Biddenham History Society – Visit to King’s Close

The afternoon of Friday, 7th July 2017 was an excellent afternoon for many of us. We started with a delicious First Friday lunch in the Village Hall at 12.30pm. Thank you to Liz Watson and Judith O’Quinn and all your helpers. Some of the helpers managed to clear up in record time, so that we could all assemble at King’s Close at 2.30pm and meet Helen and Jeremy Humphreys. They welcomed us to their beautiful Arts and Crafts house, designed by Mackay Hugh Baillie-Scott in 1907. They have been working hard to restore many of the Arts and Crafts features since buying the property about 3 years ago.

kings-close-garden-pictureOne of the key principles in Baillie-Scott’s design was that the garden should be linked to the house – serving as an extra room – so vistas from the house to the garden were very important. Helen and Jeremy have restored the brick path that leads from the front gate to the gravel area in front of the front door. The brick path continues at the back of the house and leads the eye to the orchard at the bottom of the garden.

At the front, borders, edged with box in the shape of the Union Jack, have been restored, and the yew by the front gate has been cut back so the gate can be opened. There is a lovely walk along the brick path, past the box hedges with seasonal planting, to the front door. A beautiful climbing rose sets off the front of the house and the Tudor style beams and front door.

Before going to the back garden, Helen and Jeremy very kindly let us look at their living room which still has the original twentieth century paneling. Helen showed us the settle by the window that was designed by Baillie-Scott and the wooden doors with the original door furniture that can be used to divide the room from the rest of the house.

Seeing the room also gave a vista of the back garden. Jeremy and Helen have worked very hard in this area, reinstating the brick path down the middle and removing ivy and conifers. The pink roses climbing over the original metal arches looked stunning as the main feature leading the eye down the garden. Helen and Jeremy have been busy planting the borders that edge the path with lavender and lilies, which were coming into flower and attracting the bees.

The final room at the bottom of the garden was the orchard and meadow area. The trees were already laden with fruit. On a hot summer day, it was a lovely place to rest and admire the views to the house. We were indeed in another beautiful room.

Thank you once again Helen and Jeremy for your kindness in allowing us to come and see your lovely garden. We now have a better appreciation of what the Arts and Crafts architects were seeking to achieve and wish Helen and Jeremy every success in what they describe as their ‘work in progress’.

The next meeting of the Society is on Monday 20th November, 2017 at 8pm in the Church Barn when Steven Cockings, the Chairman of the Bedford Roman Villa Project will talk about the Roman Villa complex at Manton Lane, which may well have been linked to evidence of Roman settlement in Biddenham. I hope you will be able to come.

Kathy Fricker

Last training day for Biddenham Youth Cricket 2017

The last training day for Biddenham Youth Cricket took place on the evening of Monday 17th July 2017 with various age category’s represented. There were many of this year’s junior membership of 90 along with their families present.  This number was up from 55 last year. The cricket field was full of various training activities taking place with busy coaches directing  Its not often you see such a busy playing field in Deep Spinney!

The weather was fantastic, hot and sunny, perfect cricket weather. It has been the same throughout most of the 2017 season.

At the finish all children were given a traditional pizza to celebrate the end  of season. Chris Spurgeon gave a presentation about the success of Biddenham youth cricket. He stated that this year’s success can be measured by the number of children participating and given the opportunity to play fixtures. All volunteers and supporting staff were thanked as cricket would not be possible without them. The Village of Biddenham can be justifiably proud of their cricket teams and club.

A number of fixtures still remain to be completed with the next one in Pavenham on 23 July 2017.

Some pictures of the celebration can be seen below:-

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Biddenham Cricket Club

Open Spaces Society

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Biddenham Parish Council have joined the Open Spaces Society for a fee of £45 per annum. Information about the society can be found by clicking about open spaces. A number of existing organisations such as The Village Pond and The Biddenham Society need the expertise and support of the society to protect the environment and landscape of the village.

Their assistance is especially invaluable where there is no formal legislation or protection in place. This is especially relevant to Biddenham village where there are ever decreasing open spaces.

