Special Intercessions and Generous Contributions

It has been impossible looking across our lovely country in all its August glory – and glorious indeed it is this year, not a sea of mud, as two years ago, or a desert of dust as in 1911, but green and gold, bright in the sunshine, the harvest teams carrying the well-got crops to the stack – it has been impossible to realise that not two hundred miles from our coast, the biggest war in history is in progress, and that Britain is one of the combatants. At noontide the harvest field presents the usual scene of industry, without any apparent diminution, and we should forget, if such a thing were possible, the task to which Britain had put her hand, until from the grey old church tower, rising from the cluster of trees, among whose greenery brown patches of stone and thatch marks the village homes, comes a few strokes of the church bell. It is the “Peace bell” which has been adopted in many of our rural parishes, and rings at noon to remind the workers and others who enjoy the blessings of peace in the midst of war of the need of their prayers for those fighting that peace may be preserved.

If we enter the harvest field we are not greatly struck by any difference to other years. There are apparent here and there a volunteer or two. In one Oxfordshire village, the schoolmaster was seen hard at work, enjoying his holiday in helping to carry his neighbour’s corn, and in others grooms and gardeners have turned out to take the places of men who have been called out on military service. There are very few of our villages that have not furnished their quota, but in no case has it been sufficient to interfere with the general work of the harvest, although an individual farmer may have been hit rather hard, in which case his friends and neighbours, as above, show an admirable spirit of help. It is similarly so with the horses. In almost all villages, the remount officers have been and drawn what they have required. In some cases a certain amount of inconvenience has been reported, but the class of horse usually required for agricultural purposes has not been required, and the sales made have generally been at satisfactory prices to the sellers. An inquiry in the local villages does not confirm the rumours heard a week or two ago of local tradesmen and farmers being crippled by the loss of horses. That these were not confined to our locality is shown by the statement which the Board of Agriculture has thought it desirable to issue, which shows that only slightly over one per cent of the total heavy draught horses used for agriculture have been taken by the military authorities. Obviously there is a sufficiency of horses for military purposes without interfering with agriculture. Such a conclusion is borne out by our local inquiries. In Banbury and Bloxham Petty Sessional Division the number of horses returned in the Board of Agriculture statistics for 1913 was 2,389; in the Brailes district, 1,450; Kineton, 1,616; Brackley, 2,841.

While dealing with the question of horse supply, we might draw attention to official notice which appear in our advertising columns from the remount authorities for this district, giving the names of the gentlemen authorised to purchase the county. Local farmers and tradesmen should see therein named.

Leaving the fields and entering the villages, at the present moment we see a wonderful spirit prevailing, and the reports printed below show that this spirit is general. The heart of the country is thoroughly sound, and one thinks that it is probably so throughout the whole of the kingdom one realises the tremendous moral force created by the war.

As one enters a village at the present moment, one is met by a great anxiety to know the latest news, meagre as it has been up to now, and one is conscious of a barely concealed excitement, especially among the older people who are more oppressed than the young by the dreadful suspense which accompanies waiting for tidings fraught with so much. One thing that strikes one, as you look round the village and inquire what is being done, and that is the wonderful unanimity which this miserable war has produced. It is not only at Westminster that ranks have been closed. In the least-known village the spirit prevails. Religion, politics, local petty and personal jealousies, which in normal times divide up even the smallest village communities, have disappeared and a wonderful industry has taken the place of contemplating their neighbours’ differences from themselves. In all the villages the women have set themselves hard at work making garments destined for the fighting line, or the sick and wounded, and this in a spirit of concord and common interest for their dear country’s sake which has revealed a feeling too little seen in village life. It has been quite touching to see some of the very old doing beautiful work, even at hard labour to themselves. There is a true love breathed in our village labours today, and it has burst through the rubbish which for so many years has obscured it. In the Te Deum which in God’s good time we hope to sing, let us not forget this revelation as one of the blessings for which we return thanks.

The hunger scare which beset the country as well as the town has subsided during the past fortnight. Instances have been reported to us of those with the means laying up food for months ahead, and also of village tradesmen charging the villagers a higher price for foodstuffs. A look round the fields, rickyards, gardens and pigstyes tends to convince us that there is foodstuffs in the country for many months to come. A well-known agriculturalist of prudent mind, however, remarked to us that the more thoughtful were wondering what it would be like when the east wind blows at Lady Day, and said that the best advice he could give us was, “Trust in God and waste nothing,” a motto for the moment from the country which deserves to be given as wide a circulation as the “Business as usual,” which is resounding from the towns. Another farmer told us that the price of many articles of consumption has been met to a great extent by the increased wages paid during harvest, and he also informed us – and we were grateful to hear it – that an excellent good feeling is existing between employers and employed.

Turning to the harvest itself we have much to be thankful for. In the first place the glorious harvest weather bestowed by a bountiful Providence, which enables us to gather well the fruits of the earth at a time when they are of exceptional importance. In many places the crops are cut and safely in the rick, dry, and ready for use another day. The crop itself is a good one, on the whole quite up to the average, and comparing favourably with any we have had since 1908. Wheat is over the average and barley a full average. Oats and beans vary considerably, and the former have been stated as under average in Oxfordshire, while an agriculturalist on the Warwickshire side said there were some considerable good prices, and he did not think they were the minority. The spring sown crop in many cases is almost a failure, while winter oats and winter beans are unusually good. In Banbury market on Thursday the official average for wheat was 35s 5½d per quarter against 45s 6½d a fortnight ago. Cattle and sheep are now selling at satisfactory prices to the stock-breeder, the sheep being particularly dear.

On the question of military service our inquiries have shown, as stated above, that there are few of our local villages which have not furnished men for service. On the other hand recruiting does not seem to have been brisk in many of the agricultural villages. This may be explained by the fact that few eligible young men now remain in their native place to find employment in agriculture, and also there is not in the village the same impetus that is found in the town where the young man has his patriotism excited to action by the examples of his comrades and fellow workmen.

Finally, there is the deeper aspect of the national crisis. There is no doubt that it has produced a religious spirit among all classes of the people, and this is quite as perceptible in the villages as in the towns. In churches and chapels throughout the district special services of intercession are held and are well attended. That such large congregations have been secured in the middle of harvest as have been seen at some of the village services evidences the quality of the spirit in which the situation is faced. The generosity shown to the collections is very striking. The country people are giving liberally if their means, and many of the collections would do credit to a larger place. In nearly all the villages intercession services are being held daily or weekly.

Banbury Guardian, August 1914

Obituary of Susan Ellen White

Avon Dassett

Obituary – we regret to announce the death of Mrs. Susan Ellen White, wife of Mr J. H. White, the assistant overseer for Bishop’s Itchington. The deceased lady, who came of an old Avon Dassett family [Gardner], had been ailing for some considerable time from an affection of the heart. About a fortnight ago she became worse, and she passed away on Saturday evening last at the age of sixty-two. She leaves a husband and five sons and five daughters to mourn her loss. The funeral took place on Thursday, the Rev. G. A. Irving officiating.

Banbury Guardian, August 1914

Masters of Foxhounds Association and the War

At a meeting of the Committee of the Masters of Foxhounds Association held at Tattersall’s for the purpose of considering the possibility and advisability of hunting this coming season, there were present the Duke of Beaufort, Lord Leconfield, Mr G. W. Fitzwilliam, Mr J. C. Straker, Mr E. Curre, Mr W. H. Wharton, and the Hon. Secretary, Mr. J. R. Rawlence. The following resolution was passed unanimously:

While recognising the fact that, under the present circumstances, regular hunting will be impossible, the Committee of the Masters of Foxhounds Association consider that it would be most prejudicial to the country in general if it were to lapse altogether. They would therefore recommend that cub hunting should take place, and continue as long as possible, in order to kill as many foxes as possible in the various countries and enter the young hounds, but that hunting should not be looked upon from a sporting point of view until the war is over. Where it is not possible to hunt the full number of days, the committee strongly recommend masters of hounds to take measures to reduce the number of foxes in proportion to the amount of hunting days they think they will be able to manage. They would also urge that people having the interests of hunting at heart should continue to subscribe, as far as their means permit, to the various packs, as otherwise a very serious state of things may arise. The committee ask the general public to recognise that this partial suspension of hunting is in a great measure caused by the fact that the horses of the various hunting establishments have been freely and willingly handed over to the service of the country.

Banbury Guardian, August 1914

Fenny Compton and the War

At Fenny Compton, the Boy Scout troop, under Miss Hayter, the Scoutmistress, have been guarding bridges on the Great Western Railway and attending a class in first aid under Dr Elkington’s direction. A sewing party meets on Tuesdays and Fridays in the Reading Room, to make clothes etc. for those at the front. Mrs Dickens takes charge of the party. Dr Elkington is lecturing on nursing and First Aid in the district (Red Cross), and Mrs Elkington is the representative for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Association. A bell is tolled daily at noon to remind people of the need of their intercessions, and, in common with the rest of the country, a special service of intercession was held on Friday. The call on the horses has not been sufficient to hamper agricultural or other work.

Banbury Guardian, August 1914

Intercession Service, Northend

On Friday, August 21st, national supplication day, there was a special intercession service at Northend Church at 11 and 7 pm, both being well attended. Our people have most generously responded to an appeal made for the cost of materials for making garments for the wounded, and very many of our women and children have promised to work in cutting out and sewing. On Sunday August 23rd a collection was made in our churches morning and evening for the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund.

Banbury Guardian, August 1914

National Patriotic Association

The National Patriotic Association of which the King is the patron, have issued the following watchwords to influence public opinion in the direction of doing business as usual:

Trust in God.

Serve your country.

Be patriotic. Don’t be excited.

Be enthusiastic. Don’t be in a hurry.

Pass on. Do something. Don’t swell an idle crowd.

Shoulder your own share. Don’t put your responsibilities onto others.

In victory and defeat alike practice self-control. Don’t despair or “maffick.”

Learn to encourage and to be helpful. Don’t poor cold water or be content with criticism.

Be economical and insist on economy. Don’t waste anything or permit waste in your household or your business.

When spending money think how much good you can do to others. Don’t buy foreign goods if you can get British.

Do all you can to keep down the prices of commodities by buying less quantity than usual. Don’t allow any individuals or syndicates to corner, collect, or control necessaries for the poor, or things required by the forces.

Do all you can to provide employment for men and women. Don’t do anything which will increase the number of unemployed or make people objects of charity.

When it really becomes necessary to reduce expenses, put people on partial work and partial pay. Don’t discharge them and swell the ranks of the unemployed.

Take your servants and workpeople into your confidence and explain the position to them. Don’t be content with bald notices or drastic action.

Influence every single able-bodied young man in the country to volunteer immediately. Don’t allow any of them to be playing games if you can prevent them.

Keep their situations open for those who are serving their King and country, and don’t forget to see their dependants are provided for whilst they are away.

Banbury Guardian, August 1914