­den. She was very pleased that we had taken the trou­ble to travel down to see her, and was de­lighted with the roses. She re­mem­bered be­ing made an Honorary Mem­ber of the branch many years ago and when we left she blew us kisses and sent her love and best wishes to all mem­bers of the branch.

This ended a fan­tas­tic nos­tal­gic day for two oc­to­ge­nar­i­ans, af­ter which we re­tired to a lo­cal pub for lunch and drank a toast to Dame Vera. — STAN STADLER,


Sir: “The Edi­tor’s Let­ter” about Vera Lynn (Spring 2017) re­vived many mem­o­ries. In the early 1930s my sis­ter and I spent many hol­i­days in East Ham with our aunt and un­cle. He was a mem­ber of the lo­cal Work­ing Men’s Club. In about 1933 we were taken to a con­cert there and were told that “Bert’s girl” would be singing. I re­mem­ber her well, but I was only eight at the time. The first time I heard Vera Lynn’s voice on the ra­dio I knew at once that it was “Bert’s girl”. One of the few good things to come out of the war. — MRS. W. NEWNHAM, EVESHAM, WORCES­TER­SHIRE.

English Per­son­al­i­ties

Sir: I or­dered a Stan­ley Hol­loway CD ad­ver­tised in your spring 2017 is­sue and while I was lis­ten­ing to it I be­gan pon­der­ing on which other per­son­al­i­ties sum up Eng­land to me. Af­ter a lit­tle thought, I plumped for the fol­low­ing: Stan­ley Hol­loway, Alas­tair Sim, Ted Ray, Gra­cie Fields, Ge­orge Formby, Vera Lynn, Tommy Trinder, Ken Dodd, Nor­man Wis­dom and Tommy Steele.

I have no doubt that read­ers would add oth­ers, and it would be in­ter­est­ing to see what they think. — JOHN M. SCOTT,

WALLASEY, CHESHIRE. *An ex­cel­lent idea, sir. We look for­ward to hear­ing other read­ers’ thoughts. — Ed.

Poldark In­spi­ra­tion

Sir: I en­joyed your sum­mer is­sue very much. As a big Poldark fan I was pleased to see that you had in­cluded an ar­ti­cle about the ac­tors, scenes and the var­i­ous parts of Corn­wall that were used for film­ing. (“On the Trail of Poldark”). When I visit Corn­wall I will def­i­nitely look out for the places that were men­tioned.

I love read­ing, and writ­ing po­etry, and Poldark has in­spired me to write many po­ems (in­clud­ing the one be­low) about this beau­ti­ful se­ries of books by Win­ston Gra­ham. — LYNNE REID,



Bathed in Cor­nish sunshine Be­side the foam­ing sea Stand­ing proudly all alone By the shadow of the

lilac tree. Strong and bold Its walls still hold A thou­sand mem­o­ries Of a house that was once

filled with love And dreams of what

would be. The warm and cosy par­lour Its li­brary of trea­sures and

maps The echoes of songs and

laugh­ter And Gar­rick chas­ing rats. The wel­com­ing smells

from the kitchen Of cakes and bread and

cheese Hol­ly­hocks in the gar­den Sway­ing in the salty


The cry of the gulls fly­ing

over­head The dis­tant roar of the sea The sound of the hooves that

car­ried him home To the place he longed to be. Oh the tales those walls could

tell If only they could speak Of a man and his maid Who against all the odds Found a love so true and deep. Though now it is bat­tered and

wind­blown And shrouded by the mist of

the sea Be­hind that old and weath­ered

door There’s no place I would rather


Lan­cashire Bay Walks

Sir: Firstly I must say that, to me, This Eng­land and Ev­er­green are two of the great­est mag­a­zines ever pro­duced! How I look for­ward to ev­ery is­sue.

