From the Advertiser archives - November 29 edition

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In the news 100, 50 and 25 years ago

100 years ago

November 30, 1912

Alfred Burrow, a lampman in the employ of the L&NW Railway Co at Rugby Station has been in luck’s way.

When walking along the down platform towards the south end at about four o’clock on Friday afternoon last week he picked up what proved to be a most valuable heart-shaped pendant.

He reported the matter to Mr Mackintosh, foreman of the carriage department, and in due course learnt that it had been claimed by the Countess of Craven as her property.

It was duly returned to her ladyship by the railway officials and on Saturday Burrow received an invitation to go over to Combe Abbey, which he did in the evening.

He was met at Brandon Station by a vehicle sent by Lady Craven, and on arrival at the Abbey was complimented on his honesty and presented by the Countess with £10 in gold as a reward.

A car was also placed at his disposal in order that he might catch a convenient train by which to return home.

I was intrigued by the story in the 100 years ago archive above, were you?

It always takes me hours when I go to the library to trawl through the 1912 micro-film as the writing is just so fascinating and I enjoy the insight into life in Rugby at that time.

The journalists had a lovely turn of phrase, often with the kind of sense of humour we would put on things today.

(1962 on the other hand is incredibly straight, full of council and other authority stories and it’s often really difficult to find you anything interesting at all!)

Anyway, I thought I would try and find out a little more about the Countess of Craven, as she sounded like a very nice, appreciative lady.

Assuming I’ve got the right Countess and the information I’ve found on the internet is also correct, it appears she was called Cornelia and she was the daughter of ‘fabulously rich’ Americans, Mr and Mrs Bradley Martin.

And when she married Lord Craven in 1893, aged 16, it was one of the social sensations of that year.

They were said to be very happy and an entry in ‘Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia’ said: “She developed a dignity, a charm of manner and adaptability to English customs which have won her distinction.

“She is regarded as one of the most successful political hostesses and her reception in March 1912 at Chesterfield Gardens, when the whole of the Ministry, the members of the Diplomatic Service and many prominent politicians were present, was the event of the season.

“The Countess, however, but is more fond of country than town life and is devoted to her beautiful home in Warwickshire, Combe Abbey, which is one of the most interesting old houses in Britain.

“She is interested in chicken farming and her fowls are the most choice and valuable in England, except perhaps the Countess of Derby’s Orpingtons, which are the envy of all chicken fanciers. The Countess has one child, a son, Viscount Uffington, who was born in 1897.”

There is a wonderful photograph of her (which I would love to have to have printed, but it belongs to the National Portrait Gallery so we would have to pay a fee) but if anyone would like to see her, just search ‘Cornelia (nee Martin), Countess of Craven’.

It was taken between 1910 and 1914, so is just how she would have looked when she met the lampman. I think she only died in 1961.

50 years ago

November 30, 1962

The new Church of St George, Hillmorton, the first church to be built in the Coventry Diocese as a result of the Bishop’s Appeal for new churches, launched in 1958, was consecrated on Saturday afternoon in view of a congregation of 600.

The Bishop, in his address, referred to it as a “truly remarkable church - spacious, contemporary, exciting and satisfying. It strikes one, the moment one comes in, as a workshop; as a place of work, for worship is work”.

Early in 1960 the congregation and the church council got down to the serious business of planning the church. At a later stage the architect, Mr Denys Hinton, explained the manner in which he had he hoped successfully included their ideas.

After 14 months in the building, the reality is now before us and inevitably there is criticism.

It is different, it is new, it is a careful blending of certain traditional features and many new ones, and it combines also austerity - the price had to be kept down to £25,000 “an impossibly low figure” and beauty.

25 years ago

November 26, 1987

More than 30 pensioners were marooned in Willoughby village hall as flood water rose about them.

Heavy rain made the brook which runs through the village burst its banks and overflow, leaving members of the 60s club in a predicament.

As they drank cups of tea last Thursday afternoon the water rose, flooding the car park and the main street. When the pensioners had gone into the hall for their usual meeting, the land was dry, but for almost three hours they were stranded.

But they did not let it bother them - they just carried on with their meeting, occupying themselves and showing holiday slides! People rallied round, bringing their cars to the hall, helping the pensioners over the knee-high water and taking them home.

“Nobody was really worried,” said Margery Cook. “It quite often happens when we’ve had lots of rain. The brook’s been over once this year already, but we haven’t had it as bad as this for some time. It came up very quickly.”