AUGUST - Summer Party Time
We get the names of our months from the ancient Romans. September, October, November and December each start with references to Latin words meaning respectively the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th month even though they are of course the 9th to 12th months in our calendar. Following the same pattern July was once known to the Romans as Quintilis and August was Sextilis.
However around the beginning of the Christian era when the Roman Empire was at its most powerful and its emperors most dictatorial, the practice developed of naming the months after Roman gods and emperors. So, praising Caesar (and not as Shakespeare later had it burying him) Mark Anthony had Quintilis renamed July in honour of his murdered forbear, Julius Caesar. Evidently Caesar Augustus who recovered the imperial throne after defeating Mark Anthony in battle thought this a splendid idea and chose to rename Sextilis after himself. It became August.
So in this month of glorious summer, we’ll tell some stories of entertainments and other summer events in the Denham communities of times past. Maybe our readers will recognise some of the people in our photos and descriptions of these events?
This year the days at the end of July have been hot. August so far not so fine, but it is holiday time nonetheless. The days are still long and the nights still short. It’s summer party time.
Some of these names mentioned in our history of village parties, events and celebrations are legends from the past 100 years or more, some much more recent. Val for example has shared some very special memories from Swandane where she and Alan lived and entertained for over 30 years. Val recalls summers of the 1960s and ‘70s when, for most working people, paid holidays in summer were limited to two or, at best, three weeks.
"Sometimes it was a dilemma as to what to do with the children for four weeks in August. I offered to open our garden on Thursday afternoons from 2-5 and give everyone tea and cake after playing games and relaxing. At the time there was a little Toddlers Group in the church extension. I borrowed the toys from there so the children could play in the garden and then I would take the playthings back. We had a team of people who used to help. One man from church sat near the pool, and we had a team of people helping with teas. We never had to produce any more than one cake per family…because everyone chipped in…always!! And we served over 100 cups of teas each Thursday afternoon for the 4 weeks in August.
Throughout the 11 years from 1969 through 1980, we never cancelled because of the weather. Irene Courtenay-Luck took over the August teas from me, continuing it for three more years after that. Barbara Randall and many, many others came to help.
When we started, we created tickets to get in, but soon the house was open to come in and out. There was a changing room and toilets in the pool area. These were and still are wonderful memories for our family and other families who came to enjoy those summer Thursday afternoons. The Bucks Advertiser advertised the event and the Village Voice also noted the event in its social pages too."
Social media communications have replaced local newspapers that advertised community events in the way that Val describes, and because these online records do not have the permanence of the printed word, the opportunity for future generations to research the community entertainments of the present day will be so much more limited. Fortunately for us now, some old newspaper items are still available and the details they reveal are quite fascinating. The plus side of electronic communication is that we can often research these local community stories online in newspaper stories that have been “digitised”.
Gardening both for pleasure and as an employment has long been one of the favourite activities of Denham villagers. With several large manorial estates in and around the village and with so many of the farm workers’ cottages fronting “burgage” plots, gardening both for pleasure and as an employment has long been one of the favourite activities of Denham villagers. The census reports throughout the 19th century consistently show a large number of residents claiming “gardener” as their occupation. The tradition has been maintained and developed in Denham’s still thriving gardening club and in the summer openings of local gardens to the general public.
These summer events were often advertised in the local press. In July 1950, the Uxbridge and West Drayton Gazette advertised a Garden Party and Fete in Higher Denham including an evening whist and a carnival dance. Not to be outdone, the then owners of Dickfield House (now Summerfield House), in the same issue of the Gazette, advertised a Garden Bazaar with “stalls of home-made cakes, treats, teas and children’s amusements”.