Recently a lot of help was needed to formulate an action plan to prevent  development around the village pond. Although comments were sent to the  Bedford Borough Council, this was done without the help of The Open Spaces Society. The case to prevent the development around the pond would have been far stronger had  the Open society inputted into the process.

With increasing challenges facing our village, membership has been centralised at Parish Council level for the benefit of all clubs, societies and indeed individuals within village.  Should you wish to use this service which is now free, please contact Alison Southern at clerk@biddenham.org.uk

Heritage plaque commemorates Biddenham’s historic coffin Path

The Biddenham Society has commissioned and installed the village’s first historic green plaque to commemorate and identify the C16th Coffin Path which runs from Gold Lane to St James’ Church, forming an important part of the Biddenham Heritage Trail which was opened in 2015.

The book The Village of Biddenham through the ages, describes The Coffin Path, or Causeway, as historically being a vital amenity for the village as it was the shortest way for relatives of the working class to carry the coffin of the deceased to the churchyard for burial.  The path and gates were kept at a width of six feet to allow a coffin with a man on either side to pass through comfortably. In the C18th the Botelers left £2 per annum with the vicar to ensure regular maintenance was carried out to keep the path to the requisite width.

Unfortunately, in 2016 successive ploughing by the land owner destroyed a large part of it, since when the route has relied on villagers and other walkers marking it out with their feet. Meanwhile, with the support of the society and other local groups, the parish council continues to engage in dialogue with the land owner to seek reassurances that this important part of our heritage will be properly preserved in the future – and at six feet wide, not just the width of a tractor wheel!

The plaque is mounted on the north wall of Dawn Cottage at the Gold Lane end of the path, and we thank Peggy Groves for agreeing to have it on her property.  The Biddenham Society is also grateful to the Biddenham History Society and the Biddenham Show Committee for their sponsorship of this project.

The Village of Biddenham Through The Ages

book-the-village-of-biddenham-through-the-ages-bmpA number of people have recently showed interest in the history of Biddenham. So this is a perfect opportunity for people to be aware that there is a book available for purchase.

Three Biddenham History Society members , Katherine Fricker, Mary McKeown and Diana Toyn have written a very detailed and comprehensive book about the village of Biddenham. A book review by Bob Ricketts  is available for further information

Note in advance before purchase, there is no mention of FAM Webster in the book.

Publisher: Bedfordshire Bugle, 2012.
ISBN 9780955135620. 394 pages Price £20.
Available from Mary McKeown on 01234 267678
Postage & packing £4, or collect from author

Cadent Gas works in Biddenham

These works have gone on a lot longer than envisaged (3 weeks!). The works are effecting, Darlow Drive, Elgar Close, Ison Close and Biddenham Turn. There have also been road blockages in Darlow Drive and 3 way traffic light systems setup. The bus stops on the Biddenham School side of Darlow Drive have also been suspended causing further issues for users of the bus service.

Cadent Gas have informed me that all works will be complete by 7th July 2017. There are no immediate plans for the works to continue elsewhere in Biddenham. It is useful to note the level of disruption caused for future reference.

A famous and distinguished Biddenham resident

With the imminent Biddenham Historical society meeting at Kings Close, Biddenham on the 7th July 2017. There has been a lot of interest from the village about the house from a historical perspective.

F.A.M. Webster was a resident in this house during the 1920’s and 30’s. A biographical account has kindly been submitted by Bob Phillips who is an athletics writer, broadcaster and historian who for 17 years was a member of the BBC Radio athletics commentary team.

Michael Webster has also kindly submitted some old pictures of the house taken in 1920’s.

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If any one has any further comments or points of interest about the house please submit in the comments section below:-

Spotlight on Biddenham Junior cricket Club at Harrold

On a rather cool but sunny Sunday 25th June 2017, Biddenham junior (under 9) cricket club played an away cricket match in the beautiful village of Harrold. Despite the tremendous efforts by the team and going against their normal good form the match was unfortunately lost to Harrold juniors.  Many parents were present and all  enjoyed the lively and competitive match.  The team are looking forward to their next match at home to Elstow on 2nd July 2017.

A team picture is available at biddenham juniors

Biddenham Cricket Club

If there are any other Biddenham clubs or societies that would like to be in the spot light please forward details to info@biddenham.org.uk.