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This England

This England is the quarterly magazine for all who love our green and pleasant land and are unashamedly proud of their English roots. Published since 1968 the magazine has now become one of England’s best loved magazines and has a readership of over 115,000 people from around the world. As well as being popular in England it outsells all other British heritage magazines in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and is sent to readers in every country of the world. Published in Cheltenham, in the heart of picturesque Gloucestershire, the magazine is edited, printed and despatched direct from England. Subscribe today and celebrate all that is best about England and the English way of life.

‘POST BOX’

‘POST BOX’ (continued) and behind it were small rooms which were used for the activities. I went there until I was 17 or 18 and there were still air raids going on. We would shelter below the stage or outside in the brick-built surface shelters. — IRENE DELBOSQ, DORRINGTON, LINCOLNSHIRE. County Celebration Sir: May I congratulate you and your team for the work and effort in making A Celebration of the Traditional Counties of England such a wonderful book. It is so full of detail which is knowledge in a nutshell! — MISS CYNTHIA LAMBERT, SCARISBRICK, SOUTHPORT, LANCASHIRE. *Thank you for your comments and we’re delighted to hear you enjoyed it. Copies are still available to order. See details on page 82. — Ed. Enid Blyton Sir: In the letter “Meeting Enid Blyton” (“Post Box”, Summer 2017), Mrs. Sutton recalls a visit she made to Swanage in 1947 and meeting the famous children’s author. That bookshop, Hill & Churchill, was owned by Ted Gathercole, my uncle. Enid Blyton and her husband Kenneth Darrell Waters were keen golfers — he bought the local course — and they were frequent visitors, staying at the Grosvenor Hotel. Some of Enid’s books were set in Dorset. When my uncle died in 1947, my brother, newly demobbed from the army, took over the management of Hill & Churchill, so the “salesman” who greeted Mrs. Sutton was undoubtedly him, Bill Hurrell. He lived with his wife and children in the elegant two-storey flat over the shop. He died in 1992. I met Enid Blyton often when staying in Swanage, and she once invited me to be “companion” to her daughters. I was 18 and a music student, so declined! — MRS. WENDY DILLON, ULLENHALL, Nr. HENLEY-IN-ARDEN, WARWICKSHIRE. Thomas Hardy Play Sir: In 1925 my grandfather Philip Ridgeway snr. decided he’d like to stage a production of Tess of the D’Urbervilles at his Little Theatre in Barnes. Thomas Hardy was still alive at the time and had seen a local Dorchester production by the Hardy Players and was quite 44 THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017 A reader recalls Swanage in Dorset and the famous children’s author who visited there. See letter this page. CHRISTOPHER NICHOLSON resistant to another production that he thought wouldn’t be anything like as “good” (he was particularly partial to the leading lady!). Grandfather Ridgeway took a big risk and put the proposed production into rehearsal. He managed to persuade Hardy to let him bring the entire cast down to Dorchester to perform it in his dining room at Max Gate. Hardy stipulated that there were to be no press at the occasion, which was a problem for Grandfather as publicity was what he was after! He agreed, but cast a few “pressmen” as extras (fully costumed) so he got his publicity although there is no record as to Hardy’s feelings about this. There are letters from Hardy to my grandfather in the Dorset County Museum. Hardy was enchanted by Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies who was cast as Tess. The production went ahead with a month at the Barnes Theatre and was followed by a transfer to the West End. — LOUISE DENNY, ST. LEONARDS-ON-SEA, EAST SUSSEX. Bevin Boys Sir: Regarding the “Bevin Boy” article (“Forget-Me-Nots”, Spring 2017) I was conscripted in August 1944 and had a similar experience. On my demob in November 1947, the coal industry had been nationalised and a massive investment programme was implemented. The NCB needed to train personnel to carry out the reorganisation and I was approached and asked to consider a career in mining. Thomas Hardy’s home, Max Gate, where a reader’s grandfather arranged a performance of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. See letter above. JOHN BLAKE After some thought I opted to train as a mine surveyor and attended Wigan Mining College, qualifying in 1953. Many Bevin Boys remained in the industry and had successful careers as managers, scientists, geologists, etc. I completed 40 years of service. The Bevin Boys in general, including myself, had a very rudimentary knowledge of mining and most of us were not interested. After a few years I realised what a fascinating, interesting, hard and rewarding job it was to win coal. We have an ex-Bevin Boys’ Association and I am a member sitting on the national committee. I would highly recommend a visit to the National Museum of Mining at Caphouse Colliery, near Wakefield, Yorkshire. — PHIL ROBINSON,WARRINGTON, CHESHIRE. Roy Faiers Sir: Further to the well-deserved tributes to This England and Evergreen’s founder Roy Faiers, I have the first issue of Norfolk Life from June 1967. It was produced by Roy Faiers from his office in The Street, Brundall, Norfolk, for the wonderful price of three shillings. I subscribed to this magazine for many years and copies are safely preserved in my bookcase today. They are a quality magazine reflecting, in the words of Roy Faiers, “the true spirit of Norfolk and its people both past and present.” Illustrated by the uniquely characteristic drawings of Colin Carr, and black-and-white photographs old and new, they are a delightfully gentle resource to dip into. After several years it was allied with Suffolk under the title of Norfolk and Suffolk Fair. I do not think that this magazine is produced any more, but it has some successors including Suffolk and Norfolk Life. So I would like to feel that Roy Faiers established a pattern of local magazine production that others still follow. Our heritage is what we leave behind. — GEOFFREY DIXON, SMALLBURGH, NORFOLK. Sir: I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Roy Faiers. My first meeting with him was in 1967 in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. I had just moved to the area and was seeking employment in the printing trade. I had come across a small local printers called Windles, which Roy Faiers had