I was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in “The Edi­tor’s Let­ter” (Sum­mer 2017) in which you ex­tolled the beau­ties and fas­ci­nat­ing places in Lan­cashire. I am not a Lan­cashire per­son my­self (more Hert­ford­shire and West Sus­sex), but I have some very good friends there and my hus­band and I have spent many lovely hol­i­days up there with them. Apart from all the won­der­ful scenery my most abid­ing and vivid mem­o­ries are of the Bay Walks. Cedric Robin­son, The

Queen’s Guide to the Sands, who lives next door to my friends, takes par­ties across the Bay from Hest Bank back to Grange-over-sands.

As ev­ery­one knows that is a very treach­er­ous stretch of water and can only be crossed with an ex­pert. Cedric has been guid­ing peo­ple across for many years. His groups have in­cluded par­ties on horse­back and many no­table peo­ple in­clud­ing the Duke of Edinburgh. Many of the walks are done for char­ity which is an added bonus.

As the in­com­ing tide makes con­tin­ual changes of the sands each walk has to be mapped out in­di­vid­u­ally — the route to be taken marked in ad­vance by sprigs of green­ery. Some of the crossing is on dry sand, but at times one is wad­ing thigh high through the water. It is a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. I have done it twice and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Cedric has writ­ten many books on his Bay Walks. I have four of them — 40 Years on More­cambe Bay, Be­tween the Tides, Sand­man and Time and Tide — and was lucky to get them all signed by him. I won­der if any of your other read­ers have done the walk? — JO MINNS,

CHICH­ESTER, SUS­SEX. Sir: I love your mag­a­zine and am pleased to know so many peo­ple sup­port and love our green and pleas­ant land. You say how you try to in­clude ev­ery area of Eng­land (“The Edi­tor’s Let­ter”, Sum­mer 2017), but I am al­ways dis­ap­pointed you ne­glect my “area”, which is Car­shal­ton, Sur­rey, now un­for­tu­nately part of the Greater Lon­don Bor­ough of Sut­ton.

We have a wealth of his­tory, in­clud­ing Henry VIII, Anne Bo­leyn, two very pretty ponds and Honey­wood Lodge which con­tains many arte­facts about the area. A few miles away are the Mitcham Laven­der fields and the River Wan­dle, known for its snuff mills. It would be amaz­ing to see my “area” men­tioned. Some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent to the north­ern counties, although they are very in­ter­est­ing! — MRS. GWEN LEWIS,

CAR­SHAL­TON, SUR­REY. *You might recog­nise the scene above, and you can en­joy more about your his­toric home county in our new pub­li­ca­tion, A Cel­e­bra­tion of the Tra­di­tional Counties of Eng­land (see page 37). — Ed.

Old Scar­lett

Sir: I was in­ter­ested to see the ar­ti­cle on Old Scar­lett (“Chris­tian Eng­land”, Sum­mer 2017). Did you know there was a lo­cal weekly news­pa­per, The Peter­bor­ough Stan­dard, and in it was a col­umn headed “Old Scar­lett hears that...” fol­lowed by snip­pets of lo­cal gos­sip? I lived in Peter­bor­ough from 1932 un­til 1958 and I well re­mem­ber my par­ents read­ing out “Old Scar­lett hears...”, so I was re­ally in­ter­ested to find out who he was! — MRS. ANNE BROWN,


But­lin’s Mem­o­ries

Sir: Re­gard­ing “See You at But­lin’s” (Sum­mer 2017) I was a re­cep­tion­ist at But­lin’s in Clac­ton in 1962 (see right). Pop­u­lar and bud­ding en­ter­tain­ers, such as Cliff Richard, fre­quently ap­peared at the camps. We earned five guineas per week (ac­com­mo­da­tion and food in­cluded — off-camp ac­com­mo­da­tion for of­fice staff). The max­i­mum num­ber of campers at the peak pe­riod at Clac­ton was 8,000! — CEILA VAN