Having Fun AND Doing Good
All over the Denham communities right up to date we have summer events for both enjoyment and to raise money for good causes. The summer opening of gardens is no exception. In late May, the Denham Village Garden Club was fortunate to have the opportunity to tour Wind in the Willows, an open garden in Higher Denham. On Sunday 30th May, the gardens at The White House hosting over 200 guests were opened with tea and cake to be enjoyed as they strolled. There have been similar events, over the years, in the gardens at Kayalami, at Hills House, Cedar Tree Cottage, Little Halings, Weller’s Mead and Blacksmith’s Cottage.
The entry fees at all these charitable events sponsored by the National Garden Scheme support a variety of worthwhile causes. Visitors are eager participants who enjoy the varied array of flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetable gardens.
Competing for the Best
The summer gardening events of the recent past are not competitive as once they were in the village, nor, happily, as dominated by the divisions of class and relative wealth as can be identified in a report of August 1899 in the West Middlesex and Gazette covering a gathering of the “Denham Cottage Garden Society”.
"Under the most favourable weather conditions, an exhibition of fruit, flowers, vegetables, needlework, etc. presented by the Denham Cottage Garden Society was held in the ground of Denham Place by the kind permission of Mrs. Way on Wednesday afternoon. The worthy object of the society is to promote the well-being of the labouring classes by offering prizes for vegetables, flowers, fruit, honey, needlework, etc.
Mr. H. Swithinbank is president of the Society, and the duties of treasurer and secretary are performed by Mrs. Way. The affairs are managed by the following committee: Lady Willshire, Mrs. and Miss Way, Mrs. Goodlake, Mr. and Mrs. Swithinbank, Rev. R. and Mrs. Lathbury, Mr. and Mrs. Bewes, Mr. and Mrs. Bird, Mr. Way, Mr. W. Gilbey, Mr. and Mrs. Morten, Mrs. Smith, Rev. J. Livesey and Mr. Ford.
There was good attendance at the show. The vegetables and fruit exhibits were arranged in a large marquee, and the needlework was arranged in a smaller tent. In many classes there were no competitors at all considering the dryness of the season. As it was, the villagers may well be proud of the exhibition, and with increased interest in a larger show, there would be a wider distribution of the prize money.
The free show of ferns, flowers and fruit contributed by ladies and gentlemen residing in the neighbourhood formed a beautiful relief to the substantial row of vegetables; there were heavy bunches of luscious grapes, fine tomatoes, apricots, pears and melons, as well as excellent specimens of apples, cherries, plums, and all kinds of gooseberries and currants.
Many groups of beautiful flowers and plants were sent by—Mr. Swithinbank (gardener, Mr. Rowell), Rev. R. H. Lathbury (gardener, Mr. Taylor), Mr. Ford (gardener, Mr. Adams), Mrs. Gerald Goodlake (gardener. Mr. Hearn), Mrs. Way (gardener, Mr. Wright). Collections of fruit "not for competition " were exhibited by Mr. Swithinbank, Rev. R. H. Lathbury, Mrs. Way, and Mrs. G. Goodlake, who also showed some fine Rocca Giant onions.
The judges awarded prizes for the best fruits, and vegetables: peas, runner beans, potatoes, onions, turnips, broad beans, dwarf beans, marrows, beets and cabbages. There were also prizes for the best nosegay of wild flowers for children, best bunch of different varieties of field grasses for children, for the greatest number of Queen wasps collected by schoolboys and for the best honey in comb."
Summer Respite for Factory Girls
The benevolence of Denham’s wealthier residents was again evident in the summer of 1900. Again the Uxbridge and West Drayton Gazette reported the event. It left no doubt about the prominence of wealthy residents in the Denham communities who shared their gardens for very special events.
"It must have been a most pleasant change to the sixty or seventy factory girls who spent last Saturday afternoon roaming about the beautiful grounds of Denham Fishery, the country residence of Mrs. Goodlake, who had kindly invited them to do so. They came as far as Rickmansworth by train, and then drove to Denham in brakes, being accompanied by Father and Miss D. Ring.
