Sunday, 21 February 2010

Lady Henry Somerset's eloquent testimony, 1895

Lady Henry Somerset was the main landowner here in Reigate in 1895. She also owned Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, Herefordshire, from where she wrote the following letter that has just turned up. It was the occasion of the retirement of the Pastor of the old Congregational Church in the High Street - ah, those were the days. Nowadays it's a Marks and Spencer's.

"It would be impossible for any inhabitant of Reigate to fail to appreciate the services of Mr Adeney - his venerable presence and his uplifting influence have made their mark on the town, and I am glad to think that many will assemble to tell him all the glad things that are in their hearts. It is well when we are ready to speak words of cheer to the ears that are still quick to listen, and to grasp living hands with warm congratulation while yet the heart is able to respond, instead of waiting to lay our tribute on cold stone, and when the soul has gone beyond the power of earthly voices.
"For this reason I hope I may add my word of hearty appreciation for the life and services of your revered Pastor."

Isabel Somerset, 16/9/95.

It is nice to see a letter of appreciation. Many thanks to Mr David Blunkett for sending one on the occasion of my own retirement a century later.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

DVD of Churchill's Secret Reigate talk

It's £8 plus Post & Packing - and you can buy it here online, from anywhere in the world! For a limited time the pack also contains the specially commissioned poem by Barrie Singleton which was the finale of my presentation.


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The ATS girl who worked in the bunker

One of the very happy outcomes of my "Churchill's Secret Reigate" talk was a phone call from a lady in the audience who has found this little gem.

In a 4-page document we can see a photo and read about Eileen Olive McKerron, nee Graves. She describes in exact detail her uniform issued, her daily tasks and memorable moments between 11/12/1942 and July 1945. How exciting to be posted in her home county, in the signal office tunnelled out of the chalk hills, up steep steps and narrow paths and the whole area disguised with camouflage material. Inside the tunnels were the cipher room, the office, the radio room, the switchboards and the teleprinter room - all in constant use and with urgent, important messages. When the news of the success of the invasion of Normandy reached them, the office staff felt that they had done really valuable work.

She even chronicles as memorable moments the cycling in Surrey with most signposts missing, and watching the 'doodlebugs spluttering overhead'.

You can read this rare document here: