The Birth of the Puttenham Parish Room

This story is a partly imagined version of the events which took place more than a hundred years ago and which were an important starting point for the social development of Puttenham village in the twentieth century. The story is told through the eyes of Tom Chapman, a member of the family which has been such a major part of the history of our villages.

Episode 1 – November 1917 as told by Tom Chapman

Why is it that I am always the one who is asked to do the impossible jobs? But when Henry Turner asks you to do something, it’s hard to say no. Since he and his wife Sarah moved into the Old Rectory about six years ago, they have been very prominent in village life and have provided financial support for many of our Church and other social activities. Henry used to be a vet looking after horses for the railways but now he seems to be very well-off. Rumour has it that he inherited lots of money from his father who died soon after he moved here.

The impossible job? Moving a building that Henry says is going to become the centre of Puttenham’s social activities, from Pendley Manor to a site in the village opposite Church Lane. The land and the building has been donated by Joseph Williams, owner of the Manor. Mr Williams is another wealthy benefactor who seems to have a soft spot for Puttenham; unfortunately his gift doesn’t extend to the cost of moving the building from Pendley to its new home. That’s down to me.

Apparently the building is of the prefabricated type, made of corrugated iron and the pieces are now lying in a field on the Pendley estate, waiting for me, and anyone I can find to help me, to collect. The carts that I own are not really suitable for transporting a building but I know that John Deverell of Manor Farm has recently bought a very large dung cart which should do the job.

I often see John in the Queens Head at Long Marston so that same evening I decide to go for a drink there and sure enough, there he is drinking with his wife Alice and some of the other farmers. John’s farmed at the Manor for around 30 years and we get on well. Not all the other farmers can say that; John Procter still won’t talk to him after he took him to court for stealing his hens many years ago.

John’s a bit reluctant to help at first because he says he’s too busy but Alice and the others egg him on. After a few more drinks, he begins to warm to the idea. By closing time, he is fully committed and we agree to meet outside the Queens Head the following morning.

I have never transported a building before and I wonder if I have made a mistake by agreeing to do this. I will find out tomorrow. Maybe it’ll teach me that I ought to say no sometimes.

Episode 2 next week…

This story is a partly imagined version of the events which took place more than a hundred years ago and which were an important starting point for the social development of Puttenham village in the twentieth century. It is mainly based on based on the description of events contained in the excellent ‘Potted History of Long Marston and Puttenham’, supported by our website’s research into the past residents of Puttenham Farms.

The story is told through the eyes of Tom Chapman, a member of the family which has been such a major part of the history of our villages. We welcome feedback which will help us to further develop the authenticity of the story.

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