Under large marquees, Mrs. Goodlake had caused a substantial meal to be prepared, and this was the first business on arrival. She and other willing workers, quickly marshalled and fed the guests, who were warmly welcomed by their boater, and in an incredibly short space of time the girls were roaming the grounds, nearly swamping the boats, gathering the water lilies, or admiring the beautiful bay, whilst some girls made haycocks to make some capital romping places.
The three hours between dinner and tea passed like a dream, though the fresh air had again quickened their appetites, and they were quite ready to respond to the tea bell, which was another very pleasant meal.
Besides Mrs. Goodlake, who was very solicitous for the comfort of her guests, to which she gave personal attention, there were present during the afternoon, Mrs. Way. Miss Way, Mrs. Henry Webster, Mr. Webster, Rev R. H. Lathbury, Miss Lathbury, Rev. Mr. Sprigg, North Hyde. Before taking their seats to drive home, each girl was presented with a bunch of flowers and a bun, and they went off about half-past six in high spirits, cheering as they went. That they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves was quite apparent to all."
There is no identification of who these “factory girls” may have been, nor where they worked. Their journey may well have been quite long and uncomfortable for there was no railway station in Denham until 1906. If the “brakes” in which they travelled from Rickmansworth were automotive, they were very new off the production line in 1900 as it was only in that year that the motorised version began to take over from the horse drawn vehicles of the kind normally used to transport shooting parties and their equipment.
It was no doubt a pleasant diversion for all concerned. The names of several guests are again familiar, including again the Rev. Robert Henry Lathbury, Rector of St. Mary’s who four years later, was to complete and publish his mammoth History of Denham.
Maintaining St. Mary’s
From old newspaper accounts we can see that support for St Mary’s with open garden events was not a new initiative in 2019. Over the years a number of fundraising events have helped to support and maintain this important feature of our local community history including of course our annual fair in May.
For example, in May 1939, a unique fun event was reported under the intriguing headline “A PENNY POOL FOR DENHAM CHURCH”
"An effort to raise funds for repairs for bells, the Tower and for other repairs, an attempt to surround St. Mary's Church. Denham, by pennies will be made on Monday. This original scheme will, it is hoped, prove successful in raising a considerable amount towards the total sum necessary for repairing the roof, tower and bells. There is a path which runs round the outside, and as each contribution is given to the collectors, the appropriate distance along the path will be marked off as “paid.” (Every penny measures about an inch and a quarter.) By this method, money will be raised every time the distance round the path is marked off.
The sum needed to put the bells alone in order is estimated to be £5OO, so it is hoped that pennies will not be the only donations. Another feature of the effort will be the floodlighting of the church both from the inside and exterior. The inner lighting will show up to advantage the beautiful stained glass windows, and the outer, the general architecture of this fine old church. Notes on the history of the church are being prepared, and the information will be passed on to visitors as thy are conducted round. Anybody will be welcome between 9.30 a.m. and about 9.30 p.m. "
It is not recorded whether this event reached even the target of £500 to deal with the bells. That is a sum which seems so modest today, but not so when it is realised that to achieve the same result today would involve raising not far short of £35,000 or put another way counting enough £1 coins laid side by side to stretch over four fifths of a kilometre i.e. all around the churchyard not just the church.
The bells, the bells
This mention of the bells of St. Mary’s is a reminder that the bells may toll on sombre occasions, they also ring out in celebration of joyful events. St. Mary’s Church in Denham has no less than eight bells, a feature of its tower which gave a name to the beerhouse, The Eight Bells, which stood in its shadow and is now a family home, The White Cottage.
The tower once housed five bells rescued from Biddlesden Abbey in North Buckinghamshire by Sir Robert Peckham owner of the property we know now as Denham Place. Biddlesden Abbey had been acquired by Robert’s father, Edmund Peckham when the abbey fell victim to the English Reformation which followed King Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church.