Sir: Years ago I read an anec­dote about Billy But­lin. Ap­par­ently he was run­ning a hoopla stall at a fair. The prizes were on square wooden blocks. The hoops just fit­ted over the blocks but sel­dom fell flat, usu­ally caught by one of the cor­ners. Billy ob­served this and made his blocks smaller. More prizes were won and the other stall­hold­ers thought he was mad. Far from it — many more peo­ple went to his stall and he used the phrase that I have al­ways associated with him: “Small prof­its and quick re­turns!” — REV. KEN


Oliver Cromwell

Sir: I read “A Royal His­tory of Eng­land” (Sum­mer 2017) with in­ter­est. Af­ter the Bat­tle of Worces­ter, in 1651, the King made his es­cape to France when he came upon Bent­ley Hall, near Wolver­hamp­ton, where my an­ces­tor Colonel Lane lived. To as­sist the King in his es­cape, his sis­ter Jane as­sumed the role of Lady and the King her groom. This event has been the sub­ject of many books, not least those penned by Richard Ol­lard, David Scott Daniell and Ge­or­gette Heyer.

On the Restora­tion of the monar­chy in 1660, the King was gen­er­ous in the award­ing of hon­ours but Colonel Lane re­fused any. The King did, how­ever, be­stow the royal arms into our fam­ily crest, and our fam­ily motto is “Garde Le Roy”, and is in­cor­po­rated into the signet rings worn by the men in our fam­ily.

When Black Dou­glas came into our fam­ily in the mid 1800s our name be­came Dou­glas Lane, which is not hy­phen­ated be­cause of the royal connection. I still pos­sess ma­te­rial re­lat­ing to that event. There are also fam­ily con­nec­tions in the parish church at King’s Brom­ley and a Lane Chapel in St. Peter’s Church, Wolver­hamp­ton. — REV. SIMON


Sir: In the de­tailed ac­count of Oliver Cromwell and the In­ter­reg­num, Paul James states that Cromwell’s “fi­nal rest­ing place is not firmly es­tab­lished.” This is so, but those hav­ing as­so­ci­a­tions with the White Rose County will know of the story that he rests within the county.

Cromwell’s daugh­ter, Mary, mar­ried Lord Fau­con­berg of New­burgh Pri­ory as his sec­ond wife. Af­ter the Regi­cides had been dis­in­terred and ex­hib­ited at Ty­burn, Mary is said to have se­cretly taken her fa­ther’s body to New­burgh where it was placed in a tomb in the at­tic.

I was shown this some years ago by the then head of the fam­ily, who told me that the tomb had never since been opened. Var­i­ous vis­i­tors have pressed for its open­ing, in­clud­ing Ed­ward VII when Prince of Wales. He or­dered a

car­pen­ter to drill a hole in one of the wooden planks and was pre­vented from fur­ther ac­tion by the owner of New­burgh. An­other dis­ap­pointed vis­i­tor was Win­ston Churchill who pleaded for the mys­tery to be solved — and so far as I know the mys­tery re­mains.

New­burgh is a fine home, sur­rounded by lovely gar­dens and well worth a visit, a pre­cious piece of Eng­land’s her­itage. — BRIAN ARUNDEL, SIEGEN, GER­MANY.

Min­ing Days

Sir: I can’t re­sist ad­dress­ing Max Pud­ney’s re­mem­brances of his days as a Bevin Boy (“For­get-me-nots”, Spring 2017). He was con­scripted in 1944, thus be­ing a good decade ahead of me, for I started at the pit in 1956. I worked in the Staffordshire coal­fields. I got my call-up pa­pers, too, but when they found out I was a coal miner, they sent me home be­cause it was a re­served oc­cu­pa­tion.

Though Max was not to­tally happy with his lot, he de­scribes it with a good dis­play of hu­mour. I can un­der­stand how dif­fi­cult it must have been for young men, with no in­ter­est what­ever in mines and min­ing, to be sud­denly sent down into the bow­els of the earth — and for who knew how long?

