This page has contributions from Gordon Roberts who has gathered information from various historical sources and local newspapers.
CHRISTMAS 100 YEARS AGO
Kingsland must have been a rather sad place at Christmas 1918 as were the other villages in the area. So many young men had been killed in the war, and of those that did return including my uncles Arthur Watts and James Watts, many were in poor health due to battle wounds, effects of gas warfare, malnutrition and maltreatment as prisoners of war, influenza and what was known in those days as shell shock. Some had still not received their release from the Army, but none-the-less, the Leominster shopkeepers were trying to make the best of it, and were advertising in the local paper, special products for Christmas. Wholesalers were seeking to buy mistletoe, and holly with berries one of whom was Sullivans of Lincoln House near the Crifftins. They were also dealers in fruit and I am reminded that they would buy the damsons from our orchard every year. After picking, we would put them into wooden crates and take them the short distance in a wheelbarrow.
There was a dance at the Croase Room on Boxing Day, in aid of the Fire Brigade Fund with dancing from 8.00pm until the unearthly hour of 3.00am. What stamina people had in those days. A grand sum of three pounds was raised and tickets cost one shilling and sixpence each. This was followed by a Cinderella Dance at New Year with dancing only until midnight. Tickets were one shilling. On the 14th December, the men of Kingsland would have gone to the polling stations to vote in a new government, but the ladies would have stayed at home because they were not allowed to vote. This changed in 1920, and women were then eligible to vote if they were over thirty years of age. The coalition government of David Lloyd-George swept to power for another term. It is interesting to compare this with what happened after the Second World War, when Winston Churchill was unceremoniously rejected.
The successful candidate for North Herefordshire was Major Charles Ward-Jackson who lived at Street Court. Even in 1918, “spin” and “fake news” were features of the election campaign, and Ward-Jackson had to rigorously defend his war record and also that he had no investments in Germany and his wife’s nationality which some said was also German. However, he and his wife threw themselves wholeheartedly in into village life and gave generously to various causes. However, he remained Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire only until the next election when he won the seat of Harrow in Middlesex, taking over from the notorious Sir Oswald Mosley.
Strangely, but very sadly, three people who had given valuable service to the village, died during the Christmas and New Year period of 1918/1919. Firstly the village bobby, Police Constable Roberts died very sudddenly aged just thirty-six years of age and was married with two children. He had been stationed at Kingsland for only six months. He was reported to have been in the best of health, but after being on point duty in Leominster, he apparently caught a cold, which rapidly developed into pneumonia, from which he failed to recover. His funeral took place at the Parish Church attended by many police officers from Leominster and the surrounding villages. He was replaced in due course by PC Hardwick who turned out to be a demon for catching people without lights on their bicycles.
Secondly, a couple of weeks before Christmas, the death occurred of Mr Walter Gatehouse, organist for many years at Kingsland Church. There is no record of his funeral at the village church, but a carol service was held shortly after Christmas which he had arranged and which was in aid of the National Institute for the Blind. The sum of three pounds fifteen shillings was raised which would be the equivalent of about twenty pounds today. His death must have caused serous difficulties for the church and the choir over Christmas, but Miss Jobling, who seems to have been a talented lady, stepped into the breach and continued as the church organist for some time afterwards. Thirdly, a former vicar of Kingsland, the Rev William Henry Bradley died suddenly on the golf links at Bournemouth. He was replaced at Kingsland by George Hamilton-Baillie, the predecessor to George Jobling and who left the parish under a cloud to say the least.
An evening’s entertainment at the school was a sell out and highly successful. It was arranged by Dr. Williams again in aid of the Fire Brigade which it seems he ran as though he owned it which in effect he did. The entertainment was provided by Mr. Gosling’s Concert party. Private Albert Evans was reported to have been awarded the Military Medal. He was from Kingsland and his grandmother lived at Shirlheath. Meritorious medals were awarded to Staff Sergeant Henry Sidney Williams whose wife was living at Croase Cottage. He was probably the son of Dr. Willliams. The same medal was awarded to Sergeant Williams of Cobnash farm.
Finally, it was reported by Mr. Jenkins of the Old Hall, that an early lamb, a healthy youngster had been born on his farm. Some good news at last.