There are different versions of what happened to these five bells. The most often repeated version has it that they were recast into the eight in 1683 and it is those which still hang in the tower. There is another version that dates the casting of the bells now in the tower to different dates between 1683 and 1875 but the two versions are not inconsistent if the various dates in the second version were in fact dates for recastings of the originals.
The largest bell weighs about a ton and was probably double this figure before the 1683 re-casting was effected.
Our community is familiar with the joyful ringing of St. Mary’s bells, not least to announce the opening of the late May public holiday “Fayre” that we have so much missed these last two years, but the “peal” of the bells is a far rarer event. This a technical term. For a performance to be recognised as a peal, it must consist of sufficient numerical sequences, or "changes" (at least 5040 changes on up to seven working bells or 5000 changes on higher numbers) and meet a number of other specialist criteria. On typical tower bells a peal takes around three hours to ring; the time depends on several factors including the number of changes and the weight of the bells, which affects the speed of ringing.
There have been surprisingly few “peals” rung on the bells of St. Mary’s. The last known, possibly the first of the 1683 recast set, was a peal of Bob Major (a full performance) rung by the Ancient Society of College Youths towards the end of the 18th century.
The Rev. Lathbury, who was Rector in the years following 1879, caused the seventh and tenor bells to be re-hung as the timber of the framework had become decayed, and after a lapse of nearly a century a Bob Major peal was rung on them by the London based Society of Royal Cumberland Youths on November 18, 1893, the time taken being three hours nine minutes.
On May 6. 1899 the Ancient Society of College Youths and the Hertfordshire Association rang in three hours five minutes, a peal of the particularly complex “Stedman triples” involving 5,040 changes. The performance lasted for three hours five minutes. According to the Uxbridge & W. Drayton Gazette which recalled the story in 1939 this was the first peal of Stedman ever to be rung at St. Mary's.
Village school celebrations
As might be expected the village school has also been the centre of “events”. In May 1892 for example, the children performed an adventurous ‘cantata’ before crowded audiences. It was The Bucks Herald which told the story.
"The members of the chorus came on singly each playing with some child’s toy such as hoop, ball, doll, skipping rope, mouth organ, horn etc. This was followed by another chorus in which three girls dressed as fairies appeared and in turn sang their roles. Other characters followed in their proper order. Each boy or girl sang his or her song satisfactorily as the plaudits of the audience testified. Intermingled with the songs were some games which caused a great deal of fun and amusement representing the assembly on a village green.
The finale, in which all the characters were very effectively arranged in their different costumes, was very pleasing. The most effective item, perhaps, was “The Middy and the Sailor Boys” who went through some capital sword drills and then sang a very taking song, “We’re some of the crew of the All-so-brave” after which they marched off to their places amidst great applause."
Then in 1978, the children of the Denham First School turned the clock back 100 years to celebrate the school’s centenary by dressing up in Victorian costumes and parading through the village observed and recorded by the cameras of the BBC’s early evening Nationwide programme.
In 1937 a very great cause for celebration was the Coronation of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II’s father who unexpectedly, perhaps most unexpected by himself, who took the throne after the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII. Edward had been driven to abdication the previous year because of his determination to marry an American divorcee – or at least that is what his “subjects”, the people of Britain and its empire were led to believe, though these days there is reason to suggest that Edward’s rather too cosy relationship with National Socialism in Germany coupled with his clear sympathies for the plight of the “labouring classes” might have had something to do with it.
In any event by May 1937 Denham villagers were far more concerned to mark the crowning of George VI as their monarch. The local press became quite lyrical, though ultimately defeated in its poetic lyricism by the English late spring weather.
"There could be no more fitting setting for a patriotic celebration than that of the old world village of Denham. All day long on Wednesday there was a constant stream of hikers, cyclists and motorists to see the charm that is Old England. The picturesque ivy covered cottages gaily decorated as they were and with the red and white flag floating serenely above all on the church tower did much to lighten (wait for it) a leaden sky."