In contrast, I was born and raised in coal-min­ing vil­lages, and my ear­li­est rec­ol­lec­tions in­volve lis­ten­ing to the pit hooter, the rat­tle of the cages, and the mas­sive puff­ing of the steam wind­ing en­gines. I couldn’t wait to go down the pit and see what went on down there.

In January 1956 I got my wish. An old miner, a for­mer Deputy,

took me down. As we got off the cage, I was as­tounded to see the qual­ity of the old-timers’ brick­work, the vaulted arches all around the pit bot­tom. My first job was to be a pony driver and my first charge was Darky; though I’m not sure even to­day who was in con­trol of whom! In­ci­den­tally, the ponies were well looked af­ter, they were well-fed, and, they were not blind. I con­tin­ued work­ing in the min­ing in­dus­try; gold in Africa, iron ore in Canada, etc. I en­joyed it im­mensely. — DEREK


Lawrence of Ara­bia

Sir: I see that you are plan­ning an ar­ti­cle on Lawrence of Ara­bia’s time in Dorset (“Post Box”, Sum­mer 2017). My par­ents were just mar­ried when Lawrence ar­rived at “Clouds Hill” in Ware­ham. Mum and Dad were liv­ing at Bur­ton Brad­stock. Dad was build­ing houses near Poole and trav­elled back and forth on his mo­tor­bike. It wasn’t long be­fore he and Lawrence had a close call on one of the coun­try lanes and be­came well-ac­quainted with their love of mo­tor­bikes. Af­ter that they had fre­quent meets to ex­plore the sur­round­ing coun­try and wasted (ac­cord­ing to Mum!) a lot of time re­build­ing their bikes to try and squeeze a bit more out of them.

Dad knew the area very well and Mum even bet­ter, so Lawrence man­aged to see and ex­plore much more of the coun­try­side than he oth­er­wise would have; and they had some chal­leng­ing mo­ments such as the oc­ca­sion they met a bull who con­tested right of way! All of that would have been in 1926 and up to May 1927 when my folks moved on. — DAVID


ZEALAND. *What great mem­o­ries, sir, and the ar­ti­cle will ap­pear in our win­ter is­sue. — Ed.

Eng­land’s Com­posers

Sir: I found the ar­ti­cle on John Ire­land (“Eng­land’s Un­sung Com­posers”, Spring 2017) very in­ter­est­ing. Many years ago when I was learn­ing to play the pi­ano I went to Read­ing, Berk­shire, to take my first exam. It was De­cem­ber 1936 and I was 13 years of age. The ex­am­iner was Dr. John Ire­land. I am pleased to say that I passed, which must have been a great relief to my pi­ano teacher and, of course, my par­ents who were pay­ing the fees, so I was al­lowed to carry on fur­ther with more ex­ams over the years. — MRS.


Fam­ily His­tory

Sir: My brother and I have com­mis­sioned a his­tory of our fa­ther Charles Ley King, who died in 1956. He spent 28 years in the RFC – RAF, re­tir­ing in au­tumn 1944, with the rank of Air Com­modore. Born in Man­i­toba, in 1891, he grew up in Sault Sainte Marie and Saint Joseph’s Is­land, On­tario. Any in­for­ma­tion peo­ple have about him would be grate­fully re­ceived. Here is an over­view of his ser­vice his­tory: De­cem­ber 1928 — Of­fi­cer com­mand­ing No. 502 Ul­ster Squadron (Aux) AF

March 1932 — Per­son­nel HQ, In­land Area

February 1935 — Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing No. 3 APC, Sut­ton Bridge

Oc­to­ber 1935 — Air Staff, HQ Iraq Com­mand

April 1938 — Air Staff, HQ Iraq com­mand

April 1938 — Air Staff, HQ Iraq, RAF Cat­t­er­ick

Novem­ber 1938 — Air Staff, HQ Iraq, No. 12 FTS, RAF Gran­tham

May 1940 — Se­nior Air Staff Of­fi­cer (SASO) HQ Tech­ni­cal Train­ing Com­mand

Septem­ber 1940 — Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer, HQ No. 9, Fighter Group, WEF, Pre­ston