ought to print his first monthly magazine Lincolnshire Life. I commenced working for him and within a few weeks had settled in to what I can honestly say was one of the happiest periods of my working life. Other magazines soon followed including Cotswold Life, Chiltern Life and Norfolk Fair all celebrating the life and times of each county, with no society weddings or celebrity gossip. It was a busy time, with more work than a small printer could cope with so, when This England was launched in 1968, an outside printer was used. When Devon Life was added to the monthly magazines, the printing was transferred to Exeter and I was instrumental in establishing the new plant. Roy Faiers subsequently Covers for the first four issues of This England published in 1968. Readers recall memories of the early days and the magazine’s founder, Roy Faiers (see this and previous page). moved all the editorial offices from Grimsby to Cheltenham and was concentrating all his energies on This England, which had really taken off. By 1972 he decided to sell the printing side of the business, which brought to the end my association with him as my employer. However, our paths did cross again in the late-1980s when I was working as a print estimator for Wheatons, the book and magazine publishers in Exeter. Roy approached the company for a quotation for book printing and thus began a new association with him as my very valuable customer! For the following 10 years I worked on some of his books, which were invariably illustrated by Colin Carr, including Parlour Poetry; Forget-Me-Nots; What’s On the Box? and The Whimsical World of Colin Carr. So for me, my working life has been involved, with Roy Faiers starting with our serendipitous meeting all those years ago. — THOMAS DUNN, ALPHINGTON, EXETER, DEVON. *This England celebrates its 50th birthday in 2018 and we will be marking it with articles in the magazine and a special publication in the summer. —Ed. This England’s Finest Tea Rooms Winter is the season when you can’t beat settling down by an open fire with a cup of tea and this is something that you can certainly look forward to at our first award winner in this issue. Teapots, 31 High Street, Olney, Buckinghamshire has been nominated by local residents Barrie and Barbara Trinder. They tell us: “We are fortunate enough to live just a five-minute walk away from this quaint, oldfashioned tea room so we are able to visit often. The decor oozes nostalgia from shelves displaying vintage tea cups, and, of course, teapots to an array of antique cameras, historic photographs of Olney....while a real coal fire is a welcome sight for visitors on frosty days in winter.” Open throughout the week, the menu has a superb selection of savouries, tempting cakes and the traditional afternoon tea. Among the delicacies highlighted by Barrie and Barbara are the pancakes, with a variety of fillings, which is very fitting as the annual Olney Pancake Race passes the tea room window on Shrove Tuesday. In addition, individual customers’ needs, including gluten free, are always catered for. With all this on offer, and such a warm welcome, we take great pleasure in awarding Teapots one of our certificates. Our second winner is a “first” on our tea-room trail, as it takes us to Northern Ireland. Nannabelle’s Vintage Tea Room, 24b Railway Street, Antrim was discovered by Patricia Owen from Perth, Western Australia, when she was on a recent visit to attend a family wedding. Describing it as “a little gem of a tea room,” Patricia praises “The wonderfully friendly staff and the sumptuous cakes, scones and tray bakes.” She admits that her favourite was the wheaten bread, served with butter, cheese and relish and says that her visit there was “a delightful experience.” Patricia loved the way the tea was poured from silver teapots into pretty china cups and the fact that the staff uniform “made you feel as if you had stepped back in time”. But, looking to the future, she tells us: “This is a definite ‘to do’ next time I visit Northern Ireland.” Travelling much further afield, Jim Willis, who lives in Barrie, Ontario, contacted us to nominate two Canadian establishments, which he considers worthy recipients of our award. The first is James Bay Tea Room, 332 Menzies Street, Victoria, British Columbia and the second, Campbell’s British Foods, 274 Burton Avenue, Barrie, Ontario, is a wonderful combination of a very British cafe, offering a fine and patriotic menu, together with a shop which is stocked with all sorts of delicious food, drink and condiments that offer you a real taste of home. And home is somewhere we return to with our final award for 2017. Maddalena’s, 6 Bank Buildings, 159 High Street, Cranleigh, Surrey is, according to Marion May from Guildford, a “superb tea room”. She praises its “Scrumptious light lunches and afternoon teas, which can be enjoyed while surrounded by pretty pink and grey decor.” For those who find the generous portions, too much, there is “a doggy bag set on a golden tray” to take any left-over treats back home to enjoy. Marion continues, “Maddalena and her friendly and helpful staff make the occasion something special. A perfect place for a memorable event.” Congratulations to all these tea rooms, your certificates are on their way. We will be serving up more winners throughout 2018. In the meantime if you would like to recommend your favourite, send details to: This England’s Favourite Tea Rooms, The Lypiatts, Lansdown Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 2JA, email: editor@ thisengland.co.uk . THIS ENGLAND, Winter, 2017 45

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