The day had begun with a church service and continued through the day until well past nightfall culminating in the lighting of a “giant bonfire” in the paddock of The White House "by kind permission of Colonel and Lady Victoria Braithwaite" – a form of celebration which today’s owners of The White House despite all their generosity are unlikely now to repeat.
It was Colonel Braithwaite who led the parade of ex-service men in the afternoon. That was followed by prize giving for the winners of the children’s sports competitions and a lengthy vehicle parade headed by a “splendidly decorated bicycle decked in the manner of a red, white and blue liner and christened King George VI”.
At 4 o’clock that afternoon the villagers sat down to tea. It was, said the Uxbridge and West Drayton Gazette “the biggest meal that has ever been seen in Denham”. That may well not have been journalistic hyperbole and may indeed still be true. There were 800 people in three relays in the school classrooms. 200 lbs of cake, that’s over 90 kilos, were consumed and someone troubled to count that 2,744 slices of bread were cut. It is to be hoped that grateful thanks were offered to Otto Rohwedder for his invention of the electric bread slicer only 9 years earlier. It is possible that that particular facility had not yet been welcomed in Denham by 1937, but since the catering was organised by Mr. Doree of the Denham Film Studios restaurant, it seems reasonable to assume that cutting 2,744 slices of bread was not left to a small army of knife wielders.
Having been so well provided for with tea, sandwiches and cake, the revellers then had the opportunity to watch the spectacle of a rescue from a burning building “exceptionally well staged” by the firefighters of the London Film Studios Brigade in which heroic rescues at dizzying heights were accomplished. The firefighters then had the opportunity to recover from their exertions whilst the villagers adjourned to the village hall for the “flannel dance” i.e. no dress suits and ball gowns required - no doubt to ensure the attendance of village farmworkers as well as the local gentry. The firefighters presumably remained on hand for the display that followed but they would have been relieved that Colonel Braithwaite’s fireworks and giant bonfire were all kept well under control.
Our Village Hall and Village Green are both great assets. Both the Hall and the Green have hosted concerts, performances, some great quiz nights and many other celebrations and events - and they continue to do so, though the village hall is these days rather less the centre of social events than once it was. Denham's history as a rural community of course made the annual harvest supper at the end of summer a great celebratory event and a tradition which continued well into the second half of the 20th century as the photo here shows.
Also worth a mention are the “Supper Club” events started by Ian Winterbourn in the late 1980s. Ian intended this to be Denham’s version of the Pudding Club founded at the Three Ways House Hotel in Gloucestershire in 1985 “to prevent the demise of the great British Pudding” until he discovered that the name was trade mark protected. So he changed the name to the Supper Club but still made sure that his puddings rivalled those of the original.
Ian was also the inspiration for the “street parties” still annually enjoyed by the residents of the Blackbarn and Baconsmead cottages in July or August of each year. As with the Supper Club the name does not accurately describe these events since they actually take place in the residents’ gardens, but the parties have been known to continue from early afternoon until well past midnight, occasionally no doubt leaving a particular year’s hosts yearning for their beds.
Sometimes we don’t need a special or organised event to get together to socialise. Any typical Friday evening on the Village Green with a drink in hand (or not) from a nearby pub is an invitation to join a social group, but our village green still hosts all kinds of organised events.
Until 1952 on what we know as the Village Green, there were once five cottages, the Island Cottages, still remembered by some of our older lifetime residents. However, in 1952 the Island Cottages were demolished and the land on which they stood was purchased by the Reverend Herbert Ward, brother of Lady Vansittart, the owner of Denham Place. The Reverend Ward then promptly gifted the land for use as a village green to a trust which was administered after 1974 by the very well remembered Jay Ashbrook and Hugh Stewart, who together maintained the green for many years supported by Standing Order donations from local residents. Here’s how, in December 1992 the Uxbridge & W. Drayton Gazette updated news about the Green:
"DENHAM FOREVER GREEN: As Denham village green celebrates its 40th birthday its trustes have learnt it has been granted charitable status. The news gives villagers double cause for celebration as a registered charity the leafy area can be maintained and kept for the enjoyment of residents and the thousands of people who visit the picturesque village."