Date un­sure — Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer, RAF Evan­ton

February 1941 — Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer, RAF Dum­fries

He re­turned to Toronto, Canada, with his fam­ily, in Au­gust 1944. We would be pleased to hear from Sergeant “Jor­dan” who was our fa­ther’s driver/bat­man. I don’t re­mem­ber whether this was his first or last name. In civil­ian life, I think he was a mar­ket gar­dener. We would also like to con­tact one of Fa­ther’s sec­re­taries, sta­tioned at RAF Dum­fries, Scot­land. I think her mar­ried name was Mar­garet Moses. She and her hus­band em­i­grated to Canada af­ter the war.

I ap­pre­ci­ate this is a long shot, but there is great in­ter­est in Canada around the First and Sec­ond World Wars, plus the skir­mishes in the Near and Mid­dle East, and in Canada ob­tain­ing na­tion­hood. Fa­ther told my brother and I that he and oth­ers from Sault Sainte Marie went to war to de­fend the Em­pire and our mother coun­try — a no­ble en­deav­our! — CHARLES KING, 13 FOR­EST GLEN CRESCENT, TORONTO, ON­TARIO, M4N 2E7, CANADA.

Read­ers’ Ex­pe­ri­ences

Sir: I write books about the para­nor­mal and I won­dered if any of your read­ers have had ex­pe­ri­ences of ghosts, poltergeists, UFOS, mys­tery an­i­mals or any other strange hap­pen­ing which does not fit into th­ese cat­e­gories? If they have, please could they con­tact me with de­tails by let­ter or email. I would pre­fer to in­clude peo­ple’s names, but they can re­main anony­mous if they wish. I have writ­ten 10 pre­vi­ous books in­clud­ing The Po­lice and the Para­nor­mal (2011) and Our Eric: A Por­trait of Eric Port­man (2013). — ANDY OWENS, 65 WOOD­LANDS AV­ENUE, HAL­I­FAX, YORK­SHIRE HX3 6HJ. EMAIL: andy­

On the Road!

Sir: Fol­low­ing re­cent let­ters about peo­ple’s cars, this tale might amuse your read­ers. Some years ago I bought a sec­ond­hand Mor­ris Mi­nor Trav­eller in Bangkok when I was work­ing at the Palace School, sit­u­ated within the Royal Palace com­pound. A fea­ture of Ori­en­tal monar­chy is the Royal White Ele­phant, which is housed within the com­pound and ex­er­cised ev­ery day.

In front of the school was a staff car park through which the white ele­phant passed on his daily walk. Once in the car

park he would in­vari­ably head for the Mor­ris Trav­eller, lean against the wood­work and rub his flanks and rear con­tent­edly against it for some mo­ments be­fore mov­ing off! Let’s say he was an un­usual ad­mirer! In­ci­den­tally, I still drive the car most days, none the worse for the ex­pe­ri­ence! — GERALD OWEN,


Sir: Re­gard­ing our first car, our brother-in-law, who had a car yard, said that he had the per­fect one for us. Be­ing en­tirely ig­no­rant re­gard­ing cars, and car sales­men, we trusted him and pur­chased it. It was a DKW which had a two-stroke en­gine. One day we went for a drive, with our young son and new baby. We tried to drive up a steep road, but af­ter three at­tempts we had to go back down. We con­tin­ued along St. Kilda Road, in Mel­bourne, when sud­denly the car lurched to the left and a wheel passed us on our right! My hus­band jumped out, ran af­ter it and only then did I re­alise it was from our car!