The trust is now administered by the Parish Council which continues to organise events on the green including the very popular summer and autumn events. Despite cancellations, the Denham Parish Council will again sponsor Music on the Green this August. That’s an outdoor event which draws visitors from far and wide, making continued good use of the Green.
Also, though not of course a summer event, the Green also provides a display when volunteers help decorate the tree at Christmastime to provide a stage for choral presentations.
Exorcisms on the Green
There is also a story from long ago. It is one we have told elsewhere on our website, but it is worth repeating.
During the reign of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, Denham Place was the property of Sir George Peckham, a noted Catholic. In the early part of her reign Elizabeth had struggled to reconcile her Protestant and Catholic subjects after the violently divisive reigns of her father, Henry VIII and her half sister Mary. She favoured Sir George and had visited him in Denham. However, the Catholic plots against her rather overwhelmed her efforts forcing her governments into more oppressive measures against the more aggressive and dangerous of her Catholic enemies. For his part George, though not perhaps himself a threat, played host at Denham Place to some who were including, it is believed, one Anthony Babington a conspirator who plotted Elizabeth’s assassination.
Amongst the guests at Denham Place (not the house we see now which was built almost a century later) were a group of Catholic militants who staged a series of exorcisms outside their host’s property as a means of frightening the local people to return to the true Catholic faith. It is widely believed that these events then inspired William Shakespeare to write of the madness of King Lear.
How fitting it would then be that one day a performance of Lear should take place on the very spot where over four hundred years ago the events took place which inspired its authorship.
Barn Dances and the like
Many readers will remember Madelene Paton, the doctor’s wife born Madelene Bacon daughter of the architect who gave his name to Baconsmead. She is certainly remembered as well into her 70s, she carried her banner high through all our local communities demanding that the village be saved from the golf course development that now surrounds it. Though the campaign she led was ultimately unsuccessful in its efforts to protect the farm on which the Buckinghamshire Golf Course is established, her efforts no doubt ensured that the village was protected from more intrusive development and that the Country Park was given the opportunity to thrive as it has.
Madelene was a driving force for so much more in local community events and activities. For example, she organised the luncheon club that now bears her name.
But perhaps Madelene is most remembered for the Barn Dances that took place annually in her garden to support the Thames Valley Hospice. Many village locals now enjoy the great events in support of the hospice as Philip and Irene open their house and gardens twice or three times a year to donor members of the Hospice Support Group. However, many of them may be unaware that these events have their predecessor in Madelene’s amazing Barn dances in her garden in Ashmead Drive. Madelene’s son Mac remembers:
"A good friend, Dr. Trish Kerrin, from the Uxbridge surgery where my father, Dr. Paton, also worked, introduced Madelene to the Thames Valley Hospice. She often helped out at the hospice and was known to clean floors for them even at the age of 80. She began a fund-raising campaign, hence the barn dances, roping friends and family in to make them a huge success. So began a long association with the village and the hospice."
Mac recalls the mammoth exercise of securing chairs and tables for up to 300 people and toured the neighbourhood with a van which was never really big enough. On some occasions he was fortunate to have the help of Jeff Newell, the pig farmer with tractor and trailer.
“Jeff was a man always there for any job that needed doing in the village and his assistance made it so much easier. The school, churches and scouts were all willing to help but everyone needed the furniture back in place on Sunday morning before morning prayers and Monday morning school.
The food on offer was a great barbecue followed by strawberries and ice-cream. Madelene claimed to have picked all the strawberries herself from the various pick-your-own farms in the area. There were three BBQs with the cooks working flat out to ensure everyone could eat at roughly the same time."
Mac recalls mischievously that there was some considerable rivalry among the three couples with dastardly deeds carried out to wreck the oppositions’ chances. Pouring water over a rival’s coals was just one of the pranks. Whatever fun was had the cooks ensured there were no injuries and no-one had food poisoning. The garage was turned into a bar for the occasion ably run by Mr. and Mrs. Hadfield. Mac adds:
"One of my father’s patients, a boxing teacher commonly known as “Sarge” worked hard all day. His key task was to dig holes in the ground behind a large hedge to accommodate the toilets and to empty them the next morning. There was some danger of falling into these holes as the night wore on.
“These events were great fun for all with a splendid caller urging everyone to join in with the dancing. They were occasions for people from the whole village to attend with children of all ages encouraged to join in the fun - and they made thousands of pounds for the Hospice.”
There is another memory of the Barn Dances from Al.
"The Annual Denham Village Barn Dance, like many things one grows up doing, was at once totally normal, special, routine and bizarre. The year in Denham Village, growing up in the 80s and 90s was punctuated by these annual events that we simply went to, got involved with and enjoyed as a family.
Memories of the Barn Dance are vivid and almost other-worldly. The 36-year-old me can hardly imagine attending something like the Barn Dance today, but as a child I would look forward to it immensely. The BBQ that would seemingly go on forever, with blackened sausages and burgers, salads, potatoes and a dessert consisting of slices of that oddly rectangular ice cream and fruit… delicious!
The dancing wasn’t always high on the list for the children. We preferred the opportunity to run though the vast expanse of Madelene’s garden and the woods behind her house that led onto the Rec. These memories are still so clear - bathed in the scents of summer pollen, citronella candles and charcoal smoke, and soundtracked by the music and call-outs from the MC.
For days after a barn dance, we’d be singing “it’s a good day for shining your shoes” around the house, interjecting with calls occasionally the way the MC would at the dance.
As I grew a little older, again, as with many Denham Village events, I would start to invite friends to attend the barn dance too. Usually they enjoyed it, but it would occur to me that actually, this wasn’t something most communities just “did” every year, and the eccentric nature of the fact that villagers DID do this only served to make it more memorable and special.
Swing the girl when you get back home, circle to the left, left, left."
Great support for the Thames Valley Hospice continues under the direction of the Denham Support Group with the twice yearly White House events, the annual walk followed by Irene’s amazing sausage pie (and much else), the sponsored London to Brighton cycle challenge, the annual ball and other delightful events and celebrations.
Since the then Rector’s wife, Val Crick, started them in the 1970s to help fund the replacement of the church organ, several charities and St. Mary’s church have benefited from the Vestry Teas, the sale of tea and cakes (donated by parishioners) and enjoyed in the churchyard. Each week, a variety of charities have provided the hosts and servers and both St. Mary’s and these various charities benefit from a share of the proceeds. Dozens of community friends and families have enjoyed these informal get-togethers from late spring through to summer’s end. Sadly, during these past two years the pandemic has interrupted the schedule but we do look forward to the return of the vestry teas hopefully in summer 2022.
Recently, several groups have also made available their crafts for sale, making the weekly events similar to an afternoon, informal market. A special time for St. Mary’s Parish Church is in September when the entire community is invited to St. Mary’s Patronal Festival.
Community Generosity Continues
The community history of the village is about the stories from the past that shape so much of that with which we are familiar in the present. One of the great values of this community is the support and friendship and support we give to each other whilst we enjoy all the pleasures of events in the village and across the wider Denham community. Our stories concentrate on the village because it is of course in the village that we can trace a long history. But the village of the 21st century now extends its history to that wider community that is Denham.
Over many years, area community individuals and groups have generously supported children’s charities, cancer charities, social lunches for retired persons, tea dances, and general kindnesses and food banks, not only, but especially, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Long may it continue.
Photo of The Misbourne - www.denhamparish.church/misbourne/
Factory Girls - Wikimedia Commons Images
British Newspaper Archive - www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
Interviews with local residents past and present
National Garden Scheme - ngs.org.uk