Some­how he man­aged to put it back on and we con­tin­ued on our way. This was a Sun­day in 1953 so there were not many cars about, had it been now it would have been a dif­fer­ent out­come as it is ex­tremely busy. Need­less to say, it was re­turned to our brother-in-law where we learned it had been packed with saw­dust! Did we get a re­fund from him? No way, we were given an­other car which trav­elled a lit­tle bet­ter but with no fur­ther mishaps! —


Egg Cor­re­spon­dence

Sir: Whilst re­search­ing lo­cal First World War his­tory, I found an ar­ti­cle (see be­low) in the Big­gleswade Chron­i­cle dated 22nd Septem­ber 1916. It was the story of a “Pot­ton Egg” and a lo­cal school­girl, Con­nie Stone­bridge, who had writ­ten her ad­dress on its shell.

From a hos­pi­tal at Harfleur, Pte. E.C. Gur­nett writes to Miss Con­nie Stone­bridge as fol­lows:

You will be sur­prised no doubt at getting a let­ter through the medium of an egg. But as the hos­pi­tal or­derly handed me an egg for break­fast I no­ticed some writ­ing on the shell. It was your name and ad­dress, no doubt just ‘done for a laugh’. I thought I would drop you a few lines, how­ever, and to see if you care to an­swer.

I am a Canadian. I am in here with a bad an­kle, which I had smashed a while ago. It’s getting along fine and I will not be lame with­out ‘Fritz’ giv­ing me an­other straf­ing — ha-ha!

This is a dandy hos­pi­tal, of course a can­vas one, and all male or­der­lies, but most per­fectly or­dered. The men who pass through this place I am sure will al­ways re­mem­ber it as a most pleas­ant break in the hard life that is a sol­dier’s lot ‘up the line’. I have been out here a year and have been lucky enough not to have been sick or wounded be­fore.

We have been utilised you know as in­fantry up till now, dis­mounted you see, but we are now again cav­alry, and hope to have our hands full soon with the sword and the lance in­stead of the bay­o­net. I hope this finds you in good health and hav­ing a good time. Yours with best wishes, Pte. E.C. Gur­nett

I’ve been won­der­ing if Con­nie an­swered the let­ter and did Pte. Gur­nett re­cover and sur­vive the con­flict and safely re­turn home to Canada? So far I’ve had no luck from either side. I am sure that any rel­a­tives would find this of in­ter­est.

I won­der if pub­li­ca­tion in This Eng­land would come up trumps. I’m keep­ing my fin­gers crossed! — KEITH G. LAWRENCE,


Mu­sic Hall Magic

Sir: “Let’s All Go To The Mu­sic Hall!” (“Lon­don Pride”, Sum­mer 2017) brought back many happy mem­o­ries. As a young lad, I was in­ter­ested in con­jur­ing and to im­prove my pre­sen­ta­tion I was coached by a mem­ber of the Magic Cir­cle. Our fam­ily at­tended the Methodist church in Bark­ing, Es­sex, and one mem­ber had formed a small con­cert party and asked me to join them as the “Boy Con­juror”. We vis­ited many Methodist church halls in East Lon­don and Es­sex to per­form on Satur­day evenings. Wil­ton’s Mu­sic Hall was one of th­ese and used by a Methodist Mis­sion, this would be in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The place was packed with young­sters from the area. My list book gives two oc­ca­sions we at­tended Wil­ton’s — 23rd March 1949 and 26th January 1950. Is there any­one who re­mem­bers our Con­cert Party? — PETER



The Dorset vil­lage of Bur­ton Brad­stock where a reader spent his child­hood and his par­ents got to know Lawrence of Ara­bia. See let­ter this page.


Could New­burgh Pri­ory in York­shire be the fi­nal rest­ing place of Oliver Cromwell? See let­ter op­po­site page.


This his­toric Grey­hound Ho­tel over­look­ing one of the ponds in the vil­lage of Car­shal­ton, Sur­rey. A reader praises the area. See “Splen­did Sur­rey”.

Happy mem­o­ries of But­lin’s for one reader who used to work at the fa­mous hol­i­day camps. See let­ter this page.

Read­ers and Royal So­ci­ety of St. Ge­orge mem­bers, Stan Stadler and Den­nis Ram­sey, vis­ited Dame Vera Lynn on her 100th birthday ear­lier this year. See let­ter this